What Does SUP Board Volume Really Mean?

SUP Volume is Important

So I recently was looking at the Naish Glide 14’ GS SUP Paddleboard for several reasons. This board is specifically designed for what is known as directional gliding speed, which in SUP parlance means every stroke gives the paddle board exceptional acceleration. This particular paddle board is perfect for attempting a competitive race or two this summer.

The Naish 14' GS SUP Paddle Board

The Naish 14′ GS SUP Paddle Board

But is it the right board for me? Is the answer in the volume of the paddle board? What does SUP volume mean anyway?

The Measure of a SUP Paddle Board

Most paddleboards advertise four key measurements when describing boards like the Naish GS. The length is always a consideration. This one measures 14 feet, which is long by most standards. The length usually determines how the board will be used. This one can be taken into the open ocean, which is often where you’ll find the best long distance cruising and racing events. That lengthy hull, the design of the low rocker bow and flat rocker bottom increases the overall displacement. This gives you an almost explosive push with each stroke.

Next measurement is often the width. Simply put, the more narrow the board, the greater flow of that displacement and on the flip side, less room for error. But the 27 inch width hardly matters with the Naish GS board because the pad is recessed into the board, increasing the stability without adding inches to the width.

Thickness of the board is also a consideration. The Naish GS is thicker than you might imagine but more or less perfect for the length of the board. The step-up rail compensates for the stroke you would need to take with that thickness.

The Volume of a SUP Paddle Board

This last measurement may be the most important of the four generally listed and maybe even be the least understood. But it is worth discussing, if only briefly.

Volume has always been a consideration for surfers. It essentially measures the ability of the board to float with weight on it. It is expressed in liters and for the less math inclined or metric ignorant, this may be a stumbling point. We weigh ourselves in pounds in the U.S. and need to convert that total to kilos for the calculation to work. The reason is simple and kind of elegant: one kilo can be floated by one liter. So if your board has a volume measurement in liters, you’ll need to convert your weight into kilos.

So find your smartphone calculator first. Type in your weight multiplied by 0.45. It would look like this as sentence: 170 lbs x .45. The answer is your weight in kilos. One more equation gets you the answer to the volume rating on the board. Your weight of a 170 lbs is now 76.5 kilos. Unlike surfing though, where the least amount of volume is often a more closer match to the surfers weight is considered optimum, paddle boarders generally use have longer boards and different water conditions to contend with.

So back to the smartphone. Multiply that 76.5 times your skill level below.

Guild Factor

Guild Factor, used for calculating the right volume for a paddle boarder based on weight.

And intermediate level paddle boarder with a 1.7 Guild Factor, named after the longtime surfer Whitney Guild who developed this equation, multiplied by your weight in kilos, suggests the perfect board for your weight would have a volume of 130L.

Now the Naish GS has a volume of 270L. Does this mean the board will hold a 340 pounder? Probably but some of the competitive design of the board would be compromised. The reason for this increased volume, achieved by the closed cell EPS foam core actually increases the glide of the board.


All four calculations are worth noting. A reputable dealer, like Stand On Liquid in Bend, Oregon, where long boards are often preferred by the locals, can match all of these factors to your personal abilities and pursuits. This is important to the overall enjoyment of the board.

According to Q. Wilson of SOL, he tells me that they “use the volume in liters and add approximately 30 pounds [or 13.5K].” He believes that this will “give a good estimation on as to what size of beginning to intermediate paddler the board will float.” The calculation changes somewhat based upon skill level. For an advanced or more skilled paddle boarder, he suggests using an additional “70 [pounds to the equation or 31.5K] rather than 30.”

This is why you need help with calculating board volume. If one of these calculations is too far off, you could end up in the water more frequently or end up paddling a barge.

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