February 21, 2020 11 min read

Pro Tips on Finding the Best Women’s SUP

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.

How to Choose the Best Stand Up Paddle Board for Women

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 the Best Women’s Paddle Board:

  • Paddle Board Construction: is an inflatable or hard board right for you?
  • Where will you paddle: ocean, surf, or flatwater?
  • Activity Type: What will you use your board for -  all-around paddling, touring, SUP Yoga, or a mixture of activities?
  • Skill level: Are you an advanced paddler or a beginner?

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.

Paddle Board Construction

There are three types of SUP construction, and each has its own set of benefits.

Inflatable SUPs

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 SUP deflated in bag

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:

  • Travel often
  • Don’t have much storage space
  • Are interested in SUP yoga
  • Plan to mostly paddle on flat water
  • Want to bring friends and pets on board

Hard/Epoxy SUPs

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!

Hard Epoxy SUPs for Women

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:

  • Have ample storage space
  • Want to explore SUP racing or SUP surf
  • Plan to paddle in both ocean water and flat water
  • Are looking for top notch performance

Soft Top SUPs

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 Paddle Board

Soft Top SUPs Are Best For Women Who:

  • Want to introduce their kids to SUP
  • Plan to bring pets on board
  • Are on a budget
  • Have a lake house
  • Are beginners

Where do you Plan to SUP?

The type of water you primarily paddle in impacts which type of stand up paddle board you should choose.

Ocean Paddle Boarding

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.

Flatwater Paddle Boarding (lakes, harbors, protected bays, reservoirs, etc.)

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.

SUP Activity Type

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.

Best SUPs for All Around/Recreational Paddling and Fun

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.

Womens All Around Paddle Boards

Shop All Around SUPs

Best SUPs for Touring

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.

Women's Touring SUPs

Shop Touring SUPs

Best SUPs for Yoga

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.

Most Yoga SUPs can also be used as an All Around board. The perfect Yoga SUP will have a full length traction pad, removable bungees, and a paddle holder - just like GILI's 10'6 Komodo Paddle Board.

Shop Yoga Paddle Boards

Shop Yoga SUPs

Best SUPs for Fishing

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.

Shop Fishing SUPs

Best SUPs for Travel

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.

Our iSUP packages come complete with a travel paddle, removable fins, bungee systems, high-pressure pump, SUP leash, and an iSUP backpack.

Shop Women's Inflatable Paddle Boards

Shop Inflatable SUPs

SUP Skill Level

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.

Beginner Women’s Paddle Boards

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!

Ideal Volume for a Beginner Women’s paddle Board

Inflatable: 225 to 270 liters

Epoxy/Soft Top: 170 liters

Ideal Width for a Beginner Women’s Paddle Board

Width: 31 to 35 inches

Examples of Beginner Paddle Boards for Women

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.

Intermediate/Advanced Women’s Paddle Boards

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.

Examples of Intermediate/Advanced Paddle Boards for Women

  • 11’/12’ Adventure SUP
  • 10'6 Komodo SUP
  • I’m a woman. What size paddle board do I need?

    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.

    Paddle Board Length for Women

    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

    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!

    Suggested Volume for a women’s SUP:

    • Inflatable: 225 to 270 liters
    • Epoxy/Soft Top: 170 liters

    Width

    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.

    Suggested Width for a women’s SUP

    • Inflatable: 31” to 35” wide
    • Epoxy/Soft Top: 31” to 33” wide

    Length

    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.

    Suggested Length for a women’s SUP

    • Inflatable: 10’6 to 11’6 long
    • Epoxy/Soft Top: 10’6 to 11’ long

    Make Room For Friends!

    Riding with Friends on a SUP

    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.

    Awesome Women’s Paddle Boards

    These SUPs are fantastic for female paddlers: here are our favorite SUPs from GILI's female employees.

    Marissa: Komodo **Women’s Choice**

    10'6 Komodo SUP - Dee's Choice

    Why she chose it

    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!

    Who's it for

    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.

    Quick Specs

    Length: 10’6”
    Width: 33”
    Weight Capacity: 385 lbs
    Fin: 2+1 Snap-In
    Warranty:
    2-Year Warranty

    Click to Shop the KOMODO SUP

    Dee: Adventure

    Dee's Choice: GILI Adventure SUP for Women

    Why she chose it

    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!!

    Who's it for

    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. 

    Quick Specs

    Length: 11'/12
    Width: 32”
    Weight Capacity: 290 lbs
    Fin: 2+1 Snap-in
    Warranty:
     2-Year Warranty

    Shop GILI Adventure Paddle Board

    Sam: AIR

    GILI 10'6 AIR Paddle Board for Women

    Why she chose it

    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!

    Who's it for

    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. 

    Quick Specs

    Length: 10’6”
    Width: 31”
    Weight Capacity: 275 lbs
    Fin: Single Fin Snap-In + Side Bites
    Warranty:
    2-Year Warranty

    Women’s SUP Gear

    Stock up on SUP gear to make your adventures safer and more fun.

    • SUP Carry Straps: straps can help you carry your SUP along the beach with ease.
    • Ankle Leash: keeps your SUP from floating away if you fall off. Always wear your leash when paddle boarding!
    • Dry Bag: protects your stuff from the water. Keep your phone and a dry change of clothes inside.
    • Sunscreen: kiss those UV rays goodbye!
    • Sunglasses: keep your eyes safe from the sun - and do it in style.
    • Electric SUP Pump: an electric SUP pump is the fastest way to get your inflatable board ready for the water. All you’ll need to do is plug in the pump, turn it on, and let it work its magic. With auto shut-off, you’ll never have to worry about overfilling your board with air. Most pumps will also deflate your SUP for you at the end of the day!
    • Sun Hat: keep the rays at bay with a Snapback Hat or a wide brim sun hat.
    • Waist Belt PFD: a personal flotation device at your waist is convenient, fuss-free, and most importantly, will help keep you safe in an emergency.

    Women’s SUP Apparel

    Women's SUP Apparel

    These stylish brands will get you dressed and ready for a day on the water.

    • Lululemon makes quality clothes for all kinds of athletic adventures, so it’s no surprise that they have great SUP gear. Try their paddle friendly tights, leggings, or tops.
    • Live Love SUP’s selection of cheerful rash guards, leggings, and tops will brighten up your SUP experience.
    • Patagonia is one of the best outdoorsy brands in the world and a longtime supporter of female athletes, so you know they deliver. Their comfy water-resistant shorts are great for SUP on a hot day, and their fishing skort is a fun option for any SUP fishing adventure.
    • Cabana Life’s stylish UV protective clothing will keep you looking chic whether you’re onboard your SUP or lounging at the country club. Try their colorful cover-ups, rash guards, and swimsuits on a sunny day.

    Women’s Stand Up Paddle Boarding Rocks!

    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?

    Sam Sandahl
    Sam Sandahl

    Sam has a deep love for anything on the water, especially SUP! Since joining GILI, she's become an expert on all things paddle boarding, and she loves sharing her knowledge and experience.


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