Are Foam Paddleboards Any Good? 10 Pros And Cons


So, you finally gathered the courage to get out on the water with your friends, and you love it! Now that the paddle boarding bug has bitten you real hard, it’s time to get your own board. While a rigid board performs well in the hands of a seasoned paddler, you’ll need to look for a beginner’s foam board. However, are they any good?

Foam paddleboards are an excellent choice as they are affordable, versatile, highly durable, lightweight, and ideal for newcomers. They can dent or scratch without taking on water. However, they are also slow, sensitive to sun damage, challenging to fix, and difficult to transport and store. 

Foam paddleboards are safe and ideal for beginner paddlers yet efficient enough for experts to enjoy a ride on the waves. We recommend reading through the pros and cons before purchasing a foam board.

Are Foam Paddleboards Any Good?

Foam paddleboards or soft tops are fantastic for people of all abilities. Their soft and squishy outer layer and large bodies are ideal for surf schools, new paddlers, and kids. 

They combine the advantages of an inflatable and rigid board, and they are safe for beginner paddlers to learn the basics. However, they’re also versatile, efficient, and powerful enough for experts to enjoy the rush of adrenaline.

Foam stand-up paddleboards can take a beating in the water without scratching or dings as quickly as other boards.

Lastly, foam Paddleboards are budget-friendly −they are the cheapest option without lacking quality and durability. 

Inflatables are great if you camp or travel a lot. Here is our favorite inflatable board on Amazon.

How Are Foam Paddleboards Made?

Foam paddleboards consist almost entirely of wood stringers, the supporting mechanisms packed inside a foam-based EPS core. The high-end soft tops have high-density polyethylene or fiberglass laminated to the core’s top and bottom.

The extra fiberglass layers stiffen the board, making it easier to maneuver during water sports activities. 

Foam Paddleboards Pros & Cons

Foam paddleboards have a lot more to offer than what meets the eye! However, like any board, soft tops aren’t without flaws. 

If you’re contemplating whether you should get the foam paddle board you’ve had your eye on, scroll through the pros and cons to ensure you make an informed decision.

Foam Paddleboards ProsFoam Paddleboards Cons
•Perfect for beginners
•Affordable
•Durable(ideal for taking dogs onboard)
•Offer incredible versatility
•Extremely watertight
•Easy to paddle
•Slower than fiberglass models
•It’s challenging to fix a foam paddleboard
•Challenging to transport and store 
•Foam paddleboards are sensitive to sun damage, peeling, and delamination 
•Won’t last as long as a Fiberglass board
•Not as easy to transport as an inflatable board

Advantages Of Foam Paddleboards 

Irrespective of rumors, foam paddleboards offer more advantages than disadvantages. Here are the significant advantages of using a soft-top paddleboard.

Foam Paddleboards Are Perfect For Beginners

A soft top is a way to go for new paddleboarders. 

Foam paddleboards sport a range of lightweight and strategic designs that help beginners and juniors balance on top of the board and paddle without straining their arms. In addition, the wider surface area helps with overall balance, simplifying your learning process.

The majority of soft tops include safety handles or leashes to keep you safe and prevent losing your board.

Falling and bumping into things is inevitable for beginners −chill, it happens to us all. Fortunately, foam paddleboards are softer, making them less likely to succumb to severe injuries. In addition, soft tops take on knocks better than rigid boards, showing more minor damage. 

Imagine bumping into a dock on a new $1200 fiberglass board and denting it allowing it to intake water. Yikes!

Foam Paddleboards Are Affordable

Although high-performance foam paddleboards are pricy, most have a reasonable price tag and decent performance. Oftentimes you can find a 2 pack on Costco.com for a reasonable price around $500

Soft tops are cheaper than the other varieties as they consist of cost-effective materials. 

These boards are ideal for individuals on a budget or those who can only take their boards out a handful of times per year.

Foam Paddleboards Are Durable

Foam paddleboards have a unique design and construction.

The combination of rigid wood stringers and high-density foam makes foam paddleboards sturdy enough to take some severe punishment without taking on water from a dent or scratch.

Their durable design also makes them pooch-friendly. You can bring your dog on board without the fear of it scratching it up −its squishy foam deck is forgiving to scratches.

The more expansive deck also makes it comfy for your dog to sit and move around, and it’s grip-friendly, helping with pups’ stability.

Foam Paddleboards Offer Incredible Versatility

Foam paddleboards are available in various shapes and designs −there’s something to match everyone’s needs perfectly.

Moreover, soft tops support a range of accessories and are quick and easy to customize. 

Foam Paddleboards Are Extremely Watertight

Foam paddleboards consist of poreless foam layers, making them waterproof. 

The watertight cells will trap the water from accidental cuts or dents. However, cheaper foam boards can have poor lamination between the foam layers, which can cause water to seep through to the wood stringers.

Foam Paddleboards Are Easy To Paddle

Foam paddleboards have excellent buoyancy. So, they require less effort to handle in the water.

Most soft tops have quality deck traction pads to help you paddle more efficiently while reducing your risk of slipping and accidental falls. 

Disadvantages Of Foam Paddleboards

You will be happy to learn that foam paddleboards have very few disadvantages. Here are the cons of a foam paddleboard.

Foam Paddleboards Are Slow

Foam paddleboards are slower than other varieties. 

While this trait is beneficial for kids and new paddlers, experienced paddlers may prefer a rigid hardboard for fast speeds.

Foam paddleboards are heavy and sit higher off the water, resulting in a slower board. Soft tops aren’t suitable for competitive paddleboard sports or racing.

It’s Challenging Fix A Foam Paddleboard

While foam paddleboards deem durable, they can still succumb to damage. In addition, once damaged, these boards are tricky to patch up.

You can’t use a patch kit with glues or high-density fabrics to repair the damages. Furthermore, even if you successfully patch the paddleboard with glue, your board remains prone to further wear and tear as the previously damaged area remains weak.

Foam Paddleboards Are Challenging To Transport And Store 

Foam paddleboards are challenging to transport and store.

Unlike their inflatable counterparts, you can’t deflate a foam board to pop them into a backpack. These crafts also become pretty heavy, becoming a hassle to carry around for long periods. So, you’ll need a roof rack to transport the board.

Storing foam paddleboards takes up a fair amount of space. They are usually thicker than hard shell paddleboards. In addition, you need to keep them indoors to prevent damage from the elements.

Foam Paddleboards are harder to transport than inflatable models. Here is our favorite inflatable if you are interested.

You will need a truck or be able to transport on the roof of your car if you have a foam paddleboard.

Paddleboard on Car

Foam Paddleboards Are Prone To Sun Damage, Peeling, & Delamination 

Foam paddleboards are sensitive to sun damage, peeling, and delamination.

Soft top paddle boards do not tolerate extended sun exposure well. As a result, the board will peel, and tiny foam bits will start rubbing off on the corners and deck. 

Sun exposure can also cause peeling and delamination when the foam layer rises from heat exhaustion. In turn, separating from the interior stringer core. As a result, you’ll notice a giant bubble forming on your board, and the surface will lose its rigidity. 

Conclusion

Finding the ideal paddleboard can be an elusive process. Compare the pros and cons mentioned above when deciding whether a foam paddleboard is a perfect fit for your paddleboarding journey. 

Fortunately, the advantages weigh out the disadvantages, and these boards are durable, reasonably priced, and perfect for beginners.

Eric

I have been an avid boater / jet ski fanatic since I was a kid.

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