Hess Surfboards is a San Francisco based company championing the production of high quality, bespoke surfboards, through the innovation of materials used and a real commitment to challenging old ways of thinking. Hess Surfboards for the most part operates under custom orders, reflecting the passion of Danny Hess and his work. Here I am reviewing the option for a recycled EPS and wood board, which is hard to review as Danny Hess, the creator of these boards, is always striving and changing his designs to be the best they can be. I did not score a 3 as I believe there could be a little more transparency on where resources are sourced from.
The Recycled EPS and wood surfboard is made by utilising a combination of recycled EPS, and vacuum formed salvaged wood deck. EPS being a form of polystyrene. This wooden deck functions as the stringer, used to stiffen the surfboard. His combination offers not only a consistent board, but durable and great to use. The boards are coated in entropy bio-epoxy, entropy is a company which ardently stands for transparency, and long product life cycles. This resin is used to make the boards water resistant. Engaging in life cycle assessments, being USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) certified bio-based product, and making efforts to have a minimal carbon foot print in the manufacturing process makes it one of the best options in the market in regards to sustainability for use as a resin. Not only is it one of the most sustainable options it gives high quality performance also. Here I can see and respect that Danny Hess makes a real effort to use the best, most sustainable products available to him, all I would ask for is a little more transparency in where and how he sources his salvaged wood and recycled EPS, and is the only reason I wouldn’t give a 3 here.
All of the boards made by Hess surfboards are constructed at their wood shop in San Francisco, by hand. Explicit details of how he constructs the EPS and wood surfboard are not given, but as they operate out of one workshop, and more often than not under bespoke orders, it is not hard to believe he will have a low carbon footprint. Some details of the full wooden boards are given as follows, “The full wood boards are built with a perimeter frame which is constructed using a system of moulds and templates that consistently create the boards outline, foil and rocker”, the foil being the distribution of thickness, and rocker being the combination of curves making up the shape of the board, “I Engineer the frames to provide the surfer a specific and predictable amount of Flex/ return spring projection along the perimeter stringer/rail line. The perimeter stringer eliminates inefficient energy releasing twisting characteristics that can be found in conventional centre stringered foam surfboards”. I believe this shows real detail and care to his craft and I would love to see more of this same passion about the EPS and wood surfboard. Not only are recycled products used in construction of this producgt, but Hess uses waste, cut-offs and old body boards to be repurposed into other products such as handplanes, for body surfing. A key theme in the process of how his products are made seems to be on quality and environmental awareness. Only again looking to improve by giving a bit more transparency, or clarity on this product specifically.
All of the products made by Hess Surfboards are made by Danny himself. His products are the result of rigorous testing which he details on his website, and real commitment to the highest quality. As an actual surfer himself he looks to improve his work by experiencing it. In terms of whether this is sustainable production, I believe it is, operating as a bespoke local business means that people are not exploited at all in the production process. When ordering one of his boards a long weighting time is expected and advertised, but that’s because each product is hand made with care and passion. This is something that I love, and think is environmentally conscious, meaning results like long-lasting products to the highest standard. Reviews exacerbate this, with claims of his products being “bullet-proof” lasting well over 10 years, a conventional surfboard will generally be replaced after 6 months to 1 year of use. This long-lasting recycled product seems to tick every box it can in the eyes of sustainability, the only improvement would be providing more information on it. Although he could maybe look to expand his services, possibly including a repair service, which if available already, I could not find on the site.