SUP Paddles - Explained

SUP Paddles - Explained


Very often the purchase of your first SUP Paddle is an after thought. You're about to spend a lot of money on a beautiful stand up paddleboard, now when it comes to the paddle you just figure you can deal with what ever is the cheapest. In some cases this might be a good option for you, but depending on what your looking to do with your new paddleboard, the paddle can play a huge roll in your overall SUP experience.  A lot of the paddle cost comes down to design and materials. Lighter materials and high tech designs are pricier, but if you plan to spend a lot of time on the water, the weight and ease of use of the paddle can be a major deciding factor. See below for some general wisdom when it comes to selecting the proper paddle. Choosing the right paddle for the job will make you one happy SUPer, after all You Only Live Once.

What paddle size is right for me?

Generally speaking, paddle height is 8-10 inches above the paddler’s height. Some people like it shorter for surfing and some like it longer for paddling. Standing with no shoes on, with arm raised (not overextended), your paddle should sit in your palm. We will cut fixed paddles to your desired length. Adjustable paddles are great for multiple paddlers. Please note: Paddles are not to be used as a push pole or shovel. You will damage or break them. They should only be used to push water only.

What is the difference between adjustable paddles and fixed paddles?

Adjustable paddles are great for those who would like to share their paddle with others or prefer the option of making their paddle longer or shorter. If you are buying a board for your family, adjustable is the way to go! It’s a one-size-fits-all solution.

Fixed carbon fiber paddles are going to provide a more customized fit for your individual stroke when paddling your board. We take your height and then cut and epoxy a handle that will be a perfect fit for you. This is the way to go for those who are wanting to take their paddling experience to the next level.  Carbon fiber is much lighter than fiberglass.  Any training or distance paddler should choose a carbon paddle to avoid shoulder injuries.

Does the blade size make for a faster paddle?

Not necessarily. Although different blade sizes will offer different benefits, the most standard is the medium size (95 square inches). This is where the majority of paddlers feel most efficient in the water.  Smaller paddle blades are used for higher cadence, while larger blades are for power paddlers.

Which direction should the paddle blade face when paddling?

Many first time paddlers have the tendency to paddle with the paddle blade facing backwards and scooping the water as they paddle. The correct way to paddle is with the blade front facing away from you and the dihedral (flared) edge facing towards you. This will allow for a better grab on the water and a clean release at the end of your stroke which makes for a faster, and more responsive paddle. With YOLO Paddles® the design mark is on the front of the blade which faces away from the paddler.


To learn more about YOLO Paddles and our Head Paddle Designer SUP Legend EJ Johnson watch this video.