GOOD WOOD We’ve heard all the chatter about eco-friendly foam boards, but we’ve yet to test one that’s proven truly durable. For now, the only sustainability-minded board we love is veteran shaper Gary Linden’s custom-built 6’4″ wooden singlefin. It’s crafted from dead agave foraged from the SoCal desert, which Linden…

A black carbon-fiber shell makes the Pro-Formance look like a stealth bomber, but you won’t be flying under the radar with this baby: It’s a guaranteed head turner. The six-foot-six-inch hollow carbon-fiber thruster is speedy down the line and fast enough to make easy work of shoulder-high thumpers at…

CLASSIC LONGBOARD Bob McTavish shaped the original Fireball in 1994. Since then, his 9’1″ performance longboard has become a hard-to-find classic—until late 2007, when Global Surf Industries started mass-producing it. Our GSI model rode well in a variety of conditions, from crisp East Coast beach rollers to a point break…

This basic mini-longboard lets you ride for a fraction of the cost of most others. At seven feet six inches, the Funboard is long enough to catch waves easily, and its near-23-inch width makes for a stable platform that helps novices find their balance. It fends off dings well,…

GIGGLES FOR ALL Funboards are often overlooked because they don’t have the sexy lines of a shortboard. But for most casual surfers, this WRV Fun Fish is just right—and the 7’6″ model we tested is the most user-friendly board here. Its flat bottom made for easy paddling and acceleration, allowing…

LOTS OF FINS, LOTS OF FUN Thanks to their speed and maneuverability, four-fin boards are hot—and the Round Pin is the most evolved of this sweet breed. While most shapers are just now hopping on the quad wagon, San Diego shaping genius Joe Blair has been building them since the…

This nine-footer is a high-performance board with plenty of float, so it’s Cadillac-smooth in peeling surf. Up front it’s wide, round, and inviting for toes-on-the-nose time. And the double concave hulls spill to the tail in a slight V, which gives the board a shot of high-octane get-up-and-go. Pair…

GET UP, STAND UP Last year saw stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) move from the wacky fringe to the pages of Us Weekly, as seemingly every celebrity picked it up. With the fad still on full burn, shapers are racing into the SUP market, which is what makes the C4 special. It…

BEGINNER’S BOARD The INT’s top may be made of closed-cell foam, but that doesn’t mean it’s a poorly performing slug like most soft-tops. Because the business side of the board is all resin (like conventional glassed surfboards), with a set of two Future Fins and a Bahn Fin in the…

Talk about kids in a candy store. Contemplating the 20-surfboard quiver we assembled for Buyer’s Guide testing this year, our wave riders felt as if they’d been given the keys to Wonka’s brand-new surf factory. We had longboards, guns, funboards, thrusters, and fish—yet there was one stick our testers…

Like the cushy longboards that initially bore the Bing name, the single-fin Lovebird is gorgeous, with a gloss coat, fabric-inlaid deck, and pigment-colored bottom and rail wrap. But this isn’t some artsy old-school replica. (The brand was relicensed in 2000.) We tested our 9’2″ model in a variety of…

1. Equipped with five fin boxes, the Walden works as a thruster or quad. Our 6’4″ test model carved up small waves best as a quad. And when the surf jumped up, we popped out the back two fins and added one in the center for a thruster…

1. Can you imagine a tent from the 1970s making it into these pages now? Not a chance. But a good surfboard is a good surfboard, and the retro shape of the single-fin MR, which was designed by surf icon Mark Richards, was hands-down this year’s most stable, predictable,…

Designed by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard’s son, Fletcher, the quad-fin Quark is one of the lightest, greenest, most durable boards we’ve seen yet. Its fishlike characteristics include a nearly 20-inch width, high flotation, and mild swallowtail that make even the mushiest surf entertaining. Meanwhile, the Quark has mucho acceleration…

USER-FRIENDLY RIPPER Top pros like Bruce Irons, Joel Parkinson, and Luke Egan all ride Aussie shaper Jason Stevenson’s designs; the 6’5″ 300KW thruster we tested is identical to the one Egan surfs on in competitions. The bottom features a speedy, single-concave shape that transitions into a double-concave section near the…

FAST STICK FOR BIG GUYS If you’re a shortboarder stuck in a longboarder’s body, the Moby Fish may be the choice for you. Because this seven-foot-plus funboard is 22 inches wide, nearly three inches thick, and made with floaty EPS foam, it paddles like a longboard. But thanks to the…

