Where To Buy A Surfboard | Buying A New Surfboard Off-The-Rack

Best place to buy a surfboard? If you want a new surfboard and you want it right now, an off-the-rack surfboard is your best bet

Buying a new surfboard off-the-rack, ie. straight out of a surf shop’s selection of stock surfboards, is generally the quickest and easiest way of buying a surfboard, and often it’s the best way. It depends on the surfboard you want and when you want it — you may find it makes more sense to order a custom surfboard or buy a second-hand surfboard.

Where To Buy An Off-The-Rack Surfboard

From a surf shop, either in person or online. Going to an actual store allows you to look at and feel and compare a number of different surfboards in the flesh, which for many surfers is a crucial part of the decision-making process. On the internet you have many more surfboards at your fingertips, but only at your fingertips in a figurative sense. There are several UK-based online stores with a huge range of surfboards in stock ready to be sent out at a moment’s notice, usually for free.

Of course you can always combine the two approaches, looking round the local surf shops first and considering the different models available, then turning to the internet if you can’t find the right dimensions for the model you decide on. Often surf shops can order in new boards from a sister store or distributor within a narrow time-frame.

Why Buy An Off-The-Rack Surfboard?

  • It’s all so simple. You walk into the shop and half an hour later walk out several hundred pounds lighter with a brand new surfboard under your arm. Or, if you’re ordering online, you enter your card details and several days later the postman turns up with your surfboard. No waiting for weeks as your custom order moves slowly up the queue at your local shaper’s factory; no delays because the glasser’s gone on holiday or your order form went missing.
Off-the-rack Channel Islands surfboards. Surely there’s at least one surfboard here you’d wanna take home? Photo: @hssshop
  • You know exactly what you’re getting, because it already exists and you can see it. You’re buying an actual surfboard, not a notional one — a surfboard you can feel, stroke, nibble, jiggle under your arm or hold up to your eye-line as you make earnest facial expressions and pretend to know what you’re looking for. A custom surfboard, on the other hand, is perfect in theory but in practice may look and feel different to what you had in mind.
  • It’s new, so there’s no hidden damage to worry about.
  • What with the internet and the proliferation of surf shops in popular surfing areas, the variety of off-the-rack surfboards at your disposal is vast, and you can almost always find something that more or less fits the bill; often you’ll be able to find the exact surfboard you would have ordered if you went custom. Shapers tend to have a series of standard shapes in their repertoire, all of which come in a fairly comprehensive range of set dimensions, getting longer in 1- or 2-inch increments. These are the models the shaper knows best, and the standard dimensions are the ones he’s decided go best together, so why tinker?
Want a new Slater Designs surfboard? You’ll have to buy one off-the-rack, because unless your name’s Kelly Slater, Tomo won’t be shaping you a custom one.
  • When you’re relatively new to surfing, your requirements will be less specific, your appreciation of the finer aspects of surfboard design non-existent. The advantages of going custom will be commensurately smaller.
  • Most surf shops hold surfboard sales every now and then, offering discounts on some of the older stock.

Why Not Buy A Surfboard Off-The-Rack?

  • Is something that “more or less fits the bill” really good enough when you’re about to fork out a large chunk of your monthly pay cheque? You may as well go direct to a shaper and get a surfboard that fits the bill in every particular, no?
  • Generally speaking, it’s no cheaper to buy a surfboard off the rack than it is to order a custom surfboard. Unless there’s a decent sale on at the shop, you won’t be saving any money.
For a made-to-measure surfboard that takes into account all your idiosyncrasies, custom is the way to go. Photo: iStock.
  • Every surfer is different— different size, different weight, different strengths and weaknesses, different style of surfing — and therefore has different requirements. An off-the-rack surfboard hasn’t been specially designed to meet these unique requirements.
  • Many shapers make very few surfboards for stock, preferring to focus their efforts on custom orders. If you have your heart set on a surfboard by a particular shaper, and he or she falls into this category, you may have no choice but to go for a custom.
  • Secondhand surfboards of the right shape and size are harder to find, but arguably represent better value for money.

Top Tips For Buying An Off-The-Rack Surfboard

  • Don’t feel the surfboards in the shop or take them out the rack without asking, it’s rude. And when you’re given permission, be gentle; don’t squeeze as hard as you can just to test out the glass job, leaving thumbprints on the deck.
  • Good surf shops employ knowledgable staff, and while they may not know as much about surfboard design as an actual shaper, they should still be able to offer useful advice. Talk to them, that’s what they’re there for. Even when buying online, you should be able to give the shop a call.

You May Also Like

The Pros & Cons Of Ordering A Custom Surfboard From A Shaper

The Pros & Cons Of Buying A Second-Hand Surfboard


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