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Foam Paddle Board (2022 Expert Guide)

foam paddle board

If you’ve already caught the paddleboarding bug, you’re probably aware of how comfortable, safe, and easy it is to ride an inflatable SUP. Or how well a classic rigid board performs in the hands of a seasoned paddler. Today, we’ll take a look at another type of SUP boards: the foam paddle board, also known as soft top.

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

In this guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at foam SUP boards.

(Big Blue Guide is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision.)

What is a Foam SUP?

Foam paddle boards have an EPS foam (expanded polystyrene) core that is strengthened by three or more wood stringers. The SUP board is covered by multiple heat-laminated foam layers on top and bottom to make the board waterproof.

(You’ll learn more about the EPS foam a bit later in this article, so keep reading and all your questions will be answered.)

stand up paddle boarding on a windy day

Even with all its layers, the standard foam paddle boards weigh only about 25 lbs or 11.3 kg.

Foam paddle boards/ soft tops are generally less common than inflatable or epoxy paddleboards. Still, they blend the characteristics of iSUPs and hardshell boards , offering a more balanced performance and stability.

Plus, they are typically more affordable than the other two types of SUP boards.

You can use soft tops to participate in a wide range of SUP activities like recreational paddling, yoga, racing, touring, or SUP fishing. Especially beginner-level paddlers will appreciate the ease of paddling these boards offer.

However, cruiser foam SUP boards can be more challenging to transport due to their massive size and rigid nature. Also, proper maintenance is necessary if you want the boards to last for years.

But before we get to that, let’s take a look at some of the advantages of foam paddle boards.

What are some Advantages of Foam Paddle Boards?

Soft tops are not only popular because of their stylish looks. There’s a lot more to them than what meets the eye:

  • Foam paddle boards are durable
  • Foam SUP boards are extremely watertight
  • They are easy to paddle
  • These SUP boards sport a decent speed
  • Foam paddle boards are comfortable
  • They are perfect for beginners
  • They offer fantastic versatility
  • Foam paddle boards are affordable
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Foam Paddle Boards Are Durable

The combination of high-density foam blank and rigid stringer makes the core of the foam paddleboards sturdy enough to survive most impact-based damages.

Multiple closed-cell polyethylene foam layers further protect this core and thus ensure a longer lifespan.

This way, the foam paddleboards are durable enough to support the taller, heavyweight paddler that weighs 300 lbs or more. Plus, you won’t have to worry about the board getting damaged quickly.

Foam SUP Boards Are Extremely Watertight

Foam SUP boards are made with poreless foam layers to ensure that the boards are water-repellant. Even if they somehow get dented or cut from accidental impact with a sharp rock or another obstacle, the cells will only trap the water and not absorb it.

If the foam layers have poor lamination, they may take in water, though. Fortunately, most modern foam SUP boards use heat lamination, an advanced technology to make the watercraft extremely watertight.

They Are Easy To Paddle

Foam SUPs are pretty lightweight compared to rigid wood, Epoxy, fiberglass, or plastic paddleboards, and they require much less effort to be handled in the water.

Additionally, every foam paddle board has quality traction pads that help you paddle more efficiently and reduce the risk of accidental falls. Their excellent buoyancy and rigidity also help junior SUPers, and new paddlers to balance on top of the board.

The SUP Boards Sport A Decent Speed

Most foam SUP boards boast a better speed than inflatables and plastic boards. They cut through the water more efficiently due to their lightweight yet rigid nature.

A high-quality rigid epoxy and fiberglass board on the other hand will be faster in the water in the hands of an expert paddler.

Still, a good foam paddle board offers a decent enough speed for recreational paddleboarding activities.

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Foam Paddle Boards Are Comfortable

Foam paddle boards usually have a softer deck than Epoxy, fiberglass, wood, or plastic boards. Trust me, you’ll feel pretty comfortable standing on them, even on an extended paddleboarding trip.

Read also: SUP Boarding - Get Rid Of Shaky Legs

They also have convenient deck pads that reduce contact pressure and help you relax the bigger muscle groups in your body.

