Whether you’re doing your paddling on one of the inflatable SUPs or one of the rigid SUPs, you’re going to need a good paddle. Sure, some stand up paddleboards are sold as a package deal that includes a paddle, but this is not true of all SUPs. And often, those included as part of a package or kit deal are of lower quality than what you can buy on your own. If you really enjoy paddleboarding and want the best available equipment that money can buy, then do yourself a favor and buy your own SUP paddle. You’ll find that they are very affordable. We’ve compared all the top models to give you this official JustPaddleboard buying guide.
Best SUP Paddles for the Money 2016 - 2017
Comparing The Best Stand Up Paddleboard Paddles
Before you make up your mind on which of the above models is the best choice for your paddleboarding needs, let us here at Just Paddleboard give you some tips on choose the perfect SUP paddles for your needs.
When shopping, keep in mind that you want the most efficient paddle that you can afford because the more efficient it is, then the longer that you can spend out on the water without getting tired. The higher quality models tend to be more lightweight and have stiffer blades, which makes them the most efficient.
Types of Paddles
As you compare the models, you will notice that there are three basic types of paddleboard paddles. The materials that you will seem them made out of can be:
- carbon fiber
Sometimes, you will also see a blend like a fiberglass/carbon fiber blend.
The aluminum models are always the cheapest, but they are also the heaviest. This means you will get tired much quicker when using one of these. This type is very durable and always available as adjustable models.
The fiberglass models are in the mid-range price, but usually not all that much more in cost than the aluminum models. If you find an fiberglass blend model, it will be higher in price than 100% fiberglass options. The fiberglass models do weigh less than the aluminum ones and are also very strong.
The carbon fiber models are the most expensive of the bunch, but also the most lightweight. These are basically your highest quality paddles for the money. You get the best performance and quality with this type.
Lower quality plastic blades don’t really do a good job of transferring the force in your strokes. They are too flexible and you end up spending a lot of energy that doesn’t really show up in the strokes. But the higher quality blades are a lot more stiff, which means that they are not flexible in the water so all of your energy actually makes it through to the force of the strokes. What does this mean? With higher quality blades, you do not get as fatigued or tired because it doesn’t take as much effort to move through the water.
The size and shape of the blade is also something that you’ll want to pay attention to. If you’re going to be surfing and need good maneuverability, then a small, narrow blade is your best choice. This type of blade also performs well in flat water conditions. Blades with larger surface areas tend to take a little more effort to get through the water and can put a little more stress on the arms if you’re out there paddling long distances. Fortunately, a lot of paddles have mid-size or medium-size blades that work well in all different types of water conditions and for all types of paddleboarders.
Length of Paddles
Getting the proper size is very important because otherwise it will not be efficient or easy for you to use. If you get one that is too long, you end up having to hold your arms too high and you get tired very quickly. And if you get one that is too long, you end up having to hunch over and bend forward to hold it, which gives you back pain and strain.
As you compare the options listed above, keep in mind that you need to choose one that has about 6″ to 12″ in height over you. Thought it might not seem correct, you definitely want your paddle to be taller than you are because you have to dip it down in the water as you do your paddleboarding. Here’s the rule of thumb on length based on how you’ll be using it:
- for racing – 10 to 12 inches taller than you
- for flat water cruising – 8 to 10 inches taller than you
- for surfing – 6 to 8 inches taller than you
Some of the paddles are adjustable and others have a fixed length. If you end up buying a fixed length model, then you have to actually measure out how long you need it to be and then cut it to size and glue the handle on. This is not as difficult as it sounds, but definitely not something to try without proper instruction. The video below can give you some tips on this process.
Of the two length types, having one that is customized to your height is definitely the best option. However, if you intend to share the paddle with friends and family members, then an adjustable model is the way to go because it makes that so easy. Just keep in mind that the adjustable models tend to weight a little more than the non-adjustable models.
Need more help on getting the right size for your paddling needs? The video below can give you some more tips on choosing the proper size.
One thing that you might not consider paying attention to is the type of palm grip in the handle area. Most of the time, this is just going to be your standard palm-shaped grip. If you intend to do a lot of surfing and white water paddling, then you might prefer a T-grip so that you can easily wrap your fingers around it for extra security in the rough waters. There are also models with ball shaped grips that offer no real benefit, but some paddlers just prefer the feel of them.
And finally, if you need help on the proper form when it comes to holding the paddle, we’ve got you covered. Check out our tips on correct form here.
About the Adjustable Alloy Paddle by Own the Wave
It is adjustable from 71 inches to 83 inches, so you can fit it to your height and easily switch off with friends and family members at the beach, lake or river. The shaft is made of a lightweight alloy and the blade is a nylon composite. Holding it is very comfortable because it has an ergonomically designed handle.
For travel or storage, you will like that you can break this one down into two pieces. And the longest piece is just 66 inches. The weight for this model is 2.2 pounds and it is guaranteed by the manufacturer to float in both salt water and fresh water. Overall, this is a pretty good deal if you need a good cheap SUP paddle.
About the Ultra LITE Performer Adjustable Paddle by Bullet Proof Surf
One interesting thing to note about this model is that Bullet Proof Surf recommends it only for paddlers who weigh less than 200 pounds. It has been specifically designed for medium sized paddlers from children up to those who are 200 pounds.
The fiberglass and nylon composite blade, along with the fiberglass shaft, make this one a very light weight model. It comes in at just 26 ounces.
The telescopic adjustment is easy to use and instantaneous. And Bullet Proof Surf guarantees that this model will float in both fresh water and salt water.
