Review: Celtic Packraft Ultra Carbon paddle

Packraft paddle

I love packrafting, but even a modest trip requires considerably more gear in the pack than a basic hillwalking/wild camping sortie. I have a Werner Shuna 2 piece paddle I’ve used for sea kayaking, but it’s a pain to take packrafting as it’s size means it has to be strapped to the outside of the pack. After the first trip using one I decided to invest in a multi-piece paddle. Celtic produce a specific 5 piece packraft paddle, know as the Celtic Packraft Ultra Carbon paddle. I decided to give this a go.

Some statistics. The paddle is 5 piece and is has a stepless lever lock, meaning you can infinitely alter the relative angle of the two blades. It varies in length from 205 to 215cm, and weighs around 900g. As you’d expect, it’s shaft is made from carbon fibre.

The paddle breaks down into 5 sections. The two blades, plus three sections for the shaft. Apart from the lever lock, all connections use spring loaded nylon studs, which fit into holes in the relevant section of the paddle. It’s very quick to put the paddle together, probably around 30 seconds, but I do find there is a tiny bit of play in the blades once assembled. It doesn’t impact performance, but I do wonder if over the long term this may create wear on the hole/studs. Having said that I’ve owned mine for 3 years and paddled hundreds of kilometres with it and it still seems fine.

To assemble, you first put the narrow, short section into the level lock. The short section is marked so you can get a consistent length every time you assemble. You pull the lever lock back over and it locks tight. Then add the other section of shaft aligning the studs to the holes, then repeat for the blades. Open the level to adjust to get the angle you want between the blades before re-locking and you’re good to go.

The blades are nicely scalloped and the paddle develops plenty of power. The blades are quite compact, but you can still execute good brace strokes with them if you need to. The handle feels good in the hands, and is easy to grip even with neoprene gloves on.

I usually leash my paddle to my raft so that I only have to hang onto the paddle if I go for a swim and I retain the whole boat as you can see in the below image.

Breaking down into 5 pieces means it can easily fit into my pack. I prefer having everything inside the pack if possible rather than strapping things to the outside. I can just about manage this, including all of my camping gear, in my 85 litre Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 5400.

Summary

This is not a cheap paddle, but if you are out packrafting and want a lightweight, strong, capable and packable paddle. You could certainly do a lot worse than this option. Highly recommended.

I paid for my paddle using my own money and have no association with Celtic paddles.

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