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Aqua Bound Malta Fiberglass 2-Piece Review

We think this is one of the best options for most people shopping for a top-tier paddle
Aqua Bound Malta Fiberglass 2-Piece
Photo: Aqua Bound
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $270 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Fantastic paddling performance, easy to adjust, stylish
Cons:  Pricey
Manufacturer:   Aqua Bound
By Marissa Fox ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 29, 2021
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90
OVERALL
SCORE


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

Our Verdict

If you are searching for a top-tier paddle, then we think the Aqua-Bound Malta Fiberglass 2-piece is a great option for the majority of people. It’s convenient and easy to adjust and has exceptional paddling performance in just about all conditions. This paddle only weighs a fraction more than the all-carbon counterparts, with barely any noticeable difference in performance. All in all, we feel this paddle performs 99% as well or practically identical to the top-tier carbon options, all while costing significantly less and looking a bit more stylish.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award Best Buy Award  
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$199 List
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$114.00 at Backcountry$30 List
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$34.99 at Amazon
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Pros Fantastic paddling performance, easy to adjust, stylishEasy to adjust, sleek, great paddle performanceCuts cleanly through water, durable bladeInexpensive, large adjustment range, durable nylon bladeFunctional, low cost
Cons PriceyHandle more prone to hotspotsHeavy, looks like a toyHeavy, locking mechanism can get in the way of hands when switching hands and/or paddlingHeavy
Bottom Line We think this is one of the best options for most people shopping for a top-tier paddleThis top-tier SUP paddle is designed with female paddlers in mind, offering easy adjustability and excellent paddling performanceThe 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 reasonsA heavy paddle, the Own the Wave Adjustable has the lowest retail price in our review
Rating Categories Malta Fiberglass 2-... Tiare Fiberglass Ad... Werner Vibe Bullet Proof Surf A... Own the Wave Adjust...
Performance (30%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Weight (20%)
10.0
7.0
6.0
3.0
4.0
Ease Of Adjustment (20%)
10.0
10.0
10.0
7.0
7.0
Locking Mechanism (20%)
9.0
10.0
10.0
7.0
7.0
Aesthetics (10%)
8.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
5.0
Specs Malta Fiberglass 2-... Tiare Fiberglass Ad... Werner Vibe Bullet Proof Surf A... Own the Wave Adjust...
Paddle Weight 1.2 lbs 1.5 lbs 1.7 lbs 2.2 lbs 2.0 lbs
Shaft Material 100% Carbon Fiberglass Fiberglass Aluminum Alloy
Blade Dimensions 87 sq in 80 sq in 100 sq in 95 sq in 95 sq in
Blade Material Fiberglass Fiberglass Fibrlite Injection molded fiberglass Nylon composite Nylon composite
Blade Design Dihedral Dihedral Dihedral Dihedral Concave
Blade Shape Rectangular Teardrop Rectangular Teardrop Teardrop
Offset 10 degrees 10 degrees 10 degrees 10.5 degrees Not listed
Adjustablility (inches) 10 in 16 in 16 in 18 in 18 in
Length Range (inches) 64 - 74, 70 - 80, 76 - 86 in 66 in - 82 in 68 in - 84 in 71 in - 83 in 71 in - 83 in
Number of Pieces 2-piece 2-piece 3-piece (available in 1, 2, or 3) 2-piece 2-piece (available in 2 or 3)
Compact Size 70 in 66 in 34.5 in 65 in 65 in
Includes Cover No No No Yes No
Locking Mechanism Interior Spring Pin Handle LeverLock Handle LeverLock "TwinPin" Collar Clamp "TwinPin" Collar Clamp

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Malta Fiberglass is a great option if you are shopping for a top-tier paddle but might not have a top-tier budget to spend on one. This paddle performs almost the same as the all-carbon options, while costing a bit less.

Performance Comparison


This paddle moves through the water cleanly.
This paddle moves through the water cleanly.
Photo: David Wise

Performance


The Malta Fiberglass did exceedingly well in our paddling performance metric, earning one of the best overall scores. We rated and ranked this adjustable stand up paddle board paddle on how ergonomic and comfortable it is to hold, how balanced it feels, how it enters and exits the water, and how much power we were able to get from each paddle stroke in different conditions.


This paddle has an all-carbon shaft with a 10 degree offset for the blade — perfect for most paddlers outside of the competitive racers. This gives you a longer paddle stroke, making for a more efficient paddling trip. The grip is comfortable to hold, with no edges or other areas that have a high likelihood of causing blisters or hot spots over time.

