It’s summer and you want to go surfing — but you don’t know how. Or, maybe you do know how, just not well enough to actually own a board. Or, maybe you are pretty good (or are getting there) and you want to buy a board, but don’t want to drop a ton of cash. Or, you have a garage full of boards but you don’t want to bring your favorite fiberglass beauty to the beach to bake in the sun all day.
Whatever the reason, this is why soft-tops, or “foamies,” rule for casual summer surfing fun. They’re durable, light, relatively inexpensive, and just plain fun to surf. Here are three you’ll want to check out.
By far the most common soft-top out there is the Wavestorm (available direct, at Costco, or from $ 196 plus free shipping at Amazon). If you’ve been to a beach anywhere lately, you’ve probably seen a Wavestorm — more likely, a horde of them. The brand declined to tell us how many are sold each year, but they did say they’ve serviced over a half million boards since they began making them in 2006.
The Wavestorm comes with three fins and a leash, all of which are easily attached. The deck is plenty grippy without wax, which is perfect for hot days at the beach. Speaking from experience, we can tell you that melted, sand-embedded wax is not rad.
At 8 feet in length and with plenty of foam, the Wavestorm Tricolor is stable and easy to ride. It’ll work in the most meager of surf conditions, too, so there’s no need to obsess about the forecast before heading out. Several pro surfers have paddled Wavestorms out at big-wave spots such as Pipeline and Jaws. Shine on, you crazy diamonds, shine on.
If you’re new to surfing or have ever wanted to give it a try, the Wavestorm is a perfect way to get your sea legs — though you may not want to start at Pipeline.
Though longboards offer stability, they typically turn with all the agility of an aircraft carrier. Harder to ride but more fun once you learn, a short board is your ticket to summer shredding. Storm Blade’s 6’ Swallow Tail Fish ($ 220 plus free shipping at Amazon) comes with three fins, a leash, and a fin key. Pop in the fins, tighten the screws, and you’re ready to paddle out. Just like to the Wavestorm (both brands share the same parent company), the Stormblade features a textured, grippy deck. So skip the wax and head straight for the waves.
Don’t let the short length of the Storm Blade fool you. With a volume of 49 liters, this thing is buoyant. We were surprised by how easily we slid into even the least promising peaks at our local break. It doesn’t take much effort to keep the Stormblade going once you’re on the wave and all that foam makes it float over sections like a champ.
Even riding it in low tide at a rock-infested area, we couldn’t put a dent in the Storm Blade. A proprietary blend of EPS foam is sandwiched between a lightweight elastomer deck and a high-density, slick-bottomed hull. A pair of epoxy-coated wood stringers provides additional strength and durability. If you damage the board’s surface, the brand says it’s easy to fix with waterproof glue, such as Gorilla Glue. Whatever your skill level, the Storm Blade is a rippable go-to for whatever conditions your day at the beach throws at you.
Catch Surf Beater
Catch Surf’s Beater is your all-conditions summer assault vehicle. Ride it as a bodyboard, surf it like a short board, or remove the fins and skim it like a Big Wheel on ice. At 4’6”, the Beater Pro 54 ($ 220 plus free shipping at Amazon) is shorter than any other board in our quiver by a solid foot, which is like several time zones in surfboard measurements. Our first attempts to surf this thing were hilariously clumsy — like trying to fit both feet on a bar of soap on a wet shower floor.
Once we got it dialed in, though, the Beater proved ridiculously fun to ride. The absurdly short length and twin fin design makes it fly down the line, and it slides through turns. The Beater has dual internal stringers and a high-density PE bottom for durability. It showed no signs of distress after we sent it into the rocks at our local break. Catch Surf does not include a leash with the Beater and we recommend adding one ($ 23 from Amazon), because the Beater is definitely going to get away from you in the beginning, a lot. Also, don’t forget to grab a bar of wax or two, as The Beater’s smooth deck will need a coat for grippage.
We loved the portability of The Beater. Put it in your car and you’re ready for whatever spontaneous beach adventure that comes your way. We surfed it in truly mediocre waves and had a blast. And if you’re not feeling a surf session, grab a pair of Da Fins ($ 64) and head out for a ripping bodyboard session. However you ride it, The Beater shreds.
There are a ton of soft-top options out there, and whichever you choose you’ll almost certainly have fun. And we’re pretty sure that’s exactly how summer days at the beach should be.