The Mini-Mal (short for mini Malibu) is an extremely versatile surfboard that works for a wide range of surfers in a variety of conditions.
While many people like to consider the Mini Mal a funboard or hybrid board, we believe it has a lot of its own qualities that make it unique among the others.
The Mini-Mal got its name from its older brother, The Malibu.
Malibu surfboards were great for surfing Malibu’s right hand point breaks because of their narrow, longboard shapes with pulled tails and noses. The reason they became so popular is that they gave the classic feel of a longboard with added maneuverability.
Fast forward to the age of innovation and the surfing industry down-sized to the Mini-Mal. With all the reasons in the world to have a Mini-Mal, we want to break it down so you have all the information you’ll ever need!
- 1 What Is a Mini-Mal Surfboard?
- 2 Top 3 Best Mini-Mal Surfboards
- 3 Pro's
- 4 Con's
- 5 Mini-Mal Size Chart
- 6 Mini-Mal VS Funboard
- 7 MINI-MAL VS LONGBOARD
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Mini-Mal Surfboard?
Here are the typical characteristics of a mini-mal type boards:
Top 3 Best Mini-Mal Surfboards
The BIC DURA-TEC boards have been very popular throughout our surfboard lists for good reasons, mostly because they make incredibly versatile boards that are great for beginners and advanced riders alike. More and more we’re beginning to see these boards out in the ocean and surfers are starting to catch on.
The Mini-Mal Wahine is great for the entry-level rider. Rather than blowing a ton of money on a board you might have a difficult time riding, you can instead get the Wahine Mini-Mal and have confidence that it’ll give you a good ride.
Even with the inexpensive cost, it comes equipped with a full polyurethane core (a traditional surf standard), fully integrated FCS fin boxes, and a durable polyethylene outer shell that will withstand all the wipeouts that are to come. The 7’3” build will work well with most riders and will give you ample room to pop-up and remain stable once you catch your first wave.
We also love the added traction pad to help make that balance muscle memory. This is an excellent board to start out any quiver.
#2 - Disrupt Sports Mini Mal
Disrupt Sports has a pretty impressive line of custom Mini Mals that they allow you to design. This is great for the creative types! Even though they are beginner boards, they share the same quality as some of the top level boards we see out there.
This isn’t a foam top, so you’ll need to be a little more careful on those wipeouts, though the triple layer fiberglass and epoxy resin will ride must faster and is still incredibly easy to paddle out with.
The board is built with a single to double concave that helps pick up speed as you move through the water pulled squash tail helps you to drive into turns much better than the boards we’ve already mentioned. Driving turns can be a total headache with these types of boards, so we really want to make sure we emphasize how nice of a feature that is.
Available in sizes between 7’2” and 7’6”, they’ve made a small range of boards that can suit most riders pretty well. Complete with fully rolled rails and a slight lift in the nose for help with paddling, you won’t be wiping out all over the place. That’s a great thing because the hard top adds a more dangerous element to the learning curve that you don’t want to be hit with.
#3 - BIC Sport ACS Mini Malibu Surfboard 7’3”
Another great BIC surfboard, it runs pretty much in the same vein as the Wahine Min-Mal in that it is made for beginners who are looking to progress to the next level. Built with the incredibly strong and exclusive-to-BIC ACS construction, it’s an incredibly durable board that will last you through whatever the ocean brings you way.
We love the longboard feel on this thing! The board itself is very lightweight, even more so than the DURA-TEC, which makes it great for kids who have to be able to get it moving in and out of the water.
The rounded nose and squaretail really accentuate stability and balance so you can easily catch waves without worrying about slipping off. While they might not be the prettiest boards out there, you must know that as a beginner it is necessary to start somewhere. You won’t regret it when you realize how fun these are to ride and how long they will last.
Mini-Mal Size Chart
Surfer Weight (kg)
< 55 kg
95 kg +
Mini-Mal VS Funboard
Funboards and Mini-Mals actually have quite a bit in common. The most difficult thing about differentiating the two is that some people consider Mini-Mals to be funboards. We’re going to get a little more technical though, so hold on. Funboards usually run a little smaller than Mini-Mals, and tend to be anywhere from 6’-8’ long. The bodies share the same roundness though, and they both tend to be on the wider side with lots of surface area in the chest region. Usually you’ll find that Mini-Mals take their tails from longboards and either feature squaretails or squash tails. Fun boards have a pretty wide variety of different tails that can be utilized in different situations.
Mini-Mals are definitely better for beginners out of the two, even though funboards are excellent transitional boards as well. The reason we say that though is because funboards are usually more versatile and tend to work in small to overhead conditions. Funboards are much more maneuverable too. That being said, they both are very stable boards and will work for those looking to progress their surfing.
