Understanding the different types of surfboards can help decide which surfboard fits best. In this article I’ll be going through each surfboard type as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each one.
If you’re still confused after reading through this post, my ‘What Surfboard Should I Get Quiz’ will be able to help.
Let’s get started.
Types of Surfboards
So, lets start off at the very beginning with the basics.
There are different surfboard types for different surfing abilities. For example, if you’re a beginner surfer you’ll need a different surfboard compared to a professional surfer.
Now, lets go through each surfboard type and discuss the advantages and disadvantages each one provides.
Foam Surfboards / Foamie
Let’s start with every surfer’s first surfboard, the foam surfboard or foamie as it’s sometimes called.
Whether your buying your first or last surfboard, the foam surfboard will play a part somewhere in your surfing journey. These surfboards are mainly used by surf schools and beginners learning to catch their first waves.
Advantages of Foam Surfboards
There are a few solid reasons foam surfboards are great for surfing beginners;
- Buoyancy – They have huge amounts of buoyancy which gives that initial stability needed to stand up for the first time.
- Durability – They are very durable so it doesn’t matter too much if they get thrown around a bit whilst being learned on.
- Safety – The foam makes them comfier to land on or get hit by and are therefore safer for beginners.
- Usability – They can be used successfully in pretty much any conditions.
- Cost – They’re the cheapest type of surfboard to buy making them a great first surfboard for beginners.
Disadvantages of Foam Surfboards
There are also some things to consider before purchasing a foam surfboard;
- Size – They’re one of the biggest surfboard types out of all the surfboard types. So, can you store it?
- Weight – They’re also one of the heaviest surfboard types our of all the surfboard types. Also, can you transport it?
Check out the fresh collection of available foam surfboards.
The next surfboard type you’d typically progress onto after a foam surfboard is the mini mal surfboard type.
The mini mal name makes sense as it’s essentially a smaller version of the longboard (known as a mal or malibu surfboard). It has similar characteristics to a longboard but is not as long, adult sizes range between 7ft 6 – 8ft 6.
Advantages of Mini Mal Surfboards
There are a number of reasons to progress onto this surfboard type after mastering the basics.
- Buoyancy – Mini mals are still very buoyant which means they’re also very stable, this makes them great for new surfers.
- Progression – They’re more manoeuvrable than a foam surfboard allowing new surfers to work on their first turns.
- Weight – Because mini mals are hardboards they’re much lighter in weight making them easier to carry.
- Usability – Mini mals can be used in a huge variety of conditions so are a great addition to any surfboard collection.
- Resale value – All of these above features make mini mal surfboards popular on the second hand market.
Disadvantages of Mini Mal Surfboards
So, what should you be aware of before purchasing a mini mal?
- Size – Although they’re not as big as a foam surfboard, they’re still fairly big. Can you store it?
- Safety – The hardboard nature of a mini mal makes them slightly less comfortable to land on in comparison to the softer foamie.
Check out the fresh collection of available mini mal surfboards.
Onto the mini mals big brother – the longboard.
Ranging all the way up to 12ft, the longboard is rightly named due to it being the longest surfboard type. With ancient Hawaiian bloodlines, the longboard is also the oldest and most traditional of all the modern day surfboard types.
Advantages of Longboard Surfboards
Despite being third on the list the longboard is still a great choice for new surfers, here’s why…
- Buoyancy – The volume within a longboard gives it fantastic buoyancy, whilst the surface area underfoot make it incredibly stable.
- Easy paddling – The excessive length helps the board glide through the water, making paddling easy.
- Resale value – Like the mini mal, the longboard surfboard type also holds its resale value very well.
- Tricks – The unique length means it’s the easiest surfboard to perform tricks. From cross steps and drop-knee turns to hang fives and hang tens.
- Style – Longboard surfers tend to have a fantastic fluidity when moving across a surfboard, something that’s completely unique to longboard surfers.
- Tandem – Another exclusive feature to the longboard is that it’s big enough to share!
Disadvantages of Longboard Surfboards
So lets take a quick look at the disadvantages of the longboard…
- Weight – Longboards are the biggest and heaviest of all the surfboard types so require the most storage room.
- Cost – The more surfboard you want the more it tends to cost, longboards can be on the expensive side for sure.
- Usability – They’re not as good at catching broken waves as the previous two surfboards, so require specific surfing conditions.
- Manoeuvrability – The longest surfboard type is never going to turn quickly, but that makes it elegant in its’ own way.
- Getting out the back – Because of their sheer size they make it almost impossible to get ‘out the back’, past the breaking waves.
- Duck diving – An important skill to learn, however no surfer can duck dive the volume and buoyancy of a longboard.
- Safety – Being the biggest and heaviest surfboard type, it’s also the most dangerous if you fall off it.
Check out the fresh collection of available longboard surfboards.
