I hear it all the time, “Help Me! What size paddle board do I need?”.
You’ll want to consider who is going to be the paddleboarder, specifically their:
- Experience level,
- Purpose of use.
Board dimensions will affect performance in the following ways:
- Length affects speed and manoeuvrability.
- Width affects stability and speed.
- Thickness impacts buoyancy and performance.
Boards come in tons of sizes and styles, and selecting the right one can be a bit overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you choose the right one.
Websites with Paddle Board Selector Tools
If you are looking for an easy Paddle Board selector
below are 2 websites that I have used and highly recommend
Weight and Paddle Board Volume
Your weight plays a critical role in determining the right SUP size, as it impacts the board’s buoyancy, stability, and performance. The paddle board volume is a measure of its buoyancy in litres, based on its length, width, and thickness.
To calculate the appropriate volume of your SUP, multiply your body weight by the number indicated on a paddle board sizing chart corresponding to your experience level and/or the type of SUP boarding you intend to do.
Keep in mind that one litre of volume is equivalent to one kilogram of weight that the paddle board can support. Most manufacturers provide the board’s volume in the spec sheet, so you can easily compare different boards and find the one that best suits your needs.
Weight capacity is another crucial aspect to consider for ensuring optimal paddling experience. Surpassing the weight capacity of a SUP may result in poor performance and an unstable ride.
Heavier riders should opt for a board with increased length and board thickness to ensure greater stability, while lighter riders can choose a shorter paddle board or one with less volume. Always check the weight capacity and volume of a board before purchasing to ensure it can handle your weight efficiently.
You will need to consider the volume of the board, and match it to your weight in kilograms. The greater the board volume, the higher weight it will support.
SUP Volume Calculator
An easy way to calculate the volume of the board you will need as a beginner is to multiply your weight in kgs by 2.5. For example, if you weigh 70 kgs you will multiply that by 2.5 which gives you a minimum board volume of 175 litres.
70 kgs x 2.5 = 175 litres
This calculation will give you a guide to the volume you should go for as a beginner. As you become more experienced and want to try a more manoeuvrable board you might decide to reduce the volume of your board. Check out this video for more examples of volume calculations.
Height and Balance
While weight is a significant factor in choosing the right paddle board size, height also plays a role in maintaining balance on the board.
Taller or heavier individuals should opt for a wider board and longer paddle board length for increased stability, while those with a smaller body type and some experience can select a narrower board for enhanced manoeuvrability.
In any case, it’s crucial to find out which board do I need that provides a comfortable and balanced ride for my body type and skill level.
Experience Level and Board Dimensions
Your experience level significantly impacts the choice of paddle board dimensions. Novice paddlers require more stable boards to help them build confidence and improve their skills.
Boards designed for beginners generally feature increased width and thickness, providing greater stability and buoyancy.
On the other hand, advanced paddlers prefer performance-oriented boards that allow them to push their limits and excel in various SUP activities. Longer and narrower boards are typically more suitable for experienced riders, offering increased speed and manoeuvrability.
Understanding the relationship between experience level and board dimensions is essential when choosing the right SUP size for your needs. For example, beginners should avoid very narrow racing boards, as they can be difficult to balance on and control.
Instead, opt for a wider, more stable board that allows you to develop your skills and gradually progress to more advanced boards as you gain experience and confidence on the water.
Intended Use and Paddle Board Types
As mentioned earlier, different paddle board types are designed for various activities, and each type has specific size recommendations.
For instance, all-around paddle boards are suitable for general use and cater to beginners, while surfing, racing, touring, yoga, and fishing SUPs cater to more specialised needs.
These specialised boards come in various sizes and shapes, each designed to optimise performance for specific activities.
To choose the right paddle board size for your intended use, consult a paddle board sizing chart that provides size recommendations based on activity and experience level.
By selecting a board tailored to your preferred SUP activities, you’ll not only enjoy a better paddling experience, but also maximise your performance and progress in the sport.
Whether you’re looking to catch waves, explore remote areas, or simply enjoy a relaxing day on the water, there’s a paddle board size perfectly suited for your needs.
Paddle Board Sizing Guide: Length, Width, and Thickness
Now that you’re familiar with the factors that affect paddle board sizing, let’s dive deeper into the relationship between length, width, and thickness and how they influence the performance of your SUP. These dimensions play a vital role in determining the ideal paddle board size for an individual, as they directly affect speed, stability, and manoeuvrability.
It’s important to understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to paddle board sizing. The ideal dimensions depend on your weight, height, experience level, and intended use.
By considering these factors in conjunction with the general guidelines on length, width, and thickness, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision when choosing the right paddle board for your needs.
Length: Speed vs. Manoeuvrability
The length of a paddle board has a significant impact on its speed and manoeuvrability. Generally, longer boards offer better tracking and speed, making them ideal for long-distance paddling, touring, and racing. On the other hand, shorter boards provide better turning ability, which is crucial for activities such as SUP surfing or navigating through tight spaces.
