Volume: The volume is determined by the length x width x thickness and is measured in liters. The greater the volume the more stable the board will be. Smaller boards may be fine for small people but unstable for bigger paddlers.
Length and Width: The longer the board the faster it will be but harder to turn. The wider the board the more stable but too wide is not comfortable for smaller users. For novice and intermediate users 32” is best width for stability for a wide range of paddlers. Approximately 75% of all paddle boards are between 10’-12’ long. Longer boards are used for racing, shorter boards for small paddlers.
Thickness: The thicker the board the greater the volume that again creates greater stability for larger paddlers. When it comes to inflatables, the thicker the board the less flex. If you are looking for an all-around board for all sizes of paddlers, consider 6” thickness if you want the resemblance of a rigid board. A 4” board will have too much flex.
Nose and tail rocker: The front of the paddleboard is the nose and the rear of the board is the tail. Rocker refers to the curvature of the board from nose to tail. Both nose and tail rocker are more important when surfing, however a little nose rocker is nice when using the board in small waves. Flat but rounder tails tend to enable smoother turns.
The Deck: The deck of the board is the top surface of the board where you stand. On the deck there is a deck pad, usually made of foam, rubber with a grooved surface for better traction. It makes for better traction and a more comfortable surface when standing for long periods of time.
Fins and Fin Box: On the back of the board there can be one, two, or three fins. Fins stop the board from sliding out when surfing as well as make for better tracking on flat water. Usually there is one fin that is removable. The slot the fin bolts into is called the fin box.