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 What Is The Best Paddleboard For A Beginner?



Updated on 6/11/2024
Abigail ScottBy Abigail Scott
Hi, I'm Abigail đź‘‹ Since embarking on my kayaking and boarding adventures in 2010, I've navigated rivers and lakes across North America and beyond. With over a decade of experience and countless waterways explored, I'm here to help enthusiasts like you embark on unforgettable water adventures!
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Paddleboarding is known for its blissful nature, but choosing the right board size can be stressful. Paddleboard buyers frequently ask about the dimensions and lengths of their paddleboards for the first time.

As well as your height, weight, and experience level, the size of paddleboard you need will depend on whether you want to do yoga, race, or paddle around the lake. The size of a paddleboard will also depend on whether you're looking at a solid or inflatable SUP. We've got the complete guide to finding the perfect SUP board for you.

The Basics Of Paddleboard Sizing: What Size SUP Do I Need?

The size of a paddleboard depends on its volume, length, width, and thickness. Here are how each of these is defined: 


Distance between the bottom of your board and where you stand, where it touches the water. 


Your board's buoyancy, or how much weight it can handle, stays afloat. 


Distance between the tail and the tip of your board. 


Distance between the two sides of your board. 

Volume comes first when sizing paddleboards, and volume determines how much weight a paddleboard can carry. In addition to paddleboard volume, other factors can influence your paddleboard experience and size selection. 

There Is A Magic Formula

Multiply your body weight plus the gear load you expect by 1.1 to 1.4. You'll need the minimum weight capacity range for your first SUP. Do not forget to account for any kids or dogs likely to be along for the ride! Opt for a larger SUP volume when you think you'll be carrying more gear or using longer paddles. A SUP board on the lower end (with a magnitude of 1.1 to 1.2 times your body weight) is perfect if you want to paddle around the lake quickly.

Paddlers of intermediate and advanced levels tend to choose boards with slightly lower volumes. An extra weight capacity provides more stability, so experienced SUP enthusiasts will already have developed the balance necessary to feel more comfortable on a lighter, faster board. Those with more experience should multiply their body weight by 1.1 to find their ideal board volume.

Sizes Of Paddling Boards, Including Length, Width, And Thickness

What size paddleboard should I get? What width should I get? Such questions are widespread once individuals learn about volume. The overall volume of a SUP board depends on its length, width, and thickness. Choosing a paddleboard based on its total volume might be all you need to know to make your first purchase if you're starting.

You can, however, tailor your SUP experience for specific goals by adjusting the length, width, and thickness. A longer board is better for moving quickly and is used in SUP racing, and a wider board is suitable for SUP yoga, fishing, and yoga. Whitewater or wave-riding inflatable boards are shorter and broader and are more maneuverable. Long, wide SUPs are best for fishing, as they provide stability and extra gear room. Let's talk about how your height and weight affect your board choice before we get into specific measurements for different SUP sports and activities.

Measure Your Height, Weight, And Build

It depends on your weight and what type of board you need, but it also depends on your height, how your weight sits on the board and how you balance it on the water. You have a higher center of gravity if you are taller or have a more developed upper body, and you will probably have to work harder to keep your balance.

You can fine-tune your board choice in several ways if you're tall. You can choose a longer or broader board, which can give you more stability.

Height, Weight, and Build

Height, Weight, and Build

Alternatively, you can try paddling while standing further back on your board if you don't want to drastically change your board size choice (for example, if you're interested in whitewater). It can help you distribute your weight more effectively and provide more stability. After covering the basics of choosing and sizing a SUP board, let's move on to some activity-specific paddleboard sizes. 

Paddleboard Sizes Based On Activity

We've already covered some of the most popular SUP activities: calm water paddling, racing, white water, fishing, and yoga. You can also paddle board surf or take a tour. 


Choose a 10' to 12' long and a 31" to 32" wide board if you want optimum speed. When choosing a paddleboard, go for one with a sturdy, aggressive fin-unless you're anticipating rocky, shallow water-as. You'll have a straighter board. In addition, you'll be able to travel more quickly and efficiently.


Long-distance trips–perhaps even multi-day excursions–require a stable and fast SUP. Take gear weight into account when calculating volume. A board length of 11' to 12'6" and a width of 31" to 34" usually work best. If you are careful, you may find a suitable board for both racing and touring. 

Easy Paddling

In the first section of this article, you will find the volume equation. If you're tall, choose a more comprehensive, longer board, and position your feet farther back than your shorter SUP friends. You will feel more in control. Use a fin to feel more stable and balanced on the water. 


In whitewater, the turning radius is significant. There is often very little space between one "wave" and the next when riding the river's hydraulics. For this reason, you will need a short, maneuverable board. An inflatable SUP should be 6'-8' long and around 30"-34" wide. Look for a board with an upward curving nose that will help you transition between waves quickly. Whitewater will require you to leave your fin at home!

River Running

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Consider a quick-moving river if you're not quite in whitewater territory but still want to travel down a fast-moving river and paddle a creek or stream. In this case, a river running SUP is probably suitable for you.

The inflatable SUPs for this activity are 9'6" long and 35"-36" wide. Consider flexible, removable fins–just in case you venture into shallower, rockier waters. 

NRS Whip Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard


SUP is up for surfing! It is a thrilling experience that requires agility and quick thinking. Therefore, a shortboard–slightly longer than a white water board–tends to be the best option. Depending on your height and weight, your board should be between 29" and 32" wide and 9' to 11' long. 

Fishing And Yoga

When you want to head out on calmer waters to see what fish you can catch, you'll need a board that can hold your gear and snacks and beverages. Paddleboard yoga will also require a long, sturdy board to test your balance.

Using long, wide, thick boards will provide excellent stability and comfort for yoga and fishing. SUP boards between 33" and 36" wide and 10'6" to 12' long work best. 

Final Thoughts

The size of a paddleboard depends on a variety of factors. Your weight is the most critical factor in determining the required paddleboard volume, but finding the suitable SUP doesn't end there. Your height and center of gravity will determine what SUP you paddle and where you stand. Because of these reasons, never be afraid to ask for help or take a class when learning to SUP.

Choosing the right board also depends on what activity you prefer. Regardless of your experience level or favorite paddleboard activity, we hope you enjoy the relaxation and excitement of paddleboarding.