Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
canoe paddle
Display Avatars Sort By:
Paul Backus

Locale: Bellingham, WA
canoe paddle on 08/23/2012 13:07:33 MDT Print View

Hi all,

I'm a backpacker and occasional canoer/kayaker. I'm really intrigued by the idea of a packraft and mixing the two activities. I considering the alpacka scout as I don't have white water experience and am more interested in crossing lakes and large rivers and such.

I was looking at paddles, and I saw the attachments for trekking poles. They seem useful and way lighter than other paddles, but my poles don't screw together. I thought I might be able to just use one like a canoe paddle, but would that work with a raft on flat water? Alternatively, if someone had a suggestion on another way to combine my poles, I would be grateful. Would lashing with paracord work?


Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Paddles on 08/23/2012 13:43:12 MDT Print View

You could use two separate small paddles. This works okay. You could also buy different trekking poles that do attach together. If your hiking poles use an internal expander mechanism (as opposed to a flick lock) you could get an appropriately sized bit of tubing and use that to join the two poles together. I can do this with my GG LT4's.

The trekking pole paddle blades sold by Alpacka are neat (I bought some) but they are smaller and more flexy then you might think from looking at the photos on the website. They're quite small and soft. Fine for slow travel on calm water. Any sort of class 2 use would be an aggressive decision.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
packraft paddles. on 08/23/2012 14:46:25 MDT Print View

dan is quite correct. you can use blades as a pair of paddles.

the good :
- it brings less water into the boat.
- ii is faster for a little ways.
- it might weigh less
- you can do spins like a maniac.
- if terrified, one can sprint a few yards in an astonishingly short time

the bad :
- it is much slower over a long distance
- it does not look at all cool
- you can't brace worth a hoot with half a paddle.
- all the good people use one paddle.

if you go the 2 paddle route (as does peter), be sure to FIRMLY TIE THEM OFF. paddles will sink like a rock, and then they'll be gone.

there are yins and yangs to the one vs two affair. i have had good fortune using the two paddle method for years, but all i do is cross lakes/rivers and float easy rivers the direction they are going.
crossing a wide river (mackenzie) or working downriver into a headwind (very small whitecaps) will soon enough exhaust the most determined paddler with a pair of blades.

if thee is upon ice, and the going gets sketchy, one needs to "scooch" over the questionable sections. this is exhausting in the extreme, and it takes the pair of blades to do it.

Paul Backus

Locale: Bellingham, WA
two paddles? on 08/23/2012 17:04:05 MDT Print View

My trekking poles use flic locs, but maybe I can convince myself to get some lighter ones sometime in the future. I hadn't thought of using two paddles. How does that work? It seems like it would be hard to get any leverage with one hand. I remember trying to paddle a canoe with one hand when getting something out of a pack and it didn't work very well.

Is a J-strike not effective on a raft?

Edited by backuspaul on 08/23/2012 17:05:06 MDT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

J-stroke / 2 paddles on 08/23/2012 20:03:25 MDT Print View

With using two paddles you hold them fairly close to (pretty much at) the blades and then the shaft sorta braces on your forearms. A little thicker shaft would be ideal, but I imagine a skinny shaft will work okay. I haven't actually tried it with trekking pole halves, but I've done it with other small raft paddles (the type you get from Wal-Mart). It works pretty intuitively if you give it a shot with two SMALL paddles with short shafts. A canoe paddle is large, heavy and has that long shaft that makes it far more awkward then a tiny carbon fibre blade on half a trekking pole.

J-stroke seems tough on a raft because there's no keel to help you go straight like there is on most canoe's. It's also tough to reach out that far. I haven't actually tried it, but it sounds like a ineffective method. Okay maybe for a sloppy jaunt across a pond but not something I think would work effectively.

Edited by dandydan on 08/23/2012 23:52:46 MDT.

Paul Backus

Locale: Bellingham, WA
thanks on 08/23/2012 22:11:03 MDT Print View

Thanks Dan, that's very helpful. I'm a ways off from being able to afford a raft anyway, but I'll be sure to keep all this in mind when I finally can.

Perhaps I'll just use it as an excuse to get some GG poles at that point.

Paul Mountford
(Sparticus) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic Canada
Re: two paddles? on 08/24/2012 04:16:35 MDT Print View

Treking poles that don't lock - I have this problem as well (purchased the wrong poles). Mine are three part poles, and I can use the two lower sections to attached to the blades and connect the two halves of the paddles with a short aluminium tube (cut up a old mop or swiffer handle). I put some tape on the inside of the aluminium tube to allow a friction fit when I push the two haves together to make one kayak style paddle. I have only played with this paddle on flat water, and I have not used it on a trip. Any hiking pole paddles just seem to flimsy to me. An up-side is that the connected hiking pole makes a great centre pole for my golite pyramid.

As to two paddles - I have thought about that recently. By keeping your whole trekking pole together, it would make a stronger paddle than just the lower two sections together (do not extend the lower part). I was thinking that you can add two alpacka tie-down patches, one on each side of the boat, and use the webbing loop as an ore-lock. You could then row your packraft like a row-boat vice paddling it. I have the tie-down patches, but I have not got around to attaching them yet.

Has anyone thought of that or tried it yet? Any obvious problems with that idea?

Edited by Sparticus on 08/24/2012 04:17:30 MDT.

j lan
(justaddfuel) - F

Locale: MN
Re: canoe paddle on 08/24/2012 08:20:55 MDT Print View

You can always repurpose the paddle shaft as a hiking staff/shelter pole if you are open to that. Or just get some webbed gloves if you aren't going to be spending that much time in your raft -

I think that the trekking pole adapters seem inferior as paddles and also risk breaking your trekking pole$ on a long trek.

J stroke in an alpacka will turn you sideways to the starboard about 90 degrees because of the lack of keel mentioned above. Even just a forward paddle motion will turn you about 20 degrees off course.

Paul Backus

Locale: Bellingham, WA
FlytePacker on 09/24/2012 02:38:01 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the input guys! Since I only intend to go on flat water, I figured I'd get this FlytePacker that I found ( Does anyone have experience with it? It seems to be lighter and cheaper than other options, and they have a cheap paddle I can start with, at least.