man standing on top of his paddleboard holding a sup paddle

How To Choose a SUP Paddle

When you're gearing up for a day on the water, picking the right SUP paddle can transform your paddleboarding experience from exhausting to exhilarating. Whether you're browsing through the many paddle boards in the UK, or you're a seasoned boarder looking to refine your gear, understanding the ins and outs of a SUP paddle is essential. Let’s take a closer look.

Anatomy of a SUP Paddle

A SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) paddle might seem simple, but its components are critical to its function. The main parts include the blade, shaft, and handle. The blade propels you through the water, the shaft connects the blade and handle, and the handle is where you grip the paddle. Each part comes in various materials and designs, affecting your paddle's overall performance.

Types of SUP Paddles

SUP paddles come in three main materials: aluminum, fiberglass, and carbon fiber. Aluminum paddles are the most affordable, making them a great entry-level choice. Fiberglass paddles strike a balance between weight and durability, whereas carbon fiber paddles are the lightest and stiffest, offering the best performance but at a higher price point.

Paddle Length

The length of your paddle is pivotal. Generally, your SUP paddle should be about 6 to 10 inches taller than you. However, the exact length can depend on the type of paddling you do. For instance, a longer paddle is typically better for touring due to its increased reach and power, whereas a shorter paddle is ideal for surfing to allow for quicker strokes.

Blade Size and Shape

Blade size impacts how much power you can generate with each stroke. Larger blades move more water and are preferred by larger paddlers or those who want more power. Conversely, smaller blades are easier on the joints and better for prolonged paddling sessions. The shape of the blade also affects performance; a wider blade provides more immediate power, while a narrower blade offers a smoother stroke.

Shaft Characteristics

sup paddles lying on the sand

The shaft's flexibility and diameter are also important to consider. A more flexible shaft can reduce strain on your shoulders and arms, which is great for long paddling trips. Meanwhile, the shaft diameter should fit comfortably in your hand. People with smaller hands may prefer a thinner shaft for a better grip.

Weight and Performance

The weight of the paddle directly influences fatigue levels and overall performance. Lighter paddles reduce the effort you need to paddle, allowing for longer sessions with less fatigue. This is particularly important for competitive paddling where efficiency and speed are key.

Grip and Handle Comfort

Lastly, don't overlook the grip and handle comfort. Ergonomic handles that fit well in your hand can prevent blisters and strain. Some paddles come with adjustable grips, which can be a great feature to accommodate different users or changes in paddling style.

The Bottom Line

Choosing the right SUP paddle is more than just picking any paddle board paddle; it’s about finding the perfect balance of length, weight, and material to suit your individual needs and enhance your paddling experience. Whether you’re a casual enthusiast or a dedicated paddleboard racer, the right paddle can make a significant difference.


How often should I replace my SUP paddle?

Typically, a well-maintained SUP paddle can last several years. However, if you notice significant wear on the blade, cracks in the shaft, or if the handle becomes uncomfortable, it's time to consider a replacement.

Can I use the same SUP paddle for both racing and casual paddling?

While you can use the same paddle for different activities, it's not ideal. Racing paddles are generally lighter and designed for speed and efficiency, while paddles for casual use are more focused on comfort and durability. Adjusting your equipment to fit the activity can greatly enhance your experience.

What's the best way to store my SUP paddle?

To prolong the life of your paddle, store it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. UV rays can degrade the materials over time, and excessive heat can warp the paddle. If possible, hang the paddle vertically or keep it in a paddle bag for extra protection.

Are adjustable paddles worth the investment?

Adjustable paddles are an excellent choice for families or paddlers who enjoy different styles of paddleboarding. They allow for quick adjustments in length to suit different users or water conditions, making them versatile and cost-effective over time.

How do I know if a paddle is too heavy for me?

A paddle that is too heavy can lead to quicker fatigue and less enjoyable paddling experience. If you find yourself getting tired quickly or struggling to maintain a steady pace, consider trying a lighter paddle. Opting for materials like carbon fiber can reduce weight without sacrificing strength.