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Choosing a Touring Board

Inflatable touring paddleboard choice has drastically improved with an influx of premium brands now taking the lead with their recognition of the need for lighter rider touring (as well as heavier rider touring boards).

There are now 3 key SUP board design shapes in the touring ranges: boards designed for lighter and shorter riders, boards designed for the average height and weight riders and boards designed for the heavier rider. With key premium brands offering solutions in a range of budgets the industry is in a much better place for offering touring paddleboards to the right type of person.

These are the categories

Heavier rider - 100kg and more

Medium rider - 76-99kg

Lighter rider - 75kg and less

SIC Okeanos 12’6 x 30” x 6”


A question we’re often asked. I want to buy a board that will do everyone in my family… there is going to be compromise as we are all different shapes and sizes but understandably it’s unreasonable to assume someone will just buy 4 boards straight out.

Below we explain a bit about touring paddleboard shapes and sizes. The classic touring board shapes are usually 12’6 long and either 30" or 32" wide with a 6" thick platform. Some longer touring paddleboards are 14’ x 30" wide and offer even more speed, glide with this extra length. Up until recently all riders, light, medium and heavy would have had to choose this thickness but now lighter riders and riders under 76 kg have 4.7" (5" thick) touring boards to choose from and heavier riders have more board options as well.

Gladiator Elite 12’6S (12’6 x 30” x 6”) and Gladiator Pro 12’6lt (12’6 x 29” x 4.75”)

Light Rider Touring Boards

Up until recently all riders, light, medium and heavy would have had to choose 6” thickness but now lighter riders and riders under 76 kg have 4.7" (often referred to as the 5” drop stitch) touring boards to choose from and heavier riders have wider board options too.If the rider is under 5’5 and definitely under 5’4 ideally the rider should choose a touring board that’s 28-30” wide as this allows the shorter rider to gain a ‘straight down’ paddle stroke and avoid overreaching and stretching when paddling. If the rider is planning on paddling more than an hour and still wants manoeuvrability, then choosing a board that is over 11’ long is great, with 12’ and 12’6 boards being preferable, There is a misconception that shorter riders should have shorter boards but this actually leads to the shorter rider having to work much harder to be at the same speed as their taller rider friends. If the shorter rider is under 10 stone (or 63kg) it is pretty crucial that the board is 4.7 (5inch) thick. This allows the board volume to sit within the waterline which allows the rider to paddle successfully without being caught by side wind or waves. Without extra weight boards just sit on top of the water and don’t perform as well.

Heavier Rider Boards

Sometimes a heavier rider can struggle to find a board that is a perfect fit as fitness levels often mean stability is needed. Also very tall people need to choose wisely as offer wider boards are needed to help with stance. In the industry we see a much high number of 130 kg riders that are up to 7ft and of course this rider height and weight also needs some special attention from board manufacturers and designers. Suitable boards are now starting to be offered in more board ranges. If the rider is over 6ft and over 90 kg the rider will choose a touring board that’s 30”- 32” wide depending on stability needs. The taller, wider and heavier the rider will want boards going up to and beyond 34”. Taller riders will prefer a touring board that is 12’6 to 14” long, offering glide and stability in this wider board shape.

Glasgow Paddleboarders Club paddling on Loch Lomond

With all of this in mind: whatever board you have or use. Be happy that it is the board that got you into the sport. More and more now we are finding people are looking for a step up from the 10’6/8 all rounder, they have found what sort of paddling they want to do and are looking for the board that gives them the extra for the paddling that they do 95% of the time.

Happy paddling.


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