The foam surfboard has recently blown up in the world of surfing. It is responsible for bringing a whole new group of people to surfing that previously never considered surfing as a sport they should try.
Soft top surfboards have also resulted in a lot of experienced surfers now surfing spots that were previously seen as too dangerous to surf. The risk of dinging ones board on a rock or snapping it in half in shore break is drastically reduced.
What Is A Foam Surfboard?
The foam or soft top surfboard is a relatively new type of surfboard to enter the market. Unlike traditional surfboards which are coated with fibreglass or epoxy, foam surfboards are not covered with any hard materials. They simply consist of a dense EPS foam, and the base is usually made of a slick bottom, like a bodyboard.
Foam surfboards are ideal for those learning to surf because they provide added buoyancy in the water making it easier to paddle into waves. Moreover, they are safer to use in the lineup as the risk of the board hitting someone (including yourself) and injuring them is far lower than a traditional PU or epoxy board.
The Most Common Soft Top Brands
The most dominant foam surfboard brands currently are Catch Surf who also own the Wave Bandit line of boards. Catch Surf are ostensibly the biggest brand due to their partnership with YouTube surf sensation, Jamie O’Brien, or JOB as some like to call him. Other prominent soft top brands include, Wavestorm, Softech who come out of Australia (down under mate!), and Rock-it.
Fundamentally all the brands offer up a good product – a board which you are going to have fun on. The brand of soft top board you choose to ride really boils down to what you prefer in terms of colorway, design and graphics.
As foam surfboards continue to gain in popularity expect to see many more brands enter the fray. We wouldn’t be surprised to even see some of the traditional surfboards brands branch out into this burgeoning market. We’ve already seen Lost do a collaboration with Catch Surf, which indicates an interest in being associated with these more playful boards.
The Best Foam Surfboards
In this foam surfboard buyers guide, we take you through the multitude of soft top surfboard options across the various categories of surfboard. We start with long boards and then move down to short boards and other concept-type boards.
Wave Bandit EZ Rider 9’0″
Wave Bandit are one of the pioneers of the foam surfboard. They have had YouTube surfer Ben Gravy riding their full quiver of boards for quite some time now. Ben has shown through his vlog that these boards can be ridden in any surf surf conditions. No matter how small the wave these boards shred!
The Wave Bandit 9’0″ is the longest board in the range and is particularly versatile because of its length and volume (98 liters!). It’s an egg shape which means it’s also a really fun board for intermediate and advanced surfers. It’s constructed from a triple maple wood core and comes with a tri-fin setup.
Wave Bandit EZ Rider 8’0″
This foam surfboard is exactly the same shape as the EZ Rider 9’0″. The only difference is that this board is 1 ft shorter and 12 liters less in volume. If you’re looking for a foam surfboard which a little more manoeuvrable in the water then the EX Rider 8’0″ is a good shout.
If you’re after a cooler design, then the Ben Gravy Pro Model may be what you’re after. It’s exactly the same specifications as the EZ Rider 8’0″ (86 liters) just with the Ben Gravy Pineapple logo on the bottom skin and on the top deck of the board along with his signature.
The Ben Gravy Pro Model also comes in a 7’0″ (72 liters) version if you’re looking for slightly shorter mini mal. You can see the price for the 7ft board here.
Rock-It Big Softy 8’0″ Foam Surfboard
This soft top surfboard is starting to make waves in the surfing world (excuse the pun). A really fun board to ride, the Big Softy, by Rock-It Surfboards. It’s a squarer shape than the Wave Bandit boards which are more egg-shaped, and this give’s it a little more stability in the water.
All Rock-It surfboards are made with two wooden stringers and multiple layers of ﬁbreglass cloth. Epoxy resin is wrapped around a core made of recycled foam sourced from manufacturing waste.
Odysea Plank 7’0″
Odysea falling under the Catch Surf brand ooze coolness. The plank foam surfboard is a traditional log at 9ft long and is perfect for those learning to surf as you’ll get tons of float with this high volume board. For those looking to “walk the plank” so to speak and hang ten and hang five, she’ll be great at that as well.
