How is the performance of MF soft boards? Did Mick Fanning produce a quality soft top? We put the 5’10 Little Marley to the test.
–We loved surfing this little superwide foamie. It’s playful yet allows for some performance surfing. The Marley is great to practice turns in small waves.
To sum up: the MF Little Marley is really stiff for a soft top. The bottom turns are incredibly smooth, it really holds rail! I’m still figuring out how to do snaps on this board (I’m 60kg so the volume of the Marley 5’10 is quite a lot for me). For the FoamieCrews guys, however, the volume was perfect. It’s such a cool shape. And the best thing… endless fin setup possibilities!
Specs & Price
As of writing this review, MF has 5 soft top surfboards in it’s range. The Beastie, the DHD Twin, the Black Diamond, the Eugenie and the Little Marley. FoamieCrew has already reviewed two of the others, which you can read by clicking the links. What makes the Marley special is that it’s the widest, shortest board. According to MF Softboards, the Marley is specifically designed to get the most out of small, choppy beach breaks.
The MF Little Marley soft board is currently available in sizes 5’2, 5’6 and 5’10. The shape is ultra wide and the broad diamond tail packs some extra volume. All in all, the Little Marley is quite a little chubby: the 5’10 has a staggering 43 liters of volume! That is as much as some 7ft normal surfboards.
The white bottom sheet has some impressive concave that we haven’t seen in many soft tops before. Also, the rails of the board aren’t round but nice and square towards the bottom sheet.
5’2 x 21 x 2 5/16 (29L)
5’6 x 21 3/4 x 2 1/2 (35L)
5’10 x 22 1/2 x 2 13/16 (43L)
The deck is 6oz + 2 x 4oz E-Cloth + 4mm IXPE Soft Skin. The bottom is 6oz E-Cloth + 4mm Slick Skin HDPE. FCSII: 5 Fin Boxes Ships With FCSII SoftFlex Performer Thruster Set. This sounds pretty technical but what it means is that the board isn’t a foamie, really. It’s a rigid surfboard, packed in a layer of foam. Best of both worlds.
The MF boards aren’t the cheapest soft tops around. They’re for sure pricier than the Olaian and other entry level boards but given that they are really durable I think the price is really fair! From what we’ve seen, an MF is a board you will enjoy for years. You can check current prices here in the MF international shop.
Our experience surfing the MF Little Marley soft board
We were lucky to get our hands on the 5’10, the tallest of the Marleys. Time for a complete review of this soft top!
What we love about this model is that the Marley has five fin boxes. That means that you can ride it thruster, quad and twin! Although I’m still learning to do good turns, it’s exciting to feel how the board responds differently to various fin setups. Maybe that’s why I opted for the Little Marley instead of the DHD twin, the Beastie or the Eugenie: With the 5 fin options it gives me the feeling that this board might ‘grow’ with me. As I get better at surfing I can swap fin setups so that the board follows my progression. Options are always good, aren’t they?
The shape of the Little Marley feels really logical. I always had a thing for short, round boards. This one fits in the car, easily, and is super easy to carry around. The first surf we did on the soft top was in ankle high shorebreak. There were some (desperate) surfers in the lineup, but we were the only ones catching waves. The MF boards have so much volume that you can even catch the smallest of waves.
Although we got the Little Marley as a ‘small wave’ board, it turned out that it was actually more fun to ride it in a bit bigger waves. I think it’s an absolute star in shoulder high, choppy fat waves. In those conditions this soft top will outshine longboards and shortboards alike.
In clean, hip to shoulder high conditions, the board was fun too. The take-off is really easy because of the buoyancy of the board. The wide nose stabilizes the clumsiest of take-offs. And the MF’s are pretty grippy! I did wax the board a bit, but the foam isn’t as slippery as on other soft tops. The grip of the MF’s is above average.
The foamie really holds its rail. I was able to do deep bottom turns and pump down the line for speed. Compared to other (cheaper) soft tops this board is more playful. The MF is easy to turn because of it’s stiffness. When you compare it to the Olaian 6’0… well… the Little Marley definitely wins!
The big advantage of this surfboard is that you can really improve your take-off and your turns. For intermediate surfers a soft top such as the Little Marley is a good option to get into shortboarding. Also for kids… I always wondered why you’d teach 40 kg kids to surf on 8 ft boards. Their ‘feeling’ for surfing and how to make turns and generate speed on a surfboard will be much better on a fat short soft top than a longboard!
Me, as an intermediate surfer, loved the Marley because it helps stabilize my take-off and allows me to go surfing even on the smallest of waves. One of the crew, a guy that surfs above average and is a true short boarder, had fun on the MF Little Marley too. It’s playful but still allows for some performance surfing.
What I liked less about the board is that when the waves improve I feel like the volume is slowing me down. As soon as it get’s around head high (I’m 1.68), I felt myself regretting not choosing the 5’6.
I would not recommend the Little Marley 5’10 for steep, head-high waves. For me (60kg) the 43 liters of volume is just not helpful in steep waves. I would opt for a smaller version or maybe one of the other MF models. The Little Marley is truly a great surfboard for small waves (up to head-high) but especially for choppy waves. Which is a great thing because we don’t get glassy dreamy surf every day. A surfboard such as the Little Marley can extend your surf sessions.
Why a soft top is great on surf trips
There are different kind of soft tops. There’s the cheap, fun mini malibu that you occasionally surf yourself but mostly lend out to your mates. Surfers that are past the beginner stage would never consider having one of those as their only boards. Those soft tops are ‘extra’.
But what Mick Fanning did: he opened up the idea of a ‘new kind’ of soft surfboard. That of a high performance kind. Meaning that: an MF soft board could actually be your one and only surfboard. Even if you become a decently good surfer. And that is, in FoamieCrews eyes, quite an accomplishment.
Here in Europe it’s a common thing: from your office chair you f5 the surf forecast relentlessly. If the swell goes anything above 3 ft you know: it’s worth the shot. You call up your buddies and get them excited for your next road adventure. You arrange a car or a van, you talk your one hipster friend out of his idea to take his longboard and
Surfing and road tripping are inextricably linked. But anyone who has ever been in a car with three other friends, their wetsuit bags, their suitcases, the camping gear and not the least all their extra wetsuits, knows that bringing anything above 8 foot boards is a burden. So you pack up the shortboards. You drive for 10 hours straight to your surf destination. Once arrived at the beach, all excited, you run up the dune to check the waves only to find… no swell. ‘Should have brought the longboard….’
That’s a situation every surfer has been in. And that’s why we’re an advocate for high quality short softboards. You can surf them on small waves and you can still rip when the swell kicks in! No need to bring a clunky 9 footer.
You can find current prices and availability on the international website of MF Softboards.