surfboards racked on top of an orange hippie van with palm trees in the background
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How to Put Together the Ideal Surf Quiver

How many boards do I need to have? What type of boards should I have? Let us answer your questions with our thorough guide.

These days, just a quick stroll in an area with lots of surf shops or many idle surfers might be enough to confuse you as to what you need for your surfboard quiver. As you probably know, the days when everybody was longboarding because there was no other type of surfboard now belong to a distant past, and the contemporary world of surfboard design offers a different board for almost every surf condition, break, and style.

Just take a look at our guide on all the different surfboard shapes, in which we didn’t even go through all the subcategories, and you’ll have a pretty good idea about the many choices you’ll have. So, building the ideal board quiver is quite the challenge when even picking a single new board is a hassle.

Of course, if you’re in the market for a new board, you can just take a look at our surfboard guides and find out which one is more in line with your needs and skills at the moment. However, if you already have one board but want to build the ideal quiver by finding out what additional boards you need, let us help you out.

How Many Surfboards Do You Need in Your Surf Quiver?

12 surfboards with different colors leaning on a wall under palm trees

The ideal number of surfboards to have in your quiver obviously depends on what kind of a surfer you are and where you’re surfing. For example, if you’re a surfer who has a habit of breaking boards on shallow reefs, it’s better to have two of everything, right? If you’re a beginner or a recreational surfer who only wants to ride small waves in relative peace, there’s no reason for you to add high-performance boards to your surfboard quiver. Sticking to comfortable soft tops might just do the job for you.

That being said, we at OMBE firmly believe that if a surfer, no matter what level they are, wants to progress, they should try their hand on as many different boards as possible. Experimentation and playfulness are key components of surfing progress. As Ricky Bassnett also asserts, only when you experiment and play with the waves do you really get to develop an intrinsic understanding of them.

To that end, we may also refer you to our presenter and mentalist, Anthony Laye’s quiver, and how each surfboard he's had has contributed to his understanding of the surf and progress. However, we also get that not everybody has the means to embellish their quiver with as many surfboards as they’d like.

In that case, having four surfboards that cover all wave conditions will be enough. Now, let’s look at what types of surfboards you should absolutely have in your quiver.

4 Surfboard Types Every Surf Quiver Should Have

Now, we’re going to assume that you are at least well past the beginner stages of surfing and that you have no problem catching unbroken waves, even if only on your local beach break. So, our board recommendations aren’t necessarily aimed at beginner surfers.

However, if you’re a beginner, it might be helpful to get a preliminary idea about what to expect in the further stages of your journey and be prepared for what comes next.


a yellow longboard vertical on a beach with ocean in the background

There are two main types of longboards: soft tops and high-performance longboards. Both might be a good addition to your quiver, depending on your needs and skills.

Take a look at any surf guide that lists the most suitable surfboards for beginners, and you’ll see that soft top longboards take up the majority of the space, and that’s with good reason. If nothing, they’re quite comfortable, and unless you’re comfortable, learning something is quite difficult, barring action heroes who can manifest their latent superpowers only when they find themselves in high-stress situations.

However, the only merit of soft tops isn’t their comfort. They’re the go-to board of many beginners, as mastering the fundamentals of surfing on them is also as easy as it gets. Thanks to their soft top, paddling is less painful, and thanks to their high volume, you need not spare any effort when paddling either. 

Additionally, they help you catch waves effortlessly, and they’re stable, so achieving a balanced stance and maintaining that balance isn’t a hassle, and generating speed is solely up to the board due to its buoyancy.

Of course, all these attributes make it sound like you don’t actually learn surfing but leave the job completely to the board, but hey, that’s what being a beginner is about for the majority. Even if you’re not a beginner and just want to take a stroll on the waves when the surf conditions are below your standards, they’re always a good option to have.

