If you’re getting into the world of SUPs or you’re a seasoned paddleboarder, you may already know how tough it can be to pick out a paddle. Some SUPs don’t even come with a paddle as standard, and those that do may not be the best for your own personal needs. Perhaps it is time to upgrade to the best SUP paddle for you. For the best results you need to first work out exactly what you need from your paddle and find one within your budget, fitting your requirements.
A paddle should never get in the way of what you want to achieve on the water. You may want to stay out for a long time fishing, to go faster along the water or just make sure your paddling is efficient. If you’re using a clunky and heavy paddle then fatigue might be an issue, and after a little bit of time you may find yourself longing for the shore just to give yourself a break, but with the modern technology behind making SUP paddles and materials such as carbon fiber, fiberglass and alloy giving the maximum efficiency at minimal weight, there are plenty of choices to give a good experience.
List of the Best Models of SUP Paddle
First up, we’ve selected some models that we consider to be the very best, before explaining below exactly what variables to look for depending on your build, interests and abilities when it comes to paddle boarding. These models won’t see you too far wrong, and we’ve included a cheaper beginner/casual user option, an intermediate option and an elite performance option. They’re also at different price points, whether you want an SUP paddle under $50, under $100 or under $200 then we’ve got something reviewed which will likely suit your budget.
BPS ULTRALITE Fiberglass Shaft Performer Adjustable SUP paddle
This is one of the best selling SUP paddles we’ve come across, the ultralite fiberglass made by BPS (standing for bulletproof surf) is a top model which has some amazing reviews online, hence it making our list of the top paddles. So what makes this such a good option?
Well, this is a stand up paddle which has been picked up for under $100 on many occasion, and has been known to outperform the other models on the market which cost vastly more. When they say it is adjustable, they mean it, and there are even markers to help you work out the size you need to set it to based on your own height and weight. This is suitable for a medium sized adult all the way down to children, so it can be used by a huge portion of paddleboarders out there.
BPS have put a lot of thought into the design here. As well as being usable by both children and adults, it is also super easy to adjust, and vitally it floats on water. Remarkably, a lot of paddles still don’t float on water which makes it all the more likely that you’ll lose a paddle and have to replace it, buying one of the best floating SUP paddles is good common sense, and with the Ultralite you’ll be safe on both salt water and fresh water.
When doing our research for this product, we took a good look at other consumer reviews and pro reviews to see what people were saying about this product, and the vast majority were positive. Most seem to be in agreement that this is a great value for money product and while some of the more expensive models may be superior, they come at additional cost. This is great for people who want to start taking their paddle boarding a little more seriously.
Pure Carbon Fiber SUP Paddle
We’re heading into the elite models here with the pure carbon fiber SUP paddle. It ships as a three piece model and is easily constructed and totally adjustable. This is not just light, but super light, and comes in at under 700g! This can vastly reduce fatigue and tiredness setting in and is perfect for moving at speed or going for a long time or over long distances. If you’re a serious paddle boarder, this could well be a model to consider. The size can be anywhere from 72 to 86 inches depending on the adjustment settings, and the manufacturers claim this is great for anyone to use, of all different heights.
This model, made by manufacturer iGK, is well made. The way it looks and feels, you can tell that the workmanship that has gone into it is pretty great, and the fact that it can remain sturdy at such an amazingly low weight is some feat. It ships with a deluxe carry bag which adds to the feeling of quality and also makes things more convenient.
It has what is called a super dihedral blade, this means that double concave and dihedral blades give a lot more stability to the stroke, and make it a great option for people who are boarding to a high level. As we’ve already said is essential, the Pure carbon fiber SUP paddle also floats on the water reducing the chances of it going missing, never to be found again.
The reviews we’ve looked at online are even more impressive than its counterparts. People have mainly been delighted with the quality on offer here. Durability, quality and ease of use are reported again and again, as well as people being pleased with just how adjustable and flexible this can be. This is not the kind of flimsy model that sometimes gets shipped with your first SUP set, and will likely serve you very well for many miles out on the water. Definitely comes with the watersporter seal of approval.
Affordable Option: Adjustable Alloy SUP Paddle by BPS
There is a lot to be said for a cheap option, especially if you’re just getting started, but even if your budget is relatively small, that doesn’t mean you don’t want something decent, and you need a paddle to do the job well. BPS are a brand we’ve already mentioned, and their range of SUP paddles is very good. This, their alloy offering, is cheaper mainly due to the material, which does definitely come with some drawbacks, but lets be honest, at this price range that is inevitable. What we need to decipher is whether this is the best cheap SUP paddle, and the answer may well be yes.
