Whether you’re paddling on a rigid SUP or an inflatable SUP
, you’re going to need a great paddle to enhance your paddling experience. Mostly, you’ll find stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) sold as a complete package with a paddle, but some brands don’t include a paddle in the package. Sadly, those who include a paddle in the package generally throw in a poor quality paddle than what you can buy on your own.
If you’re a paddle boarding enthusiast, you’ll definitely need the best available paddling equipment: a great paddleboard
and an efficient paddle. Do yourself that favor by purchasing a great SUP paddle that suits your specific paddling style –– and you won’t break the bank to get a decent paddle!
Now, paddle boarding is among the fastest growing water sport and combines surfing and kayaking. You basically stand on a surfboard and propel yourself with a paddle. However, a stand-up paddleboard is longer, wider, and offers more buoyancy than a regular surfboard
, hence allowing you to balance on it comfortably.
Every stand-up paddler has his/her unique style, but we all share one fundamental goal –– to paddle as efficiently as we possibly can, so we can enjoy more time on the water. A great paddle comes with lightweight and stiff blades to offer more efficiency and better, longer paddling sessions. Various paddling styles include more fishing, more exercise, more rapid running, more wave-surfing, and more shoreline exploring.
The type of paddle and the material it’s made of determines your experience on the waters. When you upgrade from the low-performance plastic blades or aluminum shafts to the more efficient carbon fiber or fiberglass paddles, you’ll feel an enormous difference in your paddling experience. Sure, lightweight carbon fiber or fiberglass cost a little more, but since the SUP paddle requires only one blade, the cost won’t hit the rooftop.
With that said, let’s go through some features to look out for when shopping for a SUP paddle, then you can check out our top picks that will revolutionize your paddling experience.
The type of material the SUP paddle is made of will dictate the price. Cheaper SUP paddles will do the work, but it’s more like playing tennis with an old wooden racket. Cheap paddles will generally be heavyweight and weak, so you strain your arms a lot during paddling and you’re limited to the force you can apply on the paddle to propel you more powerfully.
Now, a good paddle will cost anything between $30 and $240 depending on the brand and the material it’s made of. If you choose to stretch your budget a little bit and purchase a lightweight paddle with a stiff blade, which is generally made of carbon fiber or fiberglass, you’ll feel all the difference in the way these models enhance your paddling experience.
The same way you’d need a good pair of hiking boots for mountain climbing, a great paddle will make your day in the waters more enjoyable. The best SUP paddle should be lightweight to use for long hours and strong enough to withstand all the paddling conditions you find yourself in. So, let’s look at the features that make up a good SUP paddle:
Material - SUP paddles are made from various material –– each with its own set of benefits and limitations. Plastic paddles are economical but are heavyweight and offer low stiffness. Wooden paddles are reasonably lightweight and provide warmth on the handle. They also offer great aesthetics than other synthetic materials. Aluminum is generally used on shafts and is relatively economical, though it’s cold to touch and is generally heavy in weight. Carbon fiber is the lightest and strongest material that makes up paddles. These paddles are perfect if you’re going to take long hours on the water since they are lightweight and offer less fatigue. Fiberglass is used on both the shaft and the blade and offer lightweight and stiffness. It offers an excellent balance between performance and value.
Length - It’s crucial to find the right length of a SUP paddle if you’re going to enjoy an efficient paddling. Paddles that are too long tend to tire your arms since you hold them too high up. On the other hand, a paddle that’s too short stresses your back as you keep bending forward to reach the waters. So, choose a perfect length depending on the style of your paddling. If you’re racing, go for a paddle length that’s 10-12 inches taller than you. When cruising on flat waters, consider paddles that are 8-10 inches taller, and when surfing, go for a paddle that is 6-8 inches taller.
Blade size - Paddles are categorized into two major groups: paddles for cruising/touring and paddles for surfing. A surf paddle comes with a wider surface area to offer wider leverage against the water. They are great for bracing but can still be used for racing or as a white water SUP paddle. A cruising paddle, on the other hand, has a smaller surface area which minimizes strain on the arms when paddling long distances. You’ll also find middle-sized paddles that offer a wide range of functionalities and can be used both for cruising and surfing.
Construction and Design
Before you make up your mind on the right SUP paddle to choose for your paddleboarding needs, let’s delve deeper into the design and construction features that influence the performance of a paddle. Keep in mind that we’re more concerned about finding the most efficient SUP paddle that fits your budget.
Blade Angle - You’ll notice that SUP paddle blades are usually angled to the shaft, and there are good reasons for that. Blade angles range from 6% to 12%, but most SUP paddle blades are angled at 10%. Now, the angle of the blade enables the paddle to commence its power stroke a little further away hence offering more power on the stroke. An angled blade doesn’t let the paddleboard’s nose to dip in the water hence allowing you to glide through the water easily. After the stroke, the angled blade drains water better and prevents you from lifting any water leftover as you pull the paddle out of the water.
SUP Paddle Angle - SUP paddles are designed with two main shapes: dihedral and flat. So, why the difference in shapes? Experts believe that dihedral shapes reduce “flutter,” which refers to the situation when the blade does not come straight back on a power stroke. Often, the blade wobbles or rocks back and forth since the paddle lacks adequate strength to prevent the blade from fluttering. If the paddle flutters, it’s easy to bang the paddle on the rails of the paddleboard. So, the dihedral shape allows the paddle blade to cut through the water in a better way than a flat-shaped paddle. However, you’ll lose a little power on the stroke. Some paddlers also raise concerns that it takes longer to make a turn with a dihedral paddle. So, a dihedral shape is generally recommended for beginner paddlers who are willing to sacrifice turning speeds and power for a smoother stroke and a flat shape would be better for more seasoned-pros.
