For the last few years the soft top revolution has taken the surfing world by storm. Ushered in by both the hugely popular Wavestorm from Costco and bolstered by an array of “black ball beaters”, the soft top is now a legitimate entry in the surfboard quiver. But what is the best soft top surfboard? Well, it really depends on what you want out of it. Let’s take a look at some of the different soft top boards and how they work for their intended purposes.
Best Soft Top Surfboard For Beginners
Soft top boards are perfect for beginners. I used to tell people to stay away from them, but they have improved significantly over the past few years and now I think it’s probably the best option. They’re safe for both the surfer and other surfers around them, they’re durable, and they catch waves very easily.
The Best High Performance Soft Top Surfboard
If you’re looking for a more high performance softboard for small days or for the summer, there are actually a lot of options. There’s a whole industry now designed around soft top shortboards and fish, with more options coming out every year. Some of the more popular brands like Catch Surf and Beater are available in your local surf shops.
- Wavestorm 8ft Classic Longboard Surfboard
- The wavestorm 8ft surfboard dimensions are 96 l x 22.5" w x 3.25" thick - weight is 11.4lbs - volume at 86 liters - recommended weight capacity at 200lbs.
- The triple stringer system gives the foam core rigidity, strength, and integrity.
- Patented u.v. inhibiting soft graphic deck and high-density slick bottom for rigidity.
- Tail pad for better back foot traction and leash included.
- Fin set included is a triple performance 4.5 fin set up for more maneuverability
- South Bay Board Co. - Beginner Surfboards - 5' / 6' / 8' Sizes
- Rock-It 8' Big Softy Surfboard
- Wavestorm - Soft Top Foam 5'6"
- Catch Surf Beater Twin Fin
- Wave Bandit Ben Gravy Performer 5'6
- Formula Fun 5'3" Fish
- Boardworks Froth – Soft Top Surfboard
Ah yes, the ubiquitous Wavestorm. Honestly it's the king of soft tops, and for a reason. The price is right, they're durable, and even if you know how to surf well they still work. It's actually a good idea to keep one of these in your garage for guests who want to try surfing out.
Another option if you want to stand out from the from the soft top surfboards crowd is the South Bay Board Co. Guppy. South Bay Board Co. actually makes 3 sizes, 5', 6', and 8'. For beginners I highly recommend 8', even for the kids. The 5' and 6' varieties could be very fun for those looking for an ideal summer shortboard foamie. The jaunty striped design comes in 3 colors, and is a bit more refined than the loud and generic Wavestorm designs. In my opinion they look better than Wavestorms.
There are more and more soft top surfboard brands, and another option aside from the Wavestorm is the Rock-It 8' Big Softie. It's a standard foam board that comes with 3 plastic flex fins for safety. It also comes in 8 colors with a cool zebra camo bottom. The zebra camo bottom is intended to ward off sharks based on University of Western Australia neurobiologist Nathan Hart's research. So, if you're a beginner with a shark fear, this might not hurt!
The thruster version of the Wavestorm is super fun for those small summer days, and days where you don't want to take surfing too seriously in general. Great as a backup board or just something to mess around on.
The Catch Surf Beater is the original shortboard foamie designed to beat "Blackball" regulations at the beach and allow you to surf in the swimming area. This little thing is tiny, and we recommend that only intermediate and higher surfers get this as it's a bit tricky to surf. However once you get the hang of it, it's super fun! This board also requires wax for traction.
The Wave Bandit, made ultra popular by freesurfer of YouTube fame Ben Gravy, offers a high performance outline with a foamie heart. The tri fin and swallow tail makes it a snappy board for a soft-top, and has been a favorite for many surfers as a go-to summer board. These boards need some wax for grip, so bear that in mind if you plan on keeping it in a hot car during work.
This little fish is perfect for those who want something smaller to throw in the car or truck, or those who simply prefer shortboarding. This board is made of molded foam with full deck traction (no wax needed!) and Futures fin boxes. You can use any fins in the Futures line with this board, which makes it very versatile. It's also made in the USA at Marko Foam, with a board loyalty recycling trade-in system. It has four colors and designs to choose from, and was recommended as a top foam board by Stab Magazine.
Froth boards come in a variety of shapes, from longboard all the way to a 5' and 5'6" shortboard line. The 5' tiny tri fin is super fun. The best part is that these boards come with real futures fin boxes, meaning you can use some higher quality fins in these boards. They also have maple stringers and are fully glassed-in foam wrapped epoxy.
Are soft top longboards good?
Honestly, it depends on which board you get, but overall the construction of most decent soft top longboards is very good, and they are really fun to ride. They are not as refined as a fiberglass board, and may not noseride very well, but many seasoned surfers are now stocking their quiver with at least one soft top.
Do foam boards get waterlogged?
The quality ones do not. Look for a board that has this in mind. Ultra cheap foam boards can get waterlogged, but most quality boards don’t get any more waterlogged than a decent boogie board (read: they don’t).
Are foam surfboards safe?
Yes! In fact, we recommend that beginners start out on something like a Wavestorm to get the hang of paddling and catching waves before transitioning to a fiberglass board. Getting hit with a soft top is way more forgiving than getting hit with a fiberglass board, for both the surfer and any other bystanders.
How to take care of a foam surfboard?
Foam boards can usually take more bumps and thumps than a fiberglass board, but that doesn’t mean they are indestructible. Don’t leave them out in the sun if possible, and store them indoors to keep them lasting as long as possible.