In an ideal world, every paddler would have a whole plethora of paddles.
One for racing, one for surf, one for whitewater, one for training, one for travelling etc. And each would have different size and shape blades, different angles of attack, different amounts of flex in the shaft, and different length shafts.
We’ve already told you how important the paddle is in a previous article. It’s your SUP engine, and critical to your performance.
However, most paddlers can’t afford a multitude of paddles, and either need to stick with the one that was bundled with their SUP package (normally a heavy aluminium or alloy thing without much going for it!), or, supplement it with a specialist stick that is tailored to their most frequent type of paddling.
But, you don’t need to do that with McConks. Our 3 piece adjustable 100% carbon fibre paddle packs an awful lot of performance and versatility into a low price of just £150 delivered to your door.
To put this into perspective, equivalent paddles with the same versatility from the big brands are at least 50% more expensive, and aren’t as light as our 100% carbon fibre paddle. For example:
- Red Paddle’s equivalent paddle is heavier, has a less streamlined connection between the blade and stick, and racks up at £229.
- Fanatic’s equivalent (at 80% carbon) is heavier and comes at an eye watering price of £309.
So if you’re after versatility, a one paddle for all environments performance paddle, and you don’t want to break the bank, you should buy McConks.
The best thing about this paddle is its versatility. The design allows it to be used for flat-water touring, taking on choppy ocean water, whitewater or surf. The lightweight nature makes it easier to pick up a faster cadence and that will improve your glide and speed. It will also allow you paddle for longer without fatigue and reduce your risk of injury or aches.
Being 3 piece, it fits into your iSUP bag, and is great for overseas adventures. The super light paddle reduces your overall carrying weight, and the heat resistant padded protective carrybag (which also fits inside the McConks iSUP sac) protects your pride and joy from all sorts of nasties. In fact, our McConks 12’8 Go Explore package (our biggest and heaviest board) is only 16kg for the whole package if you opt for the carbon fibre paddle.
The adjustable handle allows you to optimise stick length for your paddling environment; shorter for surfing, longer for race etc.
And the perma grip clasp system means no slip or twist when paddling.
The precision engineered blade is a single size medium cadence blade. The blade shape is slightly longer and slightly narrower than many of our competitors. The differences are tiny but really improve performance. In particular the shape allows it to enter and release from the water faster and more smoothly than others, but still deliver the same amount of drive. And the slight dihedral on the power face reduces paddle flutter to make the drive force more efficient.
And the 9.2 degree blade angle is a perfect compromise across the range of paddling environments.
The medium cadence shape has been selected to cover the widest possible range of paddlers and environments. If you’re 6’8 and wanting to stand on the podium, you probably need a larger blade, but for most paddlers, most of the time, this is ideal.
At under 650 grams this is one of the lightest paddles in its class, and definitely the lightest at the great price of only £150. Which makes it a very affordable premium paddle.
The 100% 3k carbon shaft is light and strong. It’s a simple radial cross section to give maximum strength and stiffness.
The handle is also 100% carbon fibre, and is ergonomically moulded for comfort over long and powerful paddles. In fact most people who have used more expensive padded handles have commented that the shape of the grip is just as comfortable as the padded grips, if not more.
The length of the paddle is adjustable from 170cm to 220cm. This makes it highly versatile and can be shared with family and friends. And you know those really difficult upwind, upcurrent paddles where you end up kneeling just to make headway? Well you can shorten the handle to a perfect length for kneeling. This has been a really popular feature for serious expedition paddlers.
Don’t think you can afford an elite performance carbon SUP paddle? You can with a McConks. You get all of this for just £150.
If you don’t believe us, then maybe you’ll believe others.
Check out our reviews…
or from our customers
If you’re still not sure, then you’ll be able to try our paddles and our boards at our demo centres from April onwards.
Trust the experts: McConks SUP paddle review
So despite our earlier jibe about the value of expert opinion in this post truth era, many of us look to experts to help us to see past the marketing spiel, and to tell the good, from the indifferent, to the mediocre. And paddlesports instructors have particular expertise and their opinions are highly valued.
You might have heard us talk about #themalteseSUPproject. 4 outdoors / paddle instructors took off in November this year to paddle around Malta, a task that they (by and large) achieved despite a huge storm in the Med.
Georgina Maxwell, one of the riders, came to McConks to ask us to pimp her ride. So George set off with our 12’8 GoExplore board, designed as a touring/expedition SUP, and one of carbon SUP paddles. George was so blown away with our paddle, that she’s written us great little review, which we just had to share as a special blog post.
McConks Vario pro carbon fibre – 3 piece carbon bamboo paddle.
As part of my sponsorship arrangement with McConks they offered me the McConks Vario pro carbon fibre – this is a 3 piece carbon bamboo paddle. This paddle weighs in at <700g and when it arrived I was struck immediately with its weight and size of which it packed down to.
