Pop-out surfboards are often thought of as cheap and poorly made surfboards or POS aka piece of s**t. These types of surfboards are usually made overseas, to reduce cost and because of lax or non-existent environmental manufacturing laws, where quality control is not a concern. This is what many surfers think when they hear about pop-out surfboards, but is it true? Let’s look into this further.
The earliest surfboards were hand crafted, and many surfboards today are still hand crafted. Some surfboard shapers are using CNC machines to shape the foam outline of the surfboard, which allows for quicker and more accurate shaping. This type of surfboard shaping is not the norm, because the cost of CNC machines makes this process prohibitive for most shapers.
A pop-out surfboard is not hand crafted, they are molded from a surfboard shape. Basically, the materials for the surfboard is placed in a mold, then sealed and shaped in that mold. Once the materials in the mold hardens, the surfboard is popped-out of that mold, thus the term pop-out surfboard. Keep in mind, that my description of the pop-out surfboard making process is very simplified, I’m positive that much more is involved in its production.
It is not clear who created or invented the first pop-out surfboard, but some have credited Australian Shane Steadman with coming up with the idea in the 1970’s. Because of this molding process, pop-out surfboards can be quickly made and mass produced.
Because pop-out surfboards can be mass produced (and also because they are made overseas) they are often less expensive than their handmade counter-parts. This means that the beginner surfer can more readily afford one of these boards.
Contrary to what some might think, not all pop-out surfboards are cheaply made and of poor quality. Like anything else, you need to do some research before you buy. Buy a pop-out surfboard from a well-known company and a company that actually uses what they sell, or has boards designed and made by surfers.
I’ve purchased pop-out surfboards from Surftech, New Surf Project aka NSP, South Point Epoxy and Boardworks, and these makers, deliver well made surfboards with outstanding quality control but they will be more expensive than a surfboard being sold by Costco.
I’ve found the pop-out surfboards that I purchased from the previously named makers to be lighter and stronger than your poly surfboards. You don’t have to worry about discoloration because they use some sort of baked on paint finish and the foam is not visible through this finish.
I also find these makers’ pop-out boards to be more ding resistant. I’ve had a few boards that I surfed for over a year, and they were ding free. I’ve watched my girlfriend’s niece let her board bounce on some rocks without any noticeable effect.
In the past, pop-out surfboards usually came with the fins needed to surf the board, but, today, that is now not always the case.
Some of the pop-out surfboards are molded after well-known shapers’ surfboards (e.g. Donald Takayama, Bill Stewart, Mickey Munoz, Pearson Arrow, etc.). World famous shaper, Al Merrick, allows Surftech to make some of his Channel Island surfboards. You can get a board from a famous shaper, with the same dimensions, outline, rails, etc. of an original, without having to pay the original surfboard’s price.
With pop-out surfboards, you get what you see on the display rack or on the makers’ website. You can’t choose a color or designed, that has not already been created and used. The dimensions are also not changeable, they’re stock and governed by what the maker thinks would be the most popular.
Which type of fin slot system (e.g. futures, FCS, etc.), nor the number of fin slots you want (e.g. 3 fins, 4 fins or 5 fins, etc.) can’t be chosen, once again, it is the maker who decides this.
Some Surftech and Boardworks pop-out surfboards are expensive, and you could probably get a lesser known shaper to make you a handcrafted surfboard for the same price.
If you don’t choose the right pop-out surfboard maker you could find yourself with a POS, if you plan on buying a cheap surfboard, you can still get one that is well made. New Surf Project aka NSP make inexpensive pop-out boards that are very well made.
You are also limited to whomever the maker has as their stable of shapers. At one point, Surftech and Boardworks had a large number of shapers that you could select from, this has drastically changed. Surftech and Boardworks now only have 4 – 5 shapers that you can select from plus their house boards (boards that are designed in house).
Some surfers, claim that pop-out surfboards do not have the same feeling as handcrafted poly surfboards, they’re too floaty and don’t feel the same on a wave. As a beginner, I truly doubt you’ll notice the difference.
Unlike pop-out surfboards, handcrafted custom surfboards are made to what you want. You can select dimensions, volume, materials used, colors, types of foam, fin slot system, etc. Pop-out surfboards can be great surfboards but they can’t touch custom handcrafted surfboards, but you’ll pay for this custom creation. I’ve paid over $1,200 for a custom handcrafted surfboard, but it was a beauty, surfed like a charm and in my opinion, well worth the price.
At one point in my surfing journey, I used to surf Surftech’s pop-out surfboards exclusively, but once I had a custom surfboard made, I didn’t look back. If you can afford it, custom surfboards are the way to go.
Pop-out surfboards can be cheaply made and of poor quality, in other words a POS, but that is not always the case. If you do your research and buy wisely, you can get a well-made pop-out surfboard that can last for years. Makers such as Surftech, New Surf Project aka NSP, South Point Epoxy and Boardworks are some of the companies you can trust to make quality pop-out surfboards.
If you can’t afford a new surfboard check out my post “How to buy a used surfboard,” for valuable tips on buying a used surfboard.
Thanks for dropping in and should you have any questions or comments, please post it in the comments section of this page.