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How to Choose a Surfboard? 4 BIG Factors to Consider!

how to choose a surfboard
Written by Derrick Riley
Last Update: August 14, 2023

Nothing is as adventurous and thrilling as surfing in the vast ocean, making your way through the waves by counting on your instincts. This exciting and mind pulsating experience comes true only if you know how to choose a surfboard that suits your surfing style and experience.

It is understandable that you can go through a lot of confusion and might not know how to choose the right surfboard, in case you are a beginner. Sometimes even for experienced surfers, choosing the best surfboard becomes intriguing. This article will help you understand how to select the right surfboard.

How to Choose a Surfboard and Why?

Once a surfboard was chosen by its length. So, with limited scope, surfing experience got limited, and so was the fun and performance. But those days are gone now. The surfboards are available in various shapes like retros, fish, Longboards, Shortboards, hybrids, Tri, single fins, or twins. Even the thickness of various surfboards has changed over time.

When choosing a surfboard, consider the following parameters:

  • Types
  • Design
  • Volume
  • Dimension

Factor #1: Types

The surface boats come in various shapes, sizes, and types. The surfing experience of a surfer determines the type of surfboards one should use. The following types of surfboards will help you decide which suits you the most depending on your style and experience.
how to choose a surfboard

1. Shortboards

This type of surfboard is also called as Thrusters. They are usually used by advanced surfers for contest-style surfing or shredding. They usually are 5 feet 6 inches to 6 feet 4 inches in length and 6 inches to 19 inches in thickness. Generally, they have grounded square tails.

2. Longboards

The name log or cruiser is also synonyms to the longboards. They are over 8 feet to 9 feet in length, with a rounded nose. They have more stability in water. They are easy to pedal, but at times it might get difficult to get through the white water, owing to their size. Surfers can surf on them in various styles.

3. Malibu or Minimal

These surfboards are a shorter version of the longboards. They have one large fin or 3 small fins.

4. Funboard

The length of a fun board ranges from 6 feet 6 inches to 8 feet and thickness is in the range of 20 inches to 22 inches. The paddling power of longboard coupled with the turning ability of the shortboard can be experienced in the Funboard. They are suitable for beginners.

5. Fish boards

Similar to a short word in length, but the fish surfboards differ from the shortboard in terms of wider nose swallowtail and a wider midsection. They are suitable for medium-sized waves. For the beginners, they can improve their wave catching capability on this surfboard.

6. Gun surfboards

The gun surfboards are long with pointy tail and nose. They are in the range of 6 feet to 10 feet. Ideal for big waves, these surfboards are easy to pedal.

7. Foamboards

Designed for the beginners, these surfboards are easy to catch waves and have better stability in water and surface can easily stand upon them. They are also called as foamies.

8. Bodyboards

The bodyboards, also known by the name Boogie boards these sports are smaller and rectangular their suitable for all age groups they are made from fiberglass, polystyrene, wood, or foam.

Why should you care about soft top?

For beginners, it is not wise to invest in an advanced surfboard, which is very expensive. That is when soft boards come handy. The foam boards or soft boards will help you stand on the feet and they have easy maneuverability. They are very affordable. They have a large volume, greater balance, and stability.

The foam of the board makes them buoyant, making paddling and catching waves easy for the beginners.

Should you choose a Shortboard?

Shortboards are typically for an advanced level of surfers. For the beginners, it is advisable not to use them as they are not long and wide enough. So the chances of hurting yourself will be more if you use a shortboard.

Should you buy a long surfboard?

The longer the surfboard, the easier to pedal them and catch waves. So when your surfing experience has crossed the level of beginner, you can move from fun board or foam board to longboards. They offer greater strength over pedals and more stability in water.

Should you buy a used surfboard?

For a newbie, there are all the chances that they may dinge the surfboard while carrying down the steps leaning them in an upright way on a typical windy day or while putting it in the car. As a novice, you can definitely start with a used one. All the dings and dents won’t be that painful for used surfboards. Once you get a hand over it go for a new surfboard.

You may also try to acquire more in-depth discussion of the different types. Now, let’s get the second factor.

