Soft surfboards have been on the rise lately. However, they have been around for decades, ever since bodyboards were around for the materials to make a proper soft top board out of. So what is causing the comeback of soft top surfboards? Some people say it’s the natural progression of surf styles, while others say that the surfing population is growing so fast that there are spillovers that create new definitions of getting stoked.
The soft top surfboard represents old and tested concepts that are executed in new and edgier ways.
So what actually is a soft top surfboard anyways? Well, it is a type of surfboard that is… uhmm… soft. They are all
made out of bodyboard material but just shaped into a surfboard instead. That is why many of these soft top surfboards are made in bodyboard factories such as Morey Boogie, Sure Craft and Turbo Surf Designs. Being the same as bodyboard materials, the top of the board is polyethylene or polypropylene. The bottom is made of out of a hard plastic type material called surlyn and the core is a polypropylene foam. They also have a bodyboard stringer or two to strengthen the board, made of plastic and placed in the center.
But recently there has been a resurgence of this fun loving type of board. When I say “fun loving” it’s because you don’t exactly take this board very serious. Don’t get me wrong, they’re no joke and a ton of fun but it’s just not a high performance “Kelly Slater” type board.
Instead, it’s meant to mess around with and just have a good time. After all, we all know that the best surfer out there is the one having the most fun. What could be more fun than worry-free surfing? No dings, dents and no high price tag. The reality is that for the average surfer, you aren’t surfing epic waves or taking yourself too serious, instead, you just want to have fun in the 1-3 ft surf that is available to you. Most of the time, you just want to mess around, catch some fun waves and when your done, throw the board in the back of your truck with no worries.
And that is exactly what the soft top surfboard is all about.
It’s durable and can pretty much handle any thing you throw at it because you can’t ding it, after all! Some of these boards even come without skegs so you can legitimately take it out with you in the summer time when the Black Ball flag is up and be completely fine with the lifeguards and their rules.
In fact, you’ll see at least a couple of beater boards and other soft tops hanging around from their lifeguard towers. Soft top boards are also used for ocean rescue operations. That should give you an idea about how these boards are built: soft on the outside, but tough on the inside.
If you’re the type to go big on style, you’d be ecstatic with the wide range of funky, neon, pop-art patterns and designs that are printed onto these soft tops. Whether you’re taking the board out for a spin (literally) or just parking it in your living room, you’re bound to turn some heads and get a few hipsters envious.
Without further ado, here are the best top 5 soft top surfboards money can buy:
- 1 Comparison Table
- 2 Catch Surf Beater Board
- 3 Catch Surf Odysea
- 4 BZ Soft Top Surfboard Fish, 5 Feet/ 2 Inches
- 5 INT Soft Surfboard 8’0
- 6 INT 5’10” Fish Soft Bottom Surfboard
- 7 Conclusion
- 8 F.A.Q.
- Beater By Catch Surf
- Features: Channels (traction for finless surfing)
- Length: 48" & 54"
- Shape: Beater/ Fun Board
- Fins: Single, Double or Finless
- Tail: Crescent
- Odysea by Catch Surf
- Features: High Performance Board
- Length: 5', 5'6", 6', 6'6"
- Shape: Short Board
- Fins: 3 (thruster) or quad
- Tail: Flat & Fish Tail
- Features: Cheapest & great for beginners
- Length: 6ft
- Shape: Egg Board
- Fins: 3 Fins (Thruster)
- Tail: Round Tail
- BZ 6 & 7 ft
- Features: High Quality Made
- Length: 6' & 7 Feet
- Shape: Short Board
- Fins: 3 (Thruster)
- Tail: Flat
This is the essence of a soft top: durable, fun shape, epic colors, affordable and you can rip on it or just goof around.
Whoever said soft tops were lame because they can’t handle hardcore waves has not seen Jamie O’Brien get shacked at Pipeline with his Catch Surf Pro model. Then again, J.O.B. is a madman and he can probably get barreled with anything. Still think soft tops can’t go radical? Wait until you see Chippa Wilson bust out a front side air on the shore dump with his soft top Stump.
