Too often, the surf world is divided between two separate clubs-the longboarders and the shortboarders.
You’re either on the rip of the lip or riding the nose.
But what about surfers who want the best of both worlds?
Settle for a mid-length surfboard.
Personally, I grew up mostly riding the shortboards and even pursued it competitively for several years in college.
But once I got a partner and started teaching her how to surf, I grudgingly fell in love with the logs.
Soon, I got interested in the in-between boards for days when the surf was too small for short boarding and a little too big for longboarding.
I think it was because of the mid’s low-rocker entry and the years of experience I already had pushing long rail through turns.
My gateway drug was a 7’8″ board with a seriously rolled V, shard/thin rails in the back, and a low entry rocker.
Using the mid-length boards completely blew my mind, and I was stupefied that I could lay it deep on a rail out on the shoulder. I was smitten.
Thanks to the extra paddling power, I also had an easy time syncing with the board and even managed to position myself exactly where I wanted to be to take off.
But the biggest benefit, at least for me, is that I could ride the mid-board in the massive wakes as well as on the knee-length tides. The ultimate one-board quiver!
Above all, it even made more sense for me because, like most surfers, I don’t get to choose where to surf.
I surf in whatever conditions there’re, and here on the South Coast, it’s quite often messy, and we know what knee-high waves look like. From personal experience, it’s challenging to surf a wave like this on any type of shortboard.
But with a mid-length, I effortlessly rip the water, regardless of the existing conditions.
Of course, I know mid-length surfboards have fallen to some bad-mouthery and judgment in the past, but you shouldn’t let them stop you from having fun in the water.
And the good thing is this perception seems to be changing as more surfers of all abilities and backgrounds are waking up to the versatility of these more refined modern surfboard shapes.
Their popularity has also snowballed over the recent years, with recreational surfers inspired by professional mid-length aficionados such as Joel Tutor, Alex Knost, Devon Howard, and Torren Marten.
Now, if you need the only surfboard to take with you to your next surfing trip, here’s a review of the best mid-length surfboards in the market.
Table of Contents
The Best Mid Length Surfboards For The Money
#1 Channel Islands’ CI Mid - EDITOR'S CHOICE
My idea of the ideal mid-length is a surfboard that can paddle, catch waves easily and generate speed without too much trouble. Simply put, a board that can cruise more than rip turns.
But the Channel Island CI Mid is not your typical mid-length surfboard.
Instead, it does more than surfing straight and fast; it can also do the turns and has no trouble transitioning from rail to rail.
And from the look of things, Channel Island seems to have struck a fine balance of all worlds with the CI Mid.
For me, at least, I would say that that isn’t the board for surfers who simply want to get out and rip, shred, and tear. The CI Mid is perfect for the average surfer who enjoys the challenges of different boards, the glide of a bigger board or looking, or a board that smoothens their surfing.
I was also quite sold on the Mid’s shape.
It’s a little tweak on the egg board or the semi gun surfboard, with no hull bottom or 50/50 rails.
The overall outline is pretty nice, with nothing drastic, but it will leave you wanting to surf more.
For example, I’m a big fan of the extra foam upfront, especially around the chest area, which helps get into the waves earlier and create speed down new lines as you run cross point break walls.
Meanwhile, the double-barrel concave on the bottom helps with maneuverability, while the easy rocker and tucked rails allow the snappy and quicker turns.
My only concern was that the single fin setup options were pretty limited, with only a single fin box and two FCS plus.
But the 2+1 fin setup is amazing and doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the performance.
In fact, the board does all the work for you, driving around sections with slight adjustments and goes fast when standing there.
It flows quite easily and will help clean up your surfing if you let it. You’ll be the only person surfing with finesse, even in the choppy and marshy conditions.
But keep in mind it’s not for the surfer who wants to get out there and “Hulk smash” every wave, but for the surfers who enjoy the glide and challenge of something different. It’s also a great pick for seniors or surfers coming back from injury.