Funboards / Hybrid Surfboards
Next is the funboard, also known as the hybrid surfboard.
Now, this is basically the love child of a mini mal and a short board. This was the surfboard type I went for after the foam surfboard and in short, I wasn’t disappointed.
Advantages of Funboards / Hybrid Surfboards
- Usability – Funboards are renowned for being able to catch any wave, whether it’s broken or unbroken this thing will catch it.
- Progression – They allow great progression from improving that quick pop up to learning those first bottom turns.
- Size – Because of the smaller length they can fit inside most cars, no roof rack needed!
- Weight – This also makes them easier to carry when compared to all three previous surfboard types.
- Duck diving – With less volume in the nose this is also the first surfboard type on this list that can be duck dived (with some practice).
Disadvantages of Funboards / Hybrid Surfboards
So, what are the things worth considering before getting a funboard?
- Cost – Unfortunately, because this surfboard type is so versatile it often comes with a slightly more expensive price tag.
- Safety – As you know by now, hard boards are not as nice to be hit by compared to a nice soft foamie.
- Hollow waves – Although it looks more like a shortboard, funboards still don’t quite have the rocker necessary for big hollow waves.
Check out the fresh collection of available funboard surfboards.
Next in line is the fish surfboard type.
Shortest and most agile on this list so far, this is the next surfboard type I intend to progress to if I ever improve my bottom turn.
Advantages of Fish Surfboards
- Stability – Despite being typically very short, the width in the middle section of the fish surfboard type helps it keep that stability.
- Usability – The go to in mushy conditions, a fish surfboard can generate enough speed to have fun even in the worst conditions.
- Weight – With the majority of fish surfboards being under 6ft 4, they’re very lightweight and easy to carry.
- Size – At 6ft 4 and under they’re also able to be transported on planes, something the previous surfboard types were too big for.
- Duck diving – The reduced size and volume of this surfboard type makes duck diving even easier.
- Manoeuvrability – With two pivot points instead of one at the tail, fish surfboards are agile in both directions.
Disadvantages of Fish Surfboards
Things to be aware of before choosing this surfboard type…
- Buoyancy – With a reduction in size comes a reduction in volume, expect less forgiveness when popping up.
- Paddling – Less volume in a surfboard means more work needed for paddling, time to get those shoulders working.
- Fragility – Exclusive to the fish surfboard type is the fragility of the tail, be sure to protect it best you can whilst out and about.
Check out the fresh collection of available fish surfboards.
Onto the surfing performance end of things, the shortboard.
As the name suggests the shortboard is the shortest surfboard type out of all the surfboard types. It’s known as the high performance surfboard and is able to perform extremely agile moves.
Advantages of Shortboard Surfboards
- Performance – The shortboard is the fastest and most responsive surfboard type that was built for high performance surfing.
- Weight – Being the smallest surfboard type, it’s very lightweight and easy to carry.
- Size – Again, the size means it’s also very easy to transport whether that’s in a car, bus, van or on a plane.
- Duck diving – It’s the easiest surfboard to duck dive making getting ‘out the back’ even easier.
- Durability – Can be made from epoxy which is extremely durable.
Disadvantages of Shortboard Surfboards
Like the other surfboard types there are some things you might want to consider with the shortboard…
- Paddling – Similar to the fish, the lack of volume in a shortboard makes it increasingly hard to paddle at speed.
- Usability – Because they’re built for optimum performance they don’t really perform well in anything but good green waves.
- Advanced – Shortboards are very difficult to surf and require solid technique, something that can take years to build up.
- Resale value – Unfortunately, because shortboards are so readily available on the second hand market their resale value is not great.
Check out the fresh collection of available shortboard surfboards.
So, the final surfboard type on this list – the gun.
This surfboard was made to conquer one thing, big waves. With a typical surfboard length of 10ft+, a narrow body, pointy nose and pin tail this board was made to outrun only the biggest waves.
Advantages of Gun Surfboards
- Survival – It’s the most likely surfboard to keep you alive if you do fancy surfing a 60ft wave.
- Bespoke – From the prominent rocker, slim body and pin tail – the gun was created to outrun the biggest waves in the ocean.
- Paddling – If you’re brave enough to paddle into a wave on this thing it will get up to speed in no time.
Disadvantages of Gun Surfboards
- Usability – It’s been designed for one purpose and one purpose only, big waves.
- Size – They’re surprisingly big surfboards so give you the same storage and transport issues as the minimal and longboard.
- Special – This is not just any surfboard, this surfboard type is reserved for only the most crazy surfers looking for their next 60ft+ wave.
That’s it guys, a full guide to all the types of surfboards used within surfing.
I hope you found it helpful, if you did it would be great to know your thoughts in the comments below. Likewise, if you’re currently in the process of purchasing a surfboard let us know all about that too.
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Next read: ‘Types of Surfboard Noses and Tails’
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