Why are there so many paddleboard thicknesses! (spoiler alert, there aren't!)

Why are there so many paddleboard thicknesses! (spoiler alert, there aren't!)

Paddleboard thicknesses can sometimes be a source of confusion, especially to the uninitiated, thanks to the prevalence of imperial measurements in the nautical world and a tendency to 'round-up' numbers in paddleboarding for simplicity. 

You will hear and read a lot about 4", 5" and 6" paddleboard thicknesses, as well as 4.7", 4.72", 4.75" and 5.9" and the relative merits of each one.  As a rule of thumb, whichever board thickness a brand is trying to push will be the best in their opinion but that simply isn't always the case, and ignores material, quality and paddleboard shape.

To help you find your way through the maze of thicknesses you just need our simple table below and a basic understanding of dropstitch material.

You may already know that the material inflatable paddleboards are made from consist of two sheets of pvc fabric held together by lots of threads. this is then shaped and sealed around the edges to make an airtight board.  

The dropstitch materials are manufactured in metric thicknesses; 10cm, 12cm and 15cm so if we look at our table below we can see where the confusion comes in;

Metric Dropstitch ThicknessConverted to inches to 2 decimal placesRounded in inches to 1 decimal places
Rounded in inches to whole numbers
10cm3.94"3.9"4"
12cm4.72"4.7"5"
15cm5.91"5.9"6"

So it should be easy to see that a 4.72" board should not be referred to as a 4" thick board as it's almost 20% thicker than that and therefore in theory would hold +20% more volume inside to help you stay above the waterline!

If we work it back the other way and assume boards really are 4", 5", and 6" thick then we can see that the Metric thicknesses don't make much sense at all;

If it really was this thick in inchesThen it would have been manufactured to thickness in cm
4"10.16cm
5"12.7cm
6"15.24cm

So in short, if you're an adult you need to be looking at boards that are 12cm / 4.72" thick or more to get a board that is likely to be high enough in volume for your weight.  Different types of dropstitch are for another day but single-layer PVC on a thin board is not a recipe for successful paddleboarding!

At LUUM we use two different board thicknesses and different materials for each to make sure we have the right construction for the size and use of the board rather than just going for the same construction for all boards, we went for 4.72" and 5.9" in the end ;)