7 Best SUP Paddles in 2020
A day on the water is at least for us always the highlight of a week. We love stand up paddling and think it’s really cool to see that the sport is becoming more and more popular. In just a few years SUP has grown from a small niche existence to one of the most popular water sports. This is no wonder. Once you’ve tried SUP, it’s hard to stop.
One factor that has certainly also contributed to the rise from stand up paddling is that compared to other water sports you need relatively little equipment. With the right SUP board, a good SUP leash (so the board won’t float away), the right clothes, something to carry the board (e.g. mostly a SUP backpack), and the SUP paddle it’s already done.
The SUP Board is the biggest investment, although many SUP boards are not that expensive for beginners. A SUP board is of course a piece of sports equipment that should last for many years. At this point, money can and should be put into the hand to buy a high quality model. However, the SUP paddle itself plays an important role in paddling.
The material and the weight have a great influence on the performance and therefore also on the fun. In the following we have therefore presented what we believe to be the best SUP paddles. These models have already proven themselves in practice or in a SUP paddle test. Following the list of best paddles we present each SUP paddle in detail and in our guide you will find more information about what to consider when choosing a SUP paddle.
With the rise of SUP the number of available SUP paddles has multiplied. Many different manufacturers now offer their own models. Especially for beginners it is not easy to find your way through this jungle. But with the presented SUP paddles you won’t do anything wrong.
The Best SUP Paddles
|Abahub 3-Piece Adjustable Alloy|
|Alloy SUP Paddle - 3 Piece|
|WOOWAVE SUP Paddle Adjustable 3|
|YVLEEN Alloy SUP Paddle -|
|Own the Wave 3-Piece Adjustable|
|KERCO Carbon Fiber SUP Paddle|
Guide: Buying the right SUP paddle
Stand Up paddlers who are often in groups will feel the differences between the different types of SUP boards most clearly. With Touring SUP Boards or even Race SUP Boards you will be on your way much faster than with simple allrounders.
In these comparisons the paddle is often wrongly neglected. The SUP paddle is practically half the battle when riding SUP. So there is a noticeable difference between rather simple and high quality models. The weight plays a central role. When repeating the paddle movement a thousand times, every gram is noticeable.
The best SUP paddles are made of robust materials and designed in such a way that there is only a slight loss of power at the joints. Most models (and especially SUP paddles for beginners) are height adjustable. This is possible because the individual parts of the multi-part paddle can be pushed deeper or less deep into each other as required.
As a rule, relatively heavy aluminium paddles are included in the available SUP complete sets, which are delivered with the board as well as with the complete basic equipment. For the beginning these are completely sufficient. But sooner or later many paddlers replace them with fibreglass SUP paddles or carbon SUP paddles. Fiberglass and carbon are ultra-light materials that are nevertheless very robust. In SUP paddle tests, paddles made of these two materials usually prevail.
The choice of the right model is not so easy. There are many factors to consider. In the following we have listed them for you.
The optimal length of the SUP paddle depends on your height and the type of SUP. In general, the bigger you are, the longer the paddle should be. For the beginning it is enough to add 20 cm to your own body height to estimate the ideal paddle length. In any case, you should choose a height-adjustable model so that you can better adjust the length afterwards.
Shorter paddles are better for control and good acceleration, but longer SUP paddles are much more efficient and better suited for reaching high speeds. Therefore the type of board also plays an important role. For applications that require fast turns (SUP surfing or white water SUP), shorter paddles are better for this reason. In contrast, Race and Touring paddles tend to be longer than average, which makes paddling much more efficient.
Another way to determine the ideal SUP paddle length is the Laird-Hamilton method. Named after a SUP legend, the paddle is simply placed vertically (with the paddle blade down) in front of the feet. A hand is placed on the handle. The ball of the hand should be able to rest on the Gruff without any major effort.
The type of grip is a matter of personal preference. It is best to try out a few grips and see which one feels most comfortable. Most SUP paddles are equipped with a T-handle or a knob handle.
The material is also important. In any case you should use a robust material that also offers a good grip. An ergonomic grip is really important. After all, no blisters should form on the hands. This could quickly mean the premature end of the paddle trip.
Transport & Storage
Everything concerning the transport of the SUP paddles can be broken down into two areas: weight and the number of parts the paddle is made of. In stand-up paddling all the equipment can be stowed in a backpack, but the weight is still important.
That’s where it comes in handy if the paddle is not quite as heavy. On the one hand this makes the way from the parking lot to the water easier and on the other hand it makes paddling on the water much easier. In addition, multi-piece paddles prove to be extremely practical. In general, most models can be disassembled into three parts anyway and therefore fit into any standard SUP backpack.
For the shaft, the paddle blade and the handle, one or more of the three materials aluminium, fibreglass and carbon are almost always used. Most SUP paddles for beginners are made of aluminium. Aluminium is a robust and durable material that is cheap to buy and for the beginning of a SUP career paddles made of this material are the best choice. The advantage of the aluminium SUP paddles is that they can take the one or other collision.
Carbon is an extremely light and very robust material, which is used for the construction of the paddle blade, but on some models also for the shaft. The quite expensive Carbon SUP paddles are used by many touring paddlers and participants in competitions. The low weight makes for more efficient paddling. The paddle is therefore also well suited for endurance races and can also be used in rough waters.
