I’ve never let extra weight deter me from exploring my hobbies- and I really love the water and getting outdoors. While I prefer my kayak for fishing, a stand up paddle board (SUP, for those who aren’t familiar with the lingo) is great for when you just want to get out on the water.
The biggest challenge has definitely been finding that a paddle board that is long enough and wide enough to be stable, without affecting how easy it is to steer. Stability really affects how easily you’ll be able to stand up on the board and the last thing you want to do is end up tipped into the water.
Fortunately, I’ve had plenty of trial-and-error with different SUPs, so I know what to look for. If you need a little guidance, you can check out this info section. If not, feel free to skip ahead to the reviews or even check out the links to our top picks here:
- Best Paddle Board Overall (and Highest Weight Limit): iRocker 11′ Paddle Board (435 pounds)
- Best Hardshell Paddle Board for a Heavy Person: California Board Company Hydra 10’6″ Board (300 pounds)
- Best 2-in-1 Paddle Board: Zupapa 11′ Paddle Board and Kayak (380 pounds)
- Best Tandem Paddle Board: Driftsun Orka 12′ Paddle Board (550 pounds)
- Best Paddle Board for Relaxing Outdoor Excursions: Driftsun Balance 11′ Paddle Board (400 pounds)
- Best Paddle Board for the Heavier, More Experienced Rider: Valwix 12′ Odyssey Paddle Board (350 pounds)
- Paddle Board with the Best Accessories: DAMA 11′ Paddle Board (352 pounds)
- Best Paddle Board on a Budget: Hapfan 11′ Inflatable Paddle Board (350 pounds)
Now let’s get started!
What’s the Difference Between a Surf Board and a Stand Up Paddle Board?
While the overall shape of a paddle board and surf board may be similar, if you put them side by side you’ll definitely notice some differences. Surf boards are generally lighter, shorter, and narrower. They’re built with the intention of riding along with waves and in them, while SUPs are made to ride on top of the waves.
For this reason, paddle boards also may be made thicker, which makes them more buoyant with the right materials. Of course, bigger folks will usually use thicker surfboards too but still not as thick as paddleboards.
The larger board size also changes how you have to stand on the board. While surfing, feet go one in front of the other. Your stance will be a little wider while paddle boarding. Even though both positions require some balance, you can generally expect it to be a little easier to stay balanced on an SUP because you have enough room on the board for a wider stance.
How to Choose the Best Paddle Board for Big Guys (and Gals)
If you aren’t really sure what you’re looking for, this section will give you a brief overview of everything you need to know about shopping for a paddle board from a big guy’s perspective. Feel free to skip ahead to the product reviews if you already have an idea of what you’re looking for, or if you’re in a hurry and want to get straight to the point.
Just like when choosing canoes, fishing kayaks, and other things for water sports, you don’t want to max out the weight limit on the paddle board. Even though a paddle board might say that it has a maximum weight limit of 300 pounds, it isn’t going to work as well in the water if you’re right at that limit.
Instead, go with around something with a weight limit at least 20-30 pounds higher than you need. The extra stability never hurt when you’re just getting started, plus there’s a little wiggle room if you put on a few extra pounds during the holiday season, like many of us do.
For these reasons, all the inflatable paddle boards we suggested have a weight capacity of at least 350+ pounds. (The one rigid board we suggested doesn’t hold that much weight – but we’ll explain why in the next section).
Rigid Board vs. Inflatable
As a heavy guy or gal, odds are an inflatable paddle board is going to be the better choice. You can go with a rigid style with a higher weight limit if you can find one, but many hardshell-style SUPs don’t hold as much.
I haven’t had a whole lot of luck finding rigid-style paddle boards with higher weight limits. We did list one for the plus-sized people who might not need a super high weight capacity, but if you’re looking for a paddle board that supports up to 400-500 pounds or more, you’ll likely want to go with an inflatable model.
Rigid style boards are generally made of wood, fiberglass, or plastic. They are heavier than inflatable paddle boards, so they aren’t as easy to get to the water’s edge. However, this weight is also nice because hardshell boards track better through choppy water. They are rigid and won’t bend or give like an inflatable paddle board might. Plus, there’s no time needed to inflate- just drop it into the water and go.
Inflatable paddle boards are made from lighter materials, so they weigh less. Since the materials weigh less, manufacturers are able to make them longer and wider without making them too heavy or affecting performance. If you choose an inflatable, however, you want something made with thick, military grade materials and durable stitching. Nothing is worse than climbing on a paddle board and having it flex or bend in the middle.
