“What size paddle board do I need for my height?” That is a question that should never be asked when shopping for a paddle board. A better question would be “what size paddle board do I need for my weight and experience level?”
Stand up paddle boards should never be sold based on a person’s height. Your height is irrelevant to paddle board performance. Your weight is what matters.
While paddle boards vary in shape, width, length and thickness, the most important measurement when purchasing your first paddle board is volume. A paddle board’s volume which is measured in liters is the best variable in determining what size board is best for you. 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 handle before performance diminishes.
Below are some examples of different Wappa paddle boards, their volume, and maximum weight the boards can handle.
As a general rule, the larger a paddle board’s volume, the more stability it will be. A common mistake many first-time buyers make is purchasing a larger board than they need because they want something that’s very stable. While getting a larger board then you need will be very stable, you may quickly become frustrated with your new toy as you gain experience. After a few sessions, your balance will improve and by the end of your first summer paddling, you will feel very comfortable on your board.
Now that you’re comfortable and have good balance, the extra stability a large board initially provides can start to feel like an anchor. With every paddle stroke you make, you will be pushing now needless volume through the water. The big, stable board you initially loved may start feeling like an aircraft carrier as you paddle longer distances, or try to take some waves.
The key to selecting the right paddle board is getting one with the proper volume to give you the stability that is needed at the beginning without it being too big that your skills advance past it in a few months. A good measuring stick for a first-time buyer is to compare your weight to the board’s volume. If you weigh 25 lbs. less than the boards volume, you will not be getting a board that is too big for you. In fact, you will be pretty much in its sweet spot.
If your weight is close to the volume of the board, it will be nice and stable. If your weight is over the volume of the board, but below the maximum weight, it will still be a great board for the long term, but it will be a little less stable for you as a beginner.
As the above chart illustrates, longer paddle boards have more volume and can carry more weight. That doesn’t mean that if you’re 250 lbs. you should be getting a Wappa Scout just because you “fit it”. That board is big and long because it’s deigned to easily cut through water. It’s also 2”- 4” narrower than the other Wappa boards. When shopping, you will need to pay attention to the board’s function as well.
As you shop for stand-up paddle boards, don’t use your height as a measuring stick. Instead, use your weight. Select a SUP that will put you in the “body weight/board volume” sweet spot. Once you do that, you’ll be on the right track to selecting the properly sized paddle board.
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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