On our expedition The Maltese Sup Project a few things were highlighted.
The paddle came in a tidy padded bag which can fit x2 3 piece split paddles in if you wanted a spare or in our case are trying to combine luggage. The next important thing to note is it fitted inside the SUP bag meaning you have only one bag to check in.
On the water
The paddle is comfortable to use on long distance. The T grip has a shape which sits in your palm in a snug smooth way with no plastic rough finish like I have previously experienced with other paddles.
Its adjustable it can go from as tall as 220cm for adults to as short as 170cm for kids.
I discovered the adjustable feature is also beneficial from transferring from feet to knees in the wind and chop. It means you can shorten the paddle with the flick of a switch and still be able to use the T grip.
Because it was 3 piece it didn’t seam to effect the strength in my opinion, even in the toughest of winds and swell I was unaffected by any flex. Dear I say I didn’t notice any but this may because I was so use to using this by this stage.
The 3 piece has a clip lock system, which uses little screws to keep it working, on long Jouneys and particularly on expedition I took a spare clasp and after a few days out I checked the tightness of the screws, they were always tight, so prhaps I was over prepared in this field.
There you have it, I tried my hardest not to say how much I enjoyed paddling with the Vario but I truly did enjoy the paddle and I would highly recommend it particularly for overseas travel.
No-one would dispute that inflatable SUP packages have come a long way in the last few years. But stand up paddle boarding is a paddle sport above all else, and the quality of the paddle included (often described as a ‘freebie’) sometimes lets the package down. This point is often missed, punters focusing too heavily on the board and not giving enough attention to the one defining piece of kit you’ll be using.
Walk into any retailer or hit up any inflatable SUP company online and you’ll be confronted by all manner of spangly equipment – most likely with loud boastings about ‘free bag’, ‘free leash’ AND ‘free paddle’. Great, you think! All the gear in one easy purchase. But alas all that glitters isn’t gold.
You have to ask yourself as a consumer, what are you actually getting. The board is usually going to be fine (as long as you’re looking at a reputable brand). But what about the included ‘stick’ (paddle)?
Firstly what material is the included paddle made from? If it’s an alloy shaft with a plastic blade then you’re not going to be feeling any benefit. Your first run out will probably be on the less than enjoyable side. An alloy paddle will usually bend significantly – too much, in fact (some flex can be a good thing with paddle shafts but not to the detriment of forward propulsion and/or limbs, muscles and joints). The low grade plastic blade will contort when drawn through the stroke (flutter) and after a while you’ll have made next to no ground when compared to someone using a more efficient ‘engine’. And we’ve met people who have managed to bend their ‘free’ paddle shaft irreparably on their first outing.
Let’s just pause at this juncture. It’s worth pointing out here that if you’ve got nothing to compare your experiences to then you’ll be none-the-wiser when it comes to any type of SUP kit, let alone paddles. At least during those initial forays. While this is true as a general statement, over the period of a few weeks/months you’ll possibly start to notice bodily wear and tear. At first you’ll put this down to being involved in a physically demanding activity. Chances are, however, that it’s not simply the fact you’re paddling that’s causing grief. In many cases the stress and strain placed on your ailing body is down to using badly made equipment.
Here at McConks we don’t supply our gear with rubbish accessories. We see the paddle as a key ingredient – as such our paddles are of high quality and designed to aid your enjoyment of SUP. We’ll not lie, this does add a few extra numbers to the bottom line cost, but when you consider the increased efficiency of a better quality paddle, and this knock on effect to your enjoyment factor, we’re sure you’ll agree the extra expense is worth it. And like for like, you won’t find kit of comparable quality at the same price.
And don’t just take our word for it. We value rider feedback and have had a number of paddlers check out what we offer regularly. Here you’ll find a recent review of one of our paddles which says it all if you ask us – https://standuppaddlemag.co.uk/2016/04/15/travelling-companion-mcconks-adjustable-three-piece-carbon-paddle-review/
In this era of post truth, we know that some people no longer trust the experts. If you’re one of these people, then you can read what regular customers have said here http://www.mcconks.com/sup-paddles/23-sup-paddles-mcconks-vario-pro-carbon-fibre-sup-paddle-2016-15000.html
Paddles are the main part of stand up paddle boarding – whatever type of SUPing you choose to do, and are your engine. Whether you own an inflatable or hard board, having as good a paddle as you can afford is key to performance, progression and continued enjoyment. You wouldn’t buy a Ferrari with a moped engine. Therefore we highly recommend you pay this part of your set up due care and attention and get the paddle that does your board justice.
If you need advice then McConks is only too happy to advise. Give us a shout and let’s have a chat about all things paddle.