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Aqua Bound Malta Carbon 2-Piece Review

This paddle is one of the best we have seen, particularly if you value weight savings above all else
Aqua Bound Malta Carbon 2-Piece
Photo: Aqua Bound
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Price:  $335 List | Check Price at Amazon
Pros:  Excellent paddle performance, incredibly lightweight
Cons:  Premium price
Manufacturer:   Aqua Bound
By Marissa Fox ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 29, 2021
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90
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 14
  • Performance - 30% 8
  • Weight - 20% 10
  • Ease of Adjustment - 20% 10
  • Locking Mechanism - 20% 9
  • Aesthetics - 10% 8

Our Verdict

If you want a lightweight stand up paddle board paddle that can push a ton of power into the water, then the Aqua Bound Malta Carbon might be the paddle for you. This paddle is very comfortable and easy to hold, all while being both incredibly light and extremely rigid. It had a large surface area blade designed for performance paddling and is quite easy to adjust the length. It’s easily one of the best performance paddles that we have tested and is a great choice for the serious paddler searching for a top-tier paddle.

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Star Rating
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Pros Excellent paddle performance, incredibly lightweightLightweight, easy to adjust, high performanceFantastic paddling performance, easy to adjust, stylishCuts cleanly through water, durable bladeInexpensive, large adjustment range, durable nylon blade
Cons Premium pricePricey, blade can flutterPriceyHeavy, looks like a toyHeavy, locking mechanism can get in the way of hands when switching hands and/or paddling
Bottom Line This paddle is one of the best we have seen, particularly if you value weight savings above all elseThe Trance is a breath of fresh air, with good performance and an unbelievably lightweight constructionWe think this is one of the best options for most people shopping for a top-tier paddleThe Vibe is a great all-around paddle that moves water well and is easy to manageThis sturdy product wins our Best Buy award for a multitude of reasons
Rating Categories Malta Carbon 2-Piece Werner Trance 95 Pe... Malta Fiberglass 2-... Werner Vibe Bullet Proof Surf A...
Performance (30%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
Weight (20%)
10.0
10.0
10.0
6.0
3.0
Ease Of Adjustment (20%)
10.0
10.0
10.0
10.0
7.0
Locking Mechanism (20%)
9.0
10.0
9.0
10.0
7.0
Aesthetics (10%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Malta Carbon 2-Piece Werner Trance 95 Pe... Malta Fiberglass 2-... Werner Vibe Bullet Proof Surf A...
Paddle Weight 1.1 lbs 1.2 lbs 1.2 lbs 1.7 lbs 2.2 lbs
Shaft Material 100% Carbon Carbon 100% Carbon Fiberglass Aluminum
Blade Dimensions 87 sq in 95 sq in 87 sq in 100 sq in 95 sq in
Blade Material Compression Molded Carbon Carbon Fiberglass Injection molded fiberglass Nylon composite
Blade Design Dihedral Dihedral Dihedral Dihedral Dihedral
Blade Shape Rectangular Rectangular Rectangular Rectangular Teardrop
Offset 10 degrees 10 degrees 10 degrees 10 degrees 10.5 degrees
Adjustablility (inches) 10 in 8 in 10 in 16 in 18 in
Length Range (inches) 64 - 74, 70 - 80, 76 - 86 in 70 in - 78 in, 74 in - 82 in, 80 in - 88 in 64 - 74, 70 - 80, 76 - 86 in 68 in - 84 in 71 in - 83 in
Number of Pieces 2-piece 1-piece (available in 1, 2, or 3) 2-piece 3-piece (available in 1, 2, or 3) 2-piece
Compact Size 70 in NA 70 in 34.5 in 65 in
Includes Cover No No No No Yes
Locking Mechanism Interior Spring Pin Handle LeverLock Interior Spring Pin Handle LeverLock "TwinPin" Collar Clamp

Our Analysis and Test Results

One thing to keep in mind if you are considering the Malta Carbon — or any other carbon paddle for that matter — is that these paddles are much more susceptible to damage from scuffs and scrapes than other options. We would highly recommend getting a case for your paddle and even consider an alternative option if you find you are frequently fending yourself off of rocks and docks with your SUP paddle.

Performance Comparison


We do like the clean and stylish look of the carbon Malta.
We do like the clean and stylish look of the carbon Malta.
Photo: David Wise

Performance


Our first metric for each paddle focused on their paddling performance while on the water. We looked at how comfortable and ergonomic each paddle is to hold, how powerful and efficient they are, the amount of flutter, flex/rigidity, and how the recovery portion of each paddle stroke feels. The Malta Carbon is very much a high-performance paddle and did very well in this metric, earning a top-tier score.

