Best Paddle For a Paddle Board 

Are you trying to figure out which is the best paddle for a paddle board? If so you have come to the right place. Over the years we have used a wide range of paddles for paddle boarding and are familiar with the pros and cons of each.

Picture this: a perfect sunny day out on the water, you and your stand up paddle board (or SUP, for the initiated) drifting along. The sun on your face, the gentle lapping of the waves, and your trusty paddle in hand. What's that? You don't have a paddle yet? Well, let’s fix that! Allow me to guide you on the oh-so-important journey of finding the right paddle for a paddle board. Trust me, it's like trying to steer a car without a steering wheel; you’re not getting very far without it!

Let’s kick things off with the traditional SUP paddle. These paddles are generally long with a "T" shaped handle for easy gripping and control. They're the Superman of the paddle board world – lovely, reliable, and will get you where you need to go. Imagine yourself gliding along the water surface, standing tall, using the strength of your core – that’s the glory of stand up paddle boarding.

Some of the perks of a SUP paddle for a paddle board? They significantly aid balance. Remember the scene from Karate Kid with Mr. Miyagi? "Balance, Daniel-san, balance!" The same principle applies to paddle boarding – the longer SUP paddle helps to stabilize your stand-up positioning.

Our Favorite Stand-Up Paddle for a Paddle Board

Before we can even start talking about the best paddles for people that plan to paddle board standing up, we need to talk about how these paddles are sized.

Stand up paddle for a paddle board size chart

When choosing a paddle, it is important to get the right size.  For stand up paddle boarding, you want your paddle to be your height plus 6-8” for SUP surfing, plus 8-10” for flatwater and plus 10-12” for SUP racing.  Most standard SUP paddles are adjustable to fit people that are as small as five foot four inches up to paddlers that are six feet six inches.  

If you have kids like we do, you should get a child's size paddle.  While kids can do just fine with an 86-inch, adult sized kayak paddle, having a stand-up paddle board paddle that is too long is a real problem since they can't grip it properly and they end up gripping it like Chloe did in the photo above. We like the Pelican Boats adjustable junior kid SUP Paddle for our kids.  Kids paddles range from 55-70 inches.  

stand up paddle board paddle size chart

Our favorite economical paddle for paddle board

amazon abahub 3piece sup paddle economical photo
Click to Read More about This Paddle on Amazon

This three-piece advanced alloy paddle made by Abahub is very economical and perfect for beginners.  Its made with aircraft grade aluminum alloy, so it weighs in at only 2 pounds.  The durable fiberglass reinforced nylon blade is curved with an 8-degree offset making it impact resistant and perfect of all-around paddling.   The shaft features a quick release pin for fast, secure assembly on the paddle side and u-groove shaft and adjustable anti twist clamp on the handle side.  

The paddle is adjustable from 68-84 inches making is suitable for a variety of heights and uses whether it be SUP surfing, flatwater paddling, river paddling or touring.  It can be broken down into three pieces that are 35" in length for compact travel and transportation.

The only hiccup with this paddle applies to almost all 3 & 4-piece paddles and that is you need to check the screws on the clamps and tighten them before you start paddling because if you don't, the shaft on the handle side could come off and sink in the water.  Most paddles will float, at least for a while, but not if they have come apart so that water can easily enter the shaft.  

This is your perfect entry level stand-up paddle for a paddle board.

Why should you consider a carbon fiber SUP paddle?  They are much lighter so if you are planning to go on long paddles, they will reduce paddle fatigue.  Also, if you plan to paddle board on the ocean, carbon fiber does better in the salt water.

We like this Abahub 3 piece carbon fiber SUP paddle with its fiberglass + polypropylene blade and carbon fiber shaft because it is light weight (less than 2 pounds), stiff and durable.  The paddle itself is 102 square inches and features a concave grooves design meaning it provides a powerful yet stable stroke with minimal flutter.  This is Maizie's favorite paddle for when we plan to tour around while standing up.  She likes that it moves a lot of water so she can beat her siblings in a race but is also super light.

The paddle is adjustable from 67-86 inches meaning it is suitable for almost any paddler that is five feet tall or taller.  

