When it's time to upgrade your inflatable SUP paddle, consider the following before making your decision. There are many options that serve myriad purposes, so we're here to break it all down for you to help you get the best paddle for your SUP style!
Travel (breakdown) Paddle vs One-Piece Paddle
Travel paddles are often less durable, less stiff and weigh a little more. That being said, if you don’t have a lot of storage, or if you need to fly with a paddle, these paddles are the ideal solution. The convenience of being able to throw your paddle into a backpack and take it anywhere with you is hard to beat.
For ultimate performance, a one-piece paddle is the way to go. While more inconvenient for traveling, these are made to be lighter, more durable and have a continuous shaft allowing for the ideal balance of flexibility and stiffness. One piece paddles will still fit in your car and don’t take up much storage space due to the low profile of a paddle, but they don’t fit in a backpack and if you want to take it on a plane you might get an additional baggage charge.
Blade + Shaft Materials
There are two places the materials really matter: The blade and the shaft.
Many high-quality blades are made with CFRT which stands for continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic. This is a composite material more durable and often lighter than a carbon or fiberglass option.
For the paddle shaft, most paddles use carbon, fiberglass or some blend of the two. Carbon is stiffer, but less durable and more expensive. Fiberglass is more durable and cheaper but slightly less stiff.
Adjustable vs. Cut-to-Fit
Many paddles on the market these days are adjustable. This means you don’t need to worry about sizing as most paddles are usually designed to fit someone between 5-feet and 6-foot-4-inches tall.
The main point where the paddle adjusts is at the T-Grip or handle at the top of the paddle. A Lever-Lock mechanism is the most common type of adjustable T-Grip due to the ease of use and the simple yet durable design.
Some paddles can be sold in a cut-to-fit (CTF) version in which you cut the paddle to the desired length. For most paddlers, an adjustable paddle will suit their needs best.
Travel Paddle Options
Best for: Travelers who take their paddling seriously
|The Rival Carbon is a full carbon paddle
from the T-Grip down to the blade. This
full carbon layup makes the paddle very
light and rigid for a travel paddle. If you
need a travel paddle but don’t want to
settle for low performance, this is the
paddle for you. Serious paddlers will
appreciate the versatility of a performance
paddle that you can still fit inside a standard
paddle board bag.
Best for: Beginners, paddlers on a budget
|This is the go-to paddle for casual paddlers
or someone on a budget.
One Piece Options
Best for: One paddle to rule them all
|The Hala Grafik Blend is a
premier one-piece paddle. The
fiber/carbon blended shaft strikes
a perfect balance of durability,
stiffness and weight. The CFRT
blade is lightweight and stiff and
the Leverlock adjustable grip
allows this paddle to work for
This is the perfect flat water
paddle for someone touring or
relaxing and is versatile and
durable enough to bring surfing
or down difficult whitewater.
Best for: Smaller paddlers, those seeking a durable, full-fiberglass shaft
|The Sawyer Storm features a full
fiberglass shaft which maximizes
durability. If you are the type of
paddler who refuses to take it
easy on their gear, this is the
paddle for you. The Storm also
has a slightly smaller blade than
many other paddles, making it
ideal for smaller paddlers and
more efficient for a full day of
Best for: Whitewater paddlers
|The Hala Grafik River is a unique
offering from Hala designed
specifically to crush big rapids.
With a slightly thicker and more
durable shaft, this paddle gives
you the confidence that your gear
won’t break when you need it the
most. Hala departed from the
traditional ‘teardrop’ shape and
instead uses a larger oval design
for the blade, allowing an
incredible amount of power when
bracing or running rapids. This is
the ideal paddle for someone who
is serious about exploring rivers.
Best for: Windy conditions, versatility, use your paddleboard as a kayak
|The Hala Butterknife is another
completely unique and versatile
paddle from Hala. Featuring two
blades and a T-grip, this paddle
allows you to kayak or paddleboard
with the same paddle. For paddlers
in windy areas or places with
rapidly changing conditions,
the Butterknife is seen as a safety
tool as it allows you to sit down
on your paddleboard and paddle
through winds that a traditional
paddleboard setup would not
allow you to paddle through. For
the casual paddler, the Butterknife
allows you the versatility to only own
one paddle and still use it for a
variety of sports.