The Big Collection of River Surfboards

As the sport evolves, river surfers are using a wider variety of river surfboards than ever before. Here, I’ll try to keep track of the ever-expanding list of boards I’ve seen on Colorado’s Front Range. Where I can, I’ll note some of the pros and cons even if I haven’t done a full review. And where I’ve written a full review, I’ll note that as well.

I have excluded from the list any SUPs besides those specifically designed for surfing. Though you certainly can surf something like an 8’6″ Hala Atcha without a paddle, it’s tough and it’s certainly not what the board was designed for.

I’ve also excluded any handbuilt boards from the fine folks at these companies, which all design and build river-specific surfboards. The all make great boards, but their changing catalogs and varying availability make direct comparisons pretty tough. So, for better or worse, we are just talking about mass-produced boards here.

If you’re regularly river surfing a board that isn’t on the list, email me and let me know how you like it.

BoardPrice (Est.)ProsConsReview?
Boardworks Flying Pig$300Hard-board performance at approaching a soft-board priceNot enough volume for slow waves; somewhat fragile Yes
Scott Burke 5'2" Fish $160Inexpensive way to get into high performance boards for high performance wavesSquishy fins, and you get what you pay forYes
Wavestorm Taquito$250Surfs nearly everything besides very fast, steep waves. Cheap.Cheap. Has gotten hard to find, though Wavestorm has some similar replacements.Yes
California Board Company 6'2" Fish$70Cheap entry level board; will surf a variety of river waves depending on rider weight. A favorite for PuebloDiscontinued; replaced by a 6' board that is about the same quality and twice the priceYes
Giantex 6' Surfboard$65Cheap. Not much else.Basically a toy. Not enough stiffness to surf most river waves without turning into a taco.No
O'Brien Alley Wakesurfer$250Inexpensive entry into the wakesurfer category of boards for steep, fast waves. Quick.Soft for a wakesurfer.No
Catch Surf Beater$190Fairly stiff for a soft board. Quick.Not much nose rocker, which can be a liability for steeper waves. Not enough volume for slow waves for most surfers.No
Bic Paint$210Quick from edge to edge, fun on fast waves.Not enough volume for slower waves. Not much nose rocker.No
Slingshot Alien Twister$350Very fast from edge to edge. Stiff. Loose. Only suitable for steep, fast waves. Out of production.No
Slingshot Ankle Biter$315Fairly quick though more mellow than the Twister. Fun on fast waves.Only suitable for fast waves. Can be hard to find.No
Sling Shot Gnarwhal$650Heir to the Alien Twister. Fast and fun.Expensive, and only suitable for fast waves.No
Sling Shot Space Pickle$350Heir to the Ankle Biter. Same pros apply.Heir to the Ankle Biter. Same cons apply.No
Glide Sesh$1,099Park and play paddleboard surfable without a paddle. Durable, high volume.Heavier than surfboards or wake surfers. Expensive.Yes
Badfish IRS$899SUP surfable without a paddle. Rocker and volume let it surf more waves than most boards. Very stable. Updated design.Not particularly high performance once you're on the wave. Expensive. Yes
Lost Puddle Jumper$650High performance board on either the ocean or the river. Quick. Durable for a hard boardExpensive. Largely only suitable for fast river waves.River Surf Lab
Badfish Sk8$699River-specific design, high volume, surfs lots of wavesExpensive, often not the best board for the featureRiver Surf Lab
Softech Mystery Box$350Fairly quick and high volume. Can setup as a twin or quad. Some nose rocker.Not a ton of volume, though higher than some of the other softies.No
Softech Flash$280Quick on the wave with decent volume for its size. High performance for a soft topLower volume restricts it to fast waves for most surfersNo
Hala Peno$1300Surf-specific SUP short enough to surf without a paddle. High volume and will surf lots of things.Expensive. Not particularly high-performance once you're on the wave without a paddleNo
Lib Tech Air'n and Yacht Sea$700New boards, TBANew boards, TBANo
Channel Islands Average Joe$800Similar to the Puddle Jumper; fast from edge to edge and high performanceNeeds a fast wave to work given the relative lack of volumeNo
Softech Rocket Launch$180Enough rocker for steeper waves; finboxesSmall enough that only steep fast waves have enough speed for itNo
Softech Torpedo$280Removable fins, fair amount of volumePretty flat nose rocker, maybe out of production?No
Hala Milligram$1,000Small for a paddleboard and inflatable. Fits on a variety of waves.Big compared to shortboards and will be harder to turn/maneuver. ExpensiveNo, though I reviewed the gram here.
California Board Company 6' Slasher$150Similar to the CBC 6'2" fish. But shorter. Maybe a better option for smaller riders. CheapSimilar to the CBC 6'2" fish. But shorter. Maybe a worse option for larger riders. Getting expensive for the quality.No
California Board Company 6'2" Fish$140Decent size for a variety of waves, billed as a 6'2" Fish but really a 6' replacement for the old, cheap 6'2" FishTwice the price of the old 6'2" Fish, basically the same boardNo
5' Boardworks Froth$220Decent looking soft top, but haven't seen it on a wave yetDecent looking soft top, but haven't seen it on a wave yetNo
INT Blackball Beater$250Small, aggressive, cheap soft topStill a cheap soft top with fixed finsRiver Surf Lab
Catch Surf Odysea Stump
$275Good quality for a short board; interchangable fins; versatile volumeSluggish; good for lots of things but not great for anything.River Surf Lab
Lib Tech Air'N$700Great build quality, designed for (and good at) wakesurfingNot an ideal river boardRiver Surf Lab
Strongwater Foam Runt$400Well-built foamie, can surf a variety of different wavesFoam top adds weight and shaves performance compared to epoxy versionYes
Album Surfboards$400Good looking soft shorboards; made in USAUntestedNo
Badfish Wavo$700-$800Good wave for small, mushy, and shallow waves that are often surfed on SUPsExpensive, and often competing with cheaper boards at lower price points River Surf Lab
Odysea/Catch Surf 54 Special$265Inexpensive high-performance shortboard with finboxesRequires a relatively fast wave, but otherwise, not manyRiver Surf Lab
Lost Round Nose Fish$740Versatile shortboard Expensive, rarely the best optionRiver Surf Lab
Badfish Sk8 High Volume$700Good shortboard for bad/mushy conditionsExpensive option for surfing mediocre wavesRiver Surf Lab
Thurso Surf Lancer 5'10"$160Cheap softie fish. Looks comparable to the CBC Fish/Sushi Etc.Comparable to the other cheap fish softboards. No fin boxes. Not high performance, but price isn't high-performance eitherNo, though the CBC Fish review is in the ballpark.

