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Choosing Your Paddleboard Paddle [ Newbie Guide ]

Anyone getting into paddle-boarding usually does a lot of research on getting the right paddle board for beginners, and most people forget about the paddle. The paddle does come separately, and you need to be careful while choosing the paddle because it can make or break your paddling experience. So how do I choose a paddleboard paddle?

Getting the right paddleboard depends on a lot of things. Starting from the material to the size and even configuration, there are a lot of options on the market. Since most beginner-level paddles are adjustable, you can forget about the length and go for paddles from sizes ranging from 85″-95″. Try to go for carbon blends or fiberglass.

However, if you are taller than average, you might need to consider your height as well and get a longer paddle. The materials and configuration also can greatly influence your performance.

Depending on which type of paddle-boarding you perform your paddle needs might differ. But worry not, here is all you need to know before buying the perfect paddle.  

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How To Choose a Paddle Board Paddle?

When choosing a paddleboard paddle, you have six things to take into consideration: the length, the blade size, the blade shape, the blade offset, the material, and the configuration. The price and your budget are also a factor you should keep in mind. I will be talking about stand-up paddleboard paddles. Let’s take a look into how to select each of these features.

Choosing the Material

The first step in selecting the perfect paddle for your paddleboard is going to be deciding on which material you want.

The price of these paddles usually differs according to materials, and the materials are what determine the quality of your paddle.

Whether or not the paddle’s weight is a factor for you depends on what kind of paddling you will be doing.

If you plan to go racing or paddle on long tours, you will definitely like a lighter paddle as you will be making a lot of strokes over time these strokes can become cumbersome.

So, this means it is very important to get the right paddle for your personal stroke.

These paddles are usually made from either aluminum, fiberglass, carbon fiber, wood, or plastic. The material also accounts for the weight, and lightweight paddles are usually made of carbon or fiberglass.

These however will cost more. Let’s take a look at the different choices you have.

Plastic

Plastic paddles are most commonly found near beach stores or affordable places which sell sporting activity gear. They are cheap, durable, and usually always used with an aluminum shaft.

However, I wouldn’t recommend using plastic paddles even for beginners. If you are planning on doing paddle-boarding at least more than once and want to get into the practice, don’t waste your money on a plastic paddle no matter how cheap it is.

On the other hand, these are great for tourists who just want to try it once in their lives.

Aluminum

Now, aluminum paddles are great for beginners and are much better than plastic ones even though they cost about the same.

They might even come packaged in the box with beginner paddle kits, usually with an inflatable paddleboard.

These are great to get an experience out of before you can commit to investing in getting better gear. They are light and durable while also being affordable.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass is a great mid-range material for paddle-boarders. They are much lighter than aluminum and plastic ones and are stiffer as well. So, you can power your strokes more efficiently.

Some paddles are made with fiberglass shafts and nylon paddles and there are also completely fiberglass-built ones.

However, if you go full fiber-class, the prices might increase and you might as well get carbon fiber ones if you can afford them.

Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber paddles are the best option you have. They feel light and will feel like an extension of your arms. Because of the high stiffness, they can efficiently distribute the strength of your muscles to the blades and will allow you to experience perfect strokes.

If you plan on becoming or are a long-term paddle boarder you can never go wrong with carbon fiber paddles.

They are very expensive, however, and so there are many different options available. Some of them are 10% carbon fiber, with the rest being fiberglass and others have a carbon fiber coating or have a nylon blade.

The lower the percentage of carbon fiber content, the lower the price.

However, if you can afford it, you should invest in getting a 100% carbon fiber paddle because the price will eventually become worth it if you are a long-distance paddler.

Once you have experienced full carbon fiber, you can never go back.

Wood

You can also find some paddles being made entirely from wood. These aren’t a great idea because as you can guess, these paddles will weigh much more than plastic or fiberglass ones, let alone carbon fiber paddles.

These look beautiful and have a vintage feel to them. The aesthetics do not make up for how hard it is to use them. Your muscles might ache soon, and these aren’t all that useful.

So, if you can, you should go for 100% carbon fiber paddles as they will be light and stiff and give you the most efficient stroke.

