Paddles in airline baggage

-- Last Updated: Oct-16-07 9:16 AM EST --

Any worry about packing paddles in checked baggage on an airline flight? I have a soft-side paddle bag, but I worry that it could get broken by rough handling. Any advice for how to pack them to avoid that? I'm talking about 2-piece carbon fiber and fiberglass paddles.

Thanks. --David.

bubble wrap
i just recently took my pricey and fragile carbon wing on a flight as checked baggage. i had it (with my clothes) in a large duffle bag. the paddle was inside a paddle bag, wrapped in many layers of bubble wrap. it worked extremely well.


We’ve flown several times with
a 2 pc GP and my wifes carbon and FG paddle. We use a mesh gear bag that holds all of our kayak gear. We take our 2 pfds and put them around the blades.

So far, we’ve had no problems.

snow board
We used an expanding hardsided ski/snow board container for our paddles when we flew up for the yukon race

You can probably fit a 2x4 down the length of the paddle shaft and leave the blades open and then wrap the blades and shaft with bubble wrap. The 2x4 will provide stiffness to breakage and the bubble wrap should crushproof it to a certain degree

Or a fancy way is to buy the polyethylene pipe insulation in the widest diameter you can find and wrap the blade with it and then bubble wrap the ends. I pack my bicycle that way, wraping the bike tubes before they go into my hardshell Trico ironcase.


I use a $15 hard shell rifle case from Bass Pro Shop for my 2 piece wing paddle.

Looking at duffels…

– Last Updated: Oct-16-07 9:31 AM EST –

Thanks for the great ideas. I'm inclined to the idea of a large duffel, stuffed with pfd's and other protective things. This one is 50", which will accommodate the 46" half paddle...

(Amazing how many of the "giant" and "XXL" duffels are only 30-36" long!)

The 2x4 idea occurred to me too. Seems like a strip of 1/2" plywood might do the trick too, with a bit less bulk. That might cover the blade as well, with bubble wrap in between.

A snowboard bag, like this one...

... seems really long for the job. I think I prefer the above duffel, which is probably about the same volume overall but with more width for other stuff (24").

Also, a bag big enough to hold other stuff seems important, since this will use one of your two allowed checked bags. If you have one bag just for paddles, then you have to fit all your gear, clothes and personal stuff in the other one, to avoid $100 for a third bag. That speaks against specialized cases like rifle cases and snow board bags.

I used a ski bag and bubble wrap
My paddles are short surfing paddles, one piece Onno…I packed them in a down hill ski bag I aleady have and put some bubble wrap on the blades they were fine.

I apparently used my paddle on a coral reef to roll up. My first damage to my paddle but epoxy fixed it up fine.

PVC pipe
I have a 8" black PVC with caps on each end that hold 2 AT Exceptions. I drilled 2 small holes in the middle and put a webbing handle thru. covered it with stickers so it didn’t look like a bomb.


flying w/paddles
Coupla things :

A buddy had his bonbproof WW canoe paddle broken after checking it through A/L baggage. We figure it must have gotten cought lengthwise against a hard surface on the conveyer track and been snapped.

Also Continental A/l et. al., has a $80 surcharge for any bag over 61 or 62 inches, calculated by adding length, height, and width. Golf bags are of course exempt (?). This happened to me on a flight back, after they said nothing about size on the flight out. I stood there among 4 golf bags larger than my paddling gear bag and got charged $ 80 while the golfers got a freebie. Be careful, according to Continental size matters.


extra bag
I always have too much gear on trips I’m flying to so put my paddles in a regular paddle bag, stuffed with foam and padded with clothes. I duct tape it all together and strap it to the outside of my large duffel. I’ve never had to pay extra for the 3rd bag (though my paddling partner did once). I do feel like I’m pressing my luck though and am thinking of getting a hard case golf bag. They come in 2 pieces and you can stuff alot of gear in them. Airlines allow golf gear that is oversized without charge.


Golf shell – too big for rental cars
I have a hard shell golf bag, and it holds gear and paddles quite nicely. The big problem is that, at 62" long, it does not fit into a normal rental car, neither trunk nor back seat. You have to get a wagon, SUV, Cruiser, etc. A full-size sedan might do it, but it might not. So that tends to cost a lot more for the car, and I’m trying to avoid it.

The other annoying thing about the golf shell is that it comes out very top-heavy when loaded and is really a pain to drag around the airport, even with the wheels. I suppose I could repack it with more weight in the bottom, but I think it would still be bad, with its relative length vs width. I’m hoping that a 50" x 24" duffel on a cart will be better.

Perhaps the solution is a different paddle, namely one of those 4-piece Lendal jobs. But I like my paddle!


Rental sedans
Many rental sedans have one or both sides of the back seat that open up and lay flat. This allows you to run something through from the trunk to the back seat… usually long enough for skis or golf bags.

It comes in 2 pieces and weighs only 3 lbs. The length is adjustable so if your paddles are 48" long you can make the tube that length. It also carries alot of gear.



– Last Updated: Oct-16-07 9:00 PM EST –

sorry mine is a sport tube. Basically two square tubes. one slides into the other. We got the snowboard size because we were flying with three wing blades.

Nice thing about the sport tube is it extends far enough that it could hold a one piece paddle
When we are not using it it collapses into a relativly small container. Something a hardsided golfclub case could not do.

Lendal 4 piece
I use a Lendal 4 piece when

Lendal 4 piece
I use a Lendal 4 piece with two sets of blades and two shafts in the Lendal paddle case when I fly. Very compact!Fits inside hard my shell luggage.

Flew to Greenland in 1999
and out of six carbon 4-pc paddles, three were damaged beyond use. I watched from my window seat after arriving in Baltimore as my Feathercraft bag came down the ramp conveyor first from the hold and the ground dude gently put it on the cart. Someone arrived on the ground and called the onboard unloader out, sent him away, and took over, walked up the ramp conveyor out of site and the next thing we see is the other two Feathercraft bags get chucked from the hold onto the tarmack, missing the conveyor and the cart. When we finally saw our gear in Iceland we not only found one of the Feathercraft bags with frame tubes poking out all over (undamaged poles thank God) but everyones spare paddles (three in all) trashed. Pack 'em damn well, bubble rap wasn’t good enough even inside the packs.

I just got back.
I was on a couple of airlines with my paddles.

Had a dry suit, PFD, Spray Deck, Tow Belt and other bits and bobs in a hard shell double rifle case.

The case was clearly marked "Kayak Paddles, Life Vest, Dry Suit and Canadian Coast Guard Required safety gear.

They asked if it contained a gun. I escorted it to the x-ray just to see what it looked like. The only thing to see was the silhouette of my PFD knife.

I did not have a problem.

Had the paper describing the contents fallen off the stenciled name rank and serial number would have put things back into an. “OH! : What’s that?” stance.

Mark it with photos ,a description of contents, happy faces flowers and you should not gain any attention.

If it saves money mark Golf Club on it and put a broken putter in there.