Just like bikes and skis, you should pick the right size SUP to get the most enjoyment out of the sport. In general, you should get a board that is stable enough so that you can paddle comfortably and are not constantly in fear of falling off, but not one that is so big that it is hard for you to maneuver and lacks excitement.
Stability comes from width, bottom shape, and volume in the rails. As your weight begins to sink the board, then volume becomes an important factor in stability. If you are a beginner, you will make lots of progress on your first one or two days on the water, so make sure you don’t go too big, or you will outgrow it. On the other hand, if you are getting a board to share with other paddlers, keep their size and skills in mind, and choose the right board for the biggest in the group. Shorter and lighter paddlers don’t usually need much stability, so they can look at narrower boards which have the added benefit of allowing the paddle stroke to be closer in line with their narrow shoulders. As you can see, there are many factors to consider, and demo-ing is a great solution if you have the opportunity. Here are some general guide-lines to get you started:
ALL AROUND BOARDS FOR ENTRY-LEVEL TO INTERMEDIATE PADDLERS:
Light weight paddlers, 150 – 185 liters, 30” – 32” wide.
Medium weight paddlers, 175 – 220 liters, 31” – 33” wide.
Heavy weight paddlers, 210 – 260 liters, 32” – 34” wide.
TR BOARDS FOR ENTRY-LEVEL TO INTERMEDIATE PADDLERS:
Light weights, 180 – 220 liters, 27” – 29” wide.
Medium weights, 220 – 280 liters, 27” – 29” wide.
Heavy weights, 250 – 310 liters, 29” – 31” wide.