Paddleboarding is a great way to exercise and enjoy the water, both as a group and by yourself.
While stand-up (SUP) paddleboarding is considered to be relatively safe (especially when compared to other water sports), the rise of the availability of cheap boards from a variety of retailers has added to an increasing number of paddleboard-related incidents.
For your safety, one of the first things you should know before wading into the water is the weight limit of your board!
In this article, we’re going to cover:
- What the maximum weight capacity for a SUP paddleboard is
- What factors will impact your board’s weight capacity
- The differences between inflatable and epoxy boards in terms of load bearing
- How to measure your board’s weight capacity
- The risks of overloading your paddleboard
- Anything else you should know before delving into the exciting world of SUP.
Let’s get paddling!
What Is the Maximum Weight Capacity of a Stand-up Paddle Board?
Unfortunately, this question doesn’t have a specific standard answer.
That’s because every SUP will have a set weight capacity that’s different for each board.
However, in general, the maximum weight capacity of a SUP board varies from 200–700 pounds.
Of course, some boards will be able to withstand a higher weight limit than this; again, it all depends on the manufacturer.
If you are overweight, then you have to shop for a paddle board for heavy people.
Factors That Impact a Paddleboard’s Weight-Holding Ability
There are a few different things are affect how much weight a SUP can safely hold on the water.
Let’s look at them in a bit more detail.
The length, width, and thickness of a paddleboard all affect its total weight.
The wider the paddleboard, the heavier it will be.
However, greater width will also allow you to balance your weight across it more effectively, providing better stability.
To a lesser extent, the length of a paddle board also affects its weight as a longer board will mean that it’s narrower (which also allows it to travel faster).
As a general rule, it’s a good idea to choose a wider paddle board as it’ll be heavier and feature better weight-bearing capabilities.
The Weight of the Paddler
The weight of the paddler is a huge factor in a board’s weight-holding ability, and different boards will be manufactured to withstand a range of weights.
The lighter you are, the higher you’ll be able to float on your board – resulting in more stability.
Similarly, the heavier you are the lower your board will be in the water, making your board less stable.
Any Gear or Equipment That Will Be on the SUP
Generally, the more weight you add to your board, the more unstable it will become.
If you’re planning to bring a significant amount of gear or equipment with you, make sure that you factor this into your total weight.
While many paddleboards are built for multiple passengers, you’ll need to ensure that there’s enough space on the board and that your total combined weight doesn’t exceed the weight limit.
Weight Limit Differences between Inflatable and Epoxy Paddleboards
You’ll find paddleboards manufactured either as epoxy boards or inflatable ones.
While inflatable boards are more popular with casual or leisure paddlers, epoxy boards are more commonly used by racers or surfers.
Inflatable paddleboards tend to:
- Be lighter and easier and more convenient to transport
- Be more durable, making them ideal for waterways where you expect to come in contact with rock (such as rivers and rocky shores)
- Have higher weight limits than epoxy boards.
On the other hand, epoxy paddleboards:
- Tend to be less stable compared to inflatable paddleboards
- Are heavier and more cumbersome
- Generally have lower weight limits.
How to Measure Paddleboard Weight Limit
There are different ways that manufacturers use to measure the weight limit of their paddleboards, as well as a general formula that you may also want to know (although you may not necessarily need to).
Maximum Weight Limit in Pounds (Lbs)/Kilograms (Kg)
As the name suggests, this is the maximum weight that a paddleboard can sustain before it becomes unstable and increases your risk of capsizing and sinking.
You might have also heard of this referred to as “buoyancy”.
As most paddle boards are made in the U.S., the weight limit will be measured in pounds (lbs).
However, many will also give you this measurement in kilograms (kg).
If they don’t, simply use the following conversion formula for pounds and kilograms:
- [Number of pounds] divided by 2.2046 = [number of kilograms].
SUP Volume Numbers Cubic Liters (L)
The volume of your paddleboard is the amount of space your board takes up.
When manufacturers talk about the SUP volume, it’s typically to advertise how much weight the board can carry.
In other words, SUP volume refers to how much weight your paddle board can take while remaining afloat; the higher the volume, the heavier the weight that a board can hold.
This measurement, therefore, is crucial in determining the board’s performance.
Paddleboard Volume Formula
You’ll probably never have to work out the volume of your paddleboard since it’ll most likely be advertised with your board.
If you have to, the formula is very straightforward—you just need to multiply the board’s length, width, and thickness to get its rough volume in liters.
Written out, it’s:
- Board’s length x board’s width x board’s thickness = Board’s volume in liters.
However, remember that the board isn’t a perfect rectangle, so the result you’ll get above won’t necessarily be accurate.
Pounds vs. Volume
When choosing the right board for you, you’ll need to consider your weight vs. the board’s volume.
You’ll also need to consider what type of paddling you’re planning on doing, as well as your level of experience.
Generally, if you’re more experienced, you can get away with a smaller board as long as you keep it balanced with your weight in pounds.
If you’re a beginner, your weight should match the volume of the board at the minimum.
For example: if you’re a beginner paddler weighing around 150 pounds, your ideal board will need to be between 150 and 210 L.
There’s also a handy formula that you can use to work out what your ideal paddleboard should be, depending on your level of experience.
