Best Longboard Surfboards – Our Top 5
For the old schoolers they’re a way of life, and for the purest they are a must. They say that every surfer should own at least one longboard and if we are being honest with ourselves, there’s a pretty good argument as to why.
The origins of surfing can be dated back centuries, but surfing only really become popularised in the 1950’s on the sun drenched coastlines of the U.S. and Australia. If you look back through old archive photos there are some timeless shots of surfing at its best.
The fundamentals of modern day shortboard surfing in comparison to longboard could not be further apart. So what characterises a longboard? How do they differ from their shorter siblings? Are there pros and cons to taking the slower longer route? Who are they best suited for? Lets delve a little deeper and cover the long and the short of it.
Characteristics of a Longboard Surfboard
While not set in stone, longboards can range from 8’ up to as much as 14’ in length. With the different modern day hybrid board variations, some manufacturers put their own twists on longboard designs so a lot will come down to what you are looking to get out of your board in given surfing conditions.
Beyond length, one of the other more prominent longboard characteristics is a wider rounded nose which helps create a greater forward surface area and stable platform. Boards that are designed for nose riding which allows the surfer to cross-step and transition up and down the board, will also have more bottom curvature. This will give the board greater lift helping it to stay afloat on top of the waters surface. Some longboards are in fact designed with a concave nose that will pick up speed as the surfer transitions forward when they are noseriding.
The thickness and width of the boards will typically align to its length. Board widths can go up to 25” with the thickness ranging between 2.5” to 3.5”.
A thicker board will have a greater level of buoyancy so you’ll be able to float and glide on waves although they are correspondingly heavier and less easy to manoeuvre so it can be challenging to make the most out of the wave other than a nice easy ride.
The dynamics are similar when it comes to width. A wider board will offer more stability so is better suited to beginners. They perform better in junk or mushy waves where speed and manoeuvrability are not really a concern. Narrower boards are more challenging although they perform better in terms of speed and responsiveness and making the most out of bigger conditions.
While we do not intend going into board design and construction here, you’ll note from some of the recommendations below, that the design, materials and construction processes vary quite a bit. The most common surfboards (not just longboards) are still made with a foam core, centre stringer and coated in fibreglass / epoxy resin. As the performance characteristics of the board increase, so to do the design features, materials and build quality, but if your relatively new to surfing, we can park this for another day.
If we were to compare longboards to their shorter siblings:
- Great for beginners to learn on
- Easier to paddle and stand up on
- More ride time – pick up waves easier and more time on them
- Easier to pop-up on
- Suit older surfers – less demanding on the body given the likely style of desired surfing
- Better on smaller gentler waves or poor messy wave conditions
- Can handle multiple riders
- Less manoeuvrable
- Not as dynamic performance wise
- Cumbersome to carry and more challenging to transport or store
- Less ability to configure fins setups
- Not as easy to duck dive under waves
- More challenging on steeper or aggressive waves
|<< Perhaps take the short route with our Beginners Guide to Skimboarding >>|
In the Market for a Longer Ride?
Some of our picks for quality entry level and up boards follow. They represent a nice cross-section of longboards that shouldn’t break the bank.
- Length: 9’6”
- Width: 23.5”
- Thickness: 3.25”
- Volume: 92 litres
- Capacity: 300 lbs
- Fins: 9” Centre + 2 Outside FutureFins + Fin Key
- Leash: 10’ Straight Ankle with 7mm Cord
The Tortuga is a brilliant modern day hybrid longboard that caters well for the beginner through to seasoned longboarder. The customised wax-free fingerprint textured foam deck makes for easy maintenance and comfort under foot. The rounded out nose makes nose-riding effortless and the widened chest area creates greater volume making for easier pop-ups. A small nose rocker improves glide while the larger kicker rocker at the tail makes the board more manoeuvrable for better overall performance.
Key board features include: hybrid construction (glassed bottom deck / soft-top); light-weight precision shaped EPS closed-cell foam core; double I-Beam stringer system from nose to tail; bamboo or black apricot body armour exterior wooden layer for greater durability and heat resistance; dual layers of 6 oz fibreglass on top and bottom deck; hand tapered rails; heat release valve for additional heat damage prevention as well as a non-slip rubber die cut logo.
