What Size Inflatable Paddle Board Should I Get?

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Paddleboarding is one of the world’s most enjoyable water sports. It’s one of the reasons I made this site! Knowing what size inflatable paddle board you should have, well, that’s something that might take a bit of research! 

Speaking of height, you’re definitely thinking, “Gee, what size inflatable paddle board should I get for my height?” A good sizing rule to follow is: always get a board that measures about 9 inches (at least) taller than the rider. 

Some of the most common questions I hear when friends start thinking about trying paddleboarding tend to be about size. If they’re not specifically about the actual length and width of the board, they’re about their maximum capacity or whether a hardboard might be more for them.

Different people are going to need different boards. Someone who rides as an intermediate might consider a board with a more challenging balance than someone who’s starting to learn.

You’re wondering what size you need based on your height, and maybe the paddle board lengths seem intimidating.

Paddle Board Sizes

So, let’s get it all out on the table. Let’s talk about all the factors that you’ll need to think about before getting an inflatable paddleboard. We can even get fancy and include some paddle board size guides! 

If you don’t love a good chart, who are you, really?

What Size Inflatable Paddle Board Do I Need According to Manufacturers?

SUP ManufacturerIsleiRockerNixyGili
Thickness4 ½”-5 3/16″6″6″6″
Max Capacity215-285 lbs.370-435 lbs.250-350 lbs.260-300 lbs.
Volume175- 227 L221-246 L250-335 L218-265 L
Board Weight26-29 lbs.24-26 lbs.18.75-23 lbs.20-24 lbs.

While each of the inflatable paddleboards has its individual qualities, many things make them similar.

All four have inflatable paddle boards that rate extremely high in stability, making them a pretty worthy piece of equipment when used for yoga! 

After checking out these inflatable paddle boards, it became increasingly clear that the Pioneer and the Nixy both have greater maneuverability than the iRocker or the Gili.

Honestly, it’s got to come down to mobility and skill for these boards. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Board

When you’re trying to figure out what paddle board is right for you, you might start by asking, What size paddle board do I need? Or, what’s the real difference between getting a board with 5-inch thickness and 6-inch thickness?

After reading about these core elements, you’ll understand the ins and outs of paddle board dimensions and probably be considered an expert or something. Maybe.  If you want some examples os solid boards check out our best inflatable paddle boards article.

Board Volume

Considering the board volume before committing to your decision is crucial to securing an enjoyable day out. It feels a bit weird, but as I mentioned earlier, even an inch (more or less) can end up dramatically altering the skill level required.

My friend on what is admittedly a smaller sized board

For example, if you were starting and trying to get the hang of things, you would want to make sure you have a board that allows for the most assistance when trying to balance.

Choosing the Pioneer would be most beneficial in this instance, as its light weight and wide-set design make it ideal.

Board Width

  • 28 Inches and Below: boards at this width will typically be more appealing to you speed demons out there. If you ride around on relatively calm waters (maybe racing in the area), you’ll be more apt to select a faster board, like ones that are 28 inches in width or less. 
  • 28-30 Inches: The boards with widths of 28-30 inches are a combination of possibilities. We already know 28-inch boards are better for racing, but they can also be great for touring. Adding the extra two inches to get to 30-inches will afford you a bit more stability. Of course there are stable 30” boards out there like Serenelife but they have a flatter rocker meaning more of the board is on the water.
  • 30-32 Inches: Boards that cap out their width at the 30-32 inch level are, more often than not, better for carrying things. If you’re on a longer trip, you might want to pack some provisions. Spending a day drifting about might have you better off selecting the 30”-32” models. You need to make sure you have the room and comfort to do so.
  • 32-33 Inches: Alright, we covered quite a few things, one of the most important being stability. The wider the board the better the stability is going to be. A 33” inflatable paddle board is best for those who are just getting started, or anyone who has a little trouble with balance on land, to begin.  
  • 34 inches or more: The wider the paddleboard, the better the balance. A paddleboard with a 34+ inch width is great to share with additional riders. For a great day out with a few friends, think about wider bases. Between 33” and 34” are usually great Yoga boards.

