Are Soft Top Paddle Boards Good? 8 Pros and Cons

Stand-up paddleboarding also referred to as ‘SUP,’ is a new water activity that is bursting with popularity. Everyone from kids to adults, yoga lovers to thrill-seekers, and even dogs are getting on the action. But if you don’t know what board is right for you, it may be challenging to decide which one is right.

Are soft top paddleboards good? Yes. There are more pros than cons.

The pros of soft-top paddleboards include:

  • Have the same features as hard paddle boards but are wrapped in a softshell
  • The most cost-effective paddle board option on the market
  • The most dog-friendly type of paddle board
  • A perfect option for kids and families
  • An excellent choice for beginners
  • Also great for yoga enthusiasts and those who enjoy fishing

Cons of soft top paddle boards:

  • May weigh more than other options
  • Not as nimble or speedy in the water

As you can clearly see, the positives far outweigh the negatives when it comes to soft top paddle boards. However, that still doesn’t mean that they’re right for everyone. We’re going to discuss in detail why this might be the board for you, or if you should consider seeking another style.

The Pros of Soft Top Paddle boards

There are a lot of things to love about the soft top paddleboard. Knowing specifically what sets these models apart from the other will help you to make a smart decision when deciding what is right for you. Let’s check out what you can expect from a soft top:

It Has Everything a Hardboard Has – And More

One major concern with soft top paddle boards that comes to mind is whether or not they have all the same bells and whistles of a more expensive hardboard. We’re here to tell you that yes, soft tops have the features of a hardboard – and they won’t leave you feeling like you’ve missed out on anything important.

Construction of the soft top paddle board is essentially the same as a hardtop model. The main difference between these two boards is the layer of soft, spongy material that’s found near the front of the soft top paddleboard. So you get everything and then some.

This doesn’t mean that the soft top paddle board lacks in durability, though. It’s not as soft and spongy to leave you feeling wobbly in water; in fact, thanks to its durable core you can feel secure while you travel, whether you’re SUPing, fishing, hanging out with your dog, or simply doing some yoga practices.

Soft top paddle boards are also notably wider than other paddle boards available on the market. This gives the user more space for all his must-haves, while also making an overall easier and more stable ride.

It Is the Most Cost-Effective Paddle board Option on the Market

When people see that something costs less than other models, they might start to wonder if it lacks in quality. Well, you can rest assured that soft top paddleboards do not lack in quality and aren’t missing anything vital that you might find on a hardboard or inflatable board.

That’s just one of the major pros about the soft top paddleboard: it’s the cheapest type of SUP on the market without lacking in quality or durability. This makes it a great option for anyone who is just starting out or wants to save some money when buying a new board.

As far as pricing is concerned, you can expect to see soft top paddle boards at the low end of the price range. Hard boards are notably a lot more expensive, right in front of inflatable boards which are becoming higher in popularity than both of these models combined.

The Most Dog-Friendly Type of Paddle Board

Man’s best friend shouldn’t be left out of the stand-up paddleboarding experience! If you want to take your dog on a trip out into the water, you want to make sure you have a large enough board to support the two of you while also offering the highest level of comfort during your ride; and that’s exactly what you get with a soft top paddle board.

Soft top paddle boards offer a special cushion that your dog is bound to enjoy. However, aside from this desirable material dogs will also feel safe and secure on a soft top board thanks to the grip-friendly construction of the board.

Comfort and security are key when taking your dog out on a ride. While he enjoys softness for relaxation out in the sun and gripping materials for his paws, he will also like the fact that the soft top paddleboard offers plenty of room.

Being the most pet-friendly SUP on the market means that you can feel confident when bringing your best friend along for the ride. Plus, it’s the cheapest option, so you can spend less time worrying about funds and more time hanging on the water with your pal.

Perfect Option for Kids and Families

When it comes to kids, it’s even more important to make sure you buy a paddleboard that can withstand the elements. Kids can be rough with boards and drop them easily, so you need a board that will be up to the challenge. The board should also offer plenty of durability to take on the family. The soft top also offers a sense of security for parents, making it less likely to cause bumps and bruises!

