Understanding paddleboard thickness

Paddleboard thickness can sometimes be a source of confusion, especially to the uninitiated. 

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 paddleboard thicknesses you just need our simple table below and a basic understanding of dropstitch material.

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

Here's the cause of the confusion:

Dropstitch materials are manufactured in metric measurements and tend to be one of three thicknesses; 10cm, 12cm and 15cm. Thanks to the prevalence of imperial measurements in the nautical world and a tendency to 'round-up' numbers for simplicity we end up with way more than three thicknesses being discussed; 

Metric Dropstitch Thickness >

Converted to inches to 2 decimal places >

Inches rounded to 1 decimal place >

Inches rounded to whole numbers














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 wouldn't make much sense at all;

If it really was this thick in inches

Then it would have been manufactured to a thickness in cm of








So in short, if you're an adult you need to be looking at boards that are at least 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 ;)

If that's still a bit baffling (and we don't blame you!) give us a call on 01803 362067 and we'll find a board right for you :)