What Equipment Do You Need for bodyboarding?

Bodyboarding is a sport that is great for the entire family, no matter what your age.

The sport can be as calm or extreme as you wish and doesn’t need much equipment to get started, although there are a few things that you can’t do without.

So, What Equipment Do You Need for bodyboarding?

To get started with bodyboarding, you will need, at the minimum, a correctly sized bodyboard, a board leash, some fins, and a wetsuit or rash vest.

Although these are the minimum requirements to begin bodyboarding, there is far more gear available that will make your bodyboarding journey far simpler.

Let’s take a look at some of the most important equipment you will need to go bodyboarding.

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What Equipment Do You Need for bodyboarding?

Essential Equipment To Go bodyboarding

Although a lot of the equipment available for bodyboarding is helpful, not all of it is necessary to get you into the water.

If you want to get bodyboarding as quickly as possible then the following equipment is the bare minimum that you will need.

The Bodyboard

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The first, most important, and largest piece of equipment you will need is a bodyboard and not just any bodyboard, but one that is the correct size, thickness, width, and material for you and your skill level.

Using a bodyboard that is suited for your size and the ocean conditions will make it easier to control, you will use less effort to paddle, and your board will perform to its optimum potential.

For example, bodyboards intended for large waves and huge airdrops are different from those designed for DK (drop knee) bodyboarding.

When choosing a bodyboard, other than your specific size requirements, you will have a choice of different bodyboard cores.

The most common bodyboard cores include:

Polystyrene

Polystyrene is the cheapest core used to make bodyboards and is an economic go-to.

These cores are typically used for low-quality, cheap, kids’ bodyboards that are covered in fabric (Fiberclad).

These boards are fairly brittle and are not suited for large or heavy swells.

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)

Another low-cost bodyboard core that is most commonly seen on entry-level boards.

EPS is stiff, but lightweight and buoyant which is perfect for jumping onto broken waves or catching smaller waves near the shore.

These boards are perfect for those who are new to bodyboarding but are not entirely ready to fully commit.

Although these boards aren’t the most durable, they do offer great buoyancy and decent flex.

Polyethylene (PE)

Polyethylene is the most common material found in bodyboard cores, especially in cooler climates, and is also the original core for the first bodyboards.

PE is lightweight (although heavier than PP), and highly flexible. The flexibility makes PE cores ideal for colder climates where the temperatures will stiffen the material.

High flex results in faster responsiveness in turns.

Polypropylene (PP)

Polypropylene (also known as Polypro) is more expensive than PE cores, but with the added price comes a stronger, lighter board that is more responsive.

PP and its variations are the go-to core for many pros as it offers the best performance and durability.

PP cores come in two types: Extruded PP and Beaded PP.

Other Bodyboard Cores

  • Kinetic Core: Made from premium grade Arpro Polypropylene resins.
  • NRG+: A cool water core designed for optimum performance through its cutting-edge expansion cell technology.
  • M Core: A lightweight and stiff core made from the combination of Arcel and Polypro.
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Fins

Once you have your board sorted you will need to get yourself some fins.

Although it is possible to bodyboard without fins, you will find yourself extremely limited.

Not using fins will limit you to bodyboarding in shallow surf in which you can stand in and jump onto the waves.

Bodyboarding fins have short, stiff, and wide blades with soft foot pockets. They should also include large drainage holes for water, sand, and small stones to leave if they get caught.

Although it is possible to use other fins such as diving or swim fins for bodyboarding, they won’t perform as well, and you will find that although they are easier to paddle with, they slow you down too much when you are on a wave.

Furthermore, fins with long blades make turning around slower, which in larger surf, can be dangerous.

The best bodyboarding fins will fit snug, but not feel too tight, have short, wide, hard blades, and include drainage holes for water, sand, and small stones to pass through.

Wetsuit/ Rash Guard

It is one thing to have your board and fins, but this doesn’t mean you are ready to jump into the water.

It is important to always have your safety in mind, and with this comes the use of protective gear such as a wetsuit or rash vest.

A well-suited wetsuit will keep you warm in colder water, which simply means more surf time, as well as keeps you protected from the sun’s UV rays.

If you find yourself bodyboarding in warmer climates, then a wetsuit may be too thick and could lead to you overheating.

In this case, you shouldn’t abandon your final layer of protection altogether, but instead, use a rash vest or half wetsuit.

Doing this will ensure you remain warm, but not too warm, as well as protect you from the sun and wind.

