What Size Paddle Board Do I Need?

If you are preparing to take up stand up paddle boarding, then the first thing you need to do is get yourself a good beginner stand up paddle board.

But there is one question you need to answer – what size paddle board should I get?

There is no one size fits all answer to this question because it really depends on what is most important to you.

You can pick a size based on stability, your weight, board performance, or how you’ll use the paddle board.

Below we’ll go into more detail on how to pick the best size paddle board for you and your paddling objectives.

Things To Consider

For most people who are new to stand up paddle boarding, stability is the primary concern.

But each SUPer has different things that matter to them, so let’s look at the various things to consider when selecting the right size SUP for you.

woman on SUP

Stability

If you are worried about your balance and falling off the board, then your #1 focus should be on finding a board that is stable and helps you easily balance on the water.

This means you need a thick board (at least 6-inches) and a wide board (at least 33 inches).

These two criteria are how you identify the most stable paddle boards on the market, or read our guide on stable SUPs linked below.

ALSO READ: What Are The Most Stable Stand Up Paddle Boards?

Board Performance

When you’re just getting started with paddle boarding, you may not care about how well your SUP tracks in the water or how easy it is to maneuver.

But if you do care about those things, then you can shop for a paddle board that excels in those areas.

Keep in mind that wider boards are harder to maneuver, so for maneuverability look for a paddle board no wider than 32 inches.

If you want a touring board, then don’t go any wider than 32-inches and the ideal length for you will be 12’6″. 

For SUP racing, you’ll want to stick with a paddle board that is 12’6″ long, but no wider than 28 inches.

However, if you want a paddle board that can be used for both racing and touring, then stick with a paddle board that is 12’6″ long, but no wider than 30 inches.

You Weight

Most popular stand up paddle boards have low weight limits, which means if you weigh over 175 pounds then should be shopping based on the weight limit of the paddle board.

It can be a real challenge to find paddle boards that support a weight over 250 pounds.

Also keep in mind that you need to consider the weight of any gear you want to bring out on the paddle board, in addition to your own weight.

If you need a heavier weight limit board, then check out our guide to paddle boards with a high weight limit.

A good rule of thumb to remember is that 1 liter of volume will float 1kg of weight.

SUP life jacket

Board Use

You should know how you plan to use the paddle board before you buy so that you can pick the best SUP for your desired activity.

While plenty of boards are all arounder boards, meaning you can use them for anything, there are specialized boards for things like SUP surfing, SUP yoga, and more.

There are even paddle boards designed specifically for kids.

  • For SUP surfing, you should choose a paddle board that is under 10 feet in length. This length is also ideal for kids.
  • For racing, touring, and long distance paddling, you should choose a paddle board that is more than 12 feet in length (ideal for advanced paddlers).
  • For recreational use, beginner use, yoga, and SUP fishing, you should choose a paddle board in the 10-ft to 11-ft length range.

What Size All-Around SUP To Buy For Beginners?

If you just want to buy a beginner board that is versatile and will work for pretty much any activity and in any type of water, then you need an all-around board.

Your Weight Board Thickness Board Width Board Length
Under 125 lbs (56kg) 5” 31-32” 9’6″-10’9″
125-150 lbs (56-68 kg) 5” 31-32” 9’6″-10’9″
150-175 lbs (68-79 kg) 5” 31-33” 10’0″-12’6″
175-200 lbs (79 – 90 kg) 5” 32-34” 10’0″-12’6″
200-225 lbs (90-102 kg) 5-6” 32-34” 10’0″-12’6″
225+ lbs (102 kgs +) 6” 32-34” 10’0″-12’6″

As you look at this chart, remember that thicker and wider boards tend to have better stability on the water.

Also keep in mind that as you gain more experience paddle boarding, then you can choose thinner boards that aren’t as thick – just don’t do this until you have experience on a beginner board.

What’s The Most Popular Size Paddle Board?

Most paddle boards that are sold and used tend to be in the 10-ft to 11-ft size range, with an average thickness of 5 inches and a width of 32-inches to 33-inches.

This is the size that you will find for most beginner boards, as well as most of the cheap paddle boards.

Of course, you should still pick the size paddle board that is best for you, not what is most popular.

Final Word

As you can see, there are several things to consider when trying to determine what size paddle board is best for you.

Before purchasing your your first stand up paddle board, use our guide above to determine your ideal SUP size.

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