How to choose a paddle:
Selecting a SUP paddle can be an easy decision if cost is the only deciding factor, but choosing a paddle that best balances the trade-offs is the key. There are numerous manufacturers of paddlesurfing paddles all of whom claim 'Their paddles are the lightest or strongest'. We’ve researched these SUP paddle brands and selected what we feel are some of the best value carbon fibre stand up paddles and economy SUP paddles on the market.
Paddles for SUP are relatively basic they have three parts: The handle (usually a 'T' bar), shaft and blade, however these elements can all change what the paddle is intended for. A customer may be intending to soley surf waves with his paddle or possible he wants a paddle for distance / Race paddleboarding and therefore may need a longer paddle so that he can take more powerful strokes, he has two choices - buy two paddles or buy a adjustable!
Also need to consider the Blade Size:
Blade sizes can vary massively from large to small, a large blade will displace more water and offer power on demand (low cadence) but in the hands of a beginner paddler may disable him with shoulder pain for days. As a rule of thumb smaller blades (high cadence) are generally preferred in the surf and are gentler for all users, ladies especially. Larger blades are used more in distance or downwind paddling and also in the case of using a SMALL SUP boards 7ft and below. A paddlesurfers stroke to move forward needs to be direct from contact with the water, so larger stronger paddlers sometimes use bigger paddles but this is not the rule.
The edges of most paddles are thin and can be damaged by knocks and hits from rocks etc so care should be taken to protect the edges of carbon paddles with edge guards.
The shaft is the most important part of the paddle, it can be made of Aluminium, Glass fibre, Carbon and sometimes Kevlar. The difference the material makes is quite dramatic, the most common material is Carbon which characteristic provides the paddle with stiffness and memory. Glass fiber is the cheaper more budget material used which usually bends more making a paddle softer in the stroke. Aluminium is a soft metal which will be rigid to an extent but eventually bend and snap. Kevlar is a high tensile strength material 5 times stronger than steel on an equal weight basis and has a high impact resistance.
The handles for SUP paddles can be different but most are ergonomically designed to fit the palm of the hand, some have a more 'T bar' look and others are more rounded in shape.
Using the correct stand up paddle length/height for the type of paddling you decide to do will help you maximize your performance and enjoyment on the water.
Surf SUP paddles are usually at least 3 TO 5 inches above the paddlers height but this can go down to the exact height of the paddler for the best performance in waves.
Touring/ Racing and Fitness paddles are usually 4 TO 6 inches above the paddlers height for improved reach and power in each paddle stroke.