I've had both epoxy/Spar varnish combo (you need the Spar varnish, epoxy breaks down with UV light), and Danish Oil. The oil paddle feels some much better in your hand. An epoxy paddle can be thinner since you are gaining strength through the epoxy but in the end it just doesn't feel as good.
Northern Lights sells rubber tips to protect your paddle. I personally would go the route of oil with a protective tip.
Pull-Up Strap Handle Kit
URCHIN Portable Anchor
Heel and Pegpads™
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