Which Paddle Boards are Most Stable?

At first glance, it might look like all paddle boards are the same. But on closer inspection, it becomes obvious that they are not. First, you notice the physical differences; some are longer, wider and thicker than others. On closer inspection, you see how these differences affect the board’s performance, particularly the stability. And when you are on the water, stability is non-negotiable. So continue reading to find out which paddle boards are most stable and which one is perfect for you.

Why is Stability Important?

Stability is a crucial factor to consider when buying a paddle board. It is even more important for beginners. Your board’s stability will determine how quickly your paddling skills improve. 

People who are new and do not have the expertise to stay upright on their board would benefit significantly from having a stable board. A motionless board makes you worry less and focus on finding your bearing and enjoying your adventure on the water. 

It’s not only beginners that have to worry about a board’s stability. People looking to do yoga or go fishing should keep the board’s stability in mind. Also, if you are considering taking your pet with you on the water, you don’t want a tippy board that’s all over the place when your furry friend shifts weight. 

Types of Paddleboards and Their Stability

Several factors influence paddleboard stability. These include the paddleboard materials, the activity you would be doing on the water, and the board dimensions. Continue reading to find out how these factors dictate the board’s stability. 

The Paddleboards Materials 

1. Inflatable Boards

These boards are made with military-graded heavy-duty PVC creating an air core with drop-stitch technology. The material improves board stability, speed and strength. More PVC layers mean a more stable board; however, too many layers would weigh the board down. 

Inflatable boards are consistently more stable than epoxy and composite boards. However, the stability depends on the thickness. While 4” too small and 6” is too much, an Inflatable board with 5” thickness provides the perfect balance of rigidity and volume.

2. Hardboards

Hardboards are constructed using EPS foam, fiberglass and epoxy resins. They are perfect for surfing and maneuvering waves due to their sensitive control. The stability of epoxy/hardboards depends on the length and width of these boards. 

Hardboards with narrow bodies and longer noses tend to be less stable. Compared to Inflatable paddle boards, hardboards are not as stable as Inflatable SUPs. Nevertheless, they are perfect for experienced paddlers, long explorations and recreational paddling.

3. Composite Boards

Similar construction with a hardboard, but safer for soft finishing. Ideal for young paddlers or paddling with dogs, they are perfect for beginners. Composite boards are the least stable boards under this category.

Paddleboards by Size

1. Long Paddleboards

These boards are usually between 12 and 14 feet long and are perfect for touring the water. Because these are designed to carry speed, staying stable at these speeds is more important than being stable when not in motion. They are usually very tippy as the boards are narrow across. 

2. Medium Paddleboards

They are the most common and are usually 10 – 12 ft long. Medium boards are ideal for any size or weight because they have an average volume and float. Most all-round paddle boards are medium-sized and offer moderate stability because they are stable when stationary and moving on the water. 

3. Short Paddleboards

These boards are under 10 ft. Kids commonly use them due to their lower weight capacity. The low volume and float make it less stable for some riders. 

Some specialized boards are also short and are favored by experts because it allows them to make tight turns and perform exciting maneuvers. 

Paddleboards by Activity

This can be broadly categorized into three; they are:

1. All-rounder Paddle Boards

These boards are versatile and used for SUP fishing, Yoga and other paddling activities. They are Ideal for flat waters and can be used by a beginner or expert. These boards come with a wide deck and planing hull to improve stability. 

Typically medium size, these boards can be either inflatable or hard. Most all-round paddle boards are no more than 5 inches thick and offer average width and substantial length.

These boards offer moderate stability in all conditions, which is why they are the go-to for most people, especially recreational paddlers. 

2. Touring SUP

Touring SUPS are longer paddle boards with streamlined bodies. They are perfect for traveling and racing because of their speed and stability—boards in this category feature a narrow deck, displacement hulls and pointed nose. 

Touring SUP designs are more particular about stability when carrying speeds than when stationary. 

3. Performance Paddle Boards

Performance boards are a break from traditional boards. The design prioritizes speed, maneuverability and easy control. As such, it is not a board designed for stability or control; it is one intended for use by experts to always be on edge.

These boards are shorter than flatwater paddleboards and offer a lot less in terms of stability compared to their recreational paddling counterparts. 

Factors That Determine a Paddleboard Stability 

1. Paddleboard Width

The width of your paddle board is the major factor determining its stability. The rule of the thumb is that the wider boards are more stable. Paddlers should look at the midsection of the board for accurate measurement of the width.

An average paddler should go for a board about 30″ wide. For taller or bigger paddlers, you can go for 32″ wide SUPs. The width of a paddle board allows it to distribute weight evenly. 

2. Paddleboard Length

The length of the board works in conjunction with the width. For two boards with the same width, the longer board will be more stable than the shorter board. A longboard can be challenging to maneuver and is recommended for experts.

Beginners should stick with an overall length of about 9’6 to 11’6. 

3. Paddleboard Fin Set-up

Your fin setup can influence your board’s speed and stability. The proper fin setup will allow your board to track better, which means it ensures your board continues in a forward motion. It does this by preventing the tail end of your board from swaying when you apply pressure on either side of the board. 

Here are some fin set-ups that can improve stability:

  • Installing stiffer fins.  
  • Moving the center fin to the back of the fin box.
  • Installing side fins to the SUP board

4. Paddleboard Thickness

The board’s thickness is often overlooked as many prioritize length and width, but the thickness determines to a considerable extent who can use what boards. Thinner boards are often preferred to thicker ones because they are easier to control and more stable. But they are not advised for people over 200 pounds as keeping the board afloat becomes challenging. 

Thickness becomes even more critical when you are choosing an inflatable board. Often, paddle board manufacturers try to make their inflatable boards as thick as possible to mimic the feel of using a hardboard, but this is not without its disadvantages. 

The most common drawbacks include the difficulty getting back on the board if you fall in the water and how it increases your center of gravity, making the board unstable makes for a very bumpy ride.

5. Build Quality of The Board

At the end of it all, what really matters is the board’s build quality. You can have the dimensions just right, get a board perfect for your use, and it would still be unstable on the water if the build quality is off. 

When considering the stability of your board, you should also check out reviews online when board shopping. Whether inflatable or hardboard paddle boards, ensure you thoroughly research the product before adding it to your cart. 


Your board stability is crucial when going on the water. If you would be paddling recreationally and sightseeing, you want a stable board at lower speeds. While a paddler looking for adrenaline action needs a paddle board stable at higher speeds.

There are factors to consider when looking to make your board stable to your taste. They include the length, width and thickness of your board. Read the article above to understand each of these points and how they can help you purchase the best board choice for you.