Fixed length paddles are stiffer and best if you plan on doing one or two different things on the board but don't desire changing up lengths.
Adjustable paddles are less sturdy, but if you want to do a multitude of activities without buying paddles for each of them then this is a great option.
Shorter paddles are mostly used for surfing while longer paddles are ideal for racing. Settle somewhere in the middle for a length that can handle almost any activity. A quick way to determine the general paddle length you need is to take your height and add 8-10 inches.
Like boards, paddles can be made out of many different materials. For a cheaper-yet-durable option, aluminum and plastic are a great starter paddle. They aren’t very stiff, but they work well if you’re looking to ride a bit more leisurely.
Carbon fiber and fiberglass paddles are lightweight and stiff, making them better at taking your strokes and transferring them into power. That being said, these carry a slightly higher price tag than their counterparts.
Wood, though aesthetically pleasing, is often expensive and weighs more. It’s a classic look and not for everyone, but it’s great if you want to go back to the root of how paddling began.
A paddle board's shape comes down to the blade size, blade cut and blade offset.
Paddle sizes range from small to extra large and provide different levels of support. Small blades require less effort to paddle but cover a smaller surface area, while large blades output more power and increase speed more efficiently. Keep in mind that small, medium and large paddles often directly correlate to the size of the rider.
A teardrop shaped blade creates more power with each stroke. The thinner blade tip slices into the water quickly and has a wider contact area across the paddle, allowing you to push forward and farther. Rectangular shaped blades, or other similarly box-shaped blades, are more gentle on your body. Their thinner contact area doesn’t push as much water with each stroke, encouraging smooth movements and making paddling easier over long periods of time.
The offset refers to the angle at which the blade curves. Angles give you more power per stroke, conserving energy and increasing the distance you’re able to cover. Surfing is best with a 7-degree angle, all-around use sits well with 10 degrees, and racing thrives with 12 degrees.
Though a paddle is important, you can’t just use it by itself. Are you ready to find the perfect paddle board and accessories? Find everything you’ll need here.