When it comes to buying a stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) paddle, the rule of thumb is to buy the lightest one you can afford.
What makes some paddles better than others? In a nutshell: the materials they’re made of and how they’re designed.
Better paddles are lighter and less tiring
Of the five types of materials commonly used for SUP paddles, the cheaper the material, the heavier it is. It may not seem like a few ounces would make that much of a difference. But stroke after stroke, those few ounce will enable you to go further and longer with less effort.
Better paddles are more durable and longer-lasting
The top-of-the-line paddles are made of strong carbon fiber—similar to the materials used in the aerospace industry. The stronger the material, the less you’ll have to worry about tossing it around a bit. You also won’t have to replace it anytime soon due to breaking or cracking blades.
Better paddles have a bent shaft, giving you a more natural stroke
The 10º bend is just enough to add efficiency and effortlessness in each stroke. It enables your wrists to sit more naturally on the paddle, and raise it out of the water at the end of your stroke with ease. Combined with the lighter weight, that means more paddling time with less fatigue.
Better paddles have stiffer blades, giving you a more efficient stroke
Stiffer blades give you more power and control. They enable you to manage your board’s movement with less effort and more precision. That translates to less fatigue and more enjoyment on the water.
Better paddles aren’t cold to the touch
This won’t matter in 85º weather. But it will if you want to start earlier and end later in the paddleboarding season. Aluminum shafts absorb the surrounding air temperatures. The better materials don’t. Cold hands are one less thing you’ll need to think about.
When it comes down to it, your choice of a paddle is just as important as your choice of a paddleboard. Do your research, think ahead about what you want out of your paddleboarding experience, and buy accordingly.