Whether you are new to surfing and looking to improve your skill level, or you are a veteran who is just looking for a fun board to take out when the waves aren’t ideal, soft-top surfboards are the way to go.
Trust us when we say this, Soft-top surfboards aren’t like they used to be.
With improved technology and surfing, many of these boards can be surfed just as well as your average hard-top surfboard.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a thousand different soft-top surfboards on the market these days, half of which are cheap and flimsy.
Luckily for you, we’ve created a well-thought-out list featuring our favorite soft-tops and the best soft-surfboard reviews out there!
Let’s hit the water and find out what they’re all about!
What Is A Soft Top Surfboard?
Just like the name implies, soft-top surfboards are surfboards that have a soft deck on the top instead of a hard one.
They’re perfect for beginners, as they are incredibly easy to paddle, are very forgiving when it comes to dings and dents, and are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
They are typically made out of materials like polyethylene or heat-laminated composites.
They are much more flexible and durable compared to fiberglass, though are typically not as great when it comes to serious performance.
Most soft-top surfboards are mass-manufactured, meaning they are shaped with computers rather than hand-shaped.
The Top 9
Our #1 Pick - SBBC Verve 8’
The Verve 8’ is easily one of South Bay Board Company’s best surfboards. It comes complete with their IXPE deck, which is a cross-linked polyethylene textured foam that allows you to surf totally wax-free.
The idea of never having to sit in the sun and clean off old wax after a few sessions is a freeing feeling. Plus, the deck is incredibly soft and feels nice on the skin, great for non-wetsuit summer sessions.
It can support surfers up to 230 lbs in weight and weighs about 15lbs overall.
On the inside of the board lies two wooden stringers near the edges and a fiberglass center rod stringer that runs about ⅔ of the way through the board. On the bottom is an HDPE slick deck for added durability and balance.
Holding all of this together is Verve’s heat-compressed closed-cell EPS core, helping to keep water from being absorbed by the board.
If you know anything about foam surfboards, you might know that they can unfortunately absorb water as time goes on, creating a heavier and less maneuverable board. The fact that you don’t have to stress about that with the Verve is pretty awesome.
With the board, you also get a GoPro mount on the top of the deck, a set of fins, and a leash, meaning you’ll have all you need to get out in the water right away. Overall, this 8 ft soft top surfboard is one of the best on the market.
Of course, if the Verve doesn’t look like your type of board, there are plenty of high-quality boards on our list that’ll do the job depending on your preference. We hope we were able to inspire your new soft-top journey! See you out in the water!
Many label the Wavestorm as a “cheap soft-top surfboard”, though it might get a lot of flack, it is the classic soft-top board that can surprisingly do it all.
The beauty of the Wavestorm board is that it can surf summer mush just as well as it can surf double overheads.
At just 11.5lbs, it is the perfect weight for young surfers to carry out to the water. We love the new Sunburst color option that they have added too!
In terms of construction, it comes with a tough EPS core, a barrier skin crosslink deck, and a triple-stringer system, each of which comes together to give you a wonderfully flexible and durable soft-top surfboard. On the bottom, the HDPE slick material gives you a stronger ride overall.
When you buy the Wavestorm, you get removable rubber fins, a leash, and a traction pad, which is essentially everything that you need to get started. With that said, we might recommend upgrading, as neither of these accessories is very high-quality.
Overall, we would recommend the Wavestorm for beginners. The maneuverability and performance are pretty limited overall, so while it might not be exciting for veteran surfers to ride, it is great for entry-level surfers who are just trying to get their bearings straight.
#3 Wave Bandit Ben Gravy Performer
Before we hop into the specs and features that make this board so great, can we just appreciate the awesome sunglass-pineapple graphics on the bottom of the board that make it so unique?
Thank you Ben Gravy for giving us something funky fresh that will catch eyes out in the waves. This egg-shaped 6 ft soft-top surfboard is perfect for those who are just looking to have some fun.
