The Premier Edge from Accent is a powerful, high performance touring paddle for those high angle paddlers looking to optimize their paddle strokes. How is the user experience of the Accent Premier Edge touring paddle (MSRP $275)? Well, first things first, I have general criteria that any touring paddle must have.
Kyle’s Touring Paddle Criteria
- Efficient: I paddle long distances, and take a lot of paddle strokes.
- Ease of use: I prefer a paddle designed to reduce paddler fatigue.
- Durable: I live on the coast, and our oyster beds and surf seem to punish paddles.
Kyle’s take on the Accent Premier Edge (2-Piece Straight Shaft)
Locations used: Allatoona Lake (GA), Ashley River (SC), Canal to Skull Inlet (SC), Charleston Harbor (SC), Cooper River (SC), Fripp Island Beach (SC), Shem Creek (SC), Stono River (SC), Wando River (SC), Wappoo Creek (SC)
My first experiences with the Accent Premier Edge started in the Charleston area. My day on the water was focused on teaching and demonstrating the fundamentals: paddle strokes, boat control, rescue maneuvers, and more. Each teaching topic helped me to become better acquainted with the paddle. The high-angle paddler blade shape, the straight shaft, and the LokTite feather system.
The strength-to-weight ratio of this paddle is ideal for my paddling needs! As a higher cadence paddler, I prefer a high angle style blade that offers plenty of power while optimizing for paddler fatigue. The Accent Premier Edge provided me with an asymmetrical blade shape, ideal amount of surface area, and low swing weight, and after a full-on day of paddling, I was ready to go the next day.
Before getting on the water, I appreciate the ease of storage of this paddle. Having a two-piece sea kayaking paddle is preferable on most of the trips I attend. It is very easy to put in my car and drive to my paddling destination without having to fold down my seats and make someone’s journey in my car less than pleasant. The 2-piece design is also convenient for storing on the deck of a sea kayak. On multi-day kayaking trips, I usually take an extra paddle with me for safety reasons, or if I want to bounce between a straight shaft and a bent shaft paddle, or a euro blade and a Greenland (i.e. traditional) paddle.
Similar to my bouncing between types of paddles, I also like the flexibility to adjust the feather of my paddle blades. I usually adjust my paddle according to the weather conditions (i.e. if it is/is not very windy) or the type of trip I am going on (i.e. long distance, surfing, teaching rescues, etc.). The Accent Edge featured an easy-to-use LokTite feather system. It was easy to adjust the feather, easy to read what feather it was set to, and accommodated both left- and right-dominant paddlers. The left- and right-dominant feature is key in accommodating the full spectrum of paddlers that may need to use my paddle at some point during the trip, whether it be for trying out a different paddle, losing their own due to rough conditions (or oyster beds), etc.
Now that I’ve addressed one of the key hazards in the Low Country, oysters, let’s chat about durability. I did not think durability was important when I purchased my first sea kayaking paddle, so I bought a super light paddle at a local paddling festival and learned my lesson quickly. On a particular trip down Wappoo Creek, I decided to attain the Stono River at maximum flow (the tide coming in) for an intense resistance workout.
I approached the mouth of the Stono River, a narrow passage with noticeable gradient, and started to build momentum for the attainment. I buckled down, tightened up my technique, and started making some solid progress. Midway through the Stono River attainment, things started to get tough. I adjusted my course to the edge of the river, due to eddies lining the riverbank and reduced opposing current. Upon first ferrying to the far edge, I took a right paddle stroke and immediately felt the clunk. I didn’t worry about it too much.
As I turned around for the easy part of the journey, I noticed a blemish on my right paddle blade. Actually, it wasn’t a blemish. It was an inch long crack straight through my superlight paddle blade. I was furious! How could this happen? This was a decent paddle from a respected company. But I made my purchase without considering the durability of the paddle. This is an area where the Accent Edge far exceeds my first paddle!
On a trip on the Wando River to Cat Island in Charleston, SC, I again encountered the dangerously sharp oyster beds. I didn’t purposely make contact with the oyster beds, but as every paddler in the Low Country knows, you’ll eventually hit some. The tri-axial weave fiberglass handled beautifully! I made contact with the oyster beds and my paddle remained intact, maybe with a scratch or two, but with exceptional strength, especially for such a light paddle. I could then focus my paddling trip on the beautiful scenery, rather than whether my blade would hold up to the oyster beds surrounding Cat Island. Trusting your gear is a wonderful thing!
Photos and words by Kyle Thomas