Outstanding paddle board experience needs proper gears. Choosing the best paddleboard for your needs is the defining point between a fun or failed paddle boarding experience.
Ultimately, the material of the paddleboard will affect the overall performance of the board. Moreover, it plays a role in the board’s usable life, durability, and even price.
Although the different types of paddle boards can be confusing, this article seeks to define what sets foam paddle boards differently from other kinds of boards.
- What Are Foam Paddle Boards?
- The Pros And Cons Of Using Foam SUPs
- Factors To Consider When Choosing A Foam Paddle Board
- Can You Repair Foam SUPs?
- Should You Buy A Soft Paddle Board?
What Are Foam Paddle Boards?
Foam paddle boards or soft top paddle boards are made similarly to soft top surfboards. They have soft and spongy front decks, but the middle part of the board is made from a high-density foam blank that holds up the stringer. This build allows the board to remain strong, sturdy, and rigid. Some paddle board manufacturers also have another layer that’s covered with fiberglass and epoxy resin.
The Pros And Cons Of Using Foam SUPs
Like any material, foam paddle boards hold a few advantages against inflatable or fiberglass boards, especially for beginners. That’s because the latter are not as friendly to use as soft SUPs.
Here are some of the significant advantages and some disadvantages of using a soft paddleboard.
Typically, foam boards are manufacturer-tested and approved before they are released to the market. This goes to say that soft SUP boards have gone through quality safety assurance.
The boards won’t receive a certification of approval if a part of the board fails to meet manufacturer requirements. Thus, you can make sure that only good-quality boards are released in the market.
2. Has Deck Traction
On top of that, most certified foam boards are also reinforced with deck traction. This enables your feet to remain in place during the paddleboarding process. It also ensures balance so that you won’t slip or slide off the paddleboard.
In the rare case that your board isn’t reinforced with deck traction, then you can try putting surf wax on the part where you stand to eliminate slipping.
Soft top paddle boards also tend to be less expensive than inflatable paddle boards. On top of that, they’re sturdier than plastic boards.
4. Sealed, Watertight Core
Soft paddle boards are sealed and closed-cell, which makes them water repellent. This means that foam boards will never absorb water unless it has been dented. In the case of faulty lamination, water can get inside the board.
However, since the cells are closed, the water is only trapped between the surface; the board will not absorb the water.
Also, minor cunts and dents incurred by faulty lamination can be rectified with hot glue.
5. Cool Accessories
With foam paddle boards, you can accessorize them. They come with handles on the mid-part, which allows users to loop them around. It also has an attachment for a leash and other built-in plugs.
Depending on the brand of your foam board, it can come with decorations such as an adjustable paddle or bungee storage. Some paddleboard brands even provide a roof rack so you can place your paddleboard on top of your car while traveling.
As mentioned, foam paddle boards are sturdy. The stringer, which is the core of the board, is highly durable. Even an individual with more than three hundred pounds can manage to stand on a 10’6 to 11’ foam board.
7. Unique Construction
Soft SUPs also have a unique construction process. Most brands insert two to three wooden stringers inside the core.
Then, they place a dense polyethylene both at the bottom and the top portion of the board, which acts as a sealant.
Transportability is another perk of having a soft SUP. Since foam boards are low in density, they’re often lighter and easier to carry than other boards. This also makes it easier to store despite its size.
One more advantage is the maneuverability of soft SUPs. Although foam boards are significantly slower than epoxy boards, they still surpass plastic SUPs in performance.
Balance and stability are essential. Being able to stand on the board while maintaining balance is invaluable. Since foam boards are more rigid, it provides more stability, especially when paddleboarding in wavy waters.
Although there isn’t a lot, soft top paddle boards have their disadvantages, too. Here are some of them:
- Soft SUPs are, without a doubt, slower than epoxy boards. Again, this has something to do with the foam board’s weight. Although it’s sturdier, the speed is something that might throw you off about soft SUPs, so if you’re a competitive paddle boarder, then foam boards aren’t for you.
- Foam boards were originally made for amateur paddle boarders. Professional paddle boarders use a different board when competing. While this might be trivial, it’s a matter of consideration to some people. Individuals who are more adept at paddle boarding will be affected by this disadvantage.
- Don’t be fooled by the name of this board. Because despite being made of foam, falling on a board like this will hurt. However, this is a risk that all paddle boarders face regardless.
Factors To Consider When Choosing A Foam Paddle Board
Amateur paddle boarders are looking for the best paddle board on the market, and it doesn’t help that there are so many factors and options to consider before making a purchase. For that reason, you can consider the following factors when buying a foam paddle board:
The paddle board’s fins allow it to be moved properly and remain stable. Different paddle boards have different fin configurations.
The most common ones are the one-fin or three-fin boards. The former has a single big fin located in the middle, whereas the latter has three small fins distributed in a staggering pattern. The three-fin board often has better maneuverability which makes it an excellent choice for paddleboarding in white water.
Fins can also be made of different materials. Some are made of nylon, while some are made of fiberglass.
Fins made of fiberglass tend to be stiffer, making them more susceptible to breakage, especially when you use them in rocky waters. Alternatively, nylon fins are sturdier, perfect for paddleboarding in shallow waters. Although fins are replaceable upon damage, their durability is still something worth considering.
2. Selecting The Right Board Size
As mentioned, stability is a matter of importance, especially for amateur paddle boarders. To ensure stability, look for a board with a bigger girth.
With wider boards, it’s much easier to improve balance and practice the basic paddling moves. Having the right board size also affects the board’s maneuverability; picking a board that’s too large for you will take a toll on your speed. Plus, it makes turning harder.
Generally, bigger boards are more stable, but it comes with a few tradeoffs. With stability comes less speed. Contrarily, smaller boards are more nimble, making it easier to turn; however, amateur paddle boarders will struggle with balancing.
Ultimately, choosing the right board boils down to your needs. It doesn’t end with picking one size; you must also consider other factors relative to the size of the board.
3. Previous Paddle Boarding Experience
When selecting a board, the last thing you must consider is the length of time you’ve been paddleboarding. More experienced individuals will opt for a faster and more agile board. Amateur ones might opt for stability, so an inflatable or an all-around board is the way to go.
Can You Repair Foam SUPs?
Paddle boards are susceptible to damage. Whether by collision, hitting rocks, or so on, boards can incur damages over time. In this case, the most important thing to do is to avoid fragile boards to eliminate the risk of injury.
Once a board has been damaged, it’s essential not to use the board again, especially in wavy waters, which puts the board at more risk. What you must do, instead, is to head back to the shore and assess the damage. Water may be stuck in damaged or dented boards which compromises its performance.
When repairing foam boards, it’s essential to dry the board first by laying it under the sun. This way, the water that was stuck inside will dry up. While it’s drying, you can prepare the materials you’ll use; make sure to have a silicone sealant with you, a cutter, rod, and masking tapes.
Then, you can fill in the dents with the sealant and finish it off with masking tape on the top. This is a good remedy for a broken board but isn’t a substitute for professional repair.
Should You Buy A Soft Paddle Board?
Ultimately, choosing a paddle board relies on your needs. Whichever board you choose has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, whether that’s in durability, lifespan, speed, performance, and price. What’s most important is to consider what you’re expecting to get from the board.
If you’re looking for a stable, beginner-friendly, and easy-to-use board, getting a soft foam board might be the best option.