- Under $400 ISUP’s – Variety of entry-level inflatable paddle boards reviewed
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- Under $600 Longboards
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- Best Hybrid Surfboards of 2020
- 3 Best Beginner Surfboards – Best-selling boards for beginner surfers reviewed
Surfboards 101 Guide
FAQ / 101
A-Z GUIDE to choosing a Surfboard
There’re so many types of surfboards to choose from. The good news is that you can choose the right kind of board to match your needs whereas not too long ago you had to have a shaper do it for you.
It’s reasonable to choose a surfboard to match the right type of wave you ride on your local breaks while many others have just one board for all the conditions.
How to choose a surfboard?
A surfboard should be picked according to:
1.) Skill Level – Beginner/Intermediate/Expert
2.) Types Of Waves – Fast & hollow/slow & fat
3.) Activity – How often will you be taking your board out?
If you are a keen surfer – surfing more than three times a week, a variety of surfboards (quiver) is the best option when you want to maximize your time in the surf.
On the other hand, a surfer who goes out only once a week/month don’t need as many boards. Usually, a hybrid surfboard will do the trick in all conditions.
What is the best surfboard?
The best surfboard is the one you have the most fun in the right conditions. The most common mistake many beginners/intermediate surfers do is that they pick a too small volume board that will limit their wave count.
Surfboard Size Guide
Check out each board’s size suggestions down below to find the most suitable one for you.
Types of Surfing With Different Boards
Everyone has a different style of surfing they want to achieve, but the main types are:
- Shortboard – Carving – Riding on fast and hollow waves. Turns, cutbacks, barreling. Level: Expert
- Longboard/Fish – Cruise on small to medium, mainly slow and fat waves. Level: Intermediate to Expert
- Soft Top / Hybrid – Surf whitewater or green waves. Level: Beginner to Intermediate
SIZE: Generally about the same length as the surfer
WAVE TYPE: Fast, High-Performance Capability, Maneuverability
– The most used board by surfers you see performing on the waves. Shortboards are generally very light for easy maneuverability but lack the speed when paddling for a wave.
Why is it hard to paddle with a shortboard? It’s because shortboards have the least volume and plenty of rocker in its shape. Shortboards are chosen for the surfer’s weight and the type of wave he/she will be riding. To perform well in decent surf conditions – shortboards must be very light therefore don’t float as good as larger boards. To properly use a shortboard, you have to know how to read the waves perfectly, and by doing so, you must know where’s the perfect/latest point to start paddling for a wave. Mastering the art of surfing with a shortboard takes a lot of practice and patience, but it’s the most suitable choice for high-quality surf conditions.
NOTE: Many beginner surfers choose to ride a shortboard way too soon and by doing so they will be missing lots of quality time in the ocean by not knowing how to read the waves correctly. I would strongly recommend sticking to larger boards before you are really ready for to tackle larger and fast waves.
- Also, many people are not sure how many liters should the board have, and they might quickly get a board that is too small or too big for them. An excellent guide is found at the JS Industries website. If you already have a board and don’t know how many liters is it, check out our Slide Bar Volume Calculator.
SIZE The “real” fish, also known as the Retro Fish is always wide on the top and about a foot shorter than the rider
Slow/small/fat – WAVES
Fish is a fun board that can be ridden on all types of waves. From knee-high to slow rolling overheads. The fish surfboard is having the most fun on mushy, slow, and unpowered waves.
Perfect for the summer, where the swells are generally slow and low. Fish surfboards are recognized by the wider upper half and the obvious fish-tail shape narrow tail.
“Retro” fish surfboard sizes vary from 5-6ft.
Hybrid Fish is a mixture between a shortboard and a fish, generally longer than the rider. Ranging from 6ft – 7ft
Approx. 9 – 11 feet in SIZE
Fun, heavy, easy to paddle CHARACTERISTICS
Longboards are the oldest types of boards in surfing. Though it is easy to catch a wave on a longboard, it takes a lot of practice to master riding one in the waves. Longboards are good in long, small to medium, and weak waves although you see people riding them in all conditions. Due to their large and heavy build – a longboarder should take caution when surfing one near others due to the massive build of the board.
Though this longboard pictured here is triplefin, rigid longboards (that are not made of foam) have a large single fin.
The average size of the longboard ranges from 9’6 – 10’6.
