December 28

Surfboard Volume: A Newbies Ultimate Guide!


Surfboard volume...

It's a term that you hear ALL the time, but what does it actually mean? 

What's it all about?

Well, you're about to find out.

In this ultimate guide to surfboard volume you'll learn:

  • What the heck surfboard volume actually is - and why it's so damn important.
  • Why the volume of your surfboard plays such a big role you being on the right board.
  • Why volume ISN'T the only variable you need to look out for - and what you need to focus on when choosing a new board.

And a whole lot more.


Let's go! 👇


Volume is the measurement of a three-dimensional enclosed object - like a surfboard.

It refers to the amount of water it would take to fill the enclosed space and is measured in litres. 

And, more importantly to surfers this same metric tells us how much water the object (surfboard) disperses when submerged too, and this is a damn handy metric to use when buying a new board as you need the right amount of volume to keep you afloat.


The volume of a surfboard dictates its buoyancy, and it's important because this buoyancy is what helps you to float.

If you're riding a surfboard without enough buoyancy for your level you're simply going to sink and not catch any waves, and likewise if you're riding a board with too much buoyancy you'll find it clumsy, unresponsive and hard to manoeuvre. 

So getting the volume right on your surfboard is super important.


Let me explain.

You see, surfboard volume has only really been a term thrown around since the inception of machine shaped boards (because it's pretty hard to calculate the volume of a surfboard, more on that in a minute).

Up until that point however, it was all about these three metrics instead:

  • Height
  • Width
  • Thickness

And these three factors - alongside volume - play a HUGE roll into how a surfboard will perform.

Think about it this way:

You could have two surfboards that are both 30 litres in volume.

One is 6ft x 19" x 2.5"

And the other could be 4'10" x 25" x 4"

Pretty different right?

Sure, the volume of your surfboard is very important, but only when considered as part of the whole, so try not to make it the only metric you use when trying to choose the right surfboard.


The number of litres your surfboard should have depends on a number of different factors, so before we can determine how many litres you should be looking for, let's break these down a little first.


The amount of volume (number of litres) you should ride depends on your ability.

A beginner surfer requires lots of volume & buoyancy as they look for equipment that has lots of floatation and stability.

Likewise an advanced surfer on the other hand - with more refined skills - has less need for floatation and stability, and is instead in search of equipment that's responsive and manoeuvrable which generally comes hand-in-hand with a drop in volume.

So be honest with your ability, and choose a board with the right volume for you. Check out the surfboard volume chart below for more.


The heavier you are the more volume you'll need in your equipment to help it float.


The type of wave you're looking to surf will play a big role in the volume of your surfboard.

In small, gutless waves, you'll want a little extra volume to help you get going and to stop the board from sinking.

Whereas in more powerful surf you can forgo that extra volume as the wave has the energy to keep your board planing easily.

So consider what type of conditions you surf on a regular basis when deciding on a board.

*Pro tip: For a small wave board add an extra three litres to what you'd normally ride.


The best way to measure volume in relation to all of the above is to use a percentage ratio (it's not perfect, but it's a good indicator).

Here's how it works:

Take your weight in kg's and place it against the volume of your board to calculate a percentage.


Surfer weight = 100kg  |  Surfboard volume = 50ltr

Percentage = 50%

Take now a surfer that weighs 50kg on the same 50ltr board and you'll get 100%.

We recommend the following percentages depending on your ability:

  • New Surfer: 100% - 150%
  • Progressive Beginner: 80% -100%
  • Improver: 65% - 80%
  • Elevator: 45% - 65%
  • Pro Level: 30% - 45%

Use the surfboard volume chart above to plot your weight and ability as a guide for gauging the right volume for your level.


Hopefully by now you've got a really good idea of what this whole surfboard volume jargon is all about.

You should understand where you stand with your level and how it relates to the number of litres you should be looking for, and how it effects the surfboard purchase decisions you make moving forward.


Loz 🤙


Ex WQS warrior, and all-round frother - Loz is the technical coaching queen at the House of Surf.

She is also a mindset and life coach and has a habit of living in her van way too much. 

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