This ships as a two piece paddle, and though it is made of alloy it is relatively lightweight and pretty easy to use. It is adjustable from 71″-83″ and can be safely used by people who weigh up to 240 lbs, so pretty much anyone can pick up this paddle and use it with a little adjustment. The manufacturer guarantees that for 12 months after purchase this model will float, so you don’t need to worry about losing it at the bottom of the lake.
The blade is made of a nylon composite and designed to be versatile, so while it may not be the best if you want to race your SUP, it is a good starter paddle or perfectly usable for the casual paddle boarder. If you want to be a pro, or are looking for an elite model, one of the options above may be a better call as they’re more lightweight and effective, but for a budget option, this can’t be argued with too much! The reviews of the product on Amazon and elsewhere online are very positive, and as long as you don’t buy it expecting it to be the smoothest paddle in the universe then you will probably not be disappointed.
Notable Mention – Advanced Elements
Advanced elements are a big player in the world of SUPs and they manufacture many different models and accessories for the pastime. We haven’t featured full advanced elements SUP paddle reviews, but it is definitely worth mentioning the brand as an option, as they do provide some great gear, including a few solid options when it comes to paddles. Their AE2057 Alani Adjustable Fiberglass SUP Paddle is a real highlight and can be picked up at a decent price considering the fact that it is such a lightweight and quality fiberglass model. The brand make a lot of paddles for other water sports too, and the majority of the products they produce seem to be very well received. Their stand up paddles are no exception, and are worth a look if you can pick them up for a decent price.
We love the brand Advanced Elements, and their mission to make the world of paddle sports better equipped, so we had to mention them in this article. If you need other gear besides paddles, they make some amazing accessories for the dedicated boarder.
Choosing an SUP Paddle
We’re running through the things you should consider when you’re choosing an SUP Paddle. There are a few different elements which are variable and what works best for one person may not work for another, so it is good to go in with a bit of knowledge.
Length is one the most important factors and you need to think about both how tall you are and the type of water you will be using it in, as well as the size of your SUP.
You should basically be able to stand up and the paddle next to you should be 8-12 inches higher than you are. If it is too short, the leverage is not as effective and the strain becomes higher to paddle effectively. Think archimedes’ lever. If it is much bigger though, it can be hard to move in and out of the water and make your experience tough. 8-12 inches bigger than you is the sweet spot here.
Another vital thing to consider when choosing your paddle. The materials used to make the paddle have a huge impact on the price, and the performance.
Carbon Fiber – This is a super light material and is designed for being agile and easy to glide through the water. The shaft can be rigid and this makes it easy for racing or going fast, or it can be more flexible which is good for the more casual user or a fishing SUP.
Aluminum. Aluminum is cheap in comparison to the other materials used to make paddles, and thus usually makes for the cheapest SUP paddles, which are of a decent quality, but maybe not the most ‘sporty’ models out there. Good for beginners.
Fiberglass – Similar to fiberglass but heavier and denser, great for beginners too but also very good for those who are a bit more advanced in their SUP careers.
Blade size. Small, Medium or Large.
Smaller blades may be more lightweight, and some find them more visually appealing, but they’re best for tranquil waters and ‘touring’ on your SUP. They can be effective on some tranquil lakes for instance, or great for a peaceful trip, but as waters get more choppy and challenging, a bigger blade will be more effective for you. Considering whether you want to ride waves or simply paddle down a quiet stream will inform the decision on blade size.
Best Adjustable SUP Paddles. Adjustable is another option when you’re looking for a paddle, if your SUP is used by more than one person or you want to be able to lend it to a friend or your partner, having an adjustable SUP gives you that flexibility. If you go somewhere that rent out paddleboards then you are likely to find a lot of adjustable paddles as they can be used by people of different shapes and sizes.
As mentioned already, your level of ability, build, budget and even your personal preference, do you want something which looks cool or do you just want something to do the job well? Are you going to be using it on a tranquil lake or in choppy seas? A little bit of thought with regards the use of the paddle will ensure that you can make the best choice for your needs.
Our recommendations are based on the most simple to use and easy on the arms as well as those which are durable and well constructed, the models mentioned in this article won’t see you far wrong as long as you take the time to make an informed decision.
SUP equipment is being released all the time, and we’re committed to keeping our finger on the pulse, so we will bring you updates as more products come onto the market. If you’ve had experience with any of the above models of paddle, have another to recommend or want to join in the conversation, leave us a comment sharing your thoughts.