This soft top surfboard is very well made with a dual composite core and triple maple-ply stringers. The stringers give the board added rigidity and strength. Even though this board falls into the minimal length range, it rides just like a classic longboard due to its volume.
California Board Company 7’0″
The California Board Company are known for their high quality foam surfboards. This 7ft board is no exception, If you’re after a soft top surfboard with the extra “bells and whistles” then this is it. For a start the wood grain graphic gives it a vintage feel and it also comes with the traction pad for extra grip on the tail. They also throw in a leash as well.
Wave Bandit Performer 6’6″
This is the ideal shortboard for someone transitioning from a longboard or minimal. At 6’6″ and 55 liters still got a lot of float to give the surfer stability when popping up. This foam surfboard has a fish shape and more traditional rocker emulating that of a classic shortboard.
Odysea Skipper Quad 6’6″, 6’0″ and 5’6″
Being a quad fin fish, The Skipper is all about fun, fun and more fun. It’s super fast down-the-line-speed and allows for nice, long, drawn out, stylish turns. Groms and adults love this board.
Rock-It Hope 6’0″ Foam Surfboard
The Rock-It Hope has taken the retro shortboard design and made a foam surfboard out of it. The short boards of the 70’s had a lot of volume under the chest, lots of rocker in the front section of the board and a pulled in tail. These same design principles have been applied to the Hope making a soft top board that everyone can ride.
The three-fin “thruster” setup provides more drive than other twin fin shortboard options. Like other Rock-It boards the core is made out of recycled EPS foam.
Razzo Hybrid 6’0″
This foam surfboard is one of a kind because it’s a hybrid. It has a soft top and hard bottom. The soft top is made from a fingerprint textured IXPE foam which means that no wax is required. The bottom deck is made from bamboo with a resin coating. This gives the board a lot of speed.
In addition to these core features, the board comes with a camera mount at the front, a three fin setup, and a leash. With all of the above features this board is one of the cleanest, most durable, and highest performing foam surfboards on the market.
Wave Bandit Performer 5’6″
This board is exactly the same shape as the other Performer boards in the range except with less volume (42 liters). A foam surfboard for someone looking to get a bit more radical on the wave, and dynamically ride a wave foam from top to bottom.
This board also is available in the Ben Gravy Pro Model version with the super-sick pineapple graphics on the base of the board. This foam surfboard is one of Ben’s favourites in larger, more gnarly surf. If you watch his vlogs you would have seen him shred it at El Slamo, one of his favourite waves.
Odysea Stump 5’0″ Foam Surfboard
This rippable little shred stick is loads of fun in small, groveller waves. At 36 liters in volume it’s still easy enough to catch waves on. Advanced surfers love this board because of its versatility – it can be ridden in varying swell sizes over shallow reefs and gnarly shore breaks. It’s also a perfect board for beginner surfers looking to start out on a shortboard.
Wave Bandit Performer Ben Gravy 4’10”
This Ben Gravy Pro Model is the same proportions as his other Performer Pro Models. The main difference it that it’s setup as a twin fin making it ride down the line faster.
Catch Surf Beater Pro 54″ (4’6″)
This is the ultimate shred stick, made popular by the likes of Jamie O’Brien and Kalani Robb. Ride this foam surfboard in just about any way you want. Keep the two fins and cut it back like a traditional shortboard or send down the line like a fish. Take the fins off and glide and spin it across the face of the wave or skim it. You can even bodyboard with this thing!
Beater Original 48″ Finless (4’0″)
Being as short as it is this board makes a great beach beach groveller board. Naturally it lends itself nicely to skimming, but can also hold its own in shore break conditions. The tapered d-rails and twin-channel crescent tail add performance that is lost from having no fins.
