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I hate to tell you this, but the only cure for wanting a paddleboard is buying a paddleboard. I thought that, since I’m a fat guy, I would eventually just watch enough skinny people on paddleboards that I’d get over trying it.
I was wrong.
So when that failed I went on a mission to find the best paddle boards for big guys.
And not 200lb big guys. We’re talking about big and tall 300+ pounders like myself.
Unfortunately, a paddleboard for big guys can be hard to find. At least, they’re hard to find if you don’t want something that paddles like a wet log. So after lots of research and several sunburns, I’m proud to share with you my final list of the best paddleboards with a 300lb or greater capacity, designed specifically for large riders:
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What makes a paddleboard “high capacity”?
When it comes to SUPs, the only way to make them significantly higher capacity is to make them bigger. The weight that a paddleboard can hold is dictated by the amount of water it displaces and, you guessed it, bigger boards displace more water.
The average stand-up paddleboard measures between 10-11 feet and measures 32-34″ wide. So if you are bigger than average, you’ll want to find a SUP that is either longer, wider, or thicker.
No matter what length or width you choose, it is much easier to find a high-capacity paddleboard that is inflatable. Epoxy or foam boards are limited in thickness and typically don’t have a weight capacity of over 250lbs. Inflatable boards, on the other hand, are extremely buoyant and can be found up to 8″ thick. At that thickness, they are rigid enough that they almost perfectly mimic the hard feel of an epoxy board (although without all of the quick gliding characteristics).
The main drawback of going for increased thickness instead of length is that heavy paddlers will push more of the board deeper into the water, increasing drag. The secret is to find the sweet spot that will allow a heavy person the have the best possible paddling experience.
What Size/Length of Stand-Up Paddle Board is Best for Big Guys?
If you are new to paddle boarding and want to increase the volume (capacity) then I would suggest getting a longer board than average as well as thicker. Short boards tend to be designed for racing and, while they’re more maneuverable, they tend to be less stand and more difficult for beginners to use. A length of 12-14′ will be sufficient for most heavy people although the really high capacity boards (often meant for multiple people) are up to 15′ in length.
Most low-quality budget boards are 4″ thick which is totally inadequate for big guys. Not only does this not float well with a heavy paddler, but it also will not be rigid enough for any extended touring. A board that bends in the middle will not paddle well in the water and probably won’t last long. So, in your search, stick to 6″ or 8″ thick boards. At 6-8″ thick, even an 11-foot SUP will be more than capable of holding a 300-pound person.
Best SUPs For Big & Heavy People
1. Roc Inflatable – Best Budget 300lb Capacity SUP
ROC is a family-owned USA-based business that calls itself the “industry leader in inflatable paddleboards” and I’m inclined to agree with them. That’s not to say there aren’t better or higher capacity paddle boards out there but, to do better than this, you’d have to spend 3-4x the price. Which makes it a given that this is one of the best-selling paddleboards this year!
If you are just looking to get into paddleboarding (or want to buy a couple for friends/family) then this is the perfect option. Not only do you get an amazing SUP, but ROCK sends it with all the accessories you need to hit the water. You’ll get a pump, a collapsible paddle, a waterproof bag, a padded safety leash, and a backpack to carry everything.
In terms of size and board set-up, the ROC is fairly typical, albeit a bit shorter than we typically recommend for big and heavy guys. However, its innovative structure means that it boasts a respectable 300lb weight capacity while weighing in at 20% less than comparable competitor’s boards.
So unless you’re over the weight limit save yourself the time (and money) and pick up this board today!
I do have to add here, DO NOT BUY A CHEAPER BOARD! Purchasing a paddle board from a “budget” company that will be gone next season is a frustrating experience. The reason they disappear is that they don’t want to be around when everyone’s boards fail the second season. ROC is the only “budget” SUP maker that I recommend.
2. VoltSurf 11′ All-Around – Best Premium Option for Heavy Guys
Voltsurf is a home-brewed SUP company from California that has only been around since 2012. Since that time they have made a name for themselves for two main reasons: they are factory direct which means they have some of the best prices of top-tier boards, and they create the most rigid and innovative inflatable SUPs on the market!
The above board is their “all-around” board which is perfect for both beginners and experienced paddlers alike. Because it’s a little bigger and fluffier than a race board, it has a higher capacity (320lbs) while still maintaining all the bells and whistles that you need in s SUP for big guys.
Besides looking absolutely killer (thanks to their proprietary printing process), here are some attributes which really attracted me to this SUP for heavy guys:
- Each layer of this board (all six of them) is tested for a full 24 hours before moving forward in production to make sure every board meets the highest standard of quality.
- High-quality UV coating will keep your board looking bright and floating well after all those hours in the sun
- Military Grade PVC reinforcement makes sure this is probably the best SUP for large riders (300lbs) because it won’t sag in the water.
