Surfing is an outdoor sport which requires one of the most minimal gear setups.
With the sport dating back to the 1700’s, in medieval Polynesia the best surfer would be presented a wooden surfboard made from the best tree in the village.
Surfing gear has evolved a great deal over the centuries but retains its minimalist value.
ESSENTIALS 1. Surfboard
The number one essential equipment for any surfer is the surfboard. This is the magic carpet that will let one glide over the waves.
A surfboard has 3 parts to it- the nose, tail and fins. The front tip is called the nose, the back is called the tail, and there are one or more fins under the board helping the surfer in balance and drive. Modern surfboards are typically made of polyurethane foam.
Surfboards come in over 5 types- Longboards, Shortboards, Funboards, The Fish, The Gun, to name a few. Selection of board is based on wave conditions and skill/experience of the surfer.
The mostly commonly available boards at any surf school in India are the long and shortboards.
As the name suggests, longboards typically have a length of over 8-9 feet. They are heavier, having more foam volume, thus giving better balance. It is ideal for beginners and for low wave conditions. However, the weight of the board makes it difficult to maneuver.
> Shortboards With a length ranging from 5-6 feet, shortboards are ideal for experienced surfers and bigger waves. The lightness of the board makes it easier for turns, but also makes it difficult to balance, especially when the surfer is just beginning out. Shortboards also need a good amount of swell under it to propel the board forward.
The purchasing price of a longboard starts around INR 15,000, and of a shortboard from around INR 5000. Due to the high price and low mobility of surf boards, many beginner surfers prefer to rent out the board at the surf school.
A leash is an essential accessory that connects the board to the surfer’s back leg. This ensures the board stays close to the surfer in case of a washout.
3. Rash vest and boardshorts
As the name suggests, a rash vest is like a t-shirt worn by surfers to protect against rash from the sun, and from constant friction of the upper body with the surfboard while paddling. This also helps in keeping the surfer warm against the cool wind and water. For lowers, quick dry shorts/ swim shorts that are comfortable and stretchable are ideal for surfers.
Surfers regularly apply wax on their boards to allow for better traction and grip while riding and paddling. Some modern boards come with a traction pad on the board surface and need not be waxed.
Being a surface sport, surfers spend long durations exposed to the sun without any shade to protect them. Hence, sunscreen is an essential item in any surfer’s pack. An oil-based spray sunscreen is easy to apply and feels light in the sun, as compared to a cream based sunscreen.
Professional and advanced surfers use additional gear. Some of these include- b) Surf watch, for measuring speed and forecasting surf conditions c) Surfboard bag, for protecting the surfboard from accidents while carrying around d) Wet suit, boots, gloves, hood, ear plugs, needed while surfing in cold waters e) Waterproof camera, to film oneself and analyse mistakes
Quicksilver, Rip Curl, Billabong, Patagonia, O’Neill are some of the leading surf gear brands in the world.
Want to get started into the world of surfing? Check out AdventurePlay's Surf Programmes and feel the stoke :)
Nitisha Sethia is an outdoor sport practitioner and founder of AdventurePlay. Ex-McKinsey & Co. and IIM Ahmedabad, Nitisha left her corporate job to follow her passion in the outdoors.
Adventure Play is a one-stop platform to discover and play outdoor sports in Asia.