Over the last few years, women have come to make up a large percentage of paddle boarders. Often, they have the top attendance in SUP yoga, SUP racing, and now they’re even regularly spotted on some of the best surf breaks around the world.
It seems like now it’s a woman’s SUP world, the rest of us are just living in it.
In truth, it’s an exciting time to be involved with the sport of SUP. Especially with so many women around the world actively taking part in the sport.
But with such an injection of new riders into the sport, it has become abundantly clear that just like every board doesn’t work for every paddler, not every board is built for a woman’s needs.
This fact can make it difficult for women to pick the right board for them. And can result in some confusion when it comes to making that initial purchase.
To help rectify this situation, we’re going to break down what boards work best for women based on a few attributes you should look for before you make your first, or your next, SUP purchase!
What Are Your Needs?
Before you decide on a board, always ask yourself this question first…
What are your needs when it comes to SUP?
Where this should lead you to is the next question…
What activities do you plan on doing when it comes to SUP?
Stand up paddle boarding is a versatile activity. One minute you can be paddling calm flat water, the next carving up a wave, or shooting down a river, throwing a fishing pole off the side, or relaxing into child’s pose.
The possibilities are endless! But not every board is built for every activity. In fact, there are specific boards that work better than others when it comes to certain activities.
If you are a dedicated SUP yogi, you’ll want to purchase a board designed for SUP yoga. However, if you enjoy SUP surfing, you’ll want a board that will perform great in waves.
But, if you want a board that can do all of these things, then it’s wise to purchase a well-rounded board.
So, take a brief moment right here to ask yourself – what activity do I want to participate in when I am on the water?
Of course, most women will respond with multiple activities. This is completely normal and expected. If this is the case, then you’re going to want to start off with a well-rounded board built for it all.
Start your search with a board that is anywhere from 10’6’’x32’’ – 11’4’’x34’’ with a rounded nose and square tail.
This is your typical standard board that can handle a long flatwater paddler, cruising through some waves, or even a light yoga flow on a calm day.
With that question answered, we can move onto the second criteria.
Every paddler is a different height, weight, and we all possess a different athletic ability.
If you are honest with yourself, you’ll be able to determine what boards will work for you in terms of your balance on the water as well as your body size.
Let’s break it down as simply as possible.
The length of a board will determine its tracking in the water. Tracking refers to how far and long a board will travel in the water with one individual paddle stroke. The longer a board is, the better tracking it will have. This is why race boards measure from 12’6’’-14’. Their longer shapes induce much better tracking.
Second, the width of a board determines how easy it is to balance side to side on the water. The wider a board is, the easier it is to balance right away. For more balance oriented activities like SUP yoga, you will naturally want a wider board.
And last, the thicker a board is, the more weight it can float on the water and the easier it will be to balance while paddling.
After you decide what your needs are, honestly ask yourself, “How is my balance and athletic ability?”
If you struggle here, opt for a wider, thicker board and you’ll be a happy paddler.
The last attributes you need to consider are the durability you want in your board, whether or not you want to travel with your board, and if you have the storage space for a hardboard.
If you want a board that is ultra-durable and can be checked onto any airplane with ease, then we will have to recommend an inflatable board
Ultra-durable inflatable boards are built with military-grade drop-stitch technology that makes it perfect for international travel. And when you roll it up and pack it into its carrying case with wheels, the ease with which you can take it wherever you want to go is unmatched in any hardboard.
So – ask yourself, “Do I want to travel with my paddle board and take it with me on vacation?” If so, then you might want to consider an inflatable board.
Along these lines, paddle boards are big. On the water they don’t look like much, but when you take them out and stand them up, they look HUGE. And they are.
With such a big piece of equipment you need to have enough space to store your board outside of the elements.
Do you have garage space where you can keep your board safe for the time you won’t be using it? Do you live in an apartment complex where space is a premium?
If so, you again should consider an inflatable board. These boards are able to be deflated and placed inside their carrying backpacks and stored away in your garage or even your home’s closet! They’re ultra-convenient if you don’t have the space for a hardboard.
Side note: In addition to being able to travel, inflatable boards are also much lighter to carry to and from a launch location. And they are much easier to load and unload in your vehicle. If you struggle with lifting a hardboard over your head or can’t get it onto the roof racks of your vehicle, we highly recommend you consider an inflatable board as your main form of transportation on the water!
But, each of our boards has its own unique feel. Do you like pink? Or blue? Maybe a mixture of both? Do you like the bamboo accents or do you prefer a board that is fully painted?
While it doesn’t determine the performance of a board, we still believe style is important. You want to feel inspired by your paddle board so pick one that fits your vibe.
After you’ve taken all the above into account you should know…
- What activities you want to use your SUP for
- What dimensions you will need to satisfy your athletic ability and balance
- Whether or not you want to travel with your board or need one with extra durability + if you struggle with loading and unloading hardboards
- Whether or not you have storage space for a hardboard
With all that decided, the last thing you need to consider is your budget.
Typically cruising hardboards that are most used for flat water paddling, surfing small waves, and going through a yoga flow will range anywhere from $999-$1299.
Of course, you might be able to get a used board at the end of the season. You can even contact the team at Walk on Water to see if we have any for sale!
Inflatable boards on the other hand will range from $299-$899 at the high end.
We realize that the $299 price is tempting. However, we have to warn you against such a purchase. While those boards might seem like a great way to get into the SUP scene, they are often poorly manufactured and most likely need repairs or replacement after just a season or two!
Avoid them at all cost, unless you’re of a gambling nature.
Ready to Decide?
With all of these questions answered — do you have your ideal board in mind? Or did we confuse you even more?
Either way, the team at Walk on Water has you covered! Whether you’re ready to purchase one of our many shop boards or need additional clarification on what boards make the best ones for women, we’re here to help! Contact us today and we’ll get you paddling on the water as soon as possible!