The soft top paddle board is the best option for kids and families for these reasons. It comes designed with a soft outer shell that offers an insurmountable amount of durability, meaning it can handle multiple kids or a family at one time. You will also find the soft top paddleboard to be spacious enough to take on multiple people in one sitting.

While the surface area and outer shell offer spacious SUPing and stability while on the water, the spongy material of this board also means that it won’t be prone to dinging or scratching, which is an important element when you’re dealing with kids.


To put it simply, the soft top paddle board is going to be the best choice for kids and families. It has the security and durability you need with the protection necessary to deal with kids day in and day out.

Excellent Choice for Beginners

If you don’t have the best balance, you might find your first few tries on the stand-up paddleboard to be a bit of a challenge. You’re likely going to fall, no matter how skilled you think you might be. And falling on hardboard is not something you want to do.

So how can you make sure that you can practice and hone your skills without causing any bruising or injury to your body? The answer is simple: the soft top paddleboard offers superior protection and comfort, meaning that you won’t get hurt in the event of you falling down.

For that reason, soft top boards are the best option for beginners. You won’t have the worry about hurting yourself when you fall, and you will also love the fact that the soft top boards have a wider surface area to help you with overall balance.

Also Great for Yoga Enthusiasts and Those Who Enjoy Fishing

Stand-up paddleboarding usually doesn’t mean you’re just paddleboarding. The experience has gained a whole new meaning, and while you might paddle your way out into the lake, it is quite possible you will finish your trip with either fishing or yoga.

Here’s why yoga enthusiasts and fishermen might love getting a soft top paddleboard:

For Yoga Enthusiasts

Anyone who loves yoga needs to experience holding their poses out in the open water. It’s one of the most relaxing experiences on planet Earth and is likely unlike anything you have ever done before. It’s entirely soothing and peaceful, taking your yoga experience to an all-new level.

But when it comes to doing yoga out on the water, you want to make sure you have a soft top board. Harder models will only leave you with aches and discomfort while trying to perform some of your moves.

You want to feel comfortable doing all of your different poses, and soft top paddleboards come designed with a spongy material that will suit all your yoga poses.

Aside from giving you the most comfort while practising yoga, soft top paddleboards also offer a wider space to easily perform all types of yoga poses, even those that may require more room than the others.

With plenty of space and a comfy surface, practicing yoga out on the water has never been easier.

For Those Who Love to Fish

Fishermen will also find that the soft top paddleboard is the right choice for them. This is simply due to the fact that this model is designed with a wider surface area, so you can easily store all of your must-have items and accessories right on the board without feeling cramped.

Another reason why a fishing enthusiast will love soft top boards is that a lot of them are coming designed with Scotty mounts and other storage areas to place your much-needed items like fishing rods, bait trays, fish finders, and anything else.

Staying comfortable while fishing can totally change your game, too. Think about it: even on land, you wouldn’t want to plunk down on a hard surface for hours waiting on the perfect catch. Instead, you want something comfortable that keeps you smiling and cosy, even after hours on the water.

This is just another reason why those who like to fish should consider a soft top paddleboard: the comfort. However, some models may offer enough room that you can actually bring a chair onboard to accompany you during your experience.

The Cons of Soft Top Paddleboards

Of course, there is always going to be a downside to everything. And while there isn’t a whole lot to say about the soft top paddle boards, there are still a few reasons why someone might not want to purchase this model.

They May Weigh More Than Other Options

Unfortunately, the soft top paddleboards tend to be heavier than other types of boards on the market. This can be quite concerning for someone who likes to easily transport their items from location to location without worrying about excessive amounts of weight.

Not as Nimble or Speedy in the Water

Perhaps the biggest concern with the soft top paddleboard is they are not as quick or maneuverable in the water. While this may be fine for someone who is just starting out, someone with more experience might get fed up or bored with a soft top design.

The soft top paddleboards don’t offer as much quickness as you would find on inflatable and hard paddleboards. This is why soft top boards should likely be reserved for beginners, kids, and families, those with dogs, or those who are planning to have a relaxing evening doing yoga or fishing.

