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While buying a surfboard online was once a blasphemous proposition, it’s gradually (reluctantly) become more commonplace. Convenience is king, as they say. If you’d rather buy a surfboard from the comfort of your home, this guide will help you score a quality surfboard from a reputable retailer at a tolerable price. Enjoy your new stick, and happy surfing. Carolyn Christine/Unsplash


The Inertia


Once upon a time, there were two ways to buy a surfboard. Option one: swing into your local surf shop, chat it up with the sales clerk, and get something straight off the rack. Or, option two, order something custom, and wait with equal parts anguish and anticipation for a few months. Cue text to your local shaper, “Is my board ready yet?”

Ordering a custom board remains one of life’s greatest pleasures — choosing custom dimensions, resin tints, and pin lines all to create something one-of-a-kind is oh so satisfying. Not to mention when you actually ride the thing. But, for those either suffering from a lack of patience, hunting for a deal, simply trying to expand that quiver without needing their dimensions to be dialed in to the 1/16th of an inch, or for any reason in between, buying online has its benefits.

Pitfalls and misconceptions abound, though. Notably, you can’t get your hands all over that fresh surfboard before slapping down plastic at the metaphorical register. Or, other insecurities like whether you can trust a parcel service to deliver your board to you in one piece. And if on the off chance you are not completely satisfied or your new board is damaged, do you have any recourse?

Best Midlength Pick
Best Midlength Pick

Whether you’re transitioning from a beginner surfboard to a more manageable size or an experienced surfer looking to diversify the quiver and refine your lines, the Outlier offers a fine data point.

Price (on publish date): $1,025.00 $925.00

Check Price on Jack's Surfboards

 

To help you navigate these questions and more, we’ve done a deep dive on a number of online surfboard retailers out there to assist you in the process of buying a surfboard online. If you’re interested in that kind of thing. Which, let’s admit, while once a horribly blasphemous proposition, buying a surfboard online is becoming a very accepted practice. Convenience, people. We explored online surfboard retailers’ wares, and pored over FAQs to understand every issue relevant to potential surfboard buyers. We hope this guide is helpful, and if there is anything we missed, be sure to let us know, so we can follow up.

Before launching into the guide, some quick housekeeping. To keep this manageable, we decided to narrow our focus on new surfboards, not secondhand ones. So, Craigslist is out, obvs. (More on the great Craigslist used surfboard search here…) And only retailers that ship to and within the U.S.. We also want to note that many independent board builders and labels keep a sampling of their board models on hand for immediate purchase, many of which are advertised online. While this can be a great way to get a board from a shaper that’s backlogged on custom orders, what we’re talking about here are truly online retailers.

So, if you’ve made it this far, strap in and grab this virtually outstretched hand as we navigate the waters of buying a surfboard online together. We’ll give our top picks for the best surfboards you can buy online right now, as well as review types of retailers and key considerations like shipping costs and returns towards the end of the article.

What Are the Best Surfboards to Buy Online? Here’s the TLDR:

Best Performance Shortboard: Pyzel Wildcat
Best Shortboard for Small Surf (Best Groveler): Lib Tech x …Lost Puddle Jumper
Best Mid-Length Surfboard: Firewire Outlier Mid-Length
Best Traditional Longboard: The Critical Slide Society Logger Head
Best Beginner Surfboard: Wavestorm 15th Anniversary Edition

Pyzel Wildcat Surfboard

That’s a mighty fine silhouette for solid surf. Get more deets on the Pyzel Wildcat here.

Best Performance Shortboard: Pyzel Wildcat

Some may look at the undercarriage of the Wildcat and immediately protest labeling a twin-fin as “performance.” But, as fun as linking eight vertical turns all the way to the beach can be, I would argue there is little more satisfying than absolutely screaming down the line of a wave with more speed than you know what to do with on a channel bottom twin – save getting tubed. The Pyzel Wildcat may only have two claws, but that doesn’t make it any less inclined to take scalps in anything from knee to head high and above. And while twin-fins often get stereotyped as “retro”, the Wildcat pays homage to that heritage while incorporating modern board design sensibilities.

Nuts and Bolts:

“The bottom curve is clean, and relatively flat, offering great paddle speed and easy acceleration from the moment you get to your feet. A single/double concave runs throughout the bottom, blending into a moderate V and 4 channels running off the tail. All of this is designed to help the board roll from rail to rail, add a little extra bite off the bottom and quickly respond to weight shifts while easily flowing over softer sections of a wave. This helps increase your speed as you push it through turns.” – Pyzel

Who do we recommend this board for?