The best wetsuits for bodyboarding and surfing will fit snug and tight around the wrists, collar, and ankles, but not too tight as to restrict blood flow.

Furthermore, the thickness of your wetsuit should correspond with the water temperature you will be bodyboarding in.

Bodyboard Leash

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Many new bodyboarders will tell you that a leash isn’t an essential piece of equipment to go surfing, but if you want to progress quickly you will struggle to do so without a leash.

A bodyboard leash is used to keep your board close to you when you wipe out. Not using a leash will result in your board being carried back to shore, and in turn, a long swim for you to retrieve it.

This will waste valuable time and energy you could be spending catching waves or practicing other techniques.

Bodyboard leashes come in two types 

  • Bicep leash: Connected on the lower part of your bicep.

Wrist leashes are more common among beginner bodyboarders as it makes board retrieval easier, as well as among DK riders who need the extra length.

Bicep leashes, on the other hand, tend to be favored by prone riders as the leash is kept out of the way when paddling with their arms, and does not drag as much in the water when riding a wave.

Surf Wax

The final essential piece of equipment needed for bodyboarding is some surf wax.

Bodyboarders put wax on their boards to create friction between their body and the board, which prevents them from slipping on the smooth surface when it makes contact with water.

If you don’t wax your bodyboard before going into the water, you will have a difficult time remaining on your board when you paddle and duck dive.

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In small surf, this will be annoying and put a huge break on your progress, but in larger swell not using wax can be extremely dangerous.

Slipping from your board when dropping into a large wave or while duck diving under a monster can leave you in a nasty washing machine of turmoil.

If you don’t know much about wax, what it’s for, how to use it, and what to use, then it is best to familiarize yourself with surf wax before hitting the waves.

Helpful Bodyboarding Equipment

Some bodyboarding gear is essential, other bodyboarding gear simply makes our lives easier, and in some cases, cheaper in the long run.

Once you have all your essential gear and find that you still have some bodyboarding cash aside, you can consider investing in one or all of the following.

Fin Tethers

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Fin tethers are used to ensure you don’t lose your fins if they slip from your feet in a heavy wipeout.

Fin tethers are essentially short leashes for your fins.

Although your fins should fit snugly on your feet, you don’t want them to be too tight, which leaves the chance of them falling from your feet.

As fins are not cheap, and also an essential part of bodyboarding, losing one, or both of your fins will put a damper on your day, and possibly a pause on your bodyboarding altogether.

Even though most modern-day bodyboarding fins float, losing one in rough swell will be near impossible to recover, and at best will mean a long paddle back to shore with only a single fin.

Fin tethers aren’t expensive and can save you from constantly buying a new pair of fins.

Fin Socks

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Whether you are bodyboarding in cold water, your fins are slightly too large, or your fins are creating blisters, fin socks could be the answer.

Fin socks are simply thin neoprene socks (the same as your wetsuit material), that are used for your bodyboarding fins.

Fin socks are similar to reef shoes and surf booties but differ in the fact that they are thinner, and don’t have a rubber grip on their underside.

If you find that your fins are slightly too large, fin socks could help close the cap, as well as add extra cushioning to areas where your fin causes blistering or irritation.

Board bag/ Bodyboard Sock

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It is one thing to have all the gear you need to get in the water and start bodyboarding, but it is another thing to get all that equipment safely to the beach.

Of course, there is always the option of throwing everything loose into your car and heading down, but this is messy, time-consuming, and will leave your car covered in salty water and sand after your surf.

To keep everything in one place you should consider investing in a bodyboard bag, or at the least, in a bodyboard sock.

Just as using a surfboard bag is important to protect your surfboard, so is a bodyboard bag for the same reason.

Although bodyboards aren’t as fragile as surfboards, they can easily create and dent when not looked after.

Furthermore, some bodyboarding bags such as the Commando Bodyboarding Bag from “eBodyboarding” can store multiple boards, as well as includes pockets for your wetsuit, fins, towel, and a change of clothing.

All your bodyboarding equipment packed into a single carry bag is the perfect way to head down to the beach.

READ ALSO  Do I Need to Wax a Bodyboard? (&How To Wax)

Common Bodyboarding Equipment Questions

Although the above equipment will get you well on your way to getting into the water and riding your first wave, you likely still have some unanswered questions.

If this is the case then the following may put your questioning mind at ease.

What Thickness Wetsuit Do I Need?

