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Updated May 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best bodyboards

Bodyboarding involves riding the waves while prone on a board, while surfing involves standing upright on a board to ride the waves. Even though the sport of surfing receives a lot of attention, bodyboarding actually predates surfing and is also a popular sport. If you’re interested in either water sport, bodyboarding is a fun introduction. Some people later transition to surfing, while others stick with bodyboarding.

When you’re ready to buy a bodyboard, it’s important to understand all of the nuances of this type of equipment. Picking the right board will greatly enhance your enjoyment of the sport.

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To find the right size board for you, the length of the bodyboard should stretch roughly from your knees to your chin.

Bodyboard features to consider

Core

Although you can’t see it, the core (or interior material) of the bodyboard plays a key role in your enjoyment while using it. Different cores respond differently and yield different levels of success depending on the water temperature, wave size, and wave type.

You can select from a few different types of foam when it comes to the core, but most boards consist of either polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), or a mixture of both. The manufacturer should list the type of foam in the specifications for the bodyboard.

  • PE: A polyethylene bodyboard weighs more than a PP board. It also has more flex to it, giving you a greater level of control on the water, making it the most popular type of board. PE boards work better in cooler water, where the greater level of flex is beneficial.

  • PP: Polypropylene bodyboards are less common than PE boards, but they’re more common than the other types on this list. A PP board is lighter and stronger than a PE bodyboard, which means it moves through the water faster, especially when making turns. However, because the PP bodyboard doesn’t have much flex to it, you need more strength to perform even simple moves. A stiff polypropylene board should last a long time.

  • Low-density PP: Low-density polypropylene is a type of bodyboard core that’s growing in popularity. These boards give up some durability to gain more flexibility. Different manufacturers use a variety of model names for these low-density PP boards, including PX or NRG cores. Some riders appreciate having more flex in a lightweight board, especially for use in cold water.

  • Dual Core: Some manufacturers attempt to mix the best of both worlds by creating bodyboards with cores made of both PP and PE. The dual core, also called a 3D core, takes advantage of the durability of polypropylene and the flex of polyethylene by layering the two materials.

  • EPS: Bodyboards made with expanded polystyrene (EPS) are great for beginners. They consist of a stiff, extremely lightweight foam that works well for the person who just wants to dive onto a wave and ride it back to shore.

Shape

To the untrained eye, the basic shape of a bodyboard might look pretty similar from board to board, but the subtle differences in shape play a huge role in the performance level of each bodyboard. Some shapes yield a board that’s aimed more at helping a beginner with buoyancy and balance. Other shapes provide greater speed through the water or the ability to make sharper turns.

A bodyboard with a polypropylene core will last longer than boards with other types of cores.

STAFF
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Deck

You lie on the deck of the bodyboard. The deck can be made of PE or Crosslink.

  • PE: The polyethylene in the deck is the same material we discussed earlier in the core. The PE deck gives the rider a bit more flexibility in the board, which can make it more comfortable to use, but it doesn’t hold a uniform shape when used regularly over time.

  • Crosslink: A Crosslink deck has quite a bit of stiffness to it, which makes it more durable than a PE deck. But the lack of flexibility can make the board more difficult to maneuver. A Crosslink deck is cheaper than a PE deck, so it’s more commonly found in boards for beginners.

Slick

The slick refers to the bottom layer of the bodyboard. This material is important because it’s in contact with the water during your ride and so affects your speed. Surlyn and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are the two primary materials in bodyboard slicks.

  • Surlyn: Most bodyboards use a thin material called Surlyn in the slick. Surlyn has some elasticity to it, enabling it to flex as needed and immediately return to its original shape. More expensive boards are likely to have a Surlyn slick.

  • HDPE: HDPE has similar properties to Surlyn, but it’s a little less durable or flexible. You’ll find HDPE more often in beginner-level bodyboards because it’s less expensive.

Channels

The slick often contains channels or grooves that run along the bottom of the board. These are designed to help you maintain directional control as you’re moving through the waves.

A higher-level bodyboard may have a concave design in the slick, a wide channel that runs through the back half of the board. It maximizes speed and control for experienced riders, although some riders prefer channels to the concave design.

Tail

The tail of the bodyboard refers to the shape of the backside. You’ll commonly find two different shapes available: bat and crescent.

  • Bat: The bat tail on the back of a bodyboard has pointed corners with a slight S curve between them. It looks a little bit like a flying bat silhouette. This type of tail works especially well for maneuvering precisely in smaller waves. The bat tail can drag a bit in heavier waves.

  • Crescent: The crescent tail has a slight curved indentation in the back of the bodyboard, almost like the back edge has been scooped out. Many beginners like the crescent tail because it’s a bit easier to maneuver and to properly align your body on the board.

 

Bodyboard prices

Inexpensive

You can find beginner-level bodyboards for $20 to $40. These boards won’t allow for a lot of control or sharp curves, but they work well for learning to ride the waves.

Mid-Range

As you begin to advance in your bodyboarding skills, you’ll want to look for boards that provide a bit more control. Intermediate boards cost anywhere from $40 to $100. This is also the price range of larger, more buoyant boards for beginners.

Expensive

You can pay as much as $250 to $300 for an advanced board. This style of bodyboard uses the highest-quality materials and might even feature special artwork.

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For those riders who weigh a little more than average, select a wider board for extra buoyancy.

FAQ

Q. How important is the right length of bodyboard?

A. Having the correct length of bodyboard will enhance your enjoyment of the sport. Most bodyboards range from 33 to 46 inches long. Trying to ride a board that’s too long for your body will make it difficult to paddle through the water. And if the board is too short, it won’t give you the buoyancy you need. An appropriate bodyboard length for you stretches roughly from your chin to your knees. You can pick a slightly larger board for small waves or if you need extra buoyancy.

Q. Should I worry about the width of the bodyboard?

A. Because a bodyboard is slightly curved on the edges, manufacturers measure the board’s width at the widest point. Wider bodyboards work well for providing a greater level of floatation. Narrower boards are easier to turn when you’re trying to perform tricks or moves. Boards aimed at beginners tend to be wider than more advanced bodyboards.

Q. Do I need a board that has indentations for the fingers or hands?

A. Many bodyboards have small indentations or finger-grips at the corners of the underside near the front of the board. These give you a better grip on the board than trying to hold on to a slippery, completely flat surface. If you plan to make sharp turns or want to gain more control over the bodyboard, having these grips – also called nose bulbs – is important. Beginners who are just riding waves to the shore might not need these grips.

Q. Why do the edges on some bodyboards have different angle ratios listed in the specifications?

A. The side edges of a bodyboard are called the rails. The rails are angled at the top and bottom, resulting in a point on the edge of the board. You’ll see this angle listed as a ratio in the specifications for the bodyboard. A 60/40 ratio on the rails refers to a lower edge that’s slightly larger than the upper edge. A bodyboard with a 60/40 rail is easier to grip and control, but it won’t move as fast as a 40/60 ratio bodyboard rail.

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