Surfers whose locals tend to offer up a lot of variety would benefit from a sled that excels in a broad range of waves. Think knee-high runners to head high open canvases, and everything in between.

Price (on publish date): $792 – $895

What other boards should I consider?

For surf that breaks more top-to-bottom with plenty of speed and power, consider a board that would offer more control and rocker like the Pyzel Shadow, or, for the steepest stuff, the Pyzel Ghost. We continue to ogle over the Aipa Wrecking Ball, as it looks insane. And while the Pyzel Wildcat narrowly beat it out for our recommendation for Best Performance Shortboard, we’d equally love to have a Wrecking Ball underfoot when staring down the barrel of a big open wall at Lower Trestles.

Check Price on Jack's Surfboards Check Price on Surfdome

 

Lib Tech x ...Lost Puddle Jumper Surfboard

When the surf is tiny, but you don’t want to break out a longboard, it’s hard to beat the Lib Tech x …Lost Puddle Jumper.

Best Shortboard for Small Surf (Best Groveler): Lib Tech X …Lost Puddle Jumper

The short and stout outline of the Lib Tech X …Lost Puddle Jumper makes it ideal for surf best described as “playful.” The word “gutless” may be a less kind substitute. But for all means of low-consequence fun in the water, the Puddle Jumper is built to excel. Not to mention Lib Tech’s ecoIMPACTO construction is virtually bulletproof.

Nuts and Bolts:

“The Lib Tech x Lost Puddle Jumper Surfboard is the most fun and versatile surfboard you’ve ever ridden. This small wave hybrid is made for pros and bros alike – anyone who craves the sweet satisfaction of gliding small surf. Its wide outline makes paddling, catching waves, and maintaining stability a breeze in the chest-highs. The concave bottom transitioning to V in the tail gives it plenty of pop, speed, and hold while carving – making it true quiver-killer.” – LibTech/…Lost

Who do we recommend this board for?

For those reluctant to step on a longboard when the surf drops below waist high, cramped apartment dwellers, public transit-commuting surfers, and standing wave enthusiasts.

Price (on publish date): $849

What other boards should I consider?

The JJF by Pyzel Ivan Florence Fish Softboard also knocked on the door for best groveler surfboard for small surf. While more performance-oriented foam boards seem to be having their moment in the sun, and the Ivan Florence Fish is the product of a promising joint venture between one of the world’s best surfers and one of the world’s greatest shapers, our experience thus far with high-performance foam surfboards is they never quite measure up to their epoxy or PU counterparts.

Check Price on Evo

 

Firewire's Outlier Midlength Surfboard

Midlengths are all the rage. If you can’t wait to get your hands on one in a surf shop, you could do worse than snagging Firewire’s Outlier online.

Best Mid-Length Surfboard: Firewire Outlier Midlength

Ever since Firewire brought CJ Nelson into the fold, the brand’s been cranking out some very inviting 7-foot-plus equipment that’s easy on the eyes and even better underfoot. The Outlier Mid-Length is no different. Described by Firewire as a re-interpretation of the early designs of the shortboard revolution, this is truly the surfboard for those looking to tap into a timeless outline with modern construction. Whether transitioning away from a mostly shortboard quiver, or stepping down from a longboard, a mid-length can show you what’s possible.

Nuts and Bolts:

“One of the most functional designs of the “shortboard revolution” re-worked by CJ and Ryan. A true speed hull that puts feel and rider enjoyment first, this board is a life changer. Digging into the history books, referencing MP, Nat and all of the transition era sliders we picked up where they left off and applied our modern knowledge to make this functional beauty. If you’re looking to size down from your longboard or looking for a one board quiver to travel the world with, there’s not a better surfboard to fulfill your needs.” – Firewire

Who do we recommend this board for?

Mid-lengths are great to have in the quiver for everyone, really. They work great for beginners transitioning from a foamie to their first actual surfboard, as well as those who have been surfing for forty years, Mikey February, and those who are just looking to up their wave count. The only knock on single fins, for those transitioning from two fins or more, is riding them requires relying on wave energy to generate speed as opposed to driving the board to get speed.

Price: $1,025 $925

What other boards should I consider?