Different activities require different board lengths to optimise performance. For example, SUP surfing typically benefits from a shorter board that allows for quick and precise turns on waves. Conversely, touring or long-distance paddling requires a longer board that provides better tracking and speed in a straight line.
By understanding the relationship between length and performance, you can choose the right board length that matches your preferred SUP activities.
Width: Stability vs. Speed
Width is another critical dimension that influences the stability and speed of a paddle board. Wider boards offer more stability, making them beginner-friendly and suitable for activities that require a stable platform, such as yoga or fishing. However, wider boards typically come with a trade-off in speed, as they create more drag in the water.
On the other hand, narrower boards provide better speed and performance, making them ideal for experienced paddlers or those looking to compete in races. While narrower boards can be more challenging to balance on, they offer increased speed and efficiency, allowing you to cover greater distances or outpace competitors in a race.
By considering your skill level and intended use, you can find the perfect balance between stability and speed when choosing the right paddle board width.
Thickness: Buoyancy and Performance
Thickness plays a role in the buoyancy and performance of a paddle board, with thicker boards providing more stability, especially for inflatable paddle boards. While hard boards generally range from 4” to 4.5” in thickness, inflatable boards usually come in uniform thickness of around 6”. When considering the size paddle you need, it’s important to take these factors into account.
Thicker boards offer better buoyancy and stability for heavier riders, while thinner boards might be more suitable for lighter riders or those looking for a more performance-oriented SUP. Keep in mind that an inflatable paddle board with a thickness of less than 6” may not provide the necessary stability and performance.
What conditions you’ll be paddling in?
The size of the paddle board you need will also depend on the conditions you’ll be paddling in. If you’ll be paddling in choppy water or larger waves, a larger board will be more stable. If you’ll be paddling on calm water or small waves, a smaller board will be more manoeuvrable.
What type of paddling you’ll be doing?
The size of the paddle board you need will also depend on the type of paddling you’ll be doing. If you’ll be doing long distance paddling or touring, a longer and narrower board will be more efficient. If you’ll be doing yoga or fitness paddling, a wider and more stable board will be better.
What are your storage and transportation needs?
The size of the paddle board you need will also depend on your storage and transportation needs. If you have limited space to store your paddle board or you’ll be transporting it frequently, a smaller board will be more convenient.
What is your budget?
Consider your budget when choosing a paddle board. Larger paddle boards tend to be more expensive, so if you’re on a tight budget, a smaller board may be a more practical choice.
Types of Paddle Board
Now that you know the factors to consider when choosing a paddle board, let’s take a look at the different sizes available:
Surf Paddle Boards
Surf SUPs are designed for agility and quick turning on waves. Their shorter length and low volume make them highly manoeuvrable, but also less stable than longer SUP boards.
Composite construction is preferred for surfing, although inflatable designs have improved and are becoming increasingly popular in recent years due to advances in design and construction.
All-Round Paddle Boards
All-Round SUPs are suitable for paddlers of all skill levels. They typically ranging from 9’8″ to 11’2″ in length and 31″ to 35″ in width. The wide range of sizes allows paddlers to find a board with the right amount of volume for their needs, and enables them to paddle in a variety of disciplines.
All-Round SUPs are known for their smooth glide, good stability, and responsive handling. They can be used on the sea and inland for cruising, and surfing, making them very versatile boards.
Touring Paddle Boards
The majority of stand-up paddle boarding takes place on flat water, meaning that touring boards are a good choice. These boards have a longer waterline length and are wider for stability and are designed for exploring rivers, lakes, and coastlines.
The added length of these boards improves tracking, requiring fewer paddle strokes and course corrections. Be prepared to practice your step back turns if you go for this option!
Race-Touring Paddle Boards
The Race Touring SUP is a middle ground between full-blown race boards and cruising boards designed for covering long distances with ease. These boards offer good stability and a fast waterline length for efficient paddling, making them suitable for flat water paddlers who want a bit more speed and performance than an average touring SUP.
If you have good balance and plan to spend most of your time paddling in flat water, a race-inspired touring SUP may be the right choice for you. Here’s a great video from SUPBoarder to help you choose your board:
If you’re looking for a SUP to use for fishing then check out this advice Best Inflatable SUP For Fishing.
Choosing the right size paddle board is important for your safety and enjoyment on the water. Consider your weight and skill level, the conditions you’ll be paddling in, the type of paddling you’ll be doing, your storage and transportation needs, and your budget when selecting a paddle board. Hopefully this will help you to answer the question “What size paddle board do I need?”.
FAQs – What size Paddle Board Do I Need?
Why is it important to have the correct size of paddle board?
If you have the correct size of Paddle Board for your size, ability and the type/location of SUPing that you are doing you will have a much more enjoyable time on the water. This guide to “What size Paddle Board Do I Need?” will help advise you on how to select the correct Paddle Board.