As for the wave conditions, the CI Mid works pretty well on a good range of conditions. But in my opinion, it really shines well around the 2-3ft mark of the playful wave types.
From my experience, it doesn’t enjoy sucky waves, though it handles well with surf that has a “push.”
It’s also not for the short and done waves either but it will excel when running on a bank and areas with downtime on the waves.
All in all, I would recommend the Island for the 2-3ft chubby waves with a couple of fast and slow sections.
But as we mentioned earlier, the beauty of this fish surfboard is how much work it does for you.
It runs riot with a slight push, goes to the Highline pretty fast, and you get an immense amount of speed.
Plus, the board allows you to perform many tricks, ranging from snaps, roundhouses, and even some airs.
Overall, the Channel Islands’ CI Mid is a great all-around board that gives you an immense amount of fun in the water and will do a lot of the work for you if you let it.
#2 Tolhurst Surfboards Mid 6 HI - Best Mid-Length Surfboard for Speed
The Tolhurst Mid 6 HI is my favorite surfboard. I’m so excited about this purchase that I don’t think I would want anything else, lol.
I mean, it’s a total quiver killer for me.
It’s kind of a happy medium between what I love about my longboards, but it is much shorter and has less swing weight upfront so I can surf super close like a smaller board.
There’s also a lot to love with this surfboard, but it’s the shape for me.
From the word go, you can tell that Tolhurst Mid 6 HI looks fast at face value.
The 5 fin set up is also sexy, while the rails make this board look more like a performance mid-length than beginners mini mals.
Plus, the rails are knifey, and so once I put the board at high speed, it didn’t disappoint. There’s minimal bounce or hardly any chatter through turns. It actually makes the board a dream mini mal surfboard for surfers who enjoy going from rail to rail and don’t suffer from a stutter.
Besides going really fast and doing more carves among your crowd, this surfboard will also let you catch more waves and duck dive, whether it’s getting into waves or easy paddling past the crowd in the sweep.
And the good thing with this board is that it doesn’t mind a bit of wave, while its quad fin set up holds beautifully.
It’ll paddle power on the point breaks, and with its added volume, you’ll get the very best even in the 4 feet waves and when making the critical drops.
Overall, the Tolhurst Mid 6 HI feels like a high-performance board, offering a beautiful mix that meets in the middle of tradition and performance.
It’s a great purchase for surfers who don’t care about throwing nooners out there regularly but still enjoy moments on the rail.
The Tolhurst Mid 6 HI also keeps the surfing fun for when you get out in the water and is a perfect addition for someone who loves variety in their quiver but still wants to spice up their performance in the Highline trims.
#3 The Scorpion by Donald Takayama - The best mid-length / mini-mal
The Scorpion is the ultimate mini-nose rider.
It’s an excellent board, probably the fastest board out there, with controlled maneuverability.
Coming in length from 6’8” to 8’, the Scorpion flies when ridden on the nose.
It’s super stable and a versatile board for any skill level, from beginners to advanced surfers.
With a true pulled V tail- pintail, surfers will appreciate a quick responsive turning. Along with the 2+1 fin set up, this board performs the tightest of turns when pushed to its limits and might be an excellent choice for anyone looking for a shorter “mini-longboard.”
When it comes to the choice of waves, this board excels in the small waves to medium conditions. The rocker in the nose allows for surfing more critical waves and in dumpy or clean waist high to well overhead. They’re also ideal when the waves hit head high.
I’ve used it in sloppy conditions, but also some nice walls. I found that it turns easier with the thruster set up than quad.
As with most Scorpion boards, this option comes standard with beautiful resin tints and gloss finish that adds style and durability to this board.
But more importantly, the extra width and thickness throughout the board make it easier to ride the Scorpion shorter than the other boards.
