Bionic butterfly wings – Sealblades retractable hand paddles review

Looking more like something you’d find in a Batman film Sealblades’ unique body mounted hand paddles are an innovative new product born out of needing more power when proning. As an obvious use they’d fit surfing environments, with riders able to propel themselves into waves at a higher rate of knots (double the power according to the brand’s website). But what about SUP?

Upon arrival a note of which way round you need to wear them should be taken – placing upside down is an easy mistake to make. Once fixed into correct position, via Velcro strap lashing an extended neoprene cover to forearms, it’s time to play.

The retractable blade operates via coiled bungee. Bring blade into paddling position, extending your palm to take hold of handle, and you’re ready to go. Release and the blade snaps back out of the way. A number of tuning options are available to get the desired fit. For us, however, it was straight out of the box and onto the brine.


Paddling prone, with either butterfly stroke of front crawl methods, are both doable. Our optimum position was kneeling whilst paddling butterfly. Being so close to the water offers a different perspective, which is refreshing. After an initial few ‘getting going’ strokes you’re up to full power. A regular rhythm ensures decent headway can be made – powerful they certainly are (more than you’d initially think).

Some onlookers raised concerns about rotator cuff injuries. From our experience the prone paddling experience, with Sealblades for added propulsion, doesn’t take as much toll on bodies as typical SUP paddling. We’re not saying it couldn’t happen but the SB’s didn’t affect us adversely. Sceptics may mock but this style of stroking but it’s a way to enjoy respite from stand up and yet another method for enjoying the ocean.


So where do Sealblades fit your everyday SUP routine? Well, due to the retractable blade they can be worn whatever type of stand up paddling you’re into. Therefore as a backup/safety device – in the event of paddle failure – Sealblades fit the bill. If conditions turn unfavourable, with perhaps an increasing breeze, then again Sealblades offer an alternative way of getting back to shore. Simply scooch down and reduce wind resistance. And if you fancy a spot of prone paddling sans SUP paddle then get involved. Traditionalists may see it as cheating but it’s a way to test the water and see if prone is your thing. Available in two sizes – large and small.

Price: Sealblades large – £49.95, Sealblades Rush – £34.95



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