Tested: 4-part kayaking paddles: Anfibio Vertex and Wave review

Two good-value, four-part paddles from Anfibio ideal for packraft or IK travels. The yellow Vertex Tour is a newer redesign and a lot lighter, even with a longer range of length adjustments and has a better clamp. But the black Wave (left) has the classic dihedral (two-faced) blade. What is the difference and does it matter?

What they say

Anfibio Vertex Tour
Our new, redesigned Vertex Tour paddle comes with a classic double blade, fine shaft and sub one-kilo weight. Equally suitable for lakes, calm rivers and moderate whitewater. The position length is adjustable from 210cm to 225cm at free angle.

Anfibio Wave
High-quality, lightweight carbon paddle for long tours on calm waters. Freely adjustable in length and angle.

I’ve done several hours with both paddles and for this comparison we took both on a 15-mile paddle down the Wey in Surrey in the TXL. It was a hot day but water doesn’t get any flatter unless it’s an ice rink. Below some weights and measures to mull over.

Weight gLength cmShaft cmShaft
g
Shaft øBlade gmLongest piece cmBlade cmPrice
Anfibio
Vertex
851g210-225118cm303g
fibreglass
29mm274g63cm
(blade)
44 x 19.5cm€125
Anfibio
Wave
1011g210-220108cm283g
carbon
29mm365g65cm
(blade)
44 x 16cm€125

I didn’t notice until I weighed the blades, but the two are made quite differently. The larger Vertex blade – about 650cm2 – has a molded central ‘corrugation’ to stiffen the blade. The Wave has a classic dihedral (two-faced) power face which is said to power smoothly through the water better than a plain flat blade. The Wave blade is also smaller – 600cm2 at a guess.

People ask: what is the the weight of a large banana?

So the main differences are weight, blade size and blade face, and I suppose adjustable length and the texture of the shafts. Will you notice the difference in a packraft? I very much doubt it but I think I’d prefer to paddle all day with the smaller bladed and dihedral Wave, even if it’s 160g heavier: the weight of a large banana.

I have a theory with length-adjustable paddles that into the wind or upstream (ie; max effort) you can ‘lower the gearing’ by shortening the paddle and leverage. Meanwhile downwind you can get the most of your paddle by setting it at full length overdrive. It’s good to have the option and one day I will test this theory but really, we paddle as hard as the situation demands. Sometimes easy, sometimes more efortful.

Wave shows the carbon weave; both are 29mm ø, good for smaller hands

Feather angle alignment
My Vertex came with no alignment line on the lever clamp to set the angle against a grid. It took me a while to work this out until I couldn’t and a couple of yellow tape arrows set at my preferred 45°R. Anfibio have since told me this was a production flaw and current Vertex have an alignment marker on the clamp. A permanent alternative to my stick-on arrows would be melting a slot into the clamp with a hot knife. It would be easiest to do this with the paddle feathered at zero (no offset) which is easy to estimate. Think before you melt or use tape!

The Wave’s alignment system is as you’d expect. In fact there are two ways: a slot on the clamp to align with the grid; and pre-set angles molded into the clamp to align with the zero line on the grid. As it is, on both paddles the white alignment grid gets slid over at each assembly and will probably wear away over the years so you’ll end up with a tape marker anyway. That’s what I’ve done on my old Werners which had a grid sticker on the outside which eventually peeled off.

The blades on both paddles felt a little loose once mounted on the shafts. Maybe they’re made that way as the shaft may swell over the years as it did on my carbon AquaBound. It’s unlikely you’d notice on the move but no movement is best. A small bit of thin tape (left; not a full wrap) was enough to remove any play and if the tape wears or pulls off it’s easy to apply some more. Once clamped down there was no play at the shaft join.

On the Wey you might notice the weight swapping from one to the other, but after a while you’re just paddling. In a way the ideal combo would be fitting the smaller Wave blades on the longer, better clamped Vertex shaft, but oddly they’re not interchangeable.

In the end, for €125 you will not be disappointed because either paddle will proper your boat forward, adjust readily and fit easily in your pack.

Incidentally, I did an IK&P survey when I paddled the Wey in 2021. 2022 numbers in red. In over a decade I saw my first every packraft actually being used on the water! An underinflated MRS. I got the feeling the owner didn’t know that airbagging was not enough; you have to top up too. Has he not read my book?!

  • Hardshell canoes: 1 1
  • Hardshell kayaks: 1 8 (group)
  • Hardshell SoT: 1 0
  • Vinyl IKs (rock-bottom cheapies): 5 1
  • PVC (bladder) IKs 3 0
  • Packrafts 0 1!
  • iSUPs: 10+  (mostly women or mixed groups goofing off) 10
  • FDS IKs: 0 (IK&P most read page) 0

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