Don’t get caught up a certain creek without a paddle! Your SUP board is little more than an oversized surfboard without that stick, and if you spend a lot of time searching for the right board—focusing on everything from the material to the weight and design—then the paddle deserves the same respect.
How Do I Choose an SUP Paddle?
To choose the perfect paddle for your SUP board, consider all of the following:
- Material: What is the paddle made from? Are you buying something that is made from the best possible materials, something that is sustainable/recycled, or a paddle that is cheap and low quality?
- Length: The paddle length will impact everything from the speed and weight to how easy the paddle is to transport.
- Paddle Blade Size: The size of the blade, along with the shape and its offset, will ultimately determine how quickly and easily it moves through the water.
Keep reading for more information on all of these features.
Aluminum and plastic are some of the cheapest materials used in SUP paddles. They come in a range of styles and sizes, are often adjustable, and offer a decent level of durability.
However, these materials are not very lightweight and if you’re looking for something sustainable and eco-friendly, plastic is never a good option.
Other options to consider include wooden paddles (made from many different types of wood, including sustainable varieties), carbon fiber, and fiberglass.
Some premium paddles use carbon fiber and/or fiberglass, creating something stiff, light, and strong. These paddles are definitely not cheap, but as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.
When it comes to paddle length, the first question you need to answer is whether you want a fixed-length or an adjustable-length paddle.
The former may be lighter and stiffer. It will feel sturdier in your hands. The latter will allow you to adjust the length.
If you are a complete beginner and you’re not sure what length is right for you or even what type of paddle boarding you’ll be doing, we recommend looking for an adjustable paddle.
That way, you can adjust the length as you ride.
Paddle Blade Size
Paddle blade size is usually determined by rider size. The heavier you are, the larger the blade should be. Larger blades are more powerful and will grant you the additional force that you need to propel yourself through the water.
Smaller blades are easier to use and require much less effort. They are good if you want a leisurely ride and don’t want to expend too much energy with each stroke, but they lack the power offered by large blades.
The shape comes down to “Standard” or “Tear-Drop”.
A tear-drop blade shape is widest at the bottom and delivers a powerful stroke. A standard shape is much flatter and easier to stroke.
The final aspect concerning blade size is the offset, which describes the angle between the shaft and the blade. A greater angle is often best for touring and racing while minimum offset angles are best for general surfing.
What Size SUP Paddle Should I Get?
To determine which size of paddle is right for you, stand it up so that the paddle blade is pressed against the floor. Reach up to the paddle handle and rest your hand on it.
The perfect size paddle will reach your wrist, allowing you to bend your hand over it.
If you’re buying online, this is not a test that you can perform, but the easiest way is to simply add about 10 inches to the total length.
What is the Best SUP Paddle?
The best paddle will depend on what you’re going to be using it for, how tall you are, and how experienced you are.
We have outlined some options below to help you when you shop for your SUP paddle:
Werner Session Fiberflass Paddle
Werner produces some of the best SUP paddles around and the Session is a great choice. It has a 7 degree offset and features a fiberglass paddle blade that is designed for maximum durability.
It’s not the lightest paddle, but if you want maximum power and a reliable brand, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Odoland Alloy SUP Paddle
A collapsible and lightweight paddle that is available on Amazon for less than $40.
It’s made from aluminum and comes in three parts for easy transport. If you’re looking for the ultimate budget option, check out the Odoland.
Thurso Surf Carbon Fiber
The Thurso is another Amazon option, and a decent one at that. It’s a tiny bit heavier than the other paddles but it’s also very strong and sturdy. It has a carbon-fiber shaft, is easy to assemble, and has a blade that is surprisingly flexible.
Fresh Waterman Full Carbon SUP Paddle
Of all the paddles listed here, the Fresh Waterman is by far the most expensive and is currently listed at around $180. However, it’s one of the best paddles we have come across and has some impressive features, including a carbon fiber shaft, high-density PVC core, and a very lightweight construction.
It’s guaranteed for 18 months and also comes with a paddle bag, going some way to making that hefty price worthwhile.
Summary: Buying an SUP Paddle
A good stand up paddle board needs a good paddle—it should go without saying. Remember, when you’re looking for the best SUP paddles, you want something that is made from high-quality materials and is the right length. It should also be lightweight but powerful. Most of all, you need a paddle that is within your budget.
Once you have made your decision, it’s time to get out on the water and start paddling!