- Length: 9.0’
- Width: 24”
- Thickness: 3.50”
- Volume: 87 litres
- Capacity: Unspecified
- Fins: Single Centre FutureFin
- Leash: 10’ Straight Ankle
California based Boardworks have been in the market for in excess of 25 years and are a well reputed manufacturer of performance stand up paddle and surfboards. Their Froth series is available in short, fun and longboards ranging from 5’ through 9’ in length. Their Soft Top Longboard is a wave catching machine as they put it and caters for surfers of all levels.
At its core is a light-weight EPS foam with double wooden stringers for extra support and rigidity which is then encased in a laminated fibreglass epoxy resin to form the outer shell. The board is then wrapped in a premium soft EVA outer skin which is embossed with a custom honeycomb tail pad. The high density nose and tail block provide extra durability and safety while the boards triple concave shape, slick skin bottom and pronounced nose rocker all help create additional speed and great glide through the water.
- Length: 9.0’
- Width: 22.5”
- Thickness: 3.80”
- Volume: 65 litres
- Capacity: 250 lbs
- Fins: 9” FCS Centre + 2 FCS Side + Fin Key
- Leash: 9’ Straight Ankle
As part of their Pro-Series range of surfboards, the 9’ Panda Log Pro is South Bay Board Co.’s premium longboard. Best suited for intermediate to advanced surfers, the board is great for those looking to transition from soft tops to performance focused longboards. Experienced surfers will be able to comfortably perform aggressive turns, cross-step and ride the nose in the smallest surf conditions.
At the heart of the board is a CNC precision shaped light-weight closed cell EPS foam core. The two I-Beam stringers run from nose to tail and top deck to bottom deck. The core is wrapped in 2 layers of 6 oz fibreglass cloth and epoxy resin laminate followed by a great looking real bamboo body armour wooden layer on top and bottom deck with a clear epoxy resin as the final coat. The hand tapered carbon fibre wrapped rails make the board more durable yet again with all cleanup sanding and glassing done by hand.
- Length: 9.0’
- Width: 22.25”
- Thickness: 3.0”
- Volume: 70 litres
- Capacity: 250 lbs
- Fins: Single 9” Detachable Centre
- Leash: Not Included
Paragon Surfboards 9’ Retro Noserider (also available in 8’) has been built based on an old school traditional longboard and then modernised with a pulled in nose and tail, single bottom concave, modest front rocker and softer rails. This culminates in a nice light-weight easily manoeuvrable board that offers plenty of glide, performing well in all wave conditions including beachbreaks and pointbreaks.
The board is constructed using a high density EPS foam core and a single PVC composite stringer unlike traditional wooden stringers that we would typically see on other manufacturers boards. The composite material adds both strength as well as reduces weight making the board lighter and more nimble. Enveloping the core is a layer of fibreglass cloth which is bonded by Paragon‘s proprietary ParaLite Technology epoxy resin which makes the board stronger, lighter and creates more buoyancy when compared to a standard polyester resin.
- Length: 8’
- Width: 22.5”
- Thickness: 3.25”
- Volume: 81 litres
- Capacity: 200 lbs
- Fins: Detachable Tri-fin Bolt Thru Fin System
- Leash: Straight Velcro Ankle
Wavestorm are one of the most recognised surfboard brands in the U.S. offering a wide range of water-sports boards and apparel. At only 12.5 lbs, their 8’ Classic Longboard is an affordable incredibly light-weight entry level beginners surfboard that will definitely not put a hole in your pocket. Great for learning the fundamentals before you graduate to a higher performance board.
Constructed using heat lamination with a light-weight EPS foam core, the board contains a triple marine-ply stringer system for greater integrity, rigidity and strength. At 81 litres it offers a generous level of volume and buoyancy with boxy rails to further aid flotation and drive. The high density HDPE slick bottom skin provides further rigidity and helps promote glide. The top deck uses Wavestorm’s patented GFT™ (Graphic Film Technology) deck skin creating a great soft under foot surface which is perfect for beginners. The deck is then rounded out with a textured tail kick pad for better rear foot traction and control.
Whether you’re still wet behind the ears or a seasoned old schooler, longboarding is definitely here to stay which in our books isn’t a bad thing.
We hope you found this review of interest and as always would love to get your feedback and thoughts. Feel free to start a conversation below and we’ll get back to you asap.
Until then, stay safe and get wet.