If you don’t know what a soft top paddle board is, you’d be surprised to learn you’ve probably used one before and didn’t even know it! Soft top paddle boards are standard features of resorts or recreational spaces. For some, they are their introduction to paddle boarding as a whole.
What exactly are soft top paddle boards? What are they suitable for, what are their benefits, and should you be getting one? Don’t worry! I’m going to break it all down and present you with some options for purchasing your own soft-top paddle board!
Let’s not waste any more time. Instead, let’s dive into everything you need to know about soft top paddle boards.
What is a Soft Top Paddle Board?
Soft top paddle boards are the cheapest quality paddle boards on the market. I get how that sounds. They’re cheap most of the time, but that doesn’t negate the fact their quality is often considered superior to some of the top ISUPs and hard SUPs. They’re called soft top paddle boards due to their construction which uses foam cores and a soft epoxy fiberglass material. Thanks to this combination of materials, the design reduces the weight, makes soft top boards more durable and comfortable.
What are Soft Top Paddle Boards Good For?
Soft Top paddle boards are perfect for a wide variety of paddle boarders, which is partially why these types of SUPs are so appealing.
If you’re into Yoga, you can enjoy the soft top paddle boards, which are probably the most stable stand-up paddle boards. Thanks to the soft tops ‘ very sturdy design, you can practice poses out on the open water with no fears of losing balance.
Beyond just, the ability to practice without the fear of losing balance is that soft top boards are more comfortable. This means you’ll end up avoiding discomfort or aches and pains later on if you’re using a soft top board. In addition, the soft top paddle boards absorb your weight. Therefore, you’re not compressing yourself and feeling the effects of that later on.
With a broader surface, you can enjoy fishing, sitting down, standing up, dancing, whatever the case might be! In addition, soft top paddle boards have a lot of room for storage, meaning you can bring ample fishing gear with you to ensure you get your whole day’s worth out on the water.
Due to their larger size and their foam construction, children are welcomed aboard with open arms. It’s safer than other SUPs, thanks to the foam, meaning when kids fall down, which they will, they won’t be hurt. Additionally, you can take multiple kids on your soft top board with little to no issues, as they can usually handle a lot of weight.
Pets, similar to children but better, can also join in the fun and come on your SUP with you and be comfortable. At the same time, you do all the hard work of maneuvering through the water. There is a level of comfort and security found with soft top paddle boards that you won’t find otherwise in inflatables. This is especially true when it comes to paddle boarding with your pets.
Due to their excellent stability, a beginner would benefit substantially from starting on a soft top paddle board. These will be the best boards to practice and get comfortable on before you progress to something more intensive. In addition, thanks to the design of protection and comfort, if you were to fall on a soft-top board, you wouldn’t find yourself in tremendous pain like you would a hardboard.
The 2 Best Soft Top Paddle Boards
10’4 Big Cruiser Soft Top Paddle Board
South Bay Board Co. is an exceptional maker of SUPs and other SUP-related products, and they’ve been doing a stellar job for a long time. Their 10’4 Big Crusier soft top paddle board is no different. This board, while a little pricey, is one of the best soft tops on the market. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to paddle boarding or a seasoned veteran; this board will serve you well.
Overall the board is made using a classic epoxy with added soft top elements included to make it true to its name. This design has allowed the Big Crusier to remain a stable, well-sized board that can handle a fair amount of weight, all while remaining a light board overall. In addition, the center of the board features a fiberglass rod and two wooden bean stringers to create one of the sturdiest boards out there that will last a long time and a ton of uses.
Desing-wise, this board is simplistic. You can go plain white or choose an aqua/white/black mix for your board’s overall design. The additional gear items included are outstanding such as the SUP bag, leash, and paddle. The paddle is a little bit entry-level for my liking, but that’s a minor flaw in an otherwise brilliant product.
Whether it’s the built-in d-rings for a kayak seat, the wide-body, the handle, the storage space, or whatever else it might be, the Big Cruiser is a great soft top SUP!
- Future Side Fins
- Coiled Leash
- 2-Piece Aluminum SUP Paddle
- SUP Bag
- Exceptional weight capacity
- Durable construction thanks to its blend of epoxy and bamboo
- Pre-installed kayak seat hooks
- The paddle that’s included isn’t the best quality
Isle Cruiser SUP
The Isle Cruiser is one of the best boards on the market, and the fact that it’s constantly out of stock makes that even more evident. Isle is one of the leading brands in the SUP market, and its boards never fail to impress. The Cruiser Soft Top SUP is no different.
