Shield surfing demystified. Durability guide, trick guide, friction physics, best shields, spawn locations. Breath of the wild shield surfing screenshot.

Shield Surfing Demystified:
How-To, The Best Shields, And Where to Find Them

Shield surfing is one of the most exciting and innovative new features added to The Legend of Zelda in Breath of the Wild. Of course, it’s also paired with BotW’s new broken equipment mechanic. The result? Shield surfing is criminally underused!

Fear not, my friends!

We’ll cover both how to shield surf and how to exploit the mechanic.

The Basics: How to Shield Surf in BOTW

  1. Hold ZL to block with your shield.
  2. Press X to Jump.
  3. Press A while in mid-air to initiate the surf.
  4. Holler cowabunga like the word never went out of style.
Not even going to pretend to laugh, eh? At least Link has the excuse of being a silent protagonist. What's yours?

Speaking of numerical lists, here are some important things to note about shield surfing:

    1. You can whip out your bow while shield surfing.
    2. You can unleash a spin attack by pressing Y.
    3. You can perform tricks by pressing X with directional inputs.
    4. You can shield surf faster in the rain!
    5. You can adjust your speed by tilting your analog stick forward or backward.
    6. You can hold R to drift. Drifting preserves momentum on big turns.
    7. You can surf after using your glider by holding down ZL and pressing A in mid-air.

How Shield Durability Works With Surfing:

Let’s dive into the juicy stuff. 

If you’re anything like me, you like to hoard your sparkly inventory items. You probably don’t want to go breaking your shields all willy-nilly, do you? 

Good news:

We can maximize our shield’s durability with a basic knowledge of BotW’s core programming. Let’s start by debunking three colossal myths. Ready for the truth?

  1. Shields have a durability rating exclusive to surfing. Each shield type is assigned a hidden value unrelated to combat damage.
  2. Not all surfaces will damage your shield while surfing! Snow, dirt paths, and sand will not depreciate your shield over time. You’ll still take impact damage, but sledding will not harm your shield any further.
  3. Rocks will not damage your shield faster than grass or dirt. Aside from terrain that doesn’t damage your shield at all, every surface deals a static amount of sledding damage.
That was close! Someone needs to put up a dang 'Fox Crossing' sign on this road.

The mechanics to shield surfing damage break down into two categories: Impact damage from falls or jumps and sledding damage.

  1. Impact damage consistently deals a single static point of damage to your shield. Whether you fall from a hundred feet or two feet, your shield takes a single point of damage.
  2. Sledding damage deals a static quarter point of damage per second. Sand and snow are exempt from sledding damage, as mentioned earlier.

That’s all fine and dandy, but you’re probably wondering how much a “point” is worth, right? 

The average shield has 16-20 hitpoints. On the extreme low end, Boko shields have 5. Spiked Boko, Dragonbone Boko, and Lizal Shields have 7 or 8 points.

No major surprise. Those are all designed to be throwaway shields.

So, What Are The Most Durable Shields to Surf in BotW?

...And the crowd goes mild.
  1. The Hylian shield – 800 surfing hitpoints
  2. The Hero’s Shield – 90 surfing hitpoints
  3. The Daybreaker Shield – 60 surfing hitpoints
  4. The Ancient Shield – 32 surfing hitpoints
  5. The Royal Shield – 29 surfing hitpoints
  6. The Radiant Shield – 26 surfing hitpoints


Although, five shields have special modifiers for hitpoint depreciation. This makes them more durable than they appear at first glance:

  1. The Ancient Shield only takes 20% damage
  2. The Steel Lazal Shield only takes 50% damage
  3. The Daybreaker Shield only takes 50% damage
  4. The Radiant Shield only takes 60% damage
  5. The Gerudo Shield only takes 70% damage


This modifier skyrockets the Ancient Shield to second place in surfing durability. It withstands about 640 seconds of sliding before it shatters. For comparison, the Hylian shield lasts about 3200 seconds. Here’s my source, if you want to check any random shields sitting in your inventory right now.

The X-Factor - Shields With Less Friction Move Much Faster!

If you’ve watched a few YouTube videos, you’ve probably noticed that the Hylian Shield’s durability rating isn’t enough to make it a popular choice. There’s a reason for that. 

Most shields move at the exact same speed. But there are three that move faster:

  1. The Radiant Shield reduces friction by 90%
  2. The Ancient Shield reduces friction by 85%
  3. The Shield of the Mind’s Eye reduces friction by 75%

Moving faster also means longer hauls. Those longer runs translate to reduced start-up impact damage depleting your shield. So, in snow and sand, these shields are pretty tenacious.

Taking everything into consideration, the two best shields for surfing in Breath of the Wild are the Radiant and Ancient Shield. The Shield of the Mind’s Eye wins a participation ribbon for being wooden since that means lightning won’t be striking us down during thunderstorms.

Where To Find The Best Shields for Surfing in BotW:

Sweet. You know what shields are most likely to make you feel like an Olympic gold medalist. Now to stockpile them like you’re farming a fresh harvest of Durian fruit right after a blood moon.

The Ancient Shield is not only great for surfing, it has the added perk of automatically parrying laser beams from terrifying guardians. You can purchase as many as you’d like from the Akkala Ancient Tech Lab for 10 ancient gears, 15 ancient screws, an ancient core, and 1,000 rupees.

Akkala is located at the Northeastern corner of the map.

The Radiant Shield is nearly effortless to replace. First, teleport to the Gerudo Highlands tower. Then, glide to the cliff northwest of the tower. You’ll see a cave hidden behind some heavy boulders. The only way to move these boulders is by using Link’s magnesis on a metal rock located at the mountain’s peak. There are also a few other goodies tucked away in that cave! Like the golden bow that ranked in my top 10 bows in BotW.

The Gerudo Shield can be found East of the Dako Tah shrine, atop a narrow stone pillar. First, glide to a rock resembling a massive bridge. Then scout the stone pillars on the opposite side until you see the sparkle of an item. (If you haven’t found the Dako Tah shrine yet, it’s located in the Great Cliffs region.)

The Daybreaker can be forged as many times as you’d like – once you’ve beaten the Divine Beast for Gerudo town. Simply waltz up to Riju’s throne like you own the place. Beside her is a bodyguard named Buliara who will reforge the Daybreaker in exchange for 1 Gerudo Shield, 1 diamond, and 5 pieces of flint. A craftsman named Ledo in Zora’s Domain will trade diamonds for your Luminous Stones.

The Hylian Shield is replaceable if you’ve completed the quests to unlock Tarrey Town. Check the upstairs balconies in Tarrey Town for a merchant named Granté. He’ll sell a Hylian Shield for 3,000 rupees. He sells previously owned armor pieces, too.

That look in his eyes makes me think our boy Link is about to get a special discount.