Paddle boards are versatile, fun, and great for beginners out on the water, but there is a crucial question you need to ask. What is the paddle board’s weight limit? Most inflatable paddle boards support 285 – 480 lbs and larger ones up to 500 lbs depending on the board’s size.
Stand up paddle boarding is one of my favorite activities, especially when I’m exploring all that British Columbia and Canada have to offer for the past 10 years.
After sorting through loads of paddle board sizing information we decided to go beyond and answer the question based on the type of paddler you are and the type of paddle boarding you will be doing..
In this article, we’ll cover
- Weight limits for inflatable and solid paddle boards
- The difference between maximum capacity and performance
- The right board weight limit for you
- The difference between inflatable and solid paddle board weight limits
How Manufacturers Measure Paddle Board Weight Limit
Why do you need to know a paddle board’s weight limit? If you put too much weight on the board, you won’t be gliding over the water, it will sink. Hopefully, you are following water safety practices and wearing your life vest, so drowning isn’t a problem.
What can a paddle board hold? A few factors determine how much weight a paddle board can hold.
- The board’s weight
- Your body weight
- All of your gear. Don’t forget to include the paddle’s weight.
- Your passengers’ weight—child or pet
Paddle board manufacturers determine the weight limits of their products using personal experience and collected data.
The size of the board also determines weight limits. Wider, longer, and thicker boards have a higher weight limit, compared to ones that are shorter, thinner, and narrower.
When in doubt about which paddle board to choose, always go for one with a higher weight limit than necessary.
Maximum Capacity vs Paddle Board Performance
When you are trying to find the weight limit on a paddle board manufacturers use two methods, and it can get a little confusing.
1. Maximum weight: The maximum weight the paddle board can support is listed in pounds (lb) or kilograms (kg) before it sinks, capsizes, or becomes difficult to control.
2. Volume in cubic liters (L): When you see volume numbers listed in cubic liters, it refers to the buoyancy of the inflatable paddle board. The buoyancy determines how much weight the board can carry and stay afloat on the water.
Even though it seems like both numbers tell you how much weight the SUP can support, they each refer to something different but equally important.
The maximum weight lets you know how loaded down the inflatable paddle board can be before it starts sinking. The SUP volume numbers refer to the paddle board’s performance. Both are numbers you want to pay attention to when you want to make the most of your time on the water.
Why shouldn’t you load a paddle board up to its maximum weight limit? You lose performance capabilities. The SUP will be harder to control and may even become unsafe in the water.
A good rule to remember. Look at the manufacturer’s listed maximum weight limit and reduce it by about 25%. You can still carry your gear, and possibly another passenger, without sacrificing the board’s stability or safety.
What Happens When You Overload an Inflatable Paddle Board
Reducing the manufacturer’s maximum weight recommendations by 25% gives you the board’s practical weight. It’s the weight that gives you the control and safety you want as you’re paddling or drifting across the water.
It’s pretty easy to exceed a board’s practical weight. By the time you add up your body weight, the life vest, paddle, and any gear, you are probably getting close to the maximum weight paddle board depending. Your board will ride lower in the water, making it unstable and harder to control.
The best advice is to calculate the total weight you plan on putting on a SUP before choosing one. You may find yourself purchasing a larger board that you planned on, but you can also carry more weight without running into problems.
Paddle Board Weight
European paddle board manufacturers use kilograms, and U.S.-based ones list maximum weight limits in pounds, and it’s helpful to know how to convert the measurements into the system you’re familiar with.
You can always use Google, but there’s also a simple formula you can follow. Converting pounds into kilograms requires you to take the number of pounds and divide the sum by 2.2046. The answer gives you the maximum weight limit in kilograms. It’s a helpful formula you may need to calculate SUP manufactured overseas.
Paddle Board Volume
You know that volume affects the paddle board’s performance, and it’s a measurement manufacturer’s use. The question is, do you understand how it can affect the board’s performance and your buying decision?
Paddle board manufacturers multiple the length x width x thickness to find the volume, measured in cubic liters (L). It’s easy to figure out by yourself if the board was perfectly rectangular, but its odd shape makes the calculation a little harder.
Even though you may have to rely on the manufacturer for the board’s volume, you can still figure out what number is best for you. Using an average 150lb weight for the paddler boarder, here’s how to find the volume using a paddle board weight calculator.
