7/29/19 UPDATE/WARNING: It sounds like Strongwater is having some issues fulfilling orders, at least for the fiberglass Runt. More information here. I’d be wary about paying for boards in advance until these issues are addressed. On to the mini-review…
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.
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.