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How to Choose the Right Surfboard (From the Guy Who Makes Them)

by Greg Iredale

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Choosing your first surfboard or figuring out the best board to progress on can be one of the most stressful and best parts about getting into surfing, and let’s face it, the point of surfing for most of us isn't to become a pro and collect the big pay cheque, it’s to paddle out into some waves and have the most fun possible. 

For beginner and intermediate surfers, choosing the right board for your ability and the waves you will be riding is a key to having the most fun and can be intimidating. A tiny thruster may look hot under your arm, but is probably not the best bet; in fact, most of the time, if you’re using too small a board for your skill level you will end up just paddling around, not catching any waves, and tiring out. Some board types to look at for that first selection would be a longboard for the true beginner and something a bit smaller like a fish, funboard, or shortboard for more of the intermediate surfer. 

How to Choose The Right Surf Board

Having some fun using the right board for the job

Disclaimer: If you are an expert you probably have all of this figured out, no need to keep reading on unless you want to!

There are a few key factors to keep in mind when deciding on the best board for your surfing skills. They can be broken into some main categories:

  • Weight
  • Fitness level
  • Regular wave type ridden
  • Weekend warrior-ness (warrior-ness is totally a word!)



This one is pretty straightforward, the heavier you are the bigger board you will need to be able to go out and catch some waves. A good threshold to think about is right around 200 lbs. If you are below 200 lbs a smaller board will be easier to manoeuvre and paddle for you as well as letting you progress, if you are over 200 lbs a longer board with more volume will keep you floating enough to paddle comfortably. This does not mean you have to go straight to a shortboard and people rip it up on longboards, but if you are looking for manoeuvrability this is a good way to look at it.

How to Choose The Right Surf Board

Pick the right board and work up to throwing down!


Fitness level

You need to be at least a little bit fit to surf effectively and have a good time. For people who are really fit and have some experience with other board sports (i.e. skateboarding, snowboarding, etc.) a shortboard or a fish should be not too much of a problem to pick up. For folks who are a little bit less fit, or less experienced, something like a funboard or longboard might be the better option. Again, it is about getting out in the water and having fun. When you are stuck inside and can’t paddle fast enough to get out back, it can sap your energy and take some of that enjoyment out of surfing.

How to Choose The Right Surf Board

Retro fish shape, small wave magnet!


Wave type

Wave type is pretty important when deciding what board to pick up. If your normal break is a smaller mushier wave, then you will definitely want something like a fish, funboard, or longboard. These types of surfboards float a lot, paddle easily, and are small wave catching magnets. If you are starting to surf on more hollow and steep waves, it could be time to look at a shortboard. Shortboards have more rocker in them (more rounded bottom and the noise has more clearance on the water when it starts to plane) than a fish for example, so they can handle steeper waves without digging the nose in. 

How to Choose The Right Surf Board

A look at a blank board pre-finboxes


Weekend Warrior-ness

This really is about how often you are going to be surfing. If you plan on going every day, then, by all means, get a board that is really going to push you. If you are going that much, you will be getting the practice and you will want a board that allows you to progress. If you are getting out maybe once a weekend, or every couple of weeks/months, definitely purchase an easier to use, easier to paddle board. Like was mentioned at the beginning, it is no fun to just go out paddle around and not catch any waves because your board is too small.

How to Choose The Right Surf Board

Hand shaping some concave

There are many more things you could look at when picking a board and this should at least start you off with some things to think about, hopefully this provides some insight on that and will help you figure out what will work best for you. If you are looking for a new board and are unsure of what you want, it is always a good idea to get in touch with your local shaper or head over to the surf shop to get some ideas. Your local shaper should know the kinds of waves and conditions around where you are going to surf and will be able to talk with you and help to figure out what you need.

Surfing is about getting out in the water and catching waves, so the last bit of advice on getting a board is to pick something up, learn the rules in the water and then get out there and have fun; in the end, that is what it is all about!


Check out BookSurfCamp.com’s top 30 favorite surf blogs if you want to learn more about the exciting life of surfers. Or check out our extensive selection of surf camps!  You can learn more about surfing and surfboards on Chinook Surf. If you have any questions that you would like to ask Greg, you can contact him via email. For more information, visit their Instagram and Twitter.



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