Mini mal surfboards are loved by surfers all over the world. They’re the perfect board for beginners, they’re loads of fun for cruising on smaller waves, and they’re a smart alternative to traditional longboards.
Every surfer should own a mini mal. They offer the best qualities of both longboards and shortboards, making them a versatile choice for all kinds of surfers and conditions.
Interested in finding the best mini mal for you? Follow our guide for everything you need to know about buying a mini mal, including our choice of the best 8 mini mal surfboards for all kinds of surfers.
What Is a Mini Mal?
Mini mal surfboards, also known as “mid-length” boards, are smaller versions of a longboard. These are ideal surfboards for beginners, as they offer really great stability and buoyancy, while still being a comfortable size to manage.
Mini mals are typically between 7 to 8 feet in length, and they have the same general shape as a longboard. Mini mals are often found in soft-top versions, which are a good choice for anyone learning how to surf.
A mini mal offers a good combination of volume and stability, while still offering more maneuverability and performance than a regular longboard. When the waves start to get too big and steep for traditional longboards, mini mals can be taken out instead. Being smaller than longboards, they’re also a lot more convenient to carry and store.
History Of Mini Mals
Mini mal stands for mini Malibu, which is where these boards originated. Mini mals were originally slightly shorter and narrower versions of the typical Malibu longboards made from balsa wood. They were designed to surf Malibu’s right-hand breaks with a bit more maneuverability than the classic longboards offered.
Many people struggled to carry around and handle the typical Malibu longboard, and so surfers started to create shortened versions. This is how the mini mal was born.
Like surf kayaks these boards started making their way into the surfing world in the 1950s and became very popular in California in the 1960s.
In the mid-1950s, a group of surfers from California brought their mini mals to Australia, and Australians had never seen anything like these boards. Australian surfers tried to replicate the design, but they struggled to find balsa wood. To fix this, they started making mini mals from a base of plywood. These quickly went into mass production, and so mini mals started taking over the two most popular surfing destinations in the world.
Today, mini mals are found wherever there are waves. These are some of the absolute best surfboards for beginners, as well as experienced riders looking for something fun to cruise on smaller waves.
What To Look For When Buying A Mini Mal
Buying a surfboard is a very personal thing. You need to make sure that the board matches your exact requirements, and suits your body size, weight, skill level, and the waves you plan on surfing it in.
The most important thing to consider when buying any surfboard is its length, width, and thickness. There is no right or wrong here, the best mini mal depends on how the dimensions match the surfer. Generally, bigger surfers prefer bigger boards.
Most mini mals are either 7 or 8 feet in length. The longer the board, the more stable it will be to surf. Longer boards are easier to stand up on, and faster to paddle. However, the longer the board, the more restricted it might be to move on a wave.
The thickness and width also make a big difference. Basically, the more volume the board has, the more buoyant and stable it will be. This will make it easier to surf and pop up on. Thicker boards are easier to surf in smaller waves and sloppy conditions. Catching less powerful waves with these boards requires less effort
When choosing the size of your mini mal, consider your own height and weight. Smaller boards are better for kids, bigger boards are better for adults. Thicker boards are better for beginners, and shorter boards are better for more experienced surfers.
The shape of the board also makes a major difference in how it performs in the water. Typical mini mals have a full rounded nose like a classic longboard, with a slightly narrowed tail end. This tail is generally either a pin tail (rounded) or a squash or square tail (flat). Pin tails are a bit more performance-oriented, while flattened tails are generally more stable for easy cruising.
Most mini mals have a large rounded nose which is great for stability. If you want something that offers more performance, then look for a nose that is a bit more sharpened.
Then there’s the rocker. Most mini mals are pretty flat and don’t have much rocker. This makes them faster to paddle and more stable when catching waves. However, it also means you’ll probably end up nose-diving on steeper waves. If you want to surf steeper waves, then try to get a mini mal that has some rocker, or curve, in it.
Soft or Hard Top
Most surfboards are typically covered in some kind of hard epoxy shell. When it comes to mini mals though, there are some awesome soft top options available.