Best yet, this paddle comes with a really nice three compartment travel bag.  We always keep our paddles in a travel bag since they are much easier to transport this way and it protects them from getting beat up in our garage or by the kids when they aren't being used.  The bag this paddle comes with is really nice, so no need to buy another storage bag separately.  

Bottom line we have found this paddle to be the best carbon fiber SUP paddle for the money.

You can get really fancy with our favorite carbon SUP paddle

amazon abahub carbon fiber shaft sup paddle photo
Click to Read More about This Paddle on Amazon

The advantages of using kayak paddles for paddle boarding sitting down

Although many people assume that a standard SUP paddle is the best paddle for a paddle board, they may be wrong.  It really depends on how you like to use your paddle board. SUP paddles can be a tad cumbersome for beginners or those who just enjoy sitting on their paddle board with a folding chair or kayak chair. And they're perhaps not the most compact things to carry around. But fear not! This brings me to our next weapon of choice: the humble kayak paddle.

Now, let's paint a picture. You’re out on the water, the sun is getting a bit hot, so you decide to sit and take a break. Stuck with a SUP paddle? Not anymore. Enter the kayak paddle: a two bladed gem allowing you to take a load off and paddle from a seated position, French-canoe style. The kayak paddle is a versatile buddy, equally at home on a paddle board as it would be on, well, a kayak!

The primary advantage of kayak paddles is that you can paddle both "sides" without changing hand position. It’s like having a twin turbo engine for your paddle board. And the equal distribution of effort means your right bicep won't end up bigger than Popeye's while your left arm remains more like Olive's.

We have had more fun out on our boards paddling into a headwind (usually in the late afternoon) back to where we started. We routinely zip by other paddlers who are trying to paddle into the head wind standing up and getting nowhere. They will usually drop to their knees and paddle so there is less drag, but it is a lot less efficient than using a kayak paddle where you have a paddle on both sides of the paddle shaft as well as the ability to offset the blade to make your paddling super-efficient.

Our favorite kayak paddles for sit-down paddle boarding

Before we can even start talking about the best paddles for people that plan to paddle board sitting down using a kayak paddle which is optimized for seated paddling, we need to talk about how these paddles are sized.

Kayak paddle for a paddle board size chart

kayak paddle size chart SDP branded

When choosing a paddle, it is important to get the right size. We have included a standard size chart.  Our recommendations, below, differ slightly based on our experience in a variety of situations.

For seated paddling on your paddle board, you should choose your paddle primarily based on the width of your paddle board. 

Most standard paddle boards run 31 inches wide.  Oversized paddle boards or some of the more stable paddle boards run 33-34 inches wide and fishing paddle boards typically run 24-26 inches wide. 

The next consideration when choosing a paddle for a paddle board is your height.  If you are on the shorter size or you are looking for a paddle for a youth, you will likely prefer an 86-inch or 90 inch paddle on a 31' paddle board.  If you are taller or if you are paddling a wider board you will likely prefer a 90-98-inch paddle.  

If you are fishing, you will likely prefer a 95-98-inch paddle regardless of your height.

We typically like slightly longer paddles, especially in the winter, because it means less water drips on us and our paddle strokes are more powerful.  However, longer paddles typically weigh more, so we have to balance the two. 

We love these economical OceanBroad carbon shaft adjustable length kayak paddles.  Not only do they adjust in length from 86-inches to 94-inches (220-240cm) so that we can use them with all of our paddle boards and all of our friends (who vary in height), but they also come with a paddle leash so our kids and their beginner friends don't lose them!  

As with most kayak paddles for paddle boarding they have asymmetrical blades making each paddle stroke more efficient.  The blades are 18-inches long by 6.5-inches wide.  

This paddle is a three piece design with a snap adjuster (we prefer since it is very unlikely to fail) for the paddle length as well as the feathering.  There are 5 length choices:

  • 86-inches (220 cm)
  • 88-inches (225 cm)
  • 90-inches (230 cm)
  • 92-inches (235 cm)
  • 94 inches (240 cm)

It is detachable  in three pieces for easy transportation and storage with the longest piece at 44-inches.

The paddle itself weighs 35-ounces, meaning it is nice and light.  They feature drip rings to keep you dry and have a stainless steel snap for connecting the two paddle sections together either in a straight line (which hurts Julie's shoulders) or feathered at sixty degrees either direction.  

