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Stand Up Paddle Board Sizing

vector illustration of stand up paddle boards and paddles set i

Your stand up paddle board (SUP) needs to be the right size in order to support your weight and give you proper balance. How you plan to use the board is your first consideration when finding the right size to meet your needs.

  • Personal Recreation. If you plan to head out on flat water or take a leisurely outing along a shoreline, this is the category for you. It is what most beginning SUP users will consider.
  • Touring or Racing. If you want to paddle over long distances or reach high speeds, then you’ll need to look for an SUP that offers both speed and efficiency.

Since this is a discussion of inflatable stand up paddleboards, you don’t have to worry about hull structure or volume. You will need to consider weight capacity, however, to make sure your board will be able to support your current weight.

Determining Your SUP Length

When looking at the length of your stand up paddleboard, you’ll need to think about where you’ll be doing your paddling. If you live along an ocean shoreline, then the waves you have will be very different compared to the gentle waves of a lake. Here is the breakdown of what you’ll need to look at.

  • Short boards, defined as being 9 feet or shorter, offer more maneuverability. This makes them good for surfing. Youth board are usually in this category as well.
  • Medium boards, defined as being under 12 feet in length, are good for calm surfaces. They can also be used successfully in minor surf conditions.
  • Long boards are over 12 feet in length and best suited for touring or racing.

When using an inflatable board, you’ll discover that most are made with the same heavy duty vinyl/PVC materials. The length of this material will not affect the quality of the board. You will want to look for multiple ply coverings, however, if you plan to use your SUP in areas where there may be medium-to-large waves or rough surf.

Determining Your SUP Width

Board width is also something to consider when reviewing the best SUP reviews. A wider stand up paddleboard is going to give you an easier surface upon which to stand. That ease of balance comes at the expense of speed.

Narrow boards offer a reverse experience. They are less stable, but offer users much more speed. Most beginners are going to want to look at using a wider board to become comfortable on the water. Experienced users or those who use their SUP for touring may prefer narrower boards so they can cover more distance.

Is an Inflatable SUP Right for You?

The size of your SUP will help you find the right paddling experience. Whether it’s wide and long or short and narrow, inflatable boards are an affordable way to try out this activity for the first time. Remember to choose an SUP paddle that is the right length for your height for best results and then be prepared to have a great time out on the water.

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