Ke Nalu Stand Up Paddles boasts an aesthetically pleasing range of SUP paddles extending from their top of the line Konihi racing paddle to rugged, everyday paddles such as their xTUF series. Projecting the tagline “Powered by Physics”, each of Ke Nalu’s paddles are designed to be self assembled by mating the paddle’s blade, shaft and handle with industrial strength hot glue – an industry first. To the best of our knowledge, they are the only SUP paddle manufacture to use this process, which allows consumers to easily swap out the components on their paddle.
Ke Nalu xTUF Maliko 95 Description
- Blade: 8.5 x 16 inches; 95 sq/in surface area; reinforced fiberglass
- Shaft: xTUF S (a stiffer, entry level shaft)
- Handle: Ergo T
- Weight: 555 g
SUP Examiner’s Take
At 95 sq/in of surface area, the Ke Nalu xTUF Maliko 95 was the largest blade we have used. We tested the paddle in a range of flat water, ocean chop and paddle surfing conditions and found it performed well across the board. Although we only tested the Maliko 95, Ke Nalu’s complete xTUF SUP paddle series includes the following models: Wiki 74, Wiki 84, Maliko 95 and the Molokai 105.
The blade has a smooth catch and a steady power phase. The latter was particularly notable given the size of the blade. The release is efficient yet not as quick and snappy as Ke Nalu’s top end Konihi blade which we reviewed earlier in the year. The larger blade allowed for a high degree of low end torque which was great when maneuvering in the surf zone. Conversely, we felt the 95 sq/in blade was a bit too large for extended treks across the water. (Note: Our test paddler weighs roughly 150 lbs and typically uses a paddle with a blade surface area in the low 80s.)
The xTUF S paddle shaft is stiff, but not as rigid as some elite shafts making it user friendly and easy on the shoulders, even after extended use. One of the unique features on Ke Nalu’s xTUF S shaft which can also be found on the their elite 100 Flex shaft is the incorporation of tiny fish scale style rings. The rings are formed during the process used in their carbon fiber shaft construction. The benefit derived from the rings is that they prevent your hand from slipping on the shaft while paddling – something which may happen with other designs as a by product of the paddle or your hand becoming wet either from the water or simply from sweat exerted during your session. (Note: The rings are difficult to recognize in photographs, but can be felt when using the paddle.)
The Ergo T handle is the same design we used when testing the Konihi. It is light, easy to grip and comfortably fits into the palm of your hand. Visually, Ke Nalu upgraded their xTUF fiberglass blades with carbon fiber face that includes a great indigenous style graphic on the front surface. Although the xTUF paddles are not 100% carbon fiber, they are still exceptionally lightweight and noticeably more comfortable than entry-level paddles incorporating an all fiberglass construction.
The xTUF range is a great fit for recreational paddlers of all ages seeking a well made, durable product. We also recommend the xTUF range for river paddling and paddle surfing due to its lightweight and rugged construction. Lastly, the ability to swap out the components on all Ke Nalu paddles makes their xTUF paddle series to a good option for rental companies and paddlers not wanting to risk damaging high end all carbon fiber SUP race paddles on rocks or other underwater obstacles.
Disclosure: Ke Nalu provided SUP Examiner with a sample xTUF paddle, however, the opinions expressed are our own.