A Twinny and Some Stylin' Mens Surf Threads.
Hey salty folk, and welcome to surf kids lesson three! In this part of our 'how to surf' series, I'll hit on every piece of surf equipment you and your grom need to get started surfing.
There's not a ton of equipment used in surfing, but as with anything, understanding your equipment is critical to your safety and success in the water, and equipment needs are constantly changing as we age and progress.
So, what do surfers need to ride a wave? Let's duckdive right into this surf equipment checklist, hitting on all the essentials required before your endless summer begins.
Essential Equipment Used in Surfing
The surfing gear necessities are the things that you absolutely need to surf, the must-have items, and the "I can't ride a wave withouts".
Once you check off these boxes, you can expand your surf equipment with surfing accessories that make ocean life easier and add variety and flair to surfing. But for now, let's start with the basics, yeah?
Surfboards are extremely intricate, diverse, and advanced pieces of equipment that require profound amounts of knowledge to understand in their entirety.
I'm still learning about surfboards and probably always will be, but here are a few points to take with you as a beginner.
First off, the longer the surfboard, the easier it is to surf. The increase in volume allows you to catch small waves in your early surfing stages and increases stability as you ride. Small boards require larger waves, better balance, and more skill. Don't start small and hinder your learning experience.
And second, foamies are the best surfboard for surf kids and beginner surfers. They are affordable, allowing you to test the waters (literally) before investing a hefty amount into a high-performance board, and they come with some beginner surfer benefits.
Foamies are super buoyant, allowing you to catch small, easy waves, and they can take a beating.
Their soft foam makes them way less intimidating, especially for the groms, as they won't fear a bonk on the head. That, and it's also safer for other surfers/swimmers in the water.
Once you are comfortable on a foamie, you can progress into standard epoxy and polyester surfboards. Your surfboard ladder will look a little something like this:
- Learn on a Foamie
- Progress to a Standard Longboard
- Move on to an epoxy/poly Mid-Length
- Discover Shortboard Basics with a Hybrid Shortboard
- Ripping on a Performance Shortboard
Oh, and if you're wondering about the average cost of surfing, I just hit on what to expect in terms of financial investment into the sport, where I also highlight some of the price points for various boards.
Our ancestors didn't have the luxury of riding boards with fins. Still, surfing wouldn't be the same without modern fin technology, now a massive part of the surfing gear industry.
Fins keep your surfboard secured within the energy source of the wave. This provides stability and control, preventing the board from freely spinning above the water's surface, allowing you to initiate directional changes on the face, aka, turns and hacks!
There are so many types of fins and various fin configurations, so take time to learn about these multiple personalities and how they affect your surfing.
Like my thruster set up, which I love when the waves get a little punchy, and how it took time in the water to gain this understanding!
In your early stages, a set of cheap, plastic fins will do just fine, but you will eventually look to enhance the quality of your fins once you are comfortable with your abilities to increase performance further.
Speaking of fins, this tiny little thing is a total must-have. Fin keys are your handy tool that tightens the fins into the fin box of your board.
With the new FCS II fin system, you don't need fin keys to swap out your fins. Simply pop 'em out and click em' back in.
But other fin types still require the classic key, and not every board has the FCS II fin box, so it's always necessary to have a fin key on your keychain!
A Classic Fin Key- The Smalles Piece of Surfing Equipment!
A Leg Rope
Strap your Leg Rope to your Back Foot!
A leg rope is a vital piece of surf equipment. Leg ropes are your and your grom's lifeline in the water!
Leg ropes, also known as leashes, attach your surfboard to your ankle. Therefore, when you bail or when a big set washes through, you won't have to swim to the beach, as your leg rope keeps your board secured to your body.
To size a leash, go for the same length or a touch longer than the size of your surfboard. Attach your leg rope to the tail of your board, secure it around the ankle of your back foot, and wash it thoroughly with fresh water after every session to extend its quality.
Traction pads stick to the tail of your surfboard, promoting grip to the back foot.
