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SUP Paddle Length: How to size a SUP Paddle

Choosing the right paddle length is extremely important to progress quickly and effectively in the water. An incorrectly adjusted paddle can also have a negative effect on the body, which can quickly lead to tension or dislocation.

The correct paddle length is not a mystery, but there are several ways to determine the optimal paddle length for stand up paddling. In this article we present all these possibilities. You can try them out for yourself and finally answer the question how long a SUP paddle should be.

There is no such thing as an ideal SUP paddle length

An important fact is: There is no right or wrong with the paddle length. Every paddler is different: Rather small, rather big or average big. For this reason, there is no universal SUP paddle length that is suitable for all athletes.

The ideal paddle length also depends on the way the SUP board is used. Do you want to use the board most for relaxed trips or family tours? Is SUP surfing or competition on the program?

Your own fitness is also an important part of this decision. Your own body weight and the weight of your equipment also play a role.

At this moment it is quite a lot. The paddle length works like a science. We have a number of things that can influence paddle length. But stick with it. We’ll start with the concrete numbers in a moment.

Ultimately, the length can be set variably in the vast majority of cases. For this there is either a system with individual adjustable lengths or free systems with steps. Minor changes can also be implemented after the purchase of a SUP paddle.

A rule of thumb

The rule of thumb for relaxed tours is that the paddle length should correspond to your body size plus an additional 22.5 cm to 25 cm. For example, if you are 1.78 m tall, a SUP paddle length of 2 to 2.02 m is the ideal length.

If you are in good athletic shape and want to use the Stand Up Paddling Board primarily for high-speed competitions, you should add about 30 cm to your own body height.

For SUP surfing shorter paddles are recommended. These allow better manoeuvrability. High speed as with touring or race paddling is not required. For SUP Surfing we recommend to add only 15 to 18 cm to your own body size. The paddle is then exactly long enough, but not too long.

The “Laird Hamilton” method

In addition to these rules of thumb, there are other ways to answer the question of how long a SUP paddle should be. Laird Hamilton, a world famous SUP legend, advises another method to determine the length.

In his opinion, the best way to determine the perfect SUP paddle length is to place the paddle vertically in front of your feet and grip it with one hand.

The hand should be able to rest on the handle with the ball of the thumb without much effort. If this is possible, the paddle length set is the optimum.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the paddle should not be too long or too short for stand up paddling. Not only does an appropriate setting feel uncomfortable and ineffective, it can also have negative health effects on your body.

For advanced surfers: The ideal paddle length for SUP Race and SUP Surfing

Advanced paddlers, who want to let off steam especially in the area of surfing or racing, there is another possibility to find an adequate paddle length.

This method is also very uncomplicated. For advanced paddlers the structure of the paddle should be known, but we will recapitulate briefly here. The paddle consists of three parts: the paddle blade, the shaft and the handle.

This alternative method to determine the ideal paddle length for SUP is as follows: The paddle is first turned upside down. It stands on the handle and the paddle blade points upwards. Now stand exactly in front of the paddle again.

If the connection between shaft and paddle blade is at your eye level, this board is a good choice for SUP Racing. If the connector is only at your chin height, the paddle (or set length) is a solid choice for SUP Surfing for your height.

Fine tuning

We want to go a bit deeper over the different paddle lengths. Beside the mentioned influences there are other factors like injuries or (especially frequent) back pain, which play into the choice of the paddle length and require a deviation from the previously estimated paddle length.

If you notice pain with the current setting, it’s time to change it. The opinion of Laird Hamilton on this subject is that the paddle length is best changed in increments of 7 to 10 cm. In this way you can quickly determine whether the paddle should be shorter or longer.

The changes of at least 7 cm are significant enough for you to feel them when paddling. You can therefore quickly decide whether the paddle should be longer or shorter. In retrospect, you can then further optimize in the centimeter range.

SUP is all about fun. However, Stand Up Paddling should not be at the expense of your health. The choice of the correct paddle length is your most important adjusting screw. If you have problems with certain muscle groups or feel pain after several SUP tours, you should act quickly.

If you bought your Stand Up Paddle in a specialist shop, you will often have received a short and concise consultation on the subject of paddle length. One criticism of these consultations is that they are often too short and the possible health risks of an incorrect setting are neglected. No wonder: After all, you want to sell something.

Often the customer is simply asked to lift his arms, so that the salesperson can estimate roughly which paddle and which length are suitable. However, your individual needs or the use of the paddle are usually completely ignored. In almost all cases, a corresponding readjustment is necessary.

Conclusion

The big advantage in today’s market environment is that most of the models are height-adjustable. Earlier paddles had to be shortened or lengthened. Nowadays this is much more comfortable with the adjustable paddle lengths. Many paddles rely on systems that even allow you to change the length during a tour. However, we would ask you to be careful here, as there is a tendency to make big changes on the water.

Of course it is great that you can also change between different modes on the water. A long setting for racing can be converted into a short paddle length without further ado. This is perfect if you want to surf a few more waves before going back to the land.

We hope that with this detailed article we have been able to shed some light on the ideal paddle length for Stand Up Paddling, you can better estimate the paddle length with our tips and have achieved our appeals to deal with paddle length.

Have fun paddling!


Sources

[1] https://www.lairdhamilton.com/standup/2012/choosing-your-sup-board-from-team-laird-hamilton/

[2] http://stand-up-paddling.org/sup-paddel/

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