Best body boards: long boards for beginners, short boards for experts
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The original boogie board was invented in 1971 by Tom Morey - a man who quit his stable job, moved to Hawaii, and decided to try and build a board designed to recreate the sensation of riding waves on his Dad’s back when he was a kid. The boogie board - also known as body boards or bodyboards - was born.
The early ‘Morey Boogie Boards’ were made by Tom in his backyard, glued together, and finished off with tape. They were a huge success, and to this day, boogie boards - are one of the best ways of having some serious fun in the surf.
The best thing about a body board? Unlike surfboards, you don’t need to have any skill to get started - just a bathing suit and and your boogie board, and you’ll be riding waves in minutes. This makes them an ideal choice for families, as kids and parents alike can enjoy some time catching surf on a body board.
That said, body boarding can be a serious business - there are competitions for riding waves on a bodyboard, and the more you do it, the more dexterous you’ll become, riding waves longer.
Do I want a long body board or a small one?
Bodyboards vary in size from around 30 inches to above 46 inches. A very long board is better for beginners, as it allows more stability and is easier to mount. But it won’t handle big surf as well - although it is unlikely a beginner will be wanting to head into a major swell.
Small bodyboards are great for more advanced boarders - they’re easy to manoeuvre in big surf. They have a low flotation though so best worked up to.
Traditional boards will feel stiff when you first get them - they’ll require time in the surf being ridden to soften and get more flexible, easier to manovere.
If you are looking to get good at boarding - learn some tricks, ride larger surf for longer times - you’ll need to invest in a decent board (we mean spending over £40).
There are few pieces of advice for a beginner who wants to get the most out of boarding and improve. Look for a board that is:
- Made of EPS – Expanded Polystyrene: A lightweight board with a hardy core and high floatation - ideal for beginners.
- A Single Stringer: A ‘stringer’ is a hollow, filament composite fibre tube in the core of a board, designed to strengthen an dstabilise. A single stringer is best for beginners - offering the correct balance of rigidity for paddling and flexibility for riding.
- HDPE Slick: this is the slickness on the underside of the board, connected to the water. HDPE slick is the ideal surface for beginners - durable, speedy, but not going to catapult you into the stratosphere.
However, if you want something for your toddler to tear around on in the whitewater, a cheap board will be just fine - just don’t expect it to last multiple seasons. And we don’t want to lecture, but single-use plastic is not doing our environment any favours...
Designed for: children 4-6, 15 - 25 kilos.
Looking for a board to help your children get used to the surf and try and catch their first wave? This inflatable bodyboard from Decathlon is a fab choice.
Essentially a glorified floatation device, it will help your child feel safe in the white water, and makes it easy for young children to catch small waves on the sea shore. They won’t catch any gnarly waves, but they will familiarise themselves with the water.
With a valve for easy inflation and deflation.
Available in four colours; fuchsia, caribbean blue, sunflower and yellow ochre.
A tandem bodyboard can be an ideal way of helping a reticent child get comfortable in the water - and develop some shared memories.
This quality bodyboard has three handles at its front, so you and your child can both hang onto the board. With a high-density plastic glide slick, it will pick up enough speed for the pair of you to feel a little thrill - without the wee one getting scared.
It is designed for waves 1 metre and under, though, so don’t take it too far out. But as a means of helping your child get to grips with the surf - and to have a laugh together - this is perfect.
Designed for: kids around 8-12 years.
Cornwall based Ann’s Cottage are one of the UK’s best purveyors of surf gear, and their bodyboard range is similarly excellect, popular with both kids and adults.
The Salt Water Seeker has a buoyant, durable core. The bottom is PCX slick, which is great for manouverability. The price tag reflets these high spec materials - this is a quality board.
This is a fab board for kids around 8-12, looking to progress their boarding skills. It’s great for developing tricks as you ride, and suited to both prone and drop-knee riding styles.
Designed for: kids and adult beginners developing skills
Built with an EPS core - flexible, but great for control, this is a durable board. The HDPE slick on its underside is ideal for beginners looking to have a bit of fun - it’ll make sure you’re speedy on broken, small waves, as you develop your confidence.
The crescent tail is good for navigating on waves, allowing you to develop your handling - although beginners will be comfortable on this board, you’ll still be able to upskill as you ride. Crescent tails are also good for helping you ‘hold’ the wave face, lengthening your ride.
Avaliable in 33, 37, 42 and 44 inch, depending on your height.
From £33.95 – £49.95, depending on what size you need to go for.
Gul have been at the forefront of water sports in the UK for fifty years, celebrated for their technical development of both kit and apparel.
The Response range of bodyboards is very popular here, representing a handy starter board with some functionality.
It’s an EPO core - stiff and strong, with the HDPE slick underneath, making for a reliably bouyant board if you’re getting to grips with the water, while still relatively speedy.
You’re not going to achieve any remarkable tricks on this board, but you will have a huge amount of fun, achieve a resonable amount of speed, and not feel out of control. Decent price point for a board made of high spec materials, too.
Been boarding a fair amount, think you’re ready for an intermediate board? The Decathlon Radbug is the ideal transitional piece.
With that EPO core that provides bouyancy and strenghth, this board benefits from double stringers - almost unheard of at this price - which makes it more rigid and therefore adept at handling.
Great for a swell around 1.5 metres or under, you can further push yourself as a bodyboarder with this board.
At first glance the price may seem a little high, but this board designed for advanced bodyboards is similar in specs and performance to some boards we’ve tried that are three times the price - making it a bargain.
Designed for advanced bodyboarders looking for speed and grip for aerial figures, this is a very reactive board - the rails hold onto the hollow of a wave beautifully. It’s got great grip, making it perfect for pulling tricks.
The streamlined shape and concave quad means the board is seriously speedy, and reactive - it’s very responsive to turning regardless of the surf conditions.
A great high performance board for a well trained bodyboarder.