The Isle Crusier is made using an EPS foam, ultra-durable soft top deck, and a unique padded croc skin finish. Overall, this board is durable, ready for a challenge, and suitable for numerous conditions.
Everything you’d expect to be included is there in terms of gear. With the Isle Crusier, you get the adjustable paddle, center fin, and leash. This board is most suitable for fishing, yoga, and touring. However, it can be used for surfing as well, so while it’s focused on more low-key activities, it’s able to up the ante.
Design-wise you’ve got a choice between green, orange, and blue. The boards overall are relatively plain in their design but it’s not the biggest issue in the world as it’s still good enough.
The Isle Cruiser Soft Top SUP is a great option for you to consider whether it be for you, you and your family, or you and your dog, this board is ready to be taken on an adventure and to be involved in making memories. This is also one of my top recommendations for heavier riders.
- Adjustable paddle
- Center fin
- Great for beginners
- Availability can be a nightmare, but this seems to be a common SUP problem.
There were two clear-cut winners when it came to deciding on the best soft top paddle boards. Choosing a superior option of just two products is really difficult because you might think the one that wasn’t chosen is inferior so let me preface my decision by saying that’s not the case whatsoever.
My personal pick is the Big Cruiser. It’s a well-designed soft top paddle board that offers durability, great additional features, a great design in terms of usability and aesthetics. While I don’t think you can go wrong, either way, my personal choice would be to purchase the South Bay Board Co.’s Big Cruiser!
As with every product you consider buying, there are some things you have to consider before making the ultimate decision.
Soft top paddle boards are the best boards in terms of budget vs. quality. You’re getting both great prices and exceptional quality as soft paddle boards last a long time, are built well, and are incredibly comfortable. This isn’t to say all soft top paddle boards are budget. Some could be considered expensive. However, this won’t make them inherently better, so don’t take the price tag as the deciding factor on which board is better.
When it comes to the length of your soft top board, you need to keep in mind that longer SUPs are faster than shorter SUPs. If you’re planning to use a soft top for family and pets, consider roughly 10’ boards. If you’re going for Yoga, look for a medium board, between 10 and 12 inches. If you want something for touring, racing, faster paddling, look for 12.6 and above.
This can be tricky, considering you may end up using it for more than just yourself. Look for a board that has enough capacity for your weight and some additional passengers if that’s what you’re planning on using your soft top paddle board for the long term. Of course, you’re not going to be able to accurately estimate this because you never know who’s going to be on your board at what time, but a generous estimation is good enough.
When it comes to the construction of a soft top paddle board, you’re looking at a product with the components that make it able to stand the test of time. Made primarily of a foam-based material, soft top paddle boards also utilize plastic parts and wood stringers. Thanks to this combination of materials, a soft top paddle board can support weights over 300 lbs.
Soft top paddle boards can take a beating. While the word soft is in the name, that has no relevance when considering how well they can handle rough situations. Scratches don’t affect performance, and neither do dents. The foam is sealed and waterproof, meaning your soft top paddle board won’t take on water and absorb it in the event of a dent.
The size of the board ultimately depends on you. A kid or a tiny human isn’t going to get a massive board. A bigger person isn’t going to get a tiny board. If you weigh less than 170 lbs, consider a board that is 11.6 ft long. If you weigh between 170 and 220 lbs, then ideally, you’re looking for a board that is between 11.7 and 12.6 ft long. Above 220 lbs, you’re looking at a board that’s 12.7 ft and longer. Take your activity need into account. What you’re using the soft top paddle board for can give you some guidance into sizing.
Now you know a whole lot more about soft top paddle boards than you did before reading this peace. You’re probably ready to go out and get one of your own so you can take advantage of all the great benefits of these awesome boards. Don’t rush any decision-making as you want to ensure you get the right board for you and your needs!
Let us know in the comments what board you end up getting. If you have a friend who might need a soft top paddle board for their dogs, family, fishing, and other needs, send this article to them! Share the SUP knowledge. Good luck with your new SUP investment and happy paddling!