How to Figure Out the Best Paddle Board Size for You
If you're new to paddle boarding then you have probably asked yourself, "What size paddle board do I need?" Figuring out what size SUP board is right for you isn't difficult. Ultimately, it comes down to your intended use of your paddle board such as SUP yoga or fishing. However, if you want to ensure peak performance with the right amount of stability then you'll also need to know your approximate body weight. Check out the article below to figure out the best size paddle board for your size and needs.
Types / Styles of Paddle Boards
There are two main types of stand up paddle boards (SUP), and choosing between them is the first step in selecting the correct size. Inflatable paddle boards and hard paddle boards sometimes vary in size availability, and each works better with some activities over others. Once you have an idea of what you want to do on the water you can choose the size that best fits your body.
As a general rule of thumb, inflatable boards are lighter and thus less responsive for speed performance. Hard boards carry more weight due to the stiffer material but are more stable when the waters get rough.
Inflatable boards are suited for yoga and whitewater paddling because the frame has a bit more give, making it more comfortable and less prone to damage in rougher water. They're deflatable, resulting in easier transport and storage when not in use.
Hard SUPs are more ideal for speed, fishing or carrying paddle board gear and pets. Though it doesn't store quite as easily, hard boards have a larger variety of sizing options and allow for riders to choose a board based on the activities they want to use it for.
Factors that go into figuring out your board size:
When deciding which size board to get, the primary thing you need to consider is what you want to do with it.
Small boards are ideal for those looking to surf and lighter riders such as children.
Medium boards are great for all-around use and best for those who love SUP yoga, SUP fishing and cruising. It's also a great paddle board for beginners who want to cover the basics when they're not quite sure where to start.
Large boards thrive on long touring days and are best for fast paddling. They do well over distance and track straighter, making racing or speed paddling a little more smooth.
Now that you have an idea of what activities you're wanting to do, a few other factors determine what board is best fit. Between length, width, thickness and weight, there's more than enough combinations to make sure every rider is satisfied with their board.
Small boards are short and easy to maneuver but limited in weight capacity. These are best for light riders or surfers but don't leave much room for additional paddle board gear.
Medium boards are sturdy, wide, and tend to be more secure. These are best for beginners and recreational riders who want a board that can do virtually anything.
Large boards are less wide and therefore move faster in the water. Keep in mind that they can be less stable, so these are best for solo rides.
Both small and medium board widths tend to be more stable, albeit slower, making them great for beginners or leisurely riders. A greater width is also ideal for stationary activities, such as fishing or yoga, as the surface area allows for more movement on the board.
Large SUPs have a thinner width, making them a little less balanced but much faster due to the decreased drag.
Choosing a width comes down to comfortability and use. If you want something steady and multipurpose, consider a small or medium board. If you want something faster that is built for longer rides, you may want to try out a large board.
Small boards around 4 inches thick are not very common because they can cave in over time at the center standing point. Instead, these boards fall around 5 inches on average and are great for kids or lighter riders.
Boards between 5-6 inches are more common with medium and large sized SUPs to provide a stable, firm feel on the water. A thicker board means it can carry more weight, so if you'd like to sit higher on the water, a 6-inch thickness may be for you. If you don't plan on carrying a lot of cargo, a 5-inch thickness is a better option.
Small boards have limited surface area and a slightly thinner frame, making them best for lighter riders.
With medium and large boards, there's a bit of range depending on the length, width and thickness you choose.
Between board limits and accommodating your center of gravity, it's crucial to keep board weight capacity in mind. Each board is different, so pay attention to what the manufacturers recommend and keep in mind that you may be adding gear and cargo. Too much weight can create unnecessary drag and make you work harder to paddle, so hitting the maximum limit may affect the way the board rides.
If you're looking to further customize your stand up paddle board experience, check out other SUP board features to be aware of and a breakdown of paddle options. These will help to compliment your riding style giving you a great day out on the water.