That said, if you’re already a competent and confident surfer, a soft top can never be your daily driver. That’s where high-performance longboards come to your rescue. They’re as buoyant and stable as soft tops, but they’re also more versatile. Some of them can even perform well on hollow waves.

Mid-Length Board

a white surfboard buried half to the sand on a white beach with the ocean in the background

Regardless of your admirable skills in surfing, you cannot always find good waves, right? They’re not as elusive as the white whale Captain Ahab was hunting, but still, we all know that there are days when all you get are mushy waves or waves that are slightly better than knee-high.

When that’s the case, mid-length boards can be the most essential member of your surfboard quiver. They’re not exactly as performance-oriented as shortboards, but they can perform well in any surf conditions as long as you have the accommodating skills. They’re not as buoyant, comfortable, or stable as longboards, but we need to assume that you don’t need these features anymore. In short, they’re the best of both worlds.

Of course, there are a couple of surfboard types that can be considered mid-lengths. The main ones that immediately come to mind are mini mals and fun boards, which might sometimes refer to the same type of board. The distinctive attribute of mid-lengths is that they’re between 6-8 feet, and they’re neither thick nor thin, neither narrow nor wide. What they are is just fun.

Fish Surfboard

person in black wetsuit checking the ocean while a fish surfboard lies at their feet

If your main preference is a shortboard, nobody can blame you if you don’t want your second board to be a longer one. You got used to the length, you got used to the shape, you got used to popping up on a shorter board, so you may just lose your bearings on a longer one. In short, you may have all the excuses in the world.

Then, you have no chance but to go into the market in search of a suitable fish surfboard. Since their conception in 1967 by Steve Lis, these boards have always been a popular choice for surfers who didn’t know what to do when the waves were mushy at best.

Although these boards are short, they compensate for their lack of length with a wide chest (like that of a fish seen from the side) and a thick body, which contributes to the volume and buoyancy of the board. Most of them also have a swallow tail (again, like that of a fish). So, despite their high volume, they’re agile and thrustable during turns and tricks as well.

High-Performance Shortboard

surfer in black wetsuit busting an air on a high-performance shortboard

Even though you might only be a beginner now, the dream is to ride barrels and bust airs one day, right? Even a recreational surfer who’s content with their Wavestorm and the occasional cutbacks they perform cannot help but imagine themselves inside a tube or doing a backside 360 in the air.

To do those, you’ll need a shortboard that can perform well in double overhead conditions. That’s not the only benefit of shortboards, either. As they pack much less volume and entertain much less buoyancy than their longer alternatives, they’re more responsive, and a responsive board means that you’ll have a less mediated connection to the energy of the waves.

Here at OMBE, feeling the energy of the wave, interpreting it correctly, and channeling it into your ride is key to learning how to surf and progress as a surfer. Therefore, a high-performance shortboard (essentially, the ones that are light in weight, narrow in chest, and thin at the core) is a must-have for everyone sooner or later in their surfing journey.

That’s also why shortboards are an essential part of every quiver recommendation you see for guides on surf trip packing. A wave that you deem unsurfable at your local break might become surfable on a surf trip to Indonesia, Costa Rica, or Nicaragua with the right surf coaching and surfboard. You never know, so you better be ready.

Wrapping Up…

Of course, when it comes to recommending boards for the surfboard quiver of someone we don’t even know, no list can be ultimate. We don’t know anything about where you live, where you surf, how skilled you are, and what your aspirations and inspirations are as a surfer.

However, with all the surf coaching experience under our belt, we are pretty sure of one thing: experimentation, hunger for novelty and challenges, and playfulness never hurt anyone’s progress as long as they’re guided by those who know what they’re doing. Having said that, you can be pretty sure that Clayton Nienaber, a board-shaper who shaped boards for legends such as Dane Reynolds and Kelly Slater, does know what he’s doing.

So, if you have any further questions on this subject matter, let’s get to know each other through our Get the Right Board program, and let us help you build the perfect quiver.

Written by
Nico Palacios
surf coaching