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Did you know that a 280-pound person actually can’t use a paddleboard with a 300-pound weight capacity? While it is possible to use it without it sinking underwater, the paddleboard just won’t move as it should and that makes it a lot harder to balance. It also becomes a lot harder to make turns, move over any waves, and paddle the board through the water.
But is there a weight limit for paddleboarding?
There isn’t necessarily a weight limit for paddleboarding, though your paddleboard (or SUP) might have a weight limit recommended by the manufacturer. Rigid, or hard-shell SUPs may only support around 250-300 pounds. A longer, wider board, or an inflatable SUP, might hold 500-600 pounds or more.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at exactly how much weight a paddleboard can hold. I’ll also give you some tips for choosing the right size paddleboard for both your body shape and skill level and answer some questions you might have about weight capacity and paddleboards.
How Much Weight Can a Paddleboard Hold on Average?
The amount of weight that a paddleboard can hold depends on the total volume of the board, as well as factors like the length, width, and depth of the board, and the materials that it’s made from. You’ll also find that there is a difference between the weight capacities of rigid or hard-shell SUPs and inflatable SUPs. We’ll take a closer look below, but here’s a quick chart that shows some average weight ranges for these types of boards.
Rigid paddleboards have an average weight limit of around 250-300 pounds or less. They are usually made from wood, fiberglass, durable plastic, or other solid materials.
Rigid Stand Up Paddleboard Weight Limit
Since the materials used to make hard-shell SUPs are heavier than materials for inflatables, it’s hard to make them larger without affecting overall performance. That doesn’t mean that hard-shell SUPs with higher weight capacities aren’t out there, but you will have an easier time finding a paddleboard with a higher weight capacity in an inflatable design.
Inflatable Paddleboard Weight Limit
Since inflatable paddleboards (iSUPs) are full of air and made of lighter materials, they often have a higher weight capacity than rigid boards. The size of the board really affects the weight capacity, so some boards only have a 350-pound weight limit, while other iSUPs support 500-600 pounds or more.
Inflatable boards are made from durable materials like PVC and usually use drop-stitching to secure the layers. Since the materials weigh less than those used to make rigid boards, inflatable SUPs can be made longer and wider without increasing the overall weight of the board too much.
Tandem Paddleboard Weight Limit
Tandem paddleboards are designed for more than one rider. Two-rider models are common, though some boards are big enough that you can have 2-3 riders or more. Most tandem paddleboards have a weight limit of at least 500-600 pounds, though I’ve seen models that support more than 1,000 pounds, too!
If you are a bigger man or woman considering a tandem paddleboard for yourself, be sure to choose one that is sized so you can paddle it through the water alone. While around 11-12′ is average, some tandem boards might be 14-feet or more. These are a little harder to maneuver by yourself.
You also don’t want to choose something that’s too wide. Fortunately, most tandem boards aren’t more than a few inches wider than a regular iSUP because the riders still need to be able to reach the water with their paddle.
Is There a Weight Limit for Paddleboarding?
There is not a weight limit for paddleboarding, parasailing, surfing, or any other water sports, provided you have equipment that supports your weight. In fact, as far as water sports go, paddleboarding is well-suited to people of all ages and skill levels. This is especially true if you have zero experience out on the water; paddleboarding is a great place to start!
That being said, there usually is a weight capacity for each individual paddleboard. Some styles of SUP max out around 250 pounds, or even less, while others might support upwards of 500-600 pounds. I’ve even seen a board designed for multiple riders, with a weight limit of 1,000 pounds!
Weight Capacity vs. Usable Weight Capacity
Something to remember as you’re shopping for a paddleboard for fat people is that the manufacturer’s recommended weight capacity is not actually how much the paddleboard can hold. Ideally, you’ll want your overall weight to take up about 70-80% of the recommended weight capacity.
If you do use 100% of the paddleboards weight capacity, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will sink underwater. However, it won’t move as well as it should in the water. You end up working a lot harder than you need to while maneuvering it and you won’t be able to enjoy yourself as much.
You’ll find this is true for a lot of things you’d take out on the water, including when considering the weight capacity of a kayak.
Can Fat People Paddleboard?
Fat people can paddleboard and honestly, it’s a great place to start if you want to spend some time outdoors. Unlike something like surfing, paddleboards are a lot wider, longer, and more stable. Of course, fat people can surf too with the right board and enough practice!
The wide design of paddleboards is great for larger men and plus-sized women because paddleboarding requires a larger stance than surfing. There’s more room for your feet and you stand in a way that’s more comfortable for a bigger person, especially if you have large thighs.
Plus, paddleboarding has a pretty easy learning curve and you can build up your stamina/abilities over time, just like if you were learning to hike as a heavier person. You can start out on easy mode and try new things as you get comfortable.
With paddleboarding, you can stand up right away, or just sit until you get comfortable balancing. Even if you’re paddling while sitting you are burning calories and working your core muscles. Paddleboarding has tons of health benefits, too, so there’s really no reason not to paddleboard.
