Like many outdoor activities, surfing can be incredibly addictive and therapeutic. But for those that don’t make the proper board selection, it can quickly become frustrating. There are a lot of variables, such as swell height, swell direction, wind speed, and wind direction, that affect the quality of the surf. Knowing the best surfboards for a variety of conditions will help you prepare for a great session every time out.

Experienced surfers know that they need to make a different board selection depending on the conditions. Having a variety of boards to choose from will maximize your chances of actually enjoying your time in the ocean. It will also give you the ability to enjoy more days out as conditions change. In this article, we’ll review ten of the best surfboards and explain some of the important features of these boards.

For more of our top surfing gear recommendations, check out these popular articles:

Surfboards for Beginners | Surfboards for Small Waves

Soft Top Surfboards

 

Quick Answer - The Best Surfboards

  1. Firewire Greedy Beaver Round TT
  2. Catch Surf Beater
  3. Hayden Shapes Hypto Krypto
  4. LOST Surfboards Sub Driver Pro
  5. Catch Surf Odysea Log
  6. Channel Islands OG Flyer
  7. Donald Takayama Beach Break
  8. Walden Mega Magic Fusion HD
  9. Channel Islands Average Joe Tuflite
  10. Donald Takayama Scorpion Tuflite PC

Comparison Table - The Best Boards for Surfing

PictureNameLengthTypeFins Included?Experience LevelPriceRating
Firewire Greedy Beaver Round TT6’2” - 6’8”ShortboardNoBeginner to Expert$$4.4
Catch Surf Beater4’6”Shortboard (Soft Top)YesBeginner to Expert$4.8
Hayden Shapes Hypto Krypto5’5” - 6’2”ShortboardNoAdvanced to Expert$$4.1
LOST Surfboards Sub Driver Pro5’8” - 6’2”ShortboardNoAdvanced to Expert$$4.6
Catch Surf Odysea Log7’ - 8’Fun Board (Soft Top)YesBeginner to Advanced$4.9
Channel Islands OG Flyer6’4”ShortboardNoIntermediate to Expert Surfers$$4.7
Donald Takayama Beach Break9’ - 9’6”LongboardNoIntermediate to Expert$$$4.7
Walden Mega Magic Fusion HD7’2” - 9’6”Fun BoardNoIntermediate to Expert$$$4.7
Channel Islands Average Joe Tuflite5’3” - 6’1”ShortboardNoIntermediate to Advanced$$4.6
Donald Takayama Scorpion Tuflite PC5’10” - 6’10”ShortboardNoIntermediate to Expert$$4.0
PictureNameLengthTypeFins Included?Experience LevelPriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - Best Surfboards

Firewire Greedy Beaver Round TT

Specs
  • Length: 6’2” - 6’8”
  • Type: Shortboard
  • Fins Included?: No
  • Experience Level: Beginner to Expert
  • Nose Shape: Rounded
  • Tail Shape: Rounded Pintail
Features
  • Shortboard Maneuverability
  • Excellent Paddle Power
  • Lightweight Core
  • Versatile Design

BEST FOR: 2-6 FOOT WAVES

In short, this board is an excellent crossover that offers the best of shortboard maneuverability and longboard paddle ability. It’s maneuverable when the waves get larger and steeper, but still rideable on smaller, mushier days. This board is designed with eco-friendly epoxy materials and offers the ability to setup the fins with a tri or quad configuration. The board’s hybrid design makes it the perfect board to up your wave count with every session.

Catch Surf Beater

Specs
  • Length: 4’6”
  • Type: Shortboard (Soft Top)
  • Fins Included?: Yes
  • Experience Level: Beginner to Expert
  • Nose Shape: Rounded
  • Tail Shape: Crescent
Features
  • Durable Design
  • Soft-Top Finish
  • Removable Fins
  • Easy Storage

BEST FOR: BEGINNERS, SKIMBOARDERS, BODYBOARDERS

The 54-inch Beater from Catch Surf is a great starter board for anyone learning how to ride a shorter setup. It’s a soft-top board that can take a beating and can also perform while skimboarding or bodyboarding if you don’t feel like paddling out on any particular day. Its size makes it easy to store out of the way when not in use and also makes it a great board for kids learning how to ride a smaller board. This board does require additional surf wax for better grip, but it’s a fun board for riders of all skill levels!