Additionally, inflatable SUPs have the major advantage of being easy to store and transport. If you don’t have a rack to transport a paddle board or a garage to store it in, the small size makes it a lot more convenient for getting to and from the water.
Length, Width, and Experience
Bigger guys (and gals) need bigger paddle boards. The average length of an SUP is around 11-feet, but this can really vary depending on the model. Longer boards move faster through the water and track better, however, they can be a lot harder to turn depending on how long they are.
While you might want something above average so the SUP has a larger surface area (and more stability), avoid boards that are 13-14′ if you’re new to paddling or are worried about maneuverability.
Width of the paddle board matters because it affects stability. I find that anything under 30″ width doesn’t really do it for me when it comes to paddle boards. An width of 32-33″ will offer a little extra stability, but it also isn’t so wide that it makes it hard to maneuver the board through the water.
As you paddle board, you’re going to build up balance and muscles over time. This is especially true since paddle boarding is a full body workout! As you find more stability on the board, you may find you’re ready to move to something a little longer or a little more narrow, especially if you want to travel faster across the water.
The volume of your paddle board is basically the amount of space that it takes up. It takes into account factors like how long, wide, and thick the board is. All these factors determine how easy or hard it’s going to be to stand up in the water.
The hard part when looking at volume metrics and comparing them to your weight is that there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all answer for the volume you need. As a general rule though, you’ll want at least 1 liter of volume per pound. This is one of those situations where having more is better, especially if you’re a new paddle boarder that might need a little more help staying stable on the water.
Something to keep in mind, though, is that a higher volume isn’t always better. If the volume is higher because the board is a lot thicker, you’ll want to remember that you’ll need to push yourself a little farther up to climb on top of it if you fall off. Plus, boards that are longer with a smaller width can still have a high volume, but they won’t always be as stable as something that has a wider design.
Fin Size and Placement
The size and placement of the fins on your paddle board change how well it tracks through water, which basically means how well it moves in a straight line. They also affect things like how much control you have while riding and your overall speed. A wider, larger fin has more surface area, so it’s going to track better and give you more control, while something with a smaller surface area offers less control but more speed.
Your fins can be fixed or removable, depending on the model you choose. While fixed fins are more rigid, those that are removable make storing your SUP a lot easier. You also may be able to switch them out easier, should you lose one of them or decide the size/shape aren’t working for you.
Finally, you’ll want to consider flexibility or rigidity. Fins that are more rigid might break if you hit rocks or coral, while flexible fins bend and are less likely to be damaged. However, more rigid fins give better stability and control than more flexible options.
Extras to Look For
Don’t get me wrong- I think meeting the basics is what you need to do first. After that though, paddle boards sometimes come with some cool extra features that are really nice.
For example, for me, I love something that has a sturdy handle on the side once inflated. This makes it easier to pull in and out of the water once it’s inflated. For when the board isn’t in use, a carry case is a must. Not only does it make it easier to carrier, but a carrying case gives you somewhere to store the inflatable too, so it doesn’t get covered in dust or damaged by dry air or the sun while it’s not in use.
Another cool feature is a wrist leash- these keep your paddle board attached to your wrist just in case you fall off the board. Even though fat people float pretty well, it’s a bit of a hassle when you get separated from your board and have to chase it through the water.
Something else you might want to look for is a warranty. Stand up paddle boards can cost a couple hundred dollars or more, so you don’t want to spend your money on something that isn’t going to last. A longer warranty generally indicates the company believes in their materials and workmanship, so they don’t mind making it right if their product fails. Just be sure to register the paddle board after your purchase!
Is It Hard for Fat People to Use a Paddle Board?
Carrying extra weight isn’t always a measure of how active you are. Fat people can do a lot of things on the water, from kayaking or scuba diving to surfing and paddle boarding. What matters most is that you find the right equipment for your body weight- which is one of the reasons that I’ve compiled some of these reviews!
If you’re just getting started out, it’s important that you don’t get discouraged. I’ve seen newbies of all sizes out on the water falling off their paddle board- it really has nothing to do with weight. Just keep giving it a try until you gain your balance and start out with a wider SUP if you want more stability.
Even though it might be hard at first, there are tons of benefits of paddle boarding. Not only is a great social activity and a way that you can make friends, but the balance that paddle boarding requires uses all the muscles in your body. The more you practice, you’ll also build muscle and improve flexibility. It’s a great cardio activity as well, especially once you learn what you’re doing and start to pick up some speed.
