3 Things to consider when you buy a SUP paddle

Paddles should be chosen wisely, by considering what kind of paddling you are planning to do and what your personal preferences are and it depends on what paddle-style you have. Ask your self, if you enjoy slower tours and do you care about your heart rate or your maximum reached speed during your SUP session?


When you want more than just playing outside with the kids on a discounter board I would always recommend a carbon paddle. I started out with a Fiberglass paddle and soon got myself a Starboard Carbon Hybrid paddle. Now I have a full carbon GTS 2 piece paddle and it increased my experience to so much more fun.

Paddle Basics

In the below, I will give you 3 points to consider, when buying a SUP paddle and I promise, we will come back to carbon as a topic.


1. Lightweight

As a rule of thumb, you can say, as more carbon it was used to build your paddle, the lighter it will be. And just to get this out of the way, carbon does not mean you have to go super expensive. There are solid solutions for example from Decathlon for under 200 € that will increase your paddle experience by far.

You might also want to consider Hybrid Materials for shaft and blade, such as Starboard is offering, as they might be a bit more robust when you have rough conditions for example. Check out http://www.sup-mag.de in their latest magazine they tested 51 paddles for further inspiration and details.


A lightweight SUP Paddle is optimal for long distances and powerfull strokes


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As longer your distances become or as intense you’re creating your training, as more your arms will be working. A lightweight paddle helps to last longer and recover faster.

The less material your paddle has, the lighter it becomes. Respectively, choose as little pieces as possible and have an eye on the material used for the joints and handle.


More energy after long and intensive SUP paddle sessions


I personally tend to exhaust fast and feel easily pain in my joints. Especially my left elbow can be a challenge on long SUP tours. This is why I opt for a very light paddle and a slight pitch in my blade angle.


Less weight enables you to remain a high quality of your paddling technique throughout your training session.


2. The right blade


Wide, tall, v-drive, dihedral just to name a few blade options. Important is that you chose the blade shape and size based on your preferences and experience level. Basically, you have to ask the same questions as earlier. Make sure you really understand your own needs before buying


Frequency vs. Power


Blade size from S – L

Small
Blade
higher frequency by less power to be invested
Medium
Blade
still fast strokes but also more pressure e.g. for touring
Large
Blade
lower frequency but powerful strokes

In generall, you could say that a medium-sized blade fits most paddle activities and needs.


Blade Angle or Pitch


The angle of the blade or pitch can vary from almost flat, to a very visible upward bend. The angles can range between 7 up to 13 degrees. This angle also has an effect on how easy your blade dives into the water.

I prefer paddles with only a slight pitch angle as I feel loosing power by each stroke when the angle is too high. Your experience might be very different so feel free to leave a comment below.


3. Stiffer is mostly better


Stiffer SUP paddle increase your race performance


More flexible paddles are easier on the joints and the lower back, as stiffer once. Hence, for very long tours, you might want to opt for a paddle that gives you more flexibility while gliding through the water to last longer.

The same rules apply, as more carbon, your paddle is made of, as stiffer, it will be. Though if you would like to go for a more flexible shaft, you might think again of a hybrid paddle. Consider your priorities.


Performance vs. Comfort


Final Tips


  • Do your research! And test as many paddles as possible. You can do this at festivals or fairs where your favorite brands are represented.
  • HAVE FUN! A lightweight paddle can give you a better SUP experience which enables you to have more fun in what you are doing.
  • Make sure you understand your own needs. Do you just SUP for fun? Very short distances? With your kids? Do you want to make long relaxed tours? Or do you like to do sprints or interval training?
  • Make sure to check your new paddle if the joints need some adjustment with a screwdriver. Check from time to time if all screws are as tight as they should be. Make sure not to overdo it here as you easily can over screw!
  • Make sure to give yourself a break and stretch your arms a little bit during longer SUP tours. Of course, the same applies when you paddle against the wind for a longer period of time. This can be really exhausting.

Please leave me a comment below in case you would like to add something or have a question. I am happy to answer. Stay safe on the water an enjoy yourself out there.

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