At A Glance
As with all the F-One gear I’ve seen, be it kite or SUP, this is an incredibly well-finished piece of equipment. There is a smart sheen finish on the lower half of the shaft, and then the upper half uses what they call ‘anti-skid’ which is a matte finish, presumably for choking down during your stroke.
The Vario adjustable model I tested has a decent heavy duty plastic clip on the neck which has stood up to the usual paddle abuse. It's great to see height measurements on the handle, something not all manufacturers do. It's a very useful feature, especially if this paddle is going to be used by more than one person or for more than one board. The neck on the paddle is also well finished unlike some of the rougher jobs even some of the other top brands produce!
The most striking thing about this paddle, however, is the prominent ridge running down the working side of the blade. The guys at F-One call this a V Double Concave and claim it is all about increasing the stability of the paddle during the stroke, reducing ‘paddle walk’, when you may find your paddle shudders from side to side during the effort phase of the stroke.
On The Water
The V on this paddle was hugely noticeable for me. I paddled this in the surf and on flat water on a race board, and I found it most beneficial for smoothness and stability when surfing. Feathering my blade and rescue strokes were super smooth with the V, and I think this made an excellent surf blade.
Initially I took the paddle straight out the box after adjusting to the height of my surf paddle and quickly had to come back in and tighten the adjustable catch as I could feel a bit of a rattle in my stroke, but this is a minor problem that was quickly solved with a screwdriver.
I guess they don’t over tighten in the factory to preserve the finish. On the race board, I found this paddle slightly frustrating as I felt my catch (entry phase of the stroke) was a bit gutless, and not quite as sharp as I am used to. I also felt like I couldn’t get quite as high cadence as I would usually want when flat water training.
That said, this is marketed as a surf/all-round paddle, so I don’t think you’d buy this if you were a serious race paddler. I could see this type of paddle as really excelling for cruiser/tourer folk as well as the surf market, as it was super light and felt smooth and comfortable in the effort phase of the stroke, you could get into a perfect gentle rhythm with this stick for sure. I used it for teaching a couple of times and found it more than comfortable over a 2-hour session on the water.
An incredibly well-finished piece of gear that any improving or intermediate paddleboarder would be stoked to have in their paddle bag. Equally a dedicated surfer or touring paddler would find a lot of enjoyment in the comfort and smoothness this blade has to offer and the fixed model would be an epic bit of kit. F-One has a reputation for high-quality designs, good finish and solid gear, and I think that would be a fair assessment of the Peak Vario Paddle.
This review was in Issue 5 of Tonic.For more information visit F-One
By Luke BolsinLuke Bolsin has been on the water all his life and taught a wide range of water sports since 2001, and is passionate about being on the water and sharing the stoke with others. He has been paddling stand up since 2008, initially as a cross trainer for no wind or flat days. However in recent years has become totally hooked on SUP for all conditions, be it down wind paddling in swells, SUP surfing, racing, or mooching on calm days around quiet coves. As well as working for SUP Tonic as our Web Editor he divides his time running his own SUP school and rental business in Cornwall, in the UK's South West, as well as being a teacher and a dad. Luke competes on a recreational level in variety of SUP events in his locality, and is part of a burgeoning paddle scene in the heart of UK's surfing region.