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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 paddle boards that I’d get over trying it. It didn’t work. So when that failed I went on a mission to find the best SUP for big guys. Unfortunately, a paddle board for a heavy person 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 paddle board with a 300 lb or great capacity, designed specifically for large riders:
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 which mimics that hard feel of an epoxy board (although without 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 for a heavy person the have the best possible paddling experience.
What Size/Length of SUP is best for Heavy People?
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, an 11 foot SUP will be more than capable of holding a 300-pound person.
Overall Recommendation: The Best SUP for Big 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) and coming in a complete package, 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.
- The package includes a 3 piece adjustable paddle, a dual action pump (to reduce pumping time by 50%) and a heavy duty rolling backpack!
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 #2). However, if you’re within the weight limit, pick this board up before the season is over again!
Best Paddleboard for 300lbs or more
Tower has taken the SUPing world by storm recently with their unique 6-8″ thick boards. They claim that their thick and extremely rigid boards not only perform as well as a traditional hardboard but have more than twice the weight capacity of most inflatable boards.
In addition to its 400lb weight capacity, the Tower Inflatable is designed to provide hours of fun for beginners to advanced paddlers. With its tri-fin design, this is an extremely stable kayak that moves smoothly through the water. While this may not be the best paddleboard for an extremely tall person who want to travel distance, it works just fine for someone my height (6’3″).
Not only does this board have the perfect dimensions for everyday paddling, but it is also made of military-grade materials that promise to get you there 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!
Alternate Option SUP for Heavy Guys
If you just looked at the specs, you’d think that Atoll made the exact same board that Voltsurf did and, to an extent, you’d be right. They’re both 6″ thick mid-sized boards that are suitable paddleboards for a heavy person. However, there are enough differences that I just had to include both on them among the best paddle boards for 300lb people.
Because the boards are so similar, here are some of the differences worth highlighting:
- The tri-fin design might make this board slightly slower but it will track straighter and you are less likely to be pushed off course.
- This board has way more (15 total) d-rings to help you secure your gear to the top
- This board is water tested to 350 pounds, 30 more than the Voltsurf which may make a difference to you if you’re a bit heavier or want to take a bunch of gear (beer) with you. Unless you want to drop a few pounds before hitting the beach of course.
- The Atoll paddlebaord comes with a full two-year manufacturer’s warranty!
As appealing as many of those points are, I didn’t need the extra capacity and use my board mostly for hanging out at the lake with friends so I went with the board I like the look of better. Call me shallow. However, if this board is a better fit for you, commit and get!
Professional Quality SUP for Big Guys
Red Paddle Co. is one of the most respected names in paddleboarding and no one will doubt that you mean business if you show up to the water with one. As the second-longest board in our SUP for big guys roundup, this board is meant for touring. While it’s stable enough to be a great play or yoga board like others in this review, it really shines when you set out for an island or a trip across the lake.
So if your pockets are deep enough that you’re looking for the very best paddle board for big and heavy paddlers, you found it. The board really doesn’t need much more introduction than that!
Other characteristics we looked at:
Apart from high capacity, what makes a good SUP 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, attachments 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 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 included paddle boards designed for big guys but affordable for the whole family.
So whatever you’re looking for in an SUP for large riders, 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 my 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 than 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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