Surfboard Buying Guide | Pacific Boarder

Posted on May 15, 2018 at 10:19 PM

Surfboard Buying Guide


To decide what type of surfboard you should buy, you'll need to do an honest assessment of what you’ll need from the board based on your own ability level and the type of conditions you intend to surf. Once you've done that, you'll eliminate a whole lot of options. Here are the choices:

Long (8’6”+) – The best board type for beginners. They’re easy to paddle, strong, and stable. Even for more experienced riders, long boards are a fun way to enjoy small waves, hop on party waves, and hang 10. 

Funshape (7’2”-8’6”) – These boards are versatile, providing the best of both the shortboard and longboard worlds. They’re maneuverable enough to get your carve on, yet significantly easier to paddle and ride than a shortboard. This type of board is great for beginners who want to transition to shorter boards.

Short (<7'2") – These are generally high performance boards intended for advanced and expert surfers. They’re highly maneuverable, quick, and snappy.

Fish (Thicker and wider shortboards) – It looks like a shortboard, but has a little more beef. They’re great in small mushy days, generate speed well, and are easier to paddle because of their added volume. The trade-off is that they give up some maneuverability. They make a great stepping stone for intermediate surfers who want to get comfortable on shortboards.

FireWire Greedy Beaver
FireWire Greedy Beaver

Volume (L x W x T)

Now, one of the most important pieces of criteria in surfboard purchasing. All boards have a volume associated to them, expressed in litres (L), as a product of their length, width, and thickness. In order to determine your ideal volume, refer to an online volume calculator. There are plenty of good ones throughout the web.

Keep in mind that you'll need less volume in punchy surf where you're getting "flicked" into the wave and more volume in flat-faced, gutless surf when you have to paddle harder to plane into the wave. 

Less volume equates to increased resistance and drag. Too much makes the board feel bulky and makes it harder to turn/transition but paddles faster, catches waves easier, and achieves greater speeds.

Check out the Volume Calculators from these Pacific Boarder brands:

Torq Mod Fun TET
Torq Mod Fun TET


Length, Width and Thickness – these are the dimensions that you can fine tune to your style or usual surfing conditions once you’ve decided on a volume range. That being said, here are a few things that are good to know when it comes to dimensions.

Narrower – The more narrow the board, the faster it will be able to go from rail to rail. Narrower boards allow the you to turn harder, especially when going fast.

Wider – Extra width translates to increased glide and stability. Wide boards offer the surfer more area to push against and more float. That's why a board with more width is better for beginners. Just make sure you're still able to fit the board under your arm.

Longer – More rail line for drive and forward momentum. Length will add stability and volume which makes them great for less advanced surfers.

Shorter – Better fit in the pocket, maneuverable and dynamic. Shortness makes the board harder to ride, but a whole lot of fun when you can.

Thickness – Can give the board less or more volume, depending on the chosen length and width. Thicker boards add volume while thinner boards will provide less volume.

Channel Island Fred Rubble
Channel Island Fred Rubble


The tail of the surfboard affects the way the board tracks, turns, and releases in the water. The following are commonly stocked tails at Pacific Boarder:

Squash – The squash tail if flat across the back, as if it's been squashed from behind. It's the loosest of all but a great all round, everyday tail. Most release in pocket due to its wide exit area. Easy to turn on the face and drive of the bottom.

Round – Just like it sounds, it's rounded at the tail. All about smooth turns for polished style. Good enough for everyday conditions but not a great groveler.

Swallow –  Could be described as a U-shape at the tail, or two pronged tail. They have a tight turning arc making for easy pivot and direction change. Great in clean waves.

Lost Puddle Jumper
Lost Puddle Jumper


Rails refer to the edges of the surfboard. They run along the sides of the board and massively affect the way the board turns and handles in the water. Here are the key points for the three main types of surfboard rails.

Full – Lots of float due to the flat deck of the board, but their shape takes away from the turnability of the board. Full rails will be good for big guys or short small wave boards.

Hard – Give you lots of drive, but limited mobility due to the hard edge running the length of board. These are ideal for heavy back footed surfers.

Soft – Known for being easy to turn and user friendly, but don’t offer the same bite or purchase when making a turn.

Haydenshapes Love Buzz
Haydenshapes Love Buzz


The curve of the board from nose to tail, or the profile shape of a surfboard. Board rocker has an impact on a variety of things, including the way the board turns and carves, as well as the boards speed and how easy it is to paddle. 

There are a couple different types of rocker. Nose rocker and tail rocker. Nose rocker is the shape of the rocker towards the nose and tail rocker is the rocker towards the tail. Here’s the deal when it comes to surfboard rocker:

Less nose rocker – Fast take-off but limited pocket turn radius. These boards hold speed well. Nose rocker is great for grovelers or breakpoint surfing.

More nose rocker – Maneuverable but not fast. Not great in mushy conditions but excel in dumpy, hollow waves.

Less tail rocker – Speedy but hard to turn and maneuver quickly.

More tail rocker – Tail rocker makes boards more maneuverable, but not as fast through the turn. These boards are best for average or fast breaking waves.

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