HOW DO I CHOOSE A SUP SIZE?
The question “how do I choose a SUP size” is typical of first time SUP buyers. Paddle boards come in many different shapes and sizes. From as short as seven feet, they can range as long as 21 feet and everything in between. For a first-time buyer, the plethora of options can be confusing. Make the wrong choice and you can end up with a board you hate. Make the right choice, and you will be loving your SUP for years.
To best answer the subject question, it is important to first understand how paddle boards are sized.
HOW ARE SUPS SIZED?
Almost every company will advertise the dimensions of a paddle board. A SUP’s length, width and thickness are measured in inches or centimeters. An example is 10’6” (L) x 32”(W) x 4.5” (T).
Typically, longer paddle boards have more volume and can carry heavier riders while maintaining stability. However, like most things, there are exceptions to this rule. As a result, a paddle board’s dimensions are not the best way to choose a SUP.
Volume is the best variable in determining SUP size. Volume is measured in liters. A board’s volume tells you how much water the board displaces when it’s placed in the water. The higher the volume, the more weight a board can support before it will submerge.
Higher volume paddle boards offer greater stability then lower volume ones. First time buyers may be tempted to purchase a paddle board with more volume than they need because of the initial stability provided. While the extra size is appreciated in the first few months, after the rider gains experience, the extra volume which was initially loved becomes a hindrance, as it’s needlessly pushed through the water.
SIZE VARIES ON ACTIVITY
Manufacturers create different paddle board sizes to do more than match rider weights. Paddle boards have different sizes depending on the activity they are designed to do. Surf style boards are much shorter then touring and racing SUPs. The need to be short and agile, while a touring board is several feet longer, making it easier to travel in a straight line. A racing board will be even longer so it can easily slice through the water.
If you plan on doing any particular type of activity, get a board to match your goals. Once you choose a style category, you then just have to match a board’s volume to your weight and you will have a good fit.
YOUR BODYWEIGHT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR
Your weight will be a primary factor for the size of paddle board you need.
The ratio of bodyweight to board volume largely determines a paddle board’s stability. As a rider’s body weight approaches the board’s maximum rider weight, the less stable the SUP will be. The less a person weighs, the smaller the volume required to maintain an equal level of stability.
Your skill level also needs to be considered when choosing a SUP size. If you have several hours of experience paddling under your belt, you may feel very comfortable on a paddle board with less volume and less stability. As paddlers gain experience, their balance improves, and their need to maximize the volume/weight ratio is not as important.
Select a board’s volume with the idea that your skill set will rapidly improve. What offers prefect stability today, might feel like an overly cumbersome yacht in a year or two.
HOW DO I CHOOSE A SUP SIZE?
Now that the thinking behind SUP sizes have been explained, lets get to the steps to make a great selection.
By gathering the suggested information, you’ll have a better idea as to the style of boards that will work best for your goals. A good quality paddle board will last for years. Making the right size decision will help to keep you loving it for just as long.
The Wappa Blog
Written by Wappa's founder Layne Pennell, the blog's aim is to educate and share his love of stand up paddle boarding with anyone interested in SUP.
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