Hayden Shapes Hypto Krypto

Specs
  • Length: 5’5” - 6’2”
  • Type: Shortboard
  • Fins Included?: No
  • Experience Level: Advanced to Expert
  • Nose Shape: Pointed
  • Tail Shape: Rounded Pintail
Features
  • Tri Fin Set Up
  • Adaptability To Conditions
  • Wide Nose (for better stability in small waves)
  • Ample Volume (for easier paddling)

BEST FOR: VERSATILITY ACROSS VARIED CONDITIONS

The Hypto Krypto is a great choice for weekend surfers and seasoned surf travelers alike. The board’s versatility gives riders the ability to challenge waves of all shapes and sizes. This board is sometimes referred to as the ‘one-board quiver’ because of its ability to perform in a wide variety of conditions. The board’s wide nose and rounded pintail give you the ability to maximize your session every time, regardless of whether you’re surfing a punchy beach break or a mellow point break. The tri-fin setup also gives this board an excellent combination of speed and maneuverability.

LOST Surfboards Sub Driver Pro

Specs
  • Length: 5’8” - 6’2”
  • Type: Shortboard
  • Fins Included?: No
  • Experience Level: Advanced to Expert
  • Nose Shape: Pointed
  • Tail Shape: Squash
Features
  • Wide, Stable Nose
  • Wide Tail Block (for more float when paddling)
  • Performance In Unpredictable Conditions
  • Wider Hip (for stability in smaller waves)

BEST FOR: SMALL TO AVERAGE SURF

The Sub Driver Pro continues to be one of the most popular boards ridden by surfers in the World Qualifying Series. Competitive surfers love it for its ability to catch waves and generate speed, even in less-than-favorable conditions. The board’s wider design elements add lift when paddling and also make it more stable in smaller waves and at slower speeds. Although its design can be categorized as “short and stubby,” this board also has plenty of drive and the ability to crank tight, powerful turns.

Catch Surf Odysea Log

Specs
  • Length: 7’ - 8’
  • Type: Fun Board (Soft Top)
  • Fins Included?: Yes
  • Experience Level: Beginner to Advanced
  • Nose Shape: Rounded
  • Tail Shape: Squash
Features
  • Tons of Float
  • Stiff Core
  • Soft Deck
  • Removable Fins

BEST FOR: MAXIMIZING WAVE COUNT

This super-floaty, soft-top board will be a fun ride for stoked younger riders and seasoned vets alike. It’s the perfect board for maximizing your wave count every time out and it features a stiff enough design to make those waves fun to ride once you catch them. The tri-fin set up helps you maneuver this board and you can also remove fins if you want a twin fin or single fin configuration.

Channel Islands OG Flyer

Specs
  • Length: 6’4”
  • Type: Shortboard
  • Fins Included?: No
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to Expert Surfers
  • Nose Shape: Pointed
  • Tail Shape: Squash
Features
  • Lively, Responsive Feel
  • Versatility In Different Conditions
  • Snappy Design
  • Superior Flex (for better response to your movements)

BEST FOR: SMALLER WAVES UP TO HEAD HIGH

The OG Flyer is widely considered the board that set the standard for the shorter, stubbier boards that so many riders have gone to these days. It’s design makes it bounce back even in smaller waves and extra-responsive to the touch. It can be ridden in varied conditions, but tends to perform best in waves of about 2-3 feet high. The design allows for quick, snappy turns and the rocker flexes under pressure and then quickly returns to its natural rocker, which also helps to make this board more lively under foot.

Donald Takayama Beach Break

Specs
  • Length: 9’ - 9’6”
  • Type: Longboard
  • Fins Included?: No
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to Expert
  • Nose Shape: Round Pointed
  • Tail Shape: Squash
Features
  • Extra Rocker (for better maneuverability)
  • Hard Rails (for dropping in on steeper waves)
  • Tri-Fin Configuration

BEST FOR: PERFORMANCE LONGBOARDERS

This longboard is an excellent performer on knee-high to overhead waves. It is widely known as Donald Takayama’s most innovative longboard of all time. The extra rocker and tri-fin configuration make this board more maneuverable than many of Takayama’s previous designs, but the hard rails make steep nose rides possible as well. In addition to being a great performer for experienced longboarders, this is also an excellent choice for beginner longboarders.

