Soft top vs hard top – which one should you rent?

May 1st, 2024

You come to Tofino on vacation and decide you want to go for a surf. So you walk into Swell Tofino surf shop and our team will ask: ‘Would you like to rent a soft top or a performance surfboard?’. If you have no idea which one to pick, this article might help.


If you want to have some fun in the water and learn how to catch waves, this board is for you. Soft tops are great for everyone, beginners to intermediate surfers. They are made out of foam which provides more buoyancy and stability. It also allows for easier paddling and catching waves. The top layer is covered with a rubber material that adds a layer of cushioning in case you wipeout, and makes the grip better, so you don’t have to worry about waxing the surfboard.

Soft tops don’t really have many drawbacks for beginners, other than fitting them in your car or carrying them to the beach. Also, because they are so floatable, they don’t allow for duck diving, but you can worry about that after you start catching waves frequently.


Soft top rentals

Our soft tops range from 7′ to 9′. We offer a $5 insurance on all soft top surfboards in case something unexpected happens while you’re out there catching waves. Also, you can rent a complementary surf rack or straps for your vehicle, to help you transport the surfboard from our shop to the beach.

No vehicle? No problem! Both of our locations are walking distance to the beach!



Hard top surfboards are mostly made out of fiberglass, epoxy resin, polyester resin, or polyurethane foam. These materials give them a sturdy, durable and reliable construction, so you can take on more challenging conditions. It also makes the boards less stable but more responsive, that’s why they are not suitable for beginner surfers.

When should you rent a performance surfboard?

  • when you can catch waves frequently and you’re doing turns
  • when you want to start paddling out and want to start duck diving
  • when you feel ready to take your surfing to the next level
  • if you are wanting to buy a hard top but don’t really know which one, it’s good to rent a few different options first to see which boards fit your style best


Hard top rentals

Our performance boards are all from NSP. We offer a few sizes for different conditions: 6.8′, 7.2′, and 8′. When you rent with us, we make sure they are prewaxed for you, if you plan on using the surfboard for several days you can also buy wax for $3.50. With these you can get a complementary surf rack or straps as well, however we don’t offer insurance on performance boards.


soft tops vs hard tops


Check out our rental prices HERE. If you have any more questions, call or text, we are happy to help! Or better yet, come down and find us on at Hotel Zed.

Lara & the Swell Team