Choosing a paddle board can be a tough decision. You can’t just pick the first one you see. There are several factors to consider and some of them, like SUP size, can be stressful.
“What paddle board size do I need?”
This is a question you will hear often, more so from beginners. Having the right size paddle board is key to having a good time on the water.
Despite what some people may think, length is not the only thing that matters.
Here, we talk all about choosing the perfect SUP size for your weight and height.
Stand Up Paddle Board Sizing Basics: Key Dimensions
When it comes to the size of a stand up paddle board, there are four dimensions you should look at.
Length: this is the measurement of a paddleboard from the nose to the tail.
Width: the distance from one side of the board to the other.
Thickness: the measurement from the bottom to the top of a SUP.
Volume: the buoyancy of a paddle board, given in liters.
What Size Paddle Board Do I Need for My Weight?
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a SUP size is your body weight. This is especially true for paddlers who are on the heavier side and beginners.
If your weight is too much for a SUP board, it will ride low in the water. You will also find it too slow and unstable.
Remember, you have to consider your weight and that of anything or anyone that will be coming with you. If you want to paddle with your dog or child, factor in their weight too.
The amount of weight a paddle board can hold depends on its volume.
This brings us to the next point.
Understanding Paddle Board Volume
The volume determines the buoyancy of a stand up paddle board and its weight capacity.
You can easily calculate the volume of the SUP you want using its width, length, and thickness. Luckily, you don’t have to because manufacturers already indicate it along with other specs.
A stand up paddle board with more volume will have more buoyancy and can hold more weight.
Do Stand Up Paddle Boards Have a Weight Capacity?
Every stand up paddle board has a weight limit.
You can use your weight to calculate the SUP volume that would be appropriate for you. This will let you know whether or not the board you want is right for your weight.
Alternatively, just check the given weight capacity. Manufacturers will usually indicate how much a paddle board can hold.
While most of them are honest, others slightly exaggerate. This is especially common with super cheap SUP boards.
A paddle board may have a recommended weight limit of 250 lbs. But when you take it out to the water, you will quickly realize that it can’t handle much.
To avoid this disappointment, always read the feedback from other users and try to buy from reputable companies.
What Size Paddle Board Do I Need for My Height?
Your height does not matter that much when it comes to SUP board sizes.
Taller people may have a harder time maintaining balance because of their high center of gravity.
But this will depend on your skill level. So just focus more on the weight.
SUP Sizing by Activity Type: What Kind of Paddle Boarding Do You Intend to Do?
There are different stand up paddle boarding activities and each one has different size specifications.
Let’s take a look.
1. SUP Yoga
If you are looking to take your fitness routines to the water, you will need a yoga SUP.
As you can imagine, yoga poses on a paddleboard are challenging. The right paddle board should be wide, from 32 to about 36 inches. It should be 10 feet to 11 feet long.
These dimensions promote stability and you also get a large platform for your yoga poses.
2. SUP Racing
Racing paddle boards have to be fast.
For exceptional performance, the paddle board should be narrow and long.
This gives it a streamlined shape and reduces resistance. It allows it to tear through the water smoothly and with impressive speed.
Racing SUPs are typically 12’6 to 14’ long and 26” to 30” wide. As you can imagine, the size makes them less stable. They are best suited for advanced paddlers.
3. SUP Touring
SUP touring involves long trips on your paddle board.
For this, you want a board that is slightly longer and not very wide. Touring paddle boards are usually 11’ to about 14′ long and 30” to 33” wide.
4. SUP Surfing
Catching waves on a SUP board is a thrilling experience. But to enjoy it, you need the right size stand up paddle board.
A surf SUP is supposed to be short and narrow. Choose one that is 10’ or shorter and 29” to 32” wide. This size will make it maneuverable and easier to handle.
5. All-Around SUP
Some paddlers are still not ready to specialize. If you only want to do recreational paddling on flatwater and a little bit of everything else, get an all-around SUP.
All around paddle boards are great for pretty much everyone and everything.
Get a SUP that is 10’ to 11’ long and 31” to 34” wide.
Paddle Board Sizing for Beginners
If you are a beginner, you should consider these two key factors: stability and weight capacity.
A good beginner paddle board has to be stable to make it easy for you to learn.
