What Size Paddle Board Do I Need?

What Size Paddle Board Do I Need?

Arguably this is the most important question when picking out the right SUP (Stand Up Paddle) board for you. Does the size of your Paddle Board matter? The answer is ABSOLUTELY

The size of your board is going to impact your speed, ability to turn, and how well you float. Also,the width and length of your board will greatly assist your balance.

The two measurements SUP boards are typically classified by and how you would search for them online or at a store, are LENGTH and VOLUME. Volume is measured in Liters. The higher the volume, the better you float. Length is measured in feet and is by far the most common way to decipher between boards.

Length

It is important to remember; the longer the board the more expensive it will usually be.

In this list of SUP boards for beginners, you’ll see they are identified by their length. A good length for beginners is between 10’ – 11’.

Most SUP boards range from 9’ – 11’. More than 11’ and you’re likely getting into specialty boards. If you are under 250 lbs, you typically will do just fine on 9’-10’ SUP boards. It is easier to find affordable boards within this range, such as the SURFSTAR 10’6.

what-size-paddle-board-length

Volume

Liters of Volume (L), is how you gauge how well the board will keep your weight afloat. Make sure to keep in mind any extra weight you’ll be taking with you onto the board. For example, will you have an extra passenger, camping gear, or fishing equipment.

You’ll want a board that can handle your weight plus whatever you’re planning to bring; The Gili Manta Ray 15’ is a good example to see what a board made to carry more weight looks like.

How does it all add up?

Longer boards will have more volume, however, if you don’t have the space to store, say a 12’ board, or if you don’t want to carry a longer board around, Inflatable boards are a great way to have higher volume while being easy to carry and store.

They generally are thicker too, which cuts down on the need for greater length. They can be deflated after use, making them easier to store and travel with. Finally, since they are filled with air, as opposed to other denser and less pliable material, they are much lighter.

Here are some of 2022’s top inflatable boards.

Great news! Unlike length, volume doesn’t equate to price. You can find high volume boards that are affordable!

This table shows a general Volume to start with, based on your skill level;

SKILL LEVEL VOLUME PADDLER WEIGHT LENGTH WIDTH
Beginner 2 – 3x your body weight (in lbs) 0 -150 LBS 9’6” – 10’ 31” –  32”
150 – 225+ 10’ – 12’6” 32”  –  34”
Intermediate 1.5 – 2x your body weight (in lbs) 0 – 150 LBS 9’6” – 11’ 29” – 32”
150 – 225+ 10’ – 12.6” 30” – 34”
Advanced =,< 1.5x your body weight (in lbs) 0 – 150 LBS 9’6” – 11’ 29” – 32”
150 – 225+ 10’ – 12.6” 30” – 34”

So as an example; I am 175 lbs. I am an advanced SUP boarder. I multiply my body weight by 1.5, which equals 262.5. I would look for a board that is around 262.5 L, which can be any board over 10’ long and 30” wide.

That’s that!

Size is very important. It will have the greatest impact on your SUPing experience. Luckily it can be easily managed and even more importantly, doesn’t have to damage your bank account.

Now, for experienced shoppers, you will soon notice that other categories do exist for SUP boards, which is the STYLE of board. This refers to the shape of the board. However any paddle board will still greatly be affected by its size. No matter what, gauging your board by its Volume and Length is an excellent tool when shopping for your SUP. 

If you are interested to learn more about ‘Styles’, and to practice honing your eye on recognizing Volume and Length, here is a sample of TOURING BOARDS, also called Displacement Boards. Which are great for long distances traveled on the water.

One last thing…

Articles are great insights to an ever growing depth of knowledge on pretty much any topic you can find. We take from the ocean of data and opinions and shrink it down to a (somewhat easy) consumable amount. But even articles can get a bit bogged down. So for those of you who can only muster a piccolo right now, here’s an even more condensed take away to remember;

  • Volume keeps you up! Though you can play with your dimensions (Length x width) to better suit your activity, higher volume will help keep you afloat and stable.
  • Check the Length of your SUP: The longer your board the more volume it will have, the more sturdy it will be.
  • Check your width of your SUP: The board should be at least as wide as your shoulders. The wider you go from there the easier it will be to learn on and maintain your balance.
FAQ

Frequently asked questions

What size paddle board do I need for my height and weight?

When deciding which paddle board will be best for you your weight and ability with be the most important factors to consider. You want to make sure your board has enough volume to displace, or simply, easily carry your weight, and you want to make sure it has enough stability for your level of paddling.

Read our in-depth discussion of What Size Paddle Board Do I Need?

Is a longer or shorter paddle board better?

Longer paddle boards will usually have more volume than shorter boards (there is a consideration for how thick the board is as well). A board with more volume can carry more weight so if you want to carry a lot of weight on your board a longer board will be better.

Longer boards do actually travel faster as well, so if speed is your aim than you will want a longer boarder. If you prefer maneuverability and want to do quick turns or have more versatility to surf then look for a shorter board.

Look at our Top Paddle Board Reviews to learn more.

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