Review written by: Darin Leong
I have recently been exploring the world of SUP paddles. There hasn’t been much wind for downwind runs in the past couple months, so tests have been exclusively in the surf.
In researching SUP paddles, the first thing I realized is that there are differing opinions on paddle length. Most people agree that paddles for downwind runs should be longer than paddles used for surfing, but preferences vary.
For downwind runs, there seems to be quite a few people who like a paddle that if the arm is fully extended to the sky, the handle of the paddle (with the blade touching the ground) ends somewhere between the wrist and palm of the hand. Pretty much everyone seems to agree that at the very least, you need to be able to get your hand over the top of the paddle (with the paddle straight up and down).
For surfing, there seems to be even greater variation. Some folks like a paddle that is almost the length of a downwind paddle. Others like a paddle that is about a “shaka” above the head. Others like a paddle that’s even shorter. In the end, it’s a matter of comfort. For a while, I preferred a longer paddle so I could stand more upright. However, I’ve settled on a paddle that is a “shaka” above the head. That length requires a bit of forward lean to get the blade fully into the water.
Paddle materials and blade shapes also vary greatly. I’ve found that for surfing, I’ve tended toward a blade that is a moderate sized, rather than a big blade. This allows for a higher stroke rate, and faster quick acceleration. Bigger blades have more total power, but they take a little longer to get through the water.
I’ve now settled on a Blue Planet Featherlite Hi-Performance Carbon paddle. This paddle is light, super light. At first it almost feels like nothing in your hand. The first few times out, I thought the paddle was too light. However, now, everything else feels heavy. The Featherlite feels just right.
If you have a chance to demo some different paddles, I highly recommend it. There are lots of great options for every type of SUP paddler.