Best Soft Top Surfboard : 37 Must Know Facts Before Starting

if you don’t have a lot of time to spare the Best Soft Top Surfboard is the South Bay Board Co. 8 Foot Verve

Are you thinking about learning how to surf? I bet you are beginning to smile just at the thought of it. There are many ways to learn including using bodyboards and skimboards but for the real deal a lot of people start off with sof top surfboards.

If you are wanting to learn how to surf, you may be thinking of getting your first surfboard. For a newbie, purchasing the best soft top surfboard will give you confidence and comfort while you are learning.

But where do you start? We have used our expertise and experience to create a list of the top soft surfboards available for beginners. Here we go!

The Best Soft Top Surfboards go as Follows:

  1. South Bay Board Co. 8 Foot Verve    (Best Board Overall)
  2. California Board Company Slasher 8′ Surfboard     (Best Board for Beginners)
  3. Liquid Shredder FSE EPS/PE Soft Surf Board     (Best Board for Kids)
  4. Wave Bandit Performer Tri Fin Surfboard    (Best For Intermediate Skill Level)
  5. Wavestorm 8′ Surfboard, Sunburst Graphic    (Best For Heavier Riders)

 

Best Soft Top Sufboard Reviews

These are the top soft top surfboards that have the highest ratings with customers.

1) South Bay Board Co. 8 Foot Verve (Best Board Overall)

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4.5/5

Features

  • HDPE plastic impact reinforced bottom deck for durability
  • Wax-free textured top deck
  • Nose Rocker helps to prevent nose diving
  • Features a rounded rubber tail adding stability through turns
  • Double concave bottom deck which will absorb direct impacts and disperse them evenly
  • Features 3 Stringers; 2 full length wooden resin; 1 2/3 length fiberglass

Specs

  • Weight Capacity: Up to 230 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 8′ x 23″ x 3″
  • Board Volume: 74 liters

Highly durable and extremely stable, this 8′ Verve surfboard from South Bay Board Co. is truly perfect for those are just learning how to surf. A five star product that offers a superior performance, this board is extremely user friendly and even simpler to learn how to surf on. It can hold up to 230 pounds and is built to ensure a safe, clean ride for any skill level.

>>What Customers Think<<

Pros

  • Comes with a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
  • Textured deck provides an ample amount of grip
  • Floats extremely well, making perfect to learn on

Cons

  • Not made for high waves or high impact surfing
  • Leash may come detached from time to time

 

2) California Board Company Slasher 8′ Surfboard (Best Board for Beginners)

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4.5/5

Features

  • Foam deck with molded in laminated wood stringers
  • High density EPS with 100% waterproof core
  • High density polyethylene slick bottom and deck
  • Comes with three fins

Specs

  • Weight Capacity: Up to 215 lbs
  • Product Dimensions: 8’0″ x 23″ x 3.8″
  • Board Volume: 73 Liters

The Slasher 8 foot surfboard from California Board Company is a great board for beginners. It has the look of a traditional fiberglass surfboard, but the construction and functionality of a foam board. Constructed of a high density eps foam with a waterproof core; the board is covered with an XPE deck skin and a polyethylene slick bottom. Overall, we give it a four and a half star rating.

>>What Customers Think<<

Pros

  • Good construction and highly durable
  • Handles very well in the water
  • Great buoyancy and extremely lightweight

Cons

  • Some found it got water logged pretty quickly
  • Leash is not included with purchase

 

3) Liquid Shredder FSE EPS/PE Soft Surf Board (Best Board for Kids)

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4/5

Features And Benefits

  • Polyethylene (EPE) surface that will prevent slipping and promote added comfort
  • Slick bottom is heat laminated to offer speed and precision on the water
  • Wooden stringers for stiffness
  • Includes three fins with purchase

Specs

  • Weight Capacity: Up to 120 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 6’0″ x 20″ x 2.5″
  • Board Volume: 44 Liters

A board for novice surfers as well as weekenders, the Liquid Shredder FSE is a soft surfboard with a sleek, lightweight design that enables you to surf wherever the waves are. Offered in vibrant colors with a six foot board length, you will be able to surf in comfort and style. Feel confident that you will be able to maintain a solid grip on this board even when it is wet. Built to offer durability and speed, we give this surfboard a four star rating.