For the price you really can't go wrong with this adaptable kayak paddle for a paddle board!

Our favorite economic kayak paddle for a paddle board

oceanbroad adjustable length kayak paddle
Click to Read More about This Paddle on Amazon

Our favorite carbon fiber shaft kayak paddle

amazon bestmarine carbon fiber paddle photo
Click to Read More about This Paddle on Amazon

We love these beautiful carbon fiber shaft kayak paddles from BestMarine.  Weighing in at only 28 to 34-ounces, they are the lightest paddles we have found for our "high end" $100 price point.  

The blades are 18 inches x 6.75-inches and the paddle shaft is a comfortable 1-1/8-inch diameter.  

They come in three sizes:

  • 86-inches (220 cm)
  • 92-inches (234 cm)
  • 98-inhes (250 cm)

Julie in particular loves this paddle because it is so light and feels so comfortable in her hand.  She has the 98-inch paddle since she uses it when she paddles her 33-inch wide Aqua Marina Monster paddle board.  

This paddle can be matched or feathered in 60-degree incriments which saves her shoulders and makes each paddle stroke easier.  

The paddle decals are a work of art and daughter Chloe loves all of the colors, especially the purple and teal paddle.  

Our favorite kayak fishing paddles for a paddle boarding

When it comes to fishing paddles we have two favorites. Both feature a hook retrieval system built into the blade so you don't lose your precious lures. a built-in hook retrieval system is a small groove in paddle blade that helps you rescue lures, pull in your catch and get your line out of trees and rocks.

Both paddles feature a 2-piece snap-button construction so they easily separate into two sections for easy storage and can be easily feathered 60-degrees either way for right handed and left handed control.

First we have the economical OceanBroad Alloy or Carbon Shaft Fishing Kayak Paddle.

We love the lightness of the carbon fiber compsite shaft and fiberglass reinforces PP blade.  Since it is 98-inches (250 cm) long, the whole oar weighs around 37-ounces. 

It comes with a paddle leash which is very helpful when you are fishing and can easily lose a paddle when distracted.  It also offers all of the other important standard features like drip rings to keep you dry and 3 locking options for feathering the paddle.  

The paddle separates into two sections for easy storage.

Economical Option from OceanBroad

oceanbroad fishing kayak paddle
Click to Read More about the OceanBroad Paddle on Amazon

Pro Option from Bending Branches

Click to Read More about the Bending Branches Paddle on Amazon

The Bending Branches Angler Scout 2-Piece Snap Button Kayak Paddle is one of the highest ranking paddles for paddle boarding.

Bending Branches has been in business since 1982 and has been producing paddles with a breakage rate of less than 0.03% since 1982.

Weighing in at only 36-ounces paddle features a built in tape measure on the extra strong aluminum shaft so you can measure your catch in both inches and centimeters.

This paddle comes in bright orange or forest green for easy visibility and is 102-inches (260cm) long. The paddle shaft on this paddle is oval, making for a very comfortable fit in your hand.

If you love paddle boarding sitting down and you love fishing this durable paddle will last you many years and comes with a one year warranty.

The advantages of using convertible paddles for paddle boarding

The downside of using a kayak paddle for paddle boarding? Kayak paddles for paddle boarding might not give you the stability you need to stand comfortably. Without the t-handle at the top they can be pretty cumbersome to hold onto and paddle standing for a long distance. After all, they’re used to being with their bottom-sitting counterparts in a cozy kayak. But, cue the drumroll... bring on the hybrid, the convertible paddle!

The convertible sup to kayak paddle is like the amphibian of the paddle world. Not quite a lizard, not quite a fish – it’s an unexpected blend that works. You might have been unsure whether you wanted to stand or sit. Maybe you fancy a bit of both. This is your guy. You get the balance from the SUP paddle, then bam! Unclip it, and you’ve got a kayak paddle.

The hybrid's brilliance lies in its flexibility. It's the chameleon of paddles, adjusting to your whims and fancies. One moment you are up paddling hard, the next, you sprawl out as if on a floating lounger, leisurely paddling while seated. It's no wonder that the convertible sup to kayak paddle could potentially be the best sup paddle option out there.

