Surf Tips

How To Buy A New Surfboard ‘Off The Rack’ From A Surf Shop

God bless Merrick-a! Photo: @hssshop

So the last custom surfboard you had didn’t turn out quite as you’d hoped, and this time you’ve decided to see what you’re buying first. But have you given much thought into exactly how to buy a new surfboard ‘off the rack’ from a surf shop?

Or perhaps you’ve broken a surfboard on a trip, and need a quick replacement to make the most of the swell before you leave.

Perhaps you’re on a trip to Hawaii, California or Down Under and want to take a board home from a famous foamsmith.

Because nothing says ‘Yeah I just got back from Rincon‘ than paddling out at your home break on a fresh Merrick.

Whatever the reasons, here are a few surfboard buying tips to help you get out of the shop with a magic carpet as opposed to a doormat.


Nothing is more important than knowing exactly what you want the surfboard for. That means what kind of surf… Is is it for small summer days or for perfect winter boomers? Or both?

Perhaps it’s for that month in Indo you just booked. Whatever your target wave type, you need to have this in mind as you begin your search to narrow down the potential suitors.


Just like ordering a custom, evaluating your own ability is really important in getting the right surfboard. Choose a board that fits your current shred-worthiness, with a leaning towards the next step you’d like this board to take you to.

As a rule of thumb, if it the same model and dimensions as a pro, and you’re relative new to the sport, then there probably isn’t enough surfboard there for you. Which brings us on to…


Not how loud the surfboard is, but how much of it there is. Your ability and the waves you need to catch determine how much volume a board should have.

These days, volume is actually quantified in litres (rather than in the past where it’s been more of a ‘she’s thick’ or ‘it’s paper thin’ guesstimate). Firewire have even come out with an Volume calculator which is well worth a look for a ballpark figure…


Within the correct dimensions, rocker (nose to tail curve) is perhaps the most important design element in any surfboard. Flat gives speed, curve makes turning easier.

Big guys can power through turns on flatter rockers but dainty guys that go top to bottom love curve.

Only time and experience will dial you in perfectly on this factor. When you work it out then you can use your rocker preference for the rest of your surfing life.

If you’re not sure or have no strong preference either way, go with something moderate.


Litres of volume, sixteenths of an inch increments of foam… not very sexy are they?

So take the surfboard out of the rack and put it under your arm. Mmmmmm. Are you feeling it? Take lots of others out and feel them too. Feel, feel, feel. Stoke, rub, lick, kiss, strangle, pull hair (don’t). You can’t get too close physically to this hunk of foam and fibreglass.

Surfers are tactile, emotional beings, half the job is done if it feels good under the arm. Go with your heart (and fingertips), you old romantic fool!


Some things are best done in a hurry, or with haste, like ding repair, driving to the surf, drinking beer and self flagellation… Other things, like buying a new surfboard, are best done with a measured, unhurried air of thorough investigation, after having scattered a broad, investigative net.

Go to all the shops, check out all the boards. Go back. Repeat.

Never, ever, buy a board in a sudden rush when the waves are firing.

Unable to decide between the 7’2″ fun shape and the Takayama egg, Margaret took a moment for calm, quiet reflection. So, so wise. Photo: @hsssport




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