Plus, the more I ride the Takayama, the more I realize what a great shape this board is. It’s super loose, fast, and fun. It stalls to the point of no return and makes it back into the pocket like no other mid-length, with unmatched looseness.
It’s a wonderful surfboard, whether you’re coming from a shortboard or longboard. It’s user-friendly, fun, and can catch waves all day long.
The Takayama is also a real dark horse that can handle any type of wave. This high-performance creation allows superhuman paddling and will let you draw sleek lines on the face of good waves.
Whether you need to get barreled, perform turns, d tricks, or simply paddle back out, Takayama has it all.
Overall, this board is a great option for surfers moving from a mini-longboard to a fun shape or simply looking for a surfing board with more float to replace their shortboard.
#4 Modern Falcon PU - Best Mid-length board for Beginners and Intermediates
The Falcon is an upgrade to the Blackbird model, and it sets a new benchmark for the fun mid-lengths category.
Some of the desirable elements that I really love with this pick are stability, buoyancy, a new sexier shape, and performance.
It’s the perfect mid-length surfing board for beginners to intermediate surfers wanting to hone their skills and get better.
The Falcon has a distinct shape, consisting of a wide forward, enhancing the overall trim stability from a central stance position. Meanwhile, the back half tapers steadily towards the narrow tail, and this helps turn in the smaller waves and increases your stability in the larger waves.
I feel the streamlined round nose gives the board an outline of a contemporary vibe and is perfect for a duck dive.
Meanwhile, the bottom contours are also designed to promote better performance in the water. For example, the flat rocker strikes the perfect balance between paddle speed and has just enough nose/tail for accessing the steeper parts of the waves.
On the other hand, the vee running between the double concave allows for smooth rail transitions and delivers responsive feedback, especially when you lean back.
Falcon utilizes polyester/PU construction to produce a reliable and strong surfboard with distinctive quality finishes. It’s reliable, feels sturdy, and will perform in all surf conditions. It can also be adapted to suit a variety of surfboard models.
This bad boy also has more than enough volume for greater buoyancy and stability, especially through the spine. It tapers well at the tip, and this is helpful for performance sensitivity when riding on the wave’s ace.
Performance on the water is also unmatched, and I’m a big fan of the dual-purpose nature of this mid-length surfboard.
It offers a stable and cruisy ride for surfers transitioning from a soft board to or bigger board.
The pro surfers are not left out either. This board offers a surprising amount of speed and response, perfect when you’re adopting a more aggressive approach.
Finally, Modern PU Falcon is available in various board sizes in clear and tint options, so you can always find a board that suits your personality.
Overall, this board is a reliable and affordable option, and I’m pretty sure it’ll feature prominently in your quiver.
#5 Chilli Mid Strength TT - Best Surfboard for Seniors
Chilli Mid Strength was designed by James when he had a niggling knee injury and didn’t perform to the best of his ability.
According to James, he wanted a surfboard that could easily paddle, catch waves, and surf easily.
The Chilli meets and exceeds these expectations, making paddling much easier and comfortable.
First, it utilizes a semi-full pointy nose, allowing you to paddle into the waves with greater confidence and is easy to control.
Its rocker is also unique because it has a low-entry and medium-exit feature, which comfortably picks up the waves, while the concave contour aids in an excellent speed.
Overall, this board is great for older surfers who can’t perform to the best of their abilities and don’t have the effort to ride the board.
The Chilli does the work for you. It’s made to paddle and catch waves easy in the top end, and once up and riding, it’ll turn and pivot super easy with a little bit of release when needed.
I found the curvy and narrow outlines and rocket combo quite helpful in making the board not feel long and straight like most mid-lengths; instead, it surfs like a much shorter board.
Best Mid Length Surfboards Buying Guide
The best mid-length surfboards are available in different styles, shapes, and lengths, so choosing the right board for your needs can feel a bit challenging.
This is why we’ve compiled this guide.