>>What Customers Think<<

Pros

  • 90 Day Manufacturer Warranty (non-Commercial use)
  • Safe, stable and very easy to carry
  • Soft material helps to minimize kids getting hurt

Cons

  • Does not come with a leash
  • Soft exterior can be marked up pretty easily

 

4) Wave Bandit Performer Tri Fin Surfboard (Best For Intermediate Skill Level)

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4/5

Features And Benefits

  • Extra thick design increases buoyancy
  • High-Pressure construction allows for maximum stiffness
  • High-performance fish shape and rocker
  • Includes twin wood Stringers with a high density slick bottom

Specs

  • Weight Capacity: 225 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 6’0” x 21.5” x 3.0”
  • Board Volume: 48 Liters

While most equate of big waves with large swells with surfing, sometimes smaller waves are all the ocean gives you. However, this Wave Bandit Performer Tri offers a fish shape that allows for superior floatability while in smaller surf. It includes a three fin thruster set up to help you maintain stability while shredding. This six foot board is a high performance board for those with more intermediate skill levels in the sport. We give this a three and a half star rating.

>>What Customers Think<<

Pros

  • Wide footprint will ensure stability
  • Extremely durable board with great performance
  • Includes performance thruster fin set (4.5 inch)

Cons

  • High level of buoyancy will reduce speeds
  • Requires surf wax

 

5) Wavestorm 8′ Surfboard, Sunburst Graphic (Best For Heavier Riders)

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Features

  • Strong EPS (expanded polystyrene) core with three marine-ply stringers
  • High Density (HDPE) Polyethylene slick bottom skin Exclusive Graphic deck
  • Soft WBS-IXL (water barrier skin) crosslink top deck and rails
  • Textured traction pad provides a stable and grippy surface
  • Includes removable both through fins and ankle leash

Specs

  • Weight Capacity: up to 200 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 8′ 0″ x 22.5″ x 3.25″
  • Board Volume: 86 liters

The Wavestorm 8 foot surfboard is lightweight and very comfortable to use in the water. Built for durability, this board will withstand quite a bit of a battering. It all hold riders up to 200 pounds with superior its support structure. A beginner style board that will still perform well at higher skill levels. We give this board three and a half stars.

>>What Customers Think<<

Pros

  • Excellent performance even with smaller waves
  • Provides a ton of grip and stability
  • Includes leash and plug with removable ankle leash

Cons

  • Not as responsive as some similar boards
  • Can be a bit fragile in heavier waves

 

Soft top vs. Fiberglass Build

Soft top surfboards have a foam top with a hard, slick bottom that is typically made from a hard plastic material. These boards are perfect for beginners or those who are not 100% confident in their skill level just yet. Surfboards with a soft top (sometimes referred to as “foamies”) are less likely to hurt riders if they fall off. In addition, these foam top boards will usually add more buoyancy than fiberglass surfboards. This will allow a better floating position while in the water, which is why they are perfect for novice surfers and those riding smaller waves. These boards also tend to be much less expensive, but also are much easier to damage or break.

A fiberglass surfboard is just that, a board made from hard fiberglass surrounding the entire board. This type of board is more traditional, as it tends to provide a faster overall performance. These surf boards are typically used by more experienced surfers that are riding larger waves. While a better overall performance, these boards are also much more fragile. Consequently, it is much easier to not only damage the rider but the board itself. These boards also tend to be heavier and much more expensive in comparison.

 

How to Choose a Soft Top Surfboard

Type of Soft Top Board

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Shortboard

This board is typically five to seven feet long and best suited for fast, steep waves. It is highly maneuverable and typically has a nose rocker, pointy nose and thinner rails. These boards are most commonly used for very aggressive surfing typically sought after by highly experienced surfers.

