There is no best or right paddle length. Every paddler has his or hers own individual preferences. In this article i will try to give everyone a good starting point. For a beginner i would suggest an adjustable paddle over fixed one.
- Paddler height
- General fitness of the paddler
This is an easy one. Every paddler knows his height, right 🙂 Paddler height of course gives us an good starting point but body structure has an affect. Paddle length recommendations i will give here are paddler height + something.
How the board affects the right paddle length for you. Today most SUP-paddlers are using inflatable boards. Inflatable board manufacturers usually wan’t their boards to be as stiff as possible. Stiffness is mainly achieved with the thickness and width of the board. Board thickness, length, volume and width all have an affect on paddle length. The most important thing is how high the soles of your feet are from the water surface. So there is a big difference if you are on inflatable board or a race board with extreme dugout.
General fitness of the paddler
General fitness of the paddler has an big impact on the paddle length. How flexible you are? Usually a short paddle requires hinging from your hips, rotation from your upper body and bending of your knees. All this might be an overkill for you if you don’t have the fitness for it. If you are not comfortable on your board all this might be a little too much.
Here i will give you good starting point for the best paddle length. As a reference I’m 175cm (5′ 9″) tall and have a board with extreme dugout (Starboard Sprint). My main distance paddle is 185cm (6′ 1″) long. So my paddle is only 10cm longer than me. I know that i paddle with shorter paddle than most so i’m not using that as straight reference.
How to measure SUP paddle length. Measure from tip of the blade to the top of the handle in a straight line.
Good starting point is your height + 20cm (7.87 inch)
Hard boards without dugout
Good starting point is your height + 18cm (7.09 inch)
Hard board with dugout
Good starting point is your height + 12cm (4.72 inch)
Remember these are just starting points for you. If you have been currently using a much longer paddle shorten the paddle in small increments. Even a 0.5cm change in length is really noticeable.