Surfing is one of few sports that doesn’t require a whole lot of equipment. However, you do need a few basics because your surfing experience is largely dependent on the type of gear you have. Pick up these four things and you’ll be ready to get wet. Here’s the basic surf gear to get you started:
Obviously. How can anyone surf without a surfboard, right? Since this is the core of the sport itself, you want to invest in the best board you can afford. Surfboards come in many styles:
- Soft top
This is the board most people learn to surf on because it’s more forgiving than any other board. Some people call them “foamies” and they come in any length from 6′ – 10′ and even smaller for kids.
- Fun board
Not that all surfboards aren’t fun, but “Most shapers will agree that for average surfers, funboards provide the best of both worlds: the paddling power of a longboard and the turning ability of a shortboard all blended into one,” explains Kent Senatore of Tore Surfboards, Hawaii.
The longboard generally measures 8′–9′ and because of it length is generally easier to ride than the shorter boards, thus making it another great option for a beginner.
Also known as the thruster, the shortboard generally measures 5’8″–6’10″ and is intended for the serious, performance-minded surfer.
This board is intended for an intermediate surfer, measures 4’8″–6′ and is a more versatile board.
Shorter than the Fish and with a flatter rocker, the Egg planes more quickly and is best in small small surf. The Egg is better suited to intermediate-to-advances surfers.
This board measures from 7′–10′, even reaching up to 12′. It’s a very specialized board designed to ride very big waves by very experienced surfers.
And these are just the basic types. However, when choosing your board, it helps to stick to the essentials. This is especially true for beginners. You might be tempted to go for the coolest-looking board in the shop, but if it doesn’t fit your needs, then the board is useless. In choosing a surfboard, consider these three factors: length, thickness, and width. Ask the surf shop guys for help in matching you up to the right board.
Surfers who trunk it is a common sight. But not every surf spot is blessed with a warm climate so its best to own a wetsuit. Wetsuits not only protect you from cold water temps but also from too much sun, being cut up by your fins (yes that’s fairly common – especially when you’re first learning and fall of your board frequently) and other flukes of the ocean. You can go for a full-length or half-length style, but make sure you select a suit intended for surfing. Your wetsuit must fit just right—not too tight or loose.
Consider a rash guard to go with your wetsuit. This “surf shirt” protects your skin from the wetsuit, as friction between your skin and the suit could lead to chafing and irritation. And when conditions are right, you can wear the rash guard instead of the wetsuit.
If you’re surfing in cold climate, you’ll definitely want gloves and booties and you might want a neoprene hoodie as well.
And if you’re surfing reef breaks, be sure the booties you get are specifically designed for reef surfing for the best protection for your feet.
Surf wax is used to reduce the slippery upper surface on short boards. The wax helps you get a grip on your surfboard when you stand in the water, so it really is critical to have. Also pay attention to the weather conditions the wax is intended for. Look at the label for guidance. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions about how to apply the wax. Finally, remember to strip the wax off when you’re finished surfing. You can buy a surf wax comb for this, but there are many other items that will do the trick too. (Yes, you need to apply fresh wax each day for maximum benefit.)
Surfboard leashes connect your surfboard to your back-foot ankle. The leash makes surfing safer and a lot easier because it makes sure your board stays with you and not on the heads of other surfers when you fall off. There is a wide assortment of surfboard leashes so select the leash that’s intended for how you plan to surf – competitively, leisurely – and the right length.
That’s all the basic surf gear to get you started. Of course there’s plenty more surf gear you’ll want!
While there are plenty of online surf shops, if you’re a beginning surfer, buy from your local surf shop. Not only will you be buying their products but you’ll be getting their expertise as well. It is very rare that someone working in a surf shop isn’t a surfer themselves so they’ll be able to tell you, firsthand, what works for which conditions. And if you’re going to surf in the locale of the shop, they can even tell you what to expect with the surf conditions as well.