Soft top surfboards, also known as ‘foamies’, are surfboards with a deck made from soft materials, typically foam. They are favored for their safety, durability, and ease of use, especially by beginner surfers.
Discover our guide to the best foam surfboards for beginners.
This article will cover an in-depth exploration of soft top surfboards, their history, and their growing acceptance in the surfing world. We’ll dive into the specific features of these boards that make them a standout choice for surfers at all levels.
We’ll also provide insights into popular brands and models, factors to consider when selecting a soft top surfboard, and tips on their care and maintenance.
By the end of this article, you should have a comprehensive understanding of soft top surfboards and their benefits.
History of Soft Top Surfboards
In the early years of their inception, soft top surfboards, or ‘softops’, were not highly regarded within the surfing community.
They were often seen as a less serious version of the traditional hard top surfboards. The softop surfboard was mostly considered a tool for beginners or as a training aid in surf schools.
The lack of respect was due, in part, to the perception that these boards didn’t offer the same performance characteristics as their hardtop counterparts.
Transition in the Acceptance of Soft Top Surfboards
Over time, the image and perception of the softop surfboard have significantly evolved.
This shift in attitude came about as a result of advancements in softop surfboard technology and design, allowing them to perform better in a wider range of surfing conditions.
The improved performance, along with their inherent safety and durability features, played a significant role in increasing the popularity of the softop surfboard among all levels of surfers, from beginners to professional surfers.
Nowadays, the softop surfboard is viewed as a valid alternative to traditional surfboards, offering a unique and fun way to enjoy the waves.
Features of Soft Top Surfboards
Soft top surfboards, often referred to as ‘softops’, are typically constructed with a foam core, usually expanded polystyrene (EPS), which is both lightweight and buoyant.
A perk of this is that surfboard yellowing isn’t too much of an issue.
This core is then wrapped in layers of different types of foam that add to the durability and softness of the board.
The outermost layer is a softer, spongy foam that gives the softop surfboard its characteristic touch and makes it gentler on the skin during prolonged surf sessions.
Design and Shape
The design and shape of softop surfboards are as diverse as those of traditional surfboards.
They come in all standard shapes such as longboards, shortboards, fish boards, and funboards.
However, softop surfboards are generally thicker and wider, which provides additional stability and buoyancy, making them an excellent choice for beginners learning to balance and catch their first waves.
One of the key features of a softop surfboard is its inherent safety aspect.
The soft, cushioned surface is far less likely to cause injury in case of a wipeout or collision compared to hardtop surfboards.
This makes softops an excellent option for beginners and for crowded surf spots where collisions may occur.
Flexibility and Performance
Despite the safety features and beginner-friendly design, softop surfboards do not sacrifice performance.
The flexible nature of the foam construction allows for a unique responsiveness in the water.
While softops may not offer the high-speed precision of certain hardtop designs, they can still deliver a thrilling surf experience.
With advancements in design and materials, high-performance softop surfboards are now a reality, providing a different, but equally enjoyable, surf experience.
Advantages of Soft Top Surfboards
The main advantage of soft top surfboards, or ‘softops’, is the enhanced safety they offer.
The soft, forgiving surface is less likely to cause injuries during wipeouts or accidental collisions. This makes them an excellent option for beginners and children.
Additionally, the soft foam top provides a more comfortable surface for lying or sitting, reducing the discomfort that can occur during longer surf sessions on a hardtop board.
Accessibility for Beginners
Softops are perfect for beginner surfers.
Their buoyancy and wider shape make it easier for novices to balance and catch waves.
The forgiving nature of the softop surfboard encourages beginners to push their boundaries without fear of injury, accelerating their learning curve and adding to the fun.
Versatility in Different Surf Conditions
Softop surfboards are versatile and can handle a wide range of surf conditions.
Whether it’s small, mushy summer waves, or more robust winter swells, a softop surfboard can provide an enjoyable ride.
They allow surfers to experience different types of waves and conditions without the need for multiple specialized boards.
Durability and Resistance to Damage
One of the often-overlooked advantages of a softop surfboard is its durability.
Unlike hardtop boards, which can ding and crack quite easily, softops are built to withstand rough handling. This resistance to damage makes softop surfboards a more economical choice over the long term, as they require less maintenance and repair.
This durability allows surfers to explore different surf spots, including those with shallow, rocky bottoms, without the fear of damaging their board.
Popular Soft Top Surfboard Brands and Models
1. Catch Surf
Known for its creative and innovative approach to surfboard design, Catch Surf has made a name for itself in the world of softop surfboards. The brand offers a variety of models suited to different surfing styles and conditions.
2. South Bay Board Co.
South Bay Board Co. offers a range of soft top surfboards designed with beginners and intermediate surfers in mind. Their boards are known for their stability, durability, and user-friendly design.
Softech is a brand recognized for its fusion of technology and design. Their softop surfboards are lightweight yet robust, offering a balanced mix of performance and ease of use.