[amazon bestseller=”surfboard” items=”3″ grid=”3″]

Factor #2: Volume

Volume is a measurement of the flotation or buoyancy a board has. It is measured in cubic liters. It depends on three elements: length, width, and thickness of the board.

surfboard Dimensions

Smaller and lightweight surfers will need less volume, whereas large and heavier surfers will need more volume. In terms of surfing experience, beginners and intermediates will need more volume for better stability, to catch more waves and better speed. The pros will need lesser volume to maximize their maneuverability and speed.

Long boots and foamies have more buoyancy because of larger volumes.

How to calculate volume?

The calculation of volume for surfboard depends upon the weight of the surfer and the surfing experience or skill level. For a cube, the volume can be easily calculated with the formula length x breadth x-height. But the surfboards are converse somewhere and concave elsewhere. Their thickness will vary at the nose, midsection and the tail. So the volume is measured in cubic liters.

Nowadays, most of the surfboards are designed by computer software, so their volume is known. In case you want to find out the volume of the surfboard suitable for you, there are many online sites with volume calculators, based on your weight and surfing skills.

Factor #3: Design

how to choose a surfboard

The design of the circuit board is a factor of paramount. This should be the first consideration when you want to know how to pick a surfboard.  

When choosing a surfboard, you should realistically and honestly look at how much is the usability, in what conditions the surfboard is going to be used, and how?

There are numerous designs available within each surfboard category. In that case, you should consider your skill, style and the type of wave, and the condition you will surf in. The design of the support depends on tails, rails, and fins. Let’s discuss these factors in detail.

1. Tails

The tails of the surfboard, present at the end, play a vital role in surfing. A wider and bulky tail will give more stability, floatation, and good speed. On the other hand, the smaller tail will sink in water, giving more control over the bigger waves (for the pros).

The angle of the tail is also very important.

2. Rails

Rails are the edges of the surfboard joining the nose and the tail. They have their own role in the overall performance of the surfing board the water flows while turning and planning is determined by the shape of the rail has more thickness at the center and lesser towards the nose and the tail.

3. Fins

The fins are mounted over the tail of the surfboard. Their function is improving directional stability and better control when foot steering. The fins allow the surfer to control the direction by the side-to-side distribution of weight.

Factor #4: Dimensions

Once you decide on the design and volume, the dimension will give you the surfboard of the desired volume. Most of the surfboard models have stock dimensions which imply the length, width, and thickness of the surfboard. if you move to participate in an event, you need to abide by certain dimension guidelines.

how to choose a surfboard

1. Length

Long surfboards will help in faster paddling and catching more waves. The longer boards are ideal for bigger waves.

The shorter boats have easy maneuverability and their direction can be easily changed, as the water resistance is less while going side to side. They are ideal for small waves.

2. Width

Wider surfboards will have more buoyancy and a larger surface area will provide ease in paddling, gliding, and stability. They are suitable for beginners.

The narrow surfboards are used by the advanced or pro surfers as it provides ease in turning.

3. Thickness

The thick surfboards are ideal for beginners and intermediates, as they will be easy to pedal. They are most suitable to ride on the softer waves.

Thin boards are for the pro and advanced user has less maneuverability. Thinner the board, the easier to cut the rail through the water.

Surfboard Accessories

Surfboard Accessories

When you are thinking about how to select a surfboard, you can also upgrade your surfing experience by thinking of buying some surfing gadgets and accessories. So the next time you are in for the salty thrill, you can enhance the whole surfing experience by getting these accessories for yourself. Make the most out of your surfing sessions by owning these surfing accessories along with the right surfboard.

1. Vest/ Wetsuits

Wetsuits or vests are the second in line, as you start learning how to choose surfboard. You can’t just surf in any outfit while making your way through the rash waves. You need the comfort of a wetsuit and so, buying one is a necessity. The wetsuit will prevent you from the harsh, chilly water waves.

There are various types, styles, materials, and thickness to choose from as far as the wetsuits are concerned. You can select from full suit, spring suit, Farmer Johns, short Johns. The list is endless.

2. Wetsuit Hangers

If you dry your wetsuit on a normal hanger, you’re compromising with its life, as it will get stretched around the neck and shoulders. You must always use a special hanger for wetsuit after each rinse. The hangers will not only prevent your suit from stretching but also will easily remove the sand from your suit, ensuring fast drying.

3. Shark Repellent

The shark repellents are the rechargeable devices that can be fit on the ankle of any surfer. They repel the shark by using the sound of their predators to distract them. They do not harm the sharks.