How To Get Back on Your Paddle Board When You’re Fat
If you’re new to paddle boarding, chances are once you’re up on the board you might still come back down again. The biggest challenge I’ve found is moving my belly up and over the paddle board and using my upper strength (which might be lacking just a little) to get up on the board. Fortunately, this guy seems to have it all figured out and you might find this Youtube video incredibly helpful as you try to get back out of the water and onto your paddle board.
For those who don’t want to watch, it seems the key is grabbing onto the board in the space between the very rear and the very middle, then mounting from the side. This is a little bit more narrow than the exact middle of the board, so you should be able to position yourself on either side. Once your hands are in place, you’re going to kick your feet as hard as you can to try and get up out of the water.
There’s also the option of adding a stirrup or knotted rope to your board. You can grab this with your feet and hopefully get that extra little bit of leverage that you need to get up on the board without too much hassle.
A Note About Inflatable Paddle Board Pressure
Before using an inflatable, you put air in it to create surface tension under the materials the paddle board is made out of. Having the right air pressure, which is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), is essential especially when you weigh a little more. If you feel the board is bending or giving out under your weight, check the PSI of your paddle board and consider inflating it a little more.
On average, paddle boarders fill their boards to around 10-15 PSI, though some people go as high as 20-25 PSI for more surface pressure and rigidity. While you should experiment a little to find what works best for your body type, you should also follow manufacturer instructions on pressure board and never exceed 25PSI if you don’t want the paddle board to burst.
Best Paddle Boards for People Who Are 300+ Pounds
Let’s jump right into our top picks for best paddle board and some of the key features that make them great choices for the bigger guy or gal.
Best Paddle Board Overall (and Highest Weight Limit): iRocker 11′ Paddle Board
- 435 pound weight capacity, highest solo paddle board weight limit on our list
- Plenty of fun, color choices because who doesn't love a board that shows their personality
- Pointed nose and wide design make this stable, but also fast
- Very rugged design and deck for all types of water excursions
Whether you’re new to paddle boarding and want to take things slow or are trying to race down some rapids, this board from iRocker is going to get the job done. It is a 11′ long and 32″ wide, which really helps with stability and balance when you’re just starting out. However, the pointed nose and removable tracking fins also help it glide quickly through the water if you put some momentum behind it.
While this is our top choice, it’s also the solo board with the highest weight limit on the list. This is made possible by the rugged, durable design that’s made from triple-layered, military-grade PVC with a drop-stitched middle. Plus, there’s grip tape all over the top deck that helps your feet stick to the board. It’ll also protect the SUP from damage, should you decide to bring your dog out with you.
The company also nailed it with the accessories that come with this paddle board. The included carbon fiber paddle is incredibly lightweight but doesn’t have any give to it, so it pulls the board through the water pretty effortlessly. I also love the wheeled carrying bag- I usually don’t get to use the wheels because of the terrain but the padded straps make it easy to carry.
As an added bonus, the dual-action hand pump inflates a little faster than some of the others I’ve used and the bag has a bungee area on the outside- so I don’t have to cram the air pump in there with the deflated board and risk damaging it. (Not that I think I could, but it’s always best to air on the side of caution).
To be honest, I couldn’t find a whole lot that I didn’t absolutely love about this board, but that would be why it’s the top choice.
Take a closer look at all the color choices, read more reviews, and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Hardshell Paddle Board for a Heavy Person: California Board Company Hydra 10’6″ Board
- 300 pounds, high weight limit for a hardshell paddle board
- Comes with a camera mount for people who like to document their outdoor adventures
- EVA core with hard outer shell for better stability
- Super lightweight and easy to carry, even as a rigid SUP
If you definitely want something rigid, I have to recommend the Hydra model from the California Board Company. It has a higher weight limit (300 pounds) than a lot of the other more rigid boards I’ve checked out, but it’s still super lightweight.
The company accomplishes this by using a lightweight core made of high-density EVA foam that floats and keeps the board buoyant. Around the core, laminated, waterproof wood makes the paddle board more durable and rigid. Rigidity is something that you want as a bigger guy (or gal), since it keeps the board from buckling in the middle so you can balance easier.
This paddle board also comes with plenty of extra features, including a surf leash, removable tracking fin, and a camera mount. Plus, it comes with a lightweight but sturdy paddle that adjusts from 63-83 inches, so you can adjust it to your height.
It is only 30″ across, so it’s a little shorter of a width than I generally prefer. However, my wife whose arms are a little shorter than mine definitely preferred it when she was trying to pull herself up on the board. She has a slightly smaller stance because her feet aren’t quite as big as mine too, so the lost width didn’t really affect how well she could balance on the board.
