Okay, so, you’ve bought your surfboard and wetsuit. What next? There are number of other beginner surf accessories you’ll need in order to complete your surf setup. As a beginner surfer we understand that navigating the world of surf accessories can be a mine field.
The biggest challenge we faced when starting out was understanding which surf accessories were integral when it came to having a complete setup. Let’s face it, there are a lot of surf accessories out there that are more “cool” than essential.
On this page we’ll break out the beginner surf accessories into two distinct sections. These will help you easily identify which accessories you’ll require as an essential part of your surfing and the ones which are more nice-to-have.
Please see our accessories quick links below:
Essential Surf Accessories
You’ll need one of these if you want to ensure you don’t lose your board. Leashes also help minimise the risk your board can pose to other surfers in the water. Surfboard leashes come in different thicknesses depending on what type of waves you are surfing and board you are riding.
Larger waves and a larger board equate to a thicker and longer leash and vice versa. The length of the leash should equate to the length of the board you are riding. E.g. An 8ft board warrants an 8ft leash. However, beginner surfers should increase the ratio of leash length to board length.
As a beginner surfer we advise getting a leash about 1ft longer than the board you are riding. This creates a safer environment in the waves whereby the board has a longer range in which to float away from your body.
This is very important because when you’re learning you’re going to be wiping out a fair bit, and so mitigating against the risks of the board hitting you in the water important, even if you’re using a foam board.
Bear in mind longer leashes are not conducive to high performance as they create more drag in the water. Leashes will also stretch over time, particularly if you’re surfing in big and powerful waves.
This brings to mind that scene from the surf movie “The Endless Summer” where Wingnut’s leash gets super-stretched after surfing in huge waves in Indonesia. Leash thickness isn’t that important for a beginner surfer, as it’s unlikely that you’re going to be surfing in big waves on a consistent.
If however you think you are, then we advise going for a leash that is one or two inches thicker than the standard girth of 7mm.
If you need to buy a leash for a longboard or Mini Mal then we recommend the Dakine Kainui. This leash has all the “bells and whistles” including a double brass swivel, triple wrap rail saver (protects your surfboards rails from getting damaged), and a key pocket in the leash cuff. It comes in both 9ft and 10 ft lengths.
If you need to buy a leash for a shortboard, then we recommend going for the Ho Stevie! leash. Not only it is a great quality leash that comes in a multitude of different lengths, but Ho Stevie’s story is great.
He’s basically a one-man-band selling surf apparel online, simply because he loves surfing. This leash has a super comfy cuff, has a key pocket and comes in four different colors.
If you are buying a soft top surfboard then in many cases they come with fins. Buying fins won’t be a necessity to begin with. Make sure you check this when buying the board. For all other boards buying fins will be imperative.
Moreover, it is also a good idea to always have a spare set of fins at hand. They can break easily, and without a complete fin setup surfing won’t be much fun. We talk about fin sets because fins can only be bought in sets of three.
The most important thing to know when buying fins for your board is that there is not a universal fin fitting system. Except for integrated fins (fins that are molded into the surfboard), all fins need to fit into a fin box.
There are two fin box systems that currently exist, namely, single tab (also known Futures) and dual tab (also known as FCS) fin boxes. It’s therefore important to know which fin box system your board has before making a purchase.
The price of fins is determined by how performance oriented they are. Fin performance hinges on weight and stiffness of fin. The lighter and stiffer a surf fin is the more performance orientated it is.
As a beginner surfer, we advise just going for a standard fin (nothing too expensive), as it’ll be difficult to really get much out of a performance driven fin when you’re learning. Fins are easy accessories to upgrade on. When you start to progress you can then look to buy stiffer and lighter fins.
Single Tab Fin Box (Futures)
This fin box consists of one rectangular slot where the fin is secured using one screw that sits at the head of the fin. This fin box system allows quick and easy fin fitting.
Dual Tab Fin Box (FCS)
Like the name says this fin box consists of two slots and the fin is secured using two screws that sit on either side of the fin box. This fin system has been around the longest. You’ll find the largest scope of choice and price with this fin box system.
If you’re looking for either a single or double tab fin set that is great value for money then we recommend going for the Ho Stevie! fin set. We’ve recommended one of his leashes above which may look like us and Ho Stevie! are very friends, but we’re not (hopefully we can meet up for a surf someday though).
