Which is Better: Soft or Hard SUP Paddle Boards?

Comparing the Difference between Soft Top and Hard Surfaced SUP Paddle Boards

When you decide to make your first paddle board purchase, the choices are staggering. You will be greeted with a wide variety of SUP paddle boards, some with soft tops and others with hard surfaces, some designed for the family while others are built for specific activities such as racing or surfing. So today, I thought we’d do a little comparison shopping and discuss the differences, both pros and cons of each paddle board and which one might be best suited for you, your family, and the best SUP paddle board experience.

The Soft Top Board
SUP paddle boards like the Stand on Liquid Beach Bum 11’ Soft Top Paddle Board are, at first glance, priced attractively. Often falling into the category of beginner boards, soft top SUPs can give you a lifetime of great fun without breaking the bank. But they are more than just economical and durable, they are fully functional across a wide variety of water encounters. While the vast majority of first time buyers will consider this a great family board because of the price, these boards are also multi-purpose paddle boards.

There are several reasons these boards are among the top selling paddle boards. Soft top SUP paddle boards offer the beginner a soft landing should they lose their balance. Not all falls end up in the water and beginners will find the impressible surface much more yielding. The durability of the board is also why these types of boards are a favorite among the rental businesses you find anywhere there are tourists and water. These boards can take much more abuse than their hard top cousins which means less time on the shop for repairs. This all adds up to more fun on the water for everyone.

Another benefit of the soft top and one of the reasons it is so popular for all ages and skill levels is the growing enthusiasm for practicing yoga on the water. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, using the water can increase the intensity of the workout you get from yoga while adding the increased demand on your balancing skills on the water.

LakeShore Sunset Cruiser SUP Paddle Board

LakeShore’s Sunset Cruiser SUP Paddle Board is in a class all its own.

The Hard Top Board
The Lakeshore Sunset Cruiser 12’6” Paddle Board is a classic among the hard top SUP paddle boards on the market. The board can be used by beginners but it performs at its best with a little more experience. Sleek, well-defined, and of course, visually attractive, this board will provide the SUPer a great ride for the money.

Built for a paddle boarder with an intermediate to experienced level of skill and rated 11 on Stand on Liquid’s stability scale [link to stability]), this board is perfect for all sorts of flat water (a reference to relatively calm waters such as lake, slow flowing rivers, and bays on good days).

Comparing this board to a soft top model is an apples to orange comparison though. If you fall on this board, it’ll hurt. If you damage this board, you’ll need to either repair it yourself or have it done professionally. You can do yoga on it but it is narrower than most soft top boards and just a little bit less stable for trickier poses.

But, and this is a big caveat, the performance is a lot more edgier and the because of the design, more durable than you might think. At lastly, it has dynamic good looks.

The Conclusion
Buy a soft top board if you have a family and want to add an awesome water activity to your family outings. Buy a hard top board if you are seriously looking at making this a primary sport. Buy a soft top if you are a beginner. Invest in a hard top if you have more experience.

You really can’t go wrong either way. Most people will own both so they can turn their friends on to the sport. If you are unsure, discuss it with your sales rep at the store. A good one listens to you and customizes your needs and matches it to the perfect board. This is something you will never get from an online retailer or one of the big box stores.

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