There are several options with this board and many awesome crazy colors. The colors can get as crazy as the maneuvers you can pull with these reliable wompers. Go big by going small: the Catch Surf beaters come in a 48 inch and 54 inch board options, really just depends on how big of a rider you are in terms of weight and height, kid vs. adult.
The 48 inch has the option of no fin, single, and double. No fin is great for black ball days in the summer where lifeguards won’t let surfboards in a swimming and bodyboard area. So having no fin on a surfboard is a great workaround for black ball and it can be used as a skim board too. This size is perfect for kids and youngsters.
Here are the 48 inch dimensions: 48″ (4’0″) x 20″ x 2.5″ (27 Liters)
The 54 is the same with the 3 different fin options but also has pro models with crazy graphics on the bottom as well. The size of this board is good for the older young adult and adult.
Here are the 54 inch dimensions: 54″ (4’6″) x 20″ x 2.5″ (30 Liters)
So whether you are looking for your new weapon of choice for paddle-dropping massive shore breaks powered by an intense backwash, or if you just need a ridiculously good-looking kickboard to waddle around in, this Catch Surf beater board is for you.
Read our full review of the Beater Here.
The guys at Catch Surf are doing such an awesome job at making kickass soft top boards that we just had to give them another mention. But this time, we’re focusing on one of their signature models—the Odysea.
So here’s Catch Surf with yet another epic ride! Catch Surf is one of the newer soft surfboard companies but it has really made its mark on the soft board scene with a fresh and innovative breath of life in this market.
Most of the color options are the same as the Beater but the Odysea has many many different size and shape options. One good thing to look at is the variety of tail types offered by this beater board model. Whether you want to go fish tail, swallow tail, or squash tail, the Odysea can provide your desired ride.
And if you want more lifestyle points to go with this sweet-looking fella, you can check out the assortment of Catch Surf apparel and accessories before you head out to the beach.
Read our full review of the Odysea by Clicking Here.
This soft top by BZ is a great affordable option, while still being a high quality product. If you want a sure ball, no frills, no fail purchase, this is it.
BZ knows better than anyone how to make a great polypro (soft top) board with a surlyn material bottom… because well, they are normally a bodyboard manufacture!
Yes BZ is a bodyboard company and they make a few surfboards on the side, which is a good thing because pretty much all soft surfboard materials come from the bodyboard. So BZ making high quality bodyboards for decades naturally translates into them also making high quality soft stand up boards as well and with this 5’2″ fish it is no exception.
This BZ soft top fish is ideal for beginners or anyone looking to start off or transition to a shorter board. And just like a regular fish, this soft top model can catch waves like a longboard but it offers the same maneuverability as a proper shortboard. The tail shape is designed to provide more hold onto the wave, which is perfect for faster drops and steeper faces. You could use this model to practice your wave catching and trimming before finally stepping onto a hard top, and you’ll see that everything will flow together nicely from there.
So if you want a soft top board that fulfills both form and functionality, you can bet on BZ.
INT Soft Surfboard 8’0
INT Softboards is a proven and reputable soft surfboard company that has been around for years. They are made in the USA, manufactured right in Carlsbad, California. Carlsbad is known for their wide beach breaks that work best when the tide is high and the swells are small and peaky—perfect conditions for soft top surfing.
Besides providing boards for sale to the public, they also work with lifeguards and other ocean safety operations to make them rescue type products including the boards you can buy from them that are open to the public. That is not a needed fact when considering buying their boards but it tells you that they are top notch and ocean rescue teams like lifeguards deem their products high quality and fit for their businesses so you can rest assured that these boards are as good as it gets.
Now, on to the actual board itself!
This 8’0 longboard is one of their best models and is good at being an all-around solid surfboard. It is great for all types of conditions for big and small surf as well as beginner to advanced riders. That is probably its best quality, it fits so many people and conditions that you just can’t go wrong with buying one. Even after you progress into an epoxy or fiberglass board, you’ll have someone in the family or circle of friends who’d want to pick up the surfing habit. Go lend your soft top, or charge per hour and pass on this soft top longboard to someone who’ll have as much fun on it as you first did!
