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Sawyer Lights Wood Oars – Review

For over twelve years, I had been rowing a 14′ x 24″ cat with 9′ composite oars. Last summer, I decided it was time for something smaller, something a little more lively and playful. The choice was an AIRE 13′ x 19″ Wildcat with a set of 8′ Sawyer Lights Wood Oars.

What a difference wood makes! Well OK, the Wildcat, another story, is a big part of the difference, of course. The Sawyer Lights, though, are a total surprise! After so many years away from rowing wood oars, I’m happy to be back.

These oars are comfortable, light and lively!

Sawyer makes this happen — first by laminating clear, straight grain ash and fir for strength and less weight. Second, Sawyer tapers the shafts’ circumference from the handle, 5-7/8″, to the blade, 4-7/8″. That 1 inch difference gives the oars a marvelous counterbalanced feel, and great flex — something you’re not going to encounter in an 8′ composite oar.

Oh by the way, did I mention they are LIGHT! Approximately 5.5lbs each — including the factory installed black rope wrap and rubber stopper!

The handle is covered with a nice grippy material, has a comfortable circumference of 5-1/2” from the crown, tapering away in both directions to 4-7/8″. This little detail may not sound like much, but it feels very natural and tends to center my hand on the handle by feel alone — something not found on my old set of composites with different dimensions (5-1/4″ at the outside, tapering to 5″).

The blade at first seems small, but these are for small boats. Who needs a 6.5” blade, let alone 8” on a 13’ cat! They have all the power I need for a fast nimble little playboat.

Before shipping, I had Sawyer factory install Pro Tips on the blades, and I highly recommend them. After all, the oars are made from natural material and not indestructible.

One last note: Being made of wood, these oars are just plain beautiful. A pleasure to row and nice to get back to something with some real soul and connection to being outside in the first place.

By Carl Ramstrom

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. I agree – Sawyer's wood oars are the way to go!

  2. I totally agree about wood oars, although I have the 10' ash monsters that are quite heavy. But for my 16' Avon Pro they are just what I want, and you can stand up on them in the gnarliest rapid and they will never snap. Meanwhile, they still have that extra little flex that gives you a slight kick at the end of the stroke, which metal/plastic oars don't have.

    I also agree that getting the blade protection is well worth it. I added rubber tips to my oars a while back, and I'm certain it has helped preserve them from chips if not worse.

    I've had my current set for so long I can't remember when I got them, and they have been down The Canyon several times as well as many SOFAR trips and other rocky rivers. Go wood!

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