You can purchase board on the market, but you won’t get very far if you don’t have a good paddle.
Investing in a high-quality paddle that fits your body and paddling style will make stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) a lot more enjoyable. Does this imply that you must purchase a high-end paddle? No, not always.
When shopping for a new paddleboard paddle, you’ll quickly realize that the most important factor influencing paddle performance is the material you choose. A low-cost paddleboard paddle is typically built of an aluminum shaft and a thermoplastic molded blade.
Don’t get mixed up; they’re a good starting paddle, but the switch to a composite material has so many advantages that you’ll soon be looking for a replacement.
If you’re looking for the best paddleboard paddle, you have two options: fiberglass or carbon fiber. Which is superior? Why is it preferable? And, more importantly, which one should you buy? Maybe you have answers to these questions, maybe not. Whatever the case, worry not because we’re going to settle the issue; Paddle Carbon Fiber vs. Fiberglass.
So roll up and learn everything there is to know!!
What is Fiberglass
Fiberglass is a fiber-reinforced plastic made by infusing glass fibers, which are molten sand extruded via brushing to produce a fiber woven into glass sheets with a plastic resin, typically epoxy.
It’s an incredibly flexible material with several applications and favorable material properties.
One distinguishing property is its ability to be molded into complicated shapes that would be impossible to cast with other materials.
As a result, it is frequently utilized in storage tanks, boat hulls, and kayak paddles.
Glass fiber’s raw material is inexpensive, making it a commercially appealing option. Fiberglass is also tough, waterproof, light, non-rotting, and incombustible. It’s no wonder that it’s a popular material.
The only disadvantage is that it expands with temperature fluctuations or prolonged exposure to sunshine, which can cause the resin or topcoat, if painted, to break.
However, fiberglass is easily repaired, so it is not a big problem unless left untreated.
What is Carbon Fiber?
The bonding of carbon atoms forms carbon fiber into a crystal-like structure, which results in the good properties of the material. The production of this fiber is both complicated and costly.
Carbon fibers can be woven into a cloth and mixed with a plastic polymer to form a fabric. The materials are then bonded together using heat, pressure, or vacuum to form a composite material with qualities greater than the sum of its parts.
Carbon fiber has several advantages that make it a popular material choice, including high strength, lightweight, and outstanding thermodynamic qualities.
Carbon paddleboard paddles are typically made by wrapping woven carbon cloth around a mold or into a die.
A resin polymer is applied to make a carbon fiber reinforced paddle, and the completed paddle is baked, sometimes under pressure.
Factors to consider when picking the best paddle for you.
Choosing the correct paddle size is critical to maintaining proper paddling form and efficiency.
The materials used to make a SUP paddle influence the weight and stiffness of the paddle. A lightweight paddle is generally preferred, but keep in mind that you usually pay more for less weight.
- Size, shape, and offset of the blade:
The paddle blade’s size, shape, and offset determine how the blade moves through the water. The type of paddling you do, your body type, and your personal preference will all influence your choice of blade.
Generally, the larger you are, the larger your blade should be.
Carbon Fiber VS Fiberglass, which is better?
To choose the best paddleboard, you must consider the characteristics of the material and the cost.
The overall weight is affected by several factors, including the building method. However, it highlights that fiberglass is average 30% heavier than carbon fiber.
Now, does such a minor variation in weight make such a big difference?… Without a doubt, it can.
Therefore, because a lightweight paddleboard is generally preferred, when it comes to weight, Fiberglass Vs. Carbon Fiber, Carbon Fiber is the clear winner.
Regarding price, moving from a budget Aluminium/nylon style paddle to either a fiberglass or carbon fiber paddle results in a substantial price increase.
The difference between fiberglass and carbon fiber can also be quite significant, with the latter being two or three times more expensive.
This limitation is the primary reason why more people prefer fiberglass paddles over carbon fiber paddles.
Carbon fiber is more expensive than fiberglass or plastic because it is more expensive to manufacture. However, material costs only account for a percentage of the overall price differential.
The main reason for the price difference is that making a carbon fiber paddle is far more labor-intensive. The additional labor cost is reflected directly in the price.
While specialized machines can handle aspects of both materials’ manufacturing processes, carbon fiber paddles are more likely to be fashioned or completed by hand.
The remaining price difference between fiberglass and Carbon is a product premium. If and when a new material with more desirable traits and attributes than carbon fiber enters the market, this premium will be reduced. The supply and demand laws.
As a result, the winner of this round of Fiberglass Vs Carbon Fiber will come as no surprise.
Is a carbon paddle worth it?
Yes! Carbon fiber is the lightest and stiffest material available. If you frequently paddle long distances, the weight savings may be worth the extra cost.
Carbon fiber’s stiffness results in excellent power transfer from your muscles to the paddle’s blade.
Carbon fiber is used throughout the shaft and blade of high-end paddles, while composite construction is used in more cost-effective designs, such as a blend of Carbon and fiberglass or a carbon shaft paired with a fiberglass blade.
Aside from weight and cost, fiberglass and carbon fiber have many similarities. If this were a simple checkbox activity, they would be graded equally.
However, when you delve a little deeper, the distinction becomes evident.
Both materials are arguably strong. Each is more durable than its inexpensive counterparts, aluminum and plastic. However, Carbon comes out on top by a country mile when it comes to stiffness.
Rigidity indicates a better transfer of stroke energy into water movement when it comes to the material of a paddle. Carbon has a tensile strength of 240 Gpa, making it exceptional.
Toughness, as it is commonly known, is an area where fiberglass excels. Because it is more flexible than super-rigid Carbon, it can endure stress and shock induced by a fully imposed load.
Because fiberglass has a lower tensile modulus, it may bend more before breaking. In this aspect, Carbon is more fragile than fiberglass.
The thermal expansion rate of carbon fiber composite is neural. That’s great, you say, but what does it mean? Unlike fiberglass, it does not expand or contract with temperature fluctuations.
Your carbon fiber paddle is unlikely to shatter, although your fiberglass paddle may. Therefore Carbon fiber is the winner.
Conclusion – Here is the Verdict
In most instances, carbon fiber outshines fiberglass; on paper, carbon fiber is the clear winner in the Fiberglass vs. Carbon fiber paddle fight.
However, there is no getting around the expense premium. This will be the decisive factor in their purchasing decision for most people. Unless you paddle as a sport, it can be difficult to justify purchasing a full carbon paddle.
Does that mean you have to choose between the two? No! Many paddle makers know that cost is the biggest limiting factor for Carbon.
As a result, numerous companies now offer hybrid kayak paddles, which feature blades with a carbon top layer on nylon bases.
This results in a paddle with a proportion of the benefits of Carbon but at Fiberglass pricing. Check out our guide to the best SUP paddles on Amazon to find yours today!
Remember that no paddle in the world can compensate for poor paddling technique, so you must learn how to paddle a paddleboard properly to make the most out of the exercise.
If you are just starting to look into paddleboarding, we have a wide selection of guides to help you find the best option to suit your needs; check them out here!
Thanks for reading to the end. We wish you plenty of fun!