Reviews You Can Rely On

The 4 Best SUP Paddles of 2024

We bought and tested SUP paddles from Werner, Kialoa, Aqua Bound, NRS and others to discover which are the best for your next aquatic adventure
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Best SUP Paddle Review
Credit: Jenay Aiksnoras
Tuesday April 16, 2024

We've evaluated dozens of SUP paddles over the last 7 years with 13 of the market's top options in this review. Our testers used these paddles with both inflatable and solid SUP boards in various locations and conditions to evaluate their paddling efficiency, comfort, quality of construction, and overall performance. Our paddlers compared adjustability and ease of use for people of various heights and skill levels. We checked out how convenient the locking mechanism is to use, the ease with which each paddle can be adjusted, and how secure the mechanism feels. Keep reading to see which SUP paddles perform the best and decide which is right for you.

If you're looking for other water-related gear, our list of the best water gear features top-ranking products, making it easier to find what you need. We've reviewed top rigid stand up paddle boards as well as the best inflatable SUPs, best water shoes, top-rated kayaks, and more. And for safety on the water, make sure you pick up a paddle-focused PFD.

Editor's Note: We updated our SUP paddle review on April 16, 2024, to include more information on our testing processes.

Top 13 SUP Paddles - Test Results

Displaying 6 - 10 of 13
 
Awards     Best Buy Award 
Price $178 List
$178.00 at REI
$364.00 at Amazon$300 List$229 List
$210.00 at Amazon
$65 List
Overall Score
76
78
76
73
54
Star Rating
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Pros High performance, relatively inexpensiveLightweight, easy to adjust, high performanceLooks great, compact travel sizeLightweight, 3 blade options, comes with a bagInexpensive, large adjustment range, durable nylon blade
Cons Heavy, not adjustableVery pricey, blade can flutterPaddling performance could be better, handle shape isn’t for everyoneSlight blade flutter, locking mechanism is bulky, unbalancedHeavy, top grip feels cheap, shaft bends during power stroke
Bottom Line This high-performer was a favorite among some of our testers, while others felt it was too heavyThis paddle is a breath of fresh air, with good performance and an unbelievably lightweight constructionThis is a great paddle when it comes to looks and portability but could be better when it comes to performanceA high performance carbon fiber paddle that is surprisingly sturdy, easy to adjust, and durableAn affordable and highly adjustable paddle that will stand up to multiple users and rough usage
Rating Categories Kialoa Makai Werner Trance 95 Pe... Super Paddles Elite... Nixy 3-Piece Carbon... BPS Koru 2-Piece Alloy
Performance (30%) Sort Icon
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Weight (20%)
5.1
9.4
7.9
9.1
4.0
Ease of Adjustment (20%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
Locking Mechanism (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Construction Quality (10%)
8.0
6.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Specs Kialoa Makai Werner Trance 95 Pe... Super Paddles Elite... Nixy 3-Piece Carbon... BPS Koru 2-Piece Alloy
Measured Weight 32.0 oz 19.8 oz 24.0 oz 20.5 oz 35.2 oz
Number of Pieces 1-piece 1-piece (available in 1, 2, or 3) 3-piece 3-piece 2-piece
Shaft Material Textured fiberglass Carbon 12K carbon fiber Carbon fiber Aluminum
Length Range 70-86 in 70-78 in, 74-82 in, 80-88 in 72-86 in 69-85 in 65-83 in
Shaft Adjustablility Range 16 in 8 in 14 in 16 in 18 in
Blade Material Nylon reinforced fiberglass Carbon Carbon with bamboo veneer Carbon fiber, reinforced ABS edge, bamboo veneer Nylon composite
Blade Surface Area 85 sq in 95 sq in Not listed 88 sq in 95 sq in
Blade Shape Teardrop Rectangular Rectangular Teardrop Teardrop
Blade Design Dihedral Dihedral Concave Dihedral Dihedral
Offset 8 degrees 10 degrees 10 degrees 8 degrees 10.5 degrees
Packed Size N/A NA 37 in 35.5 in 65 in
Cover Included? No No Yes Yes Yes
Locking Mechanism Handle LeverLock Handle LeverLock Handle LeverLock Latch lock TwinPin collar clamp


