Soft top skateboards are rare, so much so that if you search for “soft top skateboard”, most of the results are from skate shops selling the Enjoi Panda Soft Top, a specific type of skateboard that happens to have a soft top.
It’s not the only board out there that features a soft top, but it’s one of the best options.
But why do soft top skateboards exist, what possible benefits could they provide, and should you purchase one?
Let’s take a look.
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What is a Soft Top Skateboard?
As the name suggests, a soft top skateboard is simply a skateboard that has a “soft” or rather a “softer” top.
Skateboards typically have a very rough sandpaper-like finish provided by the grip tape. This ensures that your feet stay on the skateboard and makes it easier to perform an array of tricks, but it’s not very skin-friendly and can damage fingers and clothes when carrying the skateboard around.
It also means that you can’t ride the skateboard without shoes. Why would you want to? Well, you probably wouldn’t…unless you were 3-years-old.
Therein lies the real secret of soft top skateboards, as they are designed for children and not adults.
Softer tops are perfect for children learning how to skate. Not only can they ride them with bare feet or socks, but they can also sit on the skateboards and drag themselves around. More importantly, there’s little risk of grazes and cuts (and the resulting waterworks) from the usual hard and grippy surface.
How Do Soft Top Skateboards Differ?
Soft top skateboards are still made out of high-quality materials and they feature similar trucks, wheels, bearings, and other fixtures. The difference is that they don’t use an abrasive finish and so the top of the skateboard is much softer and more child-friendly.
The Enjoi White Panda Soft Top Complete Skateboard (available from Amazon), for instance, features a 7-ply Canadian Maple deck, but the finish is rubberized.
Enjoi White Panda Soft Top Reviews
If you read reviews for this skateboard, you’ll see that it’s mostly being used for young riders only just getting to grips with the sport:
“Great for my 3 year old to get comfy with a skateboard”
“l’m really pleased with this skateboard that was purchased as a gift for my grandson. I was concerned that it might be too big for him as a 5-year old, but it’s perfect.”
” A little tougher than your standard skateboard but somehow still lightweight. My 3yo loves it and rides around on his butt.”
“I got this set up for my daughter. It’s great for little kids.”
“The soft top is perfect for me 3 year old. He can kneel or sit on the skateboard and also carry it without the grip tape ripping up his lil fingers.”
“Bought for my 4 year old twins and they love them.”
What to Look for in a Soft Top Surfboard
If you’re in the market for a new soft top skateboard, whether it’s the Enjoi Panda Soft Top or one of the others out there, it probably means you’re buying for a young learner.
If so, you should make sure the skateboard is actually suitable for them. Many parents choose to buy standard skateboards for their kids when they hit 7 or 8 and only opt for soft tops when they are 3 to 5.
A soft top is great for protecting their feet and fingers, but it won’t provide the same level of performance and they may struggle with the basics. It’s okay for a 3-year-old getting used to sitting or riding, but less so for an 8-year-old trying to learn their first few tricks.
Other things to consider include:
Is it a Complete Skateboard?
When buying a skateboard online, be sure to check that it’s actually a complete skateboard.
Some listings only sell decks, as skateboarders often buy these to build their own boards or replace a broken deck. If you’re looking for a skateboard that’s ready to go and don’t have experience building or maintaining boards, only a complete skateboard will do.
What Are the Other Parts?
What makes a skateboard the soft top? Is it all rubber and plastic or does it use quality wood and just have a soft finish? The latter is by far the best option but if you opt for the former, you could be getting something cheaply and poorly made.
The other parts are also important, including the wheels, trucks, and bearings. You want something that is well built and uses high-quality materials, as opposed to something that’s just built with the cheapest possible materials.
Unfortunately, when it comes to products sold for absolute beginners, many manufacturers cut corners, knowing that most customers won’t know the difference. When those products are aimed at kids, they may cut even more corners.
Is it the Right Size?
The Enjoi Whitey Panda is arguably the most popular soft top skateboard and comes in at around 6 3/4 inches wide and 28 inches long. It’s classed as a mini skateboard, but it’s only a few inches shorter than a traditional skateboard and about 1 inch narrower.
It’s a great first skateboard because it’s not too different from standard skateboards and can grow with them.
If you’re in the market for a soft top, look for something similar and avoid anything that is standard size (about 7.5 to 8 inches wide and 28 to 32 inches long) or much smaller.
Can It Be Replaced?
The Enjoi White Soft Top has a grippy cushion top that can be replaced. It means you can advance to standard rough grip tape when your child is ready for an upgrade.
This should be true for most soft tops, but not necessarily all of them, so make sure you’re getting something that can be upgraded.
What Are the Best Soft Top Skateboards?
The aforementioned Enjoi Panda is probably the most popular soft top complete skateboard on the market. It’s also one of the best. But there are others out there, including the Blind Looney Mouse Youth.
The design may appeal to more children than the Enjoi White Panda and it’s specifically designed for very young riders.
The Blind Loony Mouse Youth is not currently listed on Amazon, but it’s sold by Skate America.
The Blind Nine Lives First Push Soft Top is another great first skateboard. It includes a fun design, soft top, and an array of features designed for a small child.