One of the best things about stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is how accessible it is. Just about anyone, from any walk of life, can have a good time on a paddle board - and of course, that includes women! Women love to paddle board just as much as men do! Here is your guide to choosing the best SUP for women.
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Any SUP that’s suitable for men can also be ridden by women, but certain sizes and types of paddle boards may appeal more towards women. Some women prefer lightweight boards, and others prefer boards more geared toward performance. It all comes down to paddle board construction, water conditions, activity type and skill level.
Four Factors in choosing a women’s paddle board:
Once you figure out these four things, you’ll be able to choose the right paddle board for you. One of the first steps of your paddle board shopping journey is choosing between an inflatable SUP or a hard SUP. Women paddle with both types, so it’s a matter of your lifestyle and preferences.
There are three types of SUP construction, and each has its own set of benefits.
Inflatable SUPs, or iSUPs, are made with high quality PVC and drop stitch material to ensure durability and rigidity. You’ll inflate your iSUP with a high pressure pump. Then, when it’s time to hit the road, you can deflate it, roll it up, and store it snugly in a backpack.
Inflatable paddle boards are very durable and are great for traveling paddlers or anyone without much storage space. They’re a lightweight option, which can make them easier to carry and thus a solid option for women. Both beginners and advanced paddlers love them. If you’re into SUP yoga, paddling with your dog or friends, or recreational paddling, an inflatable board is for you.
Inflatable SUPs Are Best For Women Who:
Hard/epoxy SUPs are usually made of EPS foam, several layers of epoxy resin, and fiberglass - very similar to a surfboard. The big drawback of this SUP style is that they’re a major hassle to store and transport. They’re heavy, and they can easily take up a decent chunk of your living room or garage when you’re not using them. Hard/epoxy boards don’t deflate like iSUPs, so before getting one, make sure you have room in your home to store it!
While they can’t fit in your trunk, hard paddle boards are excellent performers. If you want the most performance a board can offer, and have the storage space, a hard paddle board is the logical choice.
Hard/Epoxy SUPs Are Best For Women Who:
Soft top SUPs feature an epoxy core and a soft outer shell. This type of SUP is a great family board, because they’re durable and feature a soft top layer - perfect for kids. If you’ve got a family lake house, this is the type of SUP you’ll want to keep there. It’s a good choice for moms, dog owners, or paddlers who regularly bring friends on board. Soft top SUPs are the most affordable type of board, so they’re also good for beginners on a budget.
Soft Top SUPs Are Best For Women Who:
The type of water you primarily paddle in impacts which type of stand up paddle board you should choose.
Paddling on the ocean is best with a hard/epoxy board. Their strength and rigidity make it easier to keep a straight path on choppy waters. Specifically, touring epoxy SUPs perform the best on ocean chop as they are longer, narrower, and have a displacement hull with a pointed nose.
While hard paddle boards handle ocean waters better, Inflatable SUPs can be paddled on the ocean - but they won’t perform as well as a hard SUP.
You can use virtually any SUP in flatwater conditions, which includes lakes, bays, harbors, and other calm spots. We love taking our inflatable SUPs on flatwater, as they are very durable and easy to store and transport.
So you know where you’ll paddle, but have you considered what sort of activities you’ll be doing on your SUP? While All Around boards can be used for a myriad of activities, here are some specific boards you should consider depending on what you’ll use it for.
If this is your first SUP, you’re probably looking to try a bunch of different activities and to just have some fun - then All Around SUPs are your jam.
All Around SUPs are an excellent choice for women. Look for a light board at least 10’6 in length and at least 31” or wider.
If you’re a woman who loves long distance paddling - a Touring SUP is your best bet. Great for adventuring and exploring, touring paddle boards can also double as an All Around board if you’re an intermediate or advanced paddler.
If you haven’t heard of SUP Yoga yet - you will. There’s a reason women all over the world are getting on board with this new craze. SUP Yoga is a great way to practice your yoga skills - not only is it more challenging, but you get to practice in nature’s serenity and stillness.
Grab your rod and reel, and hop on a SUP. Skilled, badass fisherwomen are finding a new way to fish. A fishing paddle board will let you cast a line at those hard to reach fishing holes, without the need for a kayak or boat.
We really love inflatable SUPs for fishing, Choose an extra-wide board (atleast 32”) with a length of 10’6 or more. You’ll need room for the extra gear and all those fish you’ll be hooking. We love to fish from our GILI 11’6 x 35” Meno and 12’ x 32” Adventure SUPs - they even have built-in Scotty mounts for your rods.
If you’re an avid traveler and want to add some fun to your adventures, bring your SUP! Inflatable Paddle Boards pack into a backpack, and include everything you need in a super portable package.
As you develop your SUP skills, your board preferences might change. More advanced paddlers sometimes prefer extra-long or extra-narrow SUPs if their hobbies call for it. Hardcore paddlers might also opt for hard boards, which are difficult for beginners to maneuver but are ideal for SUP surfing and racing. As you get more advanced, don’t be afraid to try new activities on your board, like SUP yoga, fishing, or touring.