This paddle is pure carbon, making for a very lightweight and rigid paddle. We noticed almost no flex in the shaft of the paddle — even when paddling our hardest — and makes for a quick and easy recovery portion of the paddle stroke.

The Malta Carbon is one of our favorites when it comes to paddling...
The Malta Carbon is one of our favorites when it comes to paddling performance.
Photo: David Wise

The blade has a decently large surface area and a 10-degree offset, allowing for a very efficient and powerful paddle stroke. This larger surface area of 87 square inches can make it a bit more fatiguing to paddle with though.

The offset blade is set at 10-degrees, perfect for most people.
The offset blade is set at 10-degrees, perfect for most people.
Photo: David Wise

The dihedral blade design helps scoop the water and makes for a very clean entry and exit for each paddle stroke. There is also minimal flutter in our experience, even with a very rapid cadence.

You can get a ton of power from this paddle.
You can get a ton of power from this paddle.
Photo: David Wise

Finally, we love how comfortable and smooth the handle is. It’s very ergonomic, with no edges or other spots that would give us cause for concern about hotspots or blisters forming on longer paddling adventures. All in all, the Malta Carbon is one of our favorites when it comes to paddling performance, reflected by its impressive score.

Weight


Next, we moved on to rating and ranking each of these stand up paddle board paddles in terms of weight. A heftier paddle will be much more fatiguing to use, particularly on longer paddles — even if it’s only heavier by a few ounces. Like most of the all-carbon paddles, the Malta Carbon did exceptionally well in this metric, earning another excellent score.

This paddle tips the scales at just a bit more than 1.1 pounds.


This makes it one of the lightest paddles we have ever tested, weighing almost a pound less than some of the aluminum and plastic options.

This paddle is one of the lightest that we have tested to date.
This paddle is one of the lightest that we have tested to date.
Photo: David Wise

This lightweight paddle makes for a very snappy recovery during the paddle stroke and won’t add additional fatigue to marathon paddle sessions like the heavier options will.

Ease of Adjustment


Our next set of evaluations and assessments focused on the user-friendliness of adjusting the length of each paddle. We based scores on the range of adjustment available and the rest of the adjustment process besides the locking mechanism, which we focus on in a later metric. The Malta Carbon did very well, earning top-notch scores.

The inner portion of this paddle telescopes smoothly.
The inner portion of this paddle telescopes smoothly.
Photo: David Wise

The inner telescoping portion of this paddle slides smoothly within the outer section, making it exceptionally easy to adjust the overall length. The Malta Carbon has an adjustment range of 10 inches and is available in three different lengths: 64 to 74 inches, 70 to 80 inches, and 76 to 86 inches. However, you don’t have access to the full range of adjustment, limited by the discrete positions the internal spring pin catches.

Locking Mechanism


Next, we rated and scored the locking mechanism on each of these adjustable paddles. While the ease of adjustment is nice, we do find it to be somewhat meaningless if the locking mechanism doesn’t reliably clamp the paddle at the desired length. Luckily, the Malta Carbon didn’t suffer from this problem at all, meriting an excellent score for its easy-to-use and secure locking mechanism.

The internal snap ring works well and is one of the better locking...
The internal snap ring works well and is one of the better locking mechanisms of the group.
Photo: David Wise

This paddle utilizes a single internal spring pin. We like how clean this makes the appearance of the paddle, especially when compared to the cam lock or the external dual-pin systems. It’s not too much force to depress the pin and change the length. However, we could see some issues — particularly in a saltwater environment — where the pin might need a bit of additional lubrication over time due to corrosion or where the locking holes start to become sloppier with wear and tear.

Aesthetics


Our final metric compared the aesthetics of the Malta Carbon to the rest of the group. While this is a very subjective metric, we compiled the opinions of multiple judges to determine scores. The Malta Carbon finished out our tests with another great showing, earning one of the better scores of the bunch.

If you like the look of carbon, then this is the paddle for you.
If you like the look of carbon, then this is the paddle for you.
Photo: David Wise

If you are looking for a sleek and stylish paddle and love the color of carbon, then this paddle has the appearance for you. It has very clean lines with a carbon pattern, though it probably isn’t the paddle for you if you are hoping to make a style statement with a splash of color.

Value


Unfortunately, this top-tier paddle comes with a top-tier price tag and we wouldn’t recommend it for anyone shopping on a budget. There are plenty of paddles that cost a whole lot less with a barely noticeable drop in performance if you are shopping with your pocketbook in mind.

Conclusion


If you are shopping for a high-performance paddle and value weight savings above all else, then the Malta Carbon by Aqua Bound is a phenomenal choice. It is one of the lightest paddles that we have tested and offers great on-the-water paddling performance but it might take a substantial bite out of your budget.

Marissa Fox