How To Find The Best Paddle Board Paddles

paddle board paddlesTemperatures are warming up, days are getting longer, and summer is just around the corner. That means it’s the perfect time to gear up for a Stand-Up Paddle (SUP) boarding adventure! Providing an array of health benefits, as well as a ton of fun, paddle boarding is the ultimate watersport activity.

As you prepare to go out on the water, one of the most important steps will be making sure you have the best paddle board paddles. Using the proper equipment will not only make the experience more enjoyable, it will make it safer and more secure as well.

Today, we’re taking a look at a few ways you can make sure you’re getting the paddle board paddles best suited for you. Ready to get started? Let’s dive in!

1. Start with Solid Materials

When choosing your paddles, start by simply holding them in your hand. How do they feel? You might want to try a few paddling moves to test them out. Start with the paddle vertical, hands stacked one on top of the other. Now, move it frontward and then backward in an imaginary stroke.

If the paddle feels heavy and takes a considerable effort to maneuver, it’s time to look for a more lightweight option. Some of today’s top paddle board paddles are comprised of fiberglass or a carbon fiber material. When compared to other, older models that consist of a metal shaft and plastic blade, these newer types are much easier to move and much lighter to hold.

While weight might not seem overly important if you’re just trying out some blades in a shop, consider how long you plan to be on the water. Five minutes of lifting a heavier blade might not seem that difficult but think about moving it through the water for an hour or more!

When deciding between fiberglass or carbon fiber, consider the type of SUP paddling you intend to do. Fiberglass is an excellent option for intermediate paddlers and is rugged enough to withstand whitewater conditions. On the other hand, carbon is the most lightweight paddle material available. It glides through the water easily, making it ideal for both paddle racing enthusiasts and those more interested in a casual, recreational use.

If you’re just starting out, you may also want to consider an aluminum paddle. The least expensive, lightweight paddle material on the market, aluminum is a great choice for beginners who are easing their way into the sport.

Concerned about the higher price for lightweight materials? While this is an understandable concern, the good news is that SUP paddles only have one blade. Thus, they’re more economical than other paddle board paddles, such as a kayak paddle, which has two blades.

2. Choosing the Right Length

Once you’ve determined the type of material you want for your paddle, the next step is to make sure it’s fitted to you. This means deciding on an appropriate paddle length and blade size.

Not sure where to start? The general rule of thumb is to opt for a paddle that is about eight to 12 inches taller than you when you’re standing upright. That’s a pretty big span, though, so let’s break it down a little more.

A longer paddle will give you greater power and control over the water, allowing you to make longer strokes. As such, one that is about 12 inches taller than you is best for racing conditions.

One that is slightly shorter, at about 8-10 inches taller, is ideal for cruising and flatwater conditions. Finally, the shortest options, which come in at about 6-8 inches taller than you, are the best for surfing, as they allow you the short, quick strokes necessary for navigating the waves.

Whichever option you decide on, be sure that your arm can sustain the height for a long period of time. You’ll be the one ultimately lugging it around the water, so make sure you’re not overextending your limbs!

There are some models available today that feature an adjustable shaft that can be moved to different heights. This option is a great investment for a family who intends to share a single paddle. Or, if you know you’ll be the only one using it, you may also consider a cut-to-length paddle that’s custom designed to fit you perfectly.

3. Determining Blade Size

While there are several blade sizes to pick from when choosing your paddle board paddles, keep in mind that there are generally two categories of paddle boarding: surfing and racing; and more casual, recreational paddling.

If you’re interested in surfing, a larger blade will be the most effective. It’s designed to provide greater control over the water and can help you brace and steady yourself as required.

Alternatively, small to mid-sized paddles are easier to maneuver and therefore put less stress on your shoulders. They’re great for long-distance cruising as you can paddle longer with them before feeling fatigued.

4. Design Options: The Difference in the Details

Finally, look over your paddle board paddles to determine if there are any design features that make them stand out.

Start with the palm grips. Are they T-shaped or ball-shaped? While it’s a personal preference, many prefer a T-shaped grip when navigating rougher conditions such as whitewater or surf. These grips are easier to hold onto and help prevent the risk of losing your paddle in the water.

You may also take note of the shape of the shaft. Newer paddle board paddles have a slight bend in the shaft that makes them more ergonomic and easier on your wrists than a straight one. Compared to straight shafts, these options can run a little higher price-wise but are ultimately worth it if you intend to spend a long amount of time on the water.

Paddle Board Paddles and More: The Sport We Love

If you’re ready to hop into the water and get your paddle boarding adventure started, we’d love to help.

We’re watersport experts dedicated to bringing you expert advice and reviews on everything paddle boarding. Got a question? Feel free to contact us or leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

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