- The single fin system reduces drag (especially for bigger guys) and is easy to replace with just your hands should you damage it.
All in all, this is the board I would choose if I were in the market for another board. Oh, wait…this is the board I chose, and I love it.
So who shouldn’t buy this board? Well, at 250ish pounds, this is the best board for me. But if you’re looking for a paddle board for 300 lbs or more you might want a little more cushion (such as option #4). However, if you’re within the weight limit, pick this board up before the season is over again!
3. ISLE Megalodon Inflatable – Biggest Paddle Board for Big and Tall Guys
If you want to play around the lake or beach with your spouse, kids, cousin, and maybe even a dog then the Megladon from Isle is the stand-up paddleboard that you need. The 12′ version which we researched is absolutely massive. It is the widest paddleboard I’ve ever seen (45″) and is big enough that two people could sleep comfortably through the night on it.
Thanks to the massive amount of water it displaces the 12′ version of this board has a 450 lb capacity which seems insufficient only when compared with its big brother: the Megladon 15. The colossal 15-footer boasts an incredible 1050-pound capacity (the highest capacity paddle board we know of) and is big enough for the whole family to play on!
While I’m not sure it’s on par with a 10-person paddle board, it will certainly support anything that most large riders can throw at it. So if this is your speed, get it! Just don’t expect to get anywhere fast once you have it!
4. TOWER Inflatable – Best 400lb Capacity Paddleboard For Large Riders
Tower has taken the SUPing world by storm recently with its unique 8″ thick boards. They claim that their thick and extremely rigid boards not only perform as well as a traditional epoxy hardboard but have more than twice the weight capacity of most inflatable boards.
While this board is not one of the legendary 8″ thick boards (I don’t have the money for one of those…) it does incorporate all of Tower’s stiffening tricks to give it a 400lb capacity.
Not only does this board have the perfect dimensions for playing around and exploring, but it is also made of military-grade materials that promise to get you wherever you want to go and back without any issues. As with the other boards in this review, it comes complete with everything you need to get out paddle boarding today. Just add water!
Other characteristics we looked at:
Apart from high capacity, what makes a good paddle board for big guys? Well, here are a few other things that we took into account and you should probably consider too:
- Tie-Down points. Whether you want to attach gear, convert your paddleboard to a heavy-duty kayak (who doesn’t love plus-size kayaks?), or want additional handles, attachment points are nice. If you don’t use them, fine, but when you need them it’s sure nice to have them!
- The kit items that are included. Most kits include a standard set of items so we looked for options that included the highest quality bags, and paddles. Unless you’re heading into the wilderness you’ll probably want to upgrade to an electric pump so they weren’t a huge consideration in our list order.
- Looks. They matter to us, they probably matter to you, so we thought about them.
- Price. The main problem when it comes to paddle boards is that you can’t buy just one. You’ll get one for the family, and then realize that you each need your own for maximum fun. So we did our best to include paddle boards designed for big guys but affordable for the whole family.
So whatever you’re looking for in a paddle board for big and tall guys, you’ll find it in one of the above boards!
Inflatable vs. Epoxy
A couple of years ago there was no competition between rigid boards and inflatables, especially if you were around 300 pounds or bigger. Now, however, the quality of inflatable paddle boards has increased to the point where they are the paddle board of choice for most casual (non-competitive) paddlers. They are rigid enough to support lots of weight, they’re easy to paddle, easy to transport and store, and tend to be way cheaper!
While my buddies make fun of me while I’m pumping up my board, they’re spending the time fitting their hard boards to the top of their Civic’s roof so I’m not sure what the difference is.
Paddleboarding for Big Guys: the Quickstart Guide
If you weigh more than 200 pounds, you might just be tempted to stay in your heavy duty beach chair instead of trying to paddle board. It looks a bit intimidating and, if you’re ever seen someone try it for the first time, it can be a bit harder than it looks. Luckily, we’ve got a video and a few tips to get you up and moving on that paddle board no matter what your size or experience level!
- Make sure you’re in deep enough water that you won’t hit the bottom. If the water isn’t very deep, just know that you will eventually fall so do your best to avoid rocks, they hurt.
- If you are not confident in your balancing ability, get an adjustable paddle. This will allow you to start off by sitting or kneeling on the board. The lower your center of gravity the easier it is to stay upright so don’t stand up until you’re ready!
- One of the most important skills you can learn is how to get back on the board when you fall off. This becomes a more serious issue when you get further from shore so unless you want to get rescued, make sure you get some practice!
Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun! No matter if you’re a big guy, a plus-sized lady, a tiny kid, or a dog, you should always forget yourself and have fun on the water. Bring the friends, bring the grill, and never forget a paddleboard or two. Be safe and have fun out there!
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