Paddle boarding is one of the most accessible water sports. You don’t need to wait for big waves and you’re not being towed along the water at high speeds. However, you can’t just grab the first board that you see and jump on the water.
You still need to think about what board you’re buying, and when it comes to shopping for paddle boards, size is one of the first things you should think about.
What Size Paddle Board Should I Buy?
Fortunately, the differences between paddle board sizes is not as notable as it is with surfboards. You don’t need to worry too much about gaining speed, losing maneuverability, and ending up with a board that has too much or too little volume.
The size categories are much simpler and you only really need to think about the following:
What is the Board Being Used For?
Most stand up paddle boards are between 10 and 11 feet long and between 32 and 34 inches wide.
These paddle boards are designed for general use and may also be suitable for SUP yoga.
If you’re using a paddle board to travel long distances and need to focus on speed and distance above all else, look for something a little longer and narrower.
Many touring boards are up to 12’6″ long and around 32 inches wide. Race boards are often just as long but tend to sacrifice some of that width, bringing it down to between 26 and 28 inches.
What is Your Weight and Height?
Unless you are very large or very small, you shouldn’t have any major issues when it comes to paddle board sizing. However, it’s certainly something that you can consider if you want to optimize your experience.
If you weigh less than 150 pounds, look for a board that it shorter than 10 feet. If you’re over 200 pounds, you can go the other way.
How Much Storage Space Do You Have?
Do you have room in your home for a chunky hardboard that is over 10 feet long? If not, your paddle board options will be a little more limited.
When storage is a problem, focus less on the size of the board and more on the material.
Inflatable paddle boards are perfect for owners with limited space. As the name suggests, these boards can be deflated and inflated as needed. It’s easy to take them on long surf trips and you can store them compact at home, as well.
Even if you have lots of space, you may still want to think about inflatable paddle boards. They have a pretty bad reputation among people who don’t do any paddle boarding themselves, as they tend to associate them with cheap children’s toys. But that couldn’t be further from the truth and these boards are suitable for all types of boarders and all skill levels.
What Are the Benefits of Longer/Wider Paddle Boards?
A longer and narrower stand up paddle board will be quicker and better suited for traveling long distances. A wider board will provide more stability, potentially making them easier to ride and balance.
In addition to the SUP board sizes above, you can also find ones with a board thickness of around 36 inches. These paddle boards are too wide for traditional paddling but are good for rapids.
Summary: Choosing Stand Up Paddle Boards
As a beginner, you should be putting your budget before the size. A basic beginner stand up paddle board will suit most riders (assuming you don’t need it for racing or touring) and cover all of your basic needs. However, if you’re much heavier or lighter than usual, you can add/remove some length and thickness to ensure a more personalized ride.