Having the right size surfboard is one of the most important factors to maximize your time and effort in the surf. The ‘ideal’ volume varies +/- 5L on a shortboard and much more for other types of surfboards. Take a look at some of the basic guidelines to follow when choosing your next surfboard.
How To Choose the Right Size Surfboard?
To match your skillset and types of waves on your local surf break – picking the right TYPE and SIZE surfboard plays a huge role in your performance.
- Skill – Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced?
- Local wave types – Slow and small / Fast and hollow?
- Size – 30L shortboard or 50L mid-length
*It is better to go over, than under volume if not completely sure.
SURFBOARD SIZE RECOMMENDATIONS
|Surfboard Volume – in Liters (L)|
|80||24 – 32||20||16 – 17||36|
|85||25 – 33||21||17||38|
|90||26 – 34||21||17-18||40|
|95||27 – 35||22||18||43|
|100||29 – 38||24||19-20||45|
|105||29 – 38||24||19-20||48|
|110||29 – 39||24,5||19,5 – 20,5||50|
|115||30 – 41||25,5||20-21,5||52|
|120||31 – 42||26||21-22||55|
|125||32 – 42||26||21-22||57|
|130||32 – 43||27||21-22,5||59|
|135||33 – 45||28||22-23||61|
|140||33 – 45||28||22-23,5||64|
|145||35 – 46||29||23-24||66|
|150||36 – 48||30||24-25||68|
|155||37 – 49||31||24,5-26||70|
|160||38 – 51||32||25,5-26,5||73|
|165||39 – 52||33||26 – 27,5||75|
|170||40 – 54||34||27-28,5||77|
|175||41 – 54||35||28 – 29||80|
|180||43 – 57||36||28,5 – 30||82|
|185||44 – 59||37||29,5 – 31||84|
|190||45 – 60||38||30 – 32||86|
|195||46 – 62||39||31 – 32,5||89|
|200||48 – 64||40||32 – 33,5||91|
|205||49 – 65||41||32,5 – 34||93|
|210||50 – 67||42||33,5 – 35||95|
|215||51 – 68||43||34 – 36||98|
|220||54 – 72||45||36 – 38||100|
|225||55 – 74||46||37 – 39||103|
|230||58 – 77||48||39 – 40,5||105|
|235||59 – 79||50||39,5 – 41,5||107|
|240||62 – 83||52||41,5 – 43,5||110|
Need to know the Surfboard Volume by knowing the stock dimensions only?
Surfboard Volume Calculator
Fiberglass / Epoxy Surfboard Sizes
4’10” – Fish
5’2″ – Fish
5’4″ – Fish
5’6″ – Fish
5’8″ – Fish, Shortboard
5’10” – Shortboard
6′ – Shortboard
6’2″ – Shortboard
6’4″ – Hybrid, Shortboard
6’6″ – Hybrid
6’8″ – Mid-length, Mini-mal
6’10” – Hybrid, Mid-length, Mini-mal
7′ – Mid-length, Hybrid, Mini-mal
7’2″ – Hybrid, Mid-length, Mini-Mal
7’4″ – Mid-length
7’6″ – Mid-length
7’8″ – Mid-length
7’10” – Mini-mal
8′ – Mini-mal
8’2″ – Soft-top beginner’s
8’4″ – Soft-top beginner’s
8’6″ – Soft-top beginner’s
8’8″ – Longboard (Performance)
8’10” – Longboard (Performance)
9′ – Longboard (Performance)
9’2″ – Longboard (Performance)
9’4″ – Longboard (Performance, Cruising)
9’6″ – Longboard (Cruising)
9’8″ – Longboard (Cruising)
9’10” – Longboard (Cruising)
Which Type of Surfboard is Right For Me?
1. TYPE & DESIGN
2. VOLUME / SIZE
In liters (L).
What Length, Width & Thickness?
1. Surfboard DESIGN / Type
Surfboard shape – round or a narrow board?
Beginner surfers are better off starting with a surfboard that’s round in shape so that they could get the touch of balance. It is because sharp-edged surfboards are generally smaller in size and tend to be more touchy when it comes to turns, maneuvers.
- Round-shaped boards offer a more relaxed riding style on small and mellow waves.
- Narrow boards, on the other hand, are designed to perform on more powerful and fast waves.
Round-shaped surfboards are larger (more volume), therefore offering better paddling performance and early take-offs. Those boards are more forgiving in their nature when it comes to turns & beginner’s mistakes.
Almost all narrow-shape surfboards are performance-focused and can be ridden in more demanding waves.
