There’s no right or wrong way to adjust your SUP paddle size. There’s only the right paddle size for you. Therefore, we’ve taken all the different sizing techniques and ideas out there and condensed them down to one simple method that will allow you to adjust accordingly. So, rather than bombard you with countless ways to size your paddle, we’ve broken things down to make it quick, easy, accurate and consistent. We’ll jump right into what to do, but if you want more details regarding the parts of the paddle and other important factors to consider keep reading.

Here’s a quick rundown on how to size your SUP paddle for those that need to get out on the water ASAP! Trust us, we get it! If you’ve got a sec stick around for the methodology and finer points below to get the most out of each and every stroke once your paddle size is dialed in.

Step 1:

Flip the paddle upside down, resting the T-bar grip on the ground in front of you.

Step 2:

Bring the paddle vertically upright and straight (parallel to your body) so you’re looking at the blade end of the paddle.

Step 3:

Adjust the length of the T-bar grip so the throat of the paddle (where the shaft meets the blade and starts to spread. See diagram above.) is at eye level.

Parts of a SUP Paddle

SUP paddles come in all shapes and sizes, but there are a few key parts that remain consistent throughout most designs. These are the key parts that you’ll often hear mentioned in articles or maybe discussed while you’re out on the water sharing insights on technique. Pretty straight forward and of course it always helps to know exactly what someone’s talking about when looking for instructions.

T-bar Grip – the top of the paddle where one hand is placed
Shaft – the long cylindrical part of the paddle where the other hand is placed
Throat – where the shaft meets the blade and begins to widen out
Blade – the flat, wide part of the paddle
Tip – the end of the blade

basic SUP paddle diagram

Parts of a Thurso Surf SUP paddle diagram

The other pieces of the paddle you see listed are specific to Thurso Surf’s design. The scale seen on the shaft below the T-bar allows users to accurately adjust their paddle to their desired length (no more guessing if you have it where you want it). Moving down the shaft are the two dual lock pin and clasp mechanisms that offer fast and easy assembly. And to make it easy to identify, we put our logo on the front face of the blade. As long as you can see it, you know your paddle is facing the right direction. More on how to hold a paddle here.

Scale – Adjust the paddle to your desired length.
Dual Lock Pin & Clasp – Spring ball and lock mechanism that allow quick and easy assembly.
Front Face of Paddle Blade – Easily identify the front face of the paddle blade with our logo.

woman adjusts SUP paddle size

Easily build and adjust your paddle with Thurso Surf’s Dual Lock Pin and Clasp system.

Factors to Consider When Adjusting Your SUP Paddle Size

Now that you have a solid understanding of the parts of the SUP paddle we can dig into what factors you need consider when trying to determine your SUP paddle size. Since riders, boards and conditions come in all shapes and sizes it’s handy to have an adjustable paddle. With an adjustable paddle you can respond to all of these variables by changing the length of your paddle to meet the conditions and way your paddling even when you’re already on the water. We’ll get into exactly what that means below.

As previously mentioned there’s a lot of factors to consider when adjusting your SUP paddle size. But don’t worry we’ve made it as simple as possible to follow. First there are two main categories that everything falls into. They are specific to 1.) WHO the rider is and 2.) WHAT they are doing.

couple sitting on beach under umbrella near SUP paddles

Taking a break after a long day of paddling in South Africa.


You need to consider WHO the rider is when adjusting the SUP paddle size for obvious reasons. We’re all built a little different, so the paddle size should and can take this into account. The factors you need to consider when thinking about WHO is riding the board include:
-Weight (how high does your SUP sit on top of the water?)
-Arm Length (hand to shoulder)
-Physicality (fitness level and strength)


The other main category, WHAT you are doing on the water, is also of crucial importance. Whether you’re surfing, racing, or just out for a cruise can also help you determine how to adjust your paddle size. Although this may be more of a personal preference, as a beginner it’s good to get a basic understanding of your options and what to consider later on down the road. And of course the best way to get a feel for all this is to go out and give it a try yourself!
-What activity will you be doing?
-What are the conditions like?

Once you take all of those factors into account you’ll have an idea of what you want to adjust your paddle size to. But overall, you need to consider what’s the most comfortable for you. One size might work well for one activity and another for something else. Knee paddling will obviously require you to adjust the length of your paddle, but so can the conditions and your personal preference. The best way to know what you prefer is of course to get out there and try. So after we run through the sizing options, go out there and give it a go. Remember, because of Thurso Surf’s dual lock pin and clasp mechanism, paddles are quick and easy to adjust. Meaning you can even make adjustments while you’re out on the water if you need or want to.

Man back paddling with dog on SUP

Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to find a friend that will bring your paddle right to you. 🐶

SUP Paddle Size Method

Let’s start by making a few things clear. The ‘right’ length of your SUP paddle is what works best for you to paddle comfortably for a long while without any joint pain or discomfort (although your muscles may feel sore). We’ll provide you with a simple guideline to find your own personal preference, but don’t let others try to tell you there’s a hard and fast rule that works for everyone.

To help you avoid the confusion, instead of recounting several different methods on how to adjust your SUP paddle size, we’re sticking to one that’s straight forward and simple. This gives you the consistency needed to find your perfect size. And allows you to easily make adjustments without heading back to the beach for your measuring tape.

Young male paddleboarder unpacking Thurso Surf 3 piece adjustable paddle on a South African beach

Unpacking his paddle and getting ready to head out on the water.

Step 1:

Flip the paddle upside down, resting the T-bar grip on the ground in front of you.

Step 2:

Bring the paddle vertically upright and straight (parallel to your body) so you’re looking at the blade end of the paddle.

Step 3:

Adjust the length of the T-bar grip so the throat of the paddle (where the shaft meets the blade and starts to spread. See diagram above.) is at eye level.

Pretty simple and straight forward. There are countless other ways recommended online, but we’ll save you from that rabbit hole. Compared to the other options this one stands out because it accounts for the blade length, not just the length of the entire paddle. Paddle blade sizes vary, so methods that simply sizing a paddle on it’s overall length misses that detail. This way you account for the variability of blade sizes.

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About the Author: Matt G.

Matt Gelgota is a traveler and all around digital marketing guy. His greatest adventure to date was the Mongol Rally, a 10,000 mile unsupported on and off-road saga from Sweden to Mongolia. He has visited more than 50 countries and has been paddling a Thurso Surf Expedition since 2018. Since then he’s had a chance to paddle board in Nepal, Thailand, Japan, and the US. When he’s not on the road he divides his time between Tokyo and Atlanta, Georgia.


  1. Jhon August 28, 2019 at 4:54 am - Reply

    Simple and easy tips to follow, good job on the explanation. I’ve seen many paddlers that have adjusted their paddle length wrong. Hope this helps out quite a few people to get it right.

    • Social @ Thurso Surf September 2, 2019 at 8:47 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Jhon! Stoked you’re digging it. Is this the same method you used to size your paddle?

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