Local Vantage
It’s hot and you’re bothered—that’s the end of summer for you. Humans from all over the place are still crawling over your home beach, and going for a surf can seem like more of a hassle than it’s worth. To make matters worse, the waves are dribbling through the masses of Coppertone-covered tourists, and the thought of even a knee-high set is but a fantasy. You can either accept the end-of-summer bummer and bury your head in the sand until fall's bounty arrives, or you can lock away your high performance shred stick and find a way to turn that waveless warm water into a playground. We chose option number two and spent a few weeks goofing around on and reviewing some of the best soft-top boards on the market to help you decide which fun machine might work best for you, your brother, kid, mother, nephew, grandpa, cousin, friend, or that one guy you know who can’t seem to wipe that frown off his face. There’s a little something for everybody in this bunch.
Torpedo

$280.00

 

Not only will you look rad walking down the beach with this fierce set of jaws, but you’re going to have fun, too. The Softech Torpedo is plenty loose off the tail, making it easy to s-turn down the line in the mushiest of conditions. Even better, this combination of a wide nose and forward volume make catching waves as simple as one or two easy paddles. Swap the fins out for your standard FCS-compatible set and feel the extra rake as you accelerate off the top. This one’s for you if you’re looking to hold your own in a lineup full of shortboards and you want to combo a couple of waves to the beach.

Rocket

$210.00

 

There are a few reasons to ride a soft top. Maybe you need something forgiving to help you learn, or maybe you just want something weird to goof around on in the shorebreak. Since this Softech is hardly bigger than a sponge, no one is going to be learning much on this nub, but its strange outline and comically small fins are perfect for side-slipping into some mini barrels and getting blasted into the sand. This board isn’t trying to replace anything else in your quiver. It fills its own niche, which is a good trait for a soft craft to have. Give it a pump and feel it take off with speed as you plane down the line. Accepts FCS fins.

Shorepounder

$225.00

 

Is this board technically a soft-top? The deck feels like a more hardened shell, akin to a giant, oblong, blue m&m. That said, it paddles and catches waves extremely well for its size—like, longboard-well. In the same vein, it creates its own speed and flies through sections with ease, which is great in gutless surf. The turning part, however, presents a problem. The floppy fins offer little in the way of hold, so when you stand up, try to make sure you’ve got it pointed in the right direction. For the parent who is looking to get their kid onto something for learning and growth, toward a regular shortboard, the Doyle is a great fit.

Swallowtail

$299.00

 

INT’s 5’10” Swallowtail makes it a no-brainer upon seeing it amongst a lineup of soft-tops with its great outline and translatable size. The soft bottom and flexibility of this precisely-cut board make it best suited for the less than full-grown surfer…or better yet, one whose food pyramid doesn’t have an entire section devoted to beer (the majority of our staff). Catching a wave isn’t an issue, but the bending and morphing of the board is heightened for bigger surfers. For the grom or person under 150 lbs. or so, INT’s softy swallowtail is the go-to. Not only can you get the thing on rail off the bottom, but the fear of taking this board or a fin to any part of your body is lessened due to the entire nature of the setup. That’s less worry for parents, too! INT also offers a hard bottom on the same model for a little extra dough.

Flattail

$179.00

 

Imagine taking your standard shortboard and bulking it up. Like, really bulking it up. That’s not to say you should expect to be ripping straight-up turns or punting airs, because the Blade’s rails don’t have the strength of fiberglass. But do think about the down-the-line speed and the easy cutbacks. At a long pointbreak, you’ll be stoked to take on the masses and glide your way through sections with a smile. Exaggerate your movements or simply send this thing into the shorebreak, either way you’ll be having a gas. For the bigger fella, take a pass on this softy, as it will feel like a toothpick.

Storm Blade Longboard

$199.00

 

This board gives you all the glide of a mid-length, without the expensive fees that come with ordering a custom glider from the surfboard boutique market. The Storm Blade 7-footer is a great soft-top for trimming down the line and banking a section or two. Due to its length and firmness, the board is very user-friendly, suiting every surfer from beginner to professional. Whether you’re just past jumping up and riding straight or you’re ready to style your way down the line and lean into a turn, this board has you covered. Perfect for those looking to get off the learning longboard and onto something more functional.

Wavestorm

$149.99

 

From romping in the whitewater to board-transferring out at Pipeline, the Wavestorm is still the most common soft-top out there. While “core” surfers might have a bone to pick with the Costco brand, it’s the easiest option of the bunch and can be used by the entire spectrum of surfers. Whether you’re looking to teach your potential girlfriend/boyfriend to surf, battle with your friends, or cruise through the local lineup as carefree as can be, the Wavestorm has been there and done that, tested and approved.

Studio