The single most important question you must answer when looking for the perfect paddle board for you is, how much weight can a paddle board hold? Though the length, width and thickness of a paddle board all contribute to its performance, it’s maximum weight capacity is the single most important factor in how enjoyable your experience with a SUP board will be.
After a bunch of research and some eye-opening discoveries, I found this.
How much weight can a paddle board hold? Paddle boards can hold an average of 200 to 300 pounds. But boards that hold 500 pounds or more are widely available. Paddle boards are weight-rated by individual manufacturers in pounds or by volume. SUPs themselves can weigh from 15 to 40 lbs, which factors into how much weight they can hold.
Below, we’ll look at the difference between maximum weight limit versus practical weight limit and how to choose the best SUP board for you. We’ll also review examples of inflatable paddle board weight limits and how to calculate which one is best suited for your size and weight.
Paddle Board Weight Limit Explained
A paddle board’s maximum weight limit is the most weight it can hold before it almost sinks or easily capsizes.
In determining how much weight a paddle board can hold, you must take into account the overall weight you’ll be putting on the board. This includes:
- The weight of the paddle board itself
- The paddler’s weight
- Any and all gear that will go on the SUP, including the paddle
- Any passengers you intend to carry, such as your child or a dog
Paddle board weight limits are set by each individual manufacturer using their own data and experience in building and using their boards.
Paddle boards with higher weight limits tend to be wider, longer, and thicker overall. While shorter, narrower, and thinner boards, obviously, have lower weight limits.
Paddle Board Max Weight Limit Measurements
There are two ways that manufacturers measure and state how much weight one of their paddle boards will hold.
- Maximum weight limit in pounds or kilograms (kg) – This is the total weight that a paddle board will hold before it loses too much buoyancy, becomes unstable and capsizes or sinks easily.
- SUP volume numbers in Cubic Liters (L) – This is a measure of a SUP board’s overall buoyancy. And buoyancy determines how much weight a SUP is capable of floating.
We’ll discuss the differences between those two and what you need to know about them below.
Suffice to say, whichever way a paddle board builder states SUP weight limit, when choosing a board, you should pay close attention to the manufacturer’s recommendations and not exceed their suggested weight limit. If you do, you not only run the risk of capsizing your board, but you will have a less-than-enjoyable time paddling because it will feel like you’re riding a brick.
In addition, when you push the maximum weight limit of a paddle board, you’ll ride lower in the water, making it difficult to balance, paddle and maneuver.
If anything, it’s better to choose a board that’s weight-rated for a higher overall weight than you need, as you can’t really be “too light” on a SUP board.
Which brings us to this…
Paddle Board Maximum vs. Practical or Performance Weight Limits
This is the difference between maximum weight limit versus practical weight limit. Maximum weight is an estimated safety and performance recommendation. However, a SUP or stand-up paddle board can’t really be loaded to absolute full capacity and maintain its performance.
And though the max weight limit of a paddle board may be 200 to 300 pounds, if you load it up to that limit, the board will perform poorly and become increasingly unstable and unsafe as you add more weight.
So, as a general rule, find a manufacturer’s maximum weight capacity in pounds for a given paddle board and reduce it by around 25%. This will give you a better practical or performance weight capacity number that will make paddling and maneuvering your board more enjoyable.
An Overloaded Paddle Board Example
The first paddle boards I purchased for my family were, of course, inexpensive Costco foam boards—9’6″ long Wavestorms with a capacity of 300 lbs. My daughters and wife could each paddle them effortlessly and ride two at a time on them with ease. I, at 250 pounds, on the other hand, looked like I’d never stood on two feet much less paddled a board standing up.
It’s easy to see why. Using our 25% reduction formula, that 300 pound max weight capacity SUP had a practical weight limit of around 225 pounds. Once I got loaded up with life vest and “stuff” I was over the practical limit and pushing the maximum limit.
Needless to say, the board rode low in the water, was hard to paddle, and totally unstable for me.
I could barely stand without losing balance and falling into the drink. After some research, I figured out my problem. And a bigger board with a more appropriate weight rating for me solved that problem quickly.
Paddle Boards Hold 1 Rider?
It’s worth saying that from a stability standpoint, most paddle boards are designed for just one rider at a time. Despite the fact that you see countless paddlers with passengers in front of or riding behind them on the board.
However, the fact remains, if a paddle board cannot support/float your weight (or the combined weight of you, your passengers, and your combined gear), it will:
- Ride low in the water
- Feel unstable when you try to stand on it
- Have more drag in the water and be difficult to paddle.
Of course, you’re free to put as many people/dogs/ice chests on your paddle board as you like. So long as you’re safe and legal. Just be sure to properly account for everyone and everything you intend to bring onboard when choosing an appropriate paddle board weight limit.
As mentioned above, it’s better to choose a board with a greater overall weight capacity rather than one that’s just right for your weight and gear.
Leave yourself a little wiggle room to add gear and passengers.
Paddle Board Weight Limit by Pounds
Most US-based SUP manufacturers determine and publish maximum weight limits in pounds. Even though many manufacturers also give weight capacity ratings in kilograms (kg), it’s helpful to know how to covert pounds to kilograms.
To convert pounds to kilograms, divide the number of pounds by 2.2046 to get a max weight rating for a SUP in kilograms.
Paddle Board Weight Limit by Volume
Choosing the ideal SUP is dependent upon your weight, age, experience (skill level) and discipline (type of boarding you intend to do). But it’s weight requirements that directly determine how much buoyancy—ability to float—a paddle board will need in order to sufficiently support you, your gear, your passengers, and the weight of the board itself when you’re out on the water.
