Buying a bodyboard
When you are ready to buy your bodyboard, there are many things you need to consider. Here you get a structured and concise guide on the most important features to look at.
1. Choosing the core
The core is basically the essential material used for the body of your board. It is made of a foam material which comes in three variation - ESP, PE and PP. Each one of them has specific characteristics in regard to water temperature, wave size, rider’s dimensions and skill level, etc. Underneath, you can find a short comparison of the three types.
ESP - Expanded polystyrene
- Allows various shapes, designs, and unique flex pattern
- Good cushioning for elbows and hips
- Lower price than PE and PP
- Suitable for those starting up
- Great buoyancy and lightweight
- Not as strong as PE and PP, so look for ca. 50-55 mm thickness for extra strength
PE - Polyethylene
- The original and most common bodyboard core
- Flex with almost instant feedback to the rider
- Allows more control
- Better performance in cool water
- Good for larger waves
PP - Polypropylene
- Excellent all-around board
- Stiffer than PE but lightweight and stronger
- Completely watertight
- Performs good in warm waters and conditions
- Great for big waves and more complicated maneuvers
- Beaded PP adds flex and buoyancy
- Extruded PP adds rigidity and speed
When we refer to flex, this means the amount the board bends under external pressure (e.g., waves) and respectively springing back. The more flex a board has, the more responsive it is to the water conditions. When the board has less flex, it is stated to be stiffer but faster.
2. Choosing the slicks (skins)
The slicks, also known as skins, are the materials covering the under body of the board, the area with direct contact with water. There are two types of slicks: Surlyn Slicks and HDPE Slicks:
- HDPE slicks refer to high density polyethylene slicks; a resilient material with low resistance levels, which, respectively, enhances speed. The HDPE slick is normally the cheaper solution compared to Surlyn and mostly used in beginners boards.
- Surlyn slicks give a rubber-like surface which provides optimal responsiveness and flexibility, since it is capable of returning into its original shape after applied pressure. This is the best and preferred slicks from bodyboarders. It is more expensive than HDPE but delivers higher performance.
3. Choosing the deck
The deck is the upper part of the board where you lay onto with your body while surfing waves. You can choose between three options here: PE, XPE and IXPE. You can compare the three in the table below:
PE - Polyethylene
- Great padding for rider
- Dents are easier to form since it doesn't return to original shape
- Soft and flexible
XPE - Cross linked, cross cell
- Great water-resistance since it is a closed structure
- Smooth appearance but requires more wax for traction
- Stiffer feel than PE and IXPE
IXPE - Cross linked, open cell
- Less likely to impair the board's flex and recoil
- Extra rigid and great strength since it has a higher density
- Softer than XPE, more rough feel for better grip
The choice of a deck is often a matter of preference and style of riding - whether you want a softer feel, sleeker look or a deck that can last longer without creasing, it is all up to you.
4. Choosing the tail shape
There are two main types of tail shapes for bodyboards, which can have several variations. Both types are suitable for all rider levels, and depend mainly on your preferences and conditions you ride in.
- Crescent tail is a good all-round conditions option. It provides a good grip on the wave, and it is easier for the riders to position their hips on the board to catch waves or paddle out;
- Bat tail is better in weaker surf conditions and/or unpredictable waves due to its increased flotation. This also makes it a better choice for heavier riders. Gaining more speed is also a result of the extra flotation, however, it may come with a looser feel at the back of the board.
5. Choosing size
Picking the right size board is important for bodyboards. Apart from your height, the choice of size depends also on the type of waves you will be riding. If you will be riding bigger waves, you will need the control and maneuverability of a smaller board. If you ride in weaker conditions, the floatability of bigger boards will come in handy.
However, it is crucial to keep in mind that the board still needs to fit your height and weight! If you pick a board that is too long, your knees are going to hit the tail while paddling with your fins. On the other hand, a board that is too small will not offer enough flotation. An option to adjust buoyancy without interfering with the board length is to pick a wider/narrower board.
To figure out which size board you need, you can measure:
- The distance from the ground to your belly button;
- The distance between your chin and knees;
Those two numbers are not necessarily the same but are pretty close, and in between them, you get a good indicator of a suitable board length.
6. Last but not least - the fins/flippers
When bodyboarding, fins or flippers are not just an accessory but a necessity. The fins used in bodyboarding are specially made and differ from the regular fins you would use for swimming, for example. Bodyboarding fins are normally shorter, wider and stiffer so that you can accelerate fast to catch the wave and maneuver without having the flippers in your way.
There are many variations, from materials to shapes, but the most important thing is that you get bodyboard specific fins which are comfortable and fit your feet.
Now that you have the basics of what you need to consider before getting your board, you can look up and pick the one for you. Don’t worry, there will always be more questions and more information, so if in doubt, contact us.