SUP paddles are available in the market in a variety of constructions such as aluminum, plastic, wood, carbon fiber, etc. All these constructions are available in a variety of different handles, blades, and shaft shapes. The paddle used with your paddleboard must be 6 to 10 inches above the height of your paddler; it is the general rule for stand-up paddles. Paddles consider the second-most important piece of equipment after the paddleboard. Therefore, you need reliable and high-quality paddles that will perform for years to come at an affordable price.
For flatwater use, size your paddle on the longer side, and for surf used, size your paddle for the shorter side.
The blade should slightly be bent toward an angle to the shaft to allow for more forward reach when you are taking a stroke. Your paddle should start between 6 inches taller than your height as a general rule.
SUP Paddle Materials
Wood paddles are a heritage material. They have such a classy look that we get inspired by it that our boards have become known for their wood-inspire deck graphics.
The weight and the added maintenance to keep a wooden paddle varnished and maintained to prevent it from rotting makes it a better choice for hanging it on the wall of a boathouse rather than taking it out on the water as much better options are available these days.
Plastic paddles are mostly found in kids SUP packages as full- plastic paddles are not used by adults.
Forces delivered by adults are great, and these plastic paddles damage due to the sun or may become out of shape due to the force. A lot of adult paddles have paddle blades, but yet again the quality of blade material varies.
Nylon is special because it is made of a plastic known as polyamide. These polyamides are polymers made up of long-chained heavy molecules arranged in endlessly repeating sections. Its like the repeating links of a metal chain. These nylon paddles can take a beat, unlike the light and faster fiberglass or carbon.
They are more forgiving when pushing off a dock, finding your balance on the bottom, and overall wear and tear as they resist in and nicks.
A high-quality nylon paddle blade can strike a great balance between durability and affordability, making nylon a good choice for most of the people.
Aluminum is often used in the paddle shaft as it possesses the qualities that it is affordable and light in weight as compared to wood. It is typically paired with a plastic paddle blade.
Most beginners often opt for aluminum, i.e. when their board doesn’t come with a paddle because it is a cheaper option. The aluminum shaft is included in most entry-level SUP packages to get started with.
Although not as rigid as carbon fiber, fiberglass is light-weighted and rigid. The rigidity of the paddle determines how efficiently you can transfer power to your strokes. Even though it is more expensive than aluminum or plastic, it performs much better and helps reduce fatigue.
Carbon fiber is the best performing material for paddles as it is the lightest and the most rigid. It has a unique molecular structure which makes it the best material for transferring power from your muscles to stroke the water as thrust. It is very light-weighted and durable.
You will be able to experience less fatigue and paddle faster and further if you go with a carbon shaft SUP PAddle model or full- carbon paddle. Because of its amazing qualities and manufacturing expertise, it is indeed the most expensive option to go with.
Why is carbon fiber preferred?
Carbon is smarter than you think it is. It has excellent quality because they won’t bend, bow, or lose their original shape as much as plastic aluminum or fiberglass do. It is less flexible and flutters which means it can transfer more power directly into the water. Apart from its ultra-light weighted characteristics, Carbon fiber performs much better, reducing the fatigue on your neck, back, arm muscles, and grip.
Whether you are an expert trying to race off your results in less time or a total beginner trying to have fun, it doesn’t matter; carbon fiber helps you go further and faster.
Paddle Blade Size
When choosing the blade size, it is all about your personal preference as larger blades are powerful and require more power to pull through the water while smaller blades are more efficient, requiring less power but more frequent strokes for the same thrust.
When choosing a paddle blade, it depends on larger and smaller paddlers as larger paddlers who are typically stronger can manage medium to larger blades, while smaller paddlers stick with small to medium blades.
A large blade size can be helpful if you need to catch a wave and a smaller one for preserving your energy for long trips. If you are a sports person and find yourself paddling fast, you may want to consider the size of the blade, but most paddles require a medium-sized blade between 85 to 105 square inches as it is a great choice for all-round activities.
Paddle blade shape
The power varies for each shaped blade. A shorter and wider blade will provide more force and immediate power as soon as the blade catches water while a longer and narrower one can deal with slow placed strokes and is easier for your shoulders.
Some SUP paddle has refined paddle blade shape which provides you with the perfect experience to perform a variety of SUP activities.
A hybrid rectangular shape with a dihedral power face provides helps to shed water evenly to the wither side, reducing the fluttering effect and ensuring each and every stroke is smooth and powerful. The reinforced rib on the back of the paddle increases rigidity preventing face distorting no matter how hard you pull.
It is designed in a way to provide a boosted performance beyond your expectations either it’s cruising, surfing, or racing on the water.
