what size paddle board do i need

What Size Paddle Board Do I Need?

There’s no doubt that SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) is a fun and exciting outdoor water sport but only if you’re using the right equipment. Your paddle board should be of the correct size for you to be able to handle and maneuver it properly out on the open water.

If you’re a total newbie and you’re stuck with the question “what size paddle-board do I need?”, we’re here to help! When choosing a paddle board, select one that provides the most stability that can handle your body weight. Paddle boards have a maximum weight capacity so make sure to check that out first.

Generally, paddle boards are around 10 to 11 feet in height and range from different widths but the most common ones out there are 32-34 inches wide. These are perfect for beginners because the width provides sufficient volume and surface area, contributing to a more stable experience when you’re standing on the paddle board. If you’re mainly going to use your paddle-board on flat waters, a wide paddle-board is your best bet.

Here are the recommended sizes and lengths when choosing the correct size SUP:

Most newbie SUP’ers will benefit from a 10’6” tall paddle board, that strikes the perfect balance between control and stability. Hybrid SUP boards are also a great option that has enough volume to cruise on top of the flat water and handle the small waves. Surfing paddle boards have a shorter overall length that allows it to be more agile in handling waves, making rail turns much smoother compared to a taller paddle board.

paddleboard sizes

11’ to 12’ paddle boards are perfect if you’re looking for maximum stability. These boards are perfect for doing any fitness-related activities like pilates and yoga because the paddle board is fairly easy to balance. Any recreational SUP’er will benefit from boards of these lengths because not only are they taller, but they’re also wider, making it perfect for paddling on relatively calm waters. Usually, boards of these sizes are around 33” to 34” inches wide.

Any board that’s above 12’ in length and you’re walking into racing paddle board territory. These boards are nimble, agile, and glide the quickest out of all the paddle board sizes because of their long, narrow construction. If you’re a serious SUP’er and you’re looking into joining competitions and races, choose a paddle-board that’s above 12’. It may be harder to keep stable, but the added length makes your board much faster and responsive.

Additional tips that will influence your decision on buying the correct sized SUP:

  • If you’re looking for an all-around paddle board, the perfect length and width are around 11’ and 33”. Anything more than that and the sup starts to feel less responsive and sluggish, making your SUP experience less fun and exciting. Going with a wide sup is recommended for neophyte SUP’ers in order to work up their skills before opting for a narrower board that offers more responsiveness and control.
  • If portability is one of your primary concerns, you can opt to purchase paddle boards that are under 10’. These usually measure around 9’6” tall and offers a lot more control over their taller counterparts. You just have to make sure that the width is sufficient enough that you don’t sacrifice balance over maneuverability. The perfect width for a compact sup is around 32”. Go beyond that and the paddle board will feel slow-turning. 
  • Touring and racing paddle boards benefit from narrow widths because this allows the board to slice through the water and turn much quicker than their wider counterparts. Some race boards even go around 26” in width but the perfect option would be around 28-30” for the perfect balance between stability and responsiveness. In terms of length, a 12’6” racing board should be perfect for any hardcore enthusiast out there, but keep in mind that you’ll face some storage issues because of its size.
  • Hand Pointing Right
    Pay attention to the thickness of the board as well. Paddle boards that are around 6” thick can accommodate more weight because of the added rigidity. Most users opt for 5” thick paddle boards because of the low center of gravity which in turn provides a stable experience.
paddleboard thickness
  • Hand Pointing Right
    Do keep in mind that an 11’ inflatable paddle board will feel slightly different than an 11’ hard epoxy paddle board. This is because an inflatable paddle board is constructed in a way that the thickness is uniform all across the board, making it a lot easier to balance than a hard epoxy paddle board. The latter is constructed with performance in mind, making it more lightweight and responsive when out on the open water. This leads to increased control but sacrifices buoyancy and stability. Beginners are highly recommended to pick up an inflatable paddle board first because not only will it provide more stability, it will also be portable so you can take it anywhere with you.
  • Hand Pointing Right
    The length of the paddle board impacts the way it glides through the water. If you take two paddle boards with the same width but come in different lengths, the longer paddle-board will be more agile but will also be less stable so do keep that in mind.

So, what size paddle-board do I need?

It entirely depends on what kind of paddle boarding you’ll be doing and how you want your paddle board to feel when you’re out on the open water. Length, width, and maximum weight capacity should be the key factors you should look out for when purchasing a paddle board.

If you want a sup that is fairly easy to balance, choose a paddle-board that’s wide. If you want more control over your paddle board, get a narrower, taller board that’ll feel more responsive when you’re out on the waters. May this article about “What size paddle-board do I need?” was able to help you.

About the Author Thomas

I suppose you could say I came to surfing later than most. I didn't grow up by the water, but after years working the 9-5 grind I felt its draw and decided it was time to lead a slower life. These days I try and spend time in the water every day and consider the ocean as my living room: a place to relax, have fun, and just enjoy life.

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