Soft top boards are ideal for beginners because they’re a lot more forgiving. They’re more lightweight, more durable, safer, and often don’t even require wax. If you’re looking for a beginner/child-friendly surfboard, or a board to just have fun on, then a soft top is a great option. If you’re after something a bit more serious, then go for a regular hard surfboard.
8 Best Mini Mal Surfboards
Here are the best mini mal surfboards in a variety of lengths and styles.
7 Foot Mini Mals
Modern Surfboards Love Child Mini Mal
- 7’ x 3.12”
- Pin tail design
- PU construction
- Colorful kaleidoscope tint
This versatile cruiser by Modern Surfboards looks as good as it performs. The board is available in a range of sizes (6ft, 6ft 4in, 6ft 8in, 7ft, 7ft 6in) to perfectly match all kinds of surfers. This is a good choice for a shorter mini mal that combines stability with performance in just the right way.
The board has a pin tail design, and its profile features a low rocker with some subtle tail lift. The tail shape gives you improved maneuverability and control in bigger, steeper surf, and the low rocker helps maintain down-the-line speed once you’re up. You still get that great level of stability from the longboard-shaped nose. However, the board does lack a bit of volume compared to other mini mals, so it doesn’t always perform as well in very small surf.
This board has space for 5 fins, allowing you to try out different fin configurations. This includes a single fin, dual fin, quad fin, or 5 fin setup. Finally, the board looks amazing with its colorful kaleidoscope underneath the board and along the rails.
Rock It SHORTBUS Soft Top
- 7′ x 21″ x 3″
- A soft-top minimal surfboard
- Thruster fin setup
- Available in a range of solid colors
This is one of the best mini mal options for beginners as the board is so forgiving. It’s the perfect all-around soft-top surfboard to match people of all sizes. The classic mid-length shape gives you just the right balance between stability and performance. The board surfs well in slightly steeper waves compared to a longboard, but it can also power through sloppy, smaller conditions.
The soft top design is strengthened by two wood stringers and two layers of fibreglass cloth for better rigidity and durability. The top of the board is slightly textured, so you don’t actually need to add any wax (although wax does help).
The UV-resistant soft top layer is available in a range of different solid colors to match your style. This is really just the classic funboard that’s easy to ride but not a complete hassle to carry around.
Liquid Shredder EZ-Slider
- 7ft x 21.5in x 3in
- Foam deck surfboard
- Removable tri-fin system
- Super strong leash attachment webbing strap
This mini mal is seriously lightweight while still offering loads of volume. It’s an excellent foam top surfboard for beginners or experienced riders looking for a fun and forgiving board.
The board is made from a high-density EPS blank with two epoxy-coated hardwood stringers and a high strength bottom. This gives it great strength, even though the top is soft. There’s a removable tri-fin system for the flexible fins. The flexibility of the fins makes them safer – ideal for beginners.
The strong leash attachment webbing strap attaches to any two fin screws, which means no leash plug is necessary. If you want to surf without a leash, then you can easily just take this strap off.
Overall, this is one of the best mini mal surfboards for total beginners, or anyone progressing to a slightly shorter board. The board is very stable, lightweight, and has plenty of volume for smaller, messier conditions.
Boardworks Froth Mini Mal
- 7’ x 22” x 3 ⅛”
- A soft-top surfboard
- Light yet durable construction
- Thruster fin setup
This is one of the best mini mal options for a fun board that everyone can enjoy. The soft top surfboard has a generous volume while maintaining a slightly sharpened shape. This gives you plenty of stability as well as good maneuverability in different conditions.
This Boardworks surfboard is a top choice for beginners and kids, but it’s also fun for rippers and wake surfers to ride in a variety of conditions.
The soft EVA outer skin is wrapped around a fully glassed EPS foam core. This is really durable and lightweight. There are three removable fins, and the different color options all look great. If you’re after a user-friendly and fun board for all abilities, then this would be a top choice.
8 Foot Mini Mals
Paragon Surfboards Retro Noserider
- 8’0″ x 22″ x 3″
- Wide square tail design
- 9” single fin
- Full nose and 50/50 rails
This is a really cool retro-shaped surfboard for total beginners or advanced longboarders. You get everything you’d expect from a high-end performance longboard in this fun and friendly mini mal.
