A Packrafter’s Guide to Paddle Feathering

3-minute read

If you’re a packrafter—whether beginner or experienced—feathering your paddle can help boost your performance and enjoyment.

packrafter with a feathered kayak paddle on a river

This packrafter’s paddle blades are offset slightly—that’s paddle feathering (photo by Luc Mehl)

What is paddle feathering? We’re glad you asked…it’s one of the most-asked questions we get here at Aqua Bound, actually.

What “Paddle Feathering” Means

Paddle feathering is simply when you adjust the two blades of your paddle so one of them is at a different angle than the other.

How to Feather Your Paddle

Almost all kayak paddles are split into two pieces in the middle. The connection point between the two halves is the ferrule. The most basic ferrule, a snap-button ferrule, allows for just one adjusted angle, usually 60º.

More high-tech ferrules, like Aqua Bound’s Posi-Lok™ and Versa-Lok™ ferrules systems, offer many more options for feathering, even unlimited.

Our Posi-Lok™ is one of the easiest to use and most secure ferrules on the market. You can easily switch feathering angles on the fly in seconds. Our Versa-Lok™ ferrule also has unlimited feathering angles, with the additional feature of adjustable length up to 15 cm.

two packrafters on a lake

To feather or not to feather? Depends on the conditions and your preference (photo courtesy of Doru Oprisan Photography)

Why Feather Your Paddle

Paddle feathering is used for two main purposes:

  • Help in the wind. When you paddle into a headwind, you have to force the blade that’s out of the water into the wind as you pull the other blade through the water. But angle one of the blades so its edge cuts into the wind instead of its face pushing against it and you meet less resistance. You won’t tire as easily, especially for all-day excursions or on a multi-day trip.
  • It can be easier on your wrists. Some paddlers find that feathering their blades makes long days on the water easier on their wrists. That can be a real plus, especially if you already have wrist issues.

Some packrafters find paddle feathering very helpful, others not so much.

Jacob Kastrup Haagensen is a Scandinavian packrafter and filmmaker currently living in Sweden (@urbanpackrafter). He said:

“Usually I prefer to paddle without feathering or with a little feathering (less than 20 degrees). In whitewater I almost never feather the paddle.

“In case of head wind I'll consider feathering more. But as I'm paddling a packraft, the wind resistance from the paddle is the least of my worries—the packraft itself provides a lot of wind resistance and almost no hull spread.

“I'm left-handed and hence control the paddle with my left hand. I had a bad experience borrowing a heavily-feathered right hand paddle, and overloaded my left hand wrist. After that I'm always a bit sensitive to too much load on my wrist.”

woman packrafting on a northern river

The way to know if paddle feathering will improve your packrafting experiences is  simply to try it.

What questions do you have about our paddles or packrafting? Contact our friendly Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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