Read more about the longboard size guide from here.
A mixture of a long- and shortboard
The universal all-rounder for all kinds of waves
Though the Hybrid and Mal are different boards, both of those boards are perfect all-rounders. Great for beginner-intermediate surfers due to their universal performance path and for someone who’d like to ride all kinds of waves with only one board. The hybrid surfboard is easy to paddle but hard to duck dive.
Size varies from 6’6 to 8′ in length.
Great for up to 10ft waves.
A surfboard for above-average conditions. It’s recommended to have a quiver of boards to surf pretty much every day, and 1″ – 2″ longer board than average will help to catch those massive waves for sure.
Compared to any other mid-length board, step-up surfboards generally still have the performance shape to tackle those waves.
Best for below-average conditions.
Step down surfboards has more volume than your average surfboard to ride those flatter and unpowered waves. A typical step-up provides awesome paddle-power, plenty of controlled response in a more curved section of the wave.
What material of surfboard to get? Fiberglass or Epoxy
PU vs. EPS
There are two main “ingredients” that surfboards are made of – Epoxy and Fiberglass. Both are widely used, although fiberglass surfboard history dates back a few more decades than epoxies.
– Fiberglass (PU) boards have polyurethane core and are then covered with fiberglass resin with fiberglass cloth.
- Steady in windier conditions
- Hold a line through heavier water with less chatter
– Epoxy (EPS) surfboard consists of a polystyrene core which is then coated with epoxy resin. EPS boards are known to float better, have stronger qualities against stress, and weigh less than fiberglass surfboards.
- More responsive material
- More flex on smaller and weaker waves
Which fin set–up to choose?
1,2,3,4,5. Single, twin, triple, quad, or five-fin?
Modern surfboards have a great variety of fin set-ups to choose, whereas back in the day there were mainly fixed fin surfboards – which means the fin was attached to the board in the process of making one. So, there was no possibility to remove the fin for convenient transportation or change the settings.
Fixed-fin, FCS, FCS 2 or FUTURES?
+ Most commonly used
+ Easy to find
– 3rd party rip-offs are common in box/fin format
– Doesn’t support futures or FCS2
+ No screw needed for easy snap-on fins
+ Easy to use
– Less commonly available than the FCS
+ Fins base is stronger than the FCS
+ Easy installation
– Heavier due to base
+ Combination of rails and fins help to turn
– Limited set-up’s
Single-fin setup is mainly used on longboards. As longboards are long and heavy, it needs one solid and large fin for stability and be able to “steer” the board on turns. There are a handful of single-fin shortboards that give the ride a totally different riding style.
Twin-fin – Widely used on retro fish surfboards. Two large fins on both sides of the surfboard give the board a stable yet agile feel.
Triple-fin (Thruster) is the most known set-up used on most surfboards. Countless ways to customize the fin size set-up according to waves and conditions.
Quad fin – Another alternative for twin and triplefin surfboards. As there are two fins on each side of the board, this will give you the most stable feel riding down the wave. It’s been said that the “quads” are making a comeback.
Five-fin – Used on high-performance shortboards to maximize the feel and grind through the waves.
Which Thickness and Length to buy?
A leash (leg rope) is a crucial and convenient surfboard’s accessory. The main purpose of the surfboard leash is to keep the board close-by after a wipe-out. Although what many people don’t know is that the leash creates a drag on the water. So, performance leashes are generally thinner, and regular leashes are thicker and said to be more durable.
Surf without a leash?
When there’s the whole beach for you and you don’t need your board as a life vest, many surfers choose not to wear a leash for two good reasons. One reason is the drag, and the other is that you have to perfect your skills and finish off the wave well enough if you don’t want to swim back out to grab your board. It makes you more aware of the moment.
All of them are generally similar in design with different color-schemes or artwork. They work as the name says traction pads and so you could manage the position of the board quickly and get the feel of the board by stepping on it when riding down the wave. Some surfers prefer to use the specially designed traction pad in the middle of the board for perfect traction. Generally, a tail pad is crucial when you want to make sharp turns and have the best traction on the board.
WHICH SURFBOARD IS BEST FOR A BEGINNER SURFER?
Answer: Long, Round, Soft and Thick
Welcome to the world of surfing, beginner surfers! You have arrived at the right place! As a beginner surfer, choosing the right board might be a frustrating task. Make sure to read about the tips to stay safe and catch more waves down below.
