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If you’re relatively new to surfing and looking to master your skills in a safe way, a soft top surfboard is going to be your best bet. The quality and construction of these boards have increased tremendously over the past several years and with a wide variety of brands and board types, it can be difficult to pick the right one. Fortunately, we’ve carefully selected the best soft top surfboards to narrow down your search.

Also known as a “foamie”, soft tops offer a host of advantages, especially for beginners. They’re much safer than traditional hard tops: if you bail or wipe out, a blow to the head from your board will be less dangerous. Foamies are also extremely durable, meaning you can beat up these boards as you learn the basics without fear of totally trashing an expensive hard top.

Lastly, soft tops tend to be a bit thicker than hard tops, lending themselves to greater buoyancy and making your task of learning the sport that much easier. You also don’t need to wax a soft top! Simpler is better, right?

For more of our top surfing gear recommendations, check out the Best Surfboards.

 

Quick Answer - The Best Soft Top Surfboards

  1. Wavestorm Classic Pinline
  2. South Bay Board Co. – Heritage
  3. Odysea Catch Surf Log
  4. Rock It SHORTBUS
  5. Catch Surf Skipper Quad
  6. Wave Bandit Performer Tri
  7. Boardworks Froth!
  8. Catch Surf Original 54

 

Comparison Table - Best Soft Top Surfboard

PictureNameLengthThicknessWeight CapacityFin SetupPriceRating
Alton ScallywagLong3”250 lbsThruster (3-fin)$$4.9
Wavestorm Classic PinlineLong3.25"200 lbsThruster (3-fin)$4.8
South Bay Board Co. – HeritageLong3”260 lbsThruster (3-fin)$$$4.7
Odysea Catch Surf LogLong3.33"230 lbsThruster (3-fin)$$$4.6
Rock It SHORTBUSMedium3”200 lbsThruster (3-fin)$$4.5
Catch Surf Skipper QuadMedium3.125"250 lbsQuad (4-fin)$$$4.45
Wave Bandit Performer TriMedium3.125"200 lbsThruster (3-fin)$$4.4
Alton HighlinerShort2.875"200 lbsTwin Fin (2-fin)$$$4.35
Boardworks Froth!Short2.5"190 lbsThruster (3-fin)$$4.2
Catch Surf Original 54Short2.5"175 lbsTwin Fin (2-fin)$$4.0
PictureNameLengthThicknessWeight CapacityFin SetupPriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Soft Top Boards for Surfing

Alton Scallywag

Specs
  • Length: Long
  • Thickness: 3”
  • Weight Capacity: 250 lbs
  • Fin Setup: Thruster (3-fin)
Features
  • Includes Ankle Leash Plug
  • High-Quality Fins Are Removable
  • “Longboard” Shape Makes Paddling Easier

BEST FOR: LEARNING THE ROPES

Repeat after me: bigger, wider, thicker. That’s the mantra that all true beginners ought to stick to because that’s the type of board that will get you on your feet in no time!

The Alton Scallywag perfectly fits these criteria. Measuring in at 9’ long, this true longboard will lend beginners a helping hand by offering superior stability when learning to stand up on the board. It’s also incredibly thick meaning you’ll have an easier time floating in the water and catching waves!

Last but not least, the 3-fin thruster fin setup is very helpful for beginners. The center fin anchors the board in the water, while the side fins offer additional stability and speed.

Wavestorm Classic Pinline

Specs
  • Length: Long
  • Thickness: 3.25"
  • Weight Capacity: 200 lbs
  • Fin Setup: Thruster (3-fin)
Features
  • Textured Traction Pad (to help you stand up and stay on)
  • Includes Removable Ankle Leash
  • Extra “Grippy” Soft Top

BEST FOR: LONG LASTING QUALITY

If you’re the kind of person that scrutinizes quality because you value where your dollar goes, then this is the board for you. Considered one of the most recognized brands in surfing, Wavestorm is known for crafting quality boards at an affordable price.

This may be one of the most durable foamies we’ve come across. It sports 3 stringers whereas most other boards have only 1 or 2. A stringer is a thin strip of wood that runs the entire length of the board to add stiffness and rigidity while maintaining flexibility. More stringers = more stability and durability. The extra durable construction of this board also lends itself to providing a superior platform for beginner surfers.

