Slater Designs FRK Plus Volcanic surfboard

How to Choose The Right Volume For Your Surfboard

When it comes to surfing, selecting the right surfboard can make a significant difference in your personal surfing performance and overall experience. One of the key factors in this decision is the volume of the surfboard. This is a good metric to compare apples with pears so to speak i've different models of surfboards.  But bear in mind that volume isn't the only deciding factor to get you the right board; shape and type of ride desired also have an impact, so don't get hung up completely on the volume.  But it is extremely helpful.

Volume, measured in litres, represents the amount of space the board occupies. It directly affects buoyancy, stability, and maneuverability. In this guide, we'll explore how to choose the correct volume for your surfboard to ensure you have the best ride every time.


Understanding Surfboard Volume

What is Surfboard Volume?

Surfboard volume is the amount of space within the board, expressed in litres. It’s a crucial metric because it influences how well the board floats and handles in the water. The right volume helps maintain balance, enhances paddling efficiency, and supports maneuverability.  Some other factors like the core materials of the board can also influence buoyancy so factor those in too.  

Thunderbolt technologies HIHP Speed carbon black surfboard

Why Volume Matters

  1. Buoyancy: A board with the appropriate volume will float better, making it easier to paddle and catch waves.
  2. Stability: Higher volume generally provides more stability, which is beneficial for beginners or heavier surfers.
  3. Performance: Lower volume boards are often more responsive and easier to manoeuvre, and are put into more performance orientated shapes, favoured by experienced surfers for shredding and surfing in the more powerful part of the wave.
Slater Designs Great White Twin surfboard

Factors to Consider When Choosing Surfboard Volume

1. Skill Level

  • Beginners: New surfers should opt for boards with higher volume. This increases stability and buoyancy, making it easier to balance and learn the basics.
  • Intermediate: Surfers who have mastered the basics should decrease the volume a bit for better performance.
  • Advanced: Experienced surfers often choose lower volume boards that allow for greater agility, sharper turns and surfing in the pocket of the wave.
  • Don't let your ego get in the way here, be honest about your skill level and you will be more likely to choose the correct volume of surfboard
JS Industries Xero Gravity surfboard

2. Body Weight, Fitness, Age and Surfing Frequency

These are all important factors in determining the volume of your board.  To get higher performance particularly in a shortboard you would surf in the bottom end of your volume range.  Heavier surfers will need more volume than lighter surfers.  Fitter surfers will need less volume than less fit surfers.  Older surfers will tend to choose more volume but fitness has an influence on this too.  Surfers that are surfing a few times a week will tend to opt for less volume than surfers who surf less frequently.


3. Wave Conditions

  • Small Waves: Higher volume boards are ideal for smaller or weaker waves as they provide better flotation and make catching waves easier.
  • Big Waves: For larger or more powerful waves, lower volume boards offer better control and performance.


4. Board Type and Style

  • Longboards and Larger Midlengths: These typically have higher volume, providing excellent buoyancy and stability, perfect for beginners and those who enjoy a relaxed surfing style.
  • Softboards: Generally have very high volume and are great options for beginner surfers starting on their surfing journey

  • Shortboards: Designed for advanced surfers, these have lower volume, allowing for quick turns and high performance in various wave conditions.
  • Fish, Mid-lengths and Hybrid Boards: These fall between longboards and shortboards in terms of volume, offering a balance of stability and maneuverability.


Some Online Options to Help You  Decide on Your Board Volume

Various surfboard manufacturers have helpful online resources to help you select the correct board.  They take into account various factors to give you a range of volumes, from which you then need to factor in the shape of the board and what typesof waves you are mainly going to be surfing. Personally, I have found the first three, performance oriented sites, have all very slightly under-volumed me compared to what I normally ride as a heavier, competent surfer in my late 40s. The fourth has given me marginally more volume than I choose to ride but that company makes boards predominantly for the beginner to intermediate market so this would make sense.  All are great online resources nonetheless.


Firewire Surfboards Volume Calculator:

Firewire Surfboards logo

Firewire Surfboards provide a handy table with a range of weights in the left margin against your projected surfing ability.  Compare weights above and below and the next ability to give yourself a range to choose from. This would work for your performance board, add a bit of volume for a groveller or fish.


JS Industries Volume Calculator:

JS Industries surfboard logo

JS Industries provide a range of factors to put together to give you their recommended volume for a performance board like Age, Fitness Level, Height, Weight, Experience, Surfing Level and wave type.


Lost Surfboards Volume Calculator

Lost Surfboards has a handy sliding rule table where you use your body weight and estimated ablity (Guild Factor) to help you choose the correct volume for your performance shortboard. 

Or get out your calculator to find your volume:

Advanced, fit surfers .34-.36 x body weight

Competent, reasonably fit surfers  .36-.38 x bodyweight

Domesticated, lower fitness "weekend warrior" surfers   .38-.42 x bodyweight

Novice surfers, unfit, weak waves etc   .40-.50 x bodyweight


Global Surf Industries Volume Calculator

Global Surf Industries logo

Using both your self assessed, general skill level and your weight GSI presents you with a range +/- 1 litre.  Tends to marginally volume up compared to other three sites.  My current volume sits at about the average of the four sites.

Global Surf Industries volume calculator 

Consulting with The Crew at Blitz

Blitz Surf Shop logo

If you're still unsure about the right volume for your surfboard, having a good discussion with the helpful crew at Blitz Surf Shop can help you to determine the correct volume you should be riding in a range of different surfboard models with respect to all of your variables. They can provide personalized advice based on your skill level, weight, the typical wave conditions you’ll encounter and more importantly the type/model of surfboard you are looking at.



Choosing the correct volume for your surfboard is essential for an enjoyable and successful surfing experience. By considering your skill level, body weight, age, the types of waves you’ll be riding, and the style of surfing you prefer, you can find a board that perfectly matches your needs. For most surfers, especially those with the least experience, more volume can be your friend.

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