4. Almond Surfboards
Almond Surfboards stands out for its commitment to environmentally friendly practices. Their softop surfboards are designed with an emphasis on sustainability without compromising performance or quality.
5. Solid Surf Co.
Solid Surf Co. is a brand that offers an array of soft top surfboards, each with a unique design. The EZ Street Surfboard, in particular, is a popular model known for its versatile performance across various wave conditions.
Details of Popular Models
1. Catch Surf Odysea Log x
The Catch Surf Odysea Log x is a beginner-friendly softop surfboard known for its stability and ease of use. It’s a fantastic choice for those new to surfing, seeking a board that offers a balanced blend of performance and safety.
2. South Bay Board Co. Tortuga Hybrid
The Tortuga Hybrid from South Bay Board Co. is a versatile soft top surfboard. It’s designed to perform in a wide range of conditions, making it a suitable option for surfers of different skill levels.
3. Softech Flash Eric Geiselman FCS II
The Softech Flash Eric Geiselman FCS II is a high-performance softop surfboard. With its advanced design, this board can provide an exciting ride for intermediate to advanced surfers.
4. Almond Surfboards Secret Menu
The Secret Menu from Almond Surfboards is an environmentally friendly soft top surfboard. It offers a balance of sustainability, performance, and style, appealing to the modern eco-conscious surfer.
5. Solid Surf Co EZ Street Surfboard
The EZ Street Surfboard by Solid Surf Co. is a versatile and fun softop surfboard. It’s designed to perform well in various surf conditions, making it an excellent choice for surfers looking for a fun, all-around board.
Considerations When Choosing a Soft Top Surfboard
When choosing a softop surfboard, your skill level plays a vital role.
For beginners, a wider and thicker board with more volume, like the Catch Surf Odysea Log x, can provide more stability and flotation.
On the other hand, intermediate to advanced surfers might opt for high-performance softop surfboards, such as the Softech Flash Eric Geiselman FCS II, to better execute maneuvers and ride larger waves.
Wave conditions are another crucial factor to consider. Different softop surfboards perform better in varying conditions.
Some boards, like the South Bay Board Co.
Tortuga Hybrid and Solid Surf Co EZ Street Surfboard, are versatile and can handle a wide range of wave conditions, making them ideal for surfers who surf in various locations or varying wave conditions.
Personal preferences in terms of board length, volume, shape, and even design should also be taken into account.
For instance, if you prefer a board with more maneuverability, a shorter softop surfboard might be more suitable. If you value aesthetics, brands like Almond Surfboards offer visually appealing designs along with performance.
Environmental considerations are becoming increasingly important in the surfing industry.
If you’re an eco-conscious surfer, consider brands that prioritize sustainability in their manufacturing processes.
For example, Almond Surfboards’ Secret Menu is an option that caters to environmental considerations without sacrificing performance and style.
Care and Maintenance for Soft Top Surfboards
Regular cleaning of your softop surfboard is crucial to maintaining its lifespan and performance. After each surf session, rinse the board with fresh water to remove salt, sand, and other debris.
Occasionally, a gentle scrub with a soft cloth and mild soap might be required to keep the soft top surface in optimum condition.
Repairing Dings and Tears
Even though softop surfboards are known for their durability, dings and tears can still occur, especially with heavy use.
It’s important to repair these promptly to prevent water from seeping into the core of the board.
Specialized repair kits for softop surfboards are available, and the process usually involves applying a sealant to the affected area and allowing it to dry thoroughly.
Proper storage of your softop surfboard can significantly extend its lifespan.
When not in use, store your board in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Prolonged exposure to the sun can cause the foam material to degrade.
Additionally, to prevent any possible deformation, avoid placing heavy items on top of the board or storing it under heavy pressure. If possible, use surfboard racks or stands to store your board correctly.
What are Soft Top Surfboards?
Soft top surfboards, also known as foamies or softboards, are surfboards with a smooth, cushioned, and spongy deck. They are popular among both beginner and advanced surfers due to their stability, durability, and floatation.
How are Soft Top Surfboards Different from Traditional Hard Top Surfboards?
Soft top surfboards are generally wider, thicker, and have more volume than traditional hard top surfboards. This makes it easier for beginners to catch even the smallest waves. These boards much less likely to cause injuries compared to hard top boards.
What are Some Popular Brands of Soft Top Surfboards?
Some popular brands of soft top surfboards include Catch Surf, South Bay Board Co., Softech, Almond Surfboards, and Solid Surf Co. Each of these brands offers a range of boards suitable for different skill levels and wave conditions.
What Factors Should be Considered When Choosing a Soft Top Surfboard?
When choosing a soft top surfboard, consider your skill level, the wave conditions you’ll be surfing in, personal preferences like board size and design, and environmental considerations, such as the material and manufacturing process of the board.
How Should a Soft Top Surfboard be Maintained?
Maintaining a soft top surfboard involves regular cleaning with fresh water after each surf session, promptly repairing any dings or tears to prevent water damage, and proper storage in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.