This way, when paddling in flat water, you’ll enjoy a comfortable, smooth ride.

They Are Perfect For Beginners

Typically, the majority of foam SUP boards come with several safety handles. They also sport a wide range of strategic designs that help the beginner paddler balance on top of it, and are lightweight enough for juniors to paddle without straining their tiny arms.

Read also: Do I Need SUP Lessons? (Paddle Boarding for Beginners)

The average foam paddle board package usually includes a coiled SUP safety leash as well as D-rings to support the leash.

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced paddler, remember to wear a US coast guard approved PFD (personal flotation device) just to be on the safe side. After all, the water can be pretty unpredictable, and the PFD may end up saving your life in case of an emergency.

They Offer Fantastic Versatility

Like other paddleboards, foam SUP boards also come in several shapes and designs. Therefore, whether you’re planning a relaxed day out or wish to go on an adrenaline-filled river run, chances are, you’ll find a foam paddleboard that meets your needs perfectly.

These crafts boast an excellent balance between buoyancy, stability, tracking, and speed, making them ideal for most paddleboarding activities.

Moreover, foam boards support a wide range of SUP accessories. Thus, you can quickly customize these watercraft with minimal effort!

SUP Lesson

You’ll Find An Affordable Foam Paddle Board

While high-performance soft-top boards can get quite expensive, other foam paddle boards offer decent performance and have a reasonable price tag.

Often, they are less expensive than iSUP or Epoxy SUP boards that offer a similar level of performance on the water.

Nevertheless, the more affordable foam paddleboards may have faulty lamination and thus take in water. If it happens, your paddleboards will lose buoyancy, and you’ll end up paying twice.

In a later section of this article, you’ll find useful tips on how to choose a good foam paddle board.

What are the Disadvantages of Foam Paddle Boards?

Even if the number is low, foam paddle boards are not without flaws. Knowing about these limitations beforehand will give you a chance to make an informed decision and improve your overall paddleboarding experience.

So, let’s take a look.

  • It’s not easy to fix a foam paddle board
  • It can be challenging to transport and store soft tops

It’s Not Easy To Fix A Foam Paddle Board

Foam paddle boards are very durable, but they can still get damaged if you’re not careful. Once damaged, it can be pretty challenging to fix this type of watercraft.

When your foam SUP boards develop dings or holes over time, you’ll have difficulty sealing them back up. Unlike the iSUP, where you can use a patch kit with glues and high-density fabrics to quickly repair damages, a foam board will require a bit more work with powerful adhesives.

Moreover, after you use the glues to cover up the hole, your foam paddleboard will remain prone to further wear and tear due to the previously damaged area being weak.

Tips

Depending on the type of the outer foam layer, you can use epoxy resin or marine grade sealant to fix foam paddle boards efficiently.

It Can Be Challenging To Transport And Store Soft Tops

Unlike the inflatables, you can’t deflate and pack up your foam paddle board in a backpack. Also, even if these crafts are pretty lightweight, it can be a hassle carrying them around for an extended time.

You can always put them on the car rack, but this will expose it to the sun which is very damaging over time. Another way to transport this craft would be to put it in the back of your truck. However, this way you run the risk of it getting damaged from impacts during the transport.

Storing foam paddle boards can also take up a fair bit of space since they are usually thicker than hard shell paddleboards. You’ll also need to keep them indoors to reduce damage from the weather.

Tips

Investing in a paddleboard trolley and rack will make transporting and storing the foam boards easier.

How Much Does a Foam SUP Cost?

In general, affordable foam SUP boards cost around 300-400$ while the average ones sport a price tag in the 600-750$ range. The high-performance cruiser paddleboards may cost about 1400-1500$.

Read also: Costco Paddle Board (Is it worth it?)

Also, depending on the construction materials, technology, size, and shape, the price of the boards can differ from region to region.

Here, we took an in-depth look at several types and brands of foam paddle boards available in the US and checked their recent prices. From this data, we determined the average price range for the most cost-efficient paddle boards, the average crafts, and the top-quality SUPs.

We included SUP boards from ISLE, South Bay Board Co., Scott Burke, California board company, BIC Sport, DriftSun, and others.

