Adjusting your SUP paddle
We’re laying it all on the table here folks. It’s time to settle the heated debate on the correct way to properly size your SUP paddle. But first, let’s take a step back for a quick second. There will always be multiple ways of doing something correctly; for example, cooking food, cleaning your house, eating healthy or most importantly, sizing your SUP paddle.
Yes, you read that right, there are multiple correct ways to size your SUP paddle. Forget what you’ve read online or in your paddle’s manual and pay close attention. The correct method of sizing your paddle varies from person to person. We’re all built differently which means your paddle’s length should be customized to:
- Your arm length
- How tall you are
- Your paddle board’s height off the water (epoxy, inflatable, soft top)
- Your paddle activity of choice (recreational, SUP surfing, SUP racing)
Yup we know, that’s a lot of factors to consider, but don’t let this intimidate you. We’re going to dumb this way down and help you find the perfect paddle length for you. One paddle sizing method might work better for you than another, it’s all about finding one that will provide you with the most comfort, maximum paddle efficiency and will help prevent you from injury.
The 4 SUP Paddle Sizing Methods
Laird Hamilton’s Method
As a starting point for determining your paddle length, Laird Hamilton (the pioneer of paddle boarding) advises to make your paddle length 3-4 inches above your head.
He then suggests adjusting from there based on your needs, mobility and experience. Over time you will likely come up with a formula that you can quickly apply based on your anatomy and paddle style.
The Hands Up Method
If Laird’s method doesn’t feel comfortable for you, try this next method. Raise one of your arms as if you were doing a pull up. The other hand should be holding your paddle upright, parallel to your body, with your paddle’s blade touching the ground. Adjust your paddle to the height of the top of your hand in the air. Make sure to adjust until your paddle’s grip fits comfortable around the palm of your hand.
The Shaka Method
Throw a shaka sideways and place it on top of your head. The tip of your pinky is where your paddle’s shaft should end.
Stare it Straight in the Eyes Method
Hold your paddle parallel to your body, but with the grip resting on the ground and your paddle’s blade in the air. Where your paddle’s blade meets the shaft should be about eye level with you. Adjust your paddle accordingly.