Whether you choose to hire a surfing instructor or go to a surfing camp, learning the art of riding the waves is an awesome way to conquer your fears. There’s nothing like your first time; a 2-foot wave swells beneath your longboard and you desperately push up with your arms, wobble, and, inevitably, get thrown over. But, after some time, you’ll finally stand upright on your board, look up at the beautiful ocean or beach and take a deep breath. That’s the ultimate moment for any beginner. And it gets more exciting by the day.
At their very basic level, longboards are considered as surfboards that measure about 8 feet long by 20 inches wide, and with a rounded nose. Just like wakeboards
, surfing longboards come in various shapes and sizes to match the ability levels of the user. So, how do you choose the right longboard for your needs? It’s critical to learn about the features of longboards to ensure that you’re getting a real value for your money by choosing a high-quality longboard that meets your expectations.
Surfers choose longboards based on their ease of paddling, ability to catch waves, and their speeds down the line as they maneuver through the tiny, gutless waves. As you gain more experience and courage, you can opt for more speedy sporting surfboards or windsurfing boards
for more thrill.
Some factors to consider when choosing a longboard include the length, width, weight, type of material, and of course the price. These sporting tools are ideal for beginners and work the same way as the ordinary paddleboards
with the exception that they ride on waves. The bottom line is, most longboards look great out of water, but you may need to make it wet to ascertain its true quality and whether it will meet your surfing needs.
With that said, let’s go straight to the features that you should take note of before we dive into our top picks.
Surfing longboards are among the most expensive water sport items with the prices ranging from $200 to about $600. Though you can find some cheap surfing longboards in the market, they are generally made from low-quality materials that will quickly deteriorate after a short period. Almost every longboard in the market looks appealing while in the store, but the real test of quality comes when you get it wet. Regardless of your planned use, surfing longboards provide a great water sporting experience.
With the struggling economy and skyrocketing prices for fiberglass cloth, polyurethane foam blanks, epoxy resins and other material used for glassing, the prices of surfing longboards have continued to rise. The price typically depends on the material used to manufacture the board and the brand.
A typical surfing longboard weighs between 100 to 200 pounds for a model that doesn’t have fins. But the longboard has evolved over time and modern classical designs come with a wide array of features. Several factors will influence whether a surfing longboard will be a good match for your surfing style, mass, wave preferences, and surfing ability. Every surfer has a unique set of goals, needs, preferences, and abilities. Different combinations of characteristics have been employed by manufacturers to optimize board performance for various needs.
Here are the features to look out for when purchasing a surfing longboard:
- Surfing style- Longboarders who prefer surfing with classical or traditional styles will go for a longboard built with nose riding. However, modern style surfers prefer the newer, high-performance models with crispy shapes.
- Ability- For beginners or less skilled surfers, a longboard built with stability in mind provides the best choice. Advanced surfers prefer more maneuverable models which are slimmer in shape.
- Wave types- A longboarder who loves to charge on big days would prefer a board designed for high speed performance, while those who like to do small surfs will go for longboards that retain speeds.
- Paddling effort- Surfers who like to catch waves earlier over performance tend to choose longboards that glide through the water. Heavier surfers, on the other hand, prefer boards that offer more float.
Construction and Design
In terms of construction, the material used to manufacture the longboard determines its performance, durability, as well as aesthetics. Let’s look further into the design and construction features of surfing longboards.
Material: The most common longboards are made from the old-fashioned polyurethane (PU) foam with a fiberglass coating. The center is strengthened and flexed by a balsa wood stringer. These boards get banged up and take on water even when heavy and ugly. A good balsa wood board is quite light and difficult to snap, not to mention the environmental benefits. Other boards are made from epoxy and offer strength and lightweight. However, longboards need some good weight to live up to their expectations- a factor not offered by epoxy. If you need a cheap board that will last long, epoxy longboards could be your best bet.
Length: Longboards come in various lengths, and it all boils down to what you want to do with your board. Shorter boards offer more maneuverability while longer board requires more space to make a turn. If you’re planning to do more progressive surfing that involves floaters and cutbacks, a shorter board will be your best gig. But if you need to lay more emphasis on nose riding by drawing a more traditional line, go longer.
Thickness and width: Most surfing longboards are over 2.5 inches in thickness but come with thinner tail and nose areas. The thicker and floatier the board is, the simpler it is to make and catch waves. However, too much thickness will not allow the board to turn well and properly respond to curves of the wave. Choose a board that balances the thickness and width for optimum performance.
Rocker: Longboards designed with more rocker or bottom curve are perfect for nose riding since the curvature will slow down the board and enhance floatability with an extra load on the nose or tail. Boards with fewer rockers are much faster, but there’s little room for shifting your weight and turning around. Some models are designed with a nose concave which helps the nose to pick up speed as you step closer to the nose.
Performance and Ease of Use
There are several variations in longboard designs that enhance performance and ease of use. But the critical components that will get you where you need to be are the construction materials, rocker, length, and width.
Tail designs don’t significantly affect the performance of longer boards as much as they affect the ride of shorter boards. Weight is another important aspect, buts it’s perhaps easier to feel it yourself. Take up a board you can easily carry, but ensure its heavy enough to give it real purpose and direction down the line.
A high performance longboard (HPLB) comes with a flat or concave bottom and a narrow outline. They are designed to generate speed and move faster than the waves. They allow you to surf your longboards the same way you’d ride a shortboard, but you’ll do it off the tail by working the waves up and down to generate speed. You’ll find it easier to surf in pitchy, hollow faced waves since they have narrow noses and more rockers. This allows them to better fit in the curve of the waves.
The design of high performance longboards focus on speed and maneuverability as opposed to stability. So, if you’re not skilled, you have to trade in some speed for stability on the waters by getting a normal longboard. Again, if the waves are small and gutless, the boards don’t feel as good during trimming or gliding modes.
Whether you’re buying a surfing longboard for the first time or the tenth time, making the right choice can be quite a challenging and confusing experience. Navigating between different shapes, rockers, tails, fin patterns, and concaves to find the right board for your surfing needs is crucial. Now that you’re adequately equipped with the information on what to look out for, go ahead and pick a surfing longboard that suits your style and budget.
Whether you're looking for a surfing longboard that is lightweight or heavy, a versatile model or something that enhances speed, we’ve got you covered. Hopefully you found yourself an ideal surfing longboard from our picks. However, if you didn’t, you still have an option to browse through other alternatives from these brands to find something that suits your specific style or budget.