However, if they are out of your budget, you can go for carbon blends with fiberglass or even plain fiberglass or aluminum ones.

Choosing the Length

Once you’ve selected which material you want for your paddle, next comes the length of your shaft. Paddle length is very important and will change your performance drastically.

Too short and you’ll have to lean over to stroke the water. Too long, and it’ll get in the way and cause accidents.

Ideally, the length of the paddle should be about 8-12 inches more than your height. If you vertically place your paddle beside you and raise an arm the paddle handle will touch your wrist. Any lower or higher is probably not the right one for you.

However, once you get into paddling and develop techniques, you will discover your preferences. Maybe you might like a shorter or longer length than the usual shaft.

It also depends on what kind of paddling you are doing. Surfing might work better with shorter paddles and racers might like longer ones.

So, it all is very subjective and you will learn as you go. But for beginners, the 8-12 inches guide should be good enough.

Choosing the Configuration

If you are unsure of the length, you can always get an adjustable paddle. There are mainly two kinds of shafts, one with adjustable lengths and others with a fixed length. Here are their differences.

Fixed Length Paddles

More experienced paddlers and professionals usually use fixed-length paddles. This is because they are lighter, and they do not have the added weight of the adjustable length mechanism system.

These are also usually made from 100% carbon and have a single blade on the end.

You will probably need these to be cut exactly according to your size, so they can glue on the handles. They come in different lengths; you should get one according to height.

Try to see which length you are comfortable with before committing to a fixed-length paddle. These are also not travel-friendly.

Adjustable Paddles

While adjustable paddles are not as light as their fixed-length counter-parts, they are much more versatile and beginner-friendly.

If you are just starting, you should probably get one with an adjustable length so you can change it according to your needs to figure out what works for you.

Adjustable paddles will usually have a telescoping shaft section with a handle that will fit inside the main shaft. Thus, the handle can be locked in different positions to alter the length of the shaft.

These are great to be used by beginners and also can be used for multiple people with different heights. So, you can also share it with your friends.

If you want a travel-friendly paddle, then 3-piece adjustable paddles which can be reassembled and taken apart for ease of transport, are your best bet.

You can carry these with you in a bag or even on airplanes and can use them with inflatable boards.

Choosing the Blade Size

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to blade sizes. They can range anywhere from 80 square inches to 120 square inches.

You will figure out your preferences as you keep practicing. But as a rule of thumb, the more you weigh, the bigger your blade size should be.

This is because blades are directly stroking the water, requiring strength to pull larger blades. So, a heavier person will usually have better luck trying to pull a larger blade.

So if you weigh less than 150 pounds, you should go for smaller blades in the range of 80 – 90 square inches.

If you weigh around 150-200 pounds, you should go for 90-100 square inches and if you weigh more than that you’ll probably like sizes of shout 100-120 square inches.

But for beginners, usually staying in the 85 – 95 square inch range is good enough.

The size of the blade will also affect the strides. Larger blades are usually more powerful and can tackle more water. This means you can speed up quickly with a few powerful strokes.

This is great for surfing. But this is also more energy consuming and it can tire you out easily. And the speed won’t last too long.

On the other hand, smaller blades are great for faster, more efficient strokes. Smaller blades will work best for you if you are into paddle racing or long-distance touring where you need to conserve energy.

You can consistently hold speed with smaller blades.

Choosing the Blade Shape

The shape of the blade is even more subjective. As you practice and gain experience, you will notice the subtle difference in the strokes and the paddle shape that affects the water. Here are two types of blade shapes on the market.

Tear Drop

These are designed to have a wider more rounded surface area and hence can tackle more water at once. This provides the same effect as a larger blade does, giving you more power with each stroke, but a slower cadence.

If you are into surfing this is the choice for you. This also has less of a fluttering effect as compared to longer, rectangular ones.

Rectangular

Rectangular blades have less surface area and are usually narrower at the bottom. So, the strokes are less strong, however, they are much faster. These are great for racing.

The less powerful strokes also mean they put less pressure on your muscles. So, these are easier to use and your arms won’t hurt as much.