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Fish

These boards are typically shorter, fatter and wider than shortboards. They will go a bit faster in waves that are breaking slowly. Also having a tendency to provide a smoother surf, this type of board has very quick turning capabilities. Fish boards do not have much rocker, and therefore tend to paddle quite well. However, they can be difficult in a steep, hollow surf. These are great boards for beginners as they tend to have more volume and are usually very easy to balance.

This is the board that I first learned how to ride on, and I loved it. It only took me a couple of tries to get up and feel like I was really surfing. It gave me a ton of confidence and took the anxiety out of my body so I could truly enjoy the ride.

Funboard

Probably a general term that would encompass any surfboard that has extra volume because it allows you to catch more waves. These are great beginner surfboards as the are wider and extremely stable. In addition, heavier surfers will do much better with this board because of the stability that it provides. Much easier to maneuver than longboards, funboards typically run seven to nine feet long.

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Longboard

These boards are just that, long. They typically run eight to eleven feet long. Longboards are very easy to paddle and catch a wave on; typically much sooner than a short board. The length of the board enables you the ability to walk up and down the board if you desired. This is a good beginner board, but many of those that are very serious about the sport tend to only ride longboards.

Hybrid

The design of the Hybrid takes the top design features from two different board types that are close to each other to make a “ultimate” board. As an example, combining the shortboard and the fish board would create a surfboard that has more volume and suited for heavier surfers, but still has a shortboard feel to it. These boards are most likely more appropriate for those who are a bit more experienced in the sport.

Gun

This board will enhance the overall intensity of a large wave surf. It has a narrow tail and nose built to gain speed. Specifically designed for experienced surfers, choosing this board will help them maintain speed and, most of all, control that is of the utmost importance when riding in large waves.

Design and Build

The first thing to know about the design and build of a sur board is the components that comprise the board. There are several components that go into a surfboard’s design. Each of these components has a specific effect on how the board performs for particular types of waves and surf. Below is a brief explanation of the components and the effects they have on your surfing.

Components Of A Surfboard

Nose

The nose of a surfboard is the front tip. It will be designed in various shapes depending upon the type of board you have. The shape of the nose will affect how you enter into a wave and the overall paddling capability of the board.

Tail

The tail is the back of your board and is available in several shapes. A good rule of thumb to remember is that the more angular the tail shape, the more pivotal and sharper turns your board will be capable of. A rounder shaped tail will provide you with rounder and smoother turns.

Pin Tail A very narrow tail that provides more traction and wave control.

Round Tail A rounded, wider tail that is more versatile and will allow for lift and

better speed in slow spots.

Squash Tail Most common on shortboards, it is a variation of the square tail that

allows for a more responsive board. This tail will allow you to plane easier and maintain better speed.

Swallow Tail Looks like two smaller pin tails joined together. Best for use in smaller waves, as it allows for better control when the board is going in and out of waves

Square Tail The original surfboard design, this is a wide tail built to help stability. It allows you to dig into the wave when turning, and is most often found in longboards.

Rocker

The rocker is the curvature of the surfboard profile on the bottom of the board from the nose to the tail. The curve of your rocker affects the turning and carving ability of the surfboard. More rocker will provide a smaller turning radius; which is better suited for hollow, steep waves. A low rocker will allow you to generate more speed and tend to be better for lower waves. The nose rocker is curved near the front of the board to help you stay on top of the wave while the tail rocker makes it easier to drop into waves and allows you to make more pivotal turns.

Rails

The outer edges of the surfboard are the rails. The curve of the rail line from the nose to the tail will vary depending upon how much acceleration and maneuverability you are looking for in your board. Curvier rail lines provide more acceleration and allows you to change direction much easier. Longboards and those built for bigger waves will tend to have a straighter rail line. This makes changing direction and turning more difficult and you will tend to go much slower on this design.