Normally, a paddleboard will set you back close to two grand. That’s what makes the NSP so noteworthy: You get the whole package—traction pad, leash, and fins—for about half that. At 31 inches wide and nearly five inches thick, this board has plenty of confidence-building stability and is well…

High-Performance Softboard Not long ago, the words “soft surfboard” would’ve drawn jeers from core surfers. Now comes the ultralight Y-Quad, a truly high-performance softboard designed by Tom Morey, inventor of the boogie board. The semihard slick-skin deck and bottom suggest a glassed board, but the soft rails and boxy tail…

A DO-IT-ALL BARGAIN This is the shortboard for surfers with champagne taste and a box-wine budget. The six-foot-plus Glider was designed by Al Merrick, the revered shaper at Channel Islands Surfboards, and then mass-produced in Thailand by Global Surf Industries. It’s a classic all-around shape, and in both medium-size beach…

Adjustable Flex The Lost Rocket has a pump to adjust the air pressure inside its EPS foam core and change how it rides. It’s no gimmick: For clean waves, boost the psi to add stiffness and speed. On smaller, junkier waves, let some air out for a damper feel. The…

1. When the Flyer shape was first introduced, in 1999, it was as a performance board for small waves. But it worked so well that it became Channel Islands’ bestselling board of all time. Like the Flyer, the Helix is versatile on a wide range of waves. It’s lively…

A LIGHTWEIGHT, AGILE LONGBOARD You may recognize the Bear logo from the 1978 classic surf film Big Wednesday, but rest assured this longboard oozes modern performance. At nine feet one inch long and three inches thick, it felt like it could glide into anything. With a width of 22.5 inches,…

Stable Single-Fin This hand-shaped 9’2″ ­single-fin is based on a 1960s noserider template, with smooth rails and a slight V-bottom for agility. Its 22-inch width and three-inch thickness get you into even the weakest peelers, while the concave hull makes noseriding simple. We also found it was quick enough to…

Fish-style surfboards—’70s-era shapes with a pair of keel fins and a deep swallowtail—have been enjoying a comeback, and San Diego shaper Chris Christenson makes the ultimate catch. This five-foot-eleven-incher is a highly evolved shortboard, equally at home skating knee-high waves or threading overhead tubes. The straight rails held the…

WHERE TO USE IT: The best surf road trip begins in San Diego and heads north. Start mellow, with the friendly Tourmaline break, in Pacific Beach. Camp on the bluffs at San Onofre overlooking Old Man’s, a longboarder’s heaven (parks.ca.gov), then switch to your shortboard and hit…

Sleeping Bags Twenty-seven testers fanned out across the Pacific Northwest, bedding down for an accumulated 88 nights in 25 different sleeping bags. Trail Shoes Over five months, Jason Stevenson and his team of three testers evaluated 70 pairs of light hikers in six states—from Arizona…

It started with sneakers (Prada) and moved on to bikes (Gucci). Now designer brands have hit the outdoor industry head-on with Chanel’s new line of $4,000 surfboards, debuting this spring. Go ahead and paddle out on one; we’re sure the locals will respect you for it. High fashion co-opts surfboards…

Gallery and Video

Get dialed for summer's coolest sport

1. WILSON AVP REPLICA BALL You might not be able to spike like Misty May-Treanor, but you won’t be able to blame the ball. This soft, composite-leather volleyball is a facsimile of what the pros use. $15; wilson.com Women’s Beach Gear Essentials 2. LOLË…

Swooping through your first full-rail turn on a Hess surfboard requires a suspension of disbelief. This thing is made of wood? Hand-constructed from sustainably harvested poplar, cork, and amapola by San Francisco shaper Daniel Hess, it’s a piece of art as much as a performance wave-rider. Unlike the clunky wooden…

Hint: It's not the toboggan.

In the Store: Don’t know what kind of arches you have? Dunk your foot lightly in some water and then step on a paper bag. See almost your entire foot? You’re an overpronator. See very little? You’re an underpronator (this is less common). »…

What's to love in 2006? How about 100 of the most newsworthy athletes, products, gadgets, bold ideas, and badass feats? From Lance's remarkable retirement (you try raising $500,000 for charity in one night) to a cell phone that logs your training run (and tells you where to turn) to a 33-item gift guide (check out Oakley's Bluetooth shades), here ar

Want to own the War Bounty surfboard, a replica of the one seen in Apocalypse Now? It was built by the original board’s shaper, and is signed by the film’s Robert Duvall and Martin Sheen. The one-of-a-kind board will be auctioned on eBay in January. Check eBay’s homepage after January…

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