Although the shortboards seem to make you look cool for allowing to do various turns and tricks, it does not mean that you can use it all the time. There are instances when you should use one of the best step-up surfboards to handle the bigger waves that the shortboards cannot.
If you are new to surfing, this article will let you know about a step-up board and how it is different from the other surfboards. You will also know some of the best step-up boards on the market and some info on selecting the right product for yourself.
Table of Contents
Top 4 Best Step Up Surfboards Reviewed
- 7S Superfish 4 PU Step Up Surfboard
- Chilli Hot Knife TT Step Up Surfboard
- Walden Mega Magic 2 X2 Step Up Surfboard
- Modern Highline PU Step Up Surfboard
- Length: 6’0, 6’3, 6’6, 6’9, 7’0, 7’6, 8’0
- Volume (liters): 32.5, 36.4, 40.45, 44.6, 48.55, 55.2, 64.3
- Weight capacity (pounds): 132 and above
- Skill level: beginner, intermediate, advanced
- Wave height (feet): one to six
The 7S Superfish 4 PU is the fusion of the Superfish 3 with other previous model designs. It has a full nose, outline, and it has parallel rails that make this platform stable. Like most step-ups, this product offers a generous volume that makes riding the waves easier.
It uses a three-stage rocker with a flat middle section and a moderate curve for an excellent turn. This step-up is famous for its ability to catch waves.
|Even confident beginners can use it||Not the best product for making turns|
- Length: 5’7, 5’8, 5’9, 5’10, 5’11, 6’0, 6’2
- Volume (liters): 27, 28.2, 29.8, 31.3, 32.3, 33,35.5
- Weight capacity (pounds): 132 to 188 pounds
- Skill level: intermediate, advanced
- Wave height (feet): one to five
If you are looking for a medium-entry surfboard that is quick for giving you a smooth exit, you should have the Chilli Hot Knife TT. It is the product of the fusion of Stepdown 2 and the Peri Peri, making it an all-rounder board.
Its shape resembles the Peri-Peri more with a single concave from the nose and becomes double concave towards the feet, so the take-off speed is fast.
|Fast take off||Not for heavy surfers|
- Length: 6’10, 7’6
- Volume (liters): 60.8, 79
- Skill level: beginner, intermediate, advanced
- Wave height (feet): one to six
The Walden Mega Magic 2 X2 is the sporty version of the company’s Mega Magic. It is the ideal step-up for people who are on the heavy side. It has an extra volume that provides more buoyancy, and it is also maneuverable.
The company is proud of this product’s durable x2 epoxy construction that makes it a travel-friendly surfboard.
|Excellent maneuverability||We got nothin'|
|For the big guys|
- Length: 5’8, 5’10, 6’0, 6’2, 6’4, 6’8
- Volume (liters): 35, 38.3, 42, 45, 48.1,54
- Weight capacity (pounds): 132 to 209
- Skill level: beginner, intermediate
- Wave height (feet): one to six
If you are looking for a step-up with excellent stability, you will love the Modern Highline PU.
Its outline is great for providing stability. The rocker is low and flat, which makes paddling effortless.
The forward concave makes it a useful board for directing the water through the rocker, which is essential for creating smooth transitions.
|Excellent for catching waves||Not the best in making turns|
Our Favorite Step Up Surfboard
Many surfers have different opinions regarding what the best step-up is on the market. Many say that it can be the other type of boards, or it can be anything that is longer and has more volume than your typical shortboard. If you do not know where to buy a step-up, you can select among the mentioned products.
What stands out the most among them is the 7S Superfish 4 PU. It is available in seven different sizes, which is a perfect step-up based on your skill level. That is why it is an excellent option for confident beginners to advanced surfers.
Characteristics of a Step-Up Surfboard
The majority of surfers describe the step-up as a type of surfboard with more volume and length than the shortboards.
An excellent step-up board provides you with more maneuverability and speed when you surf, although the rate is not an issue when you take on a more significant wave. When you are at the store, it is difficult to identify the exact size because every surfer has a different opinion.
Generally, the step-ups have more length and volume. These are typically three to eight inches longer compared to your typical surfboard. Its appearance can be the same as your favorite board, but it is narrower in the tail and nose, and thicker.
When to Use a Step-Up Board
Surfers have different opinions or answers when you ask them when is the right time to use a step-up board. Other surfers say that their form of step-up is not necessarily a particular board. For example, if they are groveler users, their step-up will be a shortboard.
Others say that their go-to step-up board does not necessarily have to be larger or more in volume.
