Every surfer should have a longboard, full stop. These 8’+ boards are ideal for beginners as they are perfect to master the basics of the sport as they are very stable and easy to balance or paddle. But longboards aren’t meant for beginners alone as intermediate and experienced surfers can have tons of fun on them on small days. Also, surfers can perform various tricks such as cross-steps, hang fives, etc. on longboards.
Soft top longboards, also called foam or longboards, have become very popular over the years in the surfing community. This is due to the advancements that soft top longboards have undergone since the first one was released years ago. Nowadays, soft top longboards are affordable, durable, and perform excellently.
The popularity of surfing means there is no shortage of soft top longboards on the market. You’ll find tons of foamie longboards on the market with every one of them promising you an enjoyable surfing experience. But not all of them perform as they promised. That’s why it is important to know more about them, and what are aspects to take into consideration when choosing one. Here we go!
What is Considered a Longboard?
A longboard is any surfboard that is at least 8′ or more. They are the longest type of surfboards and their increased length has a number of advantages such as increased volume, ease of paddling, and so on.
What is a Soft Top Board?
A soft top board, also called a foam board, is a board that has 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 Soft Top Boards
The main advantage of soft top boards is their price and durability. Soft top boards are affordable and as such can be bought by surfers on a budget. Check my article on how much it costs to take up surfing. Also, soft top boards are lightweight, have a high volume, and are very stable. The foam top is also more forgiving than that of hard boards.
Soft top boards can easily catch waves and can be used by all surfers. You’ll also like that soft top boards require less maintenance and are long-lasting and durable.
The major shortcoming of soft top boards is that they aren’t the most responsive and their foam tops can absorb water over time which will make them heavier and consequently reduce their efficiency.
Soft Top Longboards vs. Fiberglass Longboards
Foam surfboards are affordable and durable. It’s unlikely that a foam surfboard can sustain damage that will make them completely unusable. As I said earlier, they may eventually absorb too much water, become heavier, and less efficient.
But soft top boards make it possible for a lot of people to enjoy surfing (due to their price). If you are a beginner, on a budget, or surf at certain times of the year, you should go for soft top boards.
Fiberglass boards, on the other hand, are on another level. They are faster, lighter, and seriously outperform soft top boards. But they are very expensive! Also, fiberglass boards are more susceptible to damage than foam surfboards and must be handled and maintained properly if they are to last a long time. Surfers typically start with foam boards and may transition to fiberglass boards if they have the budget. For more information, you can read our article on surfboard materials.
Why Choose a Longboard?
You now know a longboard is at least 8′ and more and that the increased length makes them more stable and buoyant, features that come in handy for beginners that are yet to master the basics of the sport.
For intermediate and advanced surfers, a longboard can serve as a backup board or be reserved for days when waves are small. Also, a longboard allows surfers to perform various tricks such as cross-steps, hang fives, and so on.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Foam Surfboard
There are different types of foams that can be used to manufacture soft top longboards and they include IXPE, EPS, HDPE, PP, and EPE.
IXPE (Irradiated Cross-Linked Polyethylene) is a quality foam that is waterproof and more resistant to temperature. This foam is also popular for its high shock absorption properties which makes it one of the best foams available.
EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) foam has the advantage of being lightweight and boards made from this material are usually among the lightest on the market. However, the material is more prone to water absorption but there are now measures used by manufacturers to counter this.
HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) foam is commonly used for the bottom of foam surfboards as it’s more rugged and tougher than other foams.
PP (Polypropylene) and EPE – Expanded polyethylene foam are other foams used to manufacture foam boards.
Longboards, especially those aimed at beginners, are usually thicker to increase buoyancy to make it easy for beginners to master the basics of the sport. Beginners will do well to go for soft top longboards that are at least 3″ tick. Intermediate and experienced surfers can do with thinner boards. Also, thinner boards are easier to maneuver, something people with prior surfing experience will appreciate.
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 soft top longboards is that they have a high volume which makes them easy to paddle and catch more waves.
Fins improve stability and control of surfboards and your soft top board will benefit from them. There are two types of fin setups and that’s the single and tri-fin setups. Beginners may start out with one fin but three fins offer better performance.
Manufacturers typically design fins to be removable so users can switch between the two fin setups.
Beginner vs. Intermediate vs. Advanced Surfers
As I’ve said a couple of times already, soft top longboards can be used by either a beginner, intermediate, or advanced surfer. For beginners, the best board they can start with is a soft top longboard. For intermediate and advanced surfers, soft top longboards can be backup boards, be used for pulling off tricks or used on small days.
Now that you know the benefits of soft top longboards, the next thing is for you to get one of them. I’ve already said that every surfer should have a longboard in their arsenal and going for soft top models is a no-brainer.