The length of your packraft paddle is an important factor to consider for comfort, performance and efficiency on all your packrafting excursions.

 

Two packrafters in Mexico

 

We’ve developed this chart to guide you as you make your choice:

 

PURPOSE EXTERIOR RAFT WIDTH RANGE PADDLE LENGTH NOTES
WHITEWATER 91-97cm 195-205 cm Length will depend on paddler and boat size. The wider the raft, the longer the paddle should be.
ALL PURPOSE 91-97cm 200-210 cm We recommend a 200 cm for whitewater kayaking, 205cm for all purpose paddling, and 210cm for flatwater touring
BIKE RAFTING 97cm 200-210 cm Same paddle sizing as with "All Purpose".
TANDEM 104-107cm 220 or 240 cm Consider the Shred Apart that breaks down into two canoe paddles. 220cm for the low-seat position. 240cm for the high seat position and when broken down into canoe paddles.

 

Paddle Length is Determined By…

 As you can see from the chart above, the length of your paddle is mostly determined by the width of your packraft and the type of paddling you’ll do.

 A general rule of thumb is that if you’re between paddle sizes, size down if shorter than 170cm and size up if taller than 170cm.

For packrafters who’ll be mostly on whitewater, a large majority of packrafts will be in the 90-97cm range in width, meaning their ideal paddle size is between 197-200 cm. A raft wider than 97cm should size up towards 205cm and rafts narrower than 90cm should size down to 195cm.

 If you’re not exclusively one type of packrafter, and instead plan on paddling in a lot of different settings—whitewater, flat water, touring—you’re on the “all-purpose” section of the chart.

  • If your primary paddling intention is whitewater, 200cm is the ideal size as it will fit the vast majority of whitewater rafts as well is be adequate should you hit flatwater.
  • For the individual that paddles everything but primarily enjoys cruising local rivers, the 205cm size is ideal. This size fits most “all purpose” rafts, meanwhile not too short for oversized rafts.
  • The last category is “touring” or long-distance paddlers, who should size up to 210cm as their paddling stroke will become more low-angle (i.e. horizontal) and a longer paddle is needed.

Most Bikerafts are around 97cm wide, so the paddle sizing falls perfectly into the “all purpose” category. We recommend 205cm for paddlers under 170cm and 210cm for paddlers taller than that height.

For paddlers in a tandem packraft, if you plan to use the paddle as a kayak paddle, most people are best suited with a 220cm paddle, which is ideal for the low-seat position. Wider or heavily loaded boats are better suited with a 240cm paddle, specifically if paddling from the high-seat position or you plan to break the paddle down into two canoe paddles. Consider the Shred Apart paddle that can be used as a kayak paddle for one person, or breaks down into two canoe paddles for two. This paddle was designed by Alpacka Raft and is made by us specifically for packrafters.

 

Red packraft with the Shred Carbon paddling in the mountains

 

Aqua-Bound’s Paddles for Packrafting

Most packrafters choose 4-piece paddles for the easy breakdown, transportation, and storage. Also, the oversized “high-angle” blade is ideal for more torque and power with every stroke, an essential component in fast packrafting conditions with rafts. Finally, always buy the lightest paddle you can afford. As paddles go up in price point, they come down in weight and increase in performance and durability. 

Here are our suggestions for you, starting with our most-affordable up to our performance paddles:

All-Purpose/Touring Models:

Manta Ray Aluminum 4pc – Perfect for the beginning packrafter, this paddle is designed to take a beating in any paddling conditions you encounter. There is also a 2 piece option.

Manta Ray Fiberglass – The next step up in performance, this paddle offers similar durability to the Aluminum, but a much lighter shaft made of fiberglass. Perfect for the novice packrafter looking to take on a few mile miles with less fatigue.

Manta Ray Hybrid 4pc – If you’re starting to get serious about packrafting and are planning some trips which may include whitewater, you need to look at the Manta Ray Hybrid. You would be upgrading to a full carbon shaft, which is substantially lighter and higher performing, keeping you on the water longer. 

Manta Ray Carbon 4pc – Considered the best overall value in paddles, the MRC covers the lightest shaft available with our toughest blades. You can paddle for days and never have to worry about the paddle durability. Durable, light, and tight, a smart choice. 

You can see our current range of Multi-purpose and touring paddles here.

Whitewater Models:

Shred Fiberglass 4pc – If you’re just looking to hit the rapids in your raft and don’t care about all the bells and whistles, check out the Shred Fiberglass. Built for durability and those who are tough on their gear. 

Shred Hybrid 4pc – A big step-up in performance, the Hybrid offers a high-performance 100% carbon shaft, so you can get back in the raft and paddle for miles. Worth the extra coin for long-distance trips. 

Shred Carbon 4pc – The top of the line in whitewater paddles, offering the lightest shaft and most durable blades. If you’re serious about whitewater and need gear that can live up to your demands, this paddle is for you. 

Shred Apart – Designed for tandem rafts, the Shred Apart is convertible kayak/canoe paddle that starts with the base Shred Carbon kayak paddle, but includes a pair of T-handle extensions that convert the kayak paddle into a pair of canoe paddles. The Shred Apart allows the packraft to be paddled either in kayak configuration by one person or in canoe configuration by two people. 

See our range of white water paddles here.

 

Blue Packraft in the Grand Canyon

 

Expedition/Long-Distance Models:

Whiskey Fiberglass 4pc – Designed to save ounces and take you on trips of a lifetime, this paddle offers an elite level of lightweight performance (just 794grams) with high-tech durability. No paddle moves more water more efficiently.

Whiskey Carbon 4pc – If you’re traveling the globe and need the best available for the most uncertain of conditions, meet the Whiskey Carbon. Designed and built with aviation-grade carbon fiber from tip to tip, this paddle can take you anywhere and keep you paddling with an effortless, flutter-free stroke. 

Check out more of our Pack Raft Paddles here.

The size of your pack raft, the type of rafting you are going to do, the weight and durability of the paddle and your height are all factors to consider when choosing a paddle. Come see us in our paddle and outdoor store in Christchurch NZ for help on choosing what will be right for your adventure.