What Size Bodyboard Is Right For Me

The first question you should ask yourself when buying your first bodyboard is: “What size bodyboard should I get?” Going for a certain board just because someone said it’s “awesome” because it has a cool design or because it’s popular with your friends is not the best idea. You will waste both time and money!

Think again!

You need a comfortable, ergonomic and reliable bodyboard so you can go full throttle and get maximum thrill and tons of fun on the waves once you try the increasingly popular sport of bodyboarding.  

We’ll help you make an informed decision about what size boogie board you need, give you some useful explanations and tips, and, hopefully, you’ll be riding the ocean waves in no time!

Check out our review of 19 pool floats for maximum fun!

What size bodyboard do I need?

When it comes to bodyboard length, the most common advice is to buy a board which measures from the floor right to your belly button. In most cases, this is a solid advice.

However, in some cases, this generalization might not be the only rule to follow. This is because of various types of body shapes and sizes. 

For example, if you are in your mid-teens you are probably growing fast getting a skinny figure. Because of this, your legs are longer than in an adult who has stopped growing and if you measure the board simply based on this guideline, the board may turn out to be too long once you’re in the water.

On the other hand, if you’re short and on the chubby side, the board measured up to your belly button might actually be too small to use efficiently and comfortably. The board might have too little buoyancy for you if you have a few extra pounds and you will need a bigger board.

Both the length as well as the width of your board will make a huge difference to your performance. Another way to consider the proper length of the board is to hold it out in front of you. Your perfect bodyboard should reach from your knees up to your chin.

You should still check this size chart for the exact board dimensions for your height and weight, but remember that these measurements are only meant to serve as guidelines.



Board Length (inches) Your Weight (lbs) Your Height (ft.’ & in.”)
32″-34″ 40-64 Under 4′
36-38″ 65-85 4′-5′
39″ 86-115 4’6″-5’2″
40″ 110-130 5’3″-5″6″
41″-41.75″ 125-170 5’7″-5’9″
42″ 145-180 5’9″-6’0″
42.5″ 160-190 5’10”-6’2″
43″ 170-210 6’1″-6’3″
44″ 180-270 6’2″-6’4″
45″ 195-255 6’3″-6’6″
46″ 220+ 6’4″+

Make sure to consider additional factors such as your riding style. What works for your friend may not work for you.

You also need to consider getting different boards for different for different waves. The shorter the board the more your legs will be trailing in the water behind you. This will cause drag and slow you down. If you surf in a variety of conditions and your budget allows, you should aim to have one larger board for small waves, a normal-sized board for average waves, and one smaller board for big waves.

Here are a few examples of considerations:

Type of Wave

If you’re going to be riding big waves, you should choose a shorter bodyboard. A smaller bodyboard will give you much more control and agility because more of your body will be in the water if you are using a shorter board.

For a beginner who will probably start off with tackling small waves, a longer board will provide more buoyancy and stability in the water.

Type of Riding: 

Once you get more confident and more adventurous and feel like mastering more than the classic prone riding position, you should select a longer board for dropknee and standup riding.

What size boogie board should I buy as regards its width?

The general rule of thumb is that your bodyboard should fit snugly under your arm when carrying it. All though we agree with this, there is a bit more to it to consider.

Taller people often have longer arms and not all of us have ideal proportions so not every board that fits under your arm will be the perfect size for you. However, if it doesn’t fit under your arm and it is difficult and uncomfortable to carry, there is something definitely wrong with the size.

If the board fits well under your arm that means that your hand can comfortably grab the board’s bottom rail. If you can’t grab the rail, chances are the board is too big. On the other hand, if there is a large gap between the top rail and your armpit, the board is way too narrow.

Whether the board feels comfortable, snug and easy to carry is a good thing to consider for improving your board-handling skills out of the water, as well. If your bodyboard is not easy to carry, it’s likely that you’ll often drop it, which makes the board prone to surface dings and dents.

Not being able to carry your bodyboard under your arm might also make you feel less confident when you’re just about to hit the waves. Boosting your confidence by feeling comfortable when you are carrying your bodyboard can easily be achieved by choosing the right width and length.

As for the weight in relation to width, heavier riders should go for a board with a wider board for more flotation.

From a bodyboarder’s perspective, which comes to play once you get more experience in this dynamic water sport, wider boards are better for smaller waves and narrow boards are much better for bigger waves.

More flotation helps you get through slow sections while in bigger waves you will already have enough power from the wave and it’s more important to control the board as much as possible.  Narrow makes it easier to turn in steeper and hollow waves.

How to choose the right length and width bodyboard from home?

For those of you who intend to benefit from a wide variety of bodyboards on the Internet and buy one or two from your home, the above guidelines still apply, but we suggest that you do take these measures before ordering your board:

  1. Floor to your belly button/knees to your chin – for length
  2. Palm of your hand to your armpit – for width (bear in mind 2-inch thickness of the board)

If you’ve got free time and nothing to do at the weekend, you can also try this simple DIY board dimensions check.

You’ll need one Styrofoam board, about 2 inches thick.

Start with 45 inches in length and 25 inches in width and cut it until it gets to the right dimensions for you according to our guidelines above. Once it fits as regards both length and width, write down the dimensions and use them when shopping online.

What are boogie boards made of?

Bodyboards have evolved since their invention by Thomas Morey and mid 80’s when people could buy cheap and fragile boards made of expanded polystyrene everywhere, from specialized shops to supermarkets.

Today, bodyboards have a great variety of shapes and sizes and are made of new improved materials. Bodyboards can be shaped, just like a surfboard, to get the best hydrodynamic performance possible in board parts called the rails, nose, deck and tail.

The most important core materials found in modern bodyboards are beaded cores, extruded foam, extruded polyethylene, polypropylene and Arcel.

Extruded polyethylene is also commonly known as Dow Core or PE Core. These have been the most famous bodyboard materials ever. Today, PE Core is mostly found in bodyboards for beginners.

Polypropylene – also named PP and Polypro – offers extruded and beaded models. Memory is the most important advantage of this core bodyboard material. PP is water resistant, durable and lightweight.

Bead cores in bodyboards have a few good advantages: they make boards water resistant, durable and offer great stiffness but also flex and memory. Beaded foams are, however, quite expensive and less buoyant.

The extruded foam adds flotation and softens the impact of aerial moves. However, this inexpensive material may absorb water and damage the entire bodyboard.

The bottom of the board is usually Surlyn® with one or two stringers inside and channels on the bottom of the board.

What bodyboard should I buy?

There is no straightforward answer to this question. The choice depends on various factors. Whether you are a beginner or a pro bodyboarder, there will be quite a few boards on the market to choose from.

We strongly advise you to read our thorough review of latest bodyboards. We covered top models’ specs and features, as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

There are additional board features to consider.

The nose of the board needs to be fairly wide for a prone board because you are drive and pivot off it, like when you do spins or bank reverses.

The tail of your board also plays an important role in control and stability. A “crescent tail” board has a lot more control and sticks to the wave but it’s very rigid and doesn’t spin as easily when you are doing moves such as a backflip. “Bat tails” give you less control but releases and spins much easier. A bat tail has an overall looser feel and on bat tail boards, the width should be medium-sized.

So, as you can see, there are boards for every style, proficiency, and type of bodyboarding you’ll be into. Find the board that suits you and hit those waves!

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Aleks Stanic

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