Although it is the paddle boards that get all the attention, SUP paddles are just as important. After all, you’re going to find it rather difficult to get anywhere without one.
While quite a few paddle boards come with their own paddle, I have often found many of them to be to be lacking. So, if you want the best SUP paddles, you have to discover them yourself.
Now, I have spent quite a bit of time looking for a paddle that is going to make my paddle boarding ride as smooth as possible.
Although there were quite a few misses, I was able to narrow down the list of the top ones. In addition to the reviews of these, I have also included some guidelines on how to choose your own paddle…
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Best SUP Paddles
Material and Construction
SUP paddles can be composed from a number of different materials. However, they are often made from plastic, aluminum, fiberglass, carbon fiber, or wood. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of each of these options:
You will often find beginner riders reaching for these paddles and when you see the price tag, you will know why. These paddles are affordable, readily available, and are quite durable as well.
However, these are best for beginners as they don’t offer much in the way of performance. Also, they can be rather heavy.
Aluminum and plastic paddles are on par with one another and aluminum is another affordable option. Once again, it is favored by newer riders although you are going to want to upgrade your paddle once you have gotten a hang of the sport. These paddles, too, can be rather heavy and awkward to use.
Fiberglass paddles are a good middle ground for most paddle boarders. This is because they are lightweight and are incredibly efficient at transferring power. The result of this is that your overall paddling performance is greatly improved. At the same time, these paddles cost a lot less than some of the higher end versions.
If you are all about performance, then carbon fiber paddles are the best option for you. They have a reputation for being the lightest and most efficient of all paddles. Due to the excellent transfer of power to your stroke, it is often much easier to move faster with this paddle. The downside, of course, is that these paddles are also some of the priciest around.
Wood paddles aren’t all that common, particularly since newer materials are easier to work with. Still, these paddles are often efficient enough and can make paddling easier. However, the cost and the overall weight of these paddles mean that they aren’t a popular choice.
Apart from the material, I would say that it is the paddle length that is worth paying attention to. This is because it can have an impact on both your comfort as well as your performance. Now, when selecting the right paddle length for you, you need to consider your height as well as your preferred type of paddling:
- All Around Paddling: in this instance, a paddle that is between 6 and 8 inches will work well for you. Since this type of paddling doesn’t require any specific performance, your main focus here should be comfort while holding and using the paddle.
- Racing: the goal here is to select a paddle that is going to help you paddle with greater power and efficiency. This is why you should select one that is between 6 and 10 inches taller than you.
- Surfing: while you need to be able to paddle with some power when surfing on a paddle board, maneuverability is quite important as well. As such, a paddle that is around 2 to 4 inches above your head will be more suitable.
Adjustable vs. Fixed Length
When it comes to paddles, you have a choice between fixed length and adjustable ones. There are some riders who prefer the fixed length paddles as they are sturdier and can sometimes offer up a better performance. However, you do have to figure out what length will work for you before you buy one since you can’t change it. There are certain adjustable versions that do allow you to cut them down to size.
As a whole, most paddle boarders will opt for adjustable length paddles. This is hardly a surprise considering just how versatile these are. For one thing, you can change the size according to the type of paddle boarding that you are doing. What’s more, you can even share the same paddle with someone else as well.
Last but certainly not least, you need to take a look at the paddle blade before finalizing your purchase. With this feature, you will need to consider the shape, size, and overall design. Here is what you need to know about it:
There is a rule of thumb when it comes to selecting the blade size. Essentially, smaller blades are meant for smaller riders while larger blades can be handled more easily by bigger riders.
See, small blades move less water, making them easier to pull through the water. In turn, smaller riders will not find them as tough to handle. On the other hand, large blades can move more water, making them more efficient. At the same time, this does require more power and larger riders tend to be more powerful.
That being said, it is important to remember that this isn’t set in stone. In the end, it is going to be up to you to decide what you are most comfortable with. This will depend on your paddling style and just how much upper body strength you have. Also take into consideration the weight of your sup life vest.
High vs. Low Aspect
As for shape, you will need to select between a high aspect and a low aspect blade. High aspect blades are longer and narrower and tend to have a more consistent width throughout. While these are easier to pull through the water, they aren’t naturally powerful.
Low aspect blades, however, do allow for a more powerful stroke. These resemble a teardrop shape and you will notice that the overall shape is more flared. These type of blades are often more useful for surfing.
Dihedral vs. Flat
Dihedral blades are those with a significant ridge down them. This makes it easier for you to part the water, resulting in a much easier paddle. The downside of this, though, is that these blades aren’t great for efficient transfer of power.
Flat blades, though, do this quite well thanks to their design. These blades catch the water a bit, ensuring that you can propel the board forward with greater power. Of course, these can be quite tricky to use as a result.
Best SUP Paddle Reviews
Now let’s move onto my experience with some of the best SUP paddles on the market:
- Adjustable dimensions: 64L to 84L in.
- Lightweight and durable black aluminum
- Aluminum construction with Composite Blade
- Ergonomic T-shaped handle
- 3-piece adjustable compression system
If you have only just gotten into paddle boarding, then this is a good beginner or entry level paddle. While you may not get much in the way of performance, it isn’t all that tricky to use. Not to mention, it is quite affordable as well. So, if you don’t go paddle boarding all that often, you will not be making much of an investment.
Despite its low cost, I will have to say that this paddle is quite durable and you will be able to use it in various water environments.
