At Halifax Paddlesurf we are often asked What Standup Paddleboard volume is best for me? The answer is, It depends. For beginners we recommend a volume of about twice your body weight. Here is a longer explanation of our volume recommendations:
HOW DO YOU CALCULATE STANDUP PADDLEBOARD VOLUME?
Ask yourself, what is my body weight in kg? To convert from pounds to kg divide your weight by 2.2. My weight is 235 lb divided by 2.2 = 107 kilograms. It’s easy to calculate, one litre of volume creates lift for one kilogram of weight. Standup Paddleboard volume is always quoted in metric litres for this reason.
One litre of volume displaces one litre of water which creates one kg of lift. So one litre of board volume will float one kg of weight.
For beginners, we recommend body weight in kilograms = litres x 2. Or about 215 litres volume for my weight. This board will be pushed about half way under water to displace enough water to float my weight plus equipment. Please note that more volume will not necessarily make the board more stable. Side to side stability is a result of the width of the board plus thickness of the rails. To a lesser degree the length of the board helps as well. A thicker board can actually be less stable as the feet are higher off the water, raising the center of gravity.
For racing and touring you can go with a higher volume Standup Paddleboard as thicker, high volume rails can add secondary stability to a narrower hull that has less resistance than a wider board. In downwinders especially, high volume in the front of the board works well to keep the nose from plowing deep into the trough.
SO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IN THE SUP VOLUME GAME
If high performance SUP surfing is your goal, as you improve you can gradually lower the volume of the boards which will generally surf bette. But it will also be much harder to balance on and control. This makes low volume, high performance boards very difficult to learn on.
Very good SUP surfers can use a board volume as low as their body weight plus board, paddle, clothing and gear weight plus a few liters extra, or about 100 Liters volume for my body weight. At this volume the board will barely float when not moving. Some pros even use boards that don’t float them when standing still, they need the dynamic lift created from moving through the water to keep them afloat, the board will sink if they stop paddling, with the board volume in litres less than their body weight plus board and equipment weight in kg.
Check out this video.
The body weight times two is only a rough guide to recommended volume for your Standup Paddleboard. The width and volume distribution of the board has a bigger impact on how stable the board will be. We recommend buying a board that is challenging to balance on at first since your balance will quickly improve with practice. Don’t make the mistake of buying a board that is too small for your skill level as that can be very frustrating. The point is to have FUN!
This chart is a quick guide to recommended volume for SUP’s: