Choosing the Right Paddle Board Size for You

Set of colorful

Getting a SUP that can support your weight is essential in order to get the most out of your board. So how can you tell what size stand up paddle board is right for you? To find the right type of paddle board, you’ll need to consider the volume, thickness, and length. With so many specs to pay attention to, buying a new board can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Our guide will walk you through what specs to pay attention to and what you need to look for in a board in order to choose the perfect size for you and the intended application. 

Key Takeaway: For the beginner, choosing the right size of paddle board can make a huge difference. These boards come in a variety of shapes and sizes, all of which can affect the board’s performance and overall quality, speed, buoyancy, and even maneuverability. For all of these reasons, choosing the right size board will be crucial to your paddling experience.

So, read on to learn more about the process of choosing the right size paddle board for you. 

Rider Weight 

Typically, a beginner tends to solely focus on the length of a board, but in reality, the length of the paddle board really only factors in slightly when you’re looking for the right size. The board volume and the weight of the rider are where you want to put most of your focus on when you’re shopping for a new model.

Choosing a board based on your weight may sound simple enough, just hop on a scale and use the number to pick out a board, right? However, there are other factors to take into account, especially if you’ll be sharing the board with other people in the home, or you have pets or kids who will ride along with you. We recommend choosing a board size based on board’s weight capacity.  As an example, if you’re one hundred and thirty pounds and your child is sixty pounds, then you’ll want to make sure you buy a board that can accommodate at least one hundred and ninety pounds. 

 Even if you’re buying a paddle board for working out and you have serious weight loss goals, you need to buy a board for your current weight. 

If you’re sharing a board with a larger rider then you’ll have to choose a model that offers a higher max weight than what you’d buy for yourself. Many models have a rider weight capacity up to three hundred pounds. 

Paddle Board Volume 

Paddle Board Volume 

The thickness, width, and length of a board can be used to calculate a board’s volume. A board with a higher volume will be more stable, and it determines how well a board can float with weight on it. Volume is actually the spec you want to pay the most attention to because it factors in all of the board’s dimensions. 

Only focusing on the length of a board can get you one that’s too small since there are eleven feet boards that are thirty-six inches wide with a very high volume and boards that are eleven feet long with a width of twenty-four inches wide that have a very low volume. 

If you’re new to paddle boarding don’t try to figure it out on your own since there are several generalizations related to sizing a board and just as many exceptions. If you’d like to learn more regarding how to choose the right style and type of paddle board for you, click here to read the ultimate paddle board buying guide.

Our guide has some great stand up paddle boarding tips that will help you choose the perfect model. 

Choosing Volume Based on Weight 

Once you know the highest weight you’ll need, the following guidelines can give you a starting point. For beginners, and riders who want to ensure they have the best board possible, multiply your body weight by one, then 1.4, in order to get the right volume range to look for. 

After you’ve figured out the volume range, next is the length. 

How Length Affects Your Ride 

The length of the board may not be the main factor to consider when you’re choosing a board that will work for you specifically, but it does come into play if you want a board that focuses more on stability or speed. A longer board, think twelve-foot range, will be faster than a nine-foot board. Racing boards are often long and narrow and can easily slice through choppy water. This is the type of board most commonly used by surfers or people who want a paddle board they can use to work out on. 

If you’re looking for a fast board that can easily handle a day at the beach, then look for a model that’s at least twelve feet long. 

A shorter, wider paddle board will offer more stability. These are usually the best boards for beginners who are just learning the ropes and need something stable to learn how to do basic moves such as popups. These boards are also commonly used for yoga because they provide a solid foundation on the water.  The Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer inflatable paddle board is a best-selling model that has a high stability rating. If you plan on taking your child or the family dog along for the ride, this type of stable board is a great choice. 

These boards aren’t nearly as fast as a racing SUP because they often have a thicker nose that isn’t designed to slice through fast-moving water. But they can be great boards to learn on. They’re commonly used in lakes, ponds, and rivers and other types of calm bodies of water. We don’t recommend short paddle boards for ocean use. 

Board Size Based on Manufacturer

Each manufacturer will have their own specific board sizes and sizing charts. Because of this, you’ll have to pay special attention to the specs sheet for each board in order to determine if a new paddle board will be the right width, thickness, and length for you.

Fortunately, most manufacturers do a great job of clearly listing the different sizes, volumes, and width clearly on the spec sheet. If you have trouble locating this information for a particular board you’re interested in, don’t be afraid to contact customer service to get your answers, before you buy.

Inflatable SUP Size and Stability

Inflatable SUP Size and Stability

Did you know that inflatable paddle boards are often considered more stable compared to epoxy boards?

But why?

An inflatable SUP features a uniform thickness from tail to nose and side to side. This makes them much more stable compared to an epoxy board that’s the same size. An epoxy board is sculpted. This is done to optimize surfing and racing performance by ensuring a lighter weight board. However, this sculpted design tends to negatively impact a board’s buoyancy and stability.

Stability is important for a number of reasons. Obviously, the main reason is that a more stable board can prevent you from taking an unexpected swim. However, if you want to try out a challenging work out on the water, then an inflatable paddle board can provide the type of stability and performance you need.

This makes inflatable paddle boards a better choice for beginners compared to epoxy models. So, if you choose the correct size paddle board you’re looking at a model that can easily provide the type of stable performance that most beginners and yoga and fitness enthusiasts are searching for.


One thing you won’t have to really worry about with an inflatable board is storage, so in this regard, size doesn’t matter. These boards can be quickly deflated, rolled up, and stored somewhere safe until boarding season.

However, you’ll need to make sure you give your board the appropriate amount of time to dry off before storing it, otherwise you’ll end up dealing with mold growth.

Additionally, it’s also important to minimize the board’s exposure to bright light conditions and the elements when it’s not in use. Doing so can prevent the board’s surface from fading, peeling, and cracking.

This will help to keep your board in perfect condition, thus increasing its lifespan.

Final Thoughts

There are literally hundreds of models to choose from currently since the SUP industry is booming. These versatile models are designed for a variety of water conditions, but some models excel in certain types of conditions. Beginners may have a hard time pinpointing where they prefer to paddle considering they’ve never used a board before. If you have experience surfing, then a narrow, longer board is a safe bet. If you plan on hitting up your local lake or river with the kids, a shorter, wider board is a great choice. 

As you can see, choosing the right paddle board size isn’t as easy as choosing a medium or large board. If you’re still uncertain which type of board is right for you, try visiting paddle board forums where you can find other boarders with a variety of skill levels. They can recommend some great models and which type of board would work the best for you.