Featuring an angled lip on the back end, here is where you will secure your back foot over the fins, pushing hard into the tail to initiate directional changes and turns on the wave face without it slipping off.
You typically don't need to worry about trac pads for surfboards over 9" ft, as traction pads are primarily necessary for mid-lengths and performance surfboards requiring special attention to foot placement.
Traction Pads = Grip For Your Back Foot
Traction pads cover the back foot, but what about the front? That's why surf wax is a must-have in your surf gear bag!
Surf wax creates traction on the deck of the board. Without it, our front foot would entirely slip off. Choose your surf wax based on the temperature of the water.
Fun fact: Although sticky, the primary source of traction is derived from the lumps and bumps the wax creates across the board, not the stick itself. The bumps create friction between our feet and the deck, like the bottom of a frog's foot!
Waxless Traction Pad
A somewhat new piece of surfing equipment, some of us have said goodbye to surf wax altogether.
If you're a fan of innovation, you might like a waxless traction pad. Like a traction pad for the tail, thesee pads are placed on the deck of your surfboard to promote grip to the front foot. With them, you'll never have to worry about bringing wax to the beach again.
Bryxton Ripping in Her Wettie, Staying Warm! Check Our Instagram for more Salty Shreddin'
Unless you live in a tropical paradise, you'll need a wettie (and maybe booties+gloves) to keep you warm! Or more than one for the locations with wild temperature swings and all four seasons.
I love this temperature guide to wetsuits, as it really helps outline what thickness wettie you'll need depending on the average air/water temps where you live or plan to travel.
My advice? Take care of this delicate piece of surf equipment. Wetsuits won't last forever, so never change on the concrete, wash them out with fresh water after every surf, and practice proper wetsuit storage.
Sunscreen. Then, More Sunscreen
There will never be such a thing as too much sunscreen. With Australia flaunting some of the highest rates of skin cancer, we've got to do our best to protect ourselves and our groms from the 'dark side' of the sun.
I just talked about the best sunscreen for babies, and this went far beyond the scope of just lotion!
In addition to standard sunscreen, practice varying forms of physical sun protection. This might include shade, rash guards/wetties, beach hats, loose linen beach clothing, sunnies, etc.
As surfers, when it comes to the lotion, opt for natural, reef-safe mineral sunscreen (zinc is best!) without those nasty chemicals that do us more harm than good. Reapply often and cover every exposed area of your and your kid's skin, regardless of the weather.
Transporting your surf equipment might not be the easiest, depending on your car setup. Surf car racks, straps, and locks become a necessary part of your surf gear checklist if your boards don't fit in the car.
The good news is there are plenty of surf racks that don't require bars on your vehicle, so even two-door cars can fit a log on the roof. Besides, with melting wax and tons of sand, even if you can toss the boards in the backseat, I still highly suggest going for the surf racks.
Once you start surfing, where do you plan to keep your boards? Proper surfboard storage is critical to the longevity of your surf equipment. Never leave your boards outside, and never lean them up against a wall with the tail pressed onto the concrete.
A good set of surfboard racks for the home is highly suggested, allowing you to keep your boards in comfortable temperatures out of the sun and away from the weather. You can go for horizontal standing racks, but I prefer vertical wall racks with groms constantly running around the house.
Stylish Surf Clothes!
Not a necessity, but I had to throw it in there, didn't I?!
Embrace your newfound passion with clothing embodying your wave-riding lifestyle.
Seriously, though. Surfing will change your life outside the realms of just time spent in the water. It becomes who you are, and to most, it is our purpose. That's why we like to look the part, as really, we are surfing.
Beginner Surf Gear: The Summary
Cover everything on this list, and your family is ready to start surfing. In fact, you could surf a lifetime if you had everything on this list.
These surf gear essentials comprise the significant pieces of equipment required to surf. Sure, the accessories will follow, but accessories aren't necessary, are they?
So, start with what you need, learn the intricacies of our sport, and then you can add those fancy little surf accessories or flashy surfboards to your collection later.
For now, keep it simple and get out there!!
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Live rad, stay salty.
- Ash, Dev & The Salty Shreds Fam.