Buying Your Bodyboard
At Bodyboard HQ BBHQ nothing makes us happier than getting you on the right kit. This page will help you get the best buying advice and the correct bodyboard for you so please have a good read of the following.
Having the right bodyboard for your size and weight will help you to catch waves easier and give you far more control. The right flex and recoil is fundamental even at the most basic level of riding. Rest assured we will always try to get you on the very best bodyboard for your budget.
First thing we need to do here is establish what you want from your new board. There are two main dynamics:
If you only intend to do some Belly boarding, i.e. just riding white water straight towards the beach from waist depth of water then the correct size is less important than if you are using swim fins (flippers). Personally we believe that it is pointless spending over £100 if all you want to do is Belly boarding.
You'll be amazed at what you can get for £30 to £80. Look for a board that reaches your belly button when stood on the floor, an extra inch or so may give you a bit more flotation. A bit more width in the board will also help
The dynamic of using fins and riding across the wave we call Bodyboarding and waves are generally caught from further out beyond the breaking wave. Swim fins allow you to generate the power to get into waves before they start breaking (find out more about fins in our FINS section).
Having the right board will make a big difference in your ability to catch waves and the control over the board while you are riding, especially in steeper sections of the wave. Generally speaking the right length board will reach between your hip and belly button. If you are a heavier rider look for a board with a bit more width and thickness to get the extra flat without sacrificing control on the wave face.
CHOOSING YOUR NEW BODYBOARD
When choosing a board for bodyboarding we run with the following principles: You need a board that is the correct length and width for your height, build and the type of waves you will be riding. If you are heavier go for more width and more tail width, perhaps a thicker core too.
The correct flex and recoil is important, it’s the magic that makes your board work. The materials used in construction will affect the way a board will bend and recoil to its original shape; although this is dependent on where you are using it. Colder waters and climates require a board with more flex while hotter climates require materials that are stiffer. Some riders tend to punish boards more than others so they often have to step up a grade of stiffness to get a board that will last longer.
IMPORTANT THINGS ABOUT YOUR NEW BODYBOARD
For Bodyboarding the board should be as close to the right size for you as possible. So the following rule is very important:
1 - Boards that are too long for you will push water and be harder to paddle into waves. They will also be much harder to control.
2 - Boards that are too small for you will lack flotation and feel very loose. They are also a lot harder to catch waves on.
THE CORRECT SIZE & SHAPE BODYBOARD
When choosing the right board stand it in front of you, the nose should come somewhere between the top of your hip to you navel (tummy button). If you are a heavier rider or surf in weaker waves it is important to keep flotation high on your agenda. Don't make the common mistake of going longer in a board to get flotation, add buoyancy by choosing a wider template with a slightly wider tail and perhaps a slightly thicker core too.
Wider boards will give you more flotation and are especially good for smaller days and bigger riders.
Medium width boards tend to be good all-rounders but will need a bit more push in the wave if you are a heavier rider.
Narrow boards tend to be the fastest but are harder to pull moves off at slower speeds. Not good in the small and weak surf.
As a general guide use the table below. To get it exactly right give us a call. We know all the questions to ask to get you on the most appropriate board.
The wide point on a bodyboard is literally the widest point down from the nose of the board.
Boards with the wide point towards the middle work very well in most conditions, both for prone (lying) and drop knee (semi standing). The further up the board the wide point is, the more directional the board will become. This works better in bigger waves, where your weight is pulled a little further up the board for speed.
The best way to test how wide a board is against another is to lay them down side by side as shown in the photo.
YOUR NEW BODYBOARD SHOULD BE FLAT
Make sure the board is flat. Hold the board on its edge and look down its rail; it should be nice and flat. Boards with excess rocker are harder to catch waves on; they push water and are therefore slower. When you need rocker (for turns) you should be able to bend it into the board whilst riding.
FLEX & RECOIL = PROJECTION + SPEED
Flex & recoil = projection = speed, this is the magic that really makes your board work.
Having the right flex depends on the materials used and the climate. Stiffer boards work better in bigger waves, clean surf and warmer waters, they tend be harder to control in choppy conditions. I liken a stiff board to be like driving a car with no suspension down a rough track, it’ll be slower and a lot harder to control. Having good flex/recoil will fire you through turns, spins, rolls and airs.
Even the simple act of catching a wave is easier on a board with the right flex. Check the flex by placing the tail on the floor and placing your palm on the deck give the board a flex. Turn the board around and do the same this time with your palm on the slick, if the board bends and springs back without too much effort then you’re onto a good board. Remember that all boards tend to become a little more flexible with time.
Many people ask us....what is the difference between a £30 board and a £150 board? Basically it will come down to strength, build quality and performance. All of our boards here will have the best performance for their price but before you buy we will explain a little more about what is inside your new board. Starting from the cheapest, let’s look at the options.
