Advanced Elements Ultralite Pack Paddle
|full setup||minimalist setup|
|Weight||23.6 oz||20 oz|
|Length||224 cm||169 cm|
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This is the most affordable kayak paddle I've found…
Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (I will keep it and keep using it!)
This is the most affordable kayak paddle I've found that can be taken apart into four parts. It is great for using with folding or inflatable kayaks, as it is packable and portable and weighs about 24 ounces. The slim metal shaft suits small hands. I have not used it for whitewater or challenging conditions.
- Takes apart into four pieces
- Weighs only 24 ounces
- Slim shaft for small hands
- Great price—costs only US$46
- Paddle blades are blocky, not ergonomic
- Slim shaft feels less sturdy than standard metal shaft paddles
- Might not be suitable for challenging whitewater
Kayakers need spare paddles. I chose two of these Ultralite Pack Paddles to go with the Lagoon inflatable kayak given to me a year and a half ago, by the manufacturer. One I keep as a lightweight spare paddle, the other I've been using for a year and a half.
Now it's my usual paddle, tucked inside the bag for my Lagoon kayak. It goes with me on the bus, assembles quickly and easily, and works well on my quiet days paddling on small lakes or sheltered ocean bays. Saltwater has NOT corroded the fastening pop-up knobs, nor has it made the shafts stick together at the joins. As a four-piece take-apart paddle, I have to rate it "Good."
All this use has improved my first impression of the Ultralite. The first time I held it, I would have rated it no more than "Average." Frankly, this paddle has some shimmy and doesn't feel rock-solid. The slim metal shaft feels less sturdy than a standard metal shaft. Though I have small hands, I've always used standard shaft paddles. It took using this paddle many times to feel confident with it.
Though I rarely paddle whitewater, I do occasionally paddle in choppy and rough water or during windy weather. I have not used this Ultralite paddle in challenging conditions, only on flatwater. I wonder if this paddle might bend or fail in a storm or in a Class 2+ rapid, so I have not used it in that way.
I suspect that with great effort I might be able to bend this paddle's shaft like Superman bending a crowbar, something I don't suspect about standard shaft paddles. That's a new feeling for a plump little woman paddler! When I want a reliable, tough paddle for challenging conditions, I use another paddle from Advanced Elements, their Touring 4-part 2015 which takes apart into four pieces.
I'm also not really satisfied with the way the Ultralite blades bite the water. It seems a bit clumsy or inefficient. Maybe I'm too used to the dihedral blades of the Touring. I'll have to go get my scoop blade carbon paddle, and borrow my husband's Greenland paddle, to have some variety. Different doesn't have to feel bad.
All in all, I consider the Ultralite to be a good spare paddle, especially for a folding or inflatable kayak. I like the price! It costs no more than a cheap clunky two-part paddle from a hardware store! The Ultralite has held up to a year and a half of use as my main paddle, and I get on the water more often than most recreational kayakers. Saltwater hasn't bothered it a bit.
I would put this paddle in the hands of a beginner with small hands, such as a child or youth or small person—because we'd be paddling in sheltered flatwater.
Disclosure: The reviewer is an ambassador for Advanced Elements and received a sample of this product from the brand or its representatives in exchange for a review.