If you are a stand-up paddle boarder, chances are you already own a paddle. Most SUPs of inflatable stand-up paddle boards come with a paddle when you purchase your board. Some paddles are usually simple adjustable paddles that make do if you are a beginner but can be under performing if you are seasoned SUPer.
Whether you are a beginner or a pro, you will want to find a paddle that fits your style and makes paddle boarding a lot more enjoyable and less of a grind. Starting off, you may be okay with the paddle that is included as you may be new to paddle boarding. As you gain experience, you may find that you may want to upgrade to something with more quality and performance.
These included paddles may be cheap and heavy which can put a toll on the amount of time you wish to be out on the water. There are a great range of paddles available that are lightweight and strong made from different materials. We are going to discuss the various types further below.
If you are a super avid paddle boarder and go out often, a solid paddle that is not adjustable measured to the correct length will be the way to go. It will be your own custom length paddle and perfect for you alone.
If you have an inflatable SUP, then the adjustable paddle is the best option as this would be ideal for traveling. If you have a family with kids, then getting a few adjustable paddles is a great option as well so the length can be altered for the user. You will see that your children will enjoy this activity very much.
A quick and simple way to feel the difference in weight is to stand on a chair and imagine that you are on a SUP. Grab a broom and do a few strokes on either side. Then grab a shovel and do the same. See the difference. Imagine fighting that weight over a long period of time. This will be a good way to determine the weight of a paddle and how much you need to put in to get a good momentum out of it.
So upgrading your paddles from a low performance one to a better quality paddle will have the same effect. Remember, you will only need one blade unlike rowing, canoeing or kayaking. Invest in a good quality paddle and blade and you will be very happy that you did.
Paddles tend to range quite a bit in price from heaviest being the cheaper to lightweight being the most expensive. Paddles are made from various materials with carbon-fiber and fiberglass being the lightest.
Common Types of Paddles:
Higher performance and lightweight. Carbon fiber paddles come in fixed and adjustable length options. If you really want to save on the weight and you are investing in the carbon to begin with, the custom length may be the better choice.
Typically used in the shaft as a more economical alternative. Alloy is very versatile and it pairs well with plastic, polycarbonate, fiberglass, and other polymers.
Versatile, lightweight material used in the shaft and head. Fiberglass is your “go-to” paddle material when you need a balance in performance and cost.
Usually the whole paddle is constructed out of wood for a classic look and lighter design. This is in keeping with the long tradition and history of stand up paddleboarding. These can cost a little more but can also be very performance oriented and attractive on the water (or as a decoration).
Typically found on more affordable paddles in the head and grip. A plastic blade is usually paired up with an aluminum shaft for an economical paddle option.
Another aspect of the paddle to look at is the blade. There are a various sizes and shapes as well as angles. Smaller blades are better for speed and racing while the larger blades are better for strong waves and more powerful SUPers. Blades are designed to be thin to decrease drag and make paddling easier. This provides the paddler with the acceleration to move forward.
Angle of the blade is really a personal preference and with experience and testing a few different angles, you will discover which is best for you. If you are a novice or unsure, go with the more traditional 10% angle.
SUP paddle blades consist of 2 shapes: flat or dihedral. Dihedral blades reduce the flutter or vibration when the paddle enters the water and pulls on the stroke. These cut through the water a lot better than flat blades but do lose the power of the flat blade. Flat blades are best for surfing as you can turn much easier and quicker.
Couple of points to note and to recap when looking into buying the best sup paddle for you.
- Type: Custom size or adjustable paddle
- Length: make sure that the paddle that you are buying is about 8 to 12 inches taller than you. The longer the paddle, the harder it will be to pull out the water.
- Materials: Carbon fiber tend to be the lightest and high performance paddles but are also the most expensive. If you want to invest in good SUP paddle then these are the ones to buy.
- Blade Size: If you are a beginner, the smaller blades are easier to paddle with. If you want more power, go with the larger blade size.
- Blade Shape: Flat blades are better for turning quicker especially if you catch waves. Dihedral are easier for beginners.
I hope that you have found this best SUP paddles review helpful. If you are looking for an inflatable SUP, we have the 10 best iSUPs here.