The guy makes great products at affordable prices and most of the Amazon reviews reflect this sentiment. That’s why his surf accessories get the vote from us. His fins come in both polymer or fibreglass. They polymer and fibreglass fin set both be bought on Amazon.
If you’re after a fin set with more colour or want to go for one of the more established brands then check out the selection below.
If you’ve got a foam board, then in most cases surf wax won’t be necessary, although there are some foam boards which you can use surf wax on for added grip. When you buy the board this information is made clear. All PU and epoxy boards will require surf wax.
Surf wax will give you the necessary grip to ride waves. The type of foam used on foam boards tends to offer a surfer enough grip without the addition of surf wax. There are loads of different surf wax brands, all with different smells and colors.
The most important thing to know when buying a surf wax is that there are waxes for different water temperatures. There are warm (tropical) and cold water surf waxes, and to get the most out of your surfing, you’ll need to ensure you use the appropriate wax depending on where you are surfing.
When it comes to brands, there are really four major brands which dominate this market, and for most surfers it simply comes down to personal preference as they all offer the same range of warm and cold water wax’s.
Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax is arguably the most iconic of all the wax brands. It was founded in California in the 1970’s and since since then has been a preeminent part of surf culture.
Sticky Bumps offers a large range of surf wax products, from first traction to ultra sticky surfboard solutions. It was founded in 1972 and is family owned and operated
Mrs. Palmers hails from Australia and brought it’s first wax stick to market in 1988.
Bubble Gum Surf Wax was created in California in the summer of 1984. Like the name suggests this smells like bubblegum.
Surfboard bags have multiple benefits. Apart from the obvious ones of protecting your board from damage and making it easier to travel with your board, board bags also come in very handy in protecting your board from the sun and sand when chilling on the beach after a surf.
Direct contact with sunlight will cause the wax on your board to melt. Sand will seamlessly stick to the wax on your board. These are two other good reasons for getting a foam board as your first board.
For Mini Mals and Longboards we recommend the Curve Surfboard Bag because it is excellent value for money. It is also made with a 7mm foam core in the body. It has 20mm foam thickness at the tip and the tail of the bag providing protection where your board needs it most.
It has a nice thick and robust zipper as well as an internal wax pouch. The bag comes in 7’6″, 8’2″, 8’8″, 9’2″, 9’6″, and 10’2″ lengths and sells on Amazon.
For a shortboard bag we recommend going for Curve’s Shortboard Bag. This bag is a little thinner than it’s longer brother. It’s 3mm thick in the core and has a 600D reinforced polycanvas nose and tail section. The bag comes in the following sizes: 6’0″, 6’3″, 6’6″, 6’10”, 7’2″.
All the other stuff…
These soft and stretchy pieces of fabric are designed to protect your board from dings, scratches and disoloring from the sun. They’re really useful when transporting your board short distances in a car or on a bike.
They also come in handy for storing your board at home or in place where it will be in direct sunlight for protracted periods of time. You can read our comprehensive post on surfboard socks here.
Wetsuit Changing Matt & Bag
Now this is great little invention – combining a wetsuit bag with a changing mat. This means that where you’re getting changed, be it on the beach or in the parking lot, you won’t have to worry about your wetsuit getting sandy/dirty. Once you’ve taken it off, simply pull the draw strings and your wetsuit will be in the bag.
Don’t fuss around trying to find a changing room. Get changed by slinging this towel poncho over you. Changing in and out of your wetsuit becomes simple, comfortable and warm. We’ve written a comprehensive review on surf ponchos here.
Being out in the water for long periods of time can result in sunburn. You will get burnt unless you buy a really thick zinc paste with a high SPF rating. A surf cap can minimise your sunburn substantially.
High Strength Zinc Sunscreen
Headhunter make a super strong and thick sunscreen called Warpaint. It’s SPF30 and it’ll take a lot for it to wash off. It’s a popular choice for a lot of seasoned surfers.
If you’re surfing in a remote location like Skeleton Bay, a portable shower is going to come in very handy. Even at your local break – sometimes there aren’t any showers nearby or it’s just that they’re a long walk away from where you park.
The Helio is a really cool portable shower that packs really nicely for storage.