For those looking for more fin setup options, the Firewire Moe Thunderbolt Red Tech might be a better option. And we’d be remiss here not to mention one of Rob Machado’s latest Firewire models, the Sunday. We also loved the look of the Creative Army Huevo, but decided to recommend Firewire’s Outlier, because its pulled-in tail and single fin box lend more to the elongated turns a mid-length is better geared toward.  

Check Price on Jack's
Critical Slide Society LoggerHead Longboard Surfboard

Critical Slide Society’s Loggerhead longboard might be exactly the nose you’ve been meaning to park your piggies on.

Best Longboard: The Critical Slide Society Logger Head

Perhaps due to increased shipping costs (see below), a decent traditionally-inspired longboard may be the toughest category of surfboard to find online. The Critical Slide Society’s Logger Head is the needle in the proverbial haystack. A classic single-fin ready for noseriding to your heart’s content, the Logger Head features 60/40 rails, nose concave for lift when perched at the tip that transitions into a rolled v bottom for rail-to-rail transition.

Nuts and Bolts:

TCSS bills the logger head as an updated version of the Old Mal with contemporary materials built in both 9’2” and 9’8”.

Who do we recommend this board for?

Anyone looking for a classic longboard for trimming, nose riding, cross-stepping, and drop-knee cutbacking. We chose this board because it most closely resembles what we consider to be a traditional, no-frills log. For those looking for a longboard that’s a bit more user friendly, TCSS’s All Rounder may be a better option with its 2+1 fin setup and a narrower tail that makes turning a bit easier.

Price (on publish date): $895 –  $1,050

What other boards should I consider?

Despite the shipping complication, there’s a surprisingly large amount of longboards to buy online. As far as retro noserider shapes like the Loggerhead, other worthy options include Modern’s aptly-named Retro, and Creative Army’s 5 Sugars, an all arounder that should offer an equally versatile alternative to the Logger Head. Salt Gypsy’s Dusty also offers vintage style that’s easy on the eyes with similar functionality. We also considered Degree33’s Ultimate (for a more high-performance longboard shape), but the Loggerhead takes the cake with for its blend of classic noserideability and modern performance.

Check Price on Backcountry Check Price on GSI
Wavestorm surfboard

For those just getting started, it’s hard to beat tried and true…the Wavestorm Soft Top Surfboard will set you on your way.

Best Absolute Beginner Surfboard: Wavestorm 15th Anniversary Edition

Say what you will about the surfboard formerly known as the “Costco Special.” In terms of affordability and as a gateway drug into our sport there’s no better option out there than the Wavestorm. As a beginner who 1) is not even sure they are going to like surfing; and 2) want to do the least damage to themselves and others in the early stages of their development, foam and cost effectiveness are your friend. Gone are the days when you could pick up a Wavestorm at Costco for $99 (current prices on Amazon are just over $200), but in terms of the absolute essentials to get your beak wet as a beginner, the classic Wavestorm is ideal.

Nuts and Bolts: 8 feet, one size fits all. What separates the 15th Anniversary Edition Wavestorm from others, though, is the fact that it comes with everything you’d need to set it up either as a three fin (classic) or with a large single fin.

Who we recommend this board for?

For the absolute beginner surfer, or those looking to make the most of a day of bad waves at the lowest cost. the Wavestorm is perhaps the best of both worlds when it comes to cost-effectiveness and everything you need with nothing you don’t if your aim is to get introduced to surfing. Wavestorms are also great to keep around a surfing household for splashing around in the waves on long summer beach days, or in the off chance that a friend asks for a surf lesson. For those looking for even more stability than what a Wavestorm offers, Odysea’s 9’0” Log is a great alternative, but it retails for more than double the price.

Price (on publish date): $229

What other boards should I consider?

Beginner surfers should refer to The Inertia’s exhaustive guide for the best beginner surfboards in case you’d like to dig deeper before committing. We go deep. It’d also be worth exploring our guide to the best soft-top surfboards, as softness is your friend when you’re getting started.

Check Price on Amazon

Where Should I Buy a Surfboard Online? Types of Online Retailers

As with everything these days from shoes to lavender-scented toilet paper, there are countless online retail options for those looking for a stock dimensions surfboard, and with all of these options it can be difficult to determine which retailer is going to sell the equipment to fit your specific needs.