MINI-MAL VS LONGBOARD
The Mini-Mal, in a way, is like the younger brother of the longboard. They are the same in many ways, though have their own special qualities that set them apart. For fin setups, we’ll usually find that a longboard has a 2+1, whereas a Mini-Mal typically takes thrusters to give it a more maneuverable feel. Longboards will commonly have rounded tails or pintails, while the squash and squaretails are found on Mini-Mals. The added length is the most obvious physical separation between the two. Longboards can run anywhere from 8’ up to 12’ for people who are really looking to push the limits.
Both share the same qualities for surfing smaller waves that are knee high or smaller. They both have a solid amount of stability because of their lengths and widths and are great for entry-level surfers. Neither of them are as maneuverable as shortboards, though you’ll find that paddling out on the waves is much easier when you choose to take them out. What we love about the longboard is that it has a classic cruiser feel. You know when you get out you need nothing more than to just cruise along the waves with style and grace.
If you want a bit more versatility, go for the Mini-Mal. Keep in mind though that there is nothing better for a beginner than a nice log.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kinds of waves are Mini-Mals best suited for?
Mini-Mals are great when the waves are smaller. Lots of shortboarders we know have Mini-Mals in their quiver specifically for days where conditions aren’t super ideal. You probably won’t be carving the face of steep waves with these unless you are a total madman, but we definitely recommend getting one of these for the little days, regardless of if you are a beginner or surfing veteran.
Which fin setup will work best for a Mini-Mal?
We highly recommend trying out a set of thrusters on your Mini-Mal if you are in the process of taking a step up from the longboard game. This will give you much better performance and maneuverability. 2+1 setups also work really well for Mini-Mals. They make for a much smoother ride and the larger fin in the middle helps to dig in and provide a bit more stability. They also tend to have a little more pop than a set of thrusters.
What is the difference between squaretails and squash tails?
Squaretails are one of the best designs if you’re looking to add a bit more stability to your board. They are wider than squash tails and help you dig more into the sides of waves. They are classic tails that you’ll pretty much find on longboards more than anything else, which is the reason many shapers add them to Mini-Mals.
If you want your Mini-Mal to act more like a shortboard, look for one with a squash tail. It’s essentially a squaretail variation that is better for tighter turns and releases. Basically they allow your board to be more maneuverable. The beautiful thing is, even with the reduced surface area in relativity to the squash tail, they still have that same lift and dig. This is great if you want control in bigger waves. In all, squash tails are much more versatile and have become somewhat of a staple for modern surfers.
How can I learn to Hang 5 or Hang Ten?
Mini-Mals are great for performing these sorts of classic tricks. A Hang 5 or Hang 10 is essentially moving up to the front of your board and hanging your toes off the end. We don’t recommend this if you aren’t totally comfortable on your board yet, though if you feel you are ready, here’s a little guide to get started.
First thing you need to do is paddle out and catch a wave. Once you are riding it comfortable, angle your board down towards the face of the wave and get into the speedline (this is the mid-portion of the wave). You’re going to need a good amount of speed for this to work. Once you are moving down the face of the wave comfortable, shuffle down to the front of the board. This will cause the board to pick up more speed, so don’t be surprised if you feel the energy pick up. Make sure you remain in the center throughout your shuffle until you get to the front of the boar. If the nose begins to dip under the water, move backwards until you regain your balance. You don’t want to pearl.
All-in-all performing these classic tricks isn’t insanely difficult. A few tries and you should be able to nail it. The longer your Mini-Mal is, the easier this will be. Don’t try and hit the mushy waves either. Look for a set of clean mid-sized waves. Have fun!
BEST MINI MAL SURFBOARD BRANDS
NSP is a brand that we really dig for Mini-Mal boards and they probably have one of the most popular Mini Mal boards for beginners that we constantly see out in the ocean. They’re great if you’re looking to take a step up from your longboards or foamies. The NSP team started up their brand in 2001 and have been making a big splash in the surf and SUP market ever since. They have tons of high quality and durable boards that they make for all kinds of conditions and styles of riding. As a Hawaiin surf company, these guys truly embody the soul of surfing. Their Elements board is an instant classic that has all our favorite characteristics of a Mini-Mal and more. If you want something durable without breaking the bank, we’d highly recommend checking them out
While most people know the brand because of their massive line of pens, we know them because of their sweet line of surfboards, one of them being the Mini-Mal. BIC surf was developed in the early 2000s in collaboration with some of the best surfboard shapers in the game. The idea was to create a line of surfboards that were durable, affordable, and could perform just as well as some of the top brand name boards. As they grew, we began seeing their boards pop up in competitions around the world with people taking home trophies after completely shredding on their DURA-TEC boards. Now, they can be found in just about any surf shop in the world and are very accessible to those who are looking to get into surfing.