The Best SUP Paddles for 2024


Best Overall SUP Paddle


Aqua Bound Malta Carbon 2-Piece


85
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Performance 9.0
  • Weight 10.0
  • Ease of Adjustment 7.0
  • Locking Mechanism 7.5
  • Construction Quality 9.0
Weight: 18 ounces | Offset: 10 degrees
REASONS TO BUY
Lightweight
Easy to adjust
Excellent performance
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive

The Aqua Bound Malta Carbon is the most impressive SUP paddle we've tested to date. It easily checks off each of our metrics and looks good doing so. It is the lightest paddle in our lineup and the best constructed. For an adjustable paddle, it performs just as well and, in some cases, better than most single-piece paddles. The Malta Carbon is easy to adjust, well constructed, feels great during every paddle stroke, and has a sleek design.

No paddle is perfect. The only nitpick we have with the Malta Carbon is that the adjustments are set to the pin holes on the handle, so you're limited to those pre-set lengths. However, if you're at the level of paddling where a perfectly measured paddle is a game changer, then you're unlikely to be shopping for a 2- or 3-piece adjustable. Overall, the Malta earns its rankings with ease. This top-tier, high-performance paddle is worth every penny. If you want a high-performing paddle for a bit less, we also like the lightweight carbon Aqua Bound Challenge 85.

Read more: Aqua Bound Malta Carbon 2-Piece review

sup paddle - this sleek, lightweight, well constructed carbon paddle is our...
This sleek, lightweight, well constructed carbon paddle is our favorite.
Credit: Jenay Aiksnoras

Outstanding Performance for a Reasonable Price


Werner Vibe


78
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Performance 9.0
  • Weight 5.6
  • Ease of Adjustment 8.0
  • Locking Mechanism 8.0
  • Construction Quality 8.0
Weight: 30.5 ounces | Offset: 10 degrees
REASONS TO BUY
Relatively inexpensive
Easy to adjust
High performance
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavier than other high-performing models

Designed for middle-of-the-road paddlers who are looking for good performance and sturdy craftsmanship, the Werner Vibe features a rectangular blade with a scooped profile and dihedral ridge. The paddle's shape may confuse new paddlers because it resembles that of a kayak paddle. This shape requires some skill to move effectively through the water, so there's a slight learning curve. The Vibe also features a unique locking mechanism and a differently-shaped handle. It features a spring-supported adjustment system, is of average weight, and is one of the better price points in our review.

The Werner Vibe is made of slightly lower-quality materials than some top-tier options and is also heavier. While these might be significant flaws to expert paddlers making very long trips, we feel the Vibe is a good paddle for most paddlers and experience levels, offering excellent performance at a much more reasonable price tag. For a step down in price you can pick up the lighter weight BPS Koru 2-Piece Carbon Fiber, although it doesn't perform as well in the water.

Read more: Werner Vibe review

sup paddle - the werner vibe is a simple and high-performance sup paddle, best...
The Werner Vibe is a simple and high-performance SUP paddle, best for the budget-conscious paddler.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Best on a Tight Budget


BPS Koru 2-Piece Alloy


54
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Performance 6.0
  • Weight 4.0
  • Ease of Adjustment 5.0
  • Locking Mechanism 6.0
  • Construction Quality 6.0
Weight: 35.2 ounces | Offset: 10.5 degrees
REASONS TO BUY
Durable
Easy to adjust
Large adjustment range
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavy
Cheap grip
Some shaft flex

The BPS Koru 2-Piece Alloy's tough nylon blade and aluminum shaft makes it a sturdy paddle. A collar clamp adjustment and locking mechanism, also known as the TwinPin system, and solid scores across our scoring metrics earned this model a special place in our testers' hearts. All of this comes at an extremely affordable price, making the Koru one of the most budget-friendly SUP paddles we tested.

This paddle is weighty, which will increase fatigue more quickly, so we don't recommend it for long paddle tours. While it is among the heaviest of the paddles we've tested, this product is also built to withstand more wear than paddles built entirely from carbon or fiberglass. This is a great choice if you want a functional, highly affordable paddle that will last. Alternatively, the SUP Supply 3-Piece Paddle is even more affordable and performed nearly on par with the Koru as another low-priced option.

