South Bay Board Co. 10’4” Big Cruiser Soft Top SUP Review
While Soft Top Paddle Boards and Surfboards were at one point in time, considered to be the poor cousins to more traditional epoxy boards, that’s certainly not the case these days. With advances in materials and board technologies, there are now a number of quality manufacturers that include soft tops amongst their range.
The South Bay Board Co. 10’4” Big Cruiser Soft Top is a great example of a board that takes on the build quality of a high-end epoxy SUP with the added benefits that a soft top board has to offer.
Below, we delve a little deeper.
Length: 10’4” (315 cm)
Width: 32″ (81 cm)
Thickness/Depth: 5” (12.7 cm)
Construction: EPS Foam / Epoxy / Bamboo
Volume: 195 litres
Weight: 30 lbs (13.6 kgs)
User Weight: 350 lbs (159 kgs)
Paddle: 2-Piece Aluminum SUP Paddle
Fin: 2+1 – 9″ Centre with Future Side Fins
Leash: Dual Swivel 11′ Coiled Ankle
Why Paddle Board
As a recreational activity, paddle boarding offers some tremendous health and fitness benefits ranging from a full body workout engaging many of the core muscles albeit in a low impact way through to improved balance, improvements in endurance and stamina, injury rehabilitation, weight loss and improving our cardiovascular health. Its an exciting way to unwind and decompress whilst at the same time engaging with nature. As one of the fastest growing water sports globally, if you have access to water then its definitely worth giving it a go.
About South Bay Board Co.
Located in the South Bay of Los Angeles, California, South Bay Board Co. is a family owned and operated board, beach brands and accessories company.
SBBC origins initially focused on custom beginner surfboards and inflatable paddle boards and until this day pride themselves on materials quality, custom design and the delivery of unrivaled unique high-value products. With products that are influenced by nature and the ocean as well as a strong community following, South Bay Board Co. have grown into one of the premier surfboard, SUP and beach brands in the world.
Operating out of 2 large separate warehouse locations – HQ in Los Angeles, CA to service the West Coast and Greensboro, NC to service the East Coast, their boards and beach products are sold in most major global online marketplaces including USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, UAE, Brazil, and other.
At a Glance
☑️ Durable epoxy / bamboo construction
☑️ Tri-fin set-up for greater versatility
☑️ Pre-installed kayak seat hooks
☑️ Forward and rear bungee cargo areas
☑️ Rubber bumper for safer vertical storage
☑️ Significant rider weight capacity
☑️ Custom wax-free textured deck padding
☑️ EZ carry retractable centre SUP handle
☑️ Squared rails for greater stability
☑️ Includes paddle, leash & paddle bag
☑️ Available in 3 colour schemes
▪️Included paddle is entry-level only (aluminium)
Along the lines of a classic epoxy all round SUP with the added soft top touch, the Big Cruiser has enough meat and size about it to create a highly stable paddling platform whilst at the same time being light and friendly for both beginners and experienced paddlers alike.
Construction – staying true to form in terms of durability and build quality, the 10’4” Big Cruiser is constructed with a centre fibreglass rod stringer as well as 2 wooden bean stringers that run along the entirety of its core. The stringers are encased by EPS closed cell foam to form a robust inner board core.
The foam core is then wrapped in a top and bottom deck layer of bamboo for greater durability and rigidity as well as reducing the risk of heat damage. Enveloping the bamboo sheets is a layer of 6 oz epoxy resin laminate which is then followed by South Bays custom fingerprint textured wax-free EVA foam deck for enhanced traction and rider comfort.
The underside of the board has a layer of high density polyethylene (HDPE) which is a durable plastic layer for greater impact residence to help reduce dings, chips and impact damage.
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External Board Features
As a soft-top SUP, the Big Cruiser is an aesthetically clean board with a minimalistic feel, featuring the core essentials that you would expect to find on a non-inflatable paddle board.
