Ah sweet summer, the time of the year marked by long beach days, cool ocean water, and beautiful sunsets. What better way to enjoy your first day out at the beach than with a bodyboard?
Bodyboards are a great way for the whole family to have fun. They’re easy to use and require no special training. All you need to do is hop in the water, position yourself in front of the most appealing wave, and let the ocean do the rest. A bodyboard can provide hours of limitless fun for both kids and adults.
Finding the best bodyboard can take some effort, so we have compiled the perfect resource to help you out!
To get you ready for the summer we’ve put together a buying guide for bodyboards so you can understand the technical jargon and know just what to look for when making your purchase. When you know everything that you need to about bodyboards, finding the right one becomes much easier!
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- The History of Bodyboarding
- Bodyboarding As an Extreme Sport
- Why It is Crucial to Take Care When Choosing Your Bodyboard
- Buyer’s Guide
- What to Look for in a Bodyboard
The History of Bodyboarding
Humankind has always had an obsession with the ocean. No matter how big our cities get, or how high our planes can fly, the ocean calls us back. Bodyboarding is one of the earliest forms of entertainment enjoyed by our beach-dwelling ancestors.
The earliest recorded instance of bodyboarding was by the indigenous Polynesians. They would ride a wooden board called an “Alaia,” which they would ride on their knees, belly, and sometimes even standing up.
These Alaia boards were usually made from the Acacia Koa tree which is a lightweight flowering tree commonly found in the Pacific islands. It is exceptionally buoyant which made it a great choice for early bodyboards.
When British explorer Captain James made his first trip to Hawaii in 1778, he recorded seeing the native peoples riding wooden boards on their bellies. He wrote that they were anywhere between three and six feet long.
The Modern “Boogie Board”
The bodyboard that we have come to know and love today was created in 1971 by surfer and engineer Tom Morey. Besides crafting the bodyboard, he is also credited with advancing surfboard technology. He was famous for his “nose-surfing” abilities and even had a side career as a musician.
After moving to Honolulu, Hawaii, Morey wanted to create a faster surfboard. The boards of those days were slow, didn’t have much buoyancy, and were in need of improvement. His first attempts were very stiff and could be easily snapped in half if the right wave hit them.
One morning on July 9th, he awoke to perfect waves, but all of his boards had broken, and he had nothing to ride with. He looked around his house and found a long piece of polyethylene foam that he had planned to use in crafting a surfboard. He cut it down to three feet and used a hot iron to melt and shape the foam.
He designed his board with a square nose to hold onto, a curved bottom that would glide over the water, and 45-degree rails that could carve through a wave. Morey immediately hopped into the water to test his new bodyboard and loved it.
He began to make more and sold them to his neighbors, who also grew to love the sport. Morey wanted to make, even more, so he fixed cars and did odd jobs until he had enough money to move back to Honolulu, purchase materials, and scale his production.
He founded Morey Boogie, and called his new creation the “Boogie board.” According to Andy at Audio Listed, the name is after the fast-paced, fun jazz music that he loved to play. He actually never liked the word “bodyboard,” and refused to acknowledge the term as other competitors came onto the market.
So there you have it; a brief history of bodyboarding (or boogie boarding if you prefer). Now let’s look at what you can do with it.
Bodyboarding As an Extreme Sport
Bodyboarding is a great family fun oriented activity, but did you know that it’s also an extreme sport? Like many things in life, people have an inherent desire to make them more dangerous and more interesting. Bodyboarding is no different, and competing professionally has become a global phenomenon.
From its inception in 1971, the bodyboarding industry has grown rapidly. Every beach town in the world now sells them. Extreme bodyboarders have taken to surfing the monster waves and turbulent waters of the world, and the results are crazy.
Daredevils riding on today’s high-tech boards can reach speeds of 20 miles/hour, carve a wave the same as a pro surfer, and do a wide variety of tricks from backflips, inverts, aerial spins, and a whole host of acrobatic moves.
If you plan on taking part in this extreme sport, you will need to take special care in choosing your board to ensure that you’re getting the best board that money can buy. You’re going to need a board that’s incredibly buoyant, sleek and aerodynamic, and strong enough to withstand the back-breaking force of monster waves.
Why It is Crucial to Take Care When Choosing Your Bodyboard
You may be wondering why you would go through so much effort to ensure that you get the best bodyboard possible, and there are several reasons. A bodyboard is a product that can end up giving you months or even years of service, provided that you choose the right one.
When opting for the best bodyboard, you will want to pick a model that is relatively affordable, yet you will need it to be sturdy enough to last. Nobody wants to have to keep buying new bodyboards because their old ones keep failing on them after a few weeks of use.