What Affects the Weight Capacity of a Paddleboard?
Paddleboards support the weight of their rider, but they also have to support the weight of the board itself. Boards made from heavier materials generally have lower weight capacities. The company cannot increase the size of the board too much without also making the board significantly heavier.
Size and Volume
Factors like the total size of the board (length, width, and height) and the volume of the board also play a big role in weight capacity. Basically, the larger the size of a board, the better it’s able to support higher weight capacities.
Volume is the amount of space that the board takes up in the water. The volume you need in a stand up paddleboard depends on both your total weight and your skill level. We’ll take a closer look at the volume and paddleboards in the next section.
Shape of the Board
The shape of the board, particularly on the bottom (or the hull), affects weight capacity as well. Paddleboards with surf-style hulls are most common. They are mostly flat but have a slight curve.
A displacement hull is better for people who want to go fast on their board. It has a pointed nose that helps it track through the water. While you can use it for touring, displacement hulls move fast enough for racing or fitness paddleboarding.
Planing hulls are also flatter, similar to the surf-style board. They generally have a wide design but are still fairly easy to maneuver. They’re great for SUP yoga and touring.
Displacement hulls, which are more pointed, displace more water and sit a little deeper. Boards that are wider and flatter are more stable, so planing and surf-style hulls have greater volume (and weight capacity).
How to Determine the Size Paddleboard for Your Height and Weight
Weight capacity aside, the other really important number when choosing the ideal paddleboard size is the volume of the board. Volume is basically the physical space that the board takes up. Boards with a larger volume are better suited to riders who need a little more stability.
While high-volume boards are a great choice for heavier individuals, they are also great for beginners. I consider myself both. Though I don’t fall down nearly as often as I did in the beginning, I don’t think I’m quite ready for a narrower board that’s going to zoom across the water.
For people who need high-volume boards, you can calculate your ideal volume using your weight in kilograms. If you don’t have that number handy, pull out your calculator and divide your weight in pounds by 2.2046. (You can type it into Google and get the answer pretty easily, too).
Once you have that number, you find the ideal volume based on the weight capacity you need and your skill level. For beginners or bigger people who need a high-volume board, multiply by a value between 2.2 and 3. (Intermediate riders will want to multiply a value between 1.8 and 2.2, while expert riders can use a value between 1.1 and 1.8 depending on their skill level).
You can learn more about the volume of a SUP board by checking out this video!
Finding Your Ideal Paddleboard Volume for Your Size and Skill Level
While you should have the formula to calculate SUP volume for your size and weight, here’s a handy chart that will help you out if you don’t want to work out the math for yourself. Assuming that you aren’t at pro level yet, I’ve included the values for beginners and intermediate skill levels.
|Weight (in pounds)||Weight (in kilograms)||Skill Level||Ideal Paddleboard Volume|
FAQs About the Weight Limit of a Paddleboard
What happens if you weigh too much for your paddleboard?
Whether they’re rigid or inflatable, paddleboards are really buoyant. Even if you exceed the weight limit, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the board is going to sink underwater. In fact, you’re more likely to fall off while the board stays afloat.
This happens because when a paddleboard is overloaded, it sits lower in the water than it should. You’re fighting against all that water around you as you try to paddle, rather than sitting on top of it and gliding. Not only does it mean you work harder than you should have to, but it also makes it a lot harder to balance and there are good odds you’ll fall off the board.
Can a single rider use a tandem paddleboard?
In many cases, yes, a single rider can use a tandem paddleboard. The exception to the rule is SUPs that are especially long or wide. If the tandem board is too wide, then it could be difficult for people with shorter arms to reach each side and paddle through the water evenly. If the board is too long for a single rider, then it could be harder to turn or move over waves.
As a general guideline, stick with a tandem board that isn’t longer than 12-feet if you’re worried about maneuverability. It’s also helpful if the board isn’t wider than your arm span. You should be able to be on one side and reach the board on the other, which is pretty essential if you fall off your board and need to climb back up from in the water.
Can I rent a high-capacity SUP?
Yes, there’s no reason that you can’t rent a SUP with a high weight capacity. If you are going on vacation and want to try paddleboarding, or if you live near a large body of water, you may be able to find paddleboards in your area.
Chances are you’ll have the best luck with an inflatable paddleboard. Many SUP rental companies list the models they have available on their websites. If not, call ahead and find out if you can reserve a board with a higher capacity. Remember that a tandem paddleboard might be an option, too!
While there is not a weight limit for paddleboarding, there is a maximum weight capacity that varies based on the board you choose. Larger people generally want boards that are at least 11-12 feet long, and a width of at least 30-32″. Bigger is better, but you also don’t want to overdo it and make it harder to push your board through the water.
There’s no reason not to paddleboard as a bigger man or plus-sized woman. It’s a great way to get outdoors and enjoy yourself, plus paddleboarding is a great beginner’s sport. Hopefully, this article has been helpful in helping you choose the perfect SUP to get you out on the water. I hope to see you out there!