Paddle Blade Offset Angle
This determines how vertical your blade is as it travels through water, defining the power phase of your paddle stroke. The angles vary from 5 to 15 degrees differing across activities.
A SUP rider wanting to travel faster and using high power would require an angle of 5 while a cruiser would most likely favor an angle closer to 15. For all-round paddling 10 is the right offset angle to be chosen.
Shaft Designs of Paddles
Fixed- Length paddles
If you are in a specific sport of paddling, then you will prefer fixed length paddles to adjustable paddles because it will benefit you and you don’t have to worry about parts of the paddle.
They are a bit lighter than adjustable paddles and don’t have a locking mechanism and also tend to be slightly stiffer.
However, most of the experts recommend adjustable paddle because they can be easily packed, stored, and transported anywhere without having difficulty of long space.
Adjustable paddles provide you with the liberty to fix the height or all other functions of the paddle according to your need or activity.
Experts strictly recommend that your paddle should be 4 to 5 inches higher than your body height at least for SUP surfing and whitewater.
The right length of a paddle for traveling, cruising, touring, yoga, and fitness is 6 to 10 inches higher than body height and for racing it should be 8 to 12 inches higher.
So, if you choose an adjustable paddle, you can set the length of the paddle according to your activity based on your strength, style, and posture of the body.
It is also useful as if it fits in any vehicle easily and can be store on a board bag easily.
The locking mechanism of paddles
Some paddles have a locking mechanism near the handle grasp design. You can easily identify the end faces of each lock by its shape or the markings given on the shaft. It’s available in adjustable paddles which secure your paddle at both ends. It includes a spring-loaded pin which ensures your blade or grasp stay at their adjusted places, so you can paddle safely, and also the parts never lost in the water due to the locking mechanism. The clamp in the locking mechanism ensures that there won’t be any power loss or play in the paddle.
How to grasp handles in the right way?
At the end of the handle, you will find a grip or grasp. If you have bought an adjustable paddle, then it is easy to adjust the grip according to your height, activity, and comfortability.
If you are going to buy a new paddle, you will ultimately look for an ergonomic design that will feel great and grip your wet hands in a better way.
Paddling conditions continuously change according to your activity and water conditions, so don’t forget to check your secure locking mechanism of the paddle.
How to hold SUP paddle?
It’s a common mistake at the beginning of learning stand up paddleboarding that the beginners don’t hold SUP paddle correctly. The following are some tips to avoid making mistakes while grabbing a paddle.
- Keep the tear-dropped-shaped blade of the paddle angle away from you and keep it towards the knows of the board.
- When you are paddling on the right side of the board, keep your left hand on the T-grip. Keep your right hand on the few feet down, almost on the shaft. When you switch sides, don’t forget to reverse your hand positions.
SUP Strokes by paddles
SUP strokes are the next stage for beginners to understand stand up paddleboarding. There are three basic strokes for beginners that help them in moving.
As the name indicates, the purpose of this stroke is to move forward your board through the waves of water.
- Plant the paddle in the water two feet forward from you, then push the paddle’s blade towards your ankle and then take it out of the water.
- Avoid changing the position of your arms and keep them straight. Twist the paddle from your torso. Push the paddle backward with your top hand rather than your lower hand because it will need more strength. Some people think it helpful and easy to pull the board past the paddle instead of pulling the paddle through the water.
- To keep moving forward in a straight line, you will need to alternate the strokes on both sides of the board. There is no specific number for strokes on each side, but you can try to stroke three to four times on one side and then change the side.
- Try to keep your paddle vertical because it will help you to keep moving straight.
Reverse stroke is also as simple to perform as a forward stroke. Use it to slow, turn, or stop the board on the body of the water.
- If you are paddling on the right side, plant your paddle in the water near the tail behind your board. Try to keep the whole blade under the surface of the water.
- Avoid changing the position of your arms and keep them straight. Twist the paddle from your torso. Push the paddle forward with your top hand rather than your lower hand because it will need more strength.
- Doing the above procedure on the right side of your board will allow you to turn right and vice versa.
Use sweep stroke to turn the paddleboard while moving or standing still.
- To turn, if you are paddling on the right side of your paddle, move your shoulder so that it comes forward. After reaching forward by moving shoulders, plant the paddle under the surface of the water and make sure the blade is entirely under the water.
- Sweep the paddle away in a rotating motion or a big arcing motion from the nose of your board to the tail. Keep making this motion by rotating your torso and using the leverage of legs and hips.
- Doing the above procedure on the right side of your boards will allow you to turn on the left side and vice versa.