Once upon a time, foam surfboards were seen as inferior and anyone using them would receive disapproving gazes from other surfers. But this has changed over the years thanks to advancements in the materials and technology used to make foam surfboards. Go to any surfing destination and chances are most of the surfboards you’d encounter are foam surfboards.
Apart from the improved stability and performance of foam surfboards, another reason for their increased popularity is price. You see, foamies are cheap compared to other types of surfboard while still managing to be very durable and reliable. And this means people on a budget can easily take up surfing by buying the affordable and dependable foamie surfboards.
Foam surfboards are made for beginner, intermediate, and advanced surfers. And when you are in the market for a foam surfboard, you’ll find out that there is no shortage of foam surfboard brands around. About 12 foam surfboard brands entered the market in the last two years further increasing the number of foam surfboards available.
What is a Foam Surfboard?
Foam surfboards are surfboards that have a smooth, spongy, and cushioned deck. The deck is made of a foam material which may vary depending on manufacturers.
Foam surfboards have become very popular in the surfing community because they are affordable making it easier for more people to take up surfing. They are also stable, easy to paddle, and catch a lot of waves.
Pros and Cons of Foam Surfboards
The major advantages of foam surfboards are their affordability, stability, lightweight, ease of paddling, and ability to catch waves. They are ideal for beginners as they are comfortable riding. Intermediate and advanced surfers can also have foam surfboards as backup boards for summer or for small days.
Contrary to what some people may think, foam surfboards are very durable while also requiring little maintenance.
Foam surfboards aren’t without any cons as their soft rails mean it’s more difficult to turn and maneuver them. This isn’t really a concern for beginner surfers although more experienced surfers may rue not being able to turn easily. Also, foam surfboards will absorb water over time. This will make them heavier which will reduce their efficiency.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Foam Surfboard
Design / Shape
The first thing to figure out after deciding to go for a foam board is the design of the board. Surfboards come in different designs or shapes with each design having specific uses or advantages. Check out my article on types of surfboards for more information.
Talking about designs, foam surfboards can be longboards, funboards, and fishboards. Longboards are over 8′ long and come with a round nose and wide deck. They are ideal for beginners and can also be used by more experienced surfers. Funboards are hybrids of a longboard and shortboard and are more responsive while providing a good level of stability.
Fishboards have a characteristic fishtail design and are very agile and easy to maneuver. However, they aren’t the most stable boards and should be used by surfers with prior experience.
The volume of your surfboard is determined by the weight of the surfer on the board and has an effect on the buoyancy of the board. And the more buoyant your board is, the easier for you to turn the board, catch more waves, and paddle faster.
Apart from your weight, the volume of your board is also determined by the length, width, thickness, as well as the skill of the surfer.
The good thing about foam surfboards is that they have a high volume which makes them easy to paddle and catch more waves.
Materials (Types of Foam)
There are different types of foams used to manufacture foam surfboards. IXPE (Irradiated Cross-Linked Polyethylene) foam is one of the most commonly used foams and is advantageous over other foams in terms of thermal insulation, being waterproof, and shock absorption.
EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) foam is another type of foam used to manufacture foam boards and has the advantage of being the lightest I am material. However, it’s more prone to water absorption but there are now measures used by manufacturers to counter this.
HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) foam is used for the bottom of foam surfboards due to its incredible strength, lightweight, and resistance to weather and impact.
PP (Polypropylene) and EPE – Expanded polyethylene foam are other foams used to manufacture foam boards.
Grip (Do You Need Wax?)
If you don’t want to be constantly slipping and falling when surfing, your board should have a good grip to give you security and stability. Luckily, foam surfboards have a smooth deck which provides a good level of grip, one of the main reasons why they are recommended for beginners.
You can even use foam surfboards without applying wax. But a bar of wax is just about $2 and you should endeavor to apply it to get a bit of extra grip. There is nothing like too much grip, homie.
A surf leash is a piece of rope that is attached to the surfboard and then to the ankle of the surfer. The purpose of a surf leash is to ensure the board doesn’t separate from the surfer. This ensures that the surfer doesn’t lose his/her surfboard. I’m sure you don’t want your surfboard disappearing in the water.
Beginner vs. Intermediate vs. Advanced Surfers
Beginner surfers should go for longboards (8′ and more) as this type of board has a high volume making them very buoyant and easy to paddle. Longboards also do well on small waves allowing beginners to hone their skills on them before taking on bigger waves.
After mastering the basics of the sport, you can yourself an intermediate surfer. You have a crucial decision to make here as you have to decide whether you want to continue with a longboard or transition to a shortboard. If you want to continue with a longboard, you should take a look at a quality soft top longboard or even hard longboards if you have the budget.
If you decide to transition to a shortboard, I’d advise you to start with a funboard and eventually make the transition to a shortboard. This will let you get used to the shorter length of a shortboard.
Advanced surfers can pick any surfboard they want. They can have a foam longboard or funboard as a backup to their hard surfboard or for days when waves are small.
How to Care for Your Foam Surfboard?
Foam surfboards require less maintenance than other types of surfboards. The biggest threat to your foam board’s durability is sunlight and water absorption. About sunlight, make sure to store your board away from direct sunlight. And store your foam surfboard in a warm area after use to allow it to dry completely over time.
Foam surfboards are all the rage now and rightly so. Their affordable prices make them an interesting option for beginners of all skill levels. Put in their durability and performance and foam boards become a no-brainer.
Every surfer can do with a foam surfboard. Go through this article and choose a foam board design that suits your level of experience and start riding the waves to your heart’s content.