Not all SUP travel paddles are created equal. This mantra carries over to the travel paddle market where it may be even more important. The last thing you want is for your gear to have a negative impact on your epic vacation or trip to a SUP race in an exotic location. Having a paddle that easily breaks down for storage can not only save you odd-sized check in fees and broken equipment with airline travel, it’s also ideal for those seeking iSUP adventures where breakdown size and weight are vitally important.
To help you pick a SUP travel paddle that performs as well on the water as it does traveling to get there, here’s a list of five essential characteristics for a travel paddle to last the long haul.
Three-piece breakdown size
The most functional travel paddles break down into three sections for storage during transport. There are travel paddles out there that separate into two pieces instead of three, but if you ask us those defeat the purpose of a travel SUP paddle.
Two-piece paddles are typically too long to stuff in a duffle bag or an inflatable SUP carrying case, making them impractical for airline travel.
Each paddle in Black Project’s travel range quickly breaks down into three pieces that easily fit in a duffle or iSUP bag—the adjustable LAVA packs to 32 inches (81.3cm) and the OHANA packs to 30 inches (76.2cm)—and if you love your HYDROor SURGE fixed-length paddle too much to leave behind, Black Project offers those in three-piece builds as well.
One of the most common concerns among racers considering a travel paddle is excess weight created by traditional breakdown paddle joints. Thanks to the proprietary carbon fiber makeup and lightweight HEX joints Black Project implements in its three-piece travel paddles, that issue is void across their entire range.
By using lightweight but strong joint fixtures, Black Project is able to provide travel paddles that weigh little more than their one-piece variations.
For example, the three-piece HYDRO 78 cut to 75″ is 561 grams (19.8 oz), only 153 grams (5.40 oz) heavier than the regular one-piece version (408 grams / 14.4 oz).
Every manufacturer has a different take on what works best for a breakdown paddle joint. Some use cables, some use push-pins, others use clamps. But there can be serious issues with these methods—cables and clamps are prone to twisting, while push pin options can feel loose and flimsy.
To create a three-piece travel paddle with performance akin to their fixed-length one-piece options, Black Project’s carbon HEX joints are the ultimate solution. The hexagonal joint fixtures slip snugly together and secure with a light but solid stainless steel push-pin, creating a paddle that assembles in seconds, performs at the top level and never slips or twist.
It’s a well-known fact among travelers: airlines are hard on luggage. Even when padded inside a suitcase most travel paddles can easily be crushed or snapped under heaps of other luggage, a prospect that can ruin a paddler’s trip.
Black Project’s carbon fiber constructions are not only reliably strong on the water, they’re also incredibly durable and able to withstand heavy beatings from baggage carriers. The HYDRO, SURGE & LAVA 3-piece paddles all come with a protective travel case.
Elite athletes won’t sacrifice performance for convenience when traveling to compete. Neither should you. Where most travel paddles are notoriously heavy, prone to twisting and generally flimsy compared to their one-piece counterparts, Black Project has discovered a solution to give you the best of both worlds.
Black Project offers their top-selling race paddle, the HYDRO, and performance surf paddle, the Surge, in three-piece, fixed-length layups, employing double HEX joints for minimized weight, no twisting and overall performance identical to the one-piece models.
All that is left for you to do is book your next trip!
This is a lightly edited version of an article written by Mike Misselwitz which originally appeared on the Black Project SUP blog. It has been republished with permission.