We want to give you information and criteria for you to choose the paddle that best suits your level and the type of Stand Up Paddleboarding that you practice.
Types of SUP oars
By building material
Oars can be made out of different materials such as aluminum, plastic, fiberglass, carbon, Kevlar and wood. The difference between the materials that make up an oar can be quite noticeable, even if the oars are made with mixed materials. The most common is carbon, for its particularly light weight, and the advantages of offering high rigidity and a good “memory” (the material can be bent or deformed slightly, always returning to its original shape).
Fiberglass is a cheaper material and it usually bends more while rowing, making the movements softer. Aluminum oars are rigid enough for their size but compared to the other options they are heavier and, due to their properties, they tend to bend or even break in half.
Kevlar is a material with a high tensile strength, five times stronger than iron and lighter than carbon. It also offers a very high impact resistance and tear, but it is one of the most expensive materials.
Wood is the pioneer material, the original one, one that always floats and one that, within its weight and delicacy, is quite strong.
An important detail regarding the materials is their buoyancy, in the case of aluminum it’s advisable to include a rubber piece on the shaft that allows the paddle to float. The other materials have a high buoyancy, being second only to wood.
Currently we have paddles of pure carbon, made only of wood or only of glass fiber. This means that both the blade and spar are made out of the same material. Likewise, we can find hybrid oars on the market, such as ones with a fiber blade and aluminum pole or wooden and carbon blade and carbon pole. Another option is the Kevlar paddle with a carbon pole. Each brand has its own models and fabrications, always looking for a very flexible, strong oar, and as light as possible.
The materials have a high impact on the price of the oar. Full carbon oars are usually more expensive than aluminum ones. In between we can find fiber oars. Finally, the wooden ones are a little more expensive since they are usually handcrafted and custom made.
SUP paddles can be purchased in two ways:
1. Fixed oars
Recommended for any type of person, this is the most common type of oar, albeit not commonly used by experts nor is the preferred choice for a beginner. When buying a fixed oar, it will always come uncut and with a loose knob. Therefore it is necessary to measure your SUP oar and depending on your ideal length, that’s how you should cut and paste the oar.
2. Adjustable oars
As the name suggests, these are not fixed and can be easily adjusted between two measures, which are usually between 170 cm to 210 cm and they can vary more or less 10 cm at each end. In the case of children, the oars are smaller while maintaining the adjustable feature that allows shortening and lengthening them to the desired size. The oars can come in two or three pieces; the latter differ from the former in that they have a fixed hitch that allows you to easily remove and put the blade back on, to reduce the size of the oar and simplify their transportation, for instance, inside the bag of an inflatable SUP board, with which you can even travel by plane.
Adjustable paddles are best suited for beginners and schools, most of these are made of aluminum, but there are also models of different brands in reinforced fiberglass and carbon.
Choose your oar according to their usage or modality of Stand Up Paddle
After reading about the materials and ways in which we can acquire an oar, we will focus on the use we will give to them according to the method in which we will practice Stand Up Paddleboarding.
- If we were to do short and sporadic trips, it would be best to opt for a fixed or adjustable aluminum or fiberglass oar.
- If we want versatility for both trips or small to medium waves, we can choose a fixed or adjustable fiberglass, carbon or hybrid oar.
- If we plan to do long journeys or medium to large waves, a fixed carbon, kevlar or wooden oar will be a good option to consider, assuming that the level of the user is medium to high. For beginners aiming to achieve more advanced levels we recommend a hybrid adjustable oar, to start moving in waves and make progressively longer trips.
- If you like to go on fast rivers with your board, the most recommended oars are fiber ones with a plastic paddle. If you have an aluminum oar, remember to put a rubber piece on the pole to get it to float.