What is your favorite lightweight breakdown paddle and why?
I’ve used and owned several:
- 4 piece Werner Sherpa (carbon)
- 4 piece Werner Ikelos (carbon)
- 2 piece Werner Cyprus (carbon)
- 4 piece Aquabound Manta Ray (“carbon”)
- 4 piece Advanced Elements (two models Packlite & Touring)
- 4 (5?) piece Supai Adventure Gear Pack Raft Paddle
Before you conclude I have a paddle fetish (which could be true), I taught a Wilderness Biology class that involved packrafting and several of these paddles we part of the equipment for that course!
My overall favorite is the Sherpa. Second would be the Cyprus or the Ikelos. Third would be the Manta Ray. The others just didn’t call to me when I used them. I’ve only carried the Supai as an emergency replacement paddle when required by river management regulations. It’s light enough for that, but definitely not sturdy enough for an extended river trip - flat or swift water (it isn’t sold for extended paddling - it’s sold for light weight).
The Sherpa is just light enough to carry when backpacking significant distance, it feels great, paddles well all day long, and stands up to my poor technique in bony stretches where I pound it on the bottom much more than I ought. The Cyprus paddles the best, and is the lightest. I wish it was 4 piece to reduce catching on brush etc. when bushwacking, but I’ll usually take for flatwater trips. Its carbon blades aren’t study enough for my sloppy technique in white water. I acquired the 4 piece Ikelos to replace the Cyprus (Ikelos packs better) but its blades are hard on my arms when paddling all day long. I’d probably be OK with it in a slender kayak with less resistance than a loaded packraft, but after a day in my Denali Llama at least one of my elbows flares up (one of the penalties being an old fart). The Ikelos blades are also pretty fragile when banging them about (which one shouldn’t do…).
I’ve handled the adjustable Sawyer that Alpacka carries - it is a beautiful piece of gear. For me, it just didn’t feel right - possibly because I was already used to the Werners which have larger diameter shafts with slightly ovalized sections for your grip.
In the beginning the Mantra Ray was OK. Then I used the Cyprus and the Manta Ray gathered dust. Then I got the Sherpa and the Manta Ray gathered more dust. Its not that the Manta Ray isn’t an adequate paddle - it is. It’s like the difference between clinchers and tubulars: one works fine and the other is a pleasure.
Before you buy a paddle, any paddle, consider the length and the use.
I see many people packrafting with a low angle paddle and it doesn’t make much sens to me.
If you do WW, you want a WW paddle. (a lot about the difference between High and Low angle paddle on the internet)
I used to have a werner Fybee FG 210cm (2 piece)
I have just switched for a Werner Rio 197cm (4 piece)
I hope this help. Email me if you want more details.
Thanks for all that info
Also do you have any advice on length?
I’m trying out packrafting on hired alpacka (& looking to buy alpacka small) but hire paddle length is fixed 210cm.
I’m 6ft 5/165cm , so was wondering if a shorter or adjustable paddle would be better?
Tricky to find short paddles to borrow/try out…
Initially will be doing flattish rivers (until learn to do whitewater) was hoping to get a paddle that could doflat rivers & low grade white water?
Weight matters as packrafting with kid & I’m always carrying way too much gear/food.
These are all purpose paddles (inc lengths & weights) I’m aware of:
- Sawyer Cedar Surge Adjustable Length 4-Piece Paddle – 205-230cm, 29oz/822g
Aqua-Bound Manta Ray Carbon 4-Piece Paddle – 210cm, 29.5oz/836g
Werner Shuna 4-Piece Paddle - 194cm/197cm/205cm etc 30z/850g
Werner Corryvreckan 4-piece Paddle – 205cm, 30z/850g
Werner Sherpa 4-Piece Paddle (whitewater) - 194/197/205cm, 1150g
- Aqua-Bound Whiskey 4-Piece Paddle – 205cm; Fibreglass blade 26oz/737g; carbon blade 24oz/680g
I’m looking too for a paddle, and a raft actually so your info on the weights/lengths of the paddles was great. I’m curious what packraft you decided on. I’m 6’4", so tall like you. Im looking at the alpacka scout, as it’s the perfect combo of lightness, robustness, but it’s likely too small for me. The amfibio alpha xc looks to be the one for me, but need to figure out best way to buy in the US.