The ideal beginner women’s sup board is an inflatable, 10’ to 11’6” long and 31” to 35” wide. Volume is based on your size and how much gear you’ll be paddling with. Of course, these are guidelines, so if you’re still not sure what size paddle board to get, don’t be afraid to ask our experts!
Inflatable: 225 to 270 liters
Epoxy/Soft Top: 170 liters
Width: 31 to 35 inches
When you’re first learning, a stable all-around board with enough space for you to move around is best. Prioritize a wider board with enough volume to comfortably support you.
If you’ve been paddling for over a year, consider branching out to a more advanced SUP. If you stick with a beginner’s board for too long, you might inhibit your SUP skills.
Boards that require more experience are narrower and, sometimes, have a lower volume for better performance. Touring SUPs, like our GILI Adventure SUP, make excellent intermediate boards, especially if you’re eager to explore while you paddle. Racing SUPs, which are 12' long and just 31" wide, are good SUPs for advanced paddlers who want to zip ahead on a fast racing board.
When choosing a SUP, pay close attention to the board's weight capacity, volume, and width. Volume, measured in liters, determines your SUP’s buoyancy and weight capacity. The volume, width, thickness, and length of your board determine its volume. If you only look at one sizing factor when choosing your board, make it volume, because you want to be sure the SUP can easily carry your weight (along with the weight of anyone you’re bringing on board with you).
Most all around paddle boards are in the same general size range. You only need to look beyond that size if you have a specific SUP activity you want to try, or if you’ll be carrying extra weight like fishing gear or extra paddlers.
The most popular all-around SUP size is 10 to 11’ long and 31” to 35” wide. That’s a great size for most people, especially beginners who are stuck on how to choose a SUP and want a universal option.
We recommend choosing a board around 10’6 to 11’ in length and at least 31” in width if it’s your first women’s SUP.
When choosing a women’s paddle board, volume and width are the most important dimensions you need to pay attention to.
Volume measures your SUP’s weight capacity, which informs how much weight the board can carry. Pay attention to volume. An overweight board with inadequate volume will cause it to drag and sink, and is no fun to paddle!
Generally, beginners will want a wide board so they can feel comfortable and stable. SUP yoga fans will want an especially wide board with a large deck pad so they have the space to move through their yoga sequence. Very narrow (under 31”) boards are the domain of SUP surfers and racers.
The average SUP length is between 10’ and 11’, and quality all around boards for beginners are around 10’6 long. Paddlers use longer boards for long distance SUP touring and racing. Shorter boards are for SUP surfing, whitewater SUP, and introducing kids to paddling.
No matter what size SUP you choose, don’t forget to factor in the weight of onboard buddies! Paddling with friends, kids, pets, or even extra gear means you’ll need a larger weight capacity.
These SUPs are fantastic for female paddlers: here are our favorite SUPs from GILI's female employees.
The Komodo is the perfect size for me, and I absolutely love the full-length traction pad and removable bungee (and so does my dog!). The convenience and portability of an iSUP is amazing: I can throw my board in the trunk of my car and be ready to paddle anywhere, any time!
This 10’6” by 33” board features a wide deck for extra stability - great for anything from solo paddling, to onboard exercise, to paddling with kids and dogs. With a removable bungee and full-length traction pad, the board is super versatile and serves as the ultimate SUP yoga board. It’s wide and stable, but not so large that it will inhibit your speed. Use the paddle holder when you’re carrying the board with hands full or are practicing SUP yoga.
Also featuring a pointed nose and an extra-wide tail - this board offers extra stability at 33" wide, but also paddles quickly over the water.
Weight Capacity: 385 lbs
Fin: 2+1 Snap-In
Warranty: 2-Year Warranty
I love going fast and I'm an intermediate paddler, so I didn't need a wide board. The deck pad is long enough so I can still perform Yoga, and this SUP also doubles as a touring and exploring board! Plus, it's YELLOW!!
At 11’ long and 32” wide, this board is ideal for women who want to paddle long distances and explore. It’s great for SUP touring and lengthy afternoons on the water.
Weight Capacity: 290 lbs
Fin: 2+1 Snap-in
Warranty: 2-Year Warranty
I love my GILI AIR because it's light, inflates quickly, and I can haul it my back seat or trunk! This is the nicest board I could find at this price point, and it delivers!
This 10’6 Inflatable Paddle Board is perfect for a beginner or intermediate paddler who wants to dive into SUP with a high-quality board that’s still affordable.
Weight Capacity: 275 lbs
Fin: Single Fin Snap-In + Side Bites
Warranty: 2-Year Warranty
Stock up on SUP gear to make your adventures safer and more fun.
These stylish brands will get you dressed and ready for a day on the water.
At the end of the day, SUP is a welcoming sport for every gender. After all, everyone’s equal out on the water. For women, SUP is a great opportunity to grab some fresh air, squeeze in a great workout, and build lifelong bonds with fellow paddlers. So ladies, what are you waiting for?
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