In this article we discuss everything you need to know about stand up paddle board paddles, including the differences between aluminum, fiberglass, and carbon fiber paddles.
If you are new to the sport of SUP purchasing the correct gear is confusing.
This confusion can be about boards – whether to get a hardboard or inflatable paddle board, what size you’ll need, shape, etc. Or about paddles — whether to save money on an aluminum paddle, a fiberglass paddle, or spend the extra cash for a carbon fiber paddle. Or even whether to purchase one that is adjustable or cut to fit.
The team at Atoll Boards isn’t just here to provide you with some of the best equipment on the market but also to impart in-depth knowledge about all things SUP.
If you ever have a question about anything at all, please send it our way!
A question we have been asked multiple times is…
“What type of paddle should I buy?”
In this article, we discuss this topic and hopefully clear up any confusion so that you can confidently purchase your next piece of equipment without any worry.
Adjustable or Fixed?
Some newbies to SUP get caught up with this question.
Luckily, the answer is simple.
If you are the only one who is going to use the paddle then getting a fixed one cut at your local shop is a great choice. If you plan on surfing or racing, then we suggest upgrading to a carbon fiber paddle that is fixed to your height as well.
If you plan on sharing your paddle with friends and family then adjustable is the way to go. This way you can modify the height to fit the paddler.
If you are an adventurer and want to use it for travel purposes grab an adjustable as well. With a paddle like our 3-piece model, you can break it down into smaller sections to store in your SUP backpack.
Both types of paddles work great, so the answer to the most basic question depends on your purposes for paddling.
Aluminum SUP Paddles
If you have ever taken a beginner lesson at an outfitter, chances are you’ve experienced the use of an aluminum paddle.
Why are they popular with places that teach paddling?
A typical aluminum paddle comes with a price range of around $40 to $60.
With this price tag, they can be the perfect paddle to purchase if you are just getting into the sport and are unsure if you want to continue.
Another reason why they’re popular?
After all, there is a reason most outfitters use them for their beginner lessons. They can take a beating and remain basically intact.
But with a bulkier construction and a larger blade, they’re also heavy.
Nor do they enter and exit the water with speed. This creates drag and is tiring for your shoulders.
Much like every other piece of paddling equipment, you get what you pay for.
Think of the Aluminum paddle as that used Toyota you received as your first car. It’ll get you to where you need to go, but at a slower speed, and with much less style.
When people progress through the sport they naturally want to upgrade their gear to match their skill level. Often, the first piece to be upgraded is the Aluminum paddle. Think about that before you buy one.
- Doesn’t paddle exceptionally well
- Often leads to an upgrade
Fiberglass SUP Paddles
If the aluminum paddle is the Toyota, the fiberglass paddle is the Ford Mustang GT.
It will add a little more flair to your equipment set, it’s much lighter, has a more defined blade, and is smooth to paddle.
The price range typically is around $99 to $150 depending on the brand and the amount of carbon fiber potentially mixed into the fiberglass.
Most fiberglass paddles come in the adjustable variety which again, gives you flexibility for multiple riders to switch to their sizes as they take to the water.
And while it’s not the lightest paddle on the market, it will surely get the job done in an above satisfactory manner.
When customers buy a fiberglass paddle, they typically stick with it for the life of their board unless SUP becomes an integral part of their lives and they want to upgrade.
Either way, this is certainly a step above an aluminum paddle and a great first one to purchase.
- Adjustable models available
- Can still be upgraded
Carbon Fiber SUP Paddles
Carbon fiber paddles are the top of the line when it comes to SUP gear. They are made out of the toughest, and lightest material available. Due to this upgraded construction, a carbon fiber paddle is the only one you will ever have to purchase.
Typically, carbon fiber paddles come in adjustable and fixed models. The fixed models tend to be ounces lighter as they don’t have the 2-piece or extra adjustable knob affixed to it. But the difference is negligible.
As we mentioned earlier, we recommend only getting a fixed shaft if you are a SUP surfer or racer. Or if you are the only person who is going to use it. It’s set specifically for your height after all.
For traveling purposes, a 2 or 3-piece paddle is the way to go as they can be stored along with your board.
With a lightweight carbon fiber paddle your arms don’t get as tired so you can paddle longer, the blades are shaped to enter and exit the water with ease, and the smile on your face stays on longer as you don’t have to lug around a heavy piece of aluminum.
- The lightest paddle on the market
- Fun to use
- Only one you will ever have to buy
- Can be pricey
- But worth it (Not a negative, but we just threw this one on there)
Atoll SUP Paddles
At Atoll we strive to provide what the rest of the industry refuses to…
The best inflatable paddle boards and paddles at the best prices.
That means we take the thinking out of paddle shopping.
To this end, we don’t carry cheap aluminum paddles. Instead, we provide our customers with two options.
- Our stock wrapped-carbon/fiberglass paddle with nylon bade included with each board purchase
- A fully-carbon fiber paddle that is lightweight and the only paddle you will ever need
Atoll Stock SUP Paddle
At Atoll, we don’t cut corners.
When you buy any Atoll board, it comes with our fiberglass paddle that is wrapped in lightweight carbon for added durability with a nylon composite blade.
Instead of providing cheap and heavy aluminum, our stock paddles weigh in at 1 pound 13 ounces and can extend from 66 inches to 83 inches.
If this is the only paddle you wish to use, you’ll be happy with it!
The paddle is smooth in the water and lightweight to the touch.
Atoll Carbon Fiber SUP Paddle
Let’s get to the impressive stuff first…
Our 100% carbon fiber paddle weighs only 24 ounces.
When you use it, it doesn’t even feel like you have a paddle in your hands. That means you can enjoy hours on the water without feeling tired or even sore the next day.
And with our three-piece design, they’re perfect for breaking down and placing in your Atoll backpack when on the move.
This is truly top-of-the-line. With a purchase of an Atoll carbon fiber paddle, you will never have to upgrade to another one in your life.
If for some reason, you are looking at other inflatable paddle boards and paddles to purchase, we hope this guide has shed some light on what kind of SUP paddle to buy.
If you’re still confused, uncertain, or would like clarification on any point discussed above, we’re here to answer any and all of your questions — drop us a message at any time.
To check out our full line of boards and paddles, please head HERE.
We’ll see you on the water!