Having designed and built paddles for the last 32 years as a world-class outrigger paddler, and composite SUP paddles for over a decade, C4 Waterman founder/owner Todd Bradley brings a wealth of experience to the sleek, light (23 oz.) all-Kevlar/carbon paddle at the top of his Pohaku line. The paddle features an oval shaft and proven outrigger teardrop shape--aimed at transferring power through the water as close to the center of the craft as possible to eliminate side-to-side yaw. The KEV's patent pending dihedral-keeled power face (8.5 inches) augments the shape to keep this stiff and strong paddle tracking straight, and not into rails ($385, c4waterman.com).
Kialoa Shaka Puu:
Kialoa founder and co-owner Dave Chun's two decades of paddle crafting know-how are deeply rooted in innovative designs to push Hawaiian outrigger racing. After shipping his first SUP paddle in 2002 to Laird Hamilton, Chun has continued to hone the carbon epoxy construction and foam-core blade design found in the Shaka Puu through athlete testing and feedback. The result is a strong, carbon shaft with unique oval taper and a versatile triangular teardrop blade, which places the bulk of this hand-made paddle's surface area low, where it's always in play and also most effective, regardless of the type or strength of stroke (8.625" wide, 22 oz., $329, kialoa.com).
Werner Paddles Nitro:
Werner brings an equal depth of paddle-building experience (albeit from river roots), having built foam-core blades for the last six of 45 years spent crafting paddles. The Nitro's slender, elongated rectangular power face (foam-core with carbon overlay and Dynel edging) is perfect for smooth, high-cadence strokes and for loading power predictably right as it enters the water, so you can sprint to speed or simply cruise without wearing out your shoulders. Hand-built in Sultan, Wash., the solid, all-carbon 'oval index' shaft is only 20 ounces for the one-piece, 78-inch length ($299, also available with two-piece or adjustable two- or three-piece shafts, wernerpaddles.com).
Another performancedriven paddle company with over four decades of crafting knowledge, Sawyer brings its intricate blend of materials, style and function to standup with the QuickDraw Radial, featuring a carbon power face, fiberglassreinforced red cedar and ponderosa pine core and Dynel edging, at 28 ounces. One very unobtrusive and solid adjustable SUP paddle, the CamLock Ferrule easily unlocks the shaft to adjust length up to 90 inches, or down to 63. The versatile blade has a nice flex for touring and withstands the toughest wave-leaning strokes you can throw its way. Also available with an all-bamboo or cedar-core blade ($329, paddlesandoars.com).
Cannon Stand-Up Surf:
If you don't feel like shelling out $300 for a high-end paddle, or one that kids will quickly outgrow, there is a host of high-quality and highvalue paddle options that will get you on the water (and survive your worst beginner beatdowns). The Cannon Stand-Up Surf utilizes an efficiently shaped, fiberglass and aluminum-reinforced polypropylene, 8-inchwide blade with an aluminum-reinforced connection to a lightweight fiberglass shaft--one that also features 8 inches of extendable travel with push-button settings (Offered in 60-90" lengths, 37 oz., for 74-82" version, $129, cannonpaddles.com).