Online surfboard retailers tend to fall into four main categories: surf specialty sites, outdoor and adventure sports retailers, online behemoths (you can actually ask Alexa to order you a Wavestorm; more on that in a jiff), and brick and mortar surf shops with a slick online presence. The latter category may be slightly bending one of the earlier rules we established, but hey, rules are meant to be slightly bent. Let’s dive into the nuts and bolts of each of these categories.

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Surf Specialty Websites
For the discerning performance-oriented surfer who keeps tabs on the latest surfboard models from the shapers putting boards under the feet of some of the world’s best surfers, surf specialty sites offer the huge advantage of having the most variety in equipment. A quick perusal of one such example, Boardcave, reveals that current inventory includes sleds from DHD, Timmy Patterson, and Pyzel — the logos of which you might recognize being held up behind world champ surfers being chaired up the beach in recent years. Just sayin’.

Best Longboard Pick
Best Longboard Pick

The Critical Slide Society pumps out premium quality logs, and they’ve stepped up to the plate when it comes to meeting consumers online. The Logger Head is a fine longboard that’s easy on the eyes and performs at an acceptable price. There’s no getting around it, brand new longboards are expensive.

Price (on publish date): $895

Check Price on Backcountry

 

 

Outdoor and Adventure Sports Retailers
The next category comprises those websites where you could order a new surf poncho,  wetsuit, surfboard leash, surf wax, or maybe even a new traction pad if you’re feeling saucy. Think Backcountry, evo.com, or Surfdome. If there’s one knock on these outdoors retailers it’s that the selection is typically not as broad as surf/watersports-specific retailers, or that it leans heavily in the fun board-slash-approachable equipment and is less performance-oriented. Still, these retailers can be great for discounted equipment and often offer more affordable shipping costs.

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Behemoths
Did you know you can buy a surfboard on Amazon? That’s right, everything from A to Z includes S for surfboard. For the most part, this is sort of a buyer beware situation with the sole exception being foam surfboards. So, if you’re an absolute beginner or looking for a Wavestorm or a Catch Surf Beater to flop around on in the summer months, you can actually use your Prime membership for a speedy delivery. Just keep an eye out for knockoffs, and do your research somewhere other than the five-star-review section.

Best High-Performance Shortboard Pick
Best High-Performance Shortboard Pick

Pyzel’s Wildcat is a channel bottom twin that doubles as a speed magnet. It might be a little left of center for a high performance shortboard, but we guarantee this board provides the speed you seek. It’s just a matter of whether you know what to do with it or not.

Price (on publish date): $895

Check Price on Backcountry

 

 

Brick and Mortar Surf Shops
Finally, some brick and mortar surf shops have gotten savvy and developed slick online retail operations. Some examples include Jack’s Surfboards in Southern California, Cleanline Surf in Oregon, or REAL Watersports. There are lots of options. Depending on the shop, selection can be a mixed bag, which is the primary disadvantage. But, shops with established relationships with brands have the major advantage of carrying exclusive stock from board builders that none of the above retailers carry.

Other Considerations When Buying a Surfboard Online

Surfboard Shipping Costs
The single most important variable when buying a surfboard online is shipping costs. Period. And these vary widely depending on the retailer. For example, Boardcave’s best estimate for shipping on surfboards up to 6’6” in length is $80 for Hawaii, $180 for the East Coast, and $220 for the West Coast. Compare that to evo.com, which estimates $69 for standard ground shipping on shortboards and $99 for longboards in the continental US but $199 for Alaska and Hawaii. Other retailers, like Jack’s estimate $150 for boards between 5’10” and 6’10” in the continental U.S. (with prices going up or down based on length. Other sites like Backcountry don’t provide shipping estimates. Keep in mind, as well, that in most cases, surfboards are excluded from free shipping offers. Because shipping costs can vary so considerably across retailers, and even with the same website depending on board length, our best advice is to contact the retailer directly to get an estimate before you purchase.

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What If Your Surfboard Arrives Damaged?

Lastly, for any that have had the unique displeasure of handing a surfboard bag to a baggage handler at the airport and praying it arrives in one piece on the other end, you may be wondering, what if my board shows up damaged? Fortunately, most sites offer some recourse, but that recourse is usually simply contacting customer service. Which can be a mixed bag to say the least. Alas, the potential headache of dealing with a back and forth with customer service is one of the trade-offs you make for the convenience of buying a board online.

Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.

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