BEST FOR: Comfortable, powerful strokes during training and racing
When I first took this paddle out of the box, one thing stuck out: The middle of the shaft had an oval shape. Kialoa founder Dave Chun added the feature after customers using outrigger paddles with the same feature raved.
The design adjustment makes perfect sense. The paddle almost disappeared in my hands during long afternoon runs. It felt natural enough in my grip that when I switched to rounded shafts, I wanted the Hulu back.
The teardrop-shaped blade features a slight curve near the tip, which lets the paddle make a cleaner entry into the water with fewer bubbles—allowing it to grab more water for a more efficient stroke. The thinner, lighter (17-ounce) versions of the paddle, the hi-mod carbon fiber Ultralight and Ultralight Gerry Lopez, are best left for expert racers. Beginners and intermediate paddlers looking to develop their strokes should stick to the Hulu, which has a thicker carbon fiber core (19 ounces) that can better handle nicks, strikes, and any awkward, limb-snapping strokes.