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Soft top surfboards have become more and more popular over the years, and they’re not just for beginner surfers anymore. If you’re searching for the best soft top surfboard, we’ll show you our top picks for beginners, experienced surfers, and families.
While there used to be just a few choices when it came to soft top surfboards (especially during the Wavestorm monopoly of the early 2000s), there are more foam surfboard choices entering the market each year.
Read on to find the best foam surfboards and tips for choosing the right surfboard for you.
The Catch Surf Odysea Evan Rossel Pro Surfboard is a high performance foamie that allows you to catch waves easily, but still allows some control. Beginners will love how easy it paddles into waves while more experienced surfers will have fun paddling this board out on small wave days. It has removable fins and tons of float. There’s a 6’0″ variation of this board as well.
Hayden Shapes’ Hypto Krypto surfboard is one of the most popular board in lineups around the world, often hailing rave reviews. They’ve recently come out with a soft top variation of their traditional surfboard model, a soft top Hypto Krypto.
This high-performance foam surfboard is ideal for traveling surfers — gone are the days where you unpack your board bag in Bali only to find each board punctured with dings. Take it out on small day or give it a shot in bigger surf, it can handle it. This board comes in 5’4″, 5’8″, 6’0″, 6’4″, and 6’8″.
The Wavestorm Classic foam surfboard has reigned supreme in the soft top surfboard world for years, and it’s rare to go to a beach and not see a Wavestorm out in the water. This is easily one of the best soft top surfboards for beginners.
The Wavestorm has a no-slip deck and traction pad to give control while out on the water. The EPS core of this surfboard has three wood stringers through it to add to the board’s strength. It is one of the heavier options on this list, coming in at about 12 pounds, but it’s ultra stable, easy to paddle, and rides decently once you’re up. There’s a sunburst color option as well, available on Amazon.
Best soft top surfboards for intermediate surfers.
The Thurso Aero Soft soft top surfboard is super stable and a top choice for beginners. Coming in at 7’0″, it’s easier to maneuver than its larger counterparts like the Wavestorm Classic.
We love the fun colors and retro design. The board is only ten pounds due to a lightweight EPS core. It comes with removable fins and an adjustable fin box, somewhat of a rarity in the soft top surfboard world.
Jamie O’Brien brought soft top surfboards out of kookville when he caught a wave at Pipeline on a foamie. Since then, soft top surfboards have entered the non-beginner market, and it only makes sense that J.O.B. now has a signature model or two, like this fish.
This quad-fin soft top surfboard comes in 5’6″ and 6’6″ sizes, and has a great blend of easy paddle power, performance, and a decent fin set up.
Best soft top surfboard for intermediate surfers – runner up.
The Raystreak 7’2″ is a highly durable foam board that’s resistant to scratches and dings. Its nonslip deck means you won’t need to use surf wax, and the fiberglass layer on the bottom of the board gives a bit more control when it comes to actually surfing. It comes in multiple different graphic designs, so you can find one that fits your personality.
Every pro seems to want their own version of a soft top nowadays, and Felipe Toledo is no different. The Softech Toldo Wildfire is a lightweight, high-performance foam surfboard with removable FCS II fins. The surfboard comes in 5’11” and 5’3″ variations, though we recommend intermediate surfers to err on the 5’11”.
Two wood stringers reinforce the EPS foam core to help keep the board light and soft while still handling a beating. It gives you great flex that can allow you to move the board quickly and easily.
The Catch Surf Beater is excellent for crowded beaches, with its wide but short body design can help you have fun on dumpy days. It comes with finless and two-fin variations. Use this beater as a bodyboard, surfboard, or skim board — it can handle just about anything you throw at it. The design inspired by Jaws, but this board is all fun and no bite. Super buoyant, super fun.
Best soft top surfboard for beginners – runner up.
The South Bay Board Co. Guppy Surfboard is a solid beginner-friendly soft top surfboard that paddles into waves easily, is stable, and is a great board to help new surfers as they learn while still offering enough versatility for experienced surfers.
The board’s expansive center lets you pop up with ease, even if you aren’t skilled at it yet. The lightweight lets you paddle out with less effort. Two full-length wood stringers reinforce the EPS core.
