Which stand-up paddleboard paddles are best?
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is becoming one of the most popular water activities to do for people of all ages. Stand-up paddleboards are similar to surfboards, though they’re quite a bit larger. The user stands on top and paddles their way through the water. But in order to do it well, you need to have a good paddle that’s the right size and shape for your needs.
If you’re ready to buy the perfect stand-up paddleboard paddle, read on. We’ve created this buying guide with expert advice and reviews. Our top pick, BPS Adjustable Alloy SUP Paddle, is lightweight, strong, and easy to use.
What to know before you buy a stand-up paddleboard paddle
The material of your stand-up paddleboard paddle is one of the most important factors to consider. Paddles are made from aluminum, plastic, wood, carbon fiber, or a combination material. Each has specific properties that impact performance and ease of use.
- Aluminum paddles are the least expensive, but also the heaviest. They’re a reasonable choice for beginners who may not want to invest too much before deciding if they plan to stick with the sport. Aluminum’s weight can be a bit difficult for younger paddlers to manage.
- Plastic stand-up paddleboard paddles are also a good inexpensive option for beginners. They’re lighter than aluminum, but they also tend to be less durable.
- Wood paddles are more durable than plastic models. The best wood paddles are made from bamboo, although you can get paddles made from a number of different types of wood. Wood paddles are some of the most popular for SUP enthusiasts.
- Fiberglass is more lightweight than both aluminum and plastic and comes at a reasonable price. It also lasts longer than most aluminum and plastic paddles.
- Carbon fiber SUP paddles are the most expensive option. They’re used mostly by experienced paddlers. Carbon fiber is the lightest paddle material available, and it’s incredibly strong.
Number of pieces
Each paddle has three different parts: the blade, the shaft, and the handle. Some paddles come as one single piece, while others separate two or all three parts. Paddles that come apart are especially convenient for those who plan to travel frequently with their gear.
The weight of your paddle has more impact the longer you’re in the water. While most paddles may feel relatively light upon first touch, they get increasingly heavy over the course of a paddling session. Think about the duration of your paddling sessions when deciding how heavy might be too heavy for your needs. Heavier paddles also tend to give you a better muscle workout than lighter models.
As a general rule, your paddle should be roughly a foot taller than you. You can obviously choose whatever height feels most comfortable, but this is a good starting point. Some paddles are adjustable, which makes it convenient to try out a few different heights before settling on a permanent one.
What to look for in a quality stand-up paddleboard paddle
Your SUP paddle as well as the handle may come in a number of different color or design options. For paddlers who are concerned with how they look, a paddle with a fun color or pattern can be a nice addition to their gear.
Fixed-length paddles are popular with serious paddlers who race regularly. These paddles are durable, consistent, and many times more lightweight than other options. Furthermore, because these paddles aren’t adjustable, they don’t hold any extra, unnecessary material inside the shaft.
Some paddles may include a paddle bag. This is a convenient way to transport your paddle so you can be sure it doesn’t get lost or damaged.
How much you can expect to spend on a quality stand-up paddleboard paddle
Most stand-up paddleboard paddles cost between $40-$200. For $40, you’ll find paddles that are mostly made of plastic, fiberglass, or aluminum and are great for beginners. If you spend $100, you can get a lightweight durable paddle made from wood. For $200, you can expect to get a good carbon fiber paddle that will last longer than most of the competition.
Stand-up paddleboard paddle FAQ
What form should I use when paddling on my SUP?
A. Proper form dictates that you place one hand halfway up the paddle’s shaft, with your other hand at the top of the handle. Legs should be shoulder width and parallel to the rails of the board.
Can paddles from other watersports be used for stand-up paddleboarding?
A. While you can use other paddles, it’s not recommended. Stand-up paddleboard paddles are designed specifically for use on SUPs. As such, their proportions are better suited for the sport than those of a kayak or other paddle.
What are the best stand-up paddleboard paddles to buy?
Top stand-up paddleboard paddle
Our take: This is more durable and lightweight than almost any other paddle on the market.
What we like: The two-piece design features a lightweight aluminum shaft. It’s adjustable from 70 to 83 inches.
What you should consider: The height adjustment mechanism is not very strong.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
Top stand-up paddleboard paddle for the money
Our take: This is adecent paddle for beginners at a comfortable price.
What we like: It has an aircraft-grade aluminum shaft and is highly durable. It’s adjustable from 67 to 85 inches. The convenient three-piece construction makes the paddle easy to transport.
What you should consider: Some of the pieces are glued, rather than welded.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
Worth checking out
Our take: It’s premium carbon-fiber design will have you gliding through the water like a pro.
What we like: It has an ultra-lightweight carbon-fiber shaft. The stainless steel fasteners are durable. It is adjustable from 72 to 86 inches.
What you should consider: The adhesive on the adjustment clamp wears out quickly.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Adam Reeder writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.