Paddles are the one single piece of equipment that signifies what the sport of stand up paddling is about. Without a paddle SUP wouldn’t be quite the same. And yet, paddles are still massively overlooked; seemingly an inconsequential piece of gear chucked in as a freebie by the retailer or brand.
Here at Fatstick we place significant emphasis on paddles and this is why we stock super quality kit – just at affordable prices. Read on for our low down on SUP paddles and how to make the right choice.
Adjustable or fixed
When choosing a new paddle should you go fixed or adjustable? These days adjustable paddles are actually pretty good for most people’s requirements. There is, understandably, a small degree of play (movement) where the shaft connections align but technology is getting better and this ‘waggle’ is minimal.
Fixed paddles are great if you’re confident at cutting down the shaft yourself. They deliver maximum propulsion and efficiency. The downside comes if you’re on a budget and looking to share. Each paddler is different and varied heights mean adjustable would be better here.
Wide blade – narrow blade
Wide blades generally deliver more acceleration/propulsion, but are subject to slower stroke rates whereas narrow blades are the complete opposite.
In terms of which one to choose; it depends very much on your requirements. As a scenario: If you favour smaller SUPs in surf, that require later take offs, a wide blade that gives maximum ‘zoom’ could be the best way to go. This should ensure you accelerate right at the critical time and make the drop. You may, though, have to adapt your technique once riding and rail to rail changes are more cumbersome with a wider scoop.
Trying different paddles out is the best course of action and should allow you to identify what blade type is best for you.
Stiff V soft
There are loads of paddles on the market, all with differing levels of stiffness in the paddle shaft. Generally a stiffer feel will deliver maximum stroke efficiency without loss momentum. The negative impact of a stiff shaft is the exertive stresses it places on muscles and joints. Some SUPers will be happier with a softer feel and in a lot of cases can make these types of paddle work just as well as their stiffer cousins.
Manufacturing materials play a part in how your SUP ‘engine’ feels with carbon usually being the stiffest material – but most expensive. In many cases a mix of materials with offer a nice feeling but high performing paddle – such as with Fatstick’s carbon shaft/bamboo blade. This make up gives a stiff, efficient and drivey nature to the shaft but the bamboo blade is slightly forgiving and it can flex and breathe.
As with all SUP kit, trying before you buy will allow you to understand what works for you. Have a look in the Fatstick shop to see what we our paddle range is all about.