As a beginner surfer – getting to know the balance is the primary goal when you want to advance your skills on the surf. Long, soft, and thick surfboards are perfect for beginners to learn on.
The best way to start surfing as a beginner is to get a soft-top foam board. All the surf schools have a wide variety of soft-top boards for beginners who are learning to surf.
Related: 3 Best Beginner Surfboards
WHY is the soft top foam-board best for a beginner surfer?
- It’s soft and won’t hurt you as bad as the fiberglass board could.
- A tall surfboard helps you to catch waves easy
- It’s thick and floats well
- It’s round and safe
At the first stages of learning to surf – falling and bailing the board is very common. Even if you have been snowboarding or skating before – standing up on a surfboard on moving water is an entirely different ball-game.
So, It is better to learn on a soft board, not a hard fiberglass one that could hurt you or others around you.
Also, the traction pad at the top of the board is soft, so you don’t get a rash when paddling on it. If you are not used to paddling on a waxed fiberglass/epoxy surfboard that’s got a superb grip – your chest won’t get a bad rash for sure.
It’s large and light
Starting to surf as a beginner, you want to get to know the basics real quick. The more time you spend on the board standing – the more “touch” you’ll get.
Beginner: A surfer who is learning the basics of surfing.
- Planning to surf occasionally; On the weekends or with friends every now and then.
- A surfer who likes to have fun on the weekend and doesn’t want to rush into large waves.
- Best board for a beginner is around: 7-10ft depending on the person’s weight
Advanced Beginner: Surfer, who has been to the surf-school and already knows the basics- Wants to progress fast.
- Feels confident enough to go surfing alone.
- Wants to progress fast to surf larger and powerful waves.
Which Surfboard’s Best For An Intermediate Surfer?
As an intermediate surfer looking for the best surfboard, you have a wide variety of boards and styles to choose from. You have most likely already gone through the soft top surfboard phase, but not yet confident getting a performance shortboard. The good news is – that if you are already planning to surf in the future as well – a board you are about to choose now can be used in all sorts of waves in the future as well.
The best Surfboard for an Intermediate surfer is also right for the advanced surfer in small to medium waves, so it’s a great all-rounder for sure.
Make sure to check out the surfing tips for intermediate surfers down below as well!
So, Which Is THE BEST Surfboard For An Intermediate Surfer?
An intermediate surfer is the one who has gone through the basic surfing lessons in surf school or by themselves with large foam board. An Intermediate surfer knows how to paddle for a wave, stand up and even take turns. To advance yourself from beginner-intermediate to advanced intermediate: you will be able to catch waves easily, make turns, and also finish off the wave. Down here I have listed some crucial factors on which are the best surfboards for intermediate surfers.
Intermediate surfers surfboard factors:
- Surfboard must be Longer Than You
- Thicker Than 2‘ 3/4
- Rounded, pointed, Wide Nose
The best choice would be a surfboard that helps you to catch waves easily, has an average turning radius, and allows you to ride small, medium, and large waves. What is a large wave? A large wave for an intermediate surfer is the one – he or she is scared to paddle for or has hesitations. The feeling of intimation by large waves is instinct what you should listen to. When there are considerable swell, long and large waves – a larger board is suitable for super early takeoffs but hard to dive under the large sets.
The Best Surfboards TYPES For An Intermediate Surfer
Mal, Fun, Hybrid or a Fish surfboard
Those boards generally have right cornering radius and allow you to paddle freely and take off early on a wave.
Mal for level beginner-intermediate surfer
Fun for level beginner-intermediate surfer
Hybrid – intermediate surfer
Fish – intermediate surfer
Which one of those to choose from? A Mal and Funboard are easy to paddle and perfect for those who are planning to surf maybe only once a week or once a month the whole time.
A Hybrid or a Fish surfboard is for somebody keen to practice the sport to advance to riding larger waves in the future. Hybrid and Fish surfboards are best for intermediate surfer for a good reason: They are the most capable of doing tricks and sharp turns while having the laid-back characteristics.
What SIZE surfboard is best for the intermediate surfer and why?
6’2” – 7’4”
It has to be a size right in the middle – not too large or not too small.
(In the board world, 5-6 ft is short, and over 8 ft is generally long)
For example, a 6´0 surfer´s best surfboard choice for an intermediate skill is a board that allows you to make turns and rides good waves – should be around 6’2 to 7’4 long.
Also, check out the VOLUME CALCULATOR on the JS Website
Why not get a surfboard larger than 7’4” as an intermediate surfer? If you already learned to surf on a large board, you know how clumsy and bulky it rides when you want it to perform better – so there’s no need to get a board larger than 7’4. If you learned to surf on a surf school, and have NOT bought your very own surfboard just yet – a 7’0 surfboard would be a great idea, since you can always use it on small waves if you are getting better anyway.
Why shouldn’t an intermediate surfer not get a board shorter than 6’0″? We know that you want to learn fast to hit those good swells and sets, but if you are still coming from an amateur background – the shorter board will not make you a better surfer fast. A shortboard shorter than you (Expect the fish) is only good at excellent conditions for very experienced surfers who know how to take off late. You also need a super good paddle strength and stamina to use a shortboard to its limits.
SURFBOARD CARE ABC
TAKE CARE OF YOUR SURFBOARD – Handling your surfboard is crucially important maintaining its health and keeping it watertight. If you have dinged your board somewhere – it will most likely have a crack in it. Make sure to stack the board somewhere where it wouldn’t fall and transport it without hitting anything. A board that’s got a minor crack in it – will let the water in, and the saltwater will spread inside your surfboard – making it rot inside. The more water gets inside of the board over time – the weaker the material will get, and apparently the board is getting SLOWER as well. Sh1t! If you have dinged your board slightly – get it fixed. Sometimes you need to wait for a day or two to let it dry out.
Which Is The Best Surfboard For An Advanced Surfer?
This guide here is made for the surfer who makes no exceptions in performance. Like an expert surfer, you are confident riding all kinds of surfable waves out there. Having the board to match your skills, style, needs, and the types of waves are the key that opens new doors for experienced surfers. Having the right surfboard to accomplish that is crucial. There’s always room to advance your riding style, and the right board could create a new style and a whole new approach.
Who is an expert or advanced surfer anyway?
An expert surfer is someone who has advanced the skill of surfing through time and experience. Experienced surfers know how to read the forecast, are physically fit, and have the knowledge where and when to paddle for the right wave. In one word – they are incredibly efficient, squeezing out all the fun that’s out there.
Whether there would be knee-high or well overhead waves strolling by – an experienced surfer knows where’s the best place to be and not to be. Another advance an experienced surfer has – is the experience of different gear. Advanced surfers have tried various wetsuits and boards, that are good, and others that not so much. They know their niché.
Why experienced surfers mainly ride performance shortboards?
Well, It’s not that they only ride the shortboards. Advanced surfers are capable of riding all sorts of boards. Whether it would be a longboard, fish, mal, or a shortboard – it’s all the personal preferences they have chosen. But It is the shortboard – that allows you to ride well in the high-quality surf.
Shortboards are the best tools to have fun in high-quality surf conditions. Performance shortboard allows an expert surfer to pull in a barrel, make all sorts maneuvers, duck-dive freely when the pounding gets rough, and the list goes on. The perfect shortboard is like a tailored suit, measured, and fitted for perfection.
Answer: Shortboards/Longboards/Fish – also a couple of step-up/step-down boards as well.
Reasons to get a Surfboard online
Prices are generally lower. And usually, free shipping included on deals in the price range where the pro-boards reside. As the whole marketing world is already slowly “stepping inside” to the web anyway, purchasing a board online is going to be the future tune anyway – so might as well give it a try.
Before starting this sentence, I can already imagine those lucky people reading this article from far away secluded spots, where there are no people on line-ups, and the waves are unheard like anywhere else.
So yeah, An excellent reason to get a surfboard online is the location and the absence of the surf-stores in near-by areas. If you already live miles away from civilization, it’s not very likely you have a surf-store with a great variety of surfboards to offer.
The Selection on-line is endless, as most of the boards (except your local shaper boards) are online. You could also do a lot of research about a particular board. But I get it, with the board – it is mainly useful to get “the touch” with the board first-hand. But never know, It’s also good to wait for something you ordered.
Reasons to not get a surfboard online
Well, by ordering online you are not really helping out the local dealer.