South Bay Board Co. – Heritage

Specs
  • Length: Long
  • Thickness: 3”
  • Weight Capacity: 260 lbs
  • Fin Setup: Thruster (3-fin)
Features
  • Action Camera Mount
  • Wax-Free Textured Soft Top
  • Ankle Leash And Fins Included
  • Heat Release Valve Prevents Delamination and Bubbling

BEST FOR: LARGER FRAMED BEGINNERS

It’s no secret that South Bay Board Company is by far one of our favorite manufacturers. That’s because they make some of the best surfboards for beginners, crafting premium quality soft boards that are both safer and easier to ride than traditional hard boards.

The Heritage boasts a wide chest area making this board a solid choice for larger framed surfers that require a bit more stability. It’s almost 9 foot length and 3 inch thickness also give the extra buoyancy needed to keep you gliding atop waves, even on your first time out.

Odysea Catch Surf Log

Specs
  • Length: Long
  • Thickness: 3.33"
  • Weight Capacity: 230 lbs
  • Fin Setup: Thruster (3-fin)
Features
  • Cool Retro Graphics
  • Extra Thick Board Floats Better
  • High-Performance Fins Are Removable

BEST FOR: PROGRESSIVE LONGBOARDING

Odysea’s Catch Surf Log is an outstanding “long” board measuring in at 8’ feet long. This large board offers a perfect entry into surfing for any beginner. Intermediate to advanced beginners looking to expand their skill set while riding will love the Log for its wide and stable base.

You’ll find no better choice when it comes to “logging”, a traditional surfing style that focuses on performing maneuvers with one’s body to earn style points (think perching noserides or hanging heels before retreating back to the tail of the board).

Rock It SHORTBUS

Specs
  • Length: Medium
  • Thickness: 3”
  • Weight Capacity: 200 lbs
  • Fin Setup: Thruster (3-fin)
Features
  • Comes In 8 Different Colors
  • Flexible Fins Are More Durable
  • Environmentally Friendly Construction Made From Recycled Materials

BEST FOR: EASY RIDING

The Rock It SHORTBUS is truly a unique board thanks to some smart styling choices. At 7’ in length, this board offers a performance “funboard” shape in a slightly longer version. This will give beginners of all backgrounds the opportunity to experiment with something other than a longboard without sacrificing stability or floatability.

If you’re looking for something that’s truly easy to ride and able to catch waves without giving you a hard time, then look no further! The SHORTBUS is an appealing board and should be considered by anyone looking to have some fun on the water.

Catch Surf Skipper Quad

Specs
  • Length: Medium
  • Thickness: 3.125"
  • Weight Capacity: 250 lbs
  • Fin Setup: Quad (4-fin)
Features
  • Includes Fins
  • Island Inspired Graphics
  • 3 Maple Stringers For Maximum Durability

BEST FOR: MANEUVERABILITY

Catch Surf teamed up with Pro Surfer Jamie O’Brien to collaborate on a whole collection of products, including this super shredder of a board. This board is the premo soft top, offering a great quality ride for intermediate to advanced beginners with the ability to scale up as you progress your surf game.

The high volume fish shape gives the Skipper Quad the ability to make quick work of smaller surf, while the quad fin setup establishes stability, speed, power, and maximum turnability in medium sized swells. We also really appreciate the quad fin setup on the fish board shape as a one-two punch when making big, sweeping turns and powering through medium sized waves!

Wave Bandit Performer Tri

Specs
  • Length: Medium
  • Thickness: 3.125"
  • Weight Capacity: 200 lbs
  • Fin Setup: Thruster (3-fin)
Features
  • Requires Wax
  • Extra Thick Design Increases Buoyancy
  • High-Pressure Construction For Maximum Stiffness

BEST FOR: SMALL WAVES

Sometimes small waves just aren’t what you had in mind when hitting the beach on a warm summer day, but fear not! We’ve found the best soft top to combat the “Oh no’s” and keep you having fun no matter the wave size.

The Wave Bandit Performer Tri is a sweet little hybrid board that offers a fish shape for maximum floatability in smaller surf while sporting a 3-fin thruster setup to keep you stable while shredding. Most fish boards have either a twin or quad fin setup, but this distinctive combo will also keep you high flying on medium sized waves as well.