Choosing a subpar product means that you will often get results that are equally disappointing. If you want to get a bodyboard that is worth your money, don’t be afraid to spend a little bit extra. A few more dollars can end up going a long way for you in the long run, especially if you care about longevity.
When it comes to aquatic sports, your equipment can be the difference between having a good time and a potentially severe injury.
Your bodyboard may be the one thing that is keeping you from going under in the even that you get struck by an exceptionally powerful wave.
If you are going to be trusting something like a bodyboard with your safety and even your life, you will want to be sure that you can put that faith in it. It will be much tougher for you to bodyboard effectively if you don’t have enough peace of mind that your bodyboard won’t end up splitting on you.
Apart from these reasons, your money will end up stretching further if you carefully research your options before going out and buying a bodyboard. Buyers who don’t know enough about the product that they are buying can end up with a 50 dollar bodyboard that does about as much as a 20 dollar model.
Getting your first bodyboard isn’t difficult, but there are certain aspects that you need to consider. Size, shape and even the foam that a bodyboard is made out of all play a factor when making your decision Read this section to further understand the specifications and details that make or break a good product.
Comfort is one of the most important considerations you can look for in a board. You’re never going to able to perform a 360 aerial flip on a board that you’re not comfortable on. Kids also tend to dislike things that aren’t comfy enough.
Cheap bodyboards tend just to be a piece of foam wrapped in a nylon coat and aren’t very comfortable. A nice board will be designed to contour to your chest and hips and be easy to grip onto.
If you’re planning to be out on the water all day, you want to consider the possibility of chafing. Salt, sand, and sun, when combined with a rough, scratchy board cover can result in quite a bit of pain.
High-quality boards are made out of a material that is soft and allows your chest to have good water and air flow which goes a long way to prevent your skin from getting rubbed raw.
Getting the Correct Size
When selecting the right bodyboard, you have to see where the nose of the board is positioned. The nose should be in between the lower section of your stomach and your hips. If you surf on weaker waves or a heavier surfer, it’s important that you get a board that keeps you afloat.
- Wide boards are good for bigger riders and provide more floatation.
- Medium boards are good for general purposes, but you’ll have to apply more force in the waves if you’re a heavy rider.
- Narrow boards have great speed but are hard to complete tricks in slower speeds. They are not recommended for small surfing areas.
When it comes to choosing the best bodyboard, you will always want to account for the price of the one that you are looking at. Most bodyboards will retail for around 30 to 50 dollars, meaning that anything outside of that price range should be exceptional so that it may catch your attention.
Of course, if you are going to be buying an equipment bundle that comes with a wetsuit, tethers, and other equipment, you may end up paying more than just for the board itself. You will find that many of these bundles often offer an excellent deal on gear that would otherwise be much pricier.
If you are trying to find the best bodyboard, opting for a pricier model may give you the peace of mind that you need that you are investing in a quality product. With a bit of effort, however, you can easily find a bodyboard that boasts excellent value for money, providing quality, even on a budget.
Durability and Reliability
When it comes to finding the best bodyboard for your needs, you will want to look for a model that is durable enough to last you at least one season. Some of the best bodyboards will allow you to head out for two or three years before they end up wearing out, but that depends on how often you use them.
If you are a relatively frequent bodyboarder, you will want to invest in a model that will be sure to withstand heavier usage and won’t warp or crack with temperature changes. Some bodyboarders have been known to run through several boards in a single season.
Of course, a bodyboard that is built to last is also one that is worth the money, so if you have a limited budget, you will want to stick with one that can endure the abuse of the waves. If you cut out the added cost of purchasing a new board every year, you will have a lot more to invest in other gear.
As we stated earlier, a reliable bodyboard is one that is also safe. If you want to be sure that you won’t have any issues while you are out on the waves, you will want a board that you can rely upon without having to worry. There are many benefits to opting for a reliable enough bodyboard, as you can see.
Of course, there is more to a bodyboard than just performance, so you will also want to find a model that looks good enough for you. Many users have a preferred color for their boards, and some of the more popular manufacturers even make their bodyboards in various patterns.
Having options when it comes to how your bodyboard looks is more than just a stylistic consideration, however. Bodyboards that look different will be easier to distinguish between when you are out with friends, so you won’t have to deal with as much confusion out on the beach.
What to Look for in a Bodyboard
Types of Bodyboard Cores
The most important thing about bodyboard is how the core is made. Having a weak core can negatively affect your performance when out surfing. As a general guide, this table demonstrates the most commonly used cores in today’s bodyboards:
|EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) Core||EPS foam is the same that is used to protect mail packaging, and if you’ve ever held a piece of that foam, then you know just how light it is.