Surfboards & designs:
- Shortboard – Narrow & sharp edges
- Fish – Round nose & sharp tail
- Hybrid – Round & narrow mixed
- Fun/Mal – Round & volumic
- Soft-Top – Round
- Longboard – Round
+ Cruisy and smooth.
+ Great for small and slow waves.
+ Flatter rocker = easy and fast paddling, early take-offs.
– Harder to handle on sharp turns and fast waves.
– More volume makes it difficult to duck-dive.
+ Good for sharp turns and deep sections of the wave.
+ Great for fast waves
+ Late take-offs
– Needs a steeper wave angle to maintain speed.
– More rocker = Hard to paddle, more drag.
What is the Surfboard Rocker?
Surfboard ROCKER is the bottom curvature of the board from nose to tail.
The more “bent” the board is – the more rocker its got.
Flat board = flat rocker.
Having the proper rocker design on your surfboard makes a whole lot of difference riding in different conditions.
Most shortboards are shaped with heavy rocker for late takeoffs late on steeper waves without nose-diving the board. Heavy rocket is also better on hollow waves where you have to adjust riding the line quite often and fast.
The downside of a heavy rocker is that it creates more drag moving = harder to paddle.
LESS ROCKER = FLATTER ROCKER
Longboards, Soft-top foam boards, and mal boards are designed with a relaxed rocker, other times called a flat rocker. Ideal for small waves and weaker swells. Having a relaxed rocker gives you more ‘float’ and enables you to take off on a wave with less paddling.
So, the more floating area you have beneath the board – the easier it will be to move forward on the water. As a downside, it can limit riding on more demanding conditions.
Surfboard Nose Rocker vs. Tail Rocker
Some hybrid surfboards have a mixture of bottom curvatures. Performance-orientated hybrid surfboards have generally flatter tail rocker and a ‘lifted’ nose. This is good since there’s plenty of flat curvature on the bottom for easy paddling and power and the lifted nose prevents nose-diving the board on a take-off.
Why it isn’t good to have more rocker? When the surfboard is not entirely flat like most longboards – they still create more drag. More drag = slower paddle speed.
2. Surfboard VOLUME / Size
What is the surfboard volume?
Surfboard Volume is the amount of space (foam) the surfboard has in its core. Surfboard volume is measured in cubic liters (L).
Check out how to calculate surfboard volume.
Is surfboard volume the most important factor when choosing a surfboard?
Many beginner surfers tend to choose the board mainly by the number of liters, which is ultimately not the right thing to do. It is best to choose a surfboard by the shape (design or type), then volume, and the length of the board.
Why is the volume not as important when choosing a surfboard?
The sweet spot for choosing a shortboard for each rider is +/- 5 liters.
It is better to have the right type of surfboard with too much volume instead of having the wrong kind of surfboard with the correct amount of liters in it.
More Foam = More volume = Larger Size Board
+ Floats good and rides well on small and weaker waves.
– Harder to duck dive due to the ‘excessive’ amount of foam in it.
Less Foam = Less Volume = Smaller Size Board
+ The right amount of foam keeps you afloat and lets you duck dive
– Paddles slow and needs to take off late on a wave
3. Surfboard DIMENSIONS
Larger/Longer/Wider Size Board
+ Easy to paddle due to larger floating area.
+ Easy to paddle for small to medium, and weaker waves.
– Not as maneuverable.
– Hard and inconvenient to duck-dive.
Short Size Board
+ More maneuverability when riding down the wave
+ Easy to duck dive
– Slow on a wave and wants to sink on weaker waves.
– Hard to paddle.
– Not as forgiving with the wrong stance on the board.
DIMENSIONS SIZE WRITTEN ON A SURFBOARD
Example: 6‘6“ x 20 1/4“ x 2 5/6“
The length of the board is measured from nose to tail.
Width is measured from the widest part.
The thickest part measures thickness.
The combination of the threes gives the board a rough estimate of a 35-liter volume. How? Read more from HERE.
The thickness of the surfboard is a critical factor since the board will be sliding down the wave. The longer the board – the thicker it has to be to maintain its overall strength and sturdiness. Thickness is measured from the widest part of the board on the rails. In ideal, thicker boards offer better float but it will be harder to duck dive under the waves due to increased overall volume.
Which is the Best Surfboard for a Beginner Surfer?
Beginners should start with a surfboard that is long and wide. Foam or soft-top surfboards. Even if you are a board rider (snowboard, skateboard) standing up on a surfboard is entirely different.
