Noobie paddle length question

Alpacka should arrive this weekend, looking forward to a new addiction. I am coming from a whitewater background, class 4 whitewater kayaker for many years. I’m short…5’4"…and use an AT bent shaft 191cm. I noticed that the Sawyer only goes down to 205cm, and I’m starting to think that is going to be way too long for me.
I will be using the packraft on southeast rivers and creeks, mostly low volume and rocky. Class 2-3+. Obed, Big South Fork, Red River Gorge are the trips I have planned now, combining backpacking and paddling. These rivers do have stretches of flat water, but also moderate pool drop rapids and at the lower flows I want to practice on plenty of rocks.

I’m thinking a Werner Sherpa 4 piece 197cm would be be the best all around paddle for what I want to do? Would that be too short? Not to concerned about the weight, performance is my priority.

I do not think a 197 is too short at all. I use both a 189 and a 191 for a play-boat paddle and have used my 189 and 191 for my packraft and it worked just fine before deciding on a length for a breakdown to use. I now use a 197 Werner powerhouse 4 piece, which I think is a little long after using it for a while. I really should have gone with a 2 piece Lendal bent shaft that was a little shorter and will probably switch sometime soon. I am a little taller @ 5’10" but I think coming from a kayaking background you would be happy with a shorter length, and I would suggest skip on the sawyer paddle, compared to a Werner, AT (old style), Lendal, Lightning… excreta, I think you would find that the sawyer is a heavy club with no power face and is going to break and fall apart on you (just my opinion). I have always felt that you do not want to go cheap on your life-jacket, helmet or paddle, quality is expensive but worth it.

Have fun with your boat

Thanks! And I completely agree on quality, I don’t plan on getting a lighter helmet or PFD, sticking with my Kokatat Ronin rescue vest for packrafting. Cumbersome and heavy for hiking/backpacking but I’ve had it for so long its like an extension.

Sounds like I could go with a 194 and be happy. I hope to get out this weekend with my regular 191 and test it out, see how much more length I’ll need. I wasn’t aware that Lendal made a bent shaft 2 piece whitewater paddle…is that a special order?


Hey Brandon,

If you contact David Collins, Lendal North America they can hook you up, may be a special order of sorts as not to many people get breakdown bent shaft paddles but they will make them in a 2 or 4 piece bent-shaft breakdown (add $100 to regular price for 4 piece) and Werner will do a 2 piece bent-shaft but not a 4 piece. Lendal will only make the 4 piece breakdown QRS bent-shaft for paddles 197cm and up because of the bends in the shafts, grip geometries and spigot requirements. 2 piece should be good to go at any length, they start at 191 and go up by 3cm increments.


P.S. It is a little bit of a stretch but using hand paddles with your packraft is also pretty fun if you have some.

David Collins, Lendal North America <>