Gear | Perfect Paddles
3 Great First Blades
The adjustable paddle is the Swiss Army knife of SUP. Whether multiple people are using the same blade or you want to switch the length of your paddle for different styles, the adjustable has you covered. Here are three great options.
Riviera Vantage 7.5 Adjustable
$250 • Rivierapaddlesurf.com
The all-carbon Vantage is a stiff, lightweight package that's great for everything from everyday paddling to race-day pounding. The 7.5-inch blade face facilitates a high stroke cadence for downwind paddling, race starts or simply for smaller paddlers that want to put less fatigue on their shoulders (smaller blade faces equal less pressure on joints and muscles). Many adjustables are heavy and bulky; the Vantage is not. That means you won't hesitate to throw it in the car for a whitewater run or when you're touring and want to catch a couple waves along the way. Great for the quiver.
Sawyer Mana Glass QuickDraw 3-Piece Traveler
$350 • Paddlesandoars.com
If you're going to travel with a paddle, you won't go wrong with the Mana Traveler. This three-piece paddle breaks down into its own bag and will fit easily in overhead airplane storage. When you put it together at your location, you'll be surprised at how solid it is. The fiberglass shaft has a nice, soft flex that means you can paddle all day on your vacation. But that doesn't mean it can't take a beating; the wood blade and solid glass job means it would be fine pinging off river rocks or getting washed in the surf. We'll put it this way: The Mana Traveler is coming on our next trip.
Naish Makani Vario SDS 8.5
$350 • Naishsurfing.com
Designed as an all-around paddle for surfing, touring and racing, the Makani is a paddle that will serve you for years to come. We like the "Anti-twist Vario System," essentially a channel down the shaft that lets you adjust the length but keeps the handle perfectly aligned with the blade, making for an always-solid stroke, which can be an an issue with adjustable paddles. The Kevlar reinforcement on the shaft made for a solid stroke and the Tahitian-style t-grip felt comfortable on long paddles. A high-end adjustable that is endlessly versatile, perfect if you're just getting into SUP and want to try it all.
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This gear review originally ran in the 2015 Beginners Guide.