Wave Bandit Shred Sled 48″ (4’6″)
The ultimate grom (kids) foam surfboard. It’s setup as a twin fin which gives it extra speed down the line. Like the Catch Surf Beater this soft top board can also be ridden finless and used as a skim board. Get your family fired up this summer with the shred sled!
The History Of Foam Surfboards
In at started back in 2006 when Matt Zilinskas and John Yeh decided take a bodyboard construction and turn it into a surfboard. Zilinskas was the former manager of the Boogie Board Brand and Yeh worked at AGIT Global, Boogie Board’s manufacturer.
After many late nights and countless iterations they finally came up with a prototype which cut the mustard. After testing out among themselves and with friends they eventually brought the board to market in the form of the Wavestorm, the now infamous and ubiquitous board which is sold at Costco and on Amazon.
What To Look For When Buying A Soft Top
Soft top surfboard come in a wide array of different shapes and sizes. It’s important to know the differences across the spectrum of boards. We’ll highlight the most important features to pay attention to when purchasing a foam surfboard.
Foam surfboards vary in length from 9ft all the way down to 4ft 10 inches. Shorter foam surfboards can very difficult to ride, so be aware of this when making a buying decision. We would advise beginner surfers buy a soft top which is at least 6ft long.
The width of each board will differ, but not to the degree as length deviations. However, it’s still important to know that a wider surfboard will give you more stability in the water making it easier to pop-up and stand up in the water.
Foam surfboards will have anywhere from one fin box all the way up to five. It’s important to understand how the number of fins will effect the way the board rides. For beginners we would advise choosing a board with a standard thruster setup (3 fins). This will give you a good combination of both speed and stability.
Soft top surfboards come in either one of two deck options. They either have a standard deck which is simply just the material the board is made from. Or they have an extra grippy pad applied to the deck like the board below from the California Board Company.
For the boards that don’t have any sort of traction pad, some of them can be used with wax and others can be ridden without wax. It really depends on the type of foam construction.
Whatever type of surfboard you like to surf, there is a soft top surfboard shape available. From 9 foot logs all the way through to 4 foot funboards. Foam surfboards bring a new kind of enjoyment and stoke to surfing that has never been experienced before. They have revolutionised surfing.
The best thing about soft top surfboards is they can be ridden just about anywhere, with minimal risk of damaging the board. This has allowed previous surf spots deemed too risky to be surfed on a regular PU board to now get shredded on a soft top.
Q: How do I wax a foam surfboard?
A: It depends on the board. Some foam surfboards do no require any wax. Others like Catchsurf and Wave Bandit do use wax. It’s important to note that there is special wax for soft top boards. There is no correct way to put the wax on the board. We find that doing long straight strokes works best as apposed to doing circular motions which tends to work well on PU boards.
Q: Are leashes necessary?
A: Yes, absolutely. You may have seen some video’s of people riding soft top boards without leashes but strongly advise against this.
Q: What are the advantages of a soft top surfboard?
A: They generally provide more buoyancy and stability in the water and therefore make standing up on a wave easier. Being soft they are also safer to use when it comes to your own personal safety and the safety of those around you.
Q: What are foam surfboards made of?
A: They are made from a dense EPS foam which is the same foam used in epoxy boards. Unlike epoxy boards, soft top surfboards are covered with a soft Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) sheet can take compressions.
Q: How I remove the wax from my foam surfboard.
A: We’re afraid this is very difficult to do and until now there no trusted method of doing this. Unlike traditional surfboard where you will get a build up of wax over time, most of the wax in a foam surfboard either sinks into the foam or washes off. This makes the necessity f removing surf wax less relevant.
Q: What size foam surfboard do I need?
A: We’ve compiled a little weight-based table below to help you with that decision.
|SURFERS WEIGHT||BOARD LENGTH|
|< 40kg||5'5" - 5'8"|
|40 - 50 kg||5'8" - 6'0"|
|50 - 60 kg||6'0" - 6'6"|
|60 - 70 kg||6'6" - 7'2"|
|70 - 80 kg||7'2" - 8'0"|