Depending on who you ask, you most likely will get a different answer every time.
As with most things, there will always be various ways of getting the right stand up paddle height for a certain user.
It's all a matter of perspective and what works for one may not work for another.
If someone asks me how I choose my paddle length, as a general rule of thumb, I normally tell them for the handle to be 6-8 inches above head height when holding the paddle in front of the body with the blade on the ground.
But this is absolutely not the only method.
Consider this - we are all built differently, which means, your paddle’s length should
be customised to:
How tall you are
Your arm length
Your paddle activity of choice (recreational, SUP surfing, SUP racing)
Your paddle board’s height off the water ( Composite, inflatable)
Yes I know, that’s a lot of factors to consider, but don’t let this intimidate you. We’re going to simplify this for you and help you find the perfect paddle length for you.
One sizing method might work better for you than another, it’s all about finding the length that provides us with the most comfort, efficiency and will help prevent you from injury.
The below methods are the most common.
You see them being used with other paddlers and also when you research online you will find the same.
LAIRD HAMILTON’S METHOD
As a starting point for determining your paddle length, Laird Hamilton (the pioneer of paddleboarding) advises making your paddle length 3-4 inches above your head. He then suggests adjusting from there based on your needs, mobility, and experience.
THE HANDS UP 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 comfortably in the palm of your hand.
THE SHAKA METHOD (probably the best know 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. Tends to be 6-8 inches in length.
STARE IT STRAIGHT IN THE EYES
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 the proper length of your paddle accordingly.
ADJUSTING YOUR PADDLE FOR DIFFERENT PADDLE BOARD SPORTS
If you plan on using your paddle board for surfing, racing, or touring, you will need to size your paddle differently from the methods explained above, although if you have moved on to surfing or racing you probably already found your preferred paddle height.
Surfing: Size your paddle shorter than you usually would so you can easily manoeuvre from each side of your paddle board for catching waves.
Touring and racing: Size your paddle a bit longer than usual to gain more power in your stroke.
These are the methods that have worked for me over the years and let's hope they can help you guys also.
As always stay safe and have fun on the water, for more info on staying safe please check out our blog on the same.