Selecting the correct paddle is nearly as important as selecting the right stand up paddle board. With many different materials, styles, and sizes it can be a little tough to decide which one is best for you. Let us take you through the paddle options to make picking your paddle as fun as using your paddle!
Adjustable vs Non-Adjustable SUP Paddles
When looking at a paddle, picking if you want your paddle to be adjustable or non-adjustable (often called fixed or 1 Piece) is the first decision to make.
By far the most popular paddle style is adjustable. The great thing about adjustable paddles is that with an adjustable handle height, the fit of the paddle can be customized to fit any sized paddler. This is ideal if you will be sharing the paddle with others, or if you paddle in different conditions. For example, many prefer a shortly length paddle in surf, and a longer paddle in flat water. Having an adjustable paddle allows you to quickly adjust the length of your paddle to perfectly suit the conditions, or the paddler. Adjustable paddles generally come in a variety of materials from alloy to all carbon, which will explore in greater detail further below.
Adjustable Paddles are ideal for:
- Paddlers who want to be able to customize the height of their paddle.
- Those that will share their paddle with others. A example would be a family of 6 that are all different heights.
- SUP’ers that want to use one paddle for a variety of different conditions or SUP disciplines (ie touring and surf).
- Those just starting the sport and may not know what length paddle they prefer.
For someone who knows exactly the length paddle they want, and don’t mind doing a little homework when their paddle arrives to custom cut the shaft, non-adjustable paddles are a great option. Generally made of higher end materials such as carbon, non-adjustable paddles offer the lightest and stiffest paddle as there is no extra weight of adjustment collars (which is very negligible). As well, no paddling energy is lost in shaft flex near the adjustment collar. Fixed length paddles are popular among those that are established in the sport and know exactly the length they like. It is very common for stand up paddlers to start with an adjustable paddle, and then upgrade to a non-adjustable after a season once they know exactly the size paddle they like. A word of caution with non-adjustable paddles is that once you cut and glue the handle it, it is very hard to change the size. Measure twice, cut once!
Non-Adjustable Paddles are ideal for:
- Paddlers who do not share their paddles, and know exactly the length paddle they like
- Those who want the lightest and stiffest paddle possible
- Stand up paddle boarders wishing to have a paddle dedicated to each of the elements of SUP they participate in (i.e. race and surf)
Once you have made the decision between adjustable or non- adjustable, it is time to then decide the material you want your new paddle to be.
Alloy vs Carbon
Cruiser SUP offers paddles in alloy or 100% carbon. From our years of experience making paddles, we find that a super durable alloy paddle, or a lighter weight 100% carbon paddle are the two best options. Hybrid paddles that offer fiberglass, or a mix of fiberglass and carbon tend to be near the price (if not more) than that of our 100% carbon paddles, but are no where near as stiff and light. If you are going to spend the extra to upgrade your paddle, bypass hybrid paddles entirely and go all the way to 100% carbon, you will thank us later!
An alloy adjustable paddle is the paddle that 90% of stand-up paddle boards start into the sport with. As they are adjustable, they will alloy to share with others, as well as fine tune the paddle height that you like. However, with a alloy shaft hardened plastic blade, our adjustable alloy paddle is not only light weight, but tough and durable. With a foam filled shaft, and external floatation aid and grip, our adjustable alloy paddle will give years of dependable service for you, your friends, and family. For those that paddle an inflatable and want a paddle that fits in the back pack, our alloy adjustable paddle also comes in a 3-piece option with a removeable blade. Our alloy paddles are the exact shape blade shape and design as our 100% carbon paddles, just in a rugged and lower cost construction.
Alloy Paddles are ideal for:
- Paddlers that are looking for a well priced, lightweight, yet durable paddle. We include an adjustable alloy paddle with all our SUP board packages!
- Those that will share the paddle with others
- Those just starting out in the sport
- Stand up paddle boarders looking for the very best value
Cruiser SUP 100% paddles do come in both adjustable and non-adjustable options, as was covered previously. The huge benefit of carbon is that the paddle weight goes down, sometimes to half the weight of alloy, and the stiffness goes up. A stiffer paddle means that more of your paddling energy is transferred to forward motion, as opposed to being lost in shaft flex. And, being lighter than alloy, arm fatigue is reduced. While all our board packages include an alloy paddle, one of the great upgrades we offer is to upgrade to a carbon paddle. Do note though that carbon does tend to be more fragile, so a little extra care is needed to avoid impacting the blade or shaft into objects (i.e. catching the blade on the bottom in shallow water). Those that will share the paddle with others, or know they may be rough on the paddle, are best to select an alloy paddle. As with our alloy paddles, our 100% carbon paddles are also available in a 3-piece option with removeable blade for those that paddle inflatable boards and want a paddle that can fit in their inflatable boards back pack.
Carbon paddles are ideal for:
- Paddlers wanting the lightest and stiffest paddle possible
- Stand up paddlers who can take a little extra care of their paddle
How to hold your paddle
There is a right way, and a wrong way. Cruiser SUP paddles come with an ergonomically shaped handle that will sit in the palm of your hand perfectly if you are hold it the right way, but feel awkward if back wards. SUP paddles also have offset blade, which when looking down the shaft the blade is offset from the shaft. This offset, or bend should be facing away from you when held correctly. However, the easiest way to tell if you are holding your Cruiser SUP Paddle correctly is that the Cruiser SUP logo on the blade, if held right, will always be facing the nose of the board.
If your paddle is too long, you will feel fatigue and discomfort in your arms and shoulders. If your paddle is too short, you will feel discomfort in your lower back as you bend forward to allow your blade to contact the water. While some experimentation is need to find your optimal paddle length, these guide lines will get you started.
With the tip of your paddle blade on the ground:
- For all around use, your paddle handle should be in the 6” to 10” range over your head.
- For SUP surfing, most prefer a shorter length in the 4” to 8” overhead range
- For thicker touring and race boards, some prefer 8” to 12” overhead
These are just guidelines to get you started, and the great thing about an adjustable paddle is that you can tweak and change the paddle height until you get it right! Experiment with the length of your paddle, and listen to the valuable feedback your arms, shoulders, and back will give as aches and pains mean your length isn’t quite right.