Volume is a measure of the total amount of space occupied by a paddle board. It’s also a measure of how buoyant a paddle board is. And buoyancy dictates how much weight a SUP can float, how the board will ride, as well as both performance and maneuverability characteristics when it’s loaded.
Paddle Board Volume Formula
A paddle board’s volume is calculated as follows: length x width x thickness. And paddle board volume numbers are stated in Cubic Liters (L). However, since a paddle board isn’t a perfect rectangle, the equation is more complex than that.
Luckily, most manufacturer’s figure out the exact SUP board volume numbers for you. They publish those numbers on the specifications pages of their boards or in retail, right on a sticker on the board itself.
Paddle Board Weight Limit Calculator and Volume Chart
As we mentioned, in choosing the right paddle board the most important thing to keep in mind is whether or not it can support your weight.
Volume numbers take into account not only weight, but use cases as well. Because different types of paddle boarding will require different buoyancy levels for you to get the best performance out of your board.
For example, to find the ideal volume range for an experienced paddle boarder, multiply your body weight in pounds by 1 and then 1.4. For example, a rider who weighs 150 pounds should be looking for a SUP board with a volume range between 150L and 210L.
The following is a SUP volume calculation chart to help you choose the best board for your size, skill level and the type of paddle boarding you plan to do. Substitute your own body weight, plus the weight of the board, plus all your gear to get the correct SUP Volume sizing.
|Type of Paddling||Body Weight||Multiplier||Volume (L)|
|Beginner/Touring||150 lb||1 to 1.4||150 to 210|
|Novice/Intermediate||150 lb||0.8 to 1||120 to 150|
|Advanced||150 lb||0.6 to 0.8||90 to 120|
|Professional||150 lb||0.5 to 0.6||60 to 90|
Inflatable Paddle Board Weight Limit
Generally speaking, inflatable boards can hold more weight than standard SUPs and are great for bigger riders or for multiple paddlers. Inflatable paddle boards can hold anywhere from 400 up to 1,000 pounds!
The Isle Tandem 15ft Megalodon Inflatable Stand-Up Paddle Board can carry the heaviest weight – up to 1,050 pounds! This is because it’s specifically designed for multiple paddlers at the same time or tandem paddle boarding. It’s also great for “big guys” or paddle boarders that weigh 250-300 pounds.
Paddle Board Weight Limit Examples
To better understand paddle board weight limits, here are 5 different examples, complete with the manufacturer’s stated poundage and/or volume numbers:
Isle Scout Inflatable Paddle Board
This board is specifically designed for multiple paddlers or passengers. It’s constructed with military-grade PVC material, making the board extremely rigid for optimal cruising yet durable enough to withstand heavy abuse.
- Length – 10’6”
- Width – 32”
- Thickness – 6”
- Volume – 268L
- Weight – 21 lbs
- Capacity – 240 lbs
Isle Versa Paddle Board
This epoxy board is very versatile and provides an easy, stable ride. It’s deal for any skill level and can be used for SUP surfing, SUP fishing or SUP yoga. It’s constructed from an EPS blank in a precision mold, creating a lightweight yet highly-durable board.
- Length – 10’5” to 11’2”
- Width – 32” to 33”
- Thickness – 4.5” to 5”
- Volume – 175L to 216L
- Weight – 27 lbs to 32 lbs
- Capacity – 246 lbs to 300 lbs
Isle Limited Edition Glider All Water Paddle Board
This board is for those wanting more color with intense graphics. It’s a visually-appealing SUP that paddles like a dream! It’s also a highly-versatile board and can be used to cruise still water or surf small to mid-sized waves at your local break.
- Length – 10’10”
- Width – 31”
- Thickness – 4.5”
- Volume – 181L
- Weight – 23.5 lbs
- Capacity – 250 lbs
Isle Cruiser Soft Top Paddle Board
This board is made with a highly-durable, soft-top construction that stands up to dings, damage and even dog claws! It’s great for any skill level and can be used for a multitude of paddle boarding activities, such as SUP fishing, SUP surfing and SUP yoga.
- Length – 10’5”
- Width – 32”
- Thickness – 4.5”
- Volume – 175L
- Weight – 28.5 lbs
- Capacity – 235 lbs
Okay, I have to admit, this board just looks like a whole lot of fun. Two, three, or even four people paddling this SUP won’t win you any races, but it’s sure to be a good time. And with a paddle board volume of 730L and weight capacity of over 1,000 pounds, you can use it as a floating party dock when you get tired of paddling.
Constructed with military-grade PVC material, it’s rigid enough to carry multiple passengers yet durable enough that you can drive a car over it.
- Length – 12’ to 15’
- Width – 45” to 56”
- Thickness – 8”
- Volume – 584L to 730L
- Weight – 34 lbs to 50 lbs
- Capacity – 450 lbs to 1,050 lbs
To conclude, paddle boards are weight-rated for use by individual manufacturers. Some boards can hold 200 pounds whereas others can support up to 500 pounds of combined weight.
Some inflatable boards can even hold an amazing 1,000 plus pounds of weight or more.
However, maximum weight capacity doesn’t necessarily reflect the practical performance weight limit of a paddle board.
Understanding paddle board weight limits and how to determine them is very important when it comes to choosing the right one for your needs. Hopefully this article has helped you better understand the significance of paddle board weight limits and how to figure out what SUP’s right for your weight needs.