The board has a wider than normal square tail, a full nose, and 50/50 rails. This all comes together to provide plenty of stability for easy surfing. The generous volume suits beginners and allows you to catch more waves even in tiny conditions. And if you’re into nose riding, then this board is perfect.
The classic single fin makes it a really fun board to ride on gentle waves. The surfboard is also highly durable, with a bottom glass job and a gloss finish.
Wave Bandit EZ Rider
- 8’0″ x 23. 0″ x 3. 375″
- A fun egg shape board
- A soft-top surfboard
- Pop thru tri-fin setup
Mini mal surfboards for beginners don’t get much better than this. The Wave Bandit EZ Rider is big, offers plenty of volume, and is the perfect shape for anyone catching their first wave. The forgiving soft top design is also loads of fun for advanced surfers to take out in sloppier conditions.
The EPS core surfboard has double maple wood stringers for added durability. There’s a removable tri-fin setup, a square tail, and a full nose. Basically, this mini mal is everything you would want from a high-volume soft-top board for beginners. It’s easy to ride and plenty of fun.
Rock-It Big Softy Mini Mal
- 96″ x 22.7″ x 3.3″
- A soft-top surfboard
- Includes three safety fins
- Doesn’t require wax
The Big Softy is one of those mini mals that everyone loves. This soft-top surfboard is a good choice for beginners to catch their first wave, or for experienced surfers wanting to cruise on smaller days. The board is big, but not too big, with a great combination of buoyancy, stability, and easy maneuverability.
There are three epoxy coated wooden stringers inside this board, surrounded by EPS foam and a UV resistant soft top later. This layer is textured and doesn’t require wax.
There are three removable safety fins, some gentle rocker, and a zebra-striped bottom which is supposed to deter sharks. This is one of the best mini mal options for surfers of all kinds of skill levels, ages, and sizes.
Wavestorm 8’ Classic Mini Mal
- 8’ x 22.5” x 3.25”
- Soft foam top deck
- Includes traction pad and board sock
- Bolt through tri-fin system
If you’re after the best mini mal for starting out, then this is definitely a smart choice. The Wavestorm 8’ is a classic board for beginner surfers. It’s got a full rounded nose, a squared-off tail, and a removable thruster fin setup.
This soft top board is complete with a built-in traction pad, a leash, and it even comes with a board sock – everything you need for getting started.
This may not be the most high-performance surfboard, but it’s thick, buoyant, and easy to stand up on. You can take this board out in all kinds of small mushy waves. It’s lightweight, a breeze to paddle, and downright fun to ride.
Where Can You Buy A Mini Mal?
Any decent surf shop should stock mini mals. Especially in areas where the waves are more gentle or there are a lot of beginner surfers.
The only problem is that the mini mal surfboards are often limited in these stores, and you might not get a very wide selection. This is why ordering a mini mal online is a great idea. You can choose from a massive range of brands, sizes, and surfboard styles to find the perfect mini mal for your needs.
Mini mals aren’t only for beginners. Even the most advanced surfers will have fun cruising on mini mals in smaller conditions. These boards offer a really unique blend of longboard stability and shortboard maneuverability, making them a great choice anytime the waves get small.
If you’re looking for the best mini mal, then be sure to consider the boards listed above. These boards are perfect for surfers of all sizes, ages, and experience levels.
What is the size range of a Mini Mal?
Mini mals typically range between 7’0” and 8’6”.
What size mini mal should I get?
This depends on how big you are, what level of surfing you’re at, and where you will be surfing. Bigger surfboards are great for beginners and bigger people, smaller surfboards are more suitable for smaller people or more advanced surfers.
Are mini mal surfboards good for beginners?
Mini mal surfboards are great for beginners because they offer a perfect blend of stability while still being a convenient size to handle.
What fin setup works best on a mini mal?
Three fin (thruster) setups are common on mini mals. This offers a good level of performance and easy maneuverability. You can also get single fin mini mals for more of a classic longboarding experience. Five fin setups also work well.