It comes with double maple wood stringers, which help to add strength and stability to the board, while the swallowtail helps to add a bit more performance.
The high-pressure construction provides you with optimal stiffness, which allows the board to surf larger waves than you might think.
It comes complete with a 4.5” tri-fin set so that you can get started right away. Unlike the two boards mentioned above, you will definitely need wax to ride this thing properly.
With a shorter design, we wouldn’t recommend it for surfers who are just starting out, though if you are in the market for soft-top maneuverability, it might be the perfect choice for you!
#4 SBBC Heritage 8’8”
This 9 ft soft top surfboard is perfect for beginners or surfers who are looking for a soft-top that has more of a longboard feel. The SBBC Heritage 8.8” has a full rounded nose and squash tail, which in conjunction create a classic longboard-like surfing experience.
It weighs 16lbs, which may be a bit heavy for beginners, though the extra weight will allow entry-level surfers to get their balance right. Plus, it can support up to 250lbs, so most average adults should have no problem riding it.
With the ability to catch waves with ease, we would recommend it for waves up to 4’, though nothing much larger.
Thanks to the IXPE foam deck with the croc-textured EVA, you won’t need to wax it up. This no-wax feature is pretty much standard in SBBC boards now, as well as the EPS core, and the HDPE slick bottom with crosshatched mesh.
On the inside of the board, you have two full-length, double-reinforced marine stringers that are holding it together.
It comes complete with FCS II fins and a leash, though both of them aren’t the strongest and we might recommend upgrading if you’re serious. While the board doesn’t offer insane speed or maneuverability, it is perfect for small waves and crowded lineups where safety is key.
#5 Wave Bandit Ben Gravy EZ Rider
It’s difficult to decide which Wave Bandit board on our list is the most fun, the EZ Rider or the Performer.
Whatever you decide, one thing is for sure: both of these boards exude exciting foam performance. It comes with a bright and colorful deck and bottom that you’ll no doubt see from miles away.
At 17lbs, it is a bit heavy for a 7ft board, though surprisingly performs really well. It has a fun egg shape that allows you to push beyond the realm of most foam boards in the water.
Within the board are dual maple wood stringers that help to add a rigid quality to the board. Even after years of use, the EZ rider will still feel like new. The HDPE slick bottom and EPS core help to add a bit more stability.
It comes complete with a tri-fin set up and removable plug-thru fins that allow you to paddle out right away. With that said, do note that the EZ Rider doesn’t have a leash that comes with it, so you’ll need to get one to get started.
Unlike many of the boards on our list, the deck on this board requires wax, so don’t leave it at home unless you want a day of bailing in the whitewater.
Overall, the EZ Rider is a board that embraces the 80s and embraces the idea of fun. If you take yourself too seriously, it might not be the right board for you.
#6 Best Overall: California Board Company 7’
At first glance, you’ll notice how clean cut the California Board Company 7’ looks with the sharp wood graphics.
What will surprise you when you get ahold of it is that it is your typical foam top surfboard. At 7’x22”x3.5” and 10lbs, it’s a fairly lightweight board that can hold surfers up to 210lbs. It is a perfect choice for both younger riders and lighter adult riders.
When it comes to heat-laminated construction, California Board Company does it really well. There are three stringers that are multi-layered and heat-laminated to give you a sturdy and durable feel.
The HDPE slick bottom is also heat-laminated, as well as the 100% waterproof EPS core. How about the wood graphic on the top? You guessed it!
It’s heat-laminated. Compared to many other boards on our list, this thing is built like an absolute tank.
With that said, it rides with an incredibly rigid feel, meaning you may not get the maneuverability that you desire.
Take it out on large waves and you’ll notice just how wild it can be to ride. It is perfect for beginners, however.
California Board Company provides you with a set of thruster fins that are surprisingly solid, as well as a leash that actually feels like a quality leash.