They don’t call it the Performer for nothin’! This board is perfect for literally any level of beginner, making it a solid choice whether it’s your first board or a back up in your quiver for the smaller days.

Alton Highliner

Specs
  • Length: Short
  • Thickness: 2.875"
  • Weight Capacity: 200 lbs
  • Fin Setup: Twin Fin (2-fin)
Features
  • 2 Color Schemes Available
  • Universal Fin Mounts With Fins Included
  • Wide Deck Increases Stability Through Powerful Waves

BEST FOR: PUSHING BOUNDARIES

Are you an advanced beginner with a punchy, rebel attitude? Do you like pushing your limits and trying things that fly in the face of conventional wisdom? If so, then there’s no better way for you to exercise your creative freedom than with Alton’s Highliner fish board!

Convention has told us for years that a fish board’s best use is for small surf, which is true. But that’s not the only thing it’s good for. In recent years, more and more rebels have been using the classic fish shape to push boundaries and create a new style of surfing in medium-sized waves.

Paired with a twin fin setup, the Alton Highliner is the ideal board for generating power. Advanced beginners will be able to handle this board solidly in small surf before pushing those limits in slightly larger waves.

Boardworks Froth!

Specs
  • Length: Short
  • Thickness: 2.5"
  • Weight Capacity: 190 lbs
  • Fin Setup: Thruster (3-fin)
Features
  • Requires Wax
  • High-Quality Fin Boxes And Fins
  • Long-Lasting Construction Overturns Traditional Soft Top “Cons”

BEST FOR: CHEATING THE SYSTEM

Made with the skeleton of a hard top surfboard and wrapped in soft, foamie goodness, the Boardworks Froth! is the Michelin Man of surfboards. The construction starts as if it were being made into a more traditional epoxy hard top board, but then sneakily adds high-density foam to the top, thus cheating the system.

Throw the Pros and Cons out! Revolution is afoot!

The result is a board that is both light and long-lasting (hard top pros) but also safe for beginners and less expensive (soft top pros). The Froth! also features high-quality fin boxes that allows you to swap out your fins when you need to change up your game. In all, this board aims to please intermediate and advanced beginners due to it’s shorter length.

Catch Surf Original 54

Specs
  • Length: Short
  • Thickness: 2.5"
  • Weight Capacity: 175 lbs
  • Fin Setup: Twin Fin (2-fin)
Features
  • Requires Surf Wax
  • Pop Through Ankle Leash Plug
  • Highly Durable, Impact-Resistant Deck

BEST FOR: DURABILITY

This shortie is by far the most durable board on the list, allowing advanced beginners the ability to try new things without fear of breaking their board. Known in the Catch Surf brand as a “beater board”, the Original 54 Pro is impact resistant, lightweight, and opposes waterlogging that would otherwise slow it down.

Its short shape paired with a twin fin setup makes the Original 54 Pro a great board for catching all different types of waves, especially those in the small to medium range. If you’ve nailed down your longboard basics, this makes for a great addition to your quiver to mix things up!

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING SURFBOARDS

COST

One of the huge benefits to buying a soft top surfboard is that they tend to be less expensive than their hard top counterparts. If you’re new to surfing, soft tops offer a variety of advantages over hard tops and are a good choice until your skills have progressed.

The other upside to “foamies” being less expensive is that you may be able to buy multiple soft tops for the price of a single hard top, meaning you can outfit the whole family for your next family vacation without breaking the bank!

 

CONSTRUCTION

Soft top surfboards, also known as “foamies”, are a great choice for beginners of all skill levels. Although initially regarded as surfboards for “noobs” or “kooks”, the soft top revolution has flipped the script. Nowadays, you can find all levels of surfers, even professional surfers, using them in certain conditions.

SOFT TOP PROS

  • As a newbie, falling off your board is inevitable, but a visit to the ER doesn’t have to be
  • Foamies are much safer for your noggin and others who may be nearby
  • Great bang for your buck! Let’s you hit the water at a reasonable price
  • Foamies provide more stability for beginners due to their heavy weight

SOFT TOP CONS

  • A heavier board means a more difficult walk to the water
  • Warm water surfing on a foamie can lead to board rash. Check out the best rash guards to prevent this from happening
  • Shorter lifespan than hard tops

 

FIN SETUP

Soft top surfboards benefit just as much from specification of fin type as hard tops. Depending on your needs and intended surf style, certain fin setups will lend themselves better than others. Below we explain what type of surfing styles benefit the best from certain fin setups.