Read more: BPS Koru 2-Piece Alloy review

sup paddle - the shape and size of the alloy blade give it good catch in the water.
The shape and size of the Alloy blade give it good catch in the water.
Credit: Jenay Aiksnoras

Best Fiberglass SUP Paddle


Aqua Bound Malta Fiberglass 2-Piece


84
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Performance 9.0
  • Weight 9.3
  • Ease of Adjustment 7.0
  • Locking Mechanism 7.5
  • Construction Quality 9.0
Weight: 20 ounces | Offset: 10 degrees
REASONS TO BUY
Very lightweight
Great paddling performance
Stylish
REASONS TO AVOID
Not our favorite locking mechanism

Overall, the Aqua Bound Malta Fiberglass is by far one of our favorite SUP paddles of all time. This top-tier fiberglass paddle delivers practically unparalleled on-the-water performance, making for efficient and powerful strokes. It's one of the lightest paddles we have ever tested, giving you a snappy and practically effortless recovery on each stroke, and the dihedral cleanly scoops the water without fluttering. It's easy to adjust, looks great, and will save you some bucks over the full-carbon option.

The locking mechanism on the Malta Fiberglass is solid and works well, but we slightly prefer an internal LeverLock system to the internal snap pin this has. You only have the option of discrete positions with a snap pin, compared to a continual range of adjustment with a LeverLock. That aside, we still think this is one of the best paddles you can get, particularly if you are trying to spend a little less than an all-carbon model.

Read more: Aqua Bound Malta Fiberglass 2-Piece review

sup paddle - this paddle feels light and comfortable for most paddlers who are...
This paddle feels light and comfortable for most paddlers who are ready to improve their skills.
Credit: Jenay Aiksnoras

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
85
Aqua Bound Malta Carbon 2-Piece
Best Overall SUP Paddle
$366
Editors' Choice Award
84
Aqua Bound Malta Fiberglass 2-Piece
Best Fiberglass SUP Paddle
$300
Top Pick Award
79
Kialoa Tiare Fiberglass
$199
79
Aqua Bound Challenge 85
$225
78
Werner Vibe
Outstanding Performance for a Reasonable Price
$178
Best Buy Award
78
Werner Trance 95 Performance
$408
76
Kialoa Makai
$178
76
Super Paddles Elite 12K Bamboo
$300
73
Nixy 3-Piece Carbon Fiber
$229
62
BPS Koru 2-Piece Carbon Fiber
$140
54
BPS Koru 2-Piece Alloy
Best on a Tight Budget
$65
Best Buy Award
53
SUP Supply 3-Piece Paddle
$40
49
Abahub 3-Piece Aluminum Alloy
$35

sup paddle - we've considered every aspect of the paddles we've tested and...
We've considered every aspect of the paddles we've tested and present you with our findings so you can choose the best option for your needs.
Credit: Jenay Aiksnoras

How We Test SUP Paddles


We spent dozens of hours comparing and scoring the performance of these paddles head-to-head at locations in Idaho, Northern Nevada, and Northern California. We've tried them out with a variety of paddle boards, both solid and inflatable. Our testers traveled with them to bodies of water ranging from tiny rivers to giant alpine lakes. Additionally, we paddled in different wind and weather conditions, running the gamut from mirror-like water early in the morning to windy and wavy conditions where it was tough to remain standing. We raced, toured, and glided lazily. During this time, we also assembled, disassembled, and transported these paddles repeatedly to understand how they performed out of the water and judged the quality of construction as well as ease of transport. For more about our test process, see our full How We Test article.