Walden Mega Magic Fusion HD

Specs
  • Length: 7’2” - 9’6”
  • Type: Fun Board
  • Fins Included?: No
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to Expert
  • Nose Shape: Rounded
  • Tail Shape: Squashtail
Features
  • Hard Rails (to improve performance on steep waves)
  • Lots of Rocker (for better responsiveness to your movements))
  • Extra Width (means more stability)
  • More Floaty (than boards of similar length)

BEST FOR: GOING SHORTER W/O GIVING UP FLOAT

This board is one of Walden’s best sellers because it allows riders to progress down to riding a shorter setup without making it much more difficult to paddle into waves of varied sizes. It offers the most condensed volume of any of Walden’s Magic models, but the volume from the length is redistributed to the width and thickness to achieve more float. The added rocker helps with this board’s responsiveness while the hard rails improve drive.

Channel Islands Average Joe Tuflite

Specs
  • Length: 5’3” - 6’1”
  • Type: Shortboard
  • Fins Included?: No
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to Advanced
  • Nose Shape: Rounded
  • Tail Shape: Squashtail
Features
  • Full Rails (for better response in smaller waves)
  • Touch of Nose Rocker (for more float and easier paddling)
  • User-Friendly Shape
  • Versatility (for surfers of many skill levels)

BEST FOR: FUN, SMALL-WAVE SURFING

The Average Joe is a great choice if you can’t go chasing the biggest swells all over the planet. It’ll put the fun back into surfing small waves with a touch of nose rocker that adds float and makes it easier to paddle into smaller sets. The full rails also make this board more responsive than many comparable models made for surfing grovelers (smaller waves). The Joe’s versatile shape also makes it easier to surf in varied conditions and for surfers of different skill levels.

Donald Takayama Scorpion Tuflite PC

Specs
  • Length: 5’10” - 6’10”
  • Type: Shortboard
  • Fins Included?: No
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to Expert
  • Nose Shape: Rounded
  • Tail Shape: Wide Pintail
Features
  • Wider Tail (for extra stability on a shortboard)
  • Narrower Nose (to increase paddling speed)
  • Greater Tail Volume (for control while turning)
  • More Rounded Out Design (compared to the original Scorpion model)

BEST FOR: FAST PADDLING, MODERATE TO LARGE SWELL

This board is designed to perform in everything from small, California-style surf to large, overhead island swells. The wider tail allows you to go with a slightly smaller length without sacrificing stability. This board also allows for multiple fin combinations, including single fin, tri-fin, and quad configurations. The increased tail volume also improves the tail control of this board, but the rounded nose keeps this board a fast paddler.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A SURFBOARD

BOARD TYPES

Choosing the right board type is critical to your surfing success. There are a wide variety of board types out there, but in this article we’ll briefly explain five types: shortboards, fishes, fun boards, longboards and soft tops. Each type has a more specific purpose and are easier or more difficult to handle depending on your experience. Here’s a quick description of each:

  • Shortboards – This type of board is generally used by the most experienced surfers on the largest waves. They are the most easily maneuverable of the board types mentioned here. They’re capable of quick turns and are generally considered a “high performance” board.
  • Fish Boards – These boards are generally thicker and wider than shortboards. They are best used on days when the waves require extra paddle strength because they float better and are easier to match wave speed with. In general, their design helps you generate more speed, but this can also mean sacrificing maneuverability.
  • Funshape Boards – Also known as “fun boards,” this type of board helps to ease the transition for those trying to convert from riding longboards to feeling more comfortable with a shorter setup. Fun boards are typically anywhere from 7’2” to 8′ 6” in length and offer the best of both worlds in terms of paddling ability and maneuverability.
  • Longboards – Longboards are generally used for smaller waves, but can also be excellent all-around boards. It’s generally easier for beginners to paddle and stand up on a longboard, but many experts also love them because of their versatility and the possibility to “hang 10!”
  • Soft Top SurfboardsSoft tops are generally used by any guide company teaching first-time surfers. The top of these boards are covered with soft foam, which makes it easier for folks to stay on the board as they learn proper paddling and standing technique. The foam design makes these boards more forgiving if beginners are hit accidentally as they learn. Soft top boards are also typically more resistant to dents and dings.

 

BOARD CONSTRUCTION

ROCKER

A surfboard can have more or less rocker in both the nose and the tail. Rocker plays a big role in the speed and maneuverability of a surfboard. Less nose rocker gives the rider greater ability to gain a faster take off speed and maintain speed through sections, but comes with a limited pocket turning radius. A board with more nose rocker will be more maneuverable and more versatile for a variety of wave conditions. The trade-off on boards with more nose rocker is less ability to generate a higher top speed.

Boards with more tail rocker are generally able to maneuver more easily, but (just like with nose rocker) they aren’t able to generate speed through turns as well. Boards with more tail rocker turn more easily and are great for average or fast-breaking waves. On the other hand, boards with less tail rocker are better for generating a higher top speed, but don’t turn or maneuver as well.

