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There’s nothing quite like the feeling of gliding while floating on a paddle board. One of the great attractions to them is that liberating feeling of freedom. There’s nothing quite like the ability of getting on your paddle board, floating free, and letting all your problems float away, right?
Well, we’d certainly like that to be right. But just as we may feel weightless while floating on paddle boards, they and we certainly are not. You don’t want to feel weighed down by the fear of embarrassment of getting on your paddle board in front of friends or strangers – and sinking.
All of which begs the question – how much does a paddle board weigh? How much weight can they support? How does that filter out across the different materials that make up stand up paddle boards (SUPs?)
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Paddle Board Weights 101
Let’s not be “weighed down” by the primary question any longer. So, how much does a paddle board weigh? While it depends on the construction (and we’ll get into the different types below) a paddle board tends to range from between 15 to 40 pounds.
Of course, that gives a roughly 25 lb range, so there is plenty of variation. Aside from construction, one of the biggest factors to consider here is the length of the paddle board. The shortest paddle boards are around 9.5 ft, while the longest are around 12 ft. The most popular paddle boards tend to be between 10 and 12 ft.
In addition to that, however, there is another question that needs to be answered – how much weight can a paddle board take? It’s one thing to say a paddle board is heavy, but what about how heavy you are – can your paddle board handle it, and you?
This, again, depends on the board. The maximum weight capacity is about 400 lbs, but that is a rough figure, and a high one at that. That said, this is for individual boards. There are also group paddle boards available for families, and these can typically carry more weight than individual paddle boards.
Then there is the buoyancy and volume of the paddle board itself. This tends to be based around its length, width, construction material, and thickness. Unsurprisingly, the boards that tend to be larger and wider tend to be able to support more weight than the reverse. Paddle boards at the wide, short, and narrow end tend to be around 20 to 30 pounds, though the correlation with width and weight is relatively constant “across the board” (pun very much intended).
With that in mind, and while taking that most popular 10 to 12 ft length as “standard,” let’s take a look at different kinds of paddle board constructions and break that down further.
Plastic Paddle Boards
These tend to be made of Polyethylene. They are on the inexpensive side compared to most paddle boards, and are widely available, though they can be harder to transport than others. The plastic itself is relatively tough, which helps contribute to these being among the heaviest paddle boards on the list.
When we think of 30 to 40 lb paddle boards, we often think of these.
Foam Paddle Boards
These are far and away the most inexpensive kind of paddle board. They are the least expensive type of paddle board on average, and because of their lightweight nature, they are among the easiest to transport. That said, it’s not as though foam is famed for its durability, and these boards can indeed get dented and scratched quite easily compared to other options. They are also on the low side when it comes to maneuverability, though they at least tend to perform better than plastic options.
Fiberglass Paddle Boards
These boards tend to be made of a blend of expanded polystyrene around a foam core, with epoxy resin and a veneer of wood. A lot of work goes into these boards, and they represent a compromise between a lot of different materials and approaches. As you might expect, these boards often cost more as a result, and tend to be sold in sporting goods stores and similar outlets. Their incredibly smooth texture allows them to glide across the water at fast speeds, making these one of the fastest and most maneuverable choices.
However, nothing with “glass” in the title is known for its durability, and these boards, beautiful though they are, can be relatively fragile, so you’ll want to take very good care of them and be exceedingly careful loading and unloading them.
Then there’s the issue of weight. On the one hand, fiberglass is obviously heavier than foam. On the other hand, it isn’t heavier than much else on this list, making it one of the most lightweight options.
Carbon Fiber Paddle Boards
These are the last “solid” options on our list. They make use of foam cores, but on top of that they layer carbon rather than fiberglass, though some options choose to layer the latter over the former to add yet another element of complexity to their composition. As you can see, there is a lot that goes into making these boards, so it should not come as a surprise that these are among the most expensive paddle boards on this list.
On the one hand, they are lightweight themselves, and so they can be transported easily. On the other hand, because of that lightweight nature, they tend not to be able to support as much weight as some of the boards on this list, though they’re not at the bottom of those rankings, either.
Finally, these boards cut across the water as fast as any on this list, so if you have a need for speed and aren’t weighed down by weight concerns, these are definitely some boards you’ll want to consider.
Inflatable Paddle Boards
Finally among different types of boards, there is the curious case of inflatables. We tend to think of surfboards and similar water-faring boards as “solid,” so inflatable options are an innovation that flies in the face of all that.
However, they’re certainly not just a novelty. On the contrary, with a weight range of around 17 to 30 lbs, these boards offer some of the best variety and support in that department. Needless to say, the fact they are inflatable and deflatable also helps a great deal with storage and transportation.
Weighing the Weight Issue
So, where do we stand weight-wise at the end of all this?
For starters, it shows just how big a role the materials from which these items are made plays in their overall weight. For example, looking at this list, there is no denying that plastic boards are among the heaviest while foam ones are among the lightest. Inflatables, due to the fact you can blow them up and deflate them, have a wide range of different potential weights.
You also need to take into consideration the board’s overall weight capacity, as mentioned above. Paddle boards, like skateboards, often lose their weight capacity, so you’ll want to check that before buying. If the seller does not check the weight capacity, you can try to look it up, or guess from the materials used in its construction along with the width and length.
It is also important to take these weight capacity recommendations with a grain of salt. Try to err on the more conservative side. It is better to buy a board that can support a bit more than your weight than a board that can only support a bit less – and find out the hard way as you sink or snap your board.
Some sites give body weight calculators, which can be helpful in determining the exact weight capacity you need.
In considering all of this, you’ll also need to take your center of gravity into account. Taller people have a higher center of gravity, which means that while riding the same board, a tall person can sometimes have more difficulty keeping their balance than a shorter one. That said, if you are shorter, stockier, and weigh more, you might also have some challenges balancing on the boards. It is all a matter of perspective, so you’ll need to take into consideration the shape and build of your body when doing the same for boards.
So, how much does a paddle board weigh? Choosing the Right SUP
Finding the right type of SUP for you can be challenging, but once you “weigh” the possibilities, the picture becomes a lot clearer.
Fiberglass and foam boards tend to suit lighter riders better, while plastic and composite constructions can sometimes be a bit better for heavier paddle boarders. That said, length also plays a huge role, and the heavier you are, the longer you ideally want your board to be. Just as heavier surfers need not just surfboards but longboards, so too do heavier paddle boarders need the equivalent.
Once you realize how much a paddle board weighs and what it can support, you can float that much freer on the waves.
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I’m an Colorado native, who learned to surf in the Pacific Northwest, and SW Canada. I live inland near the mountains now, and love to get out on my SUP. It’s weird, but I love windy, choppy days as no-one is out and I like the challenge.