We broke our testing and scoring into five performance metrics:
  • Performance (30% of overall score weighting)
  • Ease of Adjustment (20% weighting)
  • Locking Mechanism (20% weighting)
  • Weight (20% weighting)
  • Construction Quality (10% weighting)

Why Trust GearLab


Our expert panel of testers has been diverse over the years and is currently headed by Marissa Fox and Jenay Aiksnoras. You can learn more about our testers on each of their profile pages. Marissa has spent most of her life excelling at board sports on the water (liquid or frozen), whether it is paddleboarding, surfing, or snowboarding. She is not only an avid stand-up paddleboarder but is also a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and a former professional snowboarder. Jenay pioneered the practice of Paddle Yoga on Lake Tahoe, owns Lake Tahoe Yoga and Bliss Experiences, and is an avid paddle boarder and outdoor enthusiast who has been testing inflatable boards and paddles for GearLab for almost three years.

Paddling the Isle Switch requires more effort due to its size and...
Paddling the Isle Switch requires more effort due to its size and weight.
Small differences are more noticeable when comparing carbon fiber...
Small differences are more noticeable when comparing carbon fiber paddles.
We've tested paddles of every material and shape to help you hone in...
We've tested paddles of every material and shape to help you hone in on your best option.

Analysis and Test Results


Our expert testers aren't the only ones to evaluate paddles. Beginner, intermediate, and experienced paddlers helped them by providing input. The opinions of these first-time SUPers, experts, river rats, and even those with boating experience informed this review in regard to adjustment, locking mechanism, performance, and construction quality. These metrics are weighted based on our opinion of their importance, which may not align exactly with your needs. If a paddle performs well in an area of interest for you, it could be a great choice, even if it isn't one of our award winners.


Value


While our favorite paddles, the Aqua Bound Malta Carbon and Malta Fiberglass, may have topped the charts in terms of overall performance, the value you attach to a paddle depends upon the metrics that are most important for you, personally. Both Malta paddles pair top-notch performance with a premium price that might very well be more than you want to pay for a paddle.

If you are shopping on a budget and have experience paddling, then the award-winning Werner Vibe is a good place to start. The Vibe costs quite a bit less than the top-tier paddles and more than holds its own when it comes to paddling performance. Its build isn't at the same quality level as the most premium options, and it's a little heavier, but purchasing this paddle will save you quite a bit of cash. If you're an entry-level paddler looking for a low-priced option, consider the BPS Koru Alloy. It's a bare-bones paddle that could be improved, but it will propel you through the water fairly well and retails at a fraction of the cost of the other award winners.

sup paddle - the werner vibe might not look impressive, but it performs...
The Werner Vibe might not look impressive, but it performs incredibly well.
Credit: Jenay Aiksnoras

Performance


Performance is the most important of all our testing metrics, accounting for 30% of each paddle's overall score. We looked for paddles that excelled for all-around use over those specifically designed for performance SUP racing or surfing.

Paddle Offset — A 12-degree offset is ideal for SUP racing. It keeps the blade vertical in the water for longer, increasing power. A shallow offset of 7-ish degrees helps you brace the paddle flat against the surface of the water for stability during activities like surfing. For the rest of us, an offset angle of around 10 degrees is an ideal mix of the two.

The paddles in this review cover the spectrum of different blade shapes and angles, ranging from rectangular or teardrop with flat, concave, scooped, or dihedral profiles. In particular, we looked at a few key points to compare the paddling performance of each product: paddle catch (the initial slice into the water), power (the pull of the blade through the water), exit (the way the paddle feathers out of the water), recovery (how easy and comfortable it is to set up for the next stroke), and comfort in-hand during paddling.


The Werner Vibe, Aqua Bound Malta Carbon, and Aqua Bound Malta Fiberglass are at the top of the charts in this metric. The Vibe features a rectangular shape that is slightly curved at the bottom and has a scooped profile, which is split by a ridge to make a dihedral shape. The ridge helps water to flow evenly across both sides of the paddle, essentially eliminating flutter. Both Malta paddles are very light with excellent ergonomics, and their designs allow for strong and efficient strokes. All of these paddles enter and exit the water smoothly and firmly catch the water, allowing you to apply plenty of power.

sup paddle - the scooped blade of the vibe easily catches the water.
The scooped blade of the Vibe easily catches the water.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The Aqua Bound Challenge 85, Kialoa Makai, and Kialoa Tiare Fiberglass all followed in terms of on-the-water performance. These all feel great to paddle, but we noticed a subtle flutter in the water when pulling with maximum power. This is a very trivial issue, and you may not even notice it, but we never ran into this issue with paddles that have a more aggressive dihedral. In comparison, the Aqua Bound paddles both move smoothly in, through, and out of the water. The more power you put into your stroke, the more the blade should respond.