About the Adjustable Alloy Paddle By Bullet Proof Surf
If you want something similar to the Own the Wave model listed above, but made by a brand that is more well known, then look no further than this model by Bullet Proof Surf. In fact, it shares practically identical features with it.
You get the free blade cover included, which keeps that blade protected while in storage or when you are traveling with it.
This one is also adjustable so that you can switch off using it with friends and family. The adjustment levels go from 71 inches to 83 inches. And you can also break this one down into two pieces, with the longest piece being only 66 inches.
This one is very durable and can be used by paddlers of all sizes. It weights 2.2 pounds, just like the Own the Wave model above.
Bullet Proof Surf guarantees that this one will float in both salt and fresh water, so no need to worry about dropping it.
About the Adjustable Carbon Fiber ‘Slider’ Paddle By Bullet Proof Surf
If you’re looking for high performance carbon fiber paddles at a cheap price, then definite check out this Slider model by Bullet Proof Surf. It’s one of the cheapest carbon fiber models on the market right now, and it gives you high quality and awesome performance in the water.
The shaft and handle are made of carbon fiber and the blade is made of a fiberglass/carbon fiber composite. So, while it is not a 100% carbon fiber model, it is still a very lightweight and efficient option that has a low price. It is truly an incredible value.
One advantages to the composite blade is that it is ultra durable and rugged. It won’t chip or sustain other damage if you strike a rock or other debris.
This Slider model does come with a free blade cover to keep it safe during travel and storage. And like all the other models from Bullet Proof Surf, this one is 100% guaranteed to float in fresh water and salt water.
The adjustment mechanism is easy to use and securely tightens to lock into place once you get it to your preferred length.
The total weight of this model is 1.5 pounds due to the heavier composite blade. However, do note that a composite blade is a necessity if you do a lot of shallow water paddling where the blade can strike a rough bottom repeatedly. If you prefer the lighter 100% carbon fiber slider model, click here.
About the Aqua-Bound Challenge Adjustable Paddle
If you are in the market for a 100% carbon fiber paddle, then this one by Aquabound makes a great choice. It is one of the more affordable models, with a great low price under $200 at REI. And, it is adjustable so that you can share it with friends and family when you’re not out there paddling on your own.
With the Aquabound Challenge model, you get a 100% carbon shaft and a resin blade that is reinforced with carbon. This means you get something that is both ultra lightweight and very durable. And I’m really a fan of the cool Polynesian design on the blade. You’ll also notice that the stiffness of the blades propels you through the water faster than cheaper paddles. It takes so much less effort to move through the water with this one.
The Aqua Bound Challenge is easy to hold for long periods thanks to the contoured palm grip. And the 10-degree bend in the shaft makes your paddling comfortable as well. For travel and storage, this one breaks down into two pieces.
The real benefit of the Challenge by Aqua-Bound is that it is very lightweight. It weighs in at a shockingly low 25 ounces!
About the C4 Waterman 12K 3-Piece Adjustable Paddle
This top of the line SUP paddle by C4 Waterman is one of the best that money can buy right now. So, if you’re looking for luxury SUP gear or just the best paddles on the market, then this is exactly what you’re looking for.
You get a three-piece paddle with it’s own high quality bag for travel and storage. The shaft is made of carbon and the blade is made of 12K weave carbon. Basically, you are getting the best of the best here.
This one is perfect for long distance paddling because it is so lightweight and easy to hold. It helps you to track through the water quickly and with little effort.
The blade is 8-inches wide on this all-carbon paddle and really helps you cut through the water like a pro. The weight of this one is a super low 28 ounces. It makes the perfect choice if you’re shopping for high end 100% carbon SUP paddles.
The adjustable length ranges from 73 inches to 82 inches. And the adjustment mechanism is easy to use and securely locks into place once you’re at your preferred length for paddleboarding.
About the AIRHEAD AHSUP-P4 Carbon Composite Paddle
If you’re shopping for good SUPs paddles for $100 – $200, then take a moment to consider this carbon composite model from Airhead. The Airhead P4 has a price cthat is higher than some of the other paddles on the market, but it is definitely worth finding room in the budget to afford this one .
This is a good choice if you want something lightweight but can’t afford the 100% carbon models. The Airhead P4 carbon composite features a lightweight carbon shaft and polymer that is reinforced with fiberglass for the blade. That gives you a blade that is very durable but heavier than the full carbon models. That being said, this is still a pretty lightweight option at just 1.59 pounds total weight.
It is an adjustable model, so you can easily share it with friends and family at the lake, beach, river or ocean. The adjustment process is easy to do and only takes a few seconds to secure into place. And like all of the other models listed up above, this one does float in both fresh water and salt water. Also note that it does break down into two pieces for transport.
About the BIC Sport Fiberglass/Polycarbonate Adjustable Paddle
For another good, cheap option in the $100 – $300 range, check out this model offered by BIC Sport. It is available in different sizes, which makes it a good SUP paddle for kids as well as adults. Of course, it is also adjustable, which means that many members of the same family or group of friends can share it by taking turns out on the paddleboard.
The durable shaft is made of lightweight fiberglass and it has a polycarbonate blade. You’ll notice that the handle has a T-grip, which reduces fatigue and gives you a comfort grip.
This BIC Sport FP Fiberglass model weighs in at 35 ounces for the largest size and 28 ounces for the smallest kid size model. Blade width also varies by which length model you choose to buy.
It performs well in all types of water and has an affordable low price. It’s not the best model on the market, but it is certainly better than one of the cheap aluminum models that come as part of SUP package deals.