November 05, 2019 6 min read

Choosing the right stand up paddle board can be challenging, especially if you’re new to the sport. A SUP with the correct buoyancy, volume, and capacity will increase the longevity and enjoyment of your board.

We’ve broken down all the characteristics of our paddle boards in the SUP Size and Weight chart below.

What Size Paddle Board do I need?

The most common paddle boards for all around use are 10 to 11 feet in length and between 31 and 35 inches wide. If you’re new to paddling, look for a board 33” to 35” in width for more stability. If speed is a priority for you, look for a board 31” to 32” wide and 10 to 12 ½ feet long.

Pro Advice: when shopping for your first paddle board, consider an All Around SUP around at least 10’6 long and 31” to 35” wide.

Paddle Boards: GILI 11' Adventure Inflatable SUP

Paddle Board Sizing Basics

Paddle boards come in a range of sizes: from 9 feet to over 12 feet long and from 30 inches to 35 inches wide. The wider your board, the more stable it will be. However, remember the wider your board is the harder it is to paddle. Try to stay under 36" so you don't compromise maneuverability.

If you’re new to paddle boarding, an all around SUP measuring 10’6 long and at 31” to 35” wide will be your best bet. All Around boards are great for a variety of SUP activities, but they aren't always the best paddle board for every activity.

Paddle Board Volume: Why It’s Important

The volume of a paddle board determines its buoyancy. In other words, a SUP's volume determines its ability to float you (and your gear). The more volume a board has, the greater the weight capacity. If your board does not have enough volume to float you, the board will drag and be hard to paddle.

Generally, the more volume a board has the more stable it will be on the water. When choosing the right stand up paddle board for you, volume should be the first measurement you consider.

Volume is calculated by the paddle board’s length, width, and thickness. All of our boards at GILI have the volume listed for you.

Pro Advice: When looking for a paddle board, calculate your ideal volume first. Then choose a SUP size that fits your activity type that also meets your volume requirement. Use the formulas later in this article to find the right board volume for you.

SUP Weight Capacity: What You Should Know

A paddle board’s weight capacity is determined by its volume, shape, and dimensions. Make sure your weight is under the weight limit found on the boards. Don’t forget to include any gear you’ll take with you, or if you’ll be paddling with an extra person, child, or dog. When a paddler is heavier than the SUP’s weight capacity, the board will sink in the water and drag. Overweight SUPs are no fun to paddle. Make sure the weight of you and your gear is below the suggested weight limit of the board and you’ll be fine.

Remember, you can’t be too light for a SUP! It’s much better to be too light for a board than too heavy.

Pro Advice: To calculate the ideal weight capacity for you, include your weight plus any additional weight you’ll be carrying. We suggest adding 10 or 15 lbs to that number - just in case. Choose a board for the weight you are now - even if you plan on losing weight in the future.

Paddle Board Weight Capacity

Paddle Board Volume Calculation

Use the formulas below to calculate the ideal volume (measured in liters) based on your experience level.

Beginner Paddle Board Volume Calculation

For beginners, multiply your body weight (in pounds) by 1.1 to 1.4 to find the perfect volume range for your first board.

For example:

If you weigh 175 lbs and you plan on carrying 10 lbs of gear, your total weight is 185 lbs.

185 lbs multiplied by 1.0 equals 203.5L

185 lbs multiplied by 1.4 = 259L

Your ideal paddle board would have a volume of at least 185L to 258L. Personally, we believe most beginners should shoot for a range of 1 to 1.2 - unless you’re carrying a lot of gear.

Intermediate & Advanced Paddle Board Volume Calculation

If you’re an intermediate or advanced paddler, you most likely already know what type of paddle board you’re looking for. That’s great, but what board volume should you choose? For intermediate and advanced paddlers, multiply your body weight (in pounds) by 0.9 to 1.1 to find your target board volume.

For Example:

If you’re 150 lbs, and you plan on paddling with your 12 lb dog, your total weight is 162 lbs.

162 lbs multiplied by 1.0 equals 162L

162 lbs multiplied by 1.3 equals 210.6L

Remember, as an intermediate or advanced paddler you could ride a board with significantly more volume than 197.6L. Different types of paddle boarding activities require slightly different volumes as well.

Pro Advice: It never hurts to have a bit of extra volume - you can’t be too light for a stand up paddle board!

Paddle Board Sizing by Activity

Paddle Board Sizing by Activity

So you’ve calculated your ideal paddle board volume, but need to figure out the perfect SUP size. In addition to volume and weight capacity, you also need to know where and how you’ll paddle.

All Around SUPs

If you’re looking to try a range of paddle board activities, an all around paddle board will serve you well. All Around SUPs excel in a variety of water conditions, and they are great boards for both beginners and intermediate paddlers.

Recommended All Around SUP Size: 10’6 to 11’6 long and 31” to to 35” wide.

Yoga SUPs

Yoga paddle boards need to wide enough to provide stability for practicing yoga poses on the water. Look for a board with a long, comfortable deck pad.

Recommended Yoga SUP Size: 10’ to 11’6 long and 31” to 35” wide

Fishing SUPs

Although you can use any size board for SUP fishing, we recommend you choose a fishing paddle board with extra volume and width. You’ll be carrying extra gear, and you’ll appreciate the additional stability when casting and reeling in fish.

Recommended Fishing SUP Size: 10’6 to 12’ long and 32” (minimum) to 36” wide

Touring Paddle Boards

If you’re interested in speed and long distance paddling, you’ll likely want to pick up a touring paddle board. These boards almost always have displacement hulls, and can also be a pretty versatile board to have in your quiver.

Recommended Touring SUP Size: 11’ (minimum) to 12’6 long, 30” to 33” wide

Surfing Paddle Boards

If you want to shred the waves at your local break, buy a surf paddle board. Surf paddle boards tend to be shorter, and are highly maneuverable in the waves. If you're an experienced paddler, you'll be able to paddle on flatwater with a surf SUP as well.

Recommended Surfing SUP Size: 9’ to 10’6 long, 29” to 32” wide

River SUPs

Thrill seekers wanting are turning to river SUPs as a new way to navigate their favorite rivers. If whitewater paddle boarding sounds fun to you, look for an inflatable SUP that’s shorter than normal with a medium width.

Recommended River SUP Size: 6’ to 8’ long, 30” to 34” wide

Paddle Board Sizing Tips

  • Think about choosing a paddle board you can grow into. Consider getting a paddle board that can support more volume than just you - one day you may want to bring your kid, dog, or your friend.
  • Hybrid, wide boards are becoming a new trend in the SUP market. They’re great family boards, and can also be used for SUP Fishing, SUP Yoga, etc. Hybrid boards are generally 10’6 to 11’6 in length, and 33” to 35” in width
  • If shopping for an inflatable sup, make sure to look for one with at least 6” in thickness. iSUPs with a thickness less than 6” tend to perform poorly and are usually cheaply constructed.
  • Inflatable paddle boards tend to be more stable than hard SUPs. iSUPs have the added convenience of being extremely portable, and they are more durable than epoxy sups.
  • Be aware of sups for specialized purposes. River paddle boards are designed for whitewater paddling, and multi-person SUPs can be awesome if you’d like to paddle with the whole family!

Paddle Board Sizing: Putting it all Together

By now, you should have a good idea of the perfect size and volume for your next paddle board. For even more information such as hull types, fin setups, etc. check out How to choose the Perfect Stand Up Paddle Board for you. If you have any questions, drop them in the comments below!

Jay Regan
Jay Regan

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