The Formula Fun Shortboard Fish cuts through the water and lets you tackle waves in almost every condition. Best for intermediate and beginner surfers, the surfboard paddles easily into waves thanks to its wide nose, while still being easily maneuvered. This board also comes with Futures fins and made with recyclable materials.
What to Look for When Choosing a Soft Top Surfboard
What to look for in a soft top surfboard depends largely on the waves you’ll be riding and your experience level. In this guide, we’ll cover how to choose the right size, shape, materials, and other factors to keep an eye on.
Soft top surfboard vs. hard top surfboards (fiberglass)
Soft top surfboards are made with a foam deck and a rigid plastic bottom while hard top surfboards are made from fiberglass. As a general rule, soft top surfboards are better for beginners while more experienced surfers will prefer a hard top (fiberglass or epoxy) surfboard.
Soft top surfboards are oftentimes the perfect surfboards for beginners as they’re super stable, offer plenty of floatation, and don’t hurt as badly when they hit a surfer in the face. However, soft top surfboards are not as high-performance as hard top surfboards which is why you don’t see the pros reaching for soft tops in contests.
Soft top surfboards tend to be more affordable and durable than fiberglass surfboards, making them great for kids, travel, and surfers on a budget.
As a general rule, the bigger the surfboard, the easier it is to catch a wave. Smaller boards tend to be more maneuverable. That means that if you are new to the sport, you will likely want a bigger board. Experienced surfers may want a smaller board so they can move easier.
If you’re a beginner surfer, opt for a surfboard that’s around 7’0″ or larger with plenty of buoyancy. Intermediate or experienced surfers can consider shorter boards. Larger surfers will also want a larger board as larger boards can carry more weight than their smaller counterparts.
Soft top surfboards start with a foam blank. Companies can make it from polyurethane (PU), polystyrene (PS), expanded polystyrene foam (EPS), or extruded polystyrene (XPS).
Many of the best soft top surfboards use stringers to help increase the surfboard’s strength. Boards use wood and plastic for stringers.
The blank’s covering is the major difference for a soft top. A foamie is wrapped in an Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) + PC coating instead of a fiberglass shell. It is softer and lighter, but you can still chip or dent it. However, these dents and dings don’t tend to impact the board performance as much as a fiberglass ding would. Some soft top boards will add a fiberglass layer before the covering.
The blanks change, but the laminate coating for soft tops is pretty standard. In the final step, designs decorate the board. These don’t have any effect on performance, but they can look cool.
Most soft top surfboards have a textured deck, and don’t need surf wax.
Surfboards come in all shapes and sizes, and they each have their uses.
Beginners will want to opt for a longboard or mini-mal shape. This shape has a wide nose and will work in small, low-power waves. Intermediate and experienced surfers can scale down their surfboard, opting for a shortboard or fish.
Shortboards are designed for maximum movement and allow surfers to be very aggressive. They tend to be used by intermediate and experienced surfers.
FAQs About Soft Top Surfboards
Are soft top surfboards good?
Soft top surfboards are great surfboards for beginners and small waves. Soft top surfboards are easier to paddle and very stable when it comes to helping surfers balance on a wave. Because they are made from foam, not fiberglass or epoxy, they’re less likely to injure you if you get hit with one.
What is a soft top surfboard?
A soft top surfboard is a surfboard made from foam rather than epoxy or fiberglass. The top of it is soft, hence its name, while the bottom of the surfboard is usually made from firm, thick plastic. Soft top surfboards are easy to learn on and highly durable.
Do soft top surfboards need wax?
Most soft top surfboards do not need wax as their foam texture provides enough traction for surfers to stand on. If you find that your soft top surfboard is slippery, you might want to put a thin layer of wax on it for some extra traction.
How long do soft top surfboards last?
Soft top surfboards can last for over five years if they’re well cared for. To prolong the life of a soft top surfboard, keep it out of direct sunlight when it’s not being used and rinse it off with freshwater after every use.
Are soft top surfboards just for beginners?
While soft top surfboards are great boards for beginners, every type of surfer can have fun riding one. Pro surfers like Jamie O’Brien have even taken soft top surfboards out at heavy waves like Pipeline.
Are soft top surfboards good for kids?
Soft top surfboards are excellent for kids as they’re stable, safe, and durable. Most kids should learn on a soft top surfboard before progressing to a traditional surfboard made from epoxy or fiberglass.