This INT soft top surfboard is 8 feet long, from tail to nose, and while this may seem like a very long board it actually really isn’t. 8 feet is a typical longboard size and it is great for beginners because it is easier to stand up and ride a wave for the first time, while other shorter boards and many short boards are much more challenging for a beginner rider. It is always advised that a beginner should start out on a longboard like this one. But who says soft tops are just for beginners? More advanced surfers can take out a soft top on a fun day, and well, just have fun.
These soft tops come in tons of colors. The top of the board comes in yellow, blue, pink, white and red. The bottom color of the board comes in just white.
This board has 3 skegs. Skegs are fins on the bottom side of the board. Three skegs in a triangle formation pattern are typical for a board and it provides very stable riding for this board. It also comes with a leash attachment at the tail end of the board so you can attach a leash of your choice but it doesn’t come with a leash.
If you are in the market for a soft top longboard, this is the one to go with.
If you still think INT doesn’t cut it, well, you’ll have to disagree with Rob Machado who collaborated on a signature single fin model with them. And yes, Rob chose to go hard on his soft top model.
INT 5’10” Fish Soft Bottom Surfboard
INT coming in hot! again with another knockout soft top stand up board.
This time it is none other than their 5’10” Fish to finish up our list for battle of the top five best soft top surfboards on the market today.
This hot fish model is designed to be a wave catcher without sacrificing the ability to gain speed for proper flow and stay in trim for classic style. It is an old school design made out of modern day materials so you can count on riding this timeless classic for years to come. You got it—this soft top fishy ain’t never going out of style.
The soft materials used for this board are perfect for beginner to advanced surfers. There really is no limit as to who can ride this board as long as your main objective is to have the raddest time. And you won’t have to worry about bringing this baby out on crowded breaks because they’re as durable as they can get.
This beast is one hell of a ride because it is so well balanced making it perfect for the small 1-2 ft days when it’s flat in the summer or taking it out in 10 foot Wedge up in Newport Beach. Yeah, seriously there are guys that use this exact board out at heavy days at the Wedge in Newport Beach and this board holds up (and hold a rail) in thumping shore-break closeouts!
In fact, here is a perfect example of this board being ridden on a heavy day out at they ol Wedge. Jason “Randy” Rhodes on a thumper, just the way he likes it! Now let’s see you try that on a hard top!
There you have it, that wraps up the best soft top surfboards available in the market today. Pick one of these 5 because you can’t loose.
Just be sure to have tons of fun out there. Try new things like reverses and punts, or whatever you could be too scared to try on a hard top, because these soft top boards can take a good beating. It’s no secret that most pros practice all their big moves on soft tops. Try going all out on a regular board and you might not just break your board but also your wallet. So thank the surf gods (and all these nifty foam board companies) for this crazy fun invention.
Keep in mind: these foamies are your homies!
Once you have decided on what board to get, you aren’t done yet! You also definitely will need to wax these boards, read up on our article about how to wax a board on our site.
Are these good beginner surfboards?
Don’t let soft tops fool you because they’re practically the best kinds of surfboards on the planet. Not only are they beginner-friendly because of their safety and stability, they’re also designed smart enough for intermediate to advanced surfers to squeeze in tighter turns and steeper drops. With soft boards, you really are getting the best of the best in the surfing world.
Is this a good and safe surfboard for my young kid?
All soft surfboards are safe to have around young children and crowded areas. Remember that the foam core makes these boards less prone to injury than heavy and hard fiberglass boards. Soft foam will hurt less!
Do these type of surf boards need wax?
How do you minimize further accident when you’re out there? Don’t skimp on the wax because you still need a good and firm grip beneath your feet. You won’t need to wax a soft board the same way you would a traditional fiberglass board, but you’ll definitely still need to put wax on key areas for your footing.
How do I take care of this kind of soft top surfboard?
As long as you wash your soft boards right after a session, you can ensure that they’ll last longer than the average surfboard. Keep them away from the sun after use, and they might even last forever.