There are times that they go for longer boards with less volume. It all depends on the type of waves and the surfers’ preferences and skills.
Even though surfers have varying opinions on step-ups, they use them to pursue the same goal, to be able to tackle an enormous wave that their shortboards cannot handle anymore.
One of the biggest mistakes of amateur surfers is using the wrong board for the wave. They think that shortboards can handle all kinds of water conditions, but these boards do not. Although the shortboards can withstand overhead waves, it does not mean that their abilities are infinite. There are times when you have to use step-up to tackle overhead waves.
If you think that you will only end up spending more money on buying a step-up, you are wrong. It will cost you more if you buy added fibreglass or replace your old ones with it. When you push your shortboards to their limits, they will only shatter and cost you more money.
However, the step-up can tackle bigger waves. It will remain in one piece and unshattered when you use it. You can buy cheaper step-ups, but you have to sacrifice the aesthetics if you are short on budget.
If you have a step-up, it does not mean that you can use it already in any type of wave. Just as its name implies, it is just a step up for your shortboard to handle more massive waves.
You have to consider the right position, timing, size and shape of the wave.
The sign that you need to change your shortboard is when it already feels uncontrollable or loose when the wave becomes bigger.
In every break, a six-foot wave can change its shape. The step-up board that you should use depends on these changes. For example, your shortboard cannot handle a six-foot wave. Because of this, some surfers use a step-up that is around 5’7” in length. Once the wave changes and goes higher than six feet, some change their boards into a step-up board of 6’2.”
It is not the waves that are going to adjust to you. You are the one who has to adapt to these. The key to catching a great wave is to fast break around the home and get into the right position. The best area is below the lip, where you can paddle to get there.
Take note that your board should be maneuverable and short enough to penetrate the wave curve and surf it. If you use a board longer than the length of what you should, you might be at a disadvantage because of the waves obstacles.
Step-ups are the ideal boards if you will be performing on waves that are more on the tubes than on the turns. It is the best board to use if the ocean is giving you hollow waves.
However, it all depends on the surfer’s ability and preference. Many surfers prefer to transition to pintail or round tail. It is because if you need to surf big, what you need more is maneuverability and less speed. Using a rounded tail or a pintail will give you less surface area to provide you with more control.
Thus, the step-up surfboard is the best option for tackling an enormous wave than the ones you typically surf on with your shortboard.
However, note that a step-up is not the right choice for enormous waves like in Jaws, Hawaii. For those waves, what you need is a gun or a longer semi-gun.
What your step-up can do for you is allow you to penetrate the wave easier and manage it. Big waves are strong. Thus, managing to stay on top of your board is the problem with these waves and not the speed.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Step-Up
Boards come in different sizes and shapes. Step-up is just one of them. Surfboards have to become available in various sizes and shapes to adapt and ride to almost any waves or water conditions.
That is why it is no surprise that many surfing professionals have many surfboards on their quiver. Having a step-up in your collection is also an ideal addition because of what it can do.
Let Your Shaper Know About Your Favorite Surfing Spot
Inform your shaper about the typical wave conditions and locations where you surf.
If you ask the difference between the six-foot wave in North Shore and the six-foot in Mentawais, the answer is in the water condition. Remember that many factors affect the wave’s state: the wind, crowd, velocity, and the like.
That is why you should inform your shaper of this information before buying for a step up.
Know What a Step Up Is
As mentioned, it is the board you use that is a step up from a shortboard. For example, if your shortboard is 6’ in length, some surfers would choose a step-up board that is 6’4″. The step-up’s design is almost the same as your typical board, but it can accommodate a more massive swell.
Choose the Right Fins
You do not have to think about changing your fins’ positioning when you use a step-up. What you need to consider when shopping for the fins for your surfboard is its construction. Your goal is to buy the ones that will give less flex than your original board.
The best construction materials are carbon fibre fins or tech flex.
Choose the Right Rocker
When you have to surf a big wave, you do not need to worry about the speed because it can generate it. As for the right rocker, you can add just a little more. Having an extra rocker will help your re-entries and late drops on steep areas, allowing you to carve whenever you need it.
Choose the Right Contours
Because speed is not an issue here, the board’s bottom contours determine how well you can keep up with the pace and gain more control when you are in the waters.
Specific Types of Surfboards
If you are new to surfing, it can be surprising for you to find out why you should use a particular type of surfboard on a different water or wave condition. You probably do not know how the surfboard’s weight, size, and shape can affect your performance when you ride the waves. That is why it is not surprising to learn that experienced surfers own several types of surfboards in their quiver.