4. Board Bags/Carriers

The board bags or carriers are of great help, especially when carrying your surfboard for a long distance. Without a carrier, you will struggle to hold the surfboard under your arms or hand. Half the excitement of surfing will go just in carrying the surfboard. But when you have a carrier, the handles will make the carrying of the surfboard as a cakewalk for you.

5. Board Shorts

Board shorts are specially made from materials like nylon or polyester for quick drying. They are lightweight and comfortable for surfing. They will not have an elastic waist. Instead, you can fasten them by the velcro fly, present at the waist. The waistband is further secured by lace tie-up, securing the shots in the place. They cannot be pulled off even by a force full wave.

6. Leashes

The surfboard leashes are an amazing invention from the 70s. They keep the surfboard attached to the leg of the surfer. They are also called as kook cords. They are the most important surfing accessory after surfboard and the wetsuit. You should select your leash based on these four parameters.

  • Length of the cord
  • Thickness
  • Quality of the connector between the cords
  • Ankle strap

7. Deck Grip

Until the 70s, surface wax was the only option to avoid the slippery surfing experience. But ever since the deck grips have come, the issue has been dealt with. Earlier they were made up of polyurethane, but in the recent times, the traction pads or deck grips are made up of Thermoformed Eva. It comes with different contours, kicks, colors, and arches, creating a perfect grip for the surfers on the board. While buying them, check the flexibility and quality of the deck and then buy one for your surfboard.

Clean the surfboard completely before applying them to the board, with the help of quality glue. Let it set for 24 hours before hitting the waves.

[amazon bestseller=”surfboard” items=”3″ grid=”3″]

8. Multi-tool

Multi-tool is an essential element for your good surfing experience. It comes handy when you want to customize the gear on the fly or any other thing on the surfboard. Usually, a multi-tool kit will consist of a bit driver with a fun key, wax comb, easy-out spring hook, and in some cases a bottle opener.

9. Portable Shower

A portable shower will always come to your aid when you are on a remote beach or there are no showers to wash out the sand from your surfboard. They can be carried out to any place as they are lightweight.

10. Keypod

The keypods have been the most useful accessory. They come with a four-digit combination lock and the weather-resistant. They come with the cavity in which you can keep all kinds of keys, credit cards, petty cash small jewelry. All you have to do is keep your keys and the other belongings, anchor it at a solid point, close the lid, set the lock combination, and enjoy your surfing without any tension.

11. Roof Rack

They are the most convenient means to lock and carry the surfboard over the car roof. The riveting tension system over the carrier securely locks the board. To prevent your surfboard from denting, there are rubber cushions.

12. Gadgets

There are a lot of surfing gadgets to help you search better and share your experience with others. The following gadgets will help you enhance the way you surf and share it to the world.

13. Digital Camera

You can easily capture the surfing experience on the digital cameras they come with special features like water resistance portability variability wait there’s a lot more you can do with them.

14. Wind Meter

The wind meters can give a clear picture of the wind direction and speed a portable win meter is compatible with the Smartphones and will be able to give the information about the wind meters are usually waterproof.

15. Earplugs

In order to prevent the surfers from exostosis or the Surfers ear, they can make use of earplugs. The earplugs will keep the water away and the sound in, optimizing the hearing and the balance.

16. GPS Watches

The smartwatches for the surfers can give the information about the wave height, wind direction and speed, temperature of air and water and much more.

17. Surf Wax

The surfboard wax made up of synthetic and natural wax, is applied on the deck to prevent slipping off when paddling or catching a wave. It is usually made up of beeswax or paraffin along with petroleum jelly. It is applied by putting a base coat on a clean board. The topcoat is applied over that with diagonal or circular patterns created, to get a good grip for the surfer over the deck.


Hope this surfing guide will help you to know how to choose the perfect type of surfboard. Keeping in mind the volume, design, and dimension, you can now know how to find the right surfboard for yourself.

So hit the waters wearing the right wet suit and enjoy the surfing with the ideal surfboard.

About the author

Derrick Riley

I’m Derrick in my early 40s, but planning to bag from every saltwater source in America. In practice, I’ve explored over a dozen bodies of water that hosted almost all of the saltwater game fish. My personal favorites are brook trout and striped bass though. I don’t mind catching bluegill and white crappie either.

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