For experienced surfers, understanding the details of necessary surfing equipment is second nature. However, if you're a beginner or an intermediate surfer considering buying your own surf gear, this article can be a valuable guide for you.

How to choose a surfboard

Among all surf equipment, the choice of a surfboard is obviously the most important. Let's first explore the factors to consider when choosing a surfboard:

1. Type of Waves:

Consider the type of waves you intend to surf. Certainly, this point is crucial for choosing the board on high intermediate, advanced, and PRO levels. If we are talking about the surfboard choice for a beginner level, we are more likely to consider small to medium-sized smooth waves up to 1m.

2. Your Skill Level:

Choose a surfboard based on your skill level. Otherwise, opting for a pro surfboard as a beginner can reverse your progress and may make you look like a kook on the beach, which definitely doesn't help you to improve your surfing skills.

3. Your Height, Weight, and Body Shape:

Your body characteristics are crucial in selecting the right surfboard. Normally, the heavier you are, the more volume in the surfboard you need. Additionally, the length of the board can be chosen according to your height and experience.

 

surf equipment for beginners

While pro and advanced surfers may have extensive collections of boards for different conditions, beginners don't need numerous surfboards. Let's focus on finding one good surfboard that can be used in quite similar but still slightly different conditions, allowing you to learn, catch waves, and have lots of fun. So, what exact parameters do we need to consider while choosing a surfboard?

 

1. Surfboard Length

The length of surfboards is measured in feet ( 1 foot ≈ 0,3 meters) and refers to the distance from nose to tail. Normally, the longer boards have more flotation and paddle power that helps to catch waves more easily. Consequently, for beginners who can paddle out and catch unbroken waves, we recommend soft-top boards between 7-8 ft for adults and 6-7 ft for kids, depending on height and experience.

2. Surfboard Width

The width refers to the widest part of a surfboard from rail to rail and is measured in inches (1 inch ≈2,5 cm). The wider surfboards provide more flotation and stability than narrow ones, especially since beginners may not be proficient in their pop up and positioning on the board. As a result, wider boards help to offset such mistakes. For beginners, we recommend surfboards with a width of not less than 20-22 inches.

 

 

how to choose a surfboard for beginners

3. Surfboard Thickness

Surfboard thickness is measured as the thickest part of the board in inches. Advanced surfers often prefer less thickness as it can impact performance and maneuverability. However, for beginners and those at an intermediate level, sufficient thickness provides increased flotation and paddle power.  For beginners, we recommend choosing surfboards at least 2 ½ -3 inches thick. In general, the heavier you are, the thicker your board should be at the beginner and intermediate levels.

4. Surfboard Volume

Surfboard volume refers to the total space a surfboard occupies, typically measured in liters. Additionally, it signifies the board's ability to float and offer buoyancy in the water. Higher volume aids in easier paddling, wave-catching, and stability, especially in smaller waves. While advanced surfers often prefer less volume for increased speed and performance, for beginners, insufficient volume means difficulty in catching waves. The general guideline is that beginners need around 100% of their body weight in volume, with each liter equivalent to 1 kg, while advanced surfers aim for about 30%. Moreover, online calculators are available to determine the precise volume based on your skill level and body characteristics. Here is an example https://www.dhdsurf.eu/gb/volume-calculator

5. Surfboard Nose Shape

When selecting a surfboard, the design of the nose plays an important role in its performance. Consequently, different nose types cater to varying skill levels and preferences. Therefore, Round Nose is ideal for beginners, offering enhanced flotation and paddle power. Moreover, this design prioritizes stability, making it easier for beginners to paddle and catch waves.
Round Pointed Nose is suited for strong beginners and intermediates seeking a balance between stability and maneuverability. As a result, the slightly narrower nose enhances performance without compromising too much on paddle power.

6. Surfboard Tail Shape

There are various tail shapes to consider when choosing a surfboard. To sum up, the general rule is simple: the wider and thicker the tail, the more flotation and stability it has. Thus, for beginners, we recommend boards with squash tails, because Squash tails provide a stable ride, good flotation with good maneuverability. In the same way, another option for both strong beginners and intermediate surfers is a swallow or fish tail surfboard. (The fish tail, broader than the swallow tail, performs exceptionally well in small wave conditions). Swallow and fish tails perform great in small and medium-sized waves, easily generate down-the-line speed,  and have good enough maneuverability for small conditions.

 

surf equipment for intermediate surfers

If you're a confident beginner or an intermediate surfer, there's no need to immediately transition to a hardboard. Many high-quality surfboards have epoxy construction inside, providing similar features to hard surfboards but with a soft top exterior. These boards offer safety in case of falls and increased maneuverability. Moreover, they can be shorter, with a narrower nose for executing maneuvers, and come with either a round tail for enhanced maneuverability or a fish tail for speed and agility on smaller waves while maintaining stability on larger waves. Always listen to the opinions of experienced surfers and surfing instructors.  In our surf school, you can experiment with different types of surfboards during the surfing lessons and choose the best one for you.