We especially love having a convertible paddle when we are paddling around a mountain lake in the afternoon. We especially love Gold Lake in the Lake’s Basin area of the California Sierras. From the campground we always have a head wind paddling up to the top of the lake where there is a great place to picnic and another little lake we often portage over to. For that part of the trip we like to sit down and use our paddle in Kayak mode since it makes it easy to paddle along the shoreline into the wind. Once at the top of the lake we love to convert our paddle to stand up mode so we can stand up and surf the waves all the way back down the middle of the lake. Our bodies acting like a sail, we flow with the wind, so we enjoy an exhilarating ride back to camp in 1/10th the time it took us to paddle up to the top of the lake! Meanwhile, Julie’s mom, who is 85 years old, prefers to do the whole trip sitting down and so she sticks with a kayak paddle. She might take 5 minutes longer to get back to camp, but she always has a huge grin on her face!

Our favorite convertible paddle for paddle board

We love this Abahub 2 in 1 SUP / Kayak Paddle.  It features a four-piece carbon shafted paddle for when we are planning to spend time standing on our paddle board as well as sitting down.  OR we just aren't sure what we are going to be up to and we want to keep our options open.  

Since we often paddle as a family with more than one person using the paddle board, we often find that our kids prefer to paddle standing while we prefer sitting down and relaxing.  

As a result, this is our favorite paddle to take when we are camping as a family or spending the day out on the water as a family.  

The paddle comes in a variety of colors so we can easily keep track of who is using what paddle. 

The 1.25 mm thick carbon fiber shaft and fiberglass reinforced polypropylene blades make this paddle impact and erosion resistant.  We have yet to break one and that says a lot because we have four kids and these paddles get used by not only our kids, but also all of their teenage friends.

In the stand-up configuration it only weighs 28 ounces!  When configured as a kayak paddle with two blades it weighs in at 39 ounces.  The total weight of all four pieces is 44 ounces and it breaks down to only 33 inches long and 7.2 inches wide for storage.

amazon abahub convertible sup paddle carbon fiber photo
Click to Read More about This Paddle on Amazon

But be warned, convertible paddles may not offer the same pure performance as singular-use ones. Think of them as your friendly jack-of-all-trades, master of none. They might not be as lightweight as a carbon sup paddle or as sturdy as some paddles for SUP.

Regardless of your choice: SUP, kayak, or convertible, it's important to remember that the right paddle for a paddle board is very much a personal choice. It's all about finding what works best for you and your paddle boarding style.

But don't stress, it is not a life-or-death decision. At best you have the right tool for the job, at worst, well you have a great excuse to buy another paddle! Balancing your requirements is key. It definitely makes paddle boarding more fun, and easier too.

The key is to ensure that your chosen paddle for paddle board is comfortable and fits your needs. If you're primarily planning to paddle board while standing, a stand up paddle is your best bet. For those who prefer sitting down, a kayak paddle is best.

And if you're of the indecisive sort or you like to go out on long paddles where the wind and currents might change– then a convertible paddle is a smart and economical choice.

Remember, no paddle is inherently better than the other. It all depends on who is holding the paddle and how they plan to use it. Selecting a paddle for paddleboard is all about making the smart, economical, and right choice for your own paddle boarding experience.

Final considerations for finding the “best” paddle for a paddle board

In the great adventure that is paddle boarding, your paddle is just as important as the board itself. Find the one that maximizes your enjoyment and convenience while out in aqua land.

Because we like to have a variety of paddling adventures, we have one of each type of paddle and we bring our favorite paddle depending on the type of adventure we have planned for the day. For us, that typically means we take our kayak paddle if we have a bunch of gear, lunch, etc and are low energy so we don’t feel like standing up. Or we take our combination paddle if we are feeling a bit more energetic and want to stand. The only time we take our stand up paddles is when we are paddle board surfing. We really like a strong stand up paddle then because the waves can really do a number on a convertible paddle and we like our lighter, stronger stand up paddle board paddles.

Choosing the right paddle for a paddle board is the first step towards a great paddle boarding experience. It not only makes your journey easier but also provides the chance for you to have more fun on the water.

May your paddle be a perfect match to your paddle board. Remember, the paddle you choose is part of the story you're crafting every time you journey out onto the water. It's a choice that can sparkle up your paddle boarding game just as much as the sun sparkles on the water. Happy paddling!

We hope to see you out on the water!

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