Those who want more of an extreme experience should choose a different type of board.

Three Types of Paddleboards

Before you rush into believing that a soft-top paddleboard is right for you, you need to know what options are available. There are actually three different styles available on the market. These include epoxy, inflatable, and soft top paddleboards.

Epoxy Paddleboard

Don’t be confused by the name; the epoxy paddleboard is simply the traditional hardboard. They are usually designed using an EPS foam underneath multiple layers of fiberglass and resin. These layers create the ‘hardness’ of the board while also protecting it against dings and scratches.

The epoxy paddleboard also referred to as simply the ‘EPS’ model, is constructed to be extremely lightweight while also offering utmost durability. Riders who choose a hard paddleboard will realize they can move swiftly and manoeuvre through the water with ease, as the EPS boards are perfect for flexibility.

Inflatable Paddleboard

One style of paddleboards becoming increasingly more popular is the inflatable paddleboard. These are ideal for paddleboarders because they can be easily stored and quickly transported from area to area with ease. Simply deflate the board, stuff it into your backpack, and head out to your next activity.

With inflatable paddleboards, the concern might be durability. After all, anything that can inflate quickly also poses the risk of being deflated with a knick, and that’s nothing something you want to happen to you while out on the water.

Surprisingly, though, inflatable paddleboards actually offer a whole lot of protection. They’re said to be as durable as other boards on the market thanks to the drop stitch design completed with PVC layers of high quality to uphold the paddleboard.

Soft Top Paddleboard

Soft top paddle boards are exactly how they sound: they have a spongy front deck that is soft to the touch, while the core of the board is made of sturdy materials that will keep you (and your family) upright while paddleboarding.

The concern with soft top paddleboards is that it sounds as though they are similar to the $2 foam surfboards you could find at any discount store. But leave those worries to rest. While soft top paddleboards do have foamy, spongy materials in some areas, they are designed to be durable and secure, some having multiple layers of fiberglass and resin for additional rigidity.

A Top Pick for Paddle boarders of All Levels

ISLE 10’5 Cruiser Rigid Soft Top Paddleboard Package

Ready to try your hand at paddleboarding? We’ve selected the top pick for soft tops: the ISLE 10’5 Cruiser Rigid Soft Top Paddleboard. We love this model because it has everything you need to get started, from its rigid and stable rideable to handle all activities to its rugged construction.

This particular soft top paddleboard has a unique design that ensures durability while remaining comfortable and stylish. The deck comes with speciality croc skin padding which helps with comfort and grip, while and EPS foam core will allow for utmost strength and stability for the rider.

Complete with a must-have accessory bundle, you can get out on the water in no time. Enjoy all the gear you need, from the carbon hybrid SUP paddle complete with a nylon blade to the essential 8’ leash and nylon center fin.

The ISLE 10’5 Cruiser Rigid Soft Top Paddleboard is perfect for everyone, whether you’re just starting out in the SUP world or want to buy a board that’s big enough to take on you and the kids. You will love the stability this board has to offer while also remaining comfortable enough for dogs, yoga poses, and fishing adventures.

Conclusion

Soft top paddle boards offer similar construction to hard boards, although they have a soft and spongy front deck that’s ideal for beginners, kids, and yoga/fishing enthusiasts. They do not lack quality while still remaining one of the cheaper options on the market.

Soft top paddle boards are also far wider than other models, adding to the balance of the rider and also leaving plenty of room for must-have accessories.


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Carlo Raffa

Carlo Raffa is a blogger, stand-up paddleboard enthusiast, water lover and local to Brighton city in the South of England. Paddle boarding is my escape and this is only the starting point. Being a larger guy at 260lbs I am finding it very good exercise as well, especially for building core muscles. This is something that believe it or not cycling 16 miles a day at 6 miles per hour doesn't seem to be doing. Paddle Boarding allows me to just grab my board and walk right through the busy bar filled beachfront between the two piers in Brighton and head straight out of shore. It's not long before the shouting and cheering of our buzzing beach fade into just the lapping waves and the people to just small dots of the Brighton shoreline.

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