#7 Liquid Shredder 70 FSE
As a 7 ft soft top surfboard at 11lbs in weight, the Liquid Shredder 70 FSE is perfect for the novice rider. Does it shred like the name insists? Well, we would say that it is more of a beginner board with a bit more action than you might expect from a log. The polypropylene bottom is a bit surprising at first, as many boards on our list go with the HDPE slick bottom. The beauty of this design is that the board has a bit more flex.
There are two wooden stringers that run throughout the entirety of the board, as well as a center fiberglass stringer, each of which aims to add a bit more of a rigid character to the board so that it feels more sturdy in larger waves. In all, it feels pretty well-balanced in the water.
The board uses an expanded polyethylene foam for the top deck, which is very comfortable and easy on the skin. With that said, you’ll definitely need to wax your board up, as this type of foam doesn’t have very strong non-slip properties. One thing we will say about the Liquid Shredder is that the board is very fast. When it comes to riding waves, you’ll feel like you’re gliding atop the glass. With the polypropylene bottom and the sharp, narrow shape, paddling feels like an absolute breeze. You truly cut through the water like a knife through warm butter.
The board comes with a set of three fins, though they don’t give you a leash, so you’ll need to make sure you pick one up unless you want to lose your board to the ocean’s abyss.
#8 Thurso Surf Lancer 5'10'' Fish
Not only is the Thurso Surf Lancer 5’10” Fish soft-top a great choice for your kids who are getting into the world of surfing, it also provides intermediate and veteran surfers with a bit more of performance-focused rides than a lot of the larger boards on our list. This is thanks to the narrower fish design.
The board comes with a set of twin fins and a rail saver ankle leash that is paired with a 6’ high-end double stainless steel swivel.
While it is an excellent performance board, it focuses on glide and stability as well, making it a perfect transition board for those hopping off the longboard train. The high-density EPS core is lightweight and incredibly buoyant, giving surfers optimal stiffness in the water.
The HDPE slick bottom is durable and responsive, adding a bit more stiffness to the board, as well as speed that allows you to glide across the waves with ease.
Both the slick bottom and the IXPE deck are heat-laminated to reduce the risk of breakage over time. On the inside of the board, you get two wooden stringers that add overall strength.
What makes this board so unique is the fish tail, which provides riders with a fair amount of traction and hold from rail to rail. You’ll get a bit more lift as you come over the top of a wave with this board.
#9 Rock-It Albert 5’8”
When it comes to pure fun, the Rock-It Albert 5’8” is a solid choice.
The twin-fin retro fish design is perfect for beginner and intermediate surfers alike. It’s incredibly fun to ride and makes wave-catching a breeze, even on mushier days.
The Rock-It Albert comes with two wooden stringers and layers of fiberglass cloth around a durable EPS core. The top is vacuum and heat-sealed so that the board can withstand years of abuse.
While the rounded nose provides you with a glidier longboard feel, the fish tail gives you more lift and maneuverability. It’s the perfect mix of features for the surfer that is looking for a well-rounded board.
Plus, this pink soft top surfboard has a fun and flashy design that is reminiscent of the bright soft-tops from back in the day.
Soft Top Surfboard Size Chart
Now that you have a good idea of some of our favorite boards, you might be asking yourself,
“What size soft top surfboard should I get?”
While there is no golden rule when it comes to size, we recommend looking at our soft-top surfboard size chart to give yourself a good idea.
Soft-Top Surfboards Vs. Regular Fiberglass
We would never say that one of these boards is better than the other, as we believe that they each have a different purpose when it comes to surfing. Soft-top surfboards are far more stable than fiberglass boards, they are easy to catch waves with, and they are perfect for entry-level riders. Soft-top surfboards are also much more durable than fiberglass boards, meaning they won’t incur ding or dent damage as easily.
Unfortunately, cheaper soft-top surfboards are known to absorb water, so they may lose integrity in their structure over time. With that said, we highly recommend them for beginner surfers, small-wave surfers, and surfers who often find themselves in crowded summer lineups.
