Paddle boards come in all shapes and sizes but how do you know which one is right for you? When choosing a board you’ll need to take into account the board’s size, volume, and width. All of these things will ultimately decide which board is right for you.
We’ve gone into more detail about finding the right-sized paddle board, so keep on reading!
Paddle board sizing ultimately reflects the activities you’ll be using it for. Generally, you should add 9 - 10 inches to the height of the paddler; however, you also need to take into consideration the paddler's weight, experience, and the paddle board's primary use.
If you purchase a board that is too big or too small for the activity you intend to use it for, then you’ll find it extremely difficult to carry out this activity efficiently.
For example, if you wish to use your board for SUP surfing, then having a 12-foot board that was designed for touring and racing will end up with you catching no waves and finding it extremely difficult to even stay on the board in the first place.
Finding the right board size will make your experience far more enjoyable and far less tiresome.
A longer and narrower size paddle board is ideal for touring and racing purposes as it is able to cut through the water at faster speeds. The GILI 12’6” Meno Touring Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is an excellent example of this.
You should add 10 - 12 inches to your height when choosing the perfect size SUP board for touring and racing. Ideally, your chosen touring board will be over 12 feet long.
As you need enhanced maneuverability when SUP surfing, you’ll need a board that is fairly short in size. Paddle boards for surfing are typically in the 9 to 10 feet range, making it easier for paddlers to turn and ride the waves.
Recreational paddle boards fall somewhere in between the two. They’re usually around 10 - 11 feet long and have wider decks for better stability.
Paddle boards for yoga and fishing are similar to those used for recreational purposes. They’re roughly around 10’ - 11’ feet and have wide decks. The wider deck aids in balance when paddlers are trying to perform tricky yoga moves or when trying to land a fish.
Paddle boards have a maximum weight capacity for a reason, and that’s because they work most efficiently when the total combined weight onboard is below this certain figure.
When the weight capacity of a stand up paddle board is exceeded, the board will ride low in the water and will be extremely difficult to paddle. This difficulty will tire paddlers out and create an unenjoyable experience in general.
Before you purchase a board, it is crucial that you calculate how much weight will be on your paddle board at any given time.
You will need to combine your body weight, the weight of any gear such as fishing gear, and/or the weight of any additional passengers that could join you paddle boarding at any given time. By additional passengers, we also mean those furry friends that like to tag along with you too.
Once you have this total weight, you can search for a SUP with a suggested weight limit that is greater than this number. We also recommend leaving some room just in case additional weight gets added in the future.
If you have an inflatable SUP, then board volume will also be a factor you need to consider. If an inflatable SUP board has a large volume, it will be able to hold more weight. Your target board volume should be over 6” as this will give your paddle board a good level of buoyancy and stability.
If you take a look at the GILI 10’6” Air Inflatable SUP, it has a board thickness of 6” and a total SUP weight capacity of 280 lbs. If your maximum weight is, say, 240lbs, this paddle board would be an excellent fit for you.
To give yourself a general idea of which paddle board would suit you, check out this paddle board size chart.
The length of paddle boards not only increases their stability and weight capacity but also plays a role in the activities you’ll be using it for. For example, short paddle boards are designed for SUP surfing, whereas longer boards are used for touring and racing purposes.
Width also affects stability: the wider your board, the more stable you’ll be when paddling and vice versa. Finally, when looking at a board’s thickness, SUPs 6”+ will keep you the most buoyant on the water and will have larger weight capacities compared to those without this level of thickness.
When purchasing a board, you need to think about what you’ll be using it for. Will you be racing, surfing, or just using it for recreational purposes? You’ll also need to consider your skill level. Are you a beginner who will need increased stability while practicing? And your final question should be, how much weight am I looking to take on board with me?
The answers to all these questions will ultimately decide which size board is right for you and your intended activities.
Although you may think that height is a factor in deciding which board is for you, it’s actually more important to go by weight. Paddle boards have maximum weight capacities, and if this capacity is exceeded, the board's efficiency will be poor.
When purchasing a paddle board, you need to calculate your weight, the weight of any gear you’ll be taking on board like fishing gear for example, and/or the weight of any additional passengers. Once you have this combined weight, you can then hunt for a board with a weight capacity that exceeds it.
The length of a SUP board comes down to the activities you’ll be using it for. Longer paddle boards are intended for touring and racing when speed is favored over comfort and stability.
Shorter boards are designed for SUP surfing when maneuverability is key to performance, and boards in the middle are recreational boards that are stable, comfortable, and perfect for a range of SUP activities.
SUPs have recommended weight capacities for a reason. If you’re a beginner paddler and go over the recommended weight capacity, you’ll not only sink into the water but also find it extremely hard to balance and paddle.
More advanced paddlers can go over this recommended weight limit slightly as they have the skill levels to control the board and remain stable.
As a rule, it’s best to calculate the combined weight of all passengers and gear that could be on the board at any given time and purchase a paddle board that can accommodate this weight capacity with a bit of leeway.
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