GP loom length question.

I’m making another GP for a friend who tells me the loom length s/b 16". Most I have made have been in the 20" range , so my initial impression is that is short.

Reading the literature , it says that loom length should not only account for the paddler’s personal dimensions , but also the boat width. The boat is 23.5".

I’m thinking 20" might be a good compromise.

Guidance appreciated.

Bill Bremer Lumpy Paddles
Here is some input from Bill Bremer who makes Lumpy Greenland paddles:

More links
Here are two more links to “how to measure”.

Note that in both pictures, as in Bill Bremer’s, the arms hang loosely - the elbows are not pressed to the body. Hold it like you paddle it.

This gives a good measurement for what fits the paddler - assuming the boat also fits the paddler. A 16 in loom would indicate a boat width of maybe 18 inches to me. Maybe a child in a custom built boat?

Paddles with 19 – 20 inch looms work for me with boats from 20 – 23 inch width.

Work with the user!
I don’t have a GP, but an Aleut P instead. I measured and re-measured and ended up with a 24" loom with light shoulders. That is what my shoulder girdle and grip style dictates, but an AP is not used exactly the same as a GP,a nd they’re usually about a foot longer in total anyway.

GPs appear to use a sliding stroke, which means that you slip the upper hand over the shoulder of the blade somewhat. That makes sizing the loom different. If that is the way the user intends it, then the loom length might not be as significant as the shoulder width, when you get right down to it!

So go back to the end-user and see how he/she intends to use the paddle, the shoulder and grip measurements, etc. When that person is satisfied, you won’t be wasting your time! Until that person is satisfied, none of our opinions will matter…

No expert as BillB made mine but
believe you can always open up the loom a bit if it paddles too narrow or thick but can’t shrink it too easily. Bill had me find a comfortable width using a closet pole and some spare sticks. Just thoughts. R

Help Us Out
Is this person tall? Broad shouldered? Long arms?

I’m 5’9" with fairly narrow shoulders. I think my boat’s about 22" wide and an 18.5" loom is good for me. Your 20" guess would be too long for me.

It’s individual
It’s undoubtedly your narrow shoulders and narrow beam width that makes that narrow a loom work so well for you. A wide shouldered person in a wider boat would need a longer loom, depending upon whether and how much he slid his grip.

loom length
will be more "fixed with a shouldered style. I have one at about 20 inches that I find a bit close. The 2 versions I carved are shoulder-less with which my hands are comfortable at 24 inches. All 3 are 88 inches long and 3.25 inches or less wide. I am happy to offer these on loan to you for other paddler to see what works.

Thanks Andy. I am going to blank
this one out at 16" so he can try it. It is a lot easier to lengthen the loom than shorten it.

You got it
I’m with you on the loom size, but as someone points out, you can always widen the loom later. I like to have my customers try the paddle in the rough-sanded stage. We then make adjustments.

I don’t think I’ve made a paddle with less than an 18" loom, and I’ve done them for a few really petite women.


Sometimes people
measure the distance between their hands and forget that the loom really needs to be wide enough so that both index fingers are inside the loom. That can add about 2 in to the length needed.

I am fairly small with narrow shoulders and a 20.5 in boat and I have a 19 in loom with about another 2 in (1 in each side) of transition from loom to full shoulder width. Most paddlers that try my paddle find the loom to be too narrow for them. Mine is a Lumpy from Bill Bremer.


I bought an 88 inch gp, shouldered with a 20 inch loom as recommended by various anthropometric measurements. I found that loom way too narrow. Then I measured the hand separation on the unfeathered euro paddles I had been using for many years and found that my hand separation was 24 inches. My new 24 inch loom, unshouldered, is night and day better for me.

I also learned that Maligiaq uses a 24 inch loom.

Far better to try different loom lengths than to rely on anthropometrics.

Let Me Complicate Things

– Last Updated: Oct-25-11 8:11 AM EST –

I'm a firm believer in carrying two GPs. One has significantly less surface area for going into stiff headwinds or if you just feel like changing your cadence. I think having an inch more loom on an upwind paddle is a good idea. You sacrifice a little comfort to gain some power.

I have chainrings to choose from on my bike when the wind picks up.

wider vs more narrow
I followed the paddle maker’s directions for figuring my metrics very carefully when I ordered my first GP and the loom came out to 18" (I’m a narrow shouldered average sized woman with boats from 20" to 23"). Good thing it’s a no-shoulder style because after using it for a while I decided to check what my actual in-use grip spacing was before ordering a new break down paddle. Stuck tape on the paddle at the 18" spacing before my next outing and discovered I am mostly gripping it at a 20" span. My hands are slender, but long, so I have not been bothered by the slightly larger diameter of the stick where I grip it. In fact, I tend to think that having my hand over where the paddle begins to flare helps me keep it canted right, especially when wearing neoprene gloves that obscure my sensation of the oval loom.

So starting out with the smaller loom does sound like a good idea – can’t hurt and might work fine. Just one opinion.

I paddle narrow boats with 19" loom gps. That is what feel comfortable to me. I don’t care what anyone measures out, it is what feels best to me. Also, regarding Maligiaq, he doesn’t rotate his torso, so a wider loom works better for him.

What is the relation between Maligiaq’s torso rotation and loom length?

I don’t see why gp loom length (hand placement) should be any narrower or wider than for a Euro paddle, especially if the Euro is narrow blade and unfeathered.

Most people use a wider grip on a Euro
It probably has more to do with getting leverage on the larger blades than anything else.

loom length
It seems to me the loom length should be enough so you arn’t banging your hands on the cockpit combing at least. The beam of the bost would have to be a major consideration in determining the loom.

factors - not just one
Loom length probably has to satisfy 3 parameters, but it doesn’t do that by itself in a GP.

  1. You need to have your hands clear the sides of the boat - a function of beam width.
  2. You need to be able to apply good power at the right moments to your stroke - a function of how you hold your paddle as a lever.
  3. You need to ensure that how you’re holding that lever doesn’t inadvertently transfer dangerous leverage against your shoulder joint (among other anatomical hazards) - partly a function of shoulder girdle width.

    The latter two relate to overall leverage and form. Form is a matter of practice. Overall leverage is a matter of where you place your hands on the whole paddle, not simply on the loom, relative to the position of your body, particularly the arms and shoulders.

    That last point is quite important if you use a GP in its customary way with a sliding stroke. Because in that case your loom isn’t inhibiting placement at all, only blade width at the shoulders might do that.

    Am I being clear here (even if you disagree)?

loom and shoulder style
This discussion brings up something I’ve wondered about for a while. The only GP’s I’ve owned or borrowed have been unshouldered and I admit that shouldered styles puzzle me. What is the advantage of a shouldered GP? Doesn’t the shoulder get in the way of a sliding stroke or some bracing moves? Or does the abrupt dimensional change help you keep your hands centered on the paddle? Or add substantially to the blade area for displacement power? Just curious. Few people in my area use GP’s so I’ve not met anyone yet I could ask about this.