Fins

Surfboard fins are the “engines” of the board. These are what makes your board move forward through the water. The fins will determine your drive, drag/speed, turning radius and end performance. Setups include a single fin, twin, tri (also known as thruster), quad and in rare cases a five-fin set up.

Bottom Contour

This portion of your board affects the speed, turning abilities and style of your ride. Newcomers to the sport will most likely not be as concerned about these features just yet, but more experienced surfers will. You will see a convex bottom or a concave bottom. Convex bottoms (otherwise known as a hull) will sit low on the wave and move at a slower pace. This is a design for those looking for a smoother, calmer ride. A concave bottom tends to skip along the top of the water. This will create lift of the board and water can be seen shooting out the back of the board. Built for a fast ride that you can maneuver around the surf, these designs can also vary depending on the specific actions you are wanting to take on your board.

Foil

Foil is the distribution of the foam of your board from the nose to the tail. Thickness of each section of the surfboard will weigh in on the performance of the surfboard. Also known as thickness flow or distribution, foil supports paddling, wave catching, and riding through flat spots. A board with too much foil will hurt your performance, which means you will need to find a board with the right balance of thickness between the nose, middle and tail of the board for best results.

Deck

The deck of your surfboard is referring to the top of the board. This design is typically influenced by the rails of the board. Common designs include flat, domed and step decks. Each will provide a different level to your performance and comes along with their own benefits. Soft top boards are surfboards that have a foam or soft top deck. These lower the chance of injury to you while still maintaining durability and high level performance.

girl with soft top surfboard

Materials Used In Surfboards

Foam

Just about every surfboard on the market today will be made with Styrofoam cores. This helps to maintain buoyancy while on the water, and also makes the boards very lightweight overall. Although the amount of foam that is used in the board will vary depending upon the exact type of board that is being built. The most common types are Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and Extruded Polystyrene (XPS).

Strengthening the Foam-Fiberglass and Carbon Fiber

A foam board itself is not strong enough to use on the water. To add strength to the board, a layer (sometimes two) of fiberglass cloth is applied to the entire board. As an alternative, some board makers have been using a Kevlar or carbon fiber material to add more durability to their foam surfboards.

Resin

A resin must be used to bond the cloth to the foam board. Typically polyester or epoxy resin, this application will increase the strength of the board. The type of resin used will depend upon the type of foam that is used.

Stringers

The stringer is a wood structure that will run down the center of a foam blank (the skeleton of the surfboard). This stringer will add strength and stability, while still enabling the much needed flexibility for the board. In some instances, the stringer will be along the rails, which allows for better flex memory. Stringers are typically made from bamboo, balsa, Engelmann Spruce, Basswood, and Western Red Cedar,

Length and Width

The length of your surfboard will be linked to your personal weight. Lighter individuals and children should use a shorter board. Further, heavier folks should use longer boards.

Longer boards will help you paddle faster and catch more waves easier. These are more stable, and provide support for larger waves. Shorter surfboards are for those with a bit more advanced skill level. They allow you to change direction more easily and quickly as they create less water resistance. These boards work very well in smaller waves.

The width of the board does depend somewhat on weight as well, but also has to do with your specific skill level. Wide boards allow for a bigger surface area in the water, and are better floating boards. These features equate to being easier to paddle, more stability and extra glide in the water.

The more narrow your surfboard is the quicker its response time is. These boards enable you to make tighter turns and more advanced maneuvers in steeper sections of the wave.

For Beginner Users

Look for a board that is a foot to a foot and a half longer than you are tall. You will also want a wider board to create better balance and stability for you while you are standing up on it. A typical width for beginners would be between 20 inches and 22 inches.

For Intermediate Users

Those individuals that are a bit more advanced than beginners can try using a shorter board. As a general rule, the length of the board should be about a palm length longer than your height. Again, your weight will have play in your decision. If you are on the lighter side, your board does not have to be as wide. If you do weight a bit more, you should still opt for a wider board with a high volume to support your stature.

