Differences Between Inflatable, Soft Top & Hybrid Body Boards

Bodyboard Types Explained: Differences Between Soft Top, Inflatable and Hybrid Boards

If you’ve landed on this page, then it probably means that you’re in the market for a new bodyboard. As with every watersport, choosing the best equipment is essential to your enjoyment and progression. So read on to learn about three different bodyboard types, their unique features, and which one might be right for you. 

What Is a Bodyboard and What Are the Different Types?

Bodyboarding is the art of riding waves in the prone position (lying down) on a short, wide board. It’s surfing on a basic level that gives people of all ages the chance to catch a wave within minutes of entering the water. Among the other advantages of bodyboarding are that it’s cheaper, less demanding on the body, and safer than surfing. 

As is the same for any board sport, there’s a huge variety of bodyboard types and a wide range of prices. Most of today’s bodyboards are made from an EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam core with an EVA (foam rubber) top and a slick plastic bottom. However, it’s possible to find everything from polystyrene and polyethylene to inflatable boards. 

Besides the material, another important bodyboard factor is its size. There are two ways to measure a board.

  1. It should reach up to your belly button when stood upright on the floor.
  2. Or fit between your chin and knees when held in front of you.

If a board is too short, your legs will trail in the water and slow you down. You can get a rough idea of what is right for you by taking the South Bay Board Co.’s board finder quiz.

Cool Features of Soft Top Bodyboards

Traditional Bodyboards

Soft top bodyboards are the royalty of entry-level bodyboard types. They feature a lightweight EPS foam core that makes them incredibly buoyant and easy to carry—even younger kids can handle them. The board’s deck is made from the same EVA foam used for yoga mats and things such as bicycle seat padding. This means that getting hit by the board or landing on top of it will hurt less.

The SBBC 42” Onda Beginner Bodyboard is the ideal option for all rider abilities for those weighing up to 200lbs, but it's best overall for first-time and younger bodyboarders. In addition to the lightweight core and soft deck, it has a slick and durable HDPE thermoplastic bottom that prevents impact damage. This is our most economical bodyboard, although it doesn’t hold back in style. It’s available in blue/white and pink/white striped designs and comes with a pre-installed leash plug and coiled leash.

Take your bodyboarding to the next level with the 42” Razzo Pro Bodyboard. Two full-length stringers (thin strips of wood that run through the core) and layers of fiberglass resin increase the board’s durability and stiffness. These stringers help to improve the board’s performance in bigger waves. The Razzo supports up to 275 pounds. Its in-built elbow deck contours assist with hand and elbow placement when in a wave. Choose yours in aqua, black, or white. 

Cool Features of Inflatable Bodyboards

Inflatable Bodyboards

Inflatable bodyboards are one of the newer bodyboard types on the market. The inflatable aspect makes them extremely buoyant, therefore catching waves is a breeze. Moreover, like any inflatable watersport gear, these bodyboard types roll up into conveniently size bags that make them easy to store and transport. 

Our 48” Squid Inflatable Bodyboard is a pioneering board in the bodyboard industry. Its military-grade PVC material and drop-stitch technology (which helps it keep its shape when inflated) make it pretty much unbreakable. Measuring at 48 inches in length means it’s great for taller riders and those up to 300 pounds. The extra length also makes it possible for smaller kids to stand up on the board. Another stand-out aspect is the board’s glued-in fins which allow for extra control in turns. Just grab onto the grip handles and let yourself fly. 

Cool Features of Hybrid Bodyboards

Hybrid Bodyboards

Ever heard of a bodyboard that provides optimum performance in the waves and pulls double-duty as a skimboard? That’s exactly what the SBBC 44” Sea Lion Hybrid Bodyboard does. It features the same lightweight EPS foam core as our soft top bodyboards but comes with extras that you might associate with a performance surfboard.

Among these features are a full-length stringer and wood layers on the top and bottom for enhanced durability. A custom-made and wax-free fingerprint top deck offers superb grip without the need to ever apply wax, while a hard epoxy bottom deck makes it fast in the waves. The 44-inch-long board supports riders up to 230 pounds; thus, it is ideal for everyone from younger bodyboarders to heavier riders. It even holds up superbly in bigger sets, especially with the ability to increase speed and performance by attaching fins.

If you want some fun along the seashore and in the incoming breaking waves, simply remove the fins to convert the Sea Lion into a skimboard. The wax-free top deck comes into its own by providing excellent traction between your feet and the board. 

Bodyboard Types for Beginner to Advanced Boarders

A bodyboard has the potential to last for hundreds of surf sessions. So do some research, take your time, and check out all of the options before parting with your well-earned savings.

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How do I choose the right size bodyboard?

The bodyboard should reach your belly button when standing upright on the floor. Alternatively, it should fit between your chin and knees when held in front of you.

What are the key features of soft top bodyboards?

Soft top bodyboards are typically lightweight, buoyant, and easy to carry. They have a foam core and a deck made from EVA foam, making them safer and less painful on impact.

Are inflatable bodyboards good?

Yes, inflatable bodyboards are great for their buoyancy and ease of transport. They are particularly good for beginners as they are easy to catch waves with. In addition, their ability to be deflated and rolled up makes them convenient to store and travel with.

What are the benefits of hybrid bodyboards?

Hybrid bodyboards offer optimum wave performance and can double as a skimboard. They are versatile and often have features that enhance durability, grip, and speed in the waves.

What is a stringer in a bodyboard?

A stringer in a bodyboard is a thin strip of wood or other material that runs through the board's core. It helps increase the board's durability and stiffness, improving performance, especially in bigger waves.