Performance and Ease of Use
The type of SUP paddle you choose has a lot to do with its performance on the water. Every paddler needs a lightweight paddle that is strong enough to navigate every paddling condition. Generally, paddles made of fiberglass offer lightweight and great stiffness, so you get value for your money. Cheaper alternatives like plastic or wooden paddles may not offer the required stiffness to power you through the waters, especially if you’re looking to make powerful strokes during racing. Carbon fiber paddles are perhaps the strongest and the lightest models you’ll find on the market, which means better paddling efficiency and minimal fatigue.
The height of your paddle also determines how easy you propel your paddleboard. For convenience, most manufacturers make paddles with adjustable heights, so you can extend the shaft and lock in various positions to suit your height and the paddling style. It’s a great feature to consider since you can decide to lock it in a convenient position for cruising or surfing on flat waters, and then you can re-adjust it later for a racing expedition. Others are cut-length paddles and come with longer lengths than you need. You can measure your desired length and cut in-store and glue back the grip in position. The only downside to this style is that once you cut it into size, you can never adjust the length for other expeditions.
If your favorite pastime is stand-up paddle boarding, make sure that you never lag behind on the open waters. We’ve reviewed five great paddles that are designed to reliably propel you across the open lake or ocean. The designs are conveniently portable and extremely durable, so go ahead and pick a model that suits your needs and budget.
Own the Wave is committed to designing high quality outdoor recreation equipment. Some of their products include bodyboards, surfboard leashes, surfboard grips, surfboard fins, SUP carry straps, and stand-up paddle accessories.
The Own the Wave Adjustable Alloy SUP Paddle is an excellent product for those looking for a quality paddle on a budget. Available in 2-pieces and 3-pieces, this paddle comes with an extremely comfortable handle and is lightweight (2.1 pounds!), making it suitable for paddlers of different levels of experience.
Featuring a lightweight alloy shaft and nylon composite blade, this paddle reduces paddle fatigue, making it easy for anyone including lighter adults and kids to use it. With its huge height range- 66 inches to 83 inches, this paddle is suitable for a very wide range of paddlers. It is easy to assemble and disassemble, and also very easy to adjust the height. A guide is included to help you determine the correct height!
Its foam core gives it a 100% guarantee to float in both fresh and salt water. Its end is bent, making the stroke more efficient! And, as a bonus, you get a free blade cover when you buy your paddle from “Own the Wave.” The cover has a heat-reflective internal coating that protects your paddle from the sun.
Based in California, Super Paddles is committed to bringing high-quality products as well as a fulfilling buying experience to paddlers across the world. Whether you are racing, surfing, cruising, touring, or grooving, you are bound to have a good time with Super Paddles’ high-performance carbon SUP paddle.
Made with pure marine-grade carbon fiber and stainless steel screws, you will be the center of attention as you pull past your friends. With its dihedral blade, this paddle is able to maintain its stability while doing away with blade flutter, making it an excellent paddle for high-performance paddlers. And yes, it floats!
This 3-piece adjustable paddle has a height range of between 72 to 86 inches, making it ideal for paddlers who are over 5 feet tall. It takes less than 20 seconds to assemble and disassemble your paddle! And, as a bonus, the paddle comes with a 3-compartment paddle bag; simply strap the bag on your shoulders and head out for an adventure! The bag has a strong nylon exterior and closed-cell polyurethane spray foam padding that protects your paddle. The inner lining is coated with heat-reflective aluminum that prevents the paddle from heating up.
This paddle is available in 6 different models, ranging from the 100% carbon fiber version to the less expensive nylon blade model.
Bullet Proof Surf is the home of all your outdoor recreation equipment. Their products include skimboards, surfing fins, surf board leashes, stand-up paddles, water booties & socks, swimming fins, swimming training fins, and trampoline enclosures.
With its 100% composite fiberglass shaft, nylon blade, and a strong carbon fiber handle, the BPS Ultralite 100% Fiberglass Shaft Adjustable SUP Paddle is indeed designed to be a high-performance paddle. It is lightweight (weighs 26 ounces only) and is specifically designed for medium-sized paddlers (adults less than 200 pounds) all the way down to children. The adjustment mechanism is easy to use—it will only take you seconds to set up your preferred length, and this length is bound to stay put until you change it. Don’t forget that this paddle floats in both salt and fresh water, with a guarantee of 12 months.
This paddle has a huge height range- 69 inches for shorter paddlers and 85 inches for taller paddlers. The widest part of the blade measures 42 cm long and 21.5 cm wide. You get a free storage bag when you buy this paddle and the interior is constructed with heat-reflective lining that protects the paddle from the hot sun. The exterior has Velcro straps that allow you to carry another paddle. Double-whammy!
The best SUP paddle should be comfortable for your paddling style and offer maximum efficiency to keep fatigue to the bare minimum. We hope that our guide helped you find an ideal SUP paddle for your needs and budget. If you would rather look at other options, feel free to sample other models from these reputable brands. There’s bound to be something for everyone!