I think for the most part, it is user error. However, a lot of people get into situations where they expect an 'entry' level oar to not break...pushing off a rock or a pull in shallow water...something like that. The cheaper oars I got on my first Waterstrider, I did not think they would survive, but except for many scrapes on the oar blades, they were fine. BUT, I never got into class 3-4 water, and if I ever was going to I would definately upgrade. This is a fishing site, where we have some interest in white water rafts, but most of us [I think] want a pleasant float and lots of fish. I do know that the rafts I have had or do own, will never get close to what they are capable of.....I believe thats true for the vast majority of members on this board.