Fiberglass boards, on the other hand, are made for serious surfers. They are much lighter than soft-top surfboards, can outperform soft-top surfboards, and are usually much faster. Overall, we recommend fiberglass surfboards for surfers who are looking to push their limits, compete, or perform high-performance maneuvers. With that said, they are more susceptible to damage and breakage when compared to soft-tops, and because of their hard design, we don’t recommend them for crowded lineups.
What To Consider When Buying a Soft Top
Board Shape & Type
While most of the boards on our list are either longboards or mini-longboard designs, there are plenty of foam surfboard shapes and types out there to look for.
If you’re a beginner, we highly recommend going for a longboard design. Longboards will be at least 8’ in length and they will usually have a wider, rounded nose and a squash tail. The decks on longboards are typically pretty wide and the rails are rounded, though one could also argue that most soft-top surfboards have fairly rounded rails.
Mini-Longboards will be anywhere from 7’ to 8’ long. They have the same essential shape as your typical longboard, though are a bit shorter with narrower decks. While they aren’t as stable or fast as your typical longboard, they are far more maneuverable.
Fish or Hybrid Soft-Top Surfboards are a bit more like shortboards. They typically run anywhere from 5’ to 7’ long and have sharper noses. While they lack the same stability as the two prior boards, they are very maneuverable, perfect for more advanced surfers.
Soft-top surfboards tend to be a bit longer and thicker. This is because most soft-top surfboards are made with easy wave-catching in mind. Most riders who are looking for a board to shred with will typically move on to a fiberglass shortboard. With that said, sizing is pretty simple. The longer and wider your board is, the easier it will be to ride it and the more stable it will feel. The shorter and narrower your board, the less stable it will feel, though it will also be more maneuverable.
Consider your budget and your experience. If you are just starting out in the world of surfing, there is no reason to get a really expensive board, especially if you don’t know that you’ll keep up with it. There are incredible soft-top surfboards out there that will only cost you a few hundred dollars.
Pros and Cons
Stronger and more durable than fiberglass boards
Stable and easy to catch waves with
Safer to use in crowded lineups
Less expensive than fiberglass boards
Perfect for beginners to learn on
Lack the maneuverability of fiberglass boards
Not the best for big waves
Soft Top Surfboard Brands
South Bay Board Company
South Bay Board Co. is a company out of South Los Angeles that makes performance-focused soft-top surfboards, as well as paddleboards, bodyboards, and skim boards.
Wave Bandit is a California surfboard company that has a huge line of soft-top surfboards for beginners and veteran surfers alike. They are known for their bright and funky designs that are reminiscent of 80s surf culture.
Wavestorm is a product of Agit Global. Their surfboards are some of the most popular in the soft-top world, providing beginner surfers with a fun, durable, and stable surfing experience.
How to wax a soft top surfboard?
Waxing a surfboard is very easy. It only takes a few steps to get it right.
Start by cleaning the deck of your surfboard. Scrape off any old wax that is caked on. You can do so by letting your board sit in the sun for about ten minutes and then scrape it off with a wax comb or credit card. When you’re done, rinse your board off with cool freshwater.
Apply a layer of basecoast wax until you notice bumps starting to form. Use the edge of your wax stick instead of the flat side. Don’t worry if you need to use the entire stick of wax to cover your board, as some larger boards call for it.
Apply your top layer of surf wax atop the basecoat. If you can, we recommend getting a top layer surf wax that is a different color than your basecoat so that you can see where you’ve already covered. Using the side of your wax bar, move in small circles atop the entirety of your basecoat until it is covered.
Comb your wax by running it atop your board in crosshatch lines. This will help to roughen up your wax so that you can grip it much easier. You’re now ready to hit the water!
How to get wax off soft top surfboard?
While many people use the hair dryer method to get wax off their boards, we recommend doing it the natural way with some warm water:
Start by laying your board on a soft surface outside, such as a table with a towel on top or some grass.
