like a good fitted pair of shoes makes all the difference, a suitable paddle
will make your time on the water much more enjoyable. There are several
considerations to keep in mind when choosing a paddle besides finding the
coolest looking one! The length, size of blade, and material the paddle is
constructed with all have an effect on the efficiency of your paddling
There are many different materials being used to
make paddles and each of them has benefits and limitations:
Plastic: Another economical
material, plastic is molded into blades and grips. It is affordable but heavier
than other materials
Aluminum: An economical material used for shafts, aluminum
is inexpensive but does have the drawback of being slightly heavier and doesnít
Fiberglass: Used for both shafts and
blades, fiberglass is stiff, light, and provides a great balance between value
and performance. Cheaper than carbon fiber but not as strong, many adjustable
paddles are made with fiberglass. Many float because of added foam in the
Wood: Used to craft the whole paddle or sometimes just
the blade, wood is reasonably lightweight, renewable, and provides the natural
feeling that canít be matched with synthetic materials. Some companies are
making paddles with a mix of both carbon fiber and wood.
Carbon Fiber: Carbon fiber is the lightest and strongest
material used in paddles. The most expensive paddles are carbon fiber, but they
are lighter, stronger and look fantastic. They can get very hot if left in the
The most crucial part of
choosing a paddle is finding the right length. If it is to short it forces you
to bend over which can lead to back pain. If itís to long your arms will begin
to hurt from holding the paddle up.
What length should I choose?
Paddle length greatly depends on the type of
paddling you intend to do. On average your paddle should be 10-12 in. taller
than you for racing, 8-10 in. taller than you for cruising on flat water, or
6-8 in. taller than you for surfing or whitewater.
size also matters.
If you are going to be spending all your time cruising on open water you can
get a smaller blade. Smaller blades donít cause as much fatigue. If you are
going to be racing or whitewater SUPing, you will want a blade that is bigger
and can move you faster.
How you hold the paddle is also important, holding a SUP paddle is different from all other paddles you have ever used. The bend in the paddle right at the blade and shaft confuses many first time SUPers. The bend just above the blade allows for a more efficient stroke. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the elbow of the bend should point towards the rear of the SUP while paddling. This allows the blade to slip up out of the water at the end of the stroke as opposed to lifting water.
Paddles are one of the few options with stand up paddleboarding you want to really research and find the perfect fit. Donít cheap out on a SUP paddle either, because if it breaks and youíre on the water, you are going to be left very frustrated and upset. Might say you'd be left "up a creek without a paddle!"
Choosing the right SUP paddle is a personal choice, it all comes down to personal preference and what you are planning on doing with your SUP.