A newcomer to the stand up paddleboard industry, San Diego-based Aztek Paddles announced their launch late last month at the annual Hanohano Ocean Challenge in Mission Bay, San Diego. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of BST Nano Carbon, which produces a portfolio of advanced resins, polymers and carbon fiber for a range of clients. Aztek Paddles are only available online, where customers have the opportunity to navigate a series of stages through a fitting process to determine the optimal dimensions for a “custom” paddle.

Aztek Paddles

The paddles are essentially divided into two categories, race and surf. SUP Examiner’s test rider went through the company’s online fitting process and was outfitted with a race paddle with an 85 sq/in blade, their “speed shaft 225” with a medium handle.

Aztek Paddles blade fitting and handle.

The detachable blade fitting and handle on the Aztek Paddle.

Paddle handles are available in three sized: small, medium and large, each with a corresponding “S”, “M” or “L” stamped on the handle. The handle is similar to the Riviera Bump, albeit one that feels like it is coated in a plastic type substance.

The shaft is ⅛ to ¼ inch thicker than many other paddles currently on the market. Like the handle, the shaft feels as if it is coated in plastic. The color of the shaft is slightly lighter than that of the handle, which contributes a look that is not aesthetically pleasing.

The Aztek race blade has thick edges which transition into an even thicker center. The company incorporates detachable blades across their range of paddles. The intent is to eliminate the need for multiple paddles for different conditions and types of paddling. SUP Examiner only tested one blade, however, we did experiment with removing and reattaching the blade with the allen key provided. The blade was easy to remove and is fitted with an aluminum fixture containing three grooves making it impossible to attach the blade in the incorrect position.

Available Blade Sizes

Unstated. Based on our experimentation with the company’s online fitting process, the blades appear to be in 5 sq/in increments ranging from 70 sq/in to 95 sq/in.

Performance

The paddle we tested is on the heavy side, comparable to an adjustable fiberglass recreation paddle. The paddle is very bottom heavy, much more than is needed for a swing weight and lacks a suitable balance. Aztek’s blade is thick lending to a clunky performance lacking a smooth catch, power phase and release. We did find the Speed Shaft 225 tested had a suitable amount of flex for recreational paddling. The plasticized handle has a similar clunky feel. Bottom line, there are a number of entry level paddles at a much lower price point which perform better than the current Aztek Paddle.

Best Fit

Result of Aztek Paddles Blade Impact Test.

Result of our impact test on the blade.

As a whole, the construction of the paddle looks and feels like an inexpensive, mass produced product. The edge of the blade was porous and crumpled after one round of blade impact testing revealing a soft foam core wrapped in a thin layer of carbon fiber. The paddle is on the heavy side – comparable to an entry level adjustable paddle.

During the fitting process, customers are fitted with a paddle from what appears to be a selection of stock paddle components which are assembled in accordance with a customer’s input, based on our experimentation with the online process. All told, it is our opinion that the Aztek Paddle needs significant improvement before it meets the threshold for SUP Examiner’s approval of a “best fit” recommendation. The company’s desired performance level and price point are simply not at parity with other paddles on the market today.

 

Disclosure: Aztek Paddles provided a sample paddle for testing, however the opinions expressed are our own.

 

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