Fiberglass (or GFK) lies between these two materials. It is light, stable and is in the middle range in price. Fiberglass SUP paddles are lighter than models made of aluminium and a little more robust, but do not come close to the hardness and light weight of a carbon paddle.
The size of the paddle blade determines how much force is needed to pull the paddle through the water. A larger paddle blade requires more force because the resistance of the water is also greater. With a small paddle blade the paddling motion is easier, which is good for fast acceleration, but for longer trips a large paddle blade is more suitable.
With this one you move a little bit slower forward, but therefore you build up much more speed. SUP paddles with large blades are also generally more efficient. However, choosing a paddle based on the size of its blade remains a matter for real veterans. Most beginner paddles are in the middle range, so this factor does not need to be taken into account when looking for a suitable paddle.
The shape also has an influence on how fast the board moves through the water. The shape of the paddle is a factor that can improve or limit maneuverability. For example, if the paddle blade has an almost rectangular shape, it is well suited for high speed on flat water. On the other hand, a round paddle blade can also be used in rough waters. Oval paddle blades are a mixture of these two types and are in the middle between them in terms of handling characteristics.
angle of the paddle blade
With a SUP paddle, the blade stands off at an angle. Most of the time the angle between the straight shaft and the paddle blade is 10°, but sometimes it can be as much as 14° or only 6°.
As with the blade size, the angle makes a difference, but tends to be something for experienced stand up paddlers. SUP beginners do not have to worry about this. Ultimately, the angle is also a matter of personal preference. There is no right or wrong here.
FAQ: Frequently asked questions about SUP paddling answered.
Can SUP paddles float?
Most modern paddles are floatable. Especially beginners we recommend to pay special attention to this. It is foreseeable that you will fall into the water at one point and not be able to hold on to the paddle. If this happens, you don’t want to resurface and find that the paddle is now at the bottom of the lake.
Being stranded in the middle of the lake is not a great thing, and the paddle was not exactly cheap either, of course. Fiberglass and Carbon SUP paddles can always swim. However, we would be a bit cautious with models made of aluminium that were launched before 2017. Best you read the customer reviews for the respective product anyway. If the paddle doesn’t swim, many buyers write that in their reviews. Tip: Just filter for the negative reviews.
Why is the paddle blade on SUP paddles slanted?
The paddle blade is slanted for two reasons. Firstly, this design reduces the water resistance. With a paddle blade that continues the shaft straight, paddling would be much harder. The angle between paddle blade and shaft makes it easier to pull the paddle through the water. This way, the necessary use of force is lower and there is no danger of losing balance.
Secondly, a slanted paddle blade has the great advantage that it can be pulled out of the water easily due to its shape. With the right paddle stroke, the paddle is dipped far forward next to the board and then pulled parallel to the board up to the height of the feet. A diagonally protruding paddle can easily be lifted without having to push water aside. The effort required is correspondingly lower.
How long should a SUP paddle be?
SUP paddles are available in different lengths. From SUP paddles for children to extra long ones for especially tall people, everything is available. Height-adjustable models are particularly popular with beginners, as the height of these can be adjusted flexibly. The common rule of thumb is that the paddle should be at least 20 cm larger than the paddler.
For beginners this first rough estimation is already sufficient. SUP beginners should use a height-adjustable model anyway. This way the length of the paddle can be changed afterwards. If you are not satisfied with the current setting, it is best to change it in steps of 5 or 10 cm. Only with these quite clear jumps a real difference can be noticed. Gradually the really best length can be determined.
Advanced paddlers should also keep in mind that the ideal length depends on the respective area of use. While short paddles are excellent for fast acceleration and good manoeuvrability, paddling with a long paddle is more efficient in terms of power input and on longer distances higher speeds can be built.
Also paddlers with back problems have a better grip on a long paddle. Stand Up Paddling can be a quiet sport. However, with a very short paddle a lot of back effort is required. A long paddle, on the other hand, makes it possible to stay in an upright position while paddling.
How to hold a SUP paddle?
With the right position of the paddle you can move faster in the water and use less energy. SUP paddles are, in contrast to a kayak paddle, one-sided, which means that only one side has a paddle blade. The correct mounting is therefore different.
On a SUP paddle one hand rests on the top of the handle and the other on the bottom of the shaft. If you paddle on the right side, the right hand is at the bottom and the left hand is on the handle. If you paddle on the left side, however, the left hand is at the bottom of the sheep and the right hand is on top of the handle.
When paddling, the upper arm is the pressure arm. This arm does most of the work, while the lower arm only guides the paddle and is therefore called the pulling arm. When paddling, the power really only comes from the pressure arm. After every 3 to 5 strokes of the paddle, the paddle side and thus the position of the hands is changed in order to continue straight ahead.
With a lightweight, height-adjustable paddle that can be dismantled into three parts for transport, beginners do not go wrong. Fiberglass and Carbon SUP paddles are best suited, as they are both light and robust. Furthermore, the paddle has to be long enough for the paddler, which mainly depends on his body size.
The best list of the best SUP paddles and our guides with information on choosing the right model will help both newcomers to water sports as well as experienced paddlers and real veterans to make the right decision. From SUP paddles for experienced stand up paddlers to beginner models and the best race paddles, everything is included.