Paddle boarding is a great sport to learn, especially if you love nature and the waters. Finding the right stand up board that suits your style and your physique is important if you want to learn and perform well. Local shops that specialize in stand-up paddle boarding or similar water boarding activities is the best place to ask for advice. Usually, specialty shops have experts to help you in choosing, which is really a great service to take advantage of considering the vast amount of paddle boards to choose from.
Basically, when choosing a paddle board, a key feature to consider is the volume or buoyancy of a board. Buoyancy is the ability of the board to support the weight while floating properly and functioning well on the water. The volume or buoyancy of a paddle board is commonly based on your weight and skill level. This ensures that when your weight is added to the board, the correct amount of water will be displaced and you will be properly supported.
A board with a higher volume will likely be more stable out in the water. Bigger boards are also less responsive in the water and will not turn as quickly compared to smaller-sized paddle boards. For beginners, a board with a higher volume is recommended until they get used to balancing their body. After that, you can opt to downsize according to your style and skills.
Here is a formula that you can use to estimate the volume your board should have based on your weight.
- For beginners, touring – Your body weight (lbs) x (1 to 1.4)
- For intermediate skills –Your body weight (lbs) x (0.8 to 1)
- For advanced skills – Your body weight (lbs) x (0.6 to 0.8)
Another key factor to consider is the board’s length. For the length of the paddle board, start with where you will use the paddle board. Different water conditions require different styles and lengths if you want the board to perform accordingly. The length of the board will determine how fast it will move on water and the ease in maneuvering it. A longer board will travel faster and straighter. On the other hand, a shorter board is recommended if you want to catch waves.
- Short boards, less than 9 feet, are great for riding the waves. They are easier to maneuver compared to long boards.
- Medium boards, 9 to 12 feet long, are popular as all-rounder boards. Paddle boards between these lengths are great for surfing as well as paddling on calm waters.
- Long boards, 12.6 feet or 14 feet long, have the perfect length for racing and touring purposes. They glide faster on water and track straighter compared to short and mid-sized boards.
How you want to use your paddle board will also influence your choice in size. The most common uses for stand up paddle boards are flat water paddling, surfing, racing and doing yoga on water.
- Flat water. Stand up paddle boarding is popularly used on flat water like lakes, rivers, bays and the open ocean. Paddle boards for flat water use are usually 10-12 feet long, measure 30-36 inches wide and have a thickness of 4-6 inches. For touring purposes, a longer paddle board, 12-14 foot, is recommended. Stand up paddleboards used in flat water are similarly designed with longboard surfboards with distinct features that include a round nose with a wide profile throughout the entire length of the board. For the tail part, it can either have a squash tail or a rounded one.
- If you have a paddle board designed for flat water use, you can still use it for surfing but only for small surfs. Paddle boards for surfing are generally designed to be smaller than the ones used for flat water because they are easier to maneuver and are more responsive on the water. Usually, paddle boards for surfing are 8’-10’8” long.
- Yoga stand up paddle boards are usually 10-12 feet long. You can also use your flat water paddle board for this purpose, but you have to make sure that the width is at least 31” wide to ensure the stability of the board for balancing purposes.
- For racing purposes, stand up paddle boards usually measure between 12’6″-15′ long. These boards are also designed for the sole purpose of racing and no other.