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The KeNalu Elite Stand Up Paddles have a tough little brother. The xTuf. Our xTuf stand up paddles are identical to the KeNalu Elite stand up paddles except for materials–the blades are made in the same molds, the shafts are made on the same mandrels. The handles ARE the same. But we wanted to build a paddle that would stand up to serious abuse–like being whacked into rocks in whitewater or shorebreak. It's also nice that the xTuf is eighty bucks less than our KeNalu Elite Stand Up Paddles.

Let's take a look at what makes this paddle so tough.

First there's the blade. It's made of reinforced fiberglass with high fiber density. Inside, the blade is reinforced in the ferrule and neck with an internal fiberglass beam and throughout with a molded PVC foam core. While carbon fiber is stronger and more rigid, high-density fiberglass withstands impact better. The fibers spread and the surface compresses on impact to cushion the blow and distribute the force of impact. While you don't want to go looking for rocks to stab, the xTuf shrugs off mistreatment much better than a carbon blade can.

Then there's the shaft. The xTuf shaft is made on the same mandrel as our Elite shaft, with the same compression technique and "sharkskin" finish, but instead of 3K twill we use unidirectional carbon fiber. Unidirectional carbon fiber is actually stronger than 3K twill, but it is only strong in the direction the fibers lay. The KeNalu unidirectional shaft is wound on the mandrel on an alternating bias so it offers resistance to bending and torque, but the flex is greater than our Elite 3K T will 100Flex and 90Flex — it's a little stiffer than our 60Flex shaft. This is a very good shaft for surfing, cruising, downwinding–any general use. It is nearly as light as our Elite shaft–in fact the xTuf paddle is only a few ounces heavier than the Elite. Because the xTuf takes advantage of all the structural advantages of the Elite it's still in the ultralight category.

The sharkskin texture on xTuf shafts refracts a shimmering grey color in sunlight.

This is a very strong shaft. We have not yet tested one to the breaking point, but we expect it to be at least 100 pounds higher than the extremely strong KeNalu Elite shaft, which has been tested to over 250 pounds without breaking. We'll have conclusive numbers for the breaking points when we get a suitable guard built for our test press. As it is now, cranking the pump handle while leaning over a carbon fiber paddle with 250 pounds of bend in it is just too nerve-wracking.

The xTuf shares the same handles as the Elite paddles. The popular Extended Ergo-T handle works just fine, enabling six inches of adjustment with just a hairdryer.

In summation, the xTuf is the ideal paddle for rough use, for surfing, and for any general paddling use. All out racers will probably prefer the lighter weight, greater stiffness, and super low swing weight of the KeNalu Elite Paddle, but at just $295 the KeNalu xTuf is at the top of the Ultralight list. It's a great paddle at a great price.

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