Step-up and step-down surfboards enter a surfer’s vocabulary when they start thinking about choosing the right board for the right conditions.
They’re additional tools in your surfboard quiver to get the most out of what your selection of waves is offering up.
Getting yourself a proper step-up and step-down allows you to further expand and enhance your surfing experience and really take full advantage of a given wave.
What is a Step-Up Surfboard?
A step-up surfboard – sometimes falling into the semi-gun category, sometimes not – is a surfboard that’s got more length and volume than your go-to shortboard for bigger waves.
You’ll know you might need a step up if your current shortboard feels loose or squirrely in bigger waves.
A good step-up gives you more control in bigger, faster surf.
The exact design and dimensions of a proper step-up surfboard are going to depend on the individual and where they’re surfing, but in general, step-ups are:
- Anywhere from 3”-8” longer than your shortboard.
- Either a similar/same shape as your normal board or a little more narrow in the nose and tail.
- Thicker with more volume.
You’ll definitely want a step-up if you’re going to be surfing big waves.
What is a Step-Down Surfboard?
A step-down describes a surfboard for small, weak waves.
They’re shorter than your typical shortboard – anywhere from 2-4” or more, and have added thickness and width. Quad setups work well here.
Step-downs hold a murkier spot in most modern quivers than step-ups.
With many shortboards you see on the rack trending towards the thicker, wider, and shorter range and many surfers opting for hybrids anyway – chances are you already have a board that’ll go in small waves.