Aqua Bound Malta Carbon 2-Piece Review
Cons: Premium price
Manufacturer: Aqua Bound
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Aqua Bound Malta Carbon 2-Piece
|Price||$334.95 at Amazon||$380 List|
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|Pros||Excellent paddle performance, incredibly lightweight||Lightweight, easy to adjust, high performance||Fantastic paddling performance, easy to adjust, stylish||Cuts cleanly through water, durable blade||Inexpensive, large adjustment range, durable nylon blade|
|Cons||Premium price||Pricey, blade can flutter||Pricey||Heavy, looks like a toy||Heavy, 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 else||The Trance is a breath of fresh air, with good performance and an unbelievably lightweight construction||We think this is one of the best options for most people shopping for a top-tier paddle||The Vibe is a great all-around paddle that moves water well and is easy to manage||This sturdy product wins our Best Buy award for a multitude of reasons|
|Rating Categories||Aqua Bound Malta Ca...||Werner Trance 95 Pe...||Aqua Bound Malta Fi...||Werner Vibe||Bullet Proof Surf A...|
|Ease Of Adjustment (20%)|
|Locking Mechanism (20%)|
|Specs||Aqua Bound Malta Ca...||Werner Trance 95 Pe...||Aqua Bound Malta Fi...||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|
|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|
|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.
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 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 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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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