Longboarding is the O.G style of surfing. The ancient Polynesians dug out huge wooden planks to slide down wave faces “longboard-style” literally hundreds of years ago.
Even when surfing was modernized in the early 20th century, and fine-tuned in the 1950s, you better believe it that every surfboard being ridden was over 9 ft in length.
In fact, it wasn’t until the late 60s, and into the early 70s that surfboards started to dramatically drop in size as young surfers were hungry for a new way to carve the wave face.
However, idling underneath all the radical stuff, longboarding has been trimming a cruiser line since the beginning of surfing time.
As surfers are now looking to the past for surf-craft inspiration, the old style of surfing is becoming cool again and longboards are being sold across the world like Sunday morning hotcakes.
Especially for beginners who like the idea of surfing, but don’t fancy throwing themselves in the deep and powerful end, longboarding is the perfect entry into surfing. An entry that is so much fun, that many have a hard time surfing anything else other than their longboard.
That’s why we’ve decided to let you in on the time-certified, tried, and tested longboard dimensions so you don’t miss out on all that cross-stepping fun.
Also known in the surf world as “logs”, longboards are every surfer’s best friend. Not only does their larger-than-life size allow beginners to find their feet, but they’re naturally wave-catching machines too.
This means even experienced surfers can have fun riding waves that would otherwise be classed as “unsurfable” on their shorter surfboards.
Surfing more is the key to happiness for all surfers, which is what makes owning a longboard the reason behind enjoying a long and prosperous surfing life.
What Longboard Length Is Best For Beginners?
Although longboards come in a vast sizing variety, anywhere from 8 – 12ft in length, the ideal length for a beginner is generally 9’4”. 9’6” is a very common length for longboards, and beginners benefit from a longboard that is just shy of this.
Why you might ask? Because, when learning to longboard, you won’t necessarily be cross-stepping your twinkly toes toward the nose straight away, so a longer longboard isn’t necessary.
Starting out with a longboard that is a little shorter will make it easier for you to handle both in and out of the water. The exceptions to this rule come when a rider is particularly light or heavy.
If you weigh around the 130-pound mark, then shaving two-four inches off your first longboard will make the learning curve more enjoyable. The same can be said for the bigger guys and gals – opting for a 9’6” will give you a little more stability underfoot.
What Longboard Length Is Best For Experienced Surfers?
Every surfer who puts fun at the top of their reasons for surfing has a longboard in their quiver. It’s no secret that summer in California, Florida, and every other American state with a coastline doesn’t exactly produce pumping swells.
In fact, summers are generally plagued by weeks of small waves, with an occasional spike in swell that would warrant surfing a shortboard.
This noticeable lack of swell through the summer is the ultimate case for sliding a longboard into your quiver. Surfers who don’t let small waves and below-average conditions stop them from surfing will keep their surf-stoke alive and thriving through any summer slump.
And you want to be that surfer, trust us.
Although experienced surfers have more wriggle room when it comes to longboard length, 9’6” is a popular length for a reason.
Seen as the perfect mid-way point between performance and nose-riding ability in small-wave conditions – picking up a 9’6” from your local log shop is never a bad idea (which makes it always a good one).
If you intend to surf mini peeling point break waves then naturally you’re going to want a longer board of 10ft+ to noseride. The same can be said for experienced surfers searching for a progressive style of longboarding in waves with a little bit of juice.
Scaling down to a longboard in the 8-9ft range will give you this in spades.
As we said, longboards can reach staggering heights of 12ft in length. For slow-peeling waves at Southern Californian surf breaks like Swami’s and San Onofre, maybe, just maybe you might want to surf a 12ft longboard.
However, we wouldn’t recommend this for first-time longboarders as it’s a whole lot of board to handle. Paddling one out in a crowded lineup without longboarding experience is an easy way to cause an unnecessary collision.
This is because turning a 12ft longboard can be compared to steering a boat. For this reason, even experienced shortboard surfers should stick to longboards below 10ft until they learn the logging ways.
What Longboard Width Is Best?
Although longboard width is generally determined by length, learning what to look out for is never a silly idea. 23” is considered the sweet spot for a lot of modern longboards.
Lighter, more responsive longboards you will find at 22”. While stable, beginner-friendly longboards can be as wide as 23 ¾” at their widest point.
Again, if you’re a heavier surfer then a wider longboard won’t hurt. Just as the reverse on the lighter end could be exactly what the doctor ordered. You should be suspicious on any longboard over 24” (except for the 11ft – 12ft giants).
Because, at 24” wide, most longboards will be akin to surfing planks of wood just like the ancient Polynesians did.
There’s a reason why surfboard design has moved on from its humbling beginnings – surfing steadfast planks of wood isn’t what’s cooking (or what the doctor ordered).
What Longboard Thickness Is Best?
The last piece to the sizing-up longboard puzzle is their thickness. Again, any longboard made by a reputable shaper will have its width and thickness scaled according to its length, but knowledge on the subject is always welcomed (especially when starting out).
The key to longboard thickness is erring on the side of caution. In general, the majority of modern longboards are shaped 2.5” to 3” thick.
You can find them a little thinner and a little thicker, but, for the most part, they will sit pretty between these two measurements.
The thicker the longboard the more floaty it will feel when riding and paddling it (which is good news for beginners). If you are already a competent surfer, a longboard around the 2.5” mark will give you a responsive ride.
Again, rider weight plays a factor in all of this thickness business, so scale up or down accordingly.
So there you have it, you are officially primed and ready to pick a suitable longboard up. One that caters to your surfing ability, weight, and desired style of longboarding. Whether you’re looking for a responsive 9ft carving weapon.
Or, a super cruisy 10ft longboard that’s perfect for learning the fine art of noseriding on. We hope this article has been a useful stepping stone in guiding your feet and dreams there.