Paddle Board Size Guide – Important Need To Knows
If you’re reading this article then you likely already know that Stand Up Paddle Boarding or SUPing is one of if not the fastest growing water sport globally. If you are however new to the sport you may not know where to start. The most obvious place is making sure that you get yourself on the right board.
The right board however will be different for us all and depends on a number of factors which include your actual size, your level of paddling experience or skill, as well as the type of paddling that you intend on doing.
Let’s break this down a little further:
Types of Paddle Boarding
General Recreational / Flat Water – whether you are considering an inflatable of solid core board, beginners or typical recreational paddlers should look for a board that is +/- 11′ in length and 32″-34″ wide. This will offer a nice intermediate all-round paddling experience that can be used in varying calm water conditions.
Yoga Boarding – width is an important factor here as you will want a board that offers sufficient stability so you can get into position and practice various poses. A board that is mid-length (+/- 11′) and 33″-35″ width will be a nice fit.
SUP Surfing – somewhat akin to river paddling, surf paddle boards are normally shorter in length which will allow for far greater manoeuvrability. Something in the range of 9’6″ – 10’6″ and 30″-32″ wide is ideal. Tapering at the front and tail of the board is also important in terms of cutting through the water and quick manoeuvrability.
Touring – if paddling over longer distances, you will want a longer e.g. 12’6″ and narrower e.g. 30″ – 32″ board. Touring boards are better suited for distance as they will be faster through flat water and will track better.
Board Fishing – given that you are likely to be carrying additional gear, you will want to focus on a board that has a decent volume and width so you have a nice buoyant and stable platform. Length is not as critical so a board somewhat similar to a recreational all-round board that is 6″ thick should suit you well.
Whitewater / River SUPing – these are the shortest and widest of all boards as they require a high level of stability (governed by the width) and manoeuvrability (a key factor being the length). Boards that best suit whitewater conditions are typically less than 9′ long and up to 36″ wide.
Size / Weight Guide
Beyond your intended style of paddling and what you are looking to achieve from your board, the below chart provides a guideline relative to your size and weight. This guideline is based on a recreational paddler and all-round usage so should be used as a general guide only. It is also important to bear in mind that if you typically carry additional equipment (fishing gear, storage, back pack or even your dog etc.) then you should also be allowing for this additional weight.
Manufacturers will also specify board dimensions and weight thresholds. The maximum weight allowance is exactly that, it’s the maximum so you are advised to stay below this threshold (20% below is ideal) which will allow for better practical usage so you can enjoy a more stable paddling experience and less sluggishness.
As a rule of thumb – the heavier the paddler then the longer, wider, thicker and greater volume the board should be. If you follow this simple logic then you should be on the right track.
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Paddle Board Characteristics
Distinct and separate to you as a rider or the style and type of paddling that you are intending to do, the characteristics of your board also have a significant impact on the way that it performs. Some of the variables in terms of the actual board itself include:
Buoyancy (Volume) – if you are a beginner in particular, this will likely be your most important consideration as you want to ensure that the board has a sufficient level of buoyancy or volume so you remain afloat. The volume is calculated in cubic litres – length x width x thickness (height) = volume. Generally speaking, the greater the volume then the greater the buoyancy and stability although there are trade-offs here in terms of speed and manoeuvrability.
Board Speed – longer and narrower boards are best suited for racing and longer distance touring. Narrower boards are also less stable so are better suited for experienced paddlers. Boards within this range would normally be 12’6″ long. Astandard 32″ wide board is well suited for touring with racing boards being narrower again – from 26″ up. Hard or solid boards are also faster than inflatables as they offer a greater level of stiffness (rigidity) and are tapered which again helps then cut through the water.
Stability – key for beginners, width will play a strong part in ensuring that your board is sufficiently stable. Boards that are 33″-34″ would be most appropriate. iSUPs also offer a greater level of stability when compared to hard or rigid boards as they are a consistent thickness across the full surface of the board making them completely flat. A rigid epoxy board tappers at the front and back of the board making them more streamlined in the water albeit less stable.
Tracking – or going in a straight line is largely governed by your boards fins. A single large centre fin with two smaller side fins (side-bites) is a typical paddle board fin configuration and will best suit all-round recreational paddling.
Manoeuvrability – if you are looking to achieve a greater level of manoeuvrability, then shorter boards, say less than 10′ will offer you plenty of ability to whip around and maker shorter sharper turns. Keeping the width below 32″ is also best as any wider would make it a little more cumbersome.
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As you can see from the above, there are a whole bunch of factors that come into play when looking for the board that will best suit your needs. If you are totally new to the game then taking a lesson or renting or borrowing a board is always a great way to get a taste for paddling. The more you get a feel for it then the better you will be able to determine what will best suit your individual needs.
As always we would love to hear from you so please feel free to leave your comments below and we will get back to you.
Until then, stay safe and get wet.