RAIL DESIGN

Rail design is typically broken down into three categories. There are boards with full rails, hard rails, or soft rails. Boards with full rails have a flatter deck and, therefore, tend to float better. However, the extra foam that these boards have on the most sensitive parts of the rails limits their turning ability. Boards with full rails are a great choice for larger riders.

Boards with hard rails offer greater drive for riders that rely heavily on their back foot. These boards generally offer less mobility because of the hard edge that runs the entire length of the board. And finally, boards with soft rails don’t offer nearly the drive that hard rails offer, but they’re generally more responsive when it comes to turning. This is why boards with soft rails are considered to be more user-friendly.

 

TAIL DESIGN

Board shapers have gotten more and more creative with tail design over the years, but there are six main types of surfboard tails we’re going to mention in this article. They are squashtail, roundtail, thumbtail, swallowtail, diamondtail, and pintail.

SQUASHTAIL

This design is best for all-around boards that you’ll use on a daily basis, regardless of wave conditions. It has a wide exit area that gives it the most release in the pocket of the wave. It offers the most ease in both turning on the face of the wave and driving off the bottom.

ROUNDTAIL

This design is best for riders that want the smoothest turning ability. The riders out there that are executing those smooth, flowy turns you’ve been fantasizing about are most likely riding a board with this type of tail. Although roundtail boards won’t release in the pocket like a squashtail board, they’re still rideable on an everyday basis.

THUMBTAIL

The thumbtail is essentially just a wider version of the roundtail. The wider tail design makes these boards release better in the pocket than a standard roundtail, but they don’t offer as much drive at the bottom of the wave.

SWALLOWTAIL

Boards with a swallowtail will generally offer the tightest turning arc of all the tail design types. These boards will pivot easily and change directions quickly. They are best used on clean waves and with either a quad fin or twin fin setup.

DIAMONDTAIL

The diamondtail design allows boards to turn like they are an inch or so shorter than their actual length. However, these boards still retain the drive of a taller board. Boards with a diamondtail offer lots of release in the pocket, but stay tight on a rail.

PINTAIL

Pintail boards are all about maximizing drive. They don’t offer nearly as much mobility as any of the other designs, but it’s a great design for boards that are designed for straight-line surfing on exceptionally large waves.

 

FIN DESIGN

The most important thing to know about fins is that the right size for you will depend on your size. In general, larger riders want larger fins and smaller riders will prefer smaller fins. However, fins can also offer more or less rake and can be narrower or wider at the tip. Both of these factors impact the overall performance of the board.

MORE OR LESS RAKE

The term “rake” refers to the arc of the fin, or how much it tilts or sweeps backwards. As the rake of a fin increases, the turns you’ll be making on the board will be more drawn out. Fins with more rake allow the board to turn more easily. Fins with less rake and a wider base tend to make boards offer more drive.

NARROW VS. WIDE TIP

Fins with a narrower tip offer more release. Fins with a wider tip tend to hold better during turns.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

ROCKER

Rocker is arguably the most important feature of a board’s design. Rocker is the curve of the surfboard from its tail to its nose. It’s most visible when viewing the board from its side. In general, more rocker means a slower board. Plain and flat rocker designs tend to offer faster wave performance. And flat rocker works best on boards most often used on smaller waves.

NOSE

The nose is basically the first third of the board. Boards with a wider nose are easier to paddle and gain speed on, because the nose will float better. On the other end of the spectrum, boards with a skinnier nose tend to perform better on larger waves and reduce the likelihood of nose diving when coming out of a bottom turn.

TAIL

The tail of a surfboard plays a big part in how fast and how easily maneuverable the board will be in a variety of wave conditions. There are specific tail designs that work better in bigger waves, mushier waves, smaller waves, and steeper sets. Your choice will largely depend on the conditions you’re most comfortable riding in.

FINS

The fins of a surfboard play a large role in determining the board’s maneuverability. Common fin setups include single fins, twin fins, and quad fins. In general, more fins make your board more responsive to the rider. As we mentioned earlier, larger riders will want larger fins, and vice versa for smaller riders, in general.

DECK

The deck is the top of the surfboard. They will vary in width and can also vary in finish, with the most obvious difference being between boards with a soft (foam) or hard (epoxy) deck.

 

 

READ MORE

Surfboards for Beginners | Bodyboards for Kids

Body Boards | Boogie Boards

Surfboards for Small Waves | Soft Top Surfboards

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