The higher the carbon content, the better the paddle, right? Well, it’s a little more complicated.
Typically, paddles with a higher carbon content are more expensive, lighter and offer faster reflex characteristics. By reducing weight, this allows the paddler to experience less fatigue and be less susceptible to overuse injuries.
However, building a great paddle requires much more than carbon––it also requires innovative design, sound structural integrity, and ultra-efficient hydrodynamics. In fact, poorly designed carbon paddles are often too stiff and fragile, leading to sub-par performance and a shorter lifespan of the paddle.
Remember, the goal should always be to optimize the paddling experience––not marketing objectives.
In this article, we will explain how Black Project engineers blend innovative paddle design with ultra-high-quality carbon, Texalium and Kevlar to build the strongest and lightest paddles on the market. Because to achieve an unparalleled paddling experience requires an unparalleled paddle construction, it is not just about adding more carbon.
Lighter and Stronger: by DESIGN
The first step to building a stronger and lighter paddle is spending a vast number of hours in the initial design process. Our R&D team uses computational modeling, 3D printing and good old-fashioned physics to optimize the structural strength and efficiencies of every paddle we produce. The reason––beyond our obsession with performance––is to find a design that allows us to reduce the amount of material being used, while still maintaining superior structural integrity.
While you can always make an existing design lighter with less material, you will end up sacrificing strength. But by re-imagining the design with a fresh and innovative concept––like our Advanced Flow Technology (AFT)––we can push the limits of paddle performance. For example, the norm-shattering 3D design of the Hydro FlowX enabled us to develop a new laminate layup, and the new materials and layup enabled us to realize the design.
The result is a paddle collection with better design, better materials, and ultimately––better performance for all.
Lighter and Stronger: by Using Better MATERIALS
Design is one part of the equation, but the materials used are also critically important. The new 30T carbon we are using in the Hydro FlowX is not only 20% lighter than our standard 24T carbon (currently used in our Hydro, Surge, Lava, Ohana and Grom), it’s significantly stronger as well.
In fact, this is the highest quality carbon available for use in sporting goods. And while it is 20% more expensive than 24T carbon, the upgrade it offers in performance is worth the additional cost.
By blending carbon, Texalium and Kevlar we have been able to make lighter and stronger paddles which enhance your paddling enjoyment, it is not just about making more expensive paddles, it is about making better paddles.
Lighter and Stronger: by Improving Business EFFICIENCY
To save you money, we’ve cut out the middleman. We typically work directly with small specialist stores and directly with individual paddlers via our website. This straightforward and efficient business model allows us to save money on distribution, and then invest that savings into more expensive production costs. By spending more money on product development instead of distribution, we have been able to design paddles both lighter and stronger than previously thought possible.
Why is TEXCARBON Better?
Unique to Black Project, our TEXCARBON paddles incorporate Texalium into the shaft. Texalium is a really strong laminate which is great for protecting the paddle against damage caused by impact, which would otherwise weaken the shaft. Texalium is also effective at reflecting UV, which means your paddle will suffer less fatigue over time. The result is that your paddle lasts longer.
Our blades are built using a mix of unidirectional carbon, twill carbon and Kevlar. Each of these materials is used carefully to optimize strength, weight and feel––resulting in the best paddle stroke possible. Additionally, our pre-preg laminates are carefully stored in special refrigerated rooms before production.
Designing and building the world’s strongest, lightest and best-performing paddle doesn’t come easily. It requires innovative design, high-end materials, expert feedback and careful analysis. And while we will never achieve our ultimate goal––to create the perfect paddle––each innovation gets us one step closer to that elusive standard of excellence.
The highest tier construction that most other paddle manufacturers can offer is similar to our REFLEX 100 carbon construction, which is used in our Hydro REFLEX. However, TEXCARBON 24T is lighter and stronger than our REFLEX 100––while the TEXCARBON 30T is another step up from there.
The TEXCARBON 30T construction offers a noticeably crisper and cleaner feeling. It responds super-fast and is forgettably light in the hands––about 4% lighter than our regular TEXCARBON construction.
We have also made some 30T Surge paddles for testing, which weigh about 340 grams (11.99 oz)! But at this time, we are not releasing these.
Why Do Black Project Paddles Cost A Little More?
While the retail price of our paddles has increased over the past few years, so too has the quality of our paddles. At $600, the Hydro FlowX––which includes a paddle bag, is our most expensive paddle yet. However, the new paddle represents an excellent value for money. For example, if we were to operate with a traditional business and distribution structure, the Hydro FlowX would be closer to $800-900. You simply will not find another high-end paddle of this quality and value anywhere on the market.
It’s also worth noting that due to Covid-19, shipping costs have increased 100% in the past 12 months and material costs have increased 35%. Nevertheless, we continue to optimize our shipping and find new ways to make it more cost-efficient.
Not All Paddlers Need an Expensive High Carbon Content Paddle to Have Fun and Reach Their Potential.
For many entry-level paddlers, a lower carbon content paddle––like our Ohana––is a great choice. The Ohana offers a great entry point into performance paddles, without the price tag of a top-of-the-line paddle like the Hydro FlowX. Standup paddling doesn’t need to be an expensive pastime and we are committed to making paddles for all paddlers.
Being lightweight and strong with attractive pricing, our REFLEX range of paddles is great for most paddlers, for those looking for something a little extra special then the TEXCARBON and TEXCARBON 30T paddle constructions offers something unique in the paddling world.
Are Carbon Paddles Worth the Extra Cost?
Yes, but it is worth noting that not all carbon paddles are equal and you must be careful to ensure that what you are buying is best suited to your personal paddling and budgetary needs. If you are not sure which paddle is best for you please contact us.
Paddle Construction Comparison
|||TEXCARBON 30T **||TEXCARBON||REFLEX100 ^^||REFLEX90||REFLEX60||FG100|
|Materials Used||Texalium & Carbon||Texalium & Carbon||Carbon||Carbon & Fiberglass||Carbon & Fiberglass||Carbon & Fiberglass|
|Grade of carbon used||30T||24T||24T||24T||24T||24T|
|Percentage carbon||100||100||100||90||60||Blade 60%|
|Available For||Hydro FlowX||Hydro and Surge||Hydro and Surge||Lava||Ohana||Grom|
|Price range||From $600||From $475||From $400||From $300||From $225||From $200|
^^ Our REFLEX100 is similar to most other brands top tier SUP paddle construction.
** Our TEXCARBON 30T construction is the most technically advanced SUP paddle construction currently available in the market.