◽️Deck Padding – covering the entire deck is South Bay’s custom wax-free ‘Fingerprint’ textured EVA foam traction padding. Comfortable to help reduce paddling fatigue over longer distances as well as aiding board stability and overall traction and grip.
◽️Bungee Area – the 4-point forward and rear bungee cargo areas provide ample storage space for you to store your dry bag, water bottle, towel or other accessories.
◽️Heat Release Valve – one of the key features that you should look for if you’re buying a soft-top board. The patented heat release mechanism allows heat to be released from the boards core to prevent damage and moisture build up.
◽️Lift SUP Handle – another piece of patented South Bay kit, the Lift SUP Handle is integrated within the board to create a cleaner paddling surface. This single centre handle is highly durable allowing for a single paddler to comfortably carry the board as well as acting as an anchor point for storage or transporting on a vehicle (roof racks).
◽️Kayak Seat Hooks – these are pre-installed to the centre / rear of the board allowing you to easily attach a portable kayak seat if desired. South Bay have their own kayak conversion kit although the majority of other manufacturers or after market seats will also fit.
◽️Rubber Bumper – South Bay include the rubber bumper on a number of their boards which is a nice practical feature that helps protect the tail when vertically stored. It’s also beneficial in the water or when transporting in terms of knocks and general wear and tear.
◽️Fins – the board has a standard SUP tri-fin configuration which includes a 9” slot single centre fin with fin plate and screw as well as 2 detachable Future side fins + fin key.
Performance / Suitability
The South Bay Board Big Cruiser is one of the best beginner friendly and versatile non-inflatable paddle boards on the market today. It offers an incredibly well-balanced ride and has been priced to cater for an audience that does not want to sacrifice qualify ahead of affordability.
▪️Stability – this is one of the key attributes of this board and as the name implies, it certainly delivers. The Big Cruiser’s unique design has equal board width through the majority of its length which culminates into a rounded nose for greater forward board stability. It also has squared off rails and can support riders up to 350 lbs meaning that larger adults, or a typical sized adult with the kids or dog will not be challenged at all when it comes to buoyancy and balance.
▪️Tracking / Glide – the slick bottom deck with rounded nose helps promote a cleaner ride and greater glide while the adjustable fin set-up enhances tracking and directional paddling once you settle into your stroke.
▪️Speed – the Big Cruiser has been designed as an all-rounder, although it isn’t clumsy when it comes to building up speed. To help support greater paddling efficiency, the double concave bottom deck helps disperse the water evenly while paddling in good conditions which is again supported by a slight front rocker (upward turned nose) to reduce drag and prevent the nose of the board catching water.
▪️Manoeuvrability – again the concave bottom deck comes into play here as the water more efficiently passes through to the two side fins for increased responsiveness. The squared off squashed tail is also more effective when it comes to transferring your weight onto your back foot creating a looser feel and greater stability when performing step back turns or more acute manoeuvres.
The Big Cruiser comes with a quality accessories package getting you out on the water at no additional expense.
✔️ Paddle – the included paddle is entry-level only but will certainly do the job. The paddle which can be adjusted to suit paddlers of all heights, comes as two pieces with an aluminium shaft and durable nylon blade. For those looking to paddle on a more regular basis, we recommend upgrading to a carbon hybrid or full carbon fibre paddle if you can afford the additional expense. The greater efficiency and paddling output will be quite noticeable particularly when paddling over longer distances.
✔️ Leash – beyond your Personal Flotation Device (PFD), your paddle board leash is the most important safety item and should be worn at all times. The included 11’ leash connects to your ankle (or calf) via a multi-layered neoprene cuff for extra support and comfort. The cord is coiled to help reduce drag in the water as well as having swivels at either end to stop it from tangling.
✔️ Paddle Bag – to store your paddle and other small accessories if desired.
|<< Why not check out South Bay’s Hippocamp 11’6” iSUP whilst you’re here >>|
We hope the above review was beneficial and as always would welcome your feedback. Feel free to start a conversation and leave a comment below.
Until then, stay safe and get wet.