sup paddle - a paddle with a wide, flat blade like the makai will require more...
A paddle with a wide, flat blade like the Makai will require more power to use, but pushes more water with each slower stroke.
Credit: Jenay Aiksnoras

The Kialoa Tiare is unique because it's designed by female paddlers for female paddlers. It's a good option if you're looking for a gender-specific paddle or feel that other adult paddles are too big. It has a smaller shaft and teardrop blade featuring a dihedral design to catch the water. The smaller blade area makes it less fatiguing and more suited to a quicker cadence paddle, with less power per stroke. The smaller shaft size did not feel comfortable for all paddlers and is an aspect that may turn you away from the Tiare if these modifications aren't what you're looking for or don't suit your body type.

sup paddle - the smaller teardrop blade on the kialoa tiare makes it easier for a...
The smaller teardrop blade on the Kialoa Tiare makes it easier for a faster cadence.
Credit: David Wise

The Nixy 3-Piece Carbon Fiber and BPS Koru 2-Piece Carbon Fiber feature flat blades. They require more effort to pull through the water during each paddle stroke. This blade design throws back to paddle surfing, where the flat blade can be used like a rudder to direct your board. It's great for slower, casual paddles or if your desire is to develop and improve your paddling strength. The Werner Trance 95 Performance, on the other hand, has a blade with a slight dihedral, though it is nowhere as pronounced as the scoop on the Vibe.

sup paddle - the nixy carbon fiber scores decently overall thanks to good...
The Nixy Carbon Fiber scores decently overall thanks to good performance and a very light weight.
Credit: Jenay Aiksnoras

The Super Paddles Elite 12K Bamboo is solid in paddling performance but has some flaws that hold it back from the top group. Its shaft flexes more than is desirable, resulting from lower quality construction for a 3-piece paddle. That said, it doesn't flex as much as many of the lower-scoring options.

sup paddle - the 3-piece super paddles bamboo classic has a bit more flex than...
The 3-piece Super Paddles Bamboo Classic has a bit more flex than some of the other paddles.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Ease of Adjustment


All the paddles in this review are adjustable, meaning that you can change their height to suit your needs and personal comfort. The paddles in this review have an adjustment range spanning from 8 to 18 inches. Different paddles use different adjustment mechanisms, which we discuss in detail in the locking mechanism metric. Some of these paddles offer several sizes that you can then adjust further.


The Kialoa Tiare, Kialoa Makai, Werner Vibe, and Werner Trance use a LeverLock system, though it isn't entirely the same between the two brands. This system is sleek and easy to use, allowing for quick and simple paddle length adjustments on or off the water. This style can be adjusted to any available length, and we like that you can adjust it precisely for your height, compared to discrete adjustment holes every few inches. The issue with the LeverLock system is that the screws can become loose, preventing the lock from securely closing, which results in the handle spinning. Nixy has addressed this by adding an anti-twist system that consists of a channel in the top piece that the middle section slides into. The two sections glide easily but don't spin when the lock is open.

sup paddle - the leverlock locking mechanism of the makai.
The LeverLock locking mechanism of the Makai.
Credit: Shey Kiester

The Aqua-Bound Challenge, Malta Fiberglass, and Malta Carbon rely on a spring-loaded stainless steel button and a set of adjustment holes as a locking mechanism, called a snap-button adjust. You depress the button and slide the paddle to the length you want. It locks into position when the button snaps into one of the adjustment holes. Unfortunately, you are limited to the lengths corresponding to the different adjustment holes. We do like how clean this system is compared to the external cam clamps or mid-shaft pin systems.

sup paddle - the malta carbon's internal snap ring locks it securely in place.
The Malta Carbon's internal snap ring locks it securely in place.
Credit: David Wise

Paddles with a TwinPin mid-shaft lever are also considered easy to adjust. The SUP Supply 3-Piece Paddle and BPS models feature this technology, which operates by pushing out a “C” shaped collar clamp that releases an attached stainless steel pin from its adjustment hole. This allows you to adjust the handle end of the shaft. When you've reached your desired length, you push the clamp back in towards the shaft, and the pin goes into the nearest hole.

sup paddle - the twinpin system isn't our favorite.
The TwinPin system isn't our favorite.

A final adjustment system is found on the Super Paddles Elite 12K and is confusingly also sometimes referred to as a LeverLock system, though it is more of a cam lock. This system operates by lifting a lever located on the shaft that releases tension and allows you to move the handle end. However, this system requires a screwdriver to adjust the clamping pressure, which can take some tweaking to get right.

sup paddle - the less loved version of a "leverlock" system.
The less loved version of a “LeverLock” system.

Locking Mechanism


Our next round of tests focused on the locking mechanisms on each paddle. We looked for paddles with mechanisms that securely hold each paddle at the desired length and are smooth and easy to operate. Of all the paddles we have tried, we like the LeverLock system the most. This locking mechanism is present on the Werner Vibe, Werner Trance, and the Kialoa Makai and Tiare. This system has a lever that flips out from the paddle when you want to adjust the length and then folds back when you want to lock it into position. It's easy to use, all while maintaining a low profile and securely clamping the paddle at the length you want. The spring inside of the handle will draw the paddle back down while adjusting, so you will need two hands to set your paddle length.


The Werner Trance and Vibe have a differently designed LeverLock mechanism. The release is located in the handle. A spring-loaded cable runs internally, allowing the pieces to slide up or down to the proper length. This system is relatively easy to adjust on land or while out on the water. Unfortunately, the design affects the grip shape, resulting in a less comfortable feel in the hand.

sup paddle - the vibe's leverlock makes for a less ergonomic handle shape, but...
The Vibe's LeverLock makes for a less ergonomic handle shape, but it's quite easy to adjust on the go.
Credit: Jenay Aiksnoras


Another great system is the snap-button adjust, which features a button that you push to release the handle. This system has adjustment holes that are 1.5-2 inches apart. It is intuitive, quick, and has few moving parts, helping it withstand the test of time and (ab)use. It can be tricky to release, particularly for those with longer fingernails, and you have to align the button and hole perfectly for it to click into place. We've read reviews about these buttons rusting off but haven't experienced this ourselves. But it is something to consider if you live in a more corrosion-prone environment. The Malta Carbon, Malta Fiberglass, and Aqua Bound Challenge all have this system.

We love how simple and easy to operate the Twin-Pin or Dual-Pin locking system is, with the pins housed in an external collar that slides in and out of adjustment holes. This minimizes the chance of any slop and puts less stress on each adjustment hole and pin than the single-pin system. It takes a bit more force to lock or unlock this system and is much less clean in appearance, with the bulky external collar landing mid-paddle shaft. The SUP Supply 3-Piece and both BPS paddles share this system.

sup paddle - the twin-pin locking mechanism works alright but can take some force...
The twin-pin locking mechanism works alright but can take some force to actuate.
Credit: David Wise

Weight


There is often a direct correlation between lighter paddles and higher-performing paddles. This extra weight might not seem like much now, but trust us, once you're a mile into your paddle, you'll notice the extra weight. Remember this metric for longer explorations or times when you want to save your strength for speed. Generally, lower weights also correlate with higher prices because of higher-quality construction and materials, including carbon fiber and fiberglass.


In general, carbon correlates to a lower weight, and the Werner Trance and Aqua Bound Malta Carbon exhibit this quite well. Both weigh just over a pound and are some of the lightest products available. The Aqua Bound Malta Fiberglass is also a top contender in this category, weighing just slightly less than the Trance. Although the Nixy weighs just half an ounce more than the Malta Fiberglass, the weight is in the blade, so it feels much heavier both in and out of the water.

sup paddle - the weight of your paddle effects everything from transportation to...
The weight of your paddle effects everything from transportation to paddle stroke.
Credit: Jenay Aiksnoras