Heat some water up to approximately 120-degrees and pour it over the top of your deck.
Using your hands, spread the water around the top of your board. Let the water sit for a few minutes.
Using a wax scraper, move from the front of your deck to the back and remove the sticky wax.
Rinse your board with cool freshwater when all of the wax is gone.
Does A Soft Top Surfboards Need Wax?
Absolutely. There are many soft-top surfboard manufacturers that design their board with grippy decks that don’t require wax, though if they haven’t said it upfront, you need to get some wax.
What is the best performance soft top surfboard?
If we had to pick a soft-top surfboard on our list that can really outperform the others, it would have to be the Thurso Fish. This little fish board is able to maneuver much better than a lot of the longboard-style boards on our list and is better for more advanced riders that are looking to get their hands on a soft-top surfboard.
How to repair and fix a soft top surfboard?
While soft-top surfboards are pretty strong compared to fiberglass boards, they aren’t indestructible by any means. If you get a small ding or slice that is deep enough, you can run the risk of having your board become waterlogged. A waterlogged board is one that has a foam core filled with water. This can weigh your board down and completely destroy the overall performance. Here is a quick way to repair your board if you notice some small damage:
Pick up a small tube of surfboard resin. There are many different brands out there, though we highly recommend a resin called Blobb.
Start by filling your ding or slice with your resin.
Using your finger or another soft, flat-edge device, spread any extra reside atop the ding. Make sure that it doesn’t look bumpy or uneven, as it will cure that way, leaving you with a rough surface.
Let it cure (harden) overnight. Test it in the morning with some cool freshwater before getting back out in the waves.
What is the best soft top surfboard?
The SBBC Verve is easily one of our favorite soft-top surfboards on the market. It provides surfers with a completely wax-free surfing experience, tons of stability and speed, and durability that will last you a lifetime. In terms of strength, longevity, and versatility, we absolutely love this board.
Are Foam Surfboards Good For Beginners?
For beginners, we highly recommend the Wavestorm soft-top surfboard. It is one of the most available boards on the market thanks to Costco, and rides like a dream. Beginners will love how easy the board is to paddle, as well as the added stability that makes it easy to stand up and catch waves on. Even if you break your Wavestorm, the company has a pretty good warranty to get you back in the waves in no time.
Are Soft Top Surfboards Good For Young Kids?
We would recommend soft-top surfboards for young kids over fiberglass surfboards any day. As you know by now, soft-top surfboards are the easiest to learn on. They make paddling, balancing, and wave-catching, far easier than fiberglass boards. Soft-top surfboards provide a much better foundation for young kids to get their technique down without feeling frustrated after wiping out a million times.
On top of that, soft-top surfboard are a whole lot safer than fiberglass boards. There is no doubt that young kids learning will be falling all over the place. Wiping out is a right of passage in surfing. It is much better to get hit in the head with a soft-top surfboard than the sharp edge of a fiberglass surfboard.
Soft Top Surfboard Fins
Most soft-top surfboards will come with their own set of fins, fins which are typically made of a hard plastic material. While these fins aren’t usually the strongest fins in the world, they’ll do the job for the most part. If you’re looking to get a different set of fins to replace the stock fins that come with your board, you’ll need to look for a soft-top that has a set of universal fin boxes, such as FCS boxes.
Final Thoughts - Which One Should I Get?
If we had to pick one board to rule them all, it would definitely be the SBBC Verve 8’!
The SBBC Verve 8’ is a great board for both beginner and intermediate surfers. The width and thickness provide an extra layer of stability for beginner surfers to paddle on and pop up with. You’ll be catching waves with the Verve 8’ right out the gate.
Beyond that, SBBC boards are high-quality in general. The EPS core design and crosslink, water-resistant deck provide the perfect mixture of strength and comfort to provide riders with a fun and durable board. Plus, the board comes with fins, a leash, and a little traction pad, so that you can get started surfing right away!