Whitewater Rafting Paddles

White Water Rafting Paddle Selection Criteria

Selecting your white water rafting paddle can be a challenge. This is your gas peddle, brake peddles, and tires, so choosing one for you to handle the river is important. Often times it is a personal preference, but there are a few main selection criteria for a whitewater rafting paddle. Find one that is the most comfortable in your hand and can withstand the use and abuse of navigating your raft down the river. Of course, for you expert paddlers just about all features can be customized to your preference.

Paddle Length

Adult paddle lengths are typically between 62″ – 66″. Your height is the main determinate for the length of the paddle, so if you are shorter/taller choose on the corresponding spectrum. Besides allowing height to determine, a personal preference can be given based on your paddle rate or leverage needed. A shorter paddle will allow you to have a quicker paddle rate but will be with less propulsion. A longer paddle will give you more leverage, allowing you to generate more propulsion for your raft at a slower paddle rate. A shaft diameter will typically only have a small and regular option, so choose the appropriate one for your hand size.

Paddle End Grip

There are three typical paddle end grip types that can be decided upon by your personal preference:
  • Asymmetrical Palm Grip

    • These grips fit in the palm of your hand and are meant for the paddle to be held in a certain direction for optimal wrist support and comfort. Typically for more experienced paddlers.
  • Symmetrical Palm Grip

    • These grips fit in the palm of your hand and the paddle can be used in either orientation. They provide wrist support and comfort while paddling.
  • T Grip

    • These grips provide the most leverage of your paddle, which can be used in either orientation. These are the most common.

Paddle Blade Design

Your blade can either be straight or scooped. For a maximum power forward, a scooped blade should be used. However, for a more technical route, a straight blade should be used to give you the most versatility. If you know your route and are confident in the types of paddles needed, then you can decide between the two to optimize your raft’s movement. If you don’t know the river, a straight shaft is a better option as it will give you more versatility. In regards to blade size, the larger the blade size the more power you can generate, but it will also require a stronger user.

Rafting Spot Whitewater Paddle Recommendations

NRS Outlaw 140
Length56", 60", or 66"
Weight60" is 36 oz
End GripT-grip
Blade DesignSymmetrical
Blade MaterialHigh-impact ABS plastic
Blade Size8" W x 18" L

Why RaftingSpot Likes It:

This is a durable paddle with the blade made from high-impact ABS to withstand multiple seasons of rafting. With varying length options and a T-grip handle just about everyone will find this comfortable.

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Aire 156R
Length60", 63", 66", 69" or 72"
Weight66" is 32.5 oz
End GripT-grip
Blade DesignSymmetrical
Blade MaterialFiberglass
Blade Size8.25" W x 21.5" L

Why RaftingSpot Likes It:

This paddle features fiberglass material making it lightweight, but still durable enough to handle any river. With the lightweight, length options, and T-grip handle there are plenty of options.

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NRS packraft


Length 48″, 54″, 57″, 60″, or 66″
Weight 60″ is 30 oz
End Grip T-grip
Blade Design Symmetrical
Blade Material High-impact polypropylene
Blade Size 7.75″ W x 20.5″ L


Why RaftingSpot Likes It:

Carlisle has produced an economical paddle that still handles well in the water. It is lightweight and sturdy with numerous options for length for different individuals.

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