- Beginners: Multiply 150lb (bodyweight) x 1 – 1.4 for a volume around 150 to 210
- Intermediate: Multiply 150lb (bodyweight) x 0.8 – 1 for a volume around 120 to 150
- Advanced: Multiply 150lb (bodyweight) x 0.6 – 0.8 for a volume around 90 to 120
- Professional: Multiply 150lb (bodyweight) x 0.5 – 0.6 for a volume around 60 to 90
What Weight Limit Should You Be Looking At?
The weight limit you want to be looking at depends on your body weight, amount of gear, paddle weight, and if you plan on carrying another person or your dog.
Your body weight will play a role in your decision, and you can find inflatable paddle boards capable of supporting up to 1,000lbs. These are usually heavy duty fishing SUP’s though. For your solo jaunts across the water, look for one with a 250 lbs to 285 lbs weight limit.
If you weigh a little more, up the weight limit to the 300 lbs to 480 lbs range.
Paddle Boarding with a Small Child or Dog
Some paddle boarders can bring a small child or dog along with a weight limit between 300 lbs to 480 lbs. It’s a good idea to go with a board that has a higher weight limit than what you think you need. You may want to play it safe, and pick a paddle board with a 500 pound capacity, especially if you have a larger dog or older child.
You’re covered if your dog puts on a few pounds, or your child wants to bring a lot of gear. Don’t forget, kids, grow fast, and you may need the higher maximum weight limit before you realize it.
Another advantage of going with a higher weight limit, the board is longer. You have more room for your ride-along guests.
Touring excursions usually mean solo paddling, even if you are out with others. A weight capacity of around 285lbs is usually more than enough for an adult around 6’ tall. If you are planning to load it up with gear, look in the 350-400 lbs range.
You also get the length you need to paddle across smooth water or catch a few small waves. Don’t forget about the volume, you don’t want to struggle to control the paddle board or keep up with others.
Look for a paddle board with a volume of around 181L with a 250lb weight limit. You should get a versatile SUP that’s fun and easy to use.
When you’re planning on paddle board fishing excursions, the weight limit is a key aspect. Hopefully, you are bringing back the evening meal unless it’s part of a catch and release program. Along with accounting for a few pounds of fresh fish, you also have to think about the weight of your gear.
You have a fishing pole, some tackle, and any other gear you need for the excursion. It means added weight on the SUP. You also need the board to have the weight, length, and thickness to handle everything without sinking or capsizing.
One point to remember is paddle boards are heavier when they can support more weight. For example, a SUP that has a maximum capacity between 450lbs to 1.050lbs can support an award-winning catch with tons of gear. The downside is the paddle board can weigh up to 50lbs. It’s a lot of weight to manage solo, along with your fishing gear.
In most cases,for fishing minimalists, a SUP with a 235lbs capacity and a 175L volume is more than enough to handle you, your gear, and the day’s catch. Best of all, the paddle board only weighs around 30lbs.
Inflatable Paddle Board Weight Limit vs Solid
Inflatable paddle boards come with several advantages over solid SUPs. Inflatable paddle boards are easier to transport, lighter to carry and help prevent injuries. You are less likely to hurt yourself falling on an inflatable board than a solid one.
Solid boards do have their advantages. They are better designed to support multiple riders and are hard to beat in competition class racing. If you are chasing big waves, you want a solid paddle board.
You want to use an inflatable paddle board when you are traveling. Just deflate the SUP and you can take it on a plane in a carry-on bag. The softer deck also reduces fatigue. You can paddle farther and longer. Think of the soft board as a rubber anti-fatigue mat, similar to what you find in workplace conditions.
Inflatable paddle boards are also more versatile, making them a great choice for fishing, exploring, or simply relaxing on the water. An inflatable SUP can also boast up to 20% more volume so it can support more weight without increasing in size.
We go more indepth into the differences in a guide that goes through the battle between the Inflatable Paddle Board vs Solid Board.
So What’s the Ideal Weight Limit?
So, is there a weight limit for paddle boarding? The answer is yes. Choosing the ideal weight limit for an inflatable paddle board comes down to your body weight and a few other factors. Think about your gear, and if you are planning on bringing a small child or pet along for the ride.
Look at the manufacturer’s maximum weight limit and the volume. The volume is just as important as the weight limit.
With the right inflatable paddle board, you are all set to catch a few small waves or explore coastlines, lakes, and other waterways.