How To Choose a Paddle Board Size For You
If you’re wondering what size paddle board to get, two things: 1) you’re not alone, and 2) you’ve come to the right place. In fact, “what size paddle board should I get?” is one of the most common questions we receive. And for good reason. It’s an important one. The last thing you want, after all, is to buy a board that’s either too big to maneuver or too small to keep stable.
The key is to find that perfect Goldilocks paddle board size—you know, the board that’s ‘just right.’ The board that suits your height, your weight, and your individual needs to perfection.
The good news is that at BOTE, you’ve got a team of experienced water adventurers to help you find that board. With SUP lengths ranging from 8′ to 14′ and weight capacities ranging from 100lbs to 400+lbs, there’s something for everybody (and every body).
So, without further ado, here’s how to know what size SUP to get.
What size paddle board do I Need?
First off, a few different metrics come into play when you’re talking about size. To take it back to high school physics, you’re effectively working with a few different measurements: volume, length, width, and thickness.
Volume is the measurement of your board’s buoyancy in liters. In other words, it’s a SUPs ability to support and float weight. And it’s determined by the board’s length x width x depth (thickness). Length is the measurement of a board from tip to tail. Width, from side to side. And depth is the distance between the top of the board and the bottom.
Determining what size paddle board is right for you is a process that involves parsing and paring these various measurements with your body type.
paddle board size based on height
The general rule of thumb is this: you’ll want a longer board if you're taller. If you’re shorter, you’ll want a shorter one.
The reasons are mostly pretty intuitive. Taller people have higher centers of gravity than shorter people. So, a taller person will find it more difficult to maintain balance on a shorter board. Alternatively, a shorter person will struggle to control a longer board.
Are you taller than 5′10″? If so, you’ll probably want a board in the 11′6″-14′ range. You’ll want something between 10′6″ and 12′ if you're under that. When in doubt, go for the bigger board because longer and wider boards are more stable.
paddle board size based on Weight
Arguably more important than your height when determining paddle board size is your weight. Your weight determines how much buoyancy a SUP board will need to properly support you on the water. In other words, if your board size and body weight are misaligned, your ability to either balance or control the board will be affected.
The key is to leave a little wiggle room regarding carrying capacity. Make sure your weight is at least 50 pounds lighter than the maximum capacity of the board. So, if you weigh 185-pounds, you’d probably be wise to skip the Breeze 10′6″ Gatorshell (whose board capacity is 230lbs) and instead opt for a board like the Flood 12′ Gatorshell (300lbs capacity) or the HD 12′ Gatorshell (315lbs). However, if you weigh below 180lbs, the Breeze makes for a perfect (and totally manageable and maneuverable) recreational paddle board.
Also, keep in mind the amount of gear or people you plan to paddle on your board. If you’re planning to bring your pup along for your paddles, that will influence your overall weight and carrying capacity. Equally, if you’re planning to bring along a lot of extra fishing or camping equipment, you’ll want to think about your board’s carrying capacity there, too. This leads us to our following criteria for determining paddle board size: activity.
paddle board size based on activity
In addition to height and weight, one huge criterion for determining the size of your paddle board is, well, the size of your ambitions. The length of your paddle board is a good indicator of what your SUP can and can’t withstand from and activity and water-type standpoint. Longer paddle boards are typically faster, whereas shorter ones are more maneuverable and responsive.
Paddle surfing is where shorter paddle boards thrive. Specifically for BOTE, the Flood 10′6″ is the perfect option—slightly longer than a traditional shortboard, yet with a surf-style planing hull and side bite fins; the only thing this board loves more than open water is an open invitation to catching waves and having fun. And its relatively smaller size makes it perfectly maneuverable.
If you’re looking for great paddle boards for all-around use, from recreational paddling to SUP yoga to SUP fishing, you’ll generally want a long (but not too long) sized paddle board. It’s in this realm of casual paddling where your height and weight measurements probably play a more significant part than the activity of choice does. But typically, anything between 10′6″ and 12′ is a good length SUP for recreational paddling.
TOURING OR RACING SUPS
Longer paddle boards are key if you’ve got the need for speed (or distance). Their ability to carve through the water with their narrower shape and speedy efficiency adds up throughout long distances. Anything above 12′ is typically a good bet for long-distance paddling, racing, or training. The Traveller 12′6″ or the Traveller 14′ are excellent-sized options for these activities.
FISHING & EXPEDITION SUPS
Additionally, for heavy-duty fishing or hunting paddle excursions, you’ll want a paddle board size with supreme carrying capacity. Something like the Rackham—with its wide range of sizes from 11′ to 14′—offers 400+lbs of carrying capacity, so that you can essentially take all your gear with you.
READY TO SIZE UP YOUR SUP?
In short, there are several different factors to consider when choosing the ideal paddle board size for you. From body type measurements like height & weight to activity and ability-focused criteria, our team of experts at BOTE are here to help. Find your paddle board today!