How to choose a wetsuit

Talking about surf equipment we can not forget about wetsuits. Moreover, choosing the right wetsuit is crucial for a comfortable and enjoyable surfing experience in cold waters like the Atlantic Coast in Portugal. Here are key factors to consider:

Thickness:

Wetsuits come in various thicknesses, typically measured in millimeters (mm). Thicker suits provide more insulation for colder waters, while thinner suits are suitable for warmer conditions. Consider the average water temperature of your surf spot and choose accordingly.

At our school, we use  4/3 mm and  3/2 mm wetsuits.

 

Type:

Wetsuits come in different types, including full suits, spring suits, and shorties.

    • Full Suits: Cover the entire body and are suitable for colder conditions.
    • Spring Suits (Shorties): Cover the torso and thighs and are ideal for milder temperatures.
    • Shorties: Cover the upper body and thighs, perfect for warm waters.

We utilize full suits throughout the year, and on some days, we may also opt for spring suits.

Material:

Neoprene is the most common material for wetsuits. High-quality neoprene provides better flexibility and durability. Additionally, some suits may have added features like smooth skin panels for wind resistance and faster drying.

The wetsuits we use are constructed from the most advanced Neoprene.

Seams:

Seams affect the suit's flexibility and water resistance. Flatlock seams are suitable for warmer conditions but may allow some water entry. Undoubtedly, for colder waters, sealed and taped seams offer better insulation and prevent water penetration.

The wetsuits we provide for our students feature sealed seams with reinforced knees for enhanced durability and comfort.

 

How to choose a wetsuit for surfing

Zipper Type:

Wetsuits may have back zips, chest zips, or no zips (zipperless).

    • Back Zips: Easy to put on and take off but may allow some water entry.
    • Chest Zips: Provide a better seal, reducing water entry.
    • Zipperless: Offer maximum flexibility but can be challenging to put on.

We use back zip wetsuits for our students, while the instructors are accustomed to using zipperless wetsuits.

Fit:

A well-fitting wetsuit is crucial for optimal performance. To sum up, it should be snug but not overly tight, allowing for flexibility and preventing flushing (water entering the suit). Check size charts provided by manufacturers.

Brand and Reviews:

Opt for reputable brands known for producing quality wetsuits. Moreover, reading reviews from other surfers can provide insights into the performance and durability of specific models.

We use Rip Curl wetsuits for our students and instructors.

Budget:

Wetsuits come in a range of price points. While it's essential to stay within your budget, investing in a quality wetsuit from a reliable brand ensures better performance and durability.

Remember, choosing the right wetsuit enhances your comfort, keeps you warm, and allows you to focus on enjoying the waves.

 

surfing equipment wetsuits

How to choose a leash

While preparing your surf equipment, don't forget about the leash. Undoubtedly, choosing the right leash for surfing is essential for both safety and performance. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Length: Leashes come in various lengths. Choose a leash length that matches the size of your surfboard. To sum up, longer boards generally require longer leashes.
  • Thickness: Thicker leashes are more durable but may create more drag in the water. Conversely, thinner leashes are lighter and create less resistance but might not be as robust.
  • Cuff Type: Leashes typically have ankle or knee cuffs. Ankle cuffs are more common and suitable for most conditions. Knee cuffs are often used in larger waves and offer extra security.
  • Swivel Mechanism: A swivel mechanism at the cuff helps prevent the leash from tangling. That's why this is especially important in preventing the leash from wrapping around your legs while surfing.
  • Material: Leashes are commonly made from polyurethane or other synthetic materials. Ensure the leash is strong and durable enough to withstand the conditions you'll be surfing in.
  • Wave Conditions: Consider the typical wave conditions where you surf. Consequently, for larger waves, a thicker and more robust leash is advisable.
  • Brand and Quality: Choose a leash from a reputable brand known for producing quality surf accessories. S a result, a reliable leash can make a significant difference in performance and durability.

Remember to regularly check your leash for any signs of wear and tear, and replace it if needed! A well-chosen leash enhances your surfing experience while keeping you and others in the water safe!

surf equipment leash

How to choose a surf wax

Surf wax is vital for maintaining traction on the surfboard, preventing slipping, and ensuring stability while riding waves. It creates a sticky surface that allows surfers to maintain control during maneuvers and turns, enhancing overall performance. Additionally, surf wax helps surfers adapt to varying water temperatures, ensuring optimal grip in different conditions. Don‘t forget to put surf wax in your list of surfing equipment as well.

  • Cold Water (15°C): Use a cold-water-specific surf wax. These waxes are formulated to remain grippy in colder conditions, providing better traction on your board.
  • Cool to Midrange Water (15–20°C): Opt for a cool to midrange wax. This type is suitable for a broader temperature range, providing decent traction in varying cool water conditions.
  • Warm Water (above 20°C): Choose a warm-water wax. These waxes are designed to stay sticky in warmer temperatures, preventing your feet from slipping off the board.
  • Tropical Water (above 24°C): In very warm tropical conditions, go for a tropical surf wax. It's formulated to withstand high temperatures, ensuring optimal traction on your surfboard.

Always check the water temperature of your surfing location and choose the appropriate wax accordingly. Certainly, it's essential to reapply wax regularly, especially if you notice a decrease in traction during your sessions. Experimenting with different brands and types can help you find the wax that works best for your surfing preferences.

 

surf equipment wax