Board Length

  • 10’ and Under: Paddleboards that are 10’ or fewer are easier to handle than their longer brethren. These boards would primarily be ideal for people who are smaller in stature. As well as being good Youth boards.
  • 10’-11’: The 10’-11’ measurement is a pretty standard size and can even be a little versatile. This is about the starting point of most All Around boards that you see. 10’ are usually mean’t for smaller people while 10’6” are meant for people who are a bit taller or larger. 
  • 11’6 and Up: the longer the board, the faster it is going to be. 11’6” is usually the tail end of the All Around boards. As soon as you get into the 12’ and above you start getting into longer touring boards. The hydrodynamic nature of something so compressed (and possibly narrow) causes paddleboards with great lengths to dreamily glide through the water. These long bois are excellent for racing.

Board Thickness

  • 4-inch thickness is best for those who have a lighter mass, or for the kids. Truthfully, anything less, and you are riding a pool noodle unless it is made of a special type of construction. Case in point the Red Paddle Whip 8’10”
  • 5-inch thickness is a pretty ideal area to be looking for. While there’s more cost involved when checking out a 5-inch thick inflatable paddleboard, there are also much more quality materials for the most part. This is where quality boards like Red Paddle come into play. 
  • 6-inch thickness is the standard. Most quality All Around paddle boards are made of at least 6 inchs of material. Some are made of fusion technology, others are double or triple drop stitched. When looking for a 6” thick board look for something that is made of these technologies. Single dring stitch won’t last as long.

Between you and me, 5-inches or 6-inches, they’re both great. But, 6-inch thick paddleboards with the same mold as their slightly thinner counterparts take longer to inflate.

And while the 6-inch boards may seem like a wise investment – you’ll definitely want to think about how that extra inch might impact your ability to get on the board from within the water. It’s more difficult than you might expect, if I’m honest.  Especially if this is your first time standing on an inflatable paddle board. 

Maximum Capacity of Paddleboard

Before you go shopping for that new paddleboard, make sure you double-check their minimum weight capacity.

Photo by Isle Surf & SUP

If you are not sure what the weight capacity is of your prospective board, definitely refer to the sizing chart(s). The thicker, wider, and longer the board is, the more weight it’s likely to hold!

Do not forget to factor in the weight of anyone else who might join you! (As well as anything that needs to be attached to the paddleboard for the trip.)

We have a guide on inflatable paddle board weight limit and what you should look for here.

Are You a Beginner Paddleboarder?

WeightUnder 125 lbs 125-150 lbs150-175 lbs 175-200 lbs 200-225 lbs”225+ lbs 
-Information from pumpedupsup.com-

Your paddleboard length will usually depend on height and weight, but it’s a pretty safe bet that any board with a wider shape and longer lengths will work well. 

Boards that give the rider a little more confidence when they are still struggling to get their sea legs are pretty on the nose here. At this point, the only other thing you will want is a sturdy paddle board that you can balance on. 

Still, you can always hop on forums like Quora and hear from other paddleboarders of varying skill levels. Maybe even make a new friend you can go paddleboarding with, eh? Eh?

Are You An Intermediate/Advanced Paddleboarder?

WeightUnder 125 lbs 125-150 lbs150-175 lbs 175-200 lbs 200-225 lbs”225+ lbs 
Girth5 inches5 inches5 inches5 inches5-6 inches6 inches
-Information from pumpedupsup.com

If you are at an intermediate or advanced level for paddleboarding, my hat is off to you. It is an amazing activity that gives you a great full-body workout, am I right?

An advanced or intermediate paddleboarder might want a board that’s a little more challenging. They might like the one that’s a bit bigger and not as easy to get through the waters, or maybe they’d love a nice race and can’t wait to speed through the seas. Truthfully the sky’s the limit here folks. 

Whatever the case may be, the more advanced riders are going to be looking into paddle boards with 5”-6” thickness. Anything less would crumble beneath their tremendous spirit! The actual length of the board truly does depend on their choice.

While looking for a good touring board, you will be checking out longer ones. For one that is expertly equipped for fishing, those paddleboarders would be more likely to look for stronger material and a greater PSI threshold.

Inflatable Touring Paddle Boards

WeightUnder 125 lbs 125-150 lbs150-175 lbs 175-200 lbs 200-225 lbs”225+ lbs 
Girth5 inches5 Inches5 Inches5 Inches5-6 Inches6 Inches
-Information from gilisports.com

A good inflatable touring paddle board is defined by its luxurious appeal. Stay with me now. When you imagine a luxury vehicle of any kind, you mostly picture those nice old muscle cars that seemed to go on for days and days- oh, sorry, just me? 