As mentioned above, it’s important to use the correct thickness wetsuit to avoid getting too warm, or from getting too cold too quickly and missing out on the day’s waves.

The chart below is a rough guide as to what thickness wetsuit you should use in different water temperatures, but keep in mind that this may vary from person to person.

Water Temperature (°F)Wetsuit ThicknessSuggested Wetsuit
>72N/ARash Vest
65 – 750.5mm – 2/1mmJacket/ Shorty/ Long short
62 – 682mm – 3/2mmSpring Suit/ Full Suit
58 – 633/2mm – 4/3mmFull Suit & Boots
52 – 584/3mm – 5/4/3mmFull Suit, Boots, Gloves & Hood
43 – 525/4mmFull Suit, Boots, Gloves & Hood
42 and below6/5mm +Full Suit, Boots, Gloves & Hood

Can You Use Snorkeling Fins to Bodyboard?

As mentioned above, you don’t need bodyboarding fins to bodyboard, although using fins is always better than no fins.

If you are in a situation where you have other fins at home and can’t afford new ones, then you can use what you have.

It is possible to cut longer blades shorter or to simply use your snorkeling fins to bodyboard

They may not work as well, but they will definitely be better than kicking with your bare feet.

Does Bodyboard Size Matter?

The size of your bodyboard matters more than you would think.

If you use a board that is too small, it won’t be buoyant enough, and will therefore sink in the water.

If your bodyboard does not hold you high enough out of the water then you will experience a lot of friction.

This friction will make paddling require more effort for the same result, as well as slow you down too much when trying to catch a wave.

On the other hand, a bodyboard that is too large will be easy to paddle and travel quickly on top of the water but will be difficult to control, and when duck diving may be too buoyant to dip below the wave.

Furthermore, the size of your bodyboard will differ depending on what you will be using it for.

For example, DK bodyboards are wider and have thicker rails to assist you in getting your foot up and remaining balanced.

If you’re not sure what size bodyboard is best for you then the chart below can act as a rough guide.

Bodyboard LengthRider HeightRider Weight
32″110cm – 145cm20kg – 35kg
33″113cm – 148cm22kg – 37kg
34″115cm – 150cm25kg – 40kg
36″120cm – 151cm28kg – 45kg
37″123cm – 153cm30kg – 50kg
38″130cm – 155cm33kg – 55kg
38.5″135cm – 158cm35kg – 58kg
39″138cm – 160cm38kg – 60kg
39.5″140cm – 163cm40kg – 65kg
40″157cm – 170cm42kg – 72kg
41″160cm – 178cm55kg – 85kg
42″168cm – 183cm70kg – 100kg
42.5″170cm – 189cm70kg – 115kg
43″172cm – 192cm75kg – 125kg
43.5″175cm – 194cm75kg – 130kg
44″175cm – 195cm80kg – 135kg
45″185cm – 200cm85kg – 140kg
>46″190cm – 215cm+90kg – 145kg+

Keep in mind that these are estimates, and depending on your personal situation and preference, your ideal size may differ.

What Surf Wax Should I Use?

As mentioned above, it is essential to use surf wax on your bodyboard if you wish to remain attached to it while in the water.

That being said, not all surfboard wax is suited for all conditions.

Bodyboarding is done in a variety of conditions, so there is wax for different conditions.

Using a wax that is too soft in warm climates will result in the wax melting off your board and smearing when being applied.

On the flip side, using a hard wax in cold climates will be difficult to apply and won’t stick properly to your bodyboard.

If you don’t know what wax to use, you can refer to the wax temperature guide below.

Type of Surf WaxRecommended Water Temperature
Base coatUsed as a primary layer in all temperatures.
Cold water wax<14°C (58°F)
Cool water wax12-20°C (54-69°F)
Warm water wax17-25°C (63-78°F)
Tropical water wax>24°C (75°F)

Final Thoughts

Bodyboarding is an easy sport to get into and doesn’t require a huge amount of expensive equipment.

Once you have yourself a few essentials such as a bodyboard, fins, a wetsuit, and a leash, you are ready to take your first step into the water.

As a beginner bodyboarder, using the correct equipment will massively increase your progression, and if you stay dedicated, will get you to the backline in no time.

If you are struggling to improve your bodyboarding or are not sure what the next step to take is once you have your bodyboarding gear, these tips for new bodyboarders may push you in the correct direction.

If you want to start bodyboarding, you know what you need, so what’s got you waiting?

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