- For a beginner/touring paddler, multiply your weight by 1.1–1.5
- For a novice/intermediate paddler, multiply your weight by 0.9–1.1
- For an advanced paddler, multiply your weight by 0.7–0.9
- For a professional paddler, multiply your weight by 0.6–0.7.
The above weights should be computed using pounds.
Paddleboard Maximum vs. Performance Weight Limits: What’s Better?
While a paddleboard may have a maximum weight limit, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the board will function optimally at this weight!
Always remember that the heavier the load you put on a board, the more unstable it becomes.
In other words: just because your weight limit is 300 pounds doesn’t mean you’ll be getting the best performance out of your board if you place 300 pounds of weight on it!
Generally, you should aim to never exceed 75% of the board’s total maximum weight limit.
By never exceeding this weight, you can ensure that the board is more stable and that it’s easier for you to paddle and maneuver it.
Risks of Overloading a Paddle Board
You should know that you can put too much weight on your SUP, which is risky.
Let’s look at why you wanna be mindful of not overloading your SUP.
The Board Becomes Less Stable and Harder to Balance
As we’ve already mentioned repeatedly: the more weight you put onto your board, the lower your board will sit in the water and the less stable it becomes.
Increased Risk of Capsizing
When a board is less stable, you increase the risk of it capsizing or sinking.
Either situation is dangerous, especially for a complete beginner.
As such, it’s a good practice to remain way below the board’s maximum weight limit.
Increased Risk of Damage to the Board
When overloaded, your board sits lower in the water – putting it closer to objects (such as rocks) that could potentially damage the surface.
This also increases the risk of cracking your board.
With increased weight comes heightened drag, requiring more effort for you to keep the board moving.
If you don’t paddle hard enough, the board will move much more slowly, and will also become much harder to maneuver.
Potential Safety Hazard
Because of how easily it can capsize or sink, an overloaded board poses a potential safety hazard especially if you’re riding with someone else.
Either way, an overloaded board is bound to have you spending more time in the water than you’d like!
Potential Liability Issues If Using a Rental Board or in a Guided Tour
When you use a rental board or take part in a guided tour, you will likely have to sign a waiver concerning weight limits.
These documents often state that you will be liable for any damage to the board if you overload it.
In the worst-case scenario, the rental service also likely won’t be responsible for any consequence if you willingly choose to go over the weight limit.
Is There a Weight Limit for Paddleboarding?
While there is no specific weight limit for paddleboarding itself, there are weight limits for specific boards.
That’s why it’s essential that you choose the right board for your weight.
When in doubt, always remember that there’s no such thing as being too light for a board.
However, you can certainly be too heavy for one if you overload its weight limit!
Sharing a SUP Board with Another Rider
While it is possible to share your SUP board with another rider (some people even like to bring their dogs out with them), be sure that you’re choosing a board with an appropriate weight limit for your combined weight.
There are also multi-person boards available that are specifically designed for multiple riders and readily come with at least two paddles.
Examples of Paddle Board Weight Limits
Here’s a quick look at some of the top paddle boards and their weight limits, just to give you an example of what’s on the market.
Isle Scout Inflatable Paddle Board
The Isle Scout is an inflatable board that’s also suitable for all SUP paddling.
It’s specially designed for yoga enthusiasts and can take multiple riders.
- MVP = MOST VERSATILE PADDLER: This board is a great all-around iSUP, perfect for recreation, yoga/fitness, multi-person paddling, fishing, and more. The full-length traction pad allows you to share the paddle boarding experience with your dogs, kids, friends, and gear!
- Length: 11’
- Width: 33”
- Thickness: 6”
- Volume: 345 L
- Weight: 21 lbs
- Capacity: 315 lbs.
Isle Versa Paddle Board
The Isle Versa board is an epoxy board that features high maneuverability.
It comes in two lengths that both have their own weight limits.
- ALL-AROUND CLASSIC SUP DESIGN: Rigid and stable for riders of all skill levels. Perfect for activities like flatwater paddling, yoga, fishing, and more. Ideal for any skill level and provides an easy, stable ride.
- Length: 10’ 5”/11’ 2”
- Width: 32”/33”
- Thickness: 4.5”/5.1875”
- Volume: 175 L/227 L
- Weight: 26 lbs/29 lbs
- Capacity: 215 lbs/275 lbs.
SereneLife Inflatable Stand-Up Paddle Board
The SereneLife Thunder Wave SUP board is another inflatable board that promises stability and high performance despite its rather light weight.
This is an ideal board for beginners.
- EXTRA WIDE FOR BETTER BALANCE: Measuring 10’5 feet long & 30 inches wide, balancing & stabilizing on top of our SUP board is a breeze
- Length: 10’
- Width: 30”
- Thickness: 6”
- Weight: 19.6 lbs
- Capacity: 275 lbs.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to paddleboards, the key thing to remember is that you can definitely enjoy the activity as long as you choose a board that suits your weight and level of expertise.
Paddleboard weight limits will be set by the manufacturer, so it’s quick and easy to see which board will best suit you!
You should also keep in mind that the maximum limit will not necessarily equate to optimal performance for your paddleboard.
Ultimately, being aware of your board’s limits and not overloading it (either with your weight, extra gear, or extra riders) will keep you safe as you enjoy a great time on the water!