How to Choose the Correct SUP Paddle

In Equipment, General, SUP Gear Recommendations by Daniel

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The Best Way to Choose Your Paddle

No one likes to be uninformed.

Why?

Because it leads to bad decisions.

This can certainly be the case when it comes to choosing your SUP paddle.

With so many choices on the market, it can be difficult to know what to look for when you buy, if it's the right decision to make, and if the paddle will even work well for you.

But have no fear...

That's why the team at Perfect Paddles is here...

To help you with all things SUP-related!

We love to take time out of the day to help you find the best places to paddle with our Locations/Activities guide, whom to contact while you're there with a full database of outfitters and pros, excellent trips and adventures overseas, and discounts on some of the best SUP equipment on the market.

But with all that being said - what we really love doing is guiding you to make your SUP experience the best it can be.

And this week, we're going to be discussing the difference in paddles.

Note: We won't be discussing any specific brands. Instead, we will be breaking down paddles into general categories to help you make an informed decision on your next purchase.

The paddle type categories are as follows:

  • Fixed or Adjustable
  • Aluminum
  • Fiberglass
  • Carbon Fiber

By understanding each type of paddle, you'll choose the correct one for your specific needs!

*As always, stay tuned for this week's workout. It's the final video in our three-piece series!

Let's get to it!

1. Fixed or Adjustable SUP Paddles?

sup paddle

Let's tackle the first big question - should I buy a fixed SUP paddle or an adjustable one?

It might seem like a confusing question, but the answer is relatively simple.

If you are going to be sharing your paddle with others, grab yourself an adjustable one. If it is strictly your paddle, then we recommend a fixed one.

There are of course other factors that come into play. For example, a fixed SUP paddle is better for performance (SUP surfing and racing) as they are usually lighter and don't have as much give when paddling miles at a time.

In addition, fixed SUP paddles have a better blade and will be made of higher-quality materials (we'll get more into this shortly).

But for our purposes, we want to keep it simple...

If you plan on allowing multiple riders on your board, want to share it with your spouse, friends, or kids, and don't want to spend the extra $$$ on a fixed blade, then an adjustable paddle is the one for you.

2. Aluminum Paddles

sup paddle

If you have ever taken a beginner class or rented a SUP for a few hours, chances are you have used an aluminum SUP paddle before.

Typically, outfitters will use these types of paddles because they are the cheapest to purchase and are relatively durable long-term.

The reasons to purchase an aluminum SUP paddle are simple...

If you are just beginning your journey into SUP, they won't break the bank (range anywhere from $40 to $60) and often they are included with your first board purchase.

But as with all things in life - you get what you pay for.

Aluminum paddles are heavy. And they don't paddle exceptionally well. In addition, they often lead to an upgrade purchase sometime in the future. So, if this paddle doesn't come included with your board, you will most likely end up purchasing two paddles.

To keep it simple - aluminum paddles are a great entry into SUP but you will look to upgrade in the future.

Pros:
Affordable
Durable
Adjustable

Cons:
Heavy
Doesn’t paddle exceptionally well
Often leads to an upgrade

3. Fiberglass SUP Paddles

sup paddle

We're taking a step up with our next SUP paddle type.

Unlike your average aluminum paddle, a fiberglass one is much lighter and has a better shape to the blade making entering and exiting the water easier.

An average fiberglass paddle will run about $99 to $150 depending on the manufacturer.

And while it’s not the lightest paddle on the market, it will surely provide a paddling experience that is above satisfactory.

Typically, paddlers will stick with a fiberglass paddle for the life of their board unless SUP becomes an obsession and they want to upgrade.

Certainly, this is a step above an aluminum paddle and a great first one to purchase.

Pros:
Lightweight
Smooth
Adjustable models available

Cons:
Can still be upgraded

4. Carbon Fiber SUP Paddles

We've reached the top of the line.

Carbon fiber paddles are made out of the toughest, and lightest material available. With this construction, there is no reason to upgrade from here - you're set for life.

Carbon fiber paddles can come in adjustable and fixed models. The fixed models tend to be ounces lighter as they don’t have the adjustable knob affixed to the top. However, the difference is negligible.

With a lightweight carbon fiber paddle your arms don’t get as tired so you can paddle longer, the blades are shaped to enter and exit the water with ease, and the smile on your face stays on longer as your arms don't feel the stress of an aluminum paddle.

If you only want to purchase one paddle for your journey into SUP, make it 100% carbon fiber.

Pros:
The lightest paddle on the market
Fun to use
Only one you will ever have to buy

Cons:
Can be pricey ($250+)

We hope this short breakdown helps! Of course, the best thing to always do is try one before you buy one!

Armed with this knowledge you'll be on the right track towards purchasing the correct paddle for yourself and your family members.

SUP Workout

Now - let's get to this week's workout - a culmination of our 3-part series from GC SUP on eliminating back pain.
Stand Up Paddleboarding Lower Back Pain Eliminated, Part 3
Timestamps for each exercise:

 

1:25​ Reverse Hyper Extensions
1:40​ Bird Dogs
2:04​ Supermans

Reps and sets are as follows:

Beginner - 1x through

Reverse Hyper Extensions x15
Bird Dogs x15 each side
Supermans x15

Intermediate - 3x through

Reverse Hyper Extensions x15
Bird Dogs x15 each side
Supermans x15

SUP Living Legend - 4x through

Reverse Hyper Extensions x25
Bird Dogs x20 each side
Supermans x20

That's it!

Remember to always hydrate, stretch before jumping right into the routine, and pace yourself! If you're not up to going four times through the routine, start with the lower reps and sets.

About the Author
Daniel

Daniel

Daniel is a travelling author with a passion for exploring new waterways and sharing his experiences with the world.

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