I’ll share everything you need to know about selecting the best mid-length surfboard in the section below.
But first, let’s look at the reasons why you should consider a mid-length surfboard.
Top 5 Reasons Why you Need a Mid-length Surfboard
One of the benefits of a mid-length surfboard is how well it rides in the barrel.
While it won’t let you air-drop then side-slip into a tube-like you can with your standard thruster, but with a little finesse, a good board will raise your tube and wave count.
The best mid-length gives you the glide you need on small, mushy days and the paddling speed on the bigger surf.
Again, it takes good positioning, but with much foam under the chest, it gets effortless.
Mid-length surfboards are available in different shapes and sizes.
They can be refined and dialed into whatever types of waves you like to ride.
Whether you’re hunting the tube or simply want to lay it on a rail or nose ride, there’s a board that does it for you.
Surf a Wider Variety of Conditions
The mid-length surfboards are the most versatile boards in my quiver.
I can always find a wave for it, and when I get in the water, it’s quite adaptable and is more fun.
Features That These Styles Have in Common
Let’s look at the features that the mid-length surfboards share.
The first one is the length.
Generally, mid-lengths are around seven to eight feet, plus or minus several inches.
The other distinctive feature with the mid-lengths is the fin configuration.
Unlike other classes of fish surfboards, mid-length boards only have a single fin or two-in-one fin. I prefer the 2-in 1, with two lateral side fins and one center fin.
The final feature is the contours at the bottom.
While all mid-length has contoured bottoms, it’s the feature that separates the mid-length varieties.
Varieties of Mid-Length Boards
The two popular types of mid-length boards are:
The hull-bottomed has a convex design, running from the tail to the nose.
These boards rely on the wave’s power for speed.
You simply allow the waves to take you because you can’t plane or pump on the board for speed.
You can only control on this type of board the movement for where you want it to go.
The hull-bottomed mid-lengths aren’t as user-friendly as the concave option and are only perfect for adventurous professional surfers.
But they work well for clean waves, where the point break is smooth. They may not be great for punchy surfing.
The concave-bottomed is a tamer mid-length board variation.
They’re the opposite of the hull-bottomed boards, so you need to pump your board to generate speed on this board. You don’t entirely rely on the waves, but you also have to do the work.
Mid-Length Surfboards Versus Shortboards and Mini-Longboards
Generally, mid-lengths are suited for surfers with some level of experience. It deserves a place in the quiver of an average surf.
Beginners should be better off with longboards. But if you’re seeking the best performance and snappiness, opt for a shortboard.
Remember, a mid-length isn’t all about the best performance or teaching you how to ride the waves. Instead, it is about getting as much fun as possible on the waves and being able to enjoy the messy, choppy, and otherwise disappointing surf.
Best Mid-lengths Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What is the best fin for mid-length surfboards?
A: A thruster is a good starting point.
You could also step up to a quad, though many surfers seem better suited to the single fin, tri-fin, and 2+1 Fin set ups.
Q: How long is a mid-length surfboard?
A: A mid-length board is usually between 7 and 8 feet, plus or minus several inches.
Sometimes, it goes as low as 6’8” and as high as 8’7’. The ideal length also depends on the surfer’s height.
At this length, the board offers a decent amount of control and greater buoyancy.
It’s also ideal for paddling, though it obviously lacks a performance shortboard’s power, drive, and control.
Q: How much do mid-length boards cost?
A: It depends, but generally, a good mid-length board shouldn’t go for anything less than $800.
Q: Should I get a mid-length as my first board?
You would be much better with a longboard if you’re new to surfing.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Our winner for the best mid-length is the Channel Island CI Mid.
I’m pretty sold with what this board offers and would highly recommend it for anyone interested in surfing or already in the game.
It has a lot to offer in terms of performance, ease of and functionality.
The Mid goes above and beyond your standard shortboard, delivering an incredible performance for surfs of any skill level and in different water conditions.