Note: Strongwater had some issues fulfilling orders in 2019. More information here. As of the spring of 2020, it sounds like many of those issues have been resolved.
I had the opportunity to try out Strongwater’s new Foamie “Runt,” the foam version of their purpose-built river surfing board. As far as I know, this is the first river-surfing-specific foam top board, and it’s made in the US. It retails for $400-425 through Strongwater’s website.
June 2020 Update: pricing is now $325 for the standard finbox, shown, and another $40 for Futures inserts. They’ve also rolled out a 5’6″ Runt.
This isn’t a full review; I was only on the board for a short session at River Run Park. So this is a set of first impressions; nothing more.
Build quality is significantly better than a lot of foam-tops, though I can’t say much about the durability one way or another.
The Foam Runt crams a lot of volume and planing surface into its small size through its distinctive squared-off nose and tail and wide profile. The added volume was certainly noticeable when paddling through the eddies at RRP, though for this particular wave it wasn’t needed, since I was either skating onto the wave or jumping on from the sides in a prone position. It made pop-ups pretty stress free though, once I figured out my positioning.
Once I was on my feet, the large planing surface was immediately apparent – the board wanted to get up on plane and stay there. The added weight compared to an epoxy board was apparent as well – particularly on the nose. I expect it’s because at those flows, Benihana’s is pretty back-footed, with the tail staying relatively stable compared to the nose. Swinging the nose back and forth, I could certainly feel the extra swing weight.
On the whole, I liked the board as a potential quiver-of-one travel board, particularly if you might be concerned about rock hits etc. I think, like the Badfish Sk8 or iSk8, it’s unlikely the Runt Foamie is ever going to be the absolute best-performing board for any particular wave. But it’s a good generalist, with the ability to surf lots of different kinds of waves. It would make a good first river surfing board for someone interested in a better build quality than cheap foamies, and a good road board in the quiver for someone seeking out a variety of waves or exploring new spots.