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How to Choose the Best Stand Up (SUP) Paddle

October 29, 2020

The Best Stand Up Paddle

What is the best stand up paddle to buy?

If you are new to the sport of SUP purchasing the correct gear can often be confusing.   

This confusion can be about boards- whether to get a hardboard or inflatable paddle boards, what size you’ll need, shape, and more, to 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?”

Today, we’re going to discuss this and hopefully clear up any confusion so that you can confidently purchase your next piece of equipment without any worry. 

Let’s get into it!

best stand up paddle

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 to use the paddle then get a fixed one cut at your local shop. If you plan on surfing or racing, then we suggest upgrading to a carbon fiber paddle that is fixed to your height as well. 

But…

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 paddle really well, so it just depends on your purposes for paddling. 

Aluminum 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?

They’re affordable.

A typical aluminum paddle will come 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?

They’re durable.

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 can be 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!

Positives

  • Affordable 
  • Durable 
  • Adjustable 

Negatives

  • Heavy 
  • Doesn’t paddle exceptionally well
  • Often leads to an upgrade 
best stand up paddle
Typical Aluminum Paddle found on Amazon

Fiberglass 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 usually 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.

Positives:

  • Lightweight 
  • Smooth 
  • Adjustable models available 

Negatives

  • Can still be upgraded
Stock Atoll Fiberglass Paddle with Wrapped Carbon
Stock Atoll Fiberglass Paddle with Wrapped Carbon

Carbon Fiber Paddles

We’ve reached the Bentley of paddles and overused our car analogy to the point where it has become redundant.

But it still holds true! 

Carbon fiber paddles are the best stand up paddles because they are made out of the toughest, and lightest material available. Due to this upgraded construction, a carbon fiber paddle really is the only one you will ever have to purchase.

There is nowhere to go from here! 

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 easily 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. 

Positives:

  • The lightest paddle on the market
  • Fun to use
  • Only one you will ever have to buy

Negatives

  • Can be pricey
  • But worth it (Not a negative, but we just threw this one on there)
100% Carbon Fiber Paddle from Atoll
best stand up paddle
100% Carbon Fiber Paddle from Atoll

Atoll Paddles

At Atoll we strive to provide what the rest of the industry refuses to…

The best inflatable paddle boards and the best stand up paddles at the best prices. 

And that means we take the thinking out of paddle shopping. 

To this end, we don’t carry those cheap aluminum paddles. Instead, we provide our customers with two options. 

  1. Our stock wrapped-carbon fiberglass paddle with nylon bade included with each board purchase
  2. A fully-carbon fiber paddle that is lightweight and really the only paddle you will ever need!

Atoll Stock 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 nylon composite blade.

Instead of providing a cheap and heavy aluminum, our stock paddles weigh in at only 1 pound 13 ounces and can extend from 66 inches to 83 inches. Making it one of the best stand up paddles to own.

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 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.

Conclusion 

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 the best stand up paddle to buy. 

Even if you aren’t our customer, we are still all part of the SUP family. And we want to see our family members happy and satisfied. 

If you’re still confused, just know, at Atoll we’re here to answer any and all of your questions.

And to check out our full line of boards and paddles, please head HERE.  

We’ll see you on the water!

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