However, the prices also spike and fall quickly depending on time, as newer SUP boards take the market. Still, this range should give you a general idea about the prices of foam paddleboards.

Type of Foam PaddleboardEstimated Price Range
Recreational 300-400$
All-arounder600-750$
Cruiser1400-1500$

How to Choose a Good Foam Paddle Board

There are many factors to consider when choosing a foam paddle board. It can become pretty confusing and tiresome if you are not prepared to face the challenge.

In this section, we’ll share a few tips and tricks that you can use to make the search for a good foam SUP board a bit easier.

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  • If you’re planning to stand up paddle board with your dog, you may want to look for a foam board with a durable textured deck pad rather than picking the average board with a soft brushed deck.
  • For a great SUP yoga session, durable textures are a must, as well.
  • If you’re going to paddle in rough waters, you’ll appreciate a foam paddleboard that has multiple sturdy stringers and tough outer layers.
  • When buying a second-hand foam SUP board, you may want to check for leaks. To do this, you’ll have to weigh the board and then put it on the water for a while (5-7 minutes). Afterward, weigh it again, and if the board has gained weight, it most likely has a faulty lamination or a damaged foam layer.
  • The foam boards can get damaged from extreme temperature changes. Check the surface of the foam board for bubbles. If you can’t find any, the board is most likely in good condition.

Aside from these, you may also want to consider your height, weight, and how much gear and supplies you wish to bring along before deciding on a specific board. It’s always a good idea to rent the board from a SUP rental service and try it out in the water before buying!

How To Maintain a Foam Paddle Board

How to choose a good paddle board

Maintaining your foam paddleboards may take some time and effort, but it becomes pretty easy once you have become familiar with the process.

While these boards are more durable than the Epoxy hardshell paddleboards, they are not immune to damage, so you’ll need to maintain them properly.

The best way to clean your foam paddleboards is to use a hose and freshwater. You can also use lightweight paddleboard cleaning solutions to remove the saltwater residue and any dirt.

Read also: Can I Stand Up Paddle Board in Rain?

You can use seventh-generation dish soap, too, if it’s not harmful to the foam type of your board. This solution is non-toxic, easily accessible, and bio-degradable!

After cleaning, use a protectant spray on the boards to further reduce damage from the UV rays.

Once you have thoroughly cleaned the craft, you’ll need to store it in an indoor space with a cool temperature. This way, the board won’t suffer from delamination.

However, if the boards get damaged, one of the best ways to repair them is to apply an Epoxy resin or use a hot melt glue gun to the damaged area. Remember to let the glue settle before you take your board out again.

How To Dispose of a Foam Paddle Board Safely

How to dispose of a foam paddle board

Typically, foam paddleboards boast superior technology and top-notch construction materials that make them last for years on end. Good quality foam paddleboards can have a lifespan of 6-7 years without giving you too much hassle.

These boards generally come with a 1-2 year warranty period.

But, once your trusty foam paddleboard has finally become damaged beyond repair, you need to dispose of it without harming the environment.

The expanded polystyrene or the EPS foam is a type of Styrofoam that is the most common material in making a foam SUP board. This foam is not exactly bio-degradable.

However, there are efficient ways to dispose of your used foam paddleboard in the US. For instance, you can call a service like loadup that will efficiently recycle your paddleboard in an eco-friendly way.

You can spot a surf or SUP shop with the Waste to Waves program if you live in or near California. These shops will recycle your old board and make your next SUP board from its foams!

Buying a Foam Paddle Board – Final Thoughts

foam paddle boards on the beach

All in all, foam SUP boards offer you a new and innovative way to enjoy your weekend with friends, family and pets.

Still, if you’re planning on competing in a SUP race, these foam boards may not be the ideal choice. For this, you’ll need that Epoxy fiberglass board with a sharp nose and cutaway tail.

However, as long as you wish to enjoy a relaxing paddling session, you can’t go wrong with foam paddleboards.

We hope that this guide has provided you with helpful information about these fantastic crafts and how to use them efficiently.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch!

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