However, what I liked most about it was the fact that it was easy to adjust. The length can be changed from 64 to 84 inches. As such, it is suitable for a wide variety of riders and supports all kind of paddle boarding activities as well.
My main concern with this paddle is that it is heavy. So, it isn’t just paddling power that you need to worry about. If this paddle falls into the water, it is probably going to sink to the bottom rather quickly. The grip on the paddle is also quite comfortable and even beginners will find it easy to grasp.
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Despite being made of aluminum, I have to say that there is quite a lot to like about this paddle.
To start with, it floats! So, you can be confident that even if the paddle were to slip out of your grasp that you will still be able to recover it.
This is something that beginners, in particular, will appreciate. I will also admit that I was surprised at the power and efficiency of this paddle.
The angled blade allows the paddle to move through the water more efficiently, making it easier to transfer your power into a stroke that moves you forward.
The grip on the handle is also comfortable enough for you to hold onto, even for longer periods of time. While this isn’t the lightest paddle around, I found it relatively easy to lift and move around – you don’t feel like you are getting an arm workout every time that you use it.
Due to this, I would say that it is a good fit for surfing – or for touring, depending on your height. The height can be adjusted from 70 to 83 inches and so, is a good fit for both shorter and average height riders.
The minor flaw that I would point out here is that the adjustment system isn’t all that easy to work.
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One of the ways that this paddle stands out from the competition is with all of the height options. There are different paddle sizes with the length ranges of 59 – 75 inches and 67 – 83 inches.
Thanks to this, I was able to get a paddle that perfectly suited my height. Not to mention, with this adjustability range, I can easily change the length to suit all types of paddle boarding.
So, I would say that this paddle is a real winner as far as versatility goes. My minor complaint would be that it is a bit tricky to adjust the height, especially when the paddle hasn’t been broken in yet.
The shaft of the paddle is made from aluminum while the blade is made from polycarbonate material. Despite this, the paddle isn’t overly heavy.
While I wouldn’t describe it as lightweight, even someone with a smaller build will not struggle with this paddle.
Another bonus point is that the paddle is quite durable and as such, I had no trouble using it around places with rocks and boulders.
The mid-range flex of this paddle is another interesting feature. It ensures that the water flows over the blades more quickly, making it easier for you to pull it out of the water.
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If you want a lightweight paddle but don’t want to pay too much money for one, I would suggest this make and model.
Made from fiberglass, this paddle is a lot lighter than the previous ones on the list. So, if you want to go paddle boarding leisurely and with minimal discomfort, this is the paddle for you.
This paddle can be adjusted from 72 to 86 inches. Not only does this make it a rather paddle board, but I also noticed that it is an excellent choice for smaller or shorter riders to use.
I would agree that the main advantage of this paddle is that it can be used for different paddle boarding activities. So, regardless of whether you wanted to go surfing, touring, or on flatwater, this paddle would be able to adapt pretty well. I would caution against using it in overly rough waters or where there are lots of rocks.
This paddle isn’t all that durable because of its three-piece construction. So, there is a chance that it may snap if you try to get a little too adventurous with it.
Apart from this, though, I would say that this is an excellent mid-range SUP paddle for anyone to use.
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If it is performance that you are after, then I would suggest this carbon fiber paddle for you. Obviously, due to the material that it is made from, this is an incredibly lightweight paddle.
As such, I was able to paddle for a lot longer than with many of the other paddles. So, if you are someone who likes to go touring or just cover greater distances, this paddle will be quite suitable for you. It isn’t just the shaft, though, that is beautifully designed, it is the blade as well.
The blade is curved just enough to provide stability while simultaneously reducing flutter. At the same time, the power from your own stroke is translated rather well onto the blade too.
I like that for this price point, the paddle also manages to be rather versatile. For instance, the length can be adjusted from 67 to 86 inches! This means that you can let most of your friends or family members use it since there is a good chance that it will fit them too. Not to mention, you can use it for touring, surfing, racing, and more.
Now, my main gripe about this paddle is where the adjustment system is placed. It is kept right where I need to grip the paddle, forcing me to choose a more uncomfortable spot to hold onto!
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While this paddle has an aluminum shaft, I will admit that it doesn’t feel like this at all. This is definitely one of the lighter aluminum paddles that I have tested. Not to mention, I found that most people were able to use this without tiring out.
So, regardless of whether you are a beginner or a little bit more experienced, this paddle should work well for you. Speaking of versatility, this paddle can be adjusted from 71 inches to 83 inches, depending on the rider, the board, and the activity.
For the most part, this paddle is rather durable and it does have a one year warranty – which the company respects. So, you can feel fairly confident taking this paddle out pretty much any water environment. My only concern here is that this paddle can be split up into two or more pieces.
Due to this, it can feel wobbly in your hands at times and isn’t as rigid as some of the other paddles. Apart from this, it is rather comfortable and easy to use, even if you don’t have a great deal of experience with paddle boarding.
If I had to pick just one paddle out of all of the ones here, I would appoint the BPS paddle the true winner. While it may not be the lightest option around, it is certainly easy to use and rather efficient too.
As a result, this versatile paddle works well for most riders. The durability of the SUP also ensures that you are making an excellent investment since it is sure to last you for quite a while.
This concludes our search for the best SUP paddles. You should now be able to decide which paddle is right for you or simply choose one from the list here.
Last update on 2019-05-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API