As a snowboarder, you are on a solid mountain sliding on snow, or a skateboarder skating on concrete. Well – as a surfer, you have to stand up on moving water.
It is easy to start surfing and getting to know the basics on a long foam board. It is always better to start surfing on a large board. The touch of balance is entirely different since the moving and unpredictable shape of the wave behind & under your feet. A long and wide soft board will forgive many beginner’s mistakes and won’t hurt you as bad as the fiberglass board can do.
There are going to be many wipe-outs guaranteed.
NOTE: A soft-top longboard is not a longboard. Longboards are long and heavy, glassed with resin.
Beginner Surfboard Recommendations:
- Design – Round and volumic.
- Rocker – Flat rocker.
- Volume – At least 50 liters. Twenty-two inches wide, 3 inches thick.
- Dimensions – 8 ft and over
Once you have already learned the basics and starting to stand up on the board – a mid-length, hybrid, or a mini-mal would be a great choice.
Usually, surfers go through the first phase of surfing on a foam board rather quickly. Once they are through the first phase – It is reasonable to get a mal or fun board and step down in the size of the surfboard. Those boards are about 6-8 feet long, rather wide & round, and will let you ride all kinds of waves and even duck-dive under the incoming waves.
- Recommended volume – 40 to 50 Litres
Best Surfboards for an Intermediate Surfer
Once you are competent enough about the basics of surfing and starting to enjoy the sport, many intermediate surfers will find themselves wondering about which surfboard to try next.
There are two main ways to choose if you have gone through the beginner’s phase.
A performance surfing where you are riding powerful waves, or a laid-back style? Do you already want to jump on a performance shortboard or stick to the cruisy hybrids, universal mid-lengths, or fun and easy mini-mals?
Well, it depends on the style of riding you are doing or about to do. Many people don’t feel intimidated by the heavy & rumbling waves, and much rather turn to a more laid-back option like having a longboard. Also, as you have just become from the beginner surfer background – it is advisable not to get a performance shortboard just yet. Instead, you could get the hybrid that lets you ride all sorts of waves.
Best all-rounder surfboard for an intermediate surfer for sure. Hence the name Hybrid – is a mixture between a short- and a longboard. A Hybrid surfboard gives you a glimpse of all sorts of waves out there. As an intermediate surfer – you are probably still looking at what kind of riding you are doing – aggressive or passive – and the hybrid board lets you do both at a certain level. It’s got the speed on small waves, maneuverability, and later take-off capabilities on more massive waves.
- Design – Narrow but plenty of volumes
- Rocker – Medium Rocker
- Volume – 30-40 Litres
- Dimensions – 6-7 ft
Lets you ride very small waves for long-distance with little effort. Since longboards are long and heavy in their size – they float very well. Unlike the soft-top foam-board – a longboard can injure you or others easily if not ridden carefully. Make sure always to protect your head when you fall from the board and try not to ditch your board around others.
- Design – Long, Round and Heavy
- Rocker – Flat Rocker
- Volume – 60+ Litres
- Dimensions – 8-10 ft
Read more about the Longboard Size Guide
A mid-length surfboard is another great all-rounder for intermediate surfers. A close companion to a more relaxed and round outline mini-mal, the mid-length is a great all-around performance surfboard that’s slightly oversized but has the capability to surf small and medium-sized waves.
- Design – Narrow nose & tail
- Rocker – Small rocker
- Volume – 45 – 55 Litres
- Dimensions – 6’8″- 7’4″ ft
Best Surfboards for Advanced Surfers
Once you have mastered riding the previous boards, there’s only one type left that’ll fulfill your needs on the good surf. The black belt in surfing.
Shortboard enables you to ride those beautiful, powerful waves provided by heavy swells. Those boards have the least amount volume in them to dive smoothly under the waves and a narrow design to allow sharp turns. Due to the narrow design, a shortboard can be surfed on steep, fast, and hollow waves. They are very maneuverable!
The shortboard is built for performance where there’s no more to give or take. To know if the board is perfect for you, it must be about your height and float enough. How much is enough volume on a shortboard?
The board has got the right volume for you – when you are sitting on your board, and the water level is around your chest area. If the board water level is around your belly – your board might have too much volume in it.
- Design – Narrow
- Rocker – Heavy rocker
- Volume – 25-35 Litres (Up to 200lb surfers)
- Dimensions – Around 6 ft in length
I created Nulltuul to share my experience, research and analysis with other surf enthusiasts out there. If I'm not surfing on my travels - I like to photograph waves, surfers, and the surf lifestyle in general.