For beginners, a rectangular blade might be the better option. But the difference is subtle, and it’s up to you at the end of the day.

Choosing the Offset

Lastly comes the offset, which is how much your blade is angled away from the shaft. Offset is a very subtle difference and you won’t notice much difference if you are a beginner.

But offset usually affects how powerful each stroke is and determines at which angle the blade strikes the water. If you are into SUP surfing, then 7 degrees or so should be the perfect offset.

However, 12 degrees would be better if you are into racing. But for most users and beginners, an offset of 10 degrees is just fine.

Now, you have to make a checklist of which features you want from your paddle-boarding experience. Then you select exactly the kind of paddle that will work for you, using this guide. And that’s it. All that’s left is buying.

Some of The Best Paddle Boards for Beginners

There are a lot of options for paddles on the market and it can be hard to figure out which one to get. So here are a few recommendations to start you off.

Woowave SUP Paddle

The Woowave SUP Paddle is a great paddle that ticks all the boxes. It is made of carbon fiber with a nylon shaft. It has a teardrop blade design. It is adjustable and can also be taken apart, so you can take it with you on your trips.

They even have other options in materials for you to check out, with varying prices. Though this is slightly expensive, especially if you get the carbon fiber one, the experience makes it worth it.

It is light and durable and also very stiff. It is perfect for beginners and you can use it for a long time as you progress to better levels!

Features:

  • Adjustable Length: This paddle can be adjusted to lengths of 68.9″- 87.4 inches and is perfect for most users. You can see which length works for you and even share it with friends.
  • 3-Piece Design: The 3-piece design allows you to take the paddle apart and reassemble it. You can carry it in your car, bag, or even on an airplane for overseas trips.
  • Quick-Lock System: The adjustable clamp mechanism is supported with a pin lock that quickly locks the length into place. This makes it much easier to use and you don’t have to worry about the clamp loosening in between surf.

Check Latest Price

Abahub Adjustable Carbon Fiber SUP Paddle

Developed by manufacturers with 10 years of experience, the Abahub Adjustable Carbon Fiber SUP paddle gives you quality and assurance. This product is very lightweight, and perfect for beginners and professionals alike.

It can also be broken down into 3 parts for better storage and ease of travel. The blade is built with a Fiberglass and polypropylene complex which makes it stable and rigid, while also being more affordable than full carbon blades. The length can be adjustable from 67 to 86 inches.

 Features:

  • 3K Carbon Shaft: The lightweight design of this paddle is due to the carbon fiber shaft and fiberglass composite blade. Gives you the best experience of rigid blades with a light shaft.
  • Dual Concave Design: The blade is concave giving you 91 sq. inch in the surface area. This makes the strokes more stable and reduces the fluttering effect.
  • Floats in Water: Unlike many paddles, these are so light that they float on water. No need to worry about your paddle accidentally sinking and getting lost.

Check Latest Price

3. Airhead SUP Paddle

If you aren’t all too sure about committing to a carbon fiber shaft, you might like the Airhead SUP paddle. This basic, aluminum-built paddle will work great for those who want to try it out.

It is much more affordable than the other options and might be less durable. It might not feel as great as the better-quality ones. But it gets the job done. Perfect for a little paddle-board racing game or a surf session in the sea.

Features

  • Fiberglass Duck-Foot Blade: While the entire shaft is made from aluminum, the blade is made from fiberglass making it lighter. The duck-foot-like blade also has a wide surface area for more powerful strokes.
  • Adjustable Length: You can adjust the length of the shaft from 63″ to 87″ using the clamp on the handle. Works fine for people of different heights.
  • Aluminum Shaft: The aluminum shaft is what makes this affordable and light. It’s a great mid-range option for beginners.

Check Lastest Price

Conclusion

If you were wondering – “How do I choose a paddleboard paddle” I’m sure you’ve got your answer by now. Beat the summer heat with this fun water sport that you can do with friends and family. Once you start, you might even become a regular.

I hope this article was able to guide you into the world of paddle boarding. Thanks for stopping by.

If you are just starting to look into paddleboarding we have a wide selection of guides to help assist you in finding the best option to suit your needs, check them out here!

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Written by Water Diversions

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