In the standup paddleboard world there are many options for paddles. And product lines are ever expanding to provide more options. But Ke Nalu is the only company besides Ke Nalu that has a selection of stand alone components that allow you to design (and change) your own paddle.
3 things that set Ke Nalu apart from other paddle companies
1) Their designs are based on science. Their slogan is “powered by physics.”
2) Consistent and precise manufacturing
3) Owner modification
Ke Nalu’s focus on science is what is drives all of the rest. Having paddles that catch, pull, and release more cleanly and more efficiently than most other paddles on the market sets them apart. They are completely committed to understanding the science behind each aspect of the blade and the paddle stroke. So they do rigorous testing to ensure that they are providing the lightest weight, most efficient, and most powerful paddle that they can while also minimizing any wobble.
The manufacturing process ensures that the blades coming out of the molds are ready to go. Other companies require trimming, sanding, filling, etc. Ke Nalu blades are much more consistent because they don’t need all of that handling, each step of which can lead to subtle differences in how each blade will paddle and inconsistencies in structural integrity.
The ability to choose your own components, assemble them with hot glue, and change them out in case of damage, or a desire to try something new, make these the most versatile quality paddles available. With the option to select each component, you can determine the size, shape, and composition of the blade, the stiffness of the shaft, and the design of the handle all for your personal paddling style and preferences.
Ke Nalu offers Elite and xTtuf construction options. The Elite shafts are made from 3K carbon fibers. They come in 100 flex and 90 flex options and are great paddles for flat water, racing, and touring. The 100 flex is the lightest and stiffest in the lineup. A taper in the shaft provides a bit of flex toward the handle end to soften the pull to the upper hand. The 90 flex is 5g heavier, but flexes slightly more for a very nice feel.
xTuf shafts are available in xTuf and xTuf (S). They are made from impact resistant unidirectional carbon that is wound on a bias for stiffness, torsional strength, and vibration dampening. There is less catch shock with these shafts making them a great option for surf or whitewater. They also store energy to launch you on to waves and swells. The xTufs are also great options if you have bum shoulders. The xTuf(S) is a little stiffer than the regular xTuf. They do not fit into the flex ratings the same way that the Elite shafts do, but if you want a relative idea of stiffness, the xTuf would be around 70 and the xTuf(S) would be around 80.
Ke Nalu handles are available in Ergo T, Ergo, and Classic. These are all 100% carbon and it’s all about what is comfortable to you when it comes to choosing one. The Ergo-T is the most popular handle choice due to the combination of comfort and control. The Ergo is for those who are used to and comfortable with this style grip. And the Classic T is for people used to a full T. It has a little more of an Ergo-T feel, but a slight undercut makes wrapping your thumb more comfortable. There is also an Extended Ergo T available. With the extended handle and a little foresight, you can adjust your paddle length for surfing, racing, or touring without having to have a heavy adjustable paddle or having to have multiple paddles for different disciplines.
Or there is an adjustable system that you can add to your extended handle to make easier adjustments (you just need an allen wrench rather than having to reheat the glue to adjust). It’s a great way to dial in your length before you glue, or if you want to be able to make those quick adjustments and don’t mind a little extra weight you can leave it on there for easy adjusting.
The blades also come in Elite and xTuf. The Elite blades are lighter weight and are full carbon so they are very stiff, strong, and powerful. The xTuf s are still some of the lightest blades on the market, but the addition of fiberglass for reinforcement adds a little bit of weight and a measure of impact resistance. That makes the xTuf a great choice for surfing in shorebreaks, paddling rocky areas, or whitewater paddling.
There are three blade designs and they are each available in a variety of sizes. The original Ke Nalu blades are the Wiki, Maliko, and Molokai. The Wiki is the smallest of the three and is now available in 74 and 84 square inches. The Wikis are excellent for smaller paddlers and those with a quicker cadence. The swing weight of this blade is so slight that you need to be prepared for a lightning quick recovery and ready to go with your next stroke.
The Maliko is the Goldilocks of the line. It is 95 square inches and it is a beautiful combination of power, rapid recovery, and wobble-free paddling. This makes it an ideal choice for most paddlers.
The Molokai is the big boy of the line. Real power paddlers and surfers in need of a good push to get on a big wave will benefit from the 105 square inches of area on this blade. It has a reliable catch and is incredibly powerful. This paddle will reward good technique and punish bad technique, so make sure you have your stroke dialed in if you are considering the Molokai.
The Ho’oloa is available in 84 and 95 sq in. Again the 84 is appropriate for smaller paddlers or those with a quicker cadence. And the 95 is for paddlers looking for more power. The longer, narrower outline of this blade provides a slightly softer catch, more drive, a larger sweet spot and less flutter. It is a great paddle for racing and surf.
The Konihi is the newest addition to the line and features “winglets” borrowed from avialtion to increase efficiency. The winglets divert vortices out and away from the back of the blade giving you a more efficient stroke, more stability, and increased drive. It is also available in 84 and 95 sq in and is a perfect choice for serious racers or those looking for the best performance.
There is also the option to create “Downwinder” paddles by combining the xTuf or xTuf(S) shaft with an Elite, Ho’oloa, or Konihi blade. This combination is easy on your shoulders, but the flex of the shaft launches you into swells and waves and it flexes in just the right places. The catch is also dampened. It’s not as fast as the Elite, but for some people, and for some environments, it is the perfect blend.
Ke Nalu feels that trying is believing. They encourage dealers to become demo centers to offer customers a range of different paddles to choose from. There’s rarely a substitute for being able to try something out for yourself. If your local sup shop is one of these demo centers, you should check it out. There is no substitute for having a great paddle. If you have the most expensive board, and a cheap paddle, you will never realize what that board can do. Ke Nalu will change the way you look at standup paddleboard paddles.