The soft top tends to get a lot of mixed reactions in the line up – some love them, some hate them. If one thing’s for sure, soft tops and foamie surfboards are here to stay.
If you’re new to surfing or are looking for something fun for crowded, small summer days, a foam surfboard might be your best bet.
- New soft tops are relatively inexpensive.
- They’re durable and stand up to abuse.
- They’re safer than a fiberglass board.
- Shapes and performance characteristics are getting better all the time.
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What’s a Soft Top Surfboard?
A soft top surfboard typically describes a surfboard with a soft foam top cover or an entirely foam construction with little to no fiberglass.
Fins are usually made of some sort of soft, flexible plastic, though more and more companies are beginning to offer softboards that feature removable fin systems. You can even get an aftermarket single fin for your Wavestorm.
Check out our review of one of the best aftermarket soft top fins – the Perfect Storm.
Soft tops are often beginner-surfer oriented, though can certainly be fun for the experienced surfer too – take a look at Jamie O’brien.
They’re usually mass-produced, cheaper than a traditional surfboard, stand up well to damage, and have a greatly reduced chance of hurting someone.
Many new softtops are even available in recyclable foam.
Today, soft tops come in a variety of shapes any sizes ranging anywhere from 4 feet to 10 feet.
Many come in the finless variety to help you beat blackball areas during the summer.
Are Soft Tops Easier to Surf?
Soft tops are super buoyant and very safe – making them ideal for the beginner surfer.
Their low price definitely helps too. These are all reasons why you see foamies used for surf lessons all over the world.
These same features make them a little more difficult to turn on their rail or do any real maneuvers.
That said, people are able to rip on soft top surfboards – it just requires some different mechanics than a fiberglass board.
However, there are more and more options for more performance-oriented foamie surfboards that are being designed by experienced shapers who are trying to produce a foamie that goes well.
If you’re into surf experimentation and expanding your surfing experience, you should probably give it a go.
Whatever the result, I’d be willing to put money on you having a smile on your face at some point.
Best Options for a Beginner Surfboard – Is it a Costco Wavestorm?
Here’s a good way to describe learning how to surf for the majority of folks: you’re going to spend a real long time flailing and failing and then one day you’ll start to get the hang of it, maybe.
Surfing is a unique thing to learn because as you’re trying to practice the basics, you’re doing dealing with an ever changing playing field that is the ocean.
The best way to set yourself up for success is to start with the right equipment.
Arguably the most popular choice for a good beginner surfboard is the soft-top Wave Storm.
It’s cheap, it’s floaty, and it’s safe.
If you’re a Costco member and they’re in stock, you can pick one up for about $100. If not, you can still grab one for around $200, which is still considerably cheaper than most any other beginner surfboard you’ll find.
What size surfboard should a beginner get?
For beginners, the trick to the best surfboard is all about length, width, and volume.
The more volume a surfboard has, the better it will float you.
More float means easier paddling, more stability, and a greater ability to catch small waves or whitewater.
The more length and width help with paddling and stability as well.
A good size range for beginner surfboards is typically about 8′ to 9′ and about 22″ to 23″ wide.
You can think of this as a mini-longboard.
It’ll be long enough for you to have an easier time learning, but not so long that you’ll have a hard time getting it to the beach or moving it around in the water.
Should a beginner surfer get a foamie?
A foamie is an excellent choice for beginners.
They’re safe, they’re forgiving, and they can stand up to the kind of abuse a beginner surfer is expected to give it.
Traditionally glassed surfboards and even pop-outs are more fragile than a soft-top surfboard. If you don’t have full control over your board, chances of damaging it are much higher.
With a foamie, you can run in into the sand, you can pearl over and over again in the shorebreak, you can even probably run it over with your mom’s minivan and it’ll be okay.
You won’t have to worry about waxing it either.
Hardtop surfboard will hurt you if they hit you (or you fall on them) too.
A foam top surfboard is the safest choice for beginners.
Plus, as you progress and move on to different surfboard, having you’re old foamie around for guests who want to learn or kids is a great thing to have at your disposal.
Should You Get a Foam Surfboard?
A foamie can be a good, fun addition to any quiver.
If you’re a beginner surfer, it’s a no brainer – while you’ll grow out of it eventually, it’s going to be a safe and forgiving board to learn the basics on. Once you gain some more experience, you can probably come back to it with some new skills and have a blast.
If you’re an experienced surfer, a soft top can still be a good thing to keep around. Foamies are great for crowded summer days or heavy, dumpy beach break where you might be a little more weary riding a fiberglass board. It’s a good thing to have if you have friends who want to learn to surf, too – much better then sticking them on your favorite log or a high performance shortboard collecting dust.
Do Softtops Need Surf Wax?
While many soft top surfboard surfaces have a bit of traction to them inherently, it won’t hurt to add a little surf wax to them.
Wax up a soft top like you would any surfboard – a light base coat followed by a top coat – and go shred!