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11 Signs It's Time For A New SUP Paddle

One of the best aspects of SUP boarding is that all you need to have an amazing time exploring the water is a floating board and a reliable paddle. The simplicity of SUP boarding is part of its beauty, and also a major contributing factor to its appeal. The equipment can be so compact that inflatable SUP boards fit in backpack-sized carrying bags and can go with you anywhere. But to have the best experience possible while SUP boarding, you need to make sure your paddle is reliable.

If you have grown in height, or notice the paddle is hard to grip, then it is time for a new paddle. Notable signs of wear and tear like warping, peeling, cracks, or chips also signal it is time to replace your old SUP paddle with a new one. If you are looking for a paddle with more speed, upgrade your SUP paddle to better suit your needs.

Just like with all paddling accessories, the time comes when you need to swap out or upgrade your SUP paddle. The key is not waiting too long to replace this important piece of equipment. The last thing you want is to be stranded in the water because your paddle breaks or seriously malfunctions. Keep reading so you can easily identify the 11 signs that it is time to get a new SUP paddle.

11 Signs It Is Time For A SUP Paddle Upgrade

1. You Recently Upgraded Your SUP Board

One of the top reasons or visual signs that it is time for a new SUP paddle is when you upgrade your SUP board. If you recently decided to “level up” and get a more advanced or specialized SUP board, then you should also get a paddle to match.

While your board makes a more dramatic difference when it comes to speed, tracking, and stability, it is only as good as the paddle. If you have a cheap-ish paddle that came with your first board, consider upgrading to match the quality of your new board.

2. You Have Grown In Height

SUP paddles are specific to the height of the individual. A paddle that is perfect for someone at 5’ 7” will be difficult to use and can be downright painful for someone who is 6’ 2”. If you or someone you know is a younger paddler, then a growth spurt is not uncommon. So if you have grown recently, then you will most likely need to be fitted with a new paddle, unless you have an adjustable paddle that accommodates your growth.

3. You Notice Peeling, Rust, Or Other Visual Signs

It is important you maintain and clean your SUP paddle just as well as you would clean the board. As you clean and maintain it, make sure you inspect it after each use. If you notice signs of rust, peeling, or warping, then you should start budgeting for a new paddle. All these are signs that the material the paddle is made of is beginning to deteriorate. You don’t want to let the problem get worse or go out into deep waters with a paddle like this.

4. It Is Difficult To Grip The Shaft

Another issue can be the grip on your paddle. The grip can get worse over time with a paddle, especially as certain protective coatings and built-in gripping deteriorate over time. In other cases, especially with budget paddles that come included with a cheap board, the grip may not be good in the first place.

You can wear paddling gloves for added grip, but for some people, this is not convenient. In many cases, if the grip is wearing off, or it becomes frustrating to paddle because it is slippers or uncomfortable to hold the paddle, it is a sign you need a new and improved paddle.

5. The Hardware Is Losing Its Effectiveness

If you have an adjustable paddle or any 3-piece SUP paddle, then it is often the hardware that fails before the paddle itself. If your adjustable paddle is becoming loose or is becoming harder to keep in place, then it is time to either replace the hardware (if possible), or this is sign to look for a new paddle. Adjustable paddles have many benefits, but they can also become loose or unreliable over time.

6. You Found A Better Paddle You Like

Sometimes your old paddle doesn’t need to be on the verge of breaking for you to need a new paddle. If your paddling hobby has gone from a casual interest to an obsession, then you are likely always on the hunt for new and improved gear.

After a better board, the next logical upgrade is a better paddle. If you find a new paddle that you like better and have the budget for it, then it is time to upgrade. Staying up to date with equipment that works well for you keeps your passion strong, and keeps you paddling at your best.

7. The Paddle Is Feeling Too Heavy

The more you paddle, the more sensitive you become to the nuances of your specific equipment. Over time you will notice how well your board turns, and its stability (or lack thereof). You will also notice the quirks of your paddle, including its weight. At first, a paddle's weight is usually not a big concern. But if you are going on longer paddles and have a heavy paddle, it can grow tiring and cumbersome.

If your paddle is becoming heavy to a fault, then it is likely time to start looking for a new SUP paddle that is lighter, especially for longer distances. Ultra-lightweight paddles are not cheap, but if you are serious about SUP boarding and like to take longer rides, then a lightweight paddle is an inevitable and smart purchase.

8. You Aren’t Getting Much Power From Your Stroke

The blade of your paddle is the main determinant of the power you get from each stroke. Some blades give more power than others. If you find that your specific paddle isn’t giving you the power and speed out of each stroke that you need or desire, then it is time to upgrade to a more powerful paddle. This is particularly true for those who are interested in epic paddling racing.

9. The Paddle Has Cracked Or Chipped

While many signs that it is time to get a new SUP paddle are subtle and don’t require immediate attention, some signs require immediate attention. If you find a crack or chip anywhere in the paddle, this is a sign that you need to replace your SUP paddle immediately. You should not paddle with a cracked or otherwise noticeably damaged paddle. A cracked paddle can crack further or break under pressure, and leave you without the means to paddle back to shore easily. Make sure you always give your SUP paddle a thorough look-over before each use to make sure there are no cracks or major damage.

10. It Feels Uncomfortable When You Paddle

Feeling sore after a long paddle is not abnormal, especially if you use lots of energy. SUP boarding uses many major muscle groups, several of which you might not use regularly. However, feeling pain or cramping in a localized area might be a sign that you are using the wrong paddle. If you are experiencing lower back pain or strange shoulder pain, then there is a chance your paddle is the wrong size. Make sure you choose the right SUP paddle that is the correct height, and if you are in doubt, ask a paddling professional at any board shop. Don’t put this off, as paddling with the wrong SUP paddle can cause unnecessary injury.

11. You Want To Try A Specific Type Of Paddling

Lastly, one reason that it might be time for a new SUP paddle is if you have decided to branch out in a specific type of paddling. If, for example, you have fallen in love with SUP board racing, then you will need a paddle designed for power and speed. If you like long-haul paddling or multi-day paddling excursions, then you will want a paddling blade that gives you the most distance with the least amount of effort. Diversifying your SUP paddle inventory is an inevitable reality for anyone whose paddling passion grows over time.

Final Notes On When It’s Time For A New SUP Paddle

SUP boarding might require limited equipment, but you must always ensure this equipment is in optimal condition before each use. Knowing when it is time for a new SUP paddle helps ensure you aren't paddling with outdated or even dangerous equipment. If you notice your paddle is warped, rusted, or cracked in any way then you should get a new paddle immediately. If your paddle is causing you back or shoulder pain, or it is hard to grip, then this is also a sign you should get a new paddle. If you want to move faster in the water or have a new SUP board, then you may also want to upgrade your SUP paddle to ensure you are paddling your best.

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