The paddle is the most important part of your standup paddle boarding equipment. Think about how many paddle strokes you will take in an hour let alone a year. The weight, feel and performance of your paddle is critical to your enjoyment of SUPing.
Paddle length is critical, too long and you may injur your shoulder over time and too short may compromise your stroke and back. The other thing to bear in mind is if you are paddling different types of boards you will ideally need different lengths of paddles. For SUP surfing you will want a shorter paddle. For distance paddling you would be better with a longer paddle. The best advice is to purchase an adjustable paddle. These are excellent, only a fraction heavier than a fixed length paddle and an adjustable paddle gives you the advantage that you can experiment with different paddle lengths and you can share your paddle with other family members. A fixed length paddle is a good choice for more experienced paddlers.
The next consideration is how transportable you want your paddle to be. If you plan to take your paddle on a plane, bike or bus you might want to consider going for a 3 part paddle as they are super portable. Otherwise for most people a two piece adjustable paddle is a good reliable choice.
Paddles can vary is price from about £50 too £500. As with most things somewhere in the middle of the price range will give you a great paddle. Most boards that come “bundled” with a paddle come with a cheap £50 type paddle. These tend to have a bendy plastic blade and a very flexible shaft. These paddles work and are fine for having some fun but when you are paddling any distance you will start to notice how much they bend. The best way to find out if it is worth spending more on a better paddle is to try some. The SUP Club at Hove Lagoon has a range of paddles that you can try. Just ask if you can borrow one and then compare them and see how you get on. Most “ better “ paddles tend to have a carbon shaft. A wood shaft can be fun to use as it has a unique feel, but most have some carbon. The price tends to increase as the carbon percentage increases. Have a go and see if you can feel the difference between a 25%, 50%, 80% and 100% carbon paddle. They should all feel lighter, easier to move and provide a better catch in the water than a cheap paddle. You can then decide which suits your budget best.
Lagoon Watersports often sell used SUP paddles, both cheaper have a go style paddles and high performance carbon paddles which are a little more expensive.