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Equipment Needed to Surf

The right equipment makes a massive difference in your surfing, and surfing equipment spans far beyond only your surfboard. If you're new to surfing, you might not know where to start in terms of ensuring you have all the beginner surfing gear, so we'll lay it out clean and simple for you in this guide.

Check off all the boxes, and consider yourself set and ready to rip.

The Surfboard

I know, we just said there's more to surfing equipment than a surfboard, but your board is the single most critical piece of surf gear required to surf. Unless you plan to bodysurf, you need a solid stick under your feet to catch and ride those peeling beauties.

For the beginners out there, you need to dictate your surfboard choice according to your skill level and current inexperience. This means big, stable, and floaty surfboards, generally categorized as fun shapes of longboards.

Foam surfboards are seriously one of the best places to start out, as they are the easiest boards to ride when mastering the basics, and they won't bang up your (or someone else's!) head up when you ditch your board.

If/when the time comes to progress past a foam surfboard, then it's time to step things up for a little more performance on a wave. Check out our "Guide to Beginner Surfboards" when you're ready to up your surfing game and take things to the next level with a more advanced piece of surfing equipment.

Surfboard Fins

Fins keep your board locked into the wave, the key component in promoting hold on a wave, and allow for the turns and maneuvers you see in any form of surfing. A surfboard isn't complete without the right set of fins, and fins are a critical piece of equipment needed to surf.

Most beginner surfboards come with simple plastic fins. These totally do the job as you're gaining experience in the water, but eventually, you're going to need more advanced surf equipment to handle larger waves and to dictate more performance.

Fins are technologically advanced and seriously innovative, and there's a hell of a lot that goes into choosing the right fin based on your surfboard fin configuration, your surfing desires, skill level, and wave conditions. Once you've found your next surfboard, choose the perfect set of fins in "The Definitive Surfing Fin Guide".

The Leash/Legrope

A surfboard leash is your lifeline in the water, keeping your board securely and safely attached to your leg. If there was ever an essential piece of beginner surfing equipment, the leash is it!

We cover absolutely every aspect of surfboard leashes, including:

  • The history of leashes
  • Components of a leash
  • Different types of surfboard leashes
  • Sizing a surfboard leash
  • How to set up a leash

In our all-inclusive "Ultimate Guide to Surfboard Leashes".

Surf Wax

Surf wax might be the smallest, cheapest piece of surfing equipment on this checklist, but man will your life be hell if you don't have an adequately waxed surfboard!

Wax promotes friction between your feet and the deck of the surfboard, therefore reducing the chance of slipping off the board and bailing. There are different types of waxes depending on the water temperature and a certain method of waxing a surfboard, of which we cover both in the "Ultimate Guide to Waxing your Surfboard".

Traction Pad

A traction pad does a similar job as surf wax but is a more permanent form of this anti-slip surfing equipment. Placed on the tail of your surfboard, traction pads keep your back foot from slipping out and feature an angled lip to press your foot into when initiating turns for more power and control over the board's movements.

Wax Comb

Another little piece of equipment needed for surfing is a wax comb. Wax combs create bumps across the wax currently on your surfboard, increasing the friction and stick of the wax, and are excellent little tools to keep you from having to re-wax your surfboard with a fresh coat over and over again.

Surfboard Bad

If someone said that a surfboard bag isn't a must-have item of surfing equipment, then they're wrong. A good surf bag protects your best friend from damage and wear, whether it be from the sunshine, from bumpy car rides to remote spots, travel, or storage, promoting the longevity of your surf gear.

Do note, however, that a surf sock is slightly different from a surfboard bag. A surf sock is a soft, sock-like casing for your surfboard, best for your daily runs to the beach and simple home storage. However, a surfboard bag is a piece of surfing equipment meant for greater board protection due to its padding technology and is more commonly used for long-distance travel or long-term storage.

The more you take care of your surfer gear, the more you'll get out of it, so don't sleep on a surfboard bag/sock when gathering your equipment needed to surf.

SurfWear

Surfing equipment is more than just what is needed for a complete surfboard- it's also about what you wear in the water.

Board Shorts/Surf Bikini

You should absolutely invest in a pair of board shorts or a bikini made by surfing companies and meant for surfing. You might think that a cheap bathing suit will have you covered, but it really won't (literally). Surfer gear prevents your bathing suit from slipping off of your body after taking a digger (did someone say skinny dipping?!), and most importantly, it helps to prevent uncomfortable chafing common with standard ocean apparel not meant for sport.

Rash Guard

If you're not surfing in an area of cold water, you still might want to consider a rash guard as a piece of beginner surf gear. When you first start out surfing, your stomach is not used to the rub and friction against a surfboard, and this causes some seriously painful abdomens and nipples.

You can help prevent this to the greatest extent possible with a rash guard, and rash guards also double as sun protection, a surfing equipment two-for-one.

Plus, if there's a touch of chilly wind blowing, a rash guard helps keep you warm.

Wetsuits

Unless you're in the tropics, chilling in Costa Rica or hangin in Hawaii, a majority of surf spots throughout the world will require a wetsuit. As soon as things get chilly, throw on the rubber.

Staying warm is a vital aspect of surfing for long periods of time, and for the dudes and dudettes in frigid climates, the right wetsuit can quite literally mean life or death. That, and surfing is simply more fun when you're comfortable!

The wetsuit you choose depends on the time of the year and the air/water temperature, so adhere to all wetsuit temperatures and sizing guides accordingly so that they fit well and you know exactly what limits you can push with each particular wetsuit thickness.

Sun Protection

Sunburn, discomfort, skin cancers. We love some of that warm sunshine on our faces, but the sun is a serious ordeal. Too much of it, and some pretty gnarly adverse reactions follow.

Every time you paddle out, even if it's for a quick sesh or if the clouds are out, it is entirely essential that you have the proper sun protection.

Rash guards and wetsuits take care of your body, but you should still consistently apply a layer of sunscreen on any exposed area of skin, and if you're wearing only a bathing suit in those warm summer months, lather up your entire body.

We dig deep into sun protection, so check it out in our "Ultimate Sun Protection Guide".

Sun protection isn't just surfing equipment; it's a lifesaver.

Now it's Time to Surf!

Take your time in putting together the puzzle of equipment needed to surf by going one piece at a time.

Once you have everything needed for your surfboard, visit our article "How to Set Up a Surfboard" to learn exactly how to use/install the varying pieces of surfing equipment before paddling out.

Then, start with part 1 of our educational surfing series aimed at helping to teach you how to surf with "How to Surf for Beginners- Basic Tips and Surfing Etiquette" to dial in some basics before progressing into the following parts of the how to surf series.

Have fun, stay salty, and always keep the stoke alive!