There are 2 main types of paddles: 

Recreational/Touring Paddles and Whitewater Paddles

Recreational or touring paddles are low angle and longer. Low angle means you paddle more relaxed and horizontal. These paddles range from 210-230cm. Our Alpine Lake Paddle is a great recreational paddle at 220cm long.

Whitewater Paddles are high angle. Meaning you paddle with a more vertical stroke. With the vertical stroke, you use a shorter paddle length ranging from 197-209. Our Werner X Kokopelli Powerhouse Paddle is one of the best for whitewater packrafting.

Whitewater paddles are more height dependent. If you are in between sizes, we recommend you size up.


Other Features:

  1. Feathered Angle: Paddles come with either feathered or unfeathered blades. Feathering refers to the angle between the blades. Feathered blades are preferred by many paddlers for long-distance paddling or windy conditions, while unfeathered blades are simpler and more intuitive for beginners. The main feather angles are 0, R30, and L30. 0 degrees means the blades are matched and no offset. R30 is a 30 degree offset for right handed paddlers and L30 is the same but for lefties. With a feathered paddle, you hold the paddle with your dominate hand and let the other side slide a little bit in your hand to straighten to the blade as you paddle. Some paddles come with an adjustable ferrule which is great as a first paddle to see what offset you like the best. 

  2. Blade Shape: Packrafting paddles typically feature asymmetrical blades, optimized for efficient power transfer and control. The shape of the blade affects how it catches and propels water, with wider blades offering more power but requiring more effort to paddle. Whitewater blades are bigger than touring blades so you can get more power out of each stroke when it's needed most.

  3. Materials: Paddle shafts and blades are commonly made from materials like aluminum, fiberglass, carbon fiber, and nylon. Each material has its advantages and trade-offs in terms of weight, durability, stiffness, and cost. Carbon fiber and fiberglass shafts and paddle blades are lightweight and stiff, ideal for performance-oriented paddlers. While aluminum shaft paddles are more affordable but can bend. Nylon blades are going to be heavier and less expensive but really durable. 

  4. Breakdown Paddles: Paddles come in different piece options to fit different needs and purposes.

    One Piece Paddles are the least expensive option and popular with people  who don’t want any play in their paddle at all. It keeps the shaft as stiff as possible and is great if you plan on using your paddle for just easy access trips.

    Two Piece kayak paddles will break down into 2 pieces. These are great for mostt people because they pack down smaller and are easier to transport and they are ok to hike with. 

    Four Piece kayak paddles are the most popular for packrafting. With the 4 pieces you can break down really small. Making it perfect for hiking or flying with. 4 piece paddles are just as strong as 1 or 2 piece paddles, but they can have a little play in them where the ferruls/pins connect the shafts. 4 piece breakdown paddles are also great for bringing as a backup on paddling trips.

  5. Straight Shaft vs Bent Shaft Paddles: Straight shaft are the most common paddle type. Bent shaft aka crank shaft paddles are ergonomically designed to be better for paddlers with wrist or elbow pain but can feel award to some paddlers.

Other things to note:

Canoe style paddles (paddle with one blade and a T-Grip handle) can be used with a packraft, but they are less efficient and not as intuitive to paddle with. If paddling our 2 person Twain packraft you can give it a shot with a partner, but most people prefer kayak style paddles.


Oars are 2 longer "paddles" with grips that are used to row a boat. Row boats usually have a frame or oar locks for the oars to rest in. Oars are not compatible with packrafts. 


Pogies are mittens that slide onto your paddle and keep your hands warm when paddling in the winter.

May 09, 2024 — Tristan Burnham