AS seen on Shark Tank - watch |shop


Your Cart is Empty

How to choose the right handboard

epic wave riding

DECISIONS, DECISIONS! Choosing a handboard Is Easy

The most common question we get asked here at Slyde is “what is the best board for me, How do I choose? I have looked at all of them and I’m still not sure” Well you have come to the right place. We have made choosing a board as simple as possible.

  1. 1. Choose By Ability

    Be Honest about your ocean ability.

  2. 2. Choose by wave Type

    For more experienced ocean riders

Choosing a handboard by wave type or skill level

Generally, if you have been surfing for a while or you are an accomplished waterman you are going to choose a board by wave type. For everyone else you will choose based on your own ability in the water.looking to compare boards side by side

How we define your personal ability and skill set in the ocean

Please be honest with yourself on where you think you stand with your ability. The ocean is a dangerous place if you don’t know what you are doing and you will get yourself in trouble quickly if your skills don’t match the conditions. All our boards exist for a reason, every single shape is designed specifically for a certain skill set, or a particular situation. That being said you can still use any of these handboards in pretty much all conditions.

  1. 1. Novice

    We define the novice handboarder as someone who has not had much contact with the ocean at all

  2. 2. Beginner

    A beginner handboarder is defined as someone who has had some experience in the ocean, you are capable in easy conditions but you are still learning

  3. 3. Intermediate

    An intermediate handboarder is someone who has had 5-6 years experience and feels very comfortable in more testing conditions and starting to feel comfortable going out in bigger conditions

  4. 4. Advanced

    An advanced handboarder is someone who is super comfortable in just about anything enjoying the bigger days and loves pitching shorebreak

The Slyde Grom


The Grom handboard, is a great starter board, it was designed very much with the beginner in mind. The materials are what set this board apart with a soft top and super lick bottom for speed.

The Grom is super light and portable with a lot of buoyancy, and allows you to get far higher out the water. The shape has a stubby nose with fish type tail. It’s also bump friendly, made for mistakes in the waves without worry of injury. The Grom is easy to use, and fun for everyone. Great for the beginner and awesome for womping and barrels.

The Slyde wedge


We consider The Wedge a beginner board, but even advanced bodysurfers love to take it out. The reason why this board is for beginner to intermediate skill-set, is the width. This is a lot bigger than any type of regular handplane on the market.  We often get “OMG they’re really big." a lot.   

Here's why, imagine the difference between a short & a long surfboard, just like when you’re trying to learn to surf, being on a bigger board makes it a lot easy to stand up.

With the Wedge Handboard when you get on the wave, you have so much more surface area. The bigger surface area on these allows you to ride a wave for a good long time. While also allowing you to do turns and sprays and other tricks.

"When i first designed this handboard it was a lot shorter, and I felt I was not making the most of the wave so I started adding lengthto it. The bigger I went the more distance I could get on the wave until I found the perfect size to make the most out of everyday surf" 

The Slyde Phish


The shape of the Phish handboard shape is striking in its beauty, it's an absolute head turner. I would almost air on the side of advanced rider for this board. The Phish is similar to the classic Fish surfboard of the 70's. it is designed to pick a line and hold it and the board generates a huge amount of speed.

Due to its speed down the line this is a great board for barrels and staying in the pocket, getting pitted over and over. It handles really well on bigger waves and point breaks with open faces. Pick your line and go.

The Slyde Bula


The Bula board is a little bit bigger than your hand, and is the size most people think a handboard should look like. The Bula was designed by Hawaiian bodysurfing legend Sean Enoka, Sean spent most his life coming up with this awesome shape, it specializes in shorebreak.

The biggest difference between this and any other board is the concave. It literally is like having a fin on your hand. Just like a blade the rails (sides) of the board sticks right into the side of the wave. If you feel comfortable taking off on some really steep shore break this board will keep you high on the face of the wave, and excels in steep whomp drops.

Top Tip 1

The rule of thumb with handboards, like surfing the bigger the board the better for beginners

Choosing the best board by skill level

How to choose the right handboard by your skill

choosing a handboard by wave type

This part is focused for those of you looking for a board that would suit the kind of wave youlike to bodysurf

As we said previously each board was designed and shaped with a specific use and situation. Saying that, each board is light, strong and maneuverable. Our advice is to get the board that most closely matches your requirements it will be just as fun in everything else.

To simplify the choice process we have broken down wave types as small 1-3 feet, medium 3-5 feet and large as anything over 5+ feet. We have also included shorebreak as a wave type as we all love to ride shore break and the Bula was designed for shorebreak or steep and fast waves. We are aware there are reef breaks, point breaks, beach breaks etc however we have decided to keep it simple and understandable.

Also worth noting there is an overlapping of board to wave type / size ie the grom is a great board in shorebreak and small to medium because of the soft top. However in an effort to keep the choice process as easy as possible we have stuck to their primary reason for existing. In other words use the below as suggestions for your board choice either way you will have fun on anything you ride.

slyde handboards hand-how to choose a handboard
small waves 1-3ft

The Grom, is a great starter board that was designed very much with the beginner in mind. It’s so great because it’s soft, with a slick bottom, a bit of concave. A less intimidating board, than our high performance boards. Foam boards are used widely at surf schools, for good reason, they're safer and easier to learn on. Similar to the Wedge handboard this is a great starter board, but the soft top makes it bump friendly, and made for mistakes. Although the Grom has been used in even the heaviest conditions.

slyde handboards handplanes for bodysurfing how to choose bodysurf using a handplane
medium waves 3-5ft

We say the wedge is a 90% solution when we say that we are talking about average waves that are in between the swells. The Wedge shape is like a long board of surfing, you can pretty much get in on everything.

Always have one of these in your car ready to go because generally wave conditions aren’t that great all the time and tend to be blown out, unless you’re in Indo or Hawaii. This handboard will allow you to literally ride anything that’s coming thru on any given day, because of the extra width. The Grom and Wedge are very similar in that their size allows you to catch anything

why use a handplane how to bodysurf instructions how to use your slyde handplane
large waves 5+ft

The Phish is built for speed this handboard is FAST and does really well on medium to bigger waves, the longer straighter rails glide effortlessly through the water. Those big & barreling waves that have great shape & form but are not quite as critical as shorebreak.

"I took this out to test during the Hurricane Marie swell and I pulled in on a monster, 8 Foot swell, and I could literally feel my fins slowing me down. I’ve been barreled on this so many times because it just has that speed." Slyde Founder Steve Watts 

learn how to bodysurf why use a handplane bula handboard for steep and fast waves
Shorebreak / steep and fast waves

Shorebreak is critical and you need a board that is designed specifically for it. The bula is that board! The Bula was designed specifically for Point Panics, a fast steep racing reef break. If you're looking to take your bodysurfing to a next level, and you’re looking for that really cool whomp wave, this handboard is for you. One of the best sessions I’ve had was on this board at Salt Creek in California, nobody was able to get in or stick on the wave. Due to the deep concave of the handboard it acts like an FCS fin on your surfboard, it digs into the side of the wave and keeps your whole body safely lifted and in the pocket. 



other great beginner articles

choosing the best bodysurfing fins

Choosing fins can be overwhelming... not if you read this!

how to hold your breath longer underwater

Everyone needs to know how to hold their breath longer when bodysurfing!

The Do's & Don'ts of Bodysurfing Etiquette

learn the code of bodysurfing etiquette to have the best time in the water

How to avoid rip currents when bodysurfing

Learn to spot a rip current anywhere anytime