Are There Special Paddleboards for Women?
Some companies would have consumers believe that they build special paddle boards. These “special” boards are marketed as being specifically designed as paddle boards for women. The simple fact of the matter is, there is no such thing as a gender specific paddle board shape.
Women like men should purchase a paddle board based on their experience level, their weight and anticipated paddling activities. It doesn’t matter the gender of the paddler, if the board paddle board doesn’t fit properly.
SIZE NOT GENDER IS KEY
Getting a paddle board that is properly sized for your body is key to long term enjoyment. Women come in all different shapes and sizes; therefore, it doesn’t make sense that a single board claiming to be specially designed for women will work for all women. It won’t. It will only work well for the women whose weight fits into the board’s parameters. If you’re lighter or heavier than what the board is designed for, the board’s performance and your enjoyment will be less than it should.
So, let’s forget the idea that there are gender specific paddle boards and instead figure out how to find a paddle board that properly fits you.
MATCH BOARD VOLUME TO YOUR BODY
While paddle boards vary in shape, width, length and thickness, the most important measurement when purchasing your first SUP is volume. A paddle board’s volume which is measured in liters is the best variable in determining what size board is best for you. A board’s volume tells you how much water the board displaces when it’s placed in the water. The higher the volume, the more weight a board can handle before performance diminishes.
Below are some examples of different Wappa paddle boards, their volume, and maximum rider weight the boards can handle.
As a general rule, the larger a paddle board’s volume, the more stable it will be. The heavier the person, the greater a board’s volume has to be to maintain an equal level of stability.
The key to selecting the right paddle board is getting one with the proper volume to give you the stability that is needed at the beginning without it being too big that your skills advance past it in a few months. A good measuring stick for a first-time buyer is to compare your weight to the board’s volume. If you weigh 25 lbs. less than the boards volume, you will not be getting a board that is too big for you. In fact, you will be pretty much in its sweet spot.
If your weight is close to the volume of the board, it will be nice and stable. If your weight is over the volume of the board, but below the maximum weight, it will still be a great board for the long term, but it will be a little less stable for you as a beginner.
As the above chart illustrates, longer SUPs have more volume and can carry more weight. That doesn’t mean that if you’re 250 lbs. you should be getting a Wappa Scout just because you “fit it”. That board is big and long because it’s deigned to easily cut through water. It’s also 2”- 4” narrower than the other Wappa boards. When shopping, you will need to pay attention to the board’s function as well.
With a better understanding of how a paddle board’s volume and a paddler’s weight effect the board’s performance and your enjoyment level, it becomes clear that the idea that there are specially designed paddle boards for women is nothing but marketing hokum. A woman needs a paddle board that fits her properly and is designed for the activities she wants to pursue. A woman who purchases a paddle board because it was designed for here gender and not properly sized to her body is doing herself a disservice.
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.
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