You can take a closer look at what makes this board so stable, read more reviews, and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best 2-in-1 Paddle Board: Zupapa 11′ Paddle Board and Kayak
- 380 pound weight limit for the bigger rider
- Fully functional paddle board with an optional seat, so you can use it like a kayak
- Thick, EVA foam padding on top for added durability and comfort
- 3 year warranty- longer than a lot of the others offered
If you aren’t 100% sure on the whole standing up to paddle board thing, this paddle board from Zupapa might be a good fit. The 2-in-1 design comes with a removable seat that attaches to the kayak, so you can sit comfortably while you ride. Not only is it functional, but the thick padding on the board and the EVA foam padded seat is also really durable. It’s durable enough to handle the waves and you can even bring along a pet without worrying their nails will dig into the material.
The board is 32″ across, which is enough width to be stable as you try to climb on and off it. Even being wide, it has a sporty shape and removable fins so you can control how fast or slow you move through the water.
The accessories and storage space also make this paddle board a great choice. It comes with a coil leash so you don’t lose your board if you tip over, a shoulder strap and backpack for easier carrying, and even a place to attach the included foot rest and the paddle if you are using it as a kayak. Even the paddle is multi-purpose, having a second head that you can attach to the opposite end for dual-ended paddling action.
I also appreciated the dual-action air pump. It took less than 10 minutes to inflate, but if this isn’t fast enough you can always use the electric pump adapter and inflate with an electrical pump. Should anything happen to the board, this comes with a handy repair kit, which is always a nice bonus. The company also offers a 3 year warranty on workmanship and materials, so your investment is protected that way as well.
Check out the unique, 2-in-1 design, read more reviews, and see the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Tandem Paddle Board: Driftsun Orka 12′ Paddle Board
- 550 pound weight limit, perfect for riding tandem or solo if you're big and tall
- 12 feet long and 42 inches across for maximum stability
- Two pumps and multiple air chambers so you can get on the water fast
- D-ring tie and bungee tie downs for storage on longer trips
If you’re looking for a board with a really high weight capacity, this one is it. It’s great because you have the option of paddle boarding with someone else, or taking gear (or even a pet) out on the water with you. If you do take gear, there’s even storage space that you can appreciate.
The only thing you’ll want to remember is that this board is quite a bit larger than what I’d usually recommend. It isn’t so wide that you can’t get on and off of it, but it will take some strategy on your part. Personally, I’d recommend adding a knotted rope to one of the D-rings and using it for leverage to get on and off the board.
With the larger size, this is a little harder to get to the water’s edge by yourself if it’s already inflated. There are twelve handles on the side that help with carrying it once inflated, but the large size is a little awkward to do it alone. Plus, while this comes with two separate pumps and valves for faster pumping, you’ll probably still spend 20-30 minutes inflating if you have to do it yourself.
While the larger dimensions of this board make it more stable, it also makes it a little harder to maneuver if you’re using this solo. However, it comes with tracking fins that keep it moving through the water and it’s not so difficult to steer that you can’t do it by yourself (as long as your arms are long enough).
Check out the super wide design, read more reviews, and see the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Paddle Board for Relaxing Outdoor Excursions: Driftsun Balance 11′ Paddle Board
- 400 pound weight limit, second highest for solo boards on the list
- Extra-wide deck for added stability and balance
- Bungee area and D-rings for bringing gear on longer excursions
When you’re out on the water to relax, you’re not necessarily worried about how fast your board is going to move through the water. In fact, some people take to the water to do yoga, lay out in the sun, or just relax and this board is perfect for that.
The design of this one is a little wider than others on the list, being about 34″ across. This helps support the higher weight capacity of this board since it goes up to 400 pounds, but it’s not so wide that you can’t easily maneuver it through the water. The bigger deck size is also perfect for going out with any gear you might need too, especially with the bungee tie downs on the front and D-rings.
If you do plan on laying out or doing yoga once you’re on the water, you’ll appreciate the thick, padded non-slip deck top. All the extras like a roll-up backpack for storage and transportation, ankle leash, and dual-action pump are also nice. This board does come with an aluminum paddle, however, it felt more lightweight and less durable in my hands than some other options. I honestly used a different paddle that I’m more comfortable with, but that could just be a matter of preference with my larger hands.
Even though this board is considered one for casual paddle boarding rather than hitting the rapids, it’s still built with quality materials. The drop-stitch design and multiple layers of PVC material make it really durable, plus Driftsun always includes a 1-year warranty on assembly, workmanship, and materials when you purchase one of their boards.
