Buying Your First Bodyboard: Enter the Fun World of Catching Waves

Bodyboarding is one of the most popular water sports in Australia that everyone at any age can participate in. Every kid should own a bodyboard, as they’re an inexpensive way for you and your spouse to get some slack when chilling on the beach while your kids are trying to catch some waves and have fun. But in order to get the best bodyboarding experience, it’s important that you get the right bodyboard gear. Bodyboards are available in a wide range of designs, shapes and sizes, and depending on whether you’re buying one for yourself or your kids,  your choice will vary greatly. That being said, here are some of the factors you’ll need to consider before you start shopping around the most popular bodyboard stores.

Bodyboard Shapes

guy boardbording

The first thing you’ll notice when browsing through online bodyboard stores is that bodyboards come in 4 basic shapes:

  • Prone – Prone shape bodyboards have their widest point further forward in order to support the rider’s upper body while laying down
  • Drop knee – These boards are for riders who prefer to ride with one foot near the board’s front and the opposite knee resting on the tail. Drop kneeboards have the widest point halfway down the board and they feature a narrow tapered nose. Riders riding drop kneeboards will have most of their body weight towards the rear of the board
  • Combo – These are the most versatile bodyboards and can be used for prone and drop knee riding styles
  • Standup – These boards allow the rider to stand up while riding waves, similarly to how they’d ride a surfboard

Bodyboard Core Material

bodyboard tricks

Polyethylene was the first material used for manufacturing bodyboards. These cores are flexible, allowing you to generate instant responses and projection. Polyethylene bodyboards are great for riding in colder water conditions, due to the fact that lower temperatures increase the core’s stiffness. The flexibility of polyethylene allows you to manipulate and contort the board to gather the power of the wave and transfer it into projection. As you drive into a bottom turn, your gravitational force will be opposed by the upward draw of the waves.

One of the most popular core materials is Polypropylene. Bodyboards made with polypropylene are more expensive than polyethylene ones, but they’re also higher in quality. Polypropylene is light, strong, responsive and offers great overall performance. There are two types of polypropylene cores available – extruded and beaded. Beaded polypropylene is a completely closed cell, and beaded poly boards sit higher in the water, are more buoyant and have a funkier flex. Extruded poly boards, on the other hand, are rigid, quick and ideal for people who like busting big airs and pulling in barrels.

Polystyrene is the most economical choice used for manufacturing affordable bodyboards. Expanded polystyrene is used for manufacturing entry-level boards. It’s not the most durable option, but it’s lightweight and comes available with high-tech features like deck contours and stringers.

Bodyboard Size

guy bodyboarding

One of the most important things for choosing a bodyboard is getting the right size board. The most important part of sizing is the length. If the board is too large you won’t be able to paddle out or control it efficiently. Your knees will keep hitting the tail while you’re pumping with your fins. On the other hand, a board that’s too small won’t provide enough flotation, which will cause a sinking and drag effect, slow up your riding and make it hard to catch waves. There are a few different factors to consider when choosing a bodyboard size. Both your weight and height should be taken into account. There are sizing charts online that you can refer to, but they aren’t always accurate. What works for one person may not work for someone else, so you might have to go through some trial and error, or consult with someone who’s more experienced to help you find the ideal fit.

The type of waves you’ll be riding also plays a crucial role in choosing the right sizes. For catching smaller waves you’ll want a longer board. For bigger waves, however, you’ll want a smaller board as its easier to scoop into the pit. Also, if you’re getting a stand up or dropknee board, you’ll also want a longer board. However, don’t forget to take into account personal preference.

Bodyboard Rail Configuration

guy swimming with bodyboard

The rails are comprised of two parts, and they’re the side edges of the board, one of which is the lower proportion of the edge, and one which wraps around onto the deck (known as chine). The proportions of the rails are represented in percentages, such as 50/50 or 60/40, with the first number representing the lower half of the rails. Most bodyboards nowadays use a 55/45 rail ratio, which is a great all-round design for most type of riding styles and waves. 60/40 boards provide more hold but less speed and 50/50 are faster but provide less grip.

 Furthermore, there are single and double rail setups, meaning there are one or two extra layers of foam running down the edge of the board. By adding a secondary layer, the rail is stiffened, providing more strength to the edges, which gives the board more speed and durability. Most higher-quality boards meant for intermittent and experienced riders come with double rails.