Why the Dimensions of a Paddle Board Matter


Dimensions of a Paddle Board

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a SUP is the dimensions of your paddle board. While paddle board dimensions may seem insignificant to a beginning paddle boarder, a properly sized board is essential to enjoying the sport. After more research than you should do on it, I’ve boiled SUP dimensions down for you.

Why do the dimensions of a paddle board matter? Paddle board dimensions matter because they determine how much weight a SUP can support, how maneuverable it is, and how stable a platform the board is to ride. When choosing a paddle board, it’s important to consider length, width and thickness dimensions because they determine a SUP’s capacity.

But just knowing paddle board dimensions is only part of the information you need in order to get the right paddle board for you. So let’s take a closer look at SUP dimensions and how they relate to sizing and board capacity.

What are the Dimensions of a Paddle Board?

The important dimensions of a paddle board are:

Length, width, and thickness—when calculated correctly—help you determine how much weight a board will support and how that board will perform for different types of paddle boarding.

Paddle Board Length

When selecting the correct paddle board length, first you have to figure out where you’ll use the board the most. Certain board lengths will perform better on ocean waves, for example, as opposed to cruising on a calm lake. Paddle board length is also important when it comes to storing a paddle board in the off-season.

We go into depth on the different length paddle boards that are available and why you should choose each one in this article – How Long is a Paddle Board? (SUP Length Sizing)

Regardless, the most common SUP board lengths are categorized like this:

Short Paddle Boards

Short boards are less than 9 feet long and are great for kids and beginners. They provide for better maneuverability and are also ideal for some surfing. Compared to long boards, short SUPs are much more versatile, not to mention easier to carry, transport and store.

Think of a short board as a surfboard that you paddle.

Medium Paddle Boards

Medium boards are what most of us will be suing when we first start paddle boarding. They’re between 9 and 12 feet long and are highly adaptable to all different kinds of paddling. In fact, 10 to 11 foot paddle boards are the most popular length paddle board. Medium SUP boards can be used for anything from recreational lake paddling to touring or racing. These boards work well on everything from calm lake waters to most surf conditions.

Long Paddle Boards

Long paddle boards are anywhere from 12 to 14 feet in length and usually provide the fastest ride. This is because long boards, compared to both short and medium boards, track straighter and truer. This helps them reach higher speeds with less paddling effort. Long paddle boards are best used for long-distance touring on a lake or in a bay.

Paddle Board Width

The width dimension of a paddle board is what determines its stability. Typical SUP widths include the following:

Narrow Paddle Boards

These SUPs have a width of 29 to 30 inches and run very fast compared to other boards. They’re the ideal choice for racers but are less stable than traditional wide boards. They’re best-suited for experienced or professional riders because a higher level of skill is required to balance on them and maneuver the board.

Wide Paddle Boards

Wide boards are 31 inches or more in width. They’re a good choice for beginning paddle boarder riders. They provide the extra stability needed in order for beginners to stay on top of the board while they learn to get and maintain their balance on the water. Though wider SUP boards aren’t as fast as narrow ones, they provide a smoother, more stable stand-up paddling experience.

Paddle Board Thickness

The third dimension of a paddle board is it’s thickness. It’s often overlooked as many new paddle boarders assume that all boards are the same thickness. However, varying thickness measurements allow larger or smaller paddle boarders to ride the same length and width paddle boards.

You’ll see why that is below.

The average thickness of most paddle boards range from 5 to 6 inches thick. The thicker the board, the more weight it can support. Thinner boards are more maneuverable but they’re not good for riders over 200 pounds. (Trust me on that one. Ahem…)

Paddle Board Volume

Volume is a measure of a paddle board’s buoyancy. It’s calculated by multiplying a board’s LENGTH x WIDTH X THICKNESS and it’s measured in Cubic Liters or (L).

Length X Width X Thickness = Volume (But this is a rough measurement as paddle boards aren’t perfectly rectangular. But don’t worry about calculating volume as a measure of a paddle board weight limit is, because most manufacturer’s figure out volume for you.)

It seems obvious, but as the weight a paddle board needs to carry increases, so doe the volume that’s necessary to support that weight—the heavier you are, the greater the volume of the board should be to properly support your weight.

Related Article: How Much Weight Can a Paddle Board Hold?

Other Factors that Affect Paddle Board Dimensions

Besides height, width and thickness, other “dimensions” that affect paddle board performance include the following:

Board Weight

This refers to the actual weight of the board. Lighter are easier to transport and store during the off-season. They’re also more maneuverable in the water. A SUP that weighs less than 30 pounds is recommended for most beginning paddle boarders.

Rider Weight

All paddle boards come with rider weight specifications—paddle board maximum weight limits. Be sure to pay close attention to the manufacturer’s weight recommendations when choosing the right SUP for you. It’s better to choose a board with a higher weight limit than your actual weight. This way, any additional gear you bring won’t degrade performance.

When I first started paddle boarding I tried using my daughters’ boards. But I was too heavy for them and in addition to the tip sinking into the water when I paddled, I felt remarkably unstable on them.

Paddle Board Weight by Pounds

Depending on the size and what your paddle board is made of, SUP’s weigh, on average, around 30 pounds. Short boards weigh the least, at approximately 15 pounds. Long boards weight the most, close to 40 pounds. And medium boards are somewhere in between, weighing anywhere from 20 to 30 pounds.

Related Article: How Much Do Paddle Boards Weigh?

Paddle Board Weight Limit by Volume

To determine paddle board weight in volume, simply take your weight in pounds and then multiply that number by 1 and then 1.4. This will give you your ideal SUP volume range. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, then the range of volumes you should be looking for is between 150 liters and 210 liters.

It is important to keep in mind that your ideal paddle board volume can (and likely will) change as your weight, age, discipline (the type of boarding you do) and skill level change. Getting the correct SUP volume is key to making your experiences on the water both easy and fun.

Paddle Board Weight Capacity in Pounds

SUP weight capacity depends upon the size and style of the board as well as the weight of the rider. Boards can weigh as little as 15 pounds or as much as 40 pounds. Manufacturers will provide a maximum weight capacity recommended for each board they produce.

Always choose a SUP that can support your weight or even a little more. Otherwise, you will ride low in the water, have less stability and experience more ‘drag’. The worst case scenario is that it sinks underneath you, making it impossible to tour, race or surf.

For a more in-depth look at paddle board sizing by volume and weight, read this related article: How Much Weight Can a Paddle Board Hold?

How Do You Pick a Paddle Board?

In order to choose the correct SUP, you must consider the dimensions of the board, the height and weight of the rider as well as where and how the board will be used (discipline). Above, we’ve outlined how to determine the best length, width and volume of a paddle board. We have also touched on how to calculate the total mass or capacity a SUP can support.

Conclusion

Paddle board dimensions are important for riders to know and understand. They determine how much weight a SUP can support, how responsive and maneuverable it is and how stable a platform the board is to ride on. You must also consider the length, width, thickness as they relate to volume and a board’s capacity in order to determine which one is right for you.

Steve W

I'm Steve, the research and technology donkey behind Paddle Camp. I do tons of research on all our family's paddling gear before I buy or recommend anything. I grew up canoeing with my dad and brother. A few years ago I bought paddle boards for my daughters, myself, and my wife. Ever since then, we plan most of our vacations around kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding.

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