Sponsored by Gul.
The humble bodyboard. Simply lay flat, hold on tight, push off into a wave and ride it all the way to the shoreline. And then do it all again. And again. Or if you’re Mark Stewart, paddle into some of the biggest waves in the world and land ridiculous airs whilst you’re at it. But to clarify, we are going to be talking about the less extreme, but equally exciting pastime of beginner boarding. So if you’re a hardcore bodysurfing fanatic, this might not be for you…
Bodyboarding is a great way to first experience riding a wave without the added strain (both physical and financial) of hiring a 9ft foamie for the week. In short, it’s cheap and cheerful. But this has actually been to its detriment, with single-use plastic bodyboards taking over the lineup and littering our coastlines. With that, we are going to dive a little deeper into why it’s best to invest in a bodyboard, and why the polystyrene, nylon-clad alternatives aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
First, we think it’s a good idea to define what makes a ‘bad’ (or cheap) bodyboard and what makes a good one. The main difference being the materials used within the construction process. ‘Bad’ boards consist of two inches of cheap polystyrene with a nylon outer-layer and exterior plastic sheeting. You know the ones, usually with a cartoon shark saying ‘hang loose’ on the front. But that’s not the point.
The point is that these are incredibly weak and can break easily under the lightest strain. When you think about how much power even the smallest wave produces, you’re likely to snap the board after just one session. Over to Surfer Today for a little science lesson: “Imagine a 20-inch thick wave lip, only 3.2 feet wide, in a classic summer 3 foot wave. Total weight? A solid 500 kg” (surfertoday.com)*.
Compare that to a board from our good friends over at GUL, and you’re looking at a strengthened EPS core and HDPE bottom skin for added durability. It sounds impressive, right? It is. These things are built to withstand the waves, not just for a single session but a good few summers after that.
We understand that money is tight at the moment, and that’s why we want to help you invest in the right gear for the job. If not from us, then from another reputable watersports retailer, or even better - a local surf shop. We believe that it’s best to give the Disney inspired graphic stylings of the ‘supermarket specials’ a wide berth.
The thing to focus on here is how cost-effective a better bodyboard is. Let’s say you pick up a ‘bad’ board for £15, this is likely to last you a one week holiday at best. But if you buy a bodyboard that’s made to last at around £40 - £60, you’re going to get at least a handful of summers under the belt before looking for a replacement. Now I’m no Martin Lewis, but that sounds like a good deal to me.
This isn’t to say that these ‘better’ bodyboards are perfect. There’s still work to be done there. But they are a long stride in the right direction. The leash is less likely to snap, you can lend them to a friend without worry, and when you’re done, why not take a trip to your local charity shop. Pass on the baton (bodyboard) to the next generation.
Here at Watersports Outlet, we are proud to only sell from brands that produce high-quality, reliable bodyboards that are built to last. We also provide kids boards that are a perfect introduction to watersports. As well as a wide selection of wetsuits, rash vests, and wetsuit accessories suited to all the family.
We recommend the Gul Response Bodyboard Bag Bundle, as this is a solid 42-inch board that comes equipped with a handy carry case. That way you can keep your hands free for when your kids inevitably get bored of dragging their boards along the sand… But if you’re new to bodyboarding, it might be worth checking out our Beginner’s Guide to Bodyboarding, or reaching out directly to our expert team on 844-346-8683.
We hope this blog has helped make the decision process a little easier when looking to buy a set of bodyboards for summer adventures. Remember, if it’s got a picture of palm trees, dolphins, flames, or mermaids, it’s not really worth the effort.
*Surfer Today | Say “no” to low-cost, single-use bodyboards
**Keep Britain Tidy | Keep Britain Tidy fight back against polluting bodyboard ‘Wave of Waste’
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