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4 piece or 2 piece paddle
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Michael S
(CascadeBackpacker) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NW
4 piece or 2 piece paddle on 02/02/2014 11:39:32 MST Print View

Looking for some advice from the experienced packrafters...

If you had to have just one paddle, would you choose a 4 piece or 2 piece paddle?

Certainly, the 2 piece paddle is lighter and has less parts/interfaces to improve reliability but the 4 piece is obviously more "packable". For a length of around 200cm, is the 4 piece absolutely necessary?

I see many photos where folks are just carrying 2 piece paddles (or a 4 piece that is only broken down into 2 pieces) strapped to the outside of their packs. Unless I'm bushwacking, I think I'd prefer to keep the paddles on the outside of my pack to avoid abrading the interior of my pack and contents.

Now if I plan on traveling to a packrafting destination by aircraft, then the 4 piece is clearly a winner.

The lighter weight of the 2 piece for carrying and paddling sure is tempting. Wondering what others prefer and why or do a lot of people have both and just use each one for different applications?

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: 4 piece or 2 piece paddle on 02/02/2014 13:14:50 MST Print View


If long distance bushwhacking or commercial travel is part of my trip, I always take one of my two 4-piece paddles because they are the easiest to pack and protect. They also offer the weight saving benefit of not requiring trekking poles. I pack just the blades and then use the paddle shaft as a walking staff (chair foot protector on the bottom). I take my 4-piece Werner Powerhouse (209 cm, 41.6 oz.) primarily for difficult whitewater trips. Otherwise I take my much lighter 4-piece Sawyer Packrafting paddle (205-230 cm, 32.2 oz.). This paddle's shaft length variability also makes it ideal for a large mid shelter center pole. If the nylon stretches do to moisture, I just lengthen the center pole to once-again achieve a taught pitch without having to get out of the shelter. The adjustable length also provides the variability of a high pitch for warm weather and low pitch for cold weather.

I otherwise take one of my 2-piece paddles because they are cheaper for the same material, lighter than the equivalent 4-piece, and stronger. For trips with little bushwhacking and a lot of flat water paddling, I use my carbon fiber 2-piece Epic paddle (215-225 cm, 25.8 oz.).

I had paddled hard-shell touring kayaks, folding touring kayaks, and hard-shell whitewater kayaks for many years prior to purchasing my first packraft in 2004. This year I am planning on a multiple-week pack rafting trip in central Alaska. It is a sacrilege for an UL packrafter to admit this, but I am taking my HEAVIEST PADDLE, 4-piece Werner Powerhouse, for this trip. There is no alternative exit strategy if I break a paddle on this all bushwhacking / III+ WW trip. Everything else in my pack is UL and the total weight for 10 days is 35.5 lbs. In addition to food/water/camping equipment, this includes standard WW safety gear (helmet, foam PFD, dry suit, throw rope, etc.) plus an, 8-weight fly rod and related fishing gear.

Edited by richard295 on 02/02/2014 14:14:54 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: 4 piece or 2 piece paddle on 02/02/2014 13:49:53 MST Print View

4 piece for sure.

When you need to pack your paddle in the pack, it'd really suck to not be able to.

Derrick White
(miku) - MLife

Locale: Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada
Gear List on 05/02/2014 15:55:56 MDT Print View


Love to see your gear list.


spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: 4 piece or 2 piece paddle on 05/04/2014 07:55:19 MDT Print View

I have a two-piece. It's kind of a pain in the butt.