Badfish iSk8$700Inflatable version of the sk8. More durable, better on shallow waves.Lower performance than the sk8 and expensive.No
Formula Fun Fish$265Looks like a fairly high-performance, inexpensive soft board. Fin boxes. Maybe competition for the Oddysea/Catch Surf BoardsUntestedNo
GoPlus 5'5" Fish$80It's a $80 surfboard. Should work for fast waves. Could be on par with the BurkeExpect the build quality to be on par for an $80 surfboard. To some extent, you get what you pay for.No
Sol Jah$599Versatile SUP that can be surfed as a shortboard. Relatively low-performance compared to lower volume options; somewhat expensive. River Surf Lab
Hydrus Montrose$768Durable, high-performance, river-specific hard boardExpensive; small production runs No
Gerry Lopez River Boat$499River-specific hybrid of a soft top and glass bottom. Interesting design, with input from a legend.Unique design, relatively untestedNo
Isle Nugget$195-$245Cheap soft shortboard for high-performance waves like RRP. Untested; you get what you pay for to a certain point.No
Almond Secret Menu$375Higher-performance foam "groveler"-style shortboard. More expensive than some comparable options, but design and build quality look good.No
South Bay Huevo$275Hard fiberglass bottom; lots of volume (37L) in a small package. Swappable fins.Dense foam makes for a heavy board relative to its size.Yes
Delight Alliance/Bitter End Boards (Various)$575+High-performance Austrian hardboards shaped for river surfingExpensiveNo
Badfish Bomb Drop$300Foam-top, hard-bottom river surfer from a river SUP companySimilar to foam groveler boards already on the marketNo
Thurso Lancer 5'10"$180Another entry in the cheap foamie shortboard category. Cheap.Likely cheaply made. Higher-quality options out there for not a lot more money.No
Wavestorm Fish$120-$250Wavestorm has a couple of different cheap "Fish" boards. Inexpensive and easy to find. Can work well on some waves like Montrose.Too long for high-performance waves, not enough volume for mushier waves. Needs a sweet spot.No