When paddles weigh near or over 1.5 pounds (24 ounces), the effort of transporting and paddling becomes more noticeable. A few factors affect the balance and ease of each stroke — if the weight is in the blade, the paddle can feel like it generates momentum while paddling. The Kialoa Tiare Fiberglass and the Super Paddles Bamboo both measure in at this weight, and while they aren't as balanced as other paddles, the extra weight in the blade was not as noticeable while paddling. In contrast, all of our testers noted how hefty the 30.5-ounce Werner Vibe felt. That said, it's well-designed enough that it felt lighter while paddling than it did on the shore.

sup paddle - the werner vibe's blade feels heavier than others when transporting...
The Werner Vibe's blade feels heavier than others when transporting, but it feels light in the water.
Credit: Jenay Aiksnoras

As a rule, fiberglass and carbon-constructed models weigh less than models made with aluminum or nylon. However, heavier materials often offer more durability throughout a product's lifespan. It might be worth it to sacrifice some performance for a product that may last longer or hold up to rougher use. If you're going to allow your children to use the paddle, plan on lending it out, or if you're more of a river rider, durability should be on the top of your checklist. The Vibe, Malta Fiberglass, Kialoa Tiare, and the Makai are made of fiberglass, making them more durable than the Trance and Malta Carbon, which are expensive options that require more care and protection than aluminum models.

sup paddle - the trance 95 offers fast, light, and high-performance for all your...
The Trance 95 offers fast, light, and high-performance for all your paddleboarding adventures, though it is quite expensive.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Construction Quality


While most paddles have a fairly standard look from a distance, companies will add texture, pattern, and color to improve their attractiveness. But our testing considers more than just looks. A high rating in construction quality means that a SUP paddle is meticulously constructed with high-quality materials. It often means that the designer and company place more value and attention on the details that make a paddle function better. It can also mean that you will have a more enjoyable time because of how well your paddle feels and performs.


Paddles are typically constructed of aluminum, fiberglass, or carbon fiber. The blade is often molded fiberglass, carbon, or nylon. Some companies have leveled up the look of their paddles with additions like bamboo veneers, as seen on the Elite 12K Bamboo and Nixy Carbon Fiber. The bamboo adds to the paddle's weight, and the separate materials need to be attached or integrated. In the case of these two paddles, the interconnection at the blade is clean and smooth. The Werner Trance and Aqua Bound Malta Carbon have two different designs for attaching the blade to the shaft. In the case of the Trance, the blade is noticeably added to the bottom shaft; it is wider and obviously wraps around the base. The Malta almost seamlessly attaches the two parts together.

sup paddle - the carbon aqua bound malta is one of our favorite paddles.
The carbon Aqua Bound Malta is one of our favorite paddles.
Credit: David Wise

Other paddles that score well in this metric are the Aqua Bound Malta Fiberglass, Kialoa Tiare, and the Kialoa Makai. These paddles feature fiberglass and fiberglass blends that are molded or reinforced. The use of higher quality materials, construction, and design in these paddles drops their weight even though they are not fully carbon fiber.

sup paddle - construction quality requires consideration of materials, build...
Construction quality requires consideration of materials, build, aesthetics, and durability.
Credit: Jenay Aiksnoras

The extra attention to detail in a SUP paddle demonstrates craftsmanship and care and can bring joy to the user. Construction quality definitely affects performance. Paddling is supposed to be fun, and a well-designed and constructed paddle can make a good time even better. Many paddles, including some in our lineup, include plastic and alloy options. While they may all look fine, it is unlikely they will perform as well compared to the top-tier fiberglass and carbon paddles.

sup paddle - we've compared a variety of adjustable sups and ranked them based...
We've compared a variety of adjustable SUPs and ranked them based upon our metrics and experience to help you find your perfect paddle.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Conclusion


After many years of testing SUP paddles, we've learned to discern which are worth the price, perform well, and who will most appreciate them. That doesn't mean we know what every paddler wants. Our reviews are intended to help you develop a list of your preferences and options. Whether you are a beginner looking for an all-around paddle on a budget or an expert looking for a top-tier high-performance option, we hope our reviews help you find the best paddle for your SUP adventures.

Jenay Aiksnoras and Marissa Fox