For Advanced Users

The highest skilled surfers will usually use 6 foot 2 inch to 6 foot 6 inch boards; usually the shortest boards in the bunch. The width will be smaller as well, usually landing somewhere between 17 inches and 19 inches. However, this could vary depending on the wave size.

guy sufing on surfboard near rocks

Durability

A key factor when looking for the ideal surfboard. This will be especially true for novice surfers, which is why the soft board is the best to start your journey with. It is very sturdy and able to withstand a pretty good amount of wear and tear when compared to fiberglass boards.

Intermediate and more advanced surfers will more often than not be riding rougher waters and in territories that may have rocks or reefs nearby. This can be more thrilling and exciting, but can also wreak havoc on your surfboard. So you will still want to find a surfboard that will be able to withstand these more severe conditions.

When you are just learning how to surf, you will most likely be riding mostly calmer waves in a very sandy setting. However, it is probable that you will be falling off or knocking it quite a bit as you get more practice in. Thus, a more sustainable board that will be able to withstand this type of activity is going to serve you well.

Most surfboards are made with pretty durable materials nowadays. The lifespan of a surfboard really depends on how often it is used, the conditions it is used under, and how well it is taken care of. Most surfers change their boards out every year or so.

Volume and Weight Capacity

Probably one of the most important components of your surfboard is the volume. The more volume your board has, the better it will float. A great volume for beginner surfers to look for is at least 60 liters; but the more volume you can get the better off you will be at this stage of the game. Knowing your board’s ideal weight capacity will help you surf better. The volume and weight capacity of the surfboard are connected; the higher the volume the more weight it can carry. You will want to look for a board that has a weight capacity that is higher than your current weight; but no more than 50-60 pounds.

Fin Setup

The fin set up is a crucial component of your surfboard and its performance. Keep in mind that fin size is dependent upon your personal weight and the heavier you are the larger the fin should be to ensure proper support while you are surfing.

There are four basic types of fin set up for surfboards. Each will have a separate affect on how the board performs. More experience surfers may look for fins that provide a bit more action, where as beginners are looking for a fin set up that will help to enable balance and stability in the water.

Single Fin Classic style fin setup where there is a larger fin in the center. This will provide drag to keep you stable while in motion, making it perfect for those just learning how to surf.

Twin Fin This setup is where there are two smaller fins, one on either side of the board. A faster set up than single fin with better ability to maneuver on smaller waves. The lack of center fin will cause surfers to lose traction at times.

Thruster Another good fin style for beginners, this design boasts one larger fin in the middle of two smaller fins on either side. Basically, a combination of the single and twin fin design to allow you to reap the benefits of each style with one board. This will provide tremendous balance while surfing while also enabling agility on the waves.

Quad Better for more experienced surfers, the Quad fin style focuses on speed and power while surfing. It contains two sets of twin fins on the board and provides superior maneuvering. A great board for those who may be larger in stature.

Ankle Leash that comes with the board

This is a string that is attached to your surfboard, where the other end can be strapped around your ankle. This leash will keep your surfboard close to you if you fall off or wipeout; as it prevents your board from floating away. If you did not have this leash, you will spend a lot of time swimming towards to retrieve your board and much less time surfing.

Although most boards have the ability to attach the leash to it, not all come with the ankle leash. If you need to purchase one separately, you should ensure the length of the leash is at least the same length of your board. You may also want to consider getting one that is a foot longer if you can. Also, take a look at whether or not there are swivels with the leash, which will determine the likelihood of the leash to become tangled. Be sure the thickness of the leash is at least 5/16″ or 8mm. If you can, opt for a leash that has a button or safety release on your ankle strap. In an emergency situation, pushing the button will free your foot from the board.