The length, width, and thickness of a SUP determine how stable it will be. Wider and slightly longer boards are less tippy and great for newbies.
Look for a SUP board that is at least 32 inches wide. A length of 10’6 to around 11’ would be fine.
We’ve covered weight capacity and volume above. Pay attention to the given limit. Make sure it is higher than your weight and that of your gear and/or passenger.
Paddle Board Sizing for Intermediate to Advanced Paddlers
Intermediate and advanced paddlers have great SUP skills.
If you are in this category, you will be choosing an advanced board designed for a specific activity. You can handle a less stable SUP with a lower volume.
So follow the SUP sizing guideline by activities above.
How Long Should Your Stand Up Paddle Board Be?
Several factors will determine the right paddle board length for you. The answer to this question will be different for every paddler.
Longer paddle boards track well and tend to be faster. But keep in mind that a super long board may not be very maneuverable.
On the other hand, shorter paddle boards may not track as well, but they are easy to control.
So, again, it all comes down to what you want to do. For racing and touring, you will want a board in the 11’ to 14’ range.
For surfing and whitewater, you will need a shorter SUP, 10’ or under. Kids will also be more comfortable paddling shorter SUP boards.
If you plan on doing recreational paddling, a board in the 10’ to 11’ range would be great.
How Wide Should Your Stand Up Paddle Board Be?
The width of a paddle board affects its stability and performance. So the right board will depend on your skill level and what you want to do with your SUP.
Wide paddle boards, 32 to 36 inches wide, are more stable. They are good for SUP yoga, beginners, fishing, and recreational paddling.
Narrower paddle boards, 31 inches and below, are great for speed. They make awesome touring and racing SUPs.
Your body size will also determine the right size SUP for you here. For instance, if you are on the bigger side, balancing on a narrow board won’t be easy. If you are smaller, an extremely wide paddle board won’t be fun to paddle.
How Thick Should Your Stand Up Paddle Board Be?
Generally, inflatable paddle boards are thicker than epoxy paddle boards.
Solid paddle boards tend to be 4 to 5 inches thick. Unlike inflatable boards, their thickness is not uniform. They have more rocker and are built for performance.
You may have noticed that most inflatable paddle boards are 6 inches thick. They are more rigid and stable than thinner iSUPs.
Thin inflatable SUPs, 4 to 5 inches, are usually not sturdy enough. They are known to flex, mainly with heavier paddlers.
So if you are buying an inflatable SUP, stick with the 6-inch thick ones.
Useful Paddle Board Size Tips
Check out these quick tips for choosing the right size paddle board.
1. Don’t Ignore Inflatable SUPs
Inflatable stand up paddle boards have come a long way. They are good for beginners as well as advanced paddlers.
The best thing about iSUPs is that they don’t take up much space. Even a huge multi-rider paddle board can fit under the bed when deflated. If you need a big SUP but don’t have the storage space, consider an inflatable.
They are also easy to transport.
Some people avoid inflatable paddle boards because of performance. But most inflatable SUPs will blow your mind. They glide remarkably.
2. Paddle Board Thickness Is Important
Paddle board length, width, and weight capacity are not the only important factors. People focus so much on them they forget the thickness matters too.
This is especially true for inflatable SUPs. It determines the volume, sturdiness, and weight limit.
3. Consider Your Transport and Storage Options
Other than your body size and preferred SUP activity, you should think about board storage and transport.
It doesn’t make sense to buy a 14-foot SUP when you live in a small apartment. This is not a problem if you are buying an inflatable SUP board though.
But if you want an epoxy board, know that transport and storage can be a pain. They are best for people with a lot of storage space.
4. More Than Just Size
When choosing a paddle board, size is just one of the many factors that matter. So while it is important, you need to have the other details in mind too.
For instance, should you get an inflatable SUP board or an epoxy one? Other factors include the fin setup, hull types, D-rings, and gear mounts.
Final Thoughts: What Size Paddle Board Do I Need?
Having the right size paddle board makes your paddling experience enjoyable. You can go years without needing to buy another one.
Your weight, skill level, and favorite SUP activity will help you find the perfect SUP board size.
If you have any questions about paddle board sizing, leave a comment below. We will be happy to answer you.