Choosing the right size SUP board

Believe it or not, SUP isn’t just a down-with-the-kids way of saying hello.

It’s also the abbreviation of stand-up paddle boarding, a rapidly growing water sport that has blown all the others out of the water (pun intended).

Stand-up paddle boarding is so popular thanks to the fun and relaxing nature of the activity which anyone can get involved in. All you need, of course, is a stand-up paddle board, and a paddle!

However, SUP Boards are an investment, so you want to make sure you’ve chosen the right one.

We have a full Guide to picking a Stand up Paddleboard, but this time we’re going to focus more on size. Because no matter what anyone tells you, size DOES matter!

First things first, what’s the difference between Hard Fiberglass SUP Boards and Inflatable SUP Boards?

Hard SUP Boards are typically constructed from a foam core, which is laminated in layers of fiberglass or carbon for strength and rigidity.

Inflatable SUP Boards are made using a “drop stitch technology.” Small fibers are woven into the inside of the board so when it’s inflated, they stand up and almost interlock so you actually feel like you are standing on a hard surface.

Choosing the best SUP board size

When buying a stand-up paddle board, you want to make sure it provides enough flotation and stability for your skill and body weight, whilst retaining enough speed for a fun water adventure.

Different paddlers look for different qualities in a board depending on what they're using it for. Here we’ve listed the most common features, and how this should alter the size of your board.


If you’re keen on ensuring you keep your balance, you’ll want a board that’s about 33-34” wide. This should give you enough room to feel comfortable with. You could even go wider, although this may make the board less fun to paddle with.

Portability and manoeuvrability

Provided the board can hold your weight well, a shorter than average board, such as in the 9’6” length range, may be for you. Just make sure, however, that the width is appropriate for the length, about 30-32”.

A 9’6” board that is wider than 32” will be slow to paddle, which defeats the point really!

Speed and straight tracking

Your best bet would be a 12’6” touring or race board. This is the most popular SUP board length as it is versatile and easily adaptable to different types of paddling.

32” will ensure you remain stable, whereas 26”-28” will have you speeding across the water James Bond style!

For a good compromise, try a 30”, as this can be used for both touring and racing.

Different SUP board shapes for specific purposes

For example, 36” wide boards are good for running rapids, but too wide and slow for paddling in general.

Boards under 9’ long are commonly designed for ocean and river surfing, and would be difficult for general paddling as they lack volume and balance.


For information on board thickness and a guide to choosing the best stand up paddleboard, click here.


To find the perfect SUP board for you, watch Wetsuit Will's video below!

Shop our full SUP range here.


Updated on 27th November 2018

Originally published on 18th September 2018 in SUP

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