LONGBOARDING

  • Single Fin: Most commonly found on longboards, the Single Fin setup is a great choice for beginners without experience but also scales up as you become a better surfer. Characterized by a single, long fin in the center of the board, this setup provides ample stability and tracking.
  • Thruster: Increasingly found on longboards in recent years, the Thruster setup is a nice modern variant for the world’s oldest and most traditional surfing style. The Thruster setup is characterized by 3 fins: 1 in the center towards the rear of the board with 2 flanking fins positioned further forward. A longboard with a Thruster setup will be more nimble and better at turning, especially in smaller waves.

FUNBOARDING

  • Thruster: Most commonly found on medium length “Funboards”, the Thruster’s purpose here is to provide speed and maneuverability. The flanking fins provide more agility and lend stability to fast turns. This setup on medium length boards is aimed more at intermediate and advanced beginners.

FISHBOARDING

  • Twin Fin: With just 2 fins on either side, the Twin Fin setup is designed to create speed and maximum maneuverability. Typically mated to a “Fishboard”, the purpose here is to make turning a breeze. Intended more for intermediate to advanced beginners, this setup sacrifices stability for maneuverability.
  • Quad: The Quad setup leverages 4 fins, 2 on either side of the board, to achieve similar results as a Twin Fin but with more power and stability. The extra set of fins provide better tracking without sacrificing speed. Intermediate and advanced beginners will both appreciate how this setup performs on Fishboards.

 

LENGTH

Skill level is usually the first determining factor when deciding on what length of surfboard to buy. Checkout the breakdown below.

TRUE BEGINNERS

  • Long
    • 8 ft or longer
  • Type Of Surfing
    • Longboarding
  • Why It’s A Great Choice
    • Boards above 8 ft are going to provide a larger footprint for beginners without any surfing experience. The longer the board, the wider and thicker it will be, thereby shortening your learning curve.

INTERMEDIATE TO ADVANCED BEGINNERS

  • Medium
    • 6 ft – 8 ft
  • Type Of Surfing
    • Funboarding
  • Why It’s A Great Choice
    • This intermediate length is a step down in size from longboards and provides more maneuverability and agility. Intermediate and advanced beginners will appreciate this size as it gives them more control over their board.

ADVANCED BEGINNERS

  • Short
    • Anything shorter than 6 ft
  • Type Of Surfing
    • Funboarding and Fishboarding
  • Why It’s A Great Choice
    • Advanced beginners who have mastered all of the basic surfing skills will find shortboards and fishboards opening a whole new world of possibilities. Their short length and sometimes unique shape (in the case of fishboards), provide new ways of seeing the world of surfing.

 

THICKNESS

Soft top surfboards tend to be more beginner friendly by adding extra thickness to increase buoyancy in the water and increase performance under certain conditions. 3’’ in thickness is the sweet spot. Anything thicker lends itself to beginners with no experience while thinner boards will be manageable for intermediate to advanced beginners.

 

WEIGHT CAPACITY

When choosing the best soft top surfboard, you want a weight capacity that is higher than your bodyweight. The weight capacities listed are for true beginners and intermediate beginners. Advanced beginners will be able to cheat higher than the listed weight capacity as their skill will allow them to handle a smaller sized board.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

DECK

The area of the board where the paddler stands.

FIN MOUNT

A slot in the surfboard where a fin can be inserted.

BUOYANT DESIGN

A surfboard with a buoyant design will float better and with less effort. This is a good feature to keep an eye on if you’re a beginner with no experience or when surfing small waves.

ANKLE LEASH PLUG

A small knob with a hook in the rear of a surfboard where an ankle leash can be easily attached.

EPOXY FINISH

A very durable final coating over hard top surfboards. Most hard tops are finished with epoxy as opposed to the older and heavier fiberglass finish.

FISH SHAPE

A style of surfboard that looks like a fish! They are typically short (less than 6 ft), very wide, and really thick (more than 3 inches). They are best suited to small waves when beginning your foray into surfing.

FIN BOX

The area underneath the tail of the board that offers options to add or remove additional fins in order to customize a particular fin setup.

READ MORE

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