Selecting Paddle Boards for Women
Over the years, I have taught hundreds of women to stand up paddle board, and I have often been asked by my students if there is a specific brand, or SUP that would be the best paddle board for women? I will tell you, what I tell my students. No.
Have I seen brands market their product specifically towards women? Yes. However, that doesn’t make the board specifically created for women. Rather, the brand is simply trying to position itself for the female market. Even my company Wappa Paddle Boards has models aimed towards women. Other than styling, this board really isn’t any different than any of our others, and after studying brands that claim to have built paddleboards specifically for women, I suggest to all the ladies shopping for a SUP that they take this marketing hype with a grain of salt.
Different women have different needs. The idea that there is a specific paddle board to meet every woman’s needs is absurd. However, when shopping for a SUP there are a few things every woman should keep in mind while making her purchase decision.
How much do you Weigh?
You need to know your weight prior to purchasing your first SUP. Paddle boards stability is largely based on the displacement of a board. The simple rule is the more displacement a board has, the more stable it is. Paddle board displacement is measured in liters.
Beginners up to 200 lbs will find paddle boards with 190L of displacement quite stable. Other beginner Weight/Displacement Ratios includes 225lbs/215L, 250lbs/235L. While a woman who weighs 110 lbs will find a SUP with a displacement of 235L very stable, she may have difficulty turning it, or maintaining speed because of its size.
What is your Experience Level?
If you have years of experience paddle boarding, you will not need to stick to the above weight/displacement ratios, because your skill set and balance has improved. However, if this is your first board, stick to those ratios. It will not steer you wrong.
How Strong Are You?
In all likelihood, you will probable purchase a SUP that is 10’ - 10’6” long. That is two feet longer than a sheet of plywood, and a SUP can be unwieldy to carry when you are not used to it. That’s why I encourage women to get a board that is strong and light. You may have to carry your SUP hundreds of feet before you get to the water. Better make sure it’s light enough for you to carry. From witnessing hundreds of female students carry boards over the years, I’ve realized that a board 25 lbs or less is very easy for any woman to carry. Even my weakest students have carried 25 lb. paddle boards with ease. Find out how much the SUP you love weighs before you buy it. You don’t want it to heavy for you.
What is the Paddle Boards Width?
The width of paddle boards varies depending on its displacement and function. You can get paddle boards as narrow as 24” wide, but most average 32” wide. One of my personal boards is 36” wide. My 5’7” wife loves this board because of its stability, but she sometimes has trouble carrying it because of its width. Friends smaller than her, have even had trouble reaching the hand hold. If you are a smaller person, don’t get a 34” or wider board, even though it’s more stable. Stick with a board you can easily carry. Get something 30” - 32” wide.
When shopping for their first paddle board, women need to look past the hype that a specific SUP is designed specifically for them. Because that’s what it is, hype. Instead, women need to find a paddle board that best meets their needs. By considering the four questions discussed above, women will make a much better purchase decision compared to relying on the so called paddle board designed for them.
If you have any questions about purchasing a paddle board, feel free to give me a call at 844-Go-Wappa (469-2772). I am always glad to help.
Why do stand up paddle boards have air vents? That question has been asked by many a new SUP buyer. After reading this blog, you will know the answer to this question and just about everything else there is to know about stand up paddle board air vents.
The Question Answered
So, why do paddle boards have air vents? Air vents release the gases that are created from the foam core that is the base of most hard paddle boards. If the gas pressure isn’t released, it may cause the board to expand which may cause material to de-laminate and the SUP fall apart.
The air vent also helps your SUP to regulate its internal pressure in environments that will cause the board’s pressure to fluctuate. Travelling through areas of with dramatic changes in altitude (mountains), or high heat (full sun on your SUP for hours on end) are perfect examples of such environments.
Types of Air Vents
Typically, there are two types of air vents that you’ll likely encounter. Self regulating air vents are hassle free. The vent comes with a fabric membrane that allows gas to escape from one direction while not allowing water to enter from the other direction. These are often described as maintenance free or hassle free air vents (which how Wappa Paddle Boards describes our vents). This is the superior of the two vent options.
Screw cap air vents, aka standard air vents are exactly as it sounds. Internal gas pressure can only be adjusted when the screw cap is loosened or removed. While the simple system is effective, the downside is in the practice. You have to remember to remove the cap when transporting or storing your SUP, and more importantly, you have to ensure that it’s screwed snugly when you’re on the water to prevent water from entering your board’s core.
Personally, I will take a self regulating air vent every day of the week. You don’t have to worry about anything with this type of vent. It truly is hassle free.
Does Every SUP Have an Air Vent?
No, every SUP doesn’t come with an air vent. Inflatable paddle boards do not have a foam core, so it isn’t needed. Paddle boards with a polyurethane outer layer also don’t use air vents. Polyurethane boards are constructed differently than traditional hard boards. Foam is injected into a polyurethane shell of poly boards. This construction method eliminates material layers so the possibility of de-lamination disappears. There are also a couple of fiberglass manufacturers out there that simply don’t use air vents. They simply believe their products may not de-laminate.
Care and Maintenance
There is really very little you have to do about the air vent in your stand up paddle board. This is especially true for self regulating vents. A best practice is to always rinse your SUP with fresh water after a day of use. Running water over your vent will help keep it clean and breathing. You don’t have to worry about removing a self regulating vent. Just keep it clean and forget about it.
Don’t get bent out of shape about air vents when shopping for your stand up paddle board. Most manufacturers shave not gone to the self regulating type of vent, but if you do see the screw cap, you should be aware of the differences. If you are comparing two boards that are equal in all ways except for the type of air vent, select the self regulating vent. As we say at Wappa, “it’s hassle free”.
You’ve purchased your first stand up paddle board, and you want to keep it looking as beautiful as it did when it came out of the box. While it’s impossible to keep any board pristine, follow these best practices to keep your SUP looking great and undamaged.
Here is what NOT TO DO:
Enjoy your next paddle!
The Wappa Blog
Written by Wappa's founder Layne Pennell, the blog's aim is to educate and share his love of stand up paddle boarding with anyone interested in SUP.
board performance explained
board care & maintenance
SUP for women
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