Choosing Your Paddle


 

When fitting a SUP paddle there are two primary considerations; overall paddle length; and the actual blade size itself.

 

Blade Size
When talking about blade size, we’re referring to the width, length and the total number of square inches the blade contains.  The main consideration when choosing the appropriate blade size is generally based on your body weight and size, however personal preference based on strength, endurance and stamina will likely also play a role in your decision.  If we are considering a formula based on body weight/size alone, this would be a good starting point:

 

  • 100 lbs or less = 70 to 80 square inches of blade area
  • 100–150 lbs = 80 to 90 square inches of blade area
  • 150–180 lbs = 90 to 95 square inches of blade area
  • 180–210 lbs = 95 to 100 square inches of blade area
  • 210–250 lbs = 100 to 105 square inches of blade area
  • 250 lbs plus = 105 + square inches of blade area

 

 

Paddle Length
When considering paddle length (top of the t-grip handle to the bottom edge of the blade), the main factor that would determine an ideal length is your body height.  Most SUP paddle manufacturers will advise you that, ideally, an overall paddle length should be between 8 and 10 inches taller than the rider using it.  While this is generally true, it is also important to consider what you are using your paddle for be it cruising, touring, racing, surfing or just recreational paddling.  You may want a little extra or a little less length to get the most out of your paddle in a given situation.  The following table will give you a good understanding of what your paddle length might be based on different usages.

 

Height (ft) Height (inches) Height (CM)   Paddle Length (Racing) Paddle Length (Surfing) Paddle Length (Touring/Casual)
5′ 60″ 152cm 67″ 66″ 68″
5′ 1″ 61″ 155cm 68″ 67″ 70″
5′ 2″ 62″ 157cm 69″ 68″ 71″
5′ 3″ 63″ 160cm 71″ 69″ 72″
5′ 4″ 64″ 163cm 72″ 70″ 73″
5′ 5″ 65″ 165cm 73″ 72″ 74″
5′ 6″ 66″ 168cm 74″ 73″ 75-76″
5′ 7″ 67″ 170cm 75″ 74″ 76-77″
5′ 8″ 68″ 173cm 76″ 75″ 77-78″
5′ 9″ 69″ 175cm 77″ 76″ 78-79″
5′ 10″ 70″ 178cm 78″ 77″ 79-80″
5′ 11″ 71″ 180cm 79″ 78″ 80-81″
6′ 72″ 183cm 80″ 79″ 81-82″
6′ 1″ 73″ 185cm 81-82″ 80″ 82-83″
6′ 2″ 74″ 188cm 82-83″ 81-82″ 84-85″
6′ 3″ 75″ 191cm 83-84″ 82-83″ 85-86″
6′ 4″ 76″ 193cm 84-85″ 83-84″ 86-87″

 

 

Adjustable or Fixed Length Paddle?
Deciding to go with an adjustable or a fixed length paddle will depend on how you or potentially others may use it.  For those just starting out or simply interested in recreational paddling (the majority of paddlers) an adjustable paddle would be a good option as it will allow you to find the height/length that best suits your paddling needs and also provide the ability to set up the paddle for others to use.  However, because adjustable paddles have more than one flex point due to their two piece nature, the fixed length paddle (one piece) are a better choice for distance paddling, touring and/or especially racing, as the shaft of an adjustable paddle flexes differently than a fixed paddle generally requiring more energy to get the same amount of power as the fixed.  This shaft flex disruption is even more noticeable in the case of a 3 or 4 piece travel paddle due to its multiple connection points.

 

A fixed length paddle, due to its consistent and smooth shaft flex, requires less energy for more power and ultimately provides better paddling efficiency.  For riders taking SUP a little more seriously, and interested in touring and/or racing with greater performance, a fixed length paddle is the best way to go.  The paddle can be cut to your exact preferences (we can do that for you!) and choice of construction technology, blade size, shape and weight are less limited with a fixed paddle.  Of course the paddle will be custom suited to you and not so much for friends or family… it’ll be your paddle and only your paddle.  At the end of the day it all comes down to how serious you are about the paddle side of the sport but it is good to know that your options are virtually limitless.

 

What Do We Recommend?
Using the chart above as a starting point, set your paddle height with an adjustable paddle if available.  Get out on the water and start paddling while occasionally experimenting/adjusting the paddle height until you’re satisfied that you’ve determined the ideal paddle height and feel.  This may involve hitting the water several times and in many water conditions.  After doing this you will be comfortable making an informed decision on your SUP paddle height, be it setting a permanent length or sticking with an adjustable to enable changing things up occasionally.  Paddles can also vary depending on the type of paddling you want to do.  Other considerations, in addition to adjustable or fixed; are the blade size, shape and angle; the shaft diameter, flex, and shape (oval/tapered); the overall paddle weight, and of course your budget.  Remember, we’re here to help you figure out which paddle will be right for you.

Hope this helps.  Happy paddling! 🙂

 

Click here to see our FULL range of Paddles.