SUP Paddle Series | How to choose the right Stand Up Paddleboard Paddle | get the right size paddle Posted on 15 Dec 10:00 , 0 comments

Buying a SUP-Paddle - Getting the Right Overall length

Most paddle companies use a rule of thumb that says 'use a paddle that's 'x' inches above your head, depending on what type of paddling you're doing'. As a broad gauge you might choose a SUP paddle that is 8 - 10 in. taller than you for racing, 10-12 in. taller than you for cruising on flat water, or 6-8 in. taller than you for surfing. That's because you stand more erect while cruising and bend down more when racing or surfing.

Another way to gauge correct overall paddle length would be to use your outstretched arm. Stick your hand straight up in the air and hold the top of the paddle against your arm while the blade rests on the ground. The top of the paddle should come up to your palm - or wrist, or a couple inches below the wrist. Because we're all built differently, with different sized limbs and spine length, there isn't one measurement that's perfect in all situations.

Even the paddleboards we use can be different thicknesses and that alone can put us up or down 2" above the water.  In the end, the only factor that matters is your overall satisfaction with the SUP paddle as you use it. How comfortable are you while you're paddling with it? Are you less prone to injury? Does it move as fast - or provide as much power - as you'd like? 

     
Upright cruising posture                        Bent over Racing posture           Scrunched -down surfing posture
Photo Credit SUP ATX                          Photo Credit Dave Kalama         Photo Credit Red Paddle Co

Getting the right size of Blade Face on your SUP-Paddle

 
The size of the blade face is important because it determines power - how much water you catch and move with each stroke, and as a result, how much strain you put on your muscles. A bigger blade face catches more water and in theory will propel you forward faster IF you have the human strength to match it. Straining shoulder muscles while leaning forward can lead to injury. Big blade faces are meant for big muscles - or slow paddling. There is no specific size of large or small blade, but a good rule of thumb might be 100 sq in for a large blade and 90 sq in for small. +/- 

Why the SUP-Paddle Blade Shape Matters

One way to reduce injury and still have a large surface area is to elongate the blade face. The theory is that an elongated blade will put your shoulder in a better, more neutral position at the moment the blade is under maximum load. This paddle shape also 'releases' more easily at the end of each stroke so it's easier to paddle faster. The number of paddle-strokes per minute is called the 'cadence'. So a blade which is easy to paddle fast is called a 'high cadence' paddle. This shape is also popular with smaller paddlers and cruisers who want less strain on the shoulder.

The handle or paddle-grip


From left to right: Palm Grip - T Grip - T Grip - T Grip with offset

 
Regardless of how and why you SUP, the top hand always grabs the top of the paddle on the handle. So it makes sense that you want a grip that fits your hand comfortably, both in size and shape. While nearly 70% of all SUP paddlers are female, most SUP paddles have so far been made with a one-size-fits-all grip better suited to men. Paddle manufacturers are starting to consider smaller sized hands when building grips and paddle shafts. (See Accent Paddles 'Moxie' Line) Whether you choose palm-grip or T-grip is a personal choice. 

Racing? Cruising? or Surfing? A different SUP-paddle for each. 
The trend today is to use a smaller blade face that allows for a higher cadence when surfing or racing - and a larger blade face for cruising. I'll go into more detail on materials and construction in future articles. 

Ready to buy a StandUp Paddleboard Paddle - or just compare prices on a variety of paddles

You may also want to read:

SUP Paddle Series | How to choose the right Stand Up Paddleboard Paddle | Fixed length vs Adjustable SUP Paddles

Coming Soon
How to cut a carbon or fiberglass SUP paddle shaft
cost vs construction
brand preferences, value brands, how much paddle do you need?
Stand Up Paddleboard terms, definitions, acronyms
Paddling Pro Tips - paddling concepts - move the board not the paddle