One of the first things I have always done upon purchasing a new paddle is to remove the rubber drip rings from both ends of the paddle shaft. From my experiences on the water (and my tendency to use a high-angle stroke) I have found that drip rings tend to cause more harm than good. With every paddle stroke, I feel that the drip rings act as little “water collectors” which pick up water in its groves and hold onto the water just long enough to drip it onto your lap with every upward stroke. On the contrary, when the paddle drip rings are removed, I’ve found that the water (instead of collecting on the drip ring) just drips down the paddle shaft and falls harmlessly into the water and away from my lap!
Over the years, I have switched between using paddles both with and without drip rings and the results are always the same. When I go out on the water using a paddle with drip rings I come back to the dock with a soaking wet lap. After switching paddles, I find my experience with an “unringed” paddle to be considerably less wet.
Are Some Drip Rings Better Than Others?
Drip rings have become the industry standard for most new, off-the-shelf paddles. While various manufacturers have their own unique designs, the concept doesn’t deviate much from brand to brand. From Bending Branches to Werner and from Aqua-Bound to Carlisle, brands across the entire industry still have drip rings which leave you wetter than if they were removed in the first place.
As it stands today, the concept of drip rings is the right idea but the wrong design. It is for this reason why I have a couple unanswered questions regarding drip rings; Who was the first company to introduce drip rings and why have they become an industry standard? Have drip rings become a marketing gimmick to keep various paddles competitive on the store shelves? Are there any R&D attempts moving forward to improve the current design of drip rings? I’ll be sure to let you know if I come across the answers to these questions.