Thus, before you learn more about the step-up board on a deeper level, you should learn some information on other surfboards. By knowing this, you can differentiate the step-up from the different types of boards. You will no longer feel stupid when you talk with your surfer friends.
Surfboards usually fall into five primary types: fish, funboard, gun, longboard, and shortboard. There are more specific types of under these five, and you will learn some of them here. It includes the step-up board.
Here are some of the kinds of boards.
The main reason to use a shortboard is to show off. It is great for jumping, twisting, and doing tricks. If you can, you may also use the shortboard to ride in a barrel. As mentioned, it is one of the major types of surfboard. That is why there are several specific types that you can find on the market.
You can identify their differences by the fins and their placement. Some have four, five, three, or none.
Typically, a shortboard has a narrow, pointed nose.
Anyone can ride the shortboard, even beginners who already know the basics and are ready to tackle more challenging surfing maneuvers. However, total beginners, who still do not know what they are doing, should stay away from this board because of its lack of volume.
It means that this board is more difficult to control for total beginners because of the lack of buoyancy.
Shortboards can tackle the waves from knee-length high to overhead, but not the large ones.
The bonzer is a type of shortboard with a unique fin setup. It is not a typical board that you can see on the market.
It is usually the term to call a surfboard with five fins. It has a large one at the center and four on the sides. You may also refer to a three-fin shortboard as a bonzer if the fins’ arrangement is the same, one large at the center, and two smaller fins.
The main goal of this setup is to direct the water to the tail.
The numsber is a type of shortboard or bonzer. Like the bonzer, it has a five-fin setup. However, the sizes are different.
For a nubster, the center is the small fin, while the sides’ fins are larger.
The thrusters are another type of shortboard. Many surfers interchange this term with the shortboard. What makes a thruster different from a typical shortboard is its fin setup. Thrusters have three fins.
It is easy to interchange this term with typical shortboards because only 0.1 percent of shortboards have a different fin setup during the old times. The others have three fins as the thrusters. Because of constant innovation, shortboards may have zero up to five fins nowadays.
You should look at the board’s fin before calling it a thruster if you do not want to look like a fool.
Like the shortboards, thrusters can be for everyone except for total beginners. The perks of riding a thruster are that you can surf on it on large waves, such as the barrels and steep walls. However, going straight can be an issue because of the drag that it may cause.
The word Simmons comes from the name of the father of modern surfboards, Robert Wilson Simmons. He was the one who introduced the hydrodynamic theory by using the old type of surfboard, which was a hull plane. Because of his invention, modern surfboards are faster than before.
As a tribute and inspiration, the Mini Simmons came into the picture. It is a surfboard known for its unbeatable speed. It is usually 4’10 to 5’6 in length and 22 inches wide.
Because of this, it is for surfers who are after a fast surfing experience. It is great for small waves. It may become uncontrollable if used in bigger waves.
Beginners may use this board if they have basic surfing knowledge. Although it is fast, this board has a substantial volume that is ideal for new surfers.
People also know longboards as Mal or Malibu. It is the type of surfboard that has been in history for a long time. It is one of the boards that make surfing a famous sport.
Longboards have generous length, width, and volume, making it ideal for total beginners. Because of its construction, paddling and catching waves become an easier task.
The longer boards are for riding the small, weak waves.
Longboards, as mentioned, are for beginners. It is also an advisable board for older surfers who do not have enough strength to handle the shortboards. Advanced surfers may also use it if they want to have slow turns and clean glides.
The only problem is that the longboards are not as easy to control as the shortboards. It is not the ideal surfboard to use for the big waves.
The log is another type of longboard that is heavier due to the thicker fibreglass layer and lamination. It makes this type of longboard durable. However, when it comes to the function, it is the same as the longboard.
The foamie is another term for a foam board, which complete beginners use to learn the basics of surfing. It is almost the same as the minimal, but this board’s construction is foam, making it more buoyant and user-friendly for beginners.
Another reason why total beginners should start with a foamie is to not hurt the other surfers around them. The impact of hitting the other surfers are less when they use this board.
Foamies are seven to nine feet long. They have a full noses and tails.
As the name implies, the hybrid combines some shortboard and longboard features, but it also resembles the shortboard. The only difference is that it is slightly longer and has an extensive outline. It also has more volume and floatation than the shortboard.
For this reason, paddling and catching waves is more accessible with a hybrid. Total beginners may also use it when they start to have some control, and they feel tired of using their longboard or foamies. It is also ideal for surfers who are heavy and older.
