Making the right choice in the world of SUP paddles can be a daunting task. You spend all your time concentrating on the big purchase, the board, and then you realize it’s time to make yet another decision in finding the right paddle. Well, have no fear, we at Windward are here to help.
Standing in front of a wall full of paddles can seem like a blur, but if you have a basic idea of what you are looking for then the choice is pretty easy. We are going to break down our review into the three basic categories of paddles:
- Aluminum – Inexpensive but heavier weight
- Fiberglass or Fiberglass/Carbon Blend – Mid priced and lighter but heavier than full carbon
- Carbon Fiber – Top of the line and very lightweight but most expensive
Also, keep in mind you will need to choose a fixed length paddle or adjustable. Will more than one person be using the paddle? If so, then you should be looking for an adjustable paddle. Once you understand these basics of what to look for in an SUP paddle, the choice will be clear. Let’s review some of our favorite SUP paddles in our 2014 SUP paddles review.
2014 Aluminum SUP Paddles
The benefit of aluminum paddles is definitely the cost. Aluminum is affordable and durable so these are great paddles for your lake house or a place where lots of people will be using the paddle. If you lose a $100 paddle in the lake it’s less upsetting than losing your $400 carbon fiber paddle.
The down side of aluminum is weight. At 2-3lbs, these paddles will be considerably heavier than fiberglass or carbon options in the 1-2lbs range. Finally, most aluminum paddles are going to be adjustable. Again, a great option for a “loaner” paddle that needs to server multiple rider heights.
Bic Aluminum Adjustable Paddle
Lots of brands make adjustable paddle but few were smart enough to put a foam wrap on the shaft to make the paddle float. Bic happens to be one of those smart brands. The red piece that you see on the Bic Aluminum Adjustable Paddle is a foam cover that not only helps the paddle float but also protects the rail of your board from getting dinged up. Especially with newbies, it’s common that the rail is gonna going to get whacked, this foam will help with that problem. Also makes for a great loaner paddle!
Riviera Ranger Aluminum Adjustable Paddle
Next up is a nearly indestructible option, the Riviera Ranger R8.5 Adjustable Paddle. This paddle has an aluminum shaft and hard plastic blade making it super durable, which is great for families, kids or anybody who is known to be a little rough on their equipment. New for 2014 is an elliptical shaft design and improved clasp for tighter adjustment setting and the rubber cover on the shaft offering rail protection for your board, more comfortable grip and adds floatability. Need a shorter version for the kids? Take a look at the Riviera Ranger SUP Paddle for kids.
2014 Fiberglass/Blend SUP Paddles
If you are looking for something lighter weight and a step up in quality, you generally will be looking at fiberglass or fiberglass/carbon blend paddles. Fiberglass is lightweight and very strong so it makes an excellent material for paddles. These paddles will jump up a bit in price but on a longer distance or duration paddle, you will definitely feel the difference in weight and quality. Since these paddles are lighter in weight they will not sink as fast as a heavier paddle but they can still go down, so be careful to not let it hang in the water too long. This could be your first paddle or a great upgrade from to something a little nicer if you already have an aluminum. We find that fiberglass paddles seem to be the best bang for your buck for those looking for a solid SUP paddle.
Bic Fiberglass Adjustable Paddle
The Bic Fiberglass Adjustable Paddle is a perfectly priced hybrid paddle that is a great upgrade for any beginner. This paddle has a fiberglass shaft and hard plastic blade, making it lighter weight than an aluminum shaft paddle while still being super durable. For someone looking for a nice upgrade without breaking the bank, this is your paddle. This paddle also available in kids sizes.
Riviera Asset R8.5 Adjustable Paddle
Personally, my favorite reasonably priced adjustable paddle is the Riviera Asset Paddle. This carbon/fiberglass blend is lightweight, has some major adjustability (great for tall friends!) and is equipped with a high quality closure making adjustments easy for anyone. The shaft is carbon, offering strength with minimal weight and the blade is fiberglass with carbon around the edge for added rigidity. The flex pattern that this paddle offers is great for beginner to intermediate paddlers, giving you a taste of that good carbon fiber life without the huge price tag.
Naish Hele Adjustable Paddle
Naish also offers a great mid-range paddle, the Naish Hele Adjustable Paddle. This paddle is a carbon/glass hybrid that is lightweight, strong and very durable. For the person looking for performance and value, this is a perfect option. Naish also put their signature “anti-twist” vario closure system on this paddle so size adjustments are smooth and precise. The shaft is made from a carbon/glass filament and the blade is a pre-preg glass matrix with high temperature molding making it very impact resistant.
2014 Carbon SUP Paddles
Some people just want the best quality paddle out there or demand the best performance in their SUP paddle, we like that. Carbon fiber paddles are the lightest and strongest paddles on the market. Some of these high end paddles also offer more advanced features like specifically designed blades with contours and curves to provide more power and control through the water. You really get what you pay for in this category. If you are racing, doing longer distance paddles or simply want the best that money can buy, this is your category.
Riviera Art Series Carbon Paddle
We don’t recommend buying a paddle on looks alone, but the Riviera Art Series Carbon Paddle could be the exception to the rule. Weighing in at just 16 oz, these full carbon paddles are not just pretty faces. All the paddles in this series come uncut, so you can get them sized to fit you just right. Plus, the 8.5″ blade makes for a great all-around paddle perfect for just about any paddler. The graphic is applied to the finish and will certainly stand out against the majority of plain black paddles. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun with your SUP paddle!
Naish Kaholo Carbon Paddle
For the experienced paddler looking for the ultimate in lightweight power look no further than the Naish Kaholo Carbon Paddle. Available in both uncut and vario (adjustable), this 100% 3K pre-preg carbon fiber paddle is insanely lightweight and highly durable. The Kaholo paddles are available in 3 different blade widths so whether you are racing, surfing or touring, you can find the perfect size. The shape of the carbon blade reduces blade “flutter” and will add power to each stroke making this paddle perfect for wave riding and racing.
Quickblade V-Drive Carbon Paddle
Legendary waterman Dave Kalama worked with Quickblade to create the masterpiece that is the V-Drive Carbon Paddle. This specially designed paddle is made for the person looking for absolute top of the line power and smooth glide. The “V” shape in the blade creates a double dihedral, letting water glide off the blade without the paddler feeling any flutter and helps in tracking straight. This shape helps give more power to each pass through the water, shaving seconds off your best time. For the wave rider, racer or casual paddler looking for the best, you just found it.
Hopefully this article will help point you in the right direction for your next paddle. Keep in mind that all of these paddles can work across any skill level. While carbon paddles offer high end performance features and the lightweight that the pros demand, any beginner can go out there and still paddle it. You just might refuse to paddle anything less after you’ve tried one. 😉
This is only a small offering of our favorites from the 2014 SUP paddle lineup. Take a look at our most current stock of SUP paddles: