Buying a Surfboard
When we try to look for a surfboard, we always tend to look at the top brands, which is understandable. We will dive more into the other important things that you need to consider for your purchase.
Ah, finally. You’ve watched over a hundred hours of YouTube videos: from professional surfer vlogs to shaky hand-held videos of people diving into waves and coming out half intact. You’ve preyed on your local surf shop, asked some self-proclaimed experts what you should be getting and why, gone through every single Amazon and Craigslist listing of the past three months, and for some reason, you’re still gun-shy.
Well, we’re here to put that to bed once and for all. We will go through the key points and aspects that you should be focusing on when buying a surfboard. We’ll cover the perks, pros, cons, and in-betweens, but most importantly, we will ensure that once you’re done with this article, you’ll know exactly what you need, want, and what to look out for.
Ready for your new surfboard? Because there is a big wave of criteria and parameters coming at you. Let’s go.
The Local Surf Shop
The main problem that new and experienced surfers face when entering their local surf shop is that there is usually so much gear and different board designs that they get option paralysis on the spot and walk straight out.
While it is true that the first steps are the hardest, you don’t have to be a surfboard encyclopedia in order to make the right board purchase.
That’s where the local surfboard shop comes in. Believe me, some of the employees there might seem standoffish, but most of them are absolutely obsessed with surfing and know everything there is to know about boards and types of boards.
So, when in the market for a surfboard, your first stop should always be your local surf shop. You don’t and probably won't end up buying anything on the spot. However, it’s a lot different when you see a board in the flesh rather than through a cell phone screen.
Go and roam around, touch the boards, smell them, ask stupid questions. Don’t worry; it goes with the territory.
How Easily Can You Catch Waves With That Board?
The most important use of a surfboard is catching waves. Yes, the colors can be dashing and the finish can be perfect. However, if it doesn’t do its job, then it’s probably the wrong board. Luckily, nowadays there are multiple opportunities for you to test out the proverbial and literal waters before you make up your mind.
Surfing schools do not require their students to have a surfboard in order to start taking surf courses and usually have an arsenal of boards at the ready. Now, while these are no state-of-the-art boards with fancy features, they will nevertheless give you a good idea of what you might prefer.
Different boards are built for different conditions and different waves. So, even though it might be a simple question, it is every bit as relevant as any other: Is this board suitable and good for catching waves at my location?
For example, uneven terrain is likely to produce a slew of smaller waves that will likely warrant some extra quickness and moveability. In this case, a rider would likely choose a shorter board that is good at maneuverability.
That being said, while shortboards are aimed at advanced surfers, there certainly aren't any shortages of advanced surfers surfing longboards.
The Best Surf Shop
Forget option paralysis when you enter a surf shop. Today there are so many surfboard brands and surf dealers out there that you might get option paralysis just by browsing the list of brands and store chains.
Of course, everyone would like to know the best surf shops right off the bat, but as with everything else in this industry, it’s never that cut and dry. Stores come and go, they rise and fall, they change management and ownership, and they have different quality control at different stages of their existence.
If you aren’t in the thick of it, a good rule of thumb is to just go with a popular and sought-after brand and call it a day. Those brands have survived on the market for a long time for a reason. While this is not a bulletproof strategy, it’s the best one if you aren’t keen on review-reading your life away.
Although these brands and store chains aren’t surfboard manufacturers per se, they are hubs where the surfing community thrives and hangs its laurels.
Outerknown is a household name in the surf industry not only because it has a lot to offer in terms of products and quality but mostly because it was founded by surfing legend Kelly Slater himself.
If you want to look like a surfer, talk like a surfer, and walk like a surfer, Outerknown is your one-time stop to see true professionals up close.
Most of their products, where applicable of course, are completely made up of recycled and sourced materials. Outerknown’s clothing is made from recycled or responsibly sourced materials. They have a reputation as a genuine brand that delivers high-quality products on the regular.
Outerknown might have a higher price tag than most of its competitors, but no one can deny that it has mojo in spades.
The Lumberjack is a traditional longboard offering that stands tall at 9'6’’ and has an old-school 1960s feeling to it. The board features a square tail and comes in clear tint lacquer that emphasizes the shine in its coat stripes. The fins are included in the package.
The Cash-Yew II
The Cash-Yew II might be the best gliding board on the market today. Even though it’s not as long as some of the other offerings from Outerknown, it has a lot of swing to it without sacrificing stability. It responds outstandingly across the spectrum and just feels like home.
This board is perfect for cutbacks and trimming without too much hassle.
Quicksilver is another brand that’s all but synonymous with surfing. The Australian company has its offices in sunny Huntington Beach, California.
At Quicksilver’s stores, you will be able to find and get first-hand knowledge on all things surfing. Just walk in and take in the colorful offering of great clothing—a must-visit spot for sure.
The Bat Board
When it comes to their surfboard offering, Quicksilver is all about class. Their boards come in clean white designs that are very appealing.
The Bat Board is their flagship board. It’s made from the ground up to offer riders the most care-free experience on their surf ventures. The surfboard is very stable and perfect for long paddles.
The Break is designed for keeping surfers on their feet as long as humanly possible. This board is designed to withstand wave after wave at the minimum expense of the rider themselves.
If your stamina isn't up to par, or if you are coming from an injury, this might be the perfect board to get up on the horse again. It really is very forgiving in all aspects of the surf.
The Mini Ripper
The Mini Ripper is a delight on all possible levels. The shortboard features a robust fiberglass construction that makes it super versatile in a slew of conditions.
The fact that it’s a shortboard allows for much mobility and maneuverability, but there are no compromises made on its performance as well.
Body Glove is a company with tradition. The brand has been afloat for over seventy years now. Established way back in 1953 by twins Bill and Bob Meistrell, the shops are still a family-owned affair, running on their third generation.
This can change depending on who you ask, but for the most part, surfers agree that it was the Meistrell twins that invented the very first wetsuit.
So if you’re one of those surfers that don’t want to mess around and want to go straight to the source, there is no place better suited than the mighty Body Glove.
The Grommet Kids Inflatable Paddle Board
Body Glove has an excellent repertoire of surfboards across all ages and body types. One of the most popular purchases have been their kids' boards.
These surfboards are smaller in size and lighter, but they still retain much of the performance characteristics of their bigger counterparts.
Nowadays, it’s easier than ever for kids to get started by getting the Body Glove Grommet inflatable paddleboard that is made out of robust PVC and features double layers on the sides.
These boards are so compact that they can be transported in a backpack, and the kids can carry them themselves. needs for a day on the water and they can all be conveniently transported and stored along with the board in the included storage backpack.
The package comes with a slew of accessories as well; everything from inflating pupils to pockets for cell phones is included.
The Daily Board
Of course, there is the standard and well-tested offering—the Daily Board. Perhaps the company’s most coveted purchase on the market is as popular as ever because it’s an all-rounder in the true sense of the word.
The board is a soft-top surfboard That is very usable for both beginners and veteran surfers. It pertains to beginners because it is very easy to control and it can withstand a beating, and it holds its own with the more experienced crowd because at 7'6", it can take to dangerous speeds if need be.
The Daily surfboard comes equipped with three fins that can be removed and adjusted. Even though the fins themselves are carved out of plastic, the materials are highly-durable and battle-tested, so you shouldn’t think twice when it comes to performance and durability.
The fact that the board is super light at that size makes it a dream to operate and maneuver without overcompensating and tiring out your muscles.
Choosing the Right Board
Even though it takes a lot to get surf-knowledgeable across the board, there are still some parameters and facets that everyone has to pay attention to when making their first board purchase.
Let’s take a look at the main things that you will need to consider before going on your new surfboard venture.
The design of a board is the most important thing to consider in relation to the location that you might be surfing at and the waves that you will be riding.
Different boards are designed for different waves, so let’s make sure that you get what you need and not just what you want. What will you be surfing?
Are you after towering big waves or smaller ones? Right-hand reef? Are you after speed and stability or mobility and maneuverability? Both? Well, you’re about to have a field day.
Whatever your needs and preferences might be, make sure that you know which design of boards works for you and the task you have at hand.
Volume is another paramount parameter that every surfer should take a closer look at. Some surfboards have their volumes written out on them; some surfers write out the volumes of the boards on their surfboards themselves.
In any case, you can always rely on board-volume calculators to paint you a clear picture if that board that you’re looking at will perform well in those uncertain waters.
If you’re not a professional surfer that goes for results in a certain competition, we suggest that you don’t go into either extreme. Don’t go for the bulk tank board that is the immovable force and always leveled, but don’t go for the thinnest slice of board you have ever come across either.
That being said, a lot of the board volume goes hand in hand with your height, weight, and technique. Make sure that you know all of these and set them against the surf conditions in your local area. Once you have these down, you should be getting pretty close to the volume that suits you best.
Of course, one of the most important facets when it comes to choosing a surfboard is its dimensions. When the surfing industry wasn’t as developed back in the 20th century, there were much fewer options to go around.
Nowadays, once you settle down on a design and a volume, then you can start looking into the board’s dimensions that will bring everything together and bring you one step closer to your dream board.
If you opt for a narrow nose, then you’re probably after speed and maneuverability. However, this has to be paired with the ideal width so that you don’t overcompensate and lose your balance.
Even though thinner surfboards make it easier to reach high speeds, they’re not really ideal in tough weather conditions. Difficult weather conditions will keep coming at you throughout your surf, so you will need to counter that the best you can. The more volume your board has, the harder it will be for the wind and waves to impact it in a negative way.
Everything has its purpose—it’s up to you to take advantage of the market and get that dream built intact before the next big wave is on the horizon. Let’s see what you should be looking into.
PU/Poly and Alternative Tech
The PU or Poly board construction is one of the most widespread and utilized designs out there. This is because PU/Poly surfboards aren’t bulky and offer a good deal of stability. If you want to go straight down the middle in terms of design, the PU board is more than a suitable choice.
That being said, there has been an ever-growing interest in alternative tech boards. As the sport has diversified and new and exciting disciplines have been brought to light, a lot of surfers have been going directly for hybrid boards.
This is because hybrid and alternative tech boards have a more modern and light touch to them, and that’s only half of the appeal. The fact that alternative tech boards are more durable and eco-friendly makes them a true all-arounder.
So, if you are going for a certain type of surf and don't mind shedding a bit extra on your board, then the alternative tech constructions are probably the ones for you.
Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “how can lighter boards that are put together from recycled materials be more durable than the classic surfboard design?” Well, there is more than one aspect to the hybrid board's durability.
The first thing that people will usually associate with durability is how well the board can stay intact and resist dings and scratches.
This is addressed by constructing boards in a sandwich manner. Yes, sandwich constructions have become the most popular way of constructing surfboards in the recent past. It’s usually done with different hard-foam shells stacked upon each other.
The second type of durability is breakage durability. Although it’s difficult to break a board in half while surfing, there are certain boards that give in over time.
There is no way of knowing how breakable a board will be and how well it will put up against the weather conditions because of the different climates and surf storage facilities. Nevertheless, there are brands that are renowned for their unbreakability.
The third and most overlooked aspect of a board’s durability is its ability to retain its performance characteristics. You might be getting frustrated because you are doing worse in the ocean, and maybe that hinders your self-confidence.
While you might be having a bad streak or struggling with your mindset because we all go through ebbs and flows, there is a good chance that your board has actually lost some of its splendor.
Switch it up. Ask your friends to borrow their board for a while. It might have nothing to do with you.
A Few Words Before You Go…
Buying a surfboard is anything but easy. You can go with wider boards, longer boards, go with less volume, more volume… A different tail shape can come into play, and fiberglass boards may pique your interest. What you do need, though, might just be a foam board or a soft board. It’s completely understandable that the choice can be hard to pin down. When you go intermediate and beyond, the options multiply.
That being said, beginner surfers should understand that regardless of the board they go with, the more waves you surf on your new surfboard, the more familiar you’ll become with it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re attending a surf school or practicing at a local beach. What matters is that the board you have should eventually become part of you and your expression.
While the wide variety of options can leave you paralyzed, it’s really hard to go wrong once you’re aware of your goals, skill level, and your surf location. Ultimately, the best surfboard is made—not bought.
Never let your surfboard buying venture overshadow your appetite to catch waves.