Women who skateboard is an exploding demographic these past few years. That isn’t to say women haven’t always been skating. All the way back in 1965, Life Magazine featured skater Patti McGee on their cover doing a handstand while skating. Inside the issue, other photos exhibited her skill. Peggy Oki was one of the original Z-Boy Zephers of Dogtown, except of course, she was a Z-Girl. She was an inspiration to many, but there are countless professional skateboarders who are women, like Cara-Beth Burnside Lisa Whitaker, Lucy Adams, Brit Jenna Selby, Mimi Knoop, Sarah Meurle, Elissa Steamer and more female riders every day. Women skaters look a lot of ways, from gnarly punks to California surfer girls. However, the skateboarding industry targeted teen boys extensively during the 1990s. That’s why a lot of decks have violent or misogynist imagery, as well as skateparks with general testosterone vibes. Don’t let these things fool you though, most skate scenes already have women skaters and would be happy to have more. These days they even have specific skateboards for girls.
If you’ve been feeling inspired to pick up a board, but you’re not sure where to start, fear not! We’ll break down how to pick a deck in our buyers guide, show you our top three picks for best boards and illuminate some of the special things to consider when you’re a woman buying a skateboard.
The main difference to consider when buying a skateboard as a girl is size and weight. Otherwise, being a girl doesn’t change much about buying a good board. You want something light that’s easy to get in the air, something sleek that can turn sharply, and something sturdy that won’t break. Let’s start with the deck:
Standard board size is 7.5 inches wide and wide. If you’re above 5’3’’ tall, this is the size you want. So most riders—men or women—want a standard size board. There’s still a lot of variation in the standard size. Width, for example, is a key determining factor in foot placement on your board. You’ll see 7.75 inches, 8.0 inches, 8.25 inch decks, and after that longboards rang anywhere from and boards going all the way up to 9’’ for long boards. Width matters because when you’re doing tricks, you want a board that sizes up your feet correctly. Otherwise, you won’t be able to get the board airborne when you press against the tail.
Length is less important when buying a board. Most skateboards are between 28’’-32’’. When you go to your local skate shop, try standing on boards of various lengths. You’ll see that the length doesn’t change your riding style as much as width. For someone buying their first board, width is what you should focus on, as length is a consideration for pro-skaters.
Another consideration for buying your first deck is wheelbase. Wheelbase determines how far apart you can set the trucks of your board (the axels that hold the wheels). Usually, decks will have a set wheelbase, but some decks have adjustable holes allowing a variety of mounting options. As you get more immersed in skateboarding culture, you’ll find that a lot of the options afforded to you as a skater are designed to make your board most comfortable to you.
The shape of the deck also determines your foot placement, speed, and turning ability. Radial boards are shaped like a U, Progressive boards have slight wings on the rails of the deck, W-Concave boards are shaped like a W, Flatcave boards have very sharp wheels, Asymmetrical boards are raised at different levels and Convex boards are shaped like an upside down U. Which should you pick? If oyu’re a beginner, get a Radical or a Progressive board.
After you choose your deck, you need wheels. We recommend a larger wheel (55+ in diameter) with medium hardness so you don’t fall. The bigger the wheel, the better it can go over cracks and obstacles. If you’re just starting out in skating, don’t worry about tricks as much as you worry about staying on your board!
Next, you’ll need a set of trucks. The important thing to remember is you need to choose a set of trucks that is the same as your board width. It makes sense, just don’t forget that your trucks need to be as wide as your board. If they were wider, they’d go over the rails of your board, and keep you slow. If they’re less than the width, they’ll send you flying off your board! After that, you’ll pick your truck size. Since we recommend you get medium size and hardness wheels, we also recommend you get medium trucks.
Finally, you need the “fixings” so to speak. You’ll need grip tape so your feet stay on your deck, bearings are what make your wheels spin—so a good set of bearings will keep you moving fast. Finally, hardware like nuts, bolts and screws are essential for setting up your deck and keeping it working.
This process can be helped by going to a local skate shop and chatting with the employees—but you’ll always find much better deals online. If you have a friend who can help you pick out a skateboard, or better yet, let you try theirs to see and imagine what type of parts suit your riding temperament best, you’ll be able to choose a board with ease.
