We get this question all the time and there is no simple answer, primarily because there are two separate aspects to consider: buoyancy and stability. They tend to go hand in hand, but they are not the same thing. Volume only indicates buoyancy, in other words the board's stability to support weight in the water. Stability is the result of other measurements such as board width, thickness, width of the rails, even the rocker.
We have seen 90 kg SUPers paddling relatively comfortably on 90 liter boards, a 1:1 ratio! On the other hand, we have also seen, although less often, lighter SUPers having a hard time with 120 liter boards. The most important factor is the rider's paddling ability, and this only comes with experience.
We have a golden rule that we use to estimate whether you have the right volume:
- If you are a beginner SUPer, and have never paddled a board before, you should consider using a volume twice your weight in kilograms, but expressed in liters. So for example, if you are a beginner weighing 75 kg, multiply your weight by 2 and you will find out that a 150 liter board is sufficient.
- If you have a little more experience, multiply your weight by 1.6 and you will see that a 160 liter board will work.
- If you are an experienced paddler, multiply your weight by 1.2 and see that a 90 liter board will work for you.
As the sport continues to evolve, more advanced boards will be built that have new shapes which will be lighter with stronger lamination, so boards will have lower volume, but greater buoyancy and stability.