You can say that a hybrid is an all-rounder because you can use it to tackle small and big waves. Its fin setups are the same as the shortboard. You can find hybrid thrusters or quads. The only problem with this board is that it is not ideal for duck diving.
The minimal or mini-Malibu is the shrunken size of the longboard. Unlike the longboard, it is more controllable and stable. Its paddling speed is also excellent. It is an excellent upgrade for beginners who want to improve their surfing skills after growing out of their longboard.
The surfmat is the surfboard type that is almost inexistent. You can only find it rarely in stores.
Only a few shapers offer this type.
Despite being inflatable and new to the eyes, it has been around since the 1930s, making it the modern surfboard’s grandfather. Because of the existence of modern surfboards, this type of board is starting to die.
It is excellent for surfers who want to experience retro-style surfing.
The guns are for the big waves, not just any big waves, but the large ones that you can find in the Jaws.
The guns are thick and massive. Its construction makes the board more comfortable and faster to paddle to catch up with the enormous waves that are extremely powerful and fast.
The biggest among the guns are the chasing rhinos, which are for the most massive surfable waves.
The guns are for the experts.
That is why it is not surprising that professional surf athletes have their shapers customize their guns for them. It is not ideal for surfers with weak hearts, especially beginners.
Mini-Gun or Semi-Gun
The mini-gun is like the combination of the gun and shortboard features. It provides you with the gun’s stability and the shortboard’s maneuverability.
It does not have the full features of the gun and the shortboard.
Although you can use a mini-gun for a massive wave, it is not something that you use when it is more than twice overhead. However, this board is an excellent choice for reef breaks and hollow waves.
This board is ideal for intermediate to advanced surfers.
The funboard is more of a category than a type. It describes all the surfboards, such as the eggs, hybrids, and mini-mals, with higher volumes. The funboard is a perfect choice if you are a casual surfer or beginner. It is excellent for catching waves.
This fish does not refer to an underwater animal. It relates to the surfboard that resembles the shape of that creature. It has a tail, that although surfers call a swallow-tail, overall, it still looks like a fish.
This board is another type of shortboard with a swallow-tail, broad nose, and thick rocker. The fish is an excellent option if you want to have something fast to ride on for small waves. You do not have to break a sweat to maneuver it, but not as excellent as what the shortboard can offer.
The fish typically has 5’4 to 6’2 in length with 22 inches in width. It is excellent for surfers who want to ride the mushy waves and beginners ready to try something better than their longboards.
The step-down is not a particular type of surfboard. It is something that you use for weaker or smaller waves. It is shorter, thicker, and broader compared to your typical board. It describes the board that is smaller than the one you use when the wave becomes weaker.
Everyone can ride this board, except for total beginners who do not have any basic surfing ideas.
The step-up’s logic applies the same as the step-down except that you use it in different water conditions. It is the type of surfboard that you use to handle overhead waves that your shortboards cannot handle anymore.
The step-up boards are typically longer, thicker, and have more volume compared to your everyday shortboard. This board can give you more paddle power and control when you have to tackle bigger waves.
This board is for intermediate and advanced-level surfers.
There are several kinds of boards that you can buy from the store, including the step-ups. Although surfers have varying opinions of what a step-up is, it still serves to be an alternative to your shortboard when you have to take on a giant wave that it cannot handle.
If you do not know where to buy, you can choose from the mentioned products here. If you cannot find anything, you can buy one of the best step-up surfboards on the market now that you know how to select the best one.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: What Is the Difference Between a Mini-Gun and a Step-Up?
A: People sometimes cannot differentiate between a mini-gun and a step-up. Although there are times that you can call a mini-gun a step-up, it does not mean that the term is right all the time. Their difference is their size. Step-ups are typically two to four inches longer than a shortboard, while the mini-guns are 4 to 12 inches.
- Mid-Length Surfboards
- Surfboards for Beginners
- Best Surfers of All Time
- Best Triathlon Wetsuits
- Surfboard Brands
G’day, my name is Rach Taylor and I’m the proud Founder of Surf Hungry. I am a former Australian Olympic athlete and Australian representative surf sports athlete. I’ve worked in the surf industry and lived at many of Australia’s best surf spots, sparking a life-long love of the ocean and a passion for surf sports which also rubbed off on my two young sons! I am also lucky to spend a lot of ocean-time in my favorite second home, Indonesia. In addition to SurfHungry I have founded several other websites in my areas of passion, namely coffee and rock climbing, and am also a regular rowing content contributor.