Price

While price is always a factor that comes into play with any purchase, it can be one that clouds our judgement when making our final decision. That is why it is important to keep a budget in mind while you are reviewing your choices. The more expensive the surfboard, the better the quality may be. However, is it really the most appropriate choice for what your skill level and expectations? The average price for a beginner surfboard is typically between $100 and $500. If you can spend more than that, be sure to do a side-by-side comparison of the features and overall build of the board prior to making your final decision.

Top Brands

Brands that have been in the business of making surfboards for a while will always be trusted. These companies have seen the various stages of surfing and have adapted their boards to reflect the necessities and comfort levels of this growing sport. The top brands that we recommend looking at to purchase your soft top surfboard would be California Board Company (CBC), South Bay Board Co., Wavestorm, Wave Bandit, and Liquid Shredder. These brands offer you high quality, durable boards at a price point to fit any budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some key things to know as a beginner surfer?

First, surfing is very challenging and there is always a learning curve. Be patient with yourself and keep going over the basics. Better experiences will come the more you practice

Second, take your time and be sure to choose the right board for your size and skill level. Everyone had to start somewhere, even the experts. And be sure to ask for help deciding if you need it.

Finally, make sure you are being safe and mindful of the other surfers around you. Find the right surf spot and make sure someone teaches you the basics in safety and surf etiquette.

 

Is a surf leash really that important?

In short, Yes. You should definitely have a surf leash on your board at all times. This will allow you to retrieve your board more easily in the event that you fall off or wipe out. In addition, if there is any sort of emergency, you can keep calm. The leash keeps you attached to your board and will keep you afloat. So if you are tired or getting pounded by a rip current, you have an added layer of protection to get you back to safety. And finally, if you do fall off your board for any reason, the leash will keep the board close to your location and prevent it from hitting or injuring any other surfers in the process.

What is considered a good spot for beginner surfing?

Those who are new to surfing should always try and find a less crowded area to surf in. This is not only for your safety, but for the safety of the other surfers that are not aware of your novice skill set. In addition, look for long, soft and rolling waves. These swells are not the high and the waves will be easier to manage. Also, try to opt for sandy beaches, as this creates calm waves that will continuously roll. This setting will be more forgiving for mistakes and enable much quicker recoveries.

Should I take lessons from a professional school or instructor to learn how to surf?

While you can learn how to surf from a friend or loved one, it stands to say that learning from a professional teacher will probably do you more good. Surf schools and professional instructors can teach you important factors that some laymen or fans of the sport may leave out; such as posture, picking the good waves, and learning all the safety precautions. Learning how the surf “the right way” you will always have the correct equipment on hand, you will have the benefit of a highly knowledgeable staff member to ask questions and you will be motivated to learn correctly. Finally, surf schools and professional instructors are typically more safety conscious and may know a few extra tips and tricks to get you through a difficult situation.

Final thoughts

While surfing can be the most exhilarating of sports, it can also be frustrating and is definitely one of the most exhausting. Make sure that you are taking time to rest if you need to, as surfing can take a large toll on your fitness and your overall health. Keep in mind the safety that has been taught you at all times and make sure you are listening to your body.

I am a bit on the heavier side, and when I began learning how to surf I could barely get off the board. I was unbelievably frustrated and very disappointed in the experience. But my instructor and my friend kept urging me to keep going. Although it took me much longer to get the skills involved than the others around me, eventually I did get it right. Do not get me wrong, I am in no way an expert (probably not even an intermediate to be honest). But can get up on my board, stay there and even turn a couple times. Now I surf as much as I can when the weather is nice, and I would not have it any other way.

So what is the top soft surfboard. For our money, it is the South Bay Board Co. 8 Foot Verve board. The textured top gives it great grip while the reinforced bottom deck provides great durability. It has plenty of other features that make it the ideal board for beginners to the sport. The construction makes it easily float on the water as well as provide tremendous stability and support while in the water.

We hope that we were able to help you find the perfect soft top surfboard for the beginning of your surfing journey. Just remember to find the right size and volume, and practice all of your safety measures, and you will have the time of your life. Happy Surfing!

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