EPS CORE - Expanded Polystyrene
Boards made using this core material come in many shapes and sizes. If you get a well designed EPS board you'll be surprised by the performance. However most are not up to standard, poorly laminated and badly shaped. Look for a thicker core for strength (around 50-55mm thick), also a more dense deck and rail materials will add valuable strength.
We choose the very best EPS boards available, so if your budget doesn't stretch to a PE core then we can still get you on a great board.
Never pay over £60 for an EPS board.
PE CORE - Polyethelene
Is better than EPS, this is not always the case. The density and quality of the PE core is what makes all the difference. Dow makes the best PE used in bodyboards. Core density should be 2.3lb pcf (Pounds per cubic foot) and above, this is the density of the foam per square foot. I have seen 1.8PE foam with 3 stringers sell for £80. The board is weaker than many at £40. It is good to get sound advice when buying a PE board.
2.4lb PE core, 8lb PE deck skin, single stringer (rod inside for extra strength and recoil). PE core boards will come in a choice of HDPE slick bottom (High density polyethylene) or surlyn slick (made by DuPont) HDPE. HDPE features on all boards under £140. This material is fine but when it creases it creases deep, which will permanently affect the flex of the board.
NRG & PARADOX CELL CORES
In recent years we have seen the addition of what are known as as either NRG or Paradox cell cores. These are names given by the two main factories producing bodyboards in the far east. These cores were primarily produced to replace PE cores on pro boards but they have in fact found there own place in the market.
These cores are 1.3 PCF PP cores that are less dense than standard PP, hence allowing for more flex. This is often used in conjunction with various stringer and mesh combinations to give strength. Early results seem pretty good as long as you get the correct combination of materials. A typical NRG/ Single stringer/ Mesh combo is perfect for 12 to 18 degree water temp. Paradox cell and three stringer combination is very similar perhaps a tad stiffer.
We have spent a lot of time testing these combinations so please call us for accurate advice on what will be right for you and where you are using your board.
PP CORE - Polypropelene
The most expensive core and the core of choice for warmer, hotter climates is PP (Polypropylene). Polypropylene is lightweight and waterproof. A great core but often too stiff here in the UK, esp in the winter.
If you are considering a PP board look for 1.9 PCF core. 8Lb PE deck, Surlyn slick. This will give you all the performance you will need for warmer waters and climate.
Do not get the variety of different names that our out there that confuses people even more. Names like Freedom 6, Black magic core etc. These are basically all the same thing.
Rails are great, without them you are screwed. Make sure you rails are rad and they are nice and bright so others see how cool you look in the tube, dude!
BOTTOM SKIN MATERIAL - SURLYN (By Dupont)
Surlyn made by DuPont is still regarded as the very best slick skin available. This slick has elasticity which helps enhance your board ability to bend and spring back to its original shape. Surlyn slick material is three times as expensive as HDPE but worth the investment for the added performance and life you get from the board. For many years they used Surlyn in the construction of golf balls and boy do they take some impact!
The great thing with Surlyn is if your board over flexes the slick tends to only develop a shallow crease which will not affect the overall strength and performance of the board.
If you are spending over £130 on a bodyboard make sure it has Surlyn.
BOTTOM SKIN MATERIAL - HDPE
HDPE or high density polyethelene is the industry standard for all cheaper boards. Because it is used in so many applications it tends to be a lot cheaper for manufacturers to buy in. It works fine and is resilient to impact but does not offer the same flex and recoil qualities as surlyn.
The problem with HDPE is if it takes an impact it will crease a lot heavier and deeper which can completely alter the way the board will work.
If your on a budget then HDPE but definitely consider Surlyn if you are looking for performance.
DECK MATERIAL - CLOSED CELL (Crosslinked)
A lot of cheaper boards and a few more expensive bodyboards use a more closed cell material known as crosslinked PE/PP. Crosslink foam has a much smoother appearance and offers a very clean lined look in construction. This is fine but the thicker versions of this material tends to impair the cores ability to flex and spring back so is rarely used on better boards.
The thinner version of the crosslinked foam works well as long as it has a slightly higher backing layer or plate. This gives the extra strength needed but retains performance. We use the latter on many our sub £90 boards with great success and virtually no returns.
DECK MATERIAL - OPEN CELL
Open cell decking is still regarded as the best deck material as it is less likely to impair the boards ability to flex & recoil. It has a softer, slightly rough feel to it unlike its alternative crosslink deck skin which has a smooth feel.
The good thing about open cell is it shows stress fractures and scratching less and offers a bit more grip on the board. This material is also used on the outer rails of boards for similar reason.
If you are spending over £100 on a board we would recommend that you choose a board with an open cell deck for more performance.
Double rails mean that there are two layers of foam running down the edge of each side of the board. By adding an extra layer the rail can be stiffened up which helps to give extra strengths to the boards edge, This helps to give the board durability and a bit more speed.
The inner layer is often a crosslinked foam which is a higher density. There are various combinations of materials used on the outside rails but the rule of thumb tends to be that crosslinked deck boards use double crosslinked rails whereas open cell boards tend to use a crosslink inner and open cell outer rail.