Check out the wide design of this board, read more reviews, and see the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Paddle Board for the Heavier, More Experienced Rider: Valwix 12′ Odyssey Paddle Board
- 350 pound weight limit, great for heavier riders
- Good amount of stability, but pointed deck front so you move quicker through the water
- 5 D-rings, perfect for storage or positioning a kayak seat on top
- Camera mount for people who like to watch the action later
I’ve included this inflatable board in our reviews for the heavier rider with a little more experience. While paddle boarding is something that can be casual and relaxing, when the water gets choppy it can be exhilarating and intense. This board is for those people looking for a little something extra on their outing, and it’s built durable to handle that adventure as well.
The Odyssey has an 11′ design and is 32″ across, which is about average for a lot of the paddle boards I’ve already recommended. What sets it apart is the front of the deck, which comes to more of a point instead of being rounded like a lot of other models on the list. Even though the width makes it plenty stable, the shape of the board helps it glide through water a little easier.
I liked that even though this board was relatively affordable compared to some of the others, the included electric pump that works for inflation and deflation makes it super easy to get on or off the water. It also comes with a textured deck area, 5 D-rings, and a bungee tie down area. If you have a kayak seat, the D-rings are positioned perfectly for you to secure it on the board.
Another nice feature is the camera mount. While I’m not one to video my outdoor excursions, it’d probably be pretty cool to watch this board in action with the way it glides so quickly and smoothly through the water.
Take a closer look at the pointed shape of the deck, read more reviews, and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Paddle Board with the Best Accessories: DAMA 11′ Paddle Board
- 352 pound weight limit, great for bigger guys and gals
- Loaded with accessories and extra features, at a wallet-friendly price
- D-rings to attach dry bag and phone case, or anything else you might need
- Pointed nose and removable fin, for relaxing rides or speed depending on preference
If you’re looking for an all-in-1 board, where you don’t have to buy any extra accessories, then this is really a good choice. It’s nice going out on the water knowing you have everything you need and this paddle board gives you that peace of mind.
Let’s start with the board, though. This SUP is 11′ long and 33″ across, for a board that offers a lot of stability but remains easy to maneuver. On top, there’s a soft padded area with texture, so it feels comfortable underfoot but will stop you from sliding off too easily. I also liked the pointed nose. As I mentioned earlier, it really helps the board slice through the water faster!
For people who need storage, there’s plenty of D-rings on the board, as well as a tie down area. As an added bonus, the board comes with a waterproof bag for your phone and a second 5L ocean dry bag for those other things you don’t want getting wet, like a change of clothes or your camera when it isn’t mounted.
This paddle board from DAMA a shoulder strap, carrying bag, pump, and a collapsible aluminum paddle. Plus, there’s a camera mount for people who might want it and an included repair kit, just in case you need it.
Check out all the accessories that come with this paddle board, read more reviews and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Paddle Board on a Budget: Hapfan 11′ Inflatable Paddle Board
- 350 pound weight limit for the heavier paddle boarder
- Option to buy with manual or electric pump, depending on preference and budget
- Budget-friendly price that doesn't sacrifice quality
- Comes with a 20L dry bag for those things you don't want getting wet
Even though this 11′ board from Hapfan is more affordable than those mentioned on the list, it really doesn’t sacrifice quality to achieve this. The board has a rounded design that is 32″ wide for plenty of stability when you’re trying to stand up.
Even though it’s more affordable, there are still plenty of extras included with this. The board comes with an electric air pump that inflates in 8 minutes and deflates in 3, 5 D-rings and a bungee cord for storage, and even a 20L dry bag to store those things you don’t want getting wet. For people that really want to save money, there’s also an option to buy this with a manual air pump instead of an electric one. Plus, the D-rings are the perfect position for your kayak seat.
The company made the board durable using drop-stitch technology that’s wrapped in an airtight layer of fabric. Around this, there’s an air chamber and dual layers of PVC material to prevent leaking air or deflation. The paddle included with this was the only thing I didn’t necessarily love- like most, it doesn’t feel sturdy enough for my personal preference in my hands!
Check out this budget-friendly paddle board, read more reviews, and see the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
I won’t lie- paddle boarding was one of those water sports that was kinda intimidating as a big guy. I was happy to learn though, that standing up on the paddle board and getting your balance is the hardest part. Plus, having the right board and gear really did wonders for getting me up and moving on the water.
Hopefully, this list makes it easier for the next person looking for the best paddle board for a heavy person, too! I’ve found that it’s best to think about how you want to use the paddle board, then choose something that works best for you. Having added features or included accessories is nice, but don’t forget that it’s the board that really makes a difference when you’re out on the water. You can worry about the rest later!
Feel free to leave any comments or suggestions you might have below. Also, happy paddle boarding!