If you value portability and looks just as much — if not more — than actual paddling performance, the Elite 12K Bamboo from Super Paddles might be a great option. It has a sleek and stylish look, with the bamboo patterned blade setting it apart from the rest of the group and contrasts with the carbon shaft in a visually striking way. However, we weren't overly enamored with how it felt to paddle compared to some of the top-tier models.
Super Paddles Elite 12K Bamboo Review
Cons: Paddling performance could be better, handle shape isn’t for everyone
Manufacturer: Super Paddles
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Elite 12K Bamboo is a three-piece paddle that is a great option for traveling, with a carrying case included with purchase. However, there are some concessions made when it comes to paddling performance for all that compactibility, as it didn't feel as secure or as powerful when paddling as some of the 2-piece models.
Our most significant testing metric for each paddle is our Performance metric, which makes up 30% of the final score for each paddle. In this metric, we ranked and compared how it felt to use each adjustable SUP paddle on the water, looking specifically at its entry and exit from the water, how it felt on the power stroke as you pulled it through the water, and how easy it was to set up for the next paddle stroke. The Elite 12K Bamboo is one of the better paddles of the group in this regard, though not the best, earning it a spot in the upper portion of the group.
The Super Paddles enters the water fairly smoothly but doesn't have quite the same catch that other paddles do. It has a flatter blade with much less pronounced of a scoop than other paddles. We thought that it took less effort per paddle stroke but you definitely get less power, akin to paddling in a lower gear. However, we did notice a bit of a flutter if you tried to put too much power into a paddle stroke
The paddle makes a fairly clean exit from the water and is balanced well enough for an easy recovery motion. However, the handle grip isn't our favorite but that may just be a matter of personal preference and the shaft seems to have a little more flex than other carbon paddles we have tested.
Our next metric focused on how much each of these paddles weighs and accounts for 20% of the Super Paddles Elite 12K's total score. Even with the added weight of a lower locking mechanism, the Elite 12K runs on the lighter side for these products, earning it an above-average score.
This adjustable SUP paddle weighs about one and a half pounds, with the typical paddle ranging from just over one pound to about two and a half pounds.
Ease of Adjustment
The Super Paddles Elite 12K did decently well in our next two metrics, both of which have to do with adjusting the length of the paddle and each responsible for 20% of its overall score. When it came to ease of adjustment, the Elite 12K finished just behind the top-tier paddles.
This paddle has an adjustment range of 14" and can be set from 72" to 86". It slides smoothly and easily and isn't too bad to adjust on the water. However, the locking mechanism isn't our favorite, which carries us to our next testing metric.
While the Elite 12K does have — in our opinion — the worst of the three common locking mechanism, it does at least execute it well. This adjustable paddle uses an on-handle lever lock, which we would rank behind the TwinPin and handle LeverLock systems but it did securely hold in our tests and was easy to engage and disengage, putting it on par with some of the TwinPin paddles in terms of scores.
However, we will concede that it does give us some cause for concern. You need a screwdriver to tighten this mechanism if it comes loose and, while this never did happen to us in the course of our testing, it could be quite catastrophic if it happened on the water. You still could paddle if this happened, just with reduced efficiency with the shorter length.
The locking mechanism for the blade to the middle section of the paddle is a simple push-button that holds it fairly well but does let the paddle flex a bit more than some of the other three-piece models we have tested.
For our final metric, we compared how each paddle looks. While this obviously doesn't impact their paddling performance, we did find prettier paddles made us want to paddle more, so this metric accounts for the remaining 10% of the total score for the Elite 12K. Our panel unanimously agreed that this paddle is one of the better-looking models, earning it top marks.
In our opinion, it's hard to beat a paddle that uses wood veneer in the style department. The bamboo veneer on the blade sets this paddle apart from most of the other products we tested and various testers were drawn to it over and over again.
Unfortunately, the Elite 12K isn't the best value, at least in terms of paddling performance. While this paddle is great in the looks and portability departments, some paddles perform much better and cost less.
Overall, the Elite 12K is a decent paddle, we would probably just recommend other models over this one. It looks great and is easy to transport but is just a bit on the pricey side unless you place higher stock in those characteristics compared to how the paddle actually performs in the water.
— Marissa Fox