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

The fiberglass blade has a rectangular shape with a dihedral profile to help scoop the water and minimize fluttering — we only noticed a small amount of flutter when driving the paddle at full power. The blade has an area of 87 square inches, allowing for more than enough power per paddle stroke if you are going for top speed. This can make the paddle a bit more fatiguing to use, which is something to consider if you are just starting out or if your training regime has been less than top-notch lately.

We had minimal issues with fluttering.
We had minimal issues with fluttering.
Photo: David Wise

This paddle is lightweight and balanced, making for a smooth recovery and a clean water exit and entry. Overall, we think the Aqua-Bound Malta Fiberglass is easily one of the top competitors for on-the-water performance.

Weight


Our next testing metric for the Malta Fiberglass focused on its weight. Even small differences in weight can make it much more fatiguing to use heavier paddles over longer distances and make the recovery portion of your paddle stroke less efficient. The Malta Fiberglass fared exceptionally well in this set of tests, earning one of the best scores of the entire group.


This paddle is only surpassed in this metric by a few of the all-carbon offerings — and even then, by only an ounce or two.


The Malta Fiberglass tips the scales at 18.5 ounces or approximately 1.16 pounds. For comparison, the lightest carbon options we have seen are around 1.13 pounds or 18 ounces. This paddle also feels very balanced, leading to a snappy and efficient recovery on each paddle stroke and helps minimize additional fatigue for marathon paddles.

Ease of Adjustment


Our next round of tests focused on how quickly and easily the length of the Malta Fiberglass can be adjusted. This paddle again did very very well, meriting one of the better scores of the entire group.


The Malta Fiberglass offers 10 inches of adjustment and is available in three different sizes: 64 to 74 inches, 70 to 80 inches, and 76 to 86 inches. This paddle has a series of holes that an internal spring pin catches. It is quite easy to adjust, even when on the water in wavy conditions, but you only have discrete lengths to choose from.

This paddle is extremely lightweight and easy to adjust.
This paddle is extremely lightweight and easy to adjust.
Photo: David Wise

Locking Mechanism


Hand in hand with ease of adjustment, our next rating metric focused on the ease of use and ergonomics of the locking mechanism that secures the paddle at the desired length. The Malta Fiberglass 2-Piece continued its dominating performance, claiming one of the top scores overall.


This SUP paddle utilizes a single internal spring pin. This single pin leads to a very clean look, with no chance of hot spots or blisters due to the locking mechanism on the handle. We love how this leads to a much sleeker and more comfortable to hold paddle. It just looks so much cleaner than other products with a mid-shaft cam lock or dual-pin system.

The Malta Fiberglass easily holds its own against the all-carbon...
The Malta Fiberglass easily holds its own against the all-carbon options.
Photo: David Wise

Moving most of the components inside the paddle also protects them from wear and tear and there isn’t any need for adjusting the clamping force with a screw, like you would need with a cam lock system.

Aesthetics


Our final testing metric focused on the appearance of each stand up paddle board paddle — everyone wants to look at least a little stylish out on the water, right? While this is a highly subjective metric, we based scores on the opinions of multiple judges, the number of colors/styles each paddle is available in, the materials used, and how sleek and clean the profile and overall look of each paddle is. The Malta Fiberglass 2-Piece again did exceptionally well, meriting one of the better scores of the entire group.


The rectangular paddle is very sleek, with the hidden LeverLock locking mechanism adding to that significantly. The lines flow cleanly from the shaft to the blade and our judges just love the overall look.

Overall, we love the look of the fiberglass Malta.
Overall, we love the look of the fiberglass Malta.
Photo: David Wise

Even better, the Malta Fiberglass is available in a few different color options, compared to the pure carbon look that many of the other top-tier paddles are limited to. We tested the “Green Tide” version, with the blade having a striated pattern of different hues of green. The other two options are “Berry”, with mottled purples and pinks, and “Sunwave”, with a vertical gradient from yellow to navy.

Value


If you are searching for a performance stand up paddle board paddle, then we think the Malta Fiberglass 2-Piece is a great value. While it is a bit more expensive than the budget paddles, it goes toe-to-toe with the extremely expensive carbon options when it comes to performance, all while costing about 25% less.

Conclusion


We think the Malta Fiberglass is one of the best options available on the market today for anyone searching for a top-tier performance paddle. It has great paddling performance, it’s super lightweight, and is very easy to adjust. You could pay a significant amount more for a paddle that is minimally lighter or offers just a tiny bit more power per paddle stroke but the vast majority of users outside of the professional/racing/marathon paddle circuits probably wouldn’t even notice — and it comes in different colors!

Marissa Fox