Choosing a Paddle - SUP Gear
While any paddle will do the trick, taking the time to choose the right paddle will make sure that you're paddling the most smoothly, comfortably, and efficiently. Let's start by looking at the anatomy of a paddle. At the top, we have what's called the T grip, then we have the shaft, and at the bottom is the blade. The blade has two faces, the part of the paddle that you pull on when you're doing a forward stroke is called the power face. The part of the paddle you pull on when you're doing reverse strokes is called the non-power face.
These days stand up paddles come in a wide range of sizes to accommodate different body types and different styles of paddling. But sizing a paddle is very straightforward. In general you want to size your paddle about eight to twelve inches taller than you are, closer to eight inches if you're doing primarily surfing, and close to twelve if you're touring or racing. Some paddles are adjustable, this is a great option if you have many people using the same paddle, or if you want to be able to play around with different lengths to find the length that's ideal for you.
Blade size is another factor to consider. Basically the larger you are, the bigger the blade you can handle. However, a bigger blade isn't always better, because smaller blades tend to be easier on your joints and allow you to paddle with a higher cadence. Most stand up paddles on the market today, have a blade that's canted forwards. The reason for this is so you get the most energy out of the paddle, and out of the blade. when you're in the power part of the stroke, which is in front of you. However, you don't want to use the paddle backwards. If you're doing this, you're going to be scooping water and you're going to be much less efficient. So make sure when you're using your paddle, that if you're using one with a canted blade, that the blade is actually canted forward and not backwards.
The last thing we're going to look at are the materials that go into making a paddle, and this has the biggest impact on the pricing of paddles. The most basic paddles tend to be paddles with an aluminum shaft and a plastic blade. These are great paddles, especially if you're looking at price. However, they also tend to be a little bit heavier than others. These paddles will definitely do the job in mild conditions. But the better quality paddles are lighter, stronger, more effective, and they feel much better in your hands. The bottom line is that a really good quality paddle is really nice to have. So if you plan on spending more than a few days on your stand up paddle board per year, consider getting a fiberglass paddle, or the ultimate, a carbon paddle.