Below are our top three picks of skateboard manufacturers for women. Once you pick a board, you’ll still have choices to make, but if you pick one of these decks you’re ensured a high quality board that provides a great skating experience.
Top 3 Skateboards For Girls
Created by Cara-Beth Burnside and Mimi Knoop, the entire company was founded with the mission statement of getting women more interested, and represented, in skateboarding. The company sponsors an all girls team and holds girls-only skating events to help cultivate a broader appreciation of the sport. Hoopla is based in California, which is also where they manufacture their boards, and they have some of the best women skateboarders on the planet signed to their team.
Their decks are top of the line, made with high quality wood—seven pile hard rock maple, to be specific—and decorated with rad graphics, often drawn by women illustrators. Every deck is laminated with the brand’s proprietary, low-stress airlam presses, giving a unique feel to their decks. Like every deck company, their decks feature the names of their sponsored skaters, all of which are women. Women skaters might choose to buy a Hoopla deck because spending money with this company will go right back into the sport and getting more girls engaged in skating. Check out their website and you’ll see all their sponsored skaters.
The Punisher Brand, Blossom
Punisher sets itself apart from other skateboard brands by committing to high-quality, unique designs for every board. Their board aesthetic is varied and very eye-catching, almost like museum quality art. In fact, some of the designed are directly inspired by classical art styles. These boards look really cool and they don’t use misogynist cartoon characters or clip art aimed at 13 year old boys to sell their decks.
Some of these decks would look cool sitting on a fireplace mantle, but it’s important to note that Punisher uses top grade materials and American manufacturing (located in Bethlehem Pennsylvania) to make a high quality deck. Punisher uses Canadian maple wood, 7 ply wood for a sturdy deck. They also sell decks with a 7.5 width, perfect for smaller feet.
Most of all though, Punisher sees themselves as a brand that commissions really great artists to design really great decks. Their artists are from all over the world and they really do seek out the best talent around to print on their boards.
Love Fly Plastic Cruiser
Now, this might sound crazy, as these skateboards look like toys, but—Mini Cruisers are really fun. Whether they’re your first skateboard, an additional skateboard you have just for fun, or something you use to get around town as an alternative to a longboard, there’s a surprising amount of cool things you can do with a mini-cruiser. A little added benefit is they’re great skateboards for little girls.
There’s three benefits to a mini-cruiser overall. One, they’re really fast. Since their wheels are so big, and their plastic deck is so light, you can really dart around on one if you’re riding in the city or going down a hill. Two, they’re easy to carry. You can actually put one in a backpack, making them the perfect choice for college students. Three, they’re really affordable skateboards. You can get an entire board for less than $30. Wow. Even if this isn’t your only deck, you can mess around with the mini-cruiser when a friend comes over.
Now, some people might be worried that riding a mini-cruiser would call on ridicule. I mean, they do look like baby’s first skateboard—but here’s the cool part. If you learn to ride this deck really confidently, you can show up anyone who makes fun of it. Then, invite them to try riding your mini-cruiser—and laugh hysterically when they fall down and crash into the pavement. Plus, mini-cruisers are just really cute! Look at them! How silly and fun!
There’s never been a better time than right now for women to start skateboarding. There’s all women pro-teams, women owned skating companies like Hoopla, and it’s easier to find the perfect deck for your body online. If you still need inspiration to buy a board, go to Girls Skate Network .com (http://girlsskatenetwork.com/) and watch some videos that are sure to inspire you.
When buying a skateboard as a woman, you don’t need to worry too much about your deck differing from the ones the boys use. If your feet are smaller, get a smaller deck, and outfit it with medium wheels and medium trucks while you learn the ropes. Don’t get too attached to your board, as eventually it will wear out—but picking a first board is key to dropping in and starting to have fun with the hobby.
Our favorite brands are Hoopla and Punisher for decks that might appeal most to women. They’re made top of the line, and they have graphics that might appeal to women riders more than the mainstream brands appealing to 13 year old boys. We also think if you want to take all the guessing out and just start skating today, getting a mini-cruiser isn’t a bad option!