If you are looking for a better board always make sure it has double rials
STRINGERS (RODS) & MESH
Stringers are often fitted inside boards to give extra strength; they can also help the board spring back to its original shape. Too many stringers can make the board to stiff. Normally one is enough if the core is strong. Stingers in cheaper boards tend to be as simple as a plastic pipe. The better stringers are made from carbon fibre and taper throughout their length. This gives a bit more flex towards the top half of the board where you need more control.
In some boards a layer of mesh plastic is laminated under the slick (or deck) for a bit more extra strength. This mesh also helps to enhance the overall recoil of the board.
The thing to remember are stringers and mesh are primarily fitted to add strength to the core and to stop it from overflexing. Different combinations of the above can create a bit of a minefield when trying to choose the right board. Feel free to call us for an in depth recommendation on the right combo for the conditions and climate you will be using it in.
NOSE & TAIL BUMPERS
Bumpers are extra layers of higher density foam attached under the nose and tail that help prevent these areas from de-laminating.
The corners of a board take a lot of punishment so having this extra protection is great feature that will make your board last a lot longer.
If you are spending over £80 on a bodyboard make sure that the board has nose and tail bumpers
The following section covers all the different aspects of the boards design, features and how they affect the way the board will ride in the surf.
A - Template shape
B - Nose & tail width
C - Tail shape
D - Rail configuration
E - Deck Contours
F - Channels
G - Nose bulbs
TEMPLATE SHAPE & WIDEPOINT
The width and curve of your bodyboard will determine how it will ride in different conditions. As a rule of thumb the following:
A - Wider boards will give you more flotation and are especially good for smaller days and bigger riders.
B - Medium width boards tend to be good all-rounders but will need a bit more push in the wave if you are a heavier rider.
C - Narrow boards tend to be the fastest but are harder to pull moves off at slower speeds. Not good in the small and weak surf.
The higher the widest point is on the board the more directional it will become. Better for heavier, more hollow waves. For more all round conditions look at a widepoint a little lower towards the centre of the board. This will also make the board much more responsive for manoeuvres.
NOSE & TAIL WIDTH
Nobody likes a big nose! Well that’s not strictly true, a wider nose is fine in bigger waves but in smaller to average size surf they tend to push water and slow the board up. For most conditions a nose width of approx 11 to 12" will work just fine for prone or drop knee. Smaller noses tend to make the board looser and less stable for prone turns, better for drop knee rider who want to pull hard turns & snappy moves!
Wider tails offer more flotation which is great for smaller weaker surf. they also tend be looser for sliding moves, spins and slower speed manoeuvres. Narrower tails will turn harder of the bottom turn and are generally more responsive which is great in better surfing conditions. The downside is the loss of float so not really a good choice for the small stuff.
TAIL SHAPE - THE CRESCENT TAIL
Crescent tail boards tend to grip the wave nicely thus making them very user-friendly for prone and drop knee riding; the smaller the tail peg and deeper the tail design, the more the board will grip the wave. Slightly bigger tail pegs and a more shallow tail design will enable the tail to release more easily for spins and sliding manoeuvres. A tail design around 17.5 inches wide is a great all round width.
The Crescent tail is the choice of most pro bodyboarders due to its versatility and performance in all surf conditions
TAIL SHAPE - THE BAT TAIL
The bat tail is good choice for weaker surf or unpredictable conditions. By increasing the flotation over the rear of the board, the bat tail can give more speed but tends to give the board a little looser feel, especially at higher speed. Most of our riding tends to be towards the back of the board so the bat tail is a good option for heavier rider & those looking for a performance in smaller conditions.
To summarise: For a good all round board go for the crescent tail. If you want one for mostly prone and smaller, weaker conditions then go for the bat, just make sure it’s not too extreme a design!
The rails are the side edges of the board. There are two parts, the rail which is the lower proportion of the edge and the chine which is the part that wraps around onto the deck. The rail, chine proportions are often referred in percentages like 60/40 or 50/50 with the first number being the lower half of the edge. Nowadays most of the better companies use a 55/45 rail configuration. This means 55% rail to 45% chine. A great all round design for most type of waves and riding styles.
60/40 rails will give more hold but a tad less speed. 50/50 is a little faster but with less grip in the face.
Remember that there is a fine line between speed and hold. Without control you will loose speed so it is always to consider a design that ticks both boxes.
Channels are small fluted grooves running up from the tail on the slick side of the board. These tend to be positioned close to the edge. Channels are graduated and designed to give you a little more grip/ control in the face of the wave and help prevent side slipping.
These days most channels are about the same depth and are designed to give you extra grip while will still enabling easy release for spins and other manoeuvres; the deeper the channel the more grip you will get but at the cost of being able to perform sliding tricks with ease.
Nose bulbs are small indentations that are scooped out from the corners of the nose on the slick side. The idea is to give you more grip and a better feel for a board. Well worth having and feature in all our boards from the NMD 360 upwards.