Now that you’ve chosen a Stand-Up Paddleboard, the next natural step is to find a paddle. Choosing a SUP paddle is pretty easy once you’ve narrowed down the type of paddling you plan to do.
The 3 main things to look for in a SUP paddle are: Length, Material and the Blade. Let’s get into it.
For recreational paddling, you can find your paddle length by raising your hand like a student with a confident answer. With the paddle next to you, vertically, reach your hand up. If it’s the right size for you, the handle will meet at the bend of your wrist. This is how you can select a Fixed-length paddle, or make the appropriate changes to an Adjustable-length paddle.
Adjustable-length paddles are a great option for those who plan to share their paddles, perhaps with other friends or family members. They also allow you to fine-tune the length if you plan to use the same paddle for different environments such as touring and surfing. Fixed-length paddles are often lighter, and more stiff than their adjustable cousin.
Opting for a paddle that saves some weight is ideal when planning long days, or trips on the water. Every little ounce can add up to make a big difference in how quickly you fatigue throughout the day. However, if you only anticipate getting out on the water a few times, for short periods - weight shouldn’t be the final deciding factor.
To extend our conversation on the weight of a SUP paddle: If you decide weight is important to you, then paying attention to the material type will be key. SUP paddles come in different materials, and therefore different price points as well. Commonly, you’ll find paddles made from Plastic, Aluminum, Fiberglass or Carbon fiber.
Entry-level paddles are typically built with an aluminum shaft, and plastic blades and grips. Both materials are affordable and serve as a great, durable option that is built for beginners.
If you are looking for something lighter, Fiberglass (used in the shaft and blade) makes for a great choice. Fiberglass paddles are a mid-range option and decently stiff.
The lightest, stiffest and most expensive option is Carbon Fiber but the weight you save can be worth the extra dollars you spend. If you’re planning several longer trips, investing in a lightweight paddle will pay off in the long run.
A general rule of thumb to remember is “large blades are more powerful” while “small blades are more efficient”.
You will find two blade shapes to choose from: Tear-drop and Rectangular. A Tear-drop blade shape is a good choice for paddlers with a slower cadence and more powerful stroke while a Rectangular blade shape is good for a high-cadence and can be more gentle on your body.
Finally, if you’re getting down to the finer details and still debating: take a look at the angle of the blade, also known as the Offset. For general paddling, the Offset can be about 10 degrees. For SUP surfing: 7 degrees and for racing: 12 degrees. Again, this isn’t something to get too hung up on if you are a recreational paddler.
If you’ve never paddled before, we recommend visiting the store to feel the different paddles and find one that feels right for you. Choosing a paddle is as complicated as you want to make it but once you find the right one for you, you’ll be a happy paddler in no time.