EPS is the lightest foam you get, and when thinking about buoyancy, the lighter the board is, the more waves you can catch. Not to mention it makes them a lot easier for kids to carry around.
EPS core boards come in a multitude of different sizes. If you buy a well-designed EPS board, you’ll be rewarded with its high-quality performance.
However, some are badly shaped, poorly laminated, and unable to perform to a high standard in professional bodyboarding.
Get a thicker core that is about 30-50mm. Buying one with sturdy rail materials and a dense deck will add to its strength.
|PE (Polyurethane) Core||PE cores are more efficient than EPS cores, but that’s not always true. They quality and the density is what makes PE cores stand out from them.
The PE core should have a density of 2.4 lb pcf (Pounds per cubic foot). Try to get a board within a 1.4-2.4 range to receive the most utility.
PE core bodyboards can be either surlyn slick HDPE or HDPE slick bottom. While this material is fine, it deep creases which will permanently affect the board’s flex.
|PP (Polypropylene) Core||Polypropylene cores are the most expensive and are used for hotter climates. They are waterproof and lightweight but can become stiff during the winter.
We suggest that you get a PP Core that’s has a 1.9 PCF core with an added surlyn slick. This will give you the best performance in the warmer water.
|Paradox Cell and NRG Cores||Both Paradox Cell and NRG Cores were made to replace PE cores on professional bodyboards, but they have found their own place in the market.
While their cores are less dense than PP boards, they have more flex which is good for maneuverability. They have various mesh and stringer combinations to increase its strength. The early results are good as long as you obtain the right combination of materials.
On average, the NRG/Mesh/Stringer combo is good for waters up to 12-18° Fahrenheit. While the Paradox and three stringer combo are similar, it’s stiffer than the NRG material.
Each bodyboard has rails placed on the side edges. There are two parts, the chine where the that wraps around the deck and the rail that’s placed on the lower side of the edge. The chine and rail proportions are usually advertised on each board and are referred to in percentages.
For example, the most common ratios are 50/50 and 60/40. The lower portion of the edge is usually determined by the first number.
Companies typically manufactured boards with a 55/45 ratio. This means that the board is 55% rail and 45% chine. Buy a board within this ratio if you want an all around bodyboard that can be used in almost any water condition.
50/50 rails are faster, but they tend to have less grip in the front end. 60/40 rails have more stability but are slower than other ratios. When shopping, make sure that your board’s rail ratio meets your personal preferences.
Tail and Nose Width
Wide tails are great for small surf waves and give more floatation. And they are looser when doing spins, slower speed maneuvering, and sliding moves.
Narrow tails are more responsive and turn harder on the bottom turn. They are recommended to be used on good surfing conditions where the waves aren’t too low. Their only downside is that they can’t be used for small waves because of its lack of float.
A bodyboard with a wide nose width is good for larger waves, but in small waves, they tend to slow down and push water. For most scenarios, a bodyboard with an 11″ or 12″ nose width are great for drop knee or prone bodyboarding.
Smaller nose widths are less stable when doing prone turns. They are suited for knee drop surfers who like to do advanced tricks and make hard turns when they’re out on the water.
The channels are fluted groves that are close to the edge of the board. They extend from the slick side to the tail of the board. In fact, they prevent slipping and give you more control when you’re on the top of the wave.
As a rule of thumb, deeper channels give your board more grip at the cost of being unable to do sliding tricks. Most channels have the same depth and allow the user to have an easy release for quick maneuvers and spins.
If you are trying to go fast on hard turns, then you should opt for a one with a smaller depth. It might give you less grip, but you’ll be able to pull off some insane tricks! Make sure you get a bodyboard whose channel suits your surfing style.
We hope you have found our guide to be helpful. We scoured the market looking for the best boogyboards that money could buy. If you plan on hitting the beach this summer, a bodyboard is essential, and any one of our recommendations is guaranteed to give you years of fun in the sun!
Whether you’re buying one of these for a kid, or you’re just an adult who wants to have a bit of fun, bodyboarding is meant for everybody. So what are you waiting for? Pick up one of these great deals while they last, and get surfing!
- Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel Hoyt Elbert (2003). “lookup of Alaia.” in Hawaiian Dictionary. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii Press. Retrieved 17 November 2010.
- Brisick, Jamie (4 December 2009). “Ancient Surfboard Style Is Finding New Devotees.” The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
Image Sources (In order of appearance):
- By Evan Fa https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17680707
- By Frank Davey – HAWAII Magazine, from the Bishop Museum, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12771614
- https://commons.wikimedia.orgBy Bengt Nyman – Flickr: IMG_7780, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22223153/wiki/File%3ABodyboard-crescent-tail.jpg