Well, anyways, the touring board has to have a relatively easy range of motion for any sudden course changes. For this, the depth gets cut down; the board stretched to median-max lengths, and then, away you cruise cutting through the water like a hot knife in butter.

Inflatable Fishing Paddle Boards

WeightUnder 125 lbs 125-150 lbs150-175 lbs 175-200 lbs 200-225 lbs”225+ lbs 
Girth5 inches5 inches5 Inches5 Inches5-6 Inches6 inches
-Information from gilisports.com

Inflatable fishing paddle boards are made with you in mind. They know that there are going to be sharp objects near your inflatable device. One false move and you might wake up with the fishes.

However, when it comes to paddleboards, the manufacturers go all out. Especially, strong PVC material is used for fishing paddle boards to help put the rider at ease.

In addition to thicker, wider, longer, you have got to have an inflatable paddle board that can withstand the excess weight. The extra gear you carry will have to be accounted for as well. 

Yoga Paddle Boards

WeightUnder 125 lbs 125-150 lbs150-175 lbs 175-200 lbs 200-225 lbs”225+ lbs 
Girth5 Inches5 inches5 Inches5 Inches5-6 Inches6 Inches
-Information from gilisports.com

Well, of course, with yoga, you have a need for a large area to spread out. Doing stretches on the water increases your core strength along with so many other things. To stay dry, you’re looking for one of the wider inflatable paddleboard sizes. 

Another thing to look for is a large deck pad. A manufacturer who I thought did things right is the Nixy Venice.

Racing Paddle Boards

WeightUnder 125 lbs 125-150 lbs150-175 lbs 175-200 lbs 200-225 lbs”225+ lbs 
Girth4-5 Inches5 Inches5 Inches5 Inches5-6 Inches6 Inches
-Information from gilisports.com

Racing is one of the many pleasures we get to revel in when it comes to adrenaline. That being said, sometimes upping the challenge gets the blood pumping! When it comes to speed, nothing beats the slimmer, longer boards.

Inflatable paddle board size for racing can sometimes allow for benefits when using the smaller boards — length-wise, at least. If super long and thin gives agility, then short and a little stubby would allow for the rider to make tighter movement choices and potentially slip past the other long bois undetected!

Manufacturers like Red Paddle, Naish and Hala reign supreme in this category. 

Surfing Paddle Boards

WeightUnder 125 lbs 125-150 lbs150-175 lbs 175-200 lbs 200-225 lbs”225+ lbs 
Width30 inches30”-32”32”-33”32”-33”33”-34”34+”
Girth5 Inches5 Inches5 Inches5-6 Inches5-6 Inches6 Inches
-Information from gilisports.com

Like racing, surfing is for the more daring of the paddle boarders.

Waves and harsher collisions tend to impact the boards as much as the person. Choose a board with an average body and slimmer figure. Speed and stability will get you through the rough waves!

With these boards you are looking for a thinner rail profile that can hold up and cut through the water while you are surfing the waves. Shorter boards are also preferred for maneuverability and quick turns. 

What About Hard Paddle Boards

While our website does not dive too much into hard paddle board we do have a good video by the folks from SUP Boarder.

Hard paddle boards differ from Inflatable paddleboards in quite a few ways. While both are awesome to bring out into the water, it’s more likely that the inflatable paddle board will survive longer

Inflatable paddle board manufacturers know their products are run through the wringer. This is why (brand allowing) they tend to push a little harder at making stronger, more resistant materials.

What Have We Learned Today?

After all this talk about paddleboards, I don’t know about you, but I’m dying to get out there. But before I do, I just want to make sure we’ve covered all the basics of inflatable paddle board sizing.

We’ve learned how to work out what size board would best fit us based on the physicality of its riders, and we’ve also learned that different specs can create a different experience. Varying degrees of skill open innumerable doors into what boards can best suit different needs. 

For a ride that’s more smooth, easy to handle, and one you’ll love over and over again, you’re going to love that nice long, thin, 5” thick board. Why would you choose anything else?

If you’re looking for more of a challenge, you can certainly increase the length and density of your board.

Photo of author
Hey, My name is Derek Lenze and I'm the owner of Inflatable SUP Authority. I've had over 20 years experience with watersports and over 10 years of various paddle boarding experience. My new-found passion is bringing my stand up paddle boaring knowledge in an explainable and actionable way all the while giving you my unbiased takes.

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