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Stand-Up Paddleboards are my favorite way of experiencing a bit of physical activity, but still kicking back to enjoy a sun-soaked afternoon on the water. The bevvy of options on the market can make it overwhelming to weigh the pros and cons of each type. Durability, flexibility, ease of transport/convenience…I wanted to see just how the different types of boards stacked up. The girls and I scheduled a summer of SUP mini-adventures that kicked off with an ‘intense’ weekend of testing.
We grabbed a classic Hobie Duraglide foam core to use as our benchmark. The Hobie is big, super stable, and has a single and continuous surface across the top making it an incredibly versatile board. That surface had a nobby texture that was a little rougher on the feet than the smooth, yoga-focused boards, but it does aid in traction when waves get rough. The top and side surfaces are incredibly durable so you don’t have to worry about dinging it up. Overall, a great quality, solid board that I would be happy to take out on any water.
The other type of board that really intrigues me is the inflatable. It has been growing in popularity, and brings a whole new level of portability and accessibility into the market. We grabbed the female focused NRS Mayra Inflatable. And since there are three of us we also threw in a complete wildcard with the three-piece Point 65N Rum Runner.
11’6” long, 32” wide, 57 lbs, 265 lb capacity
Let’s start with big orange. The Rum Runner seems like they took a recreational kayak, flattened it from top to bottom, and cut it into three pieces. Basically, molded plastic and modular design in a stand-up paddleboard. Ultra-durable in a portable package; I don’t think I could damage this if I wanted to. Constructed you need two people to lug it around, but there are handles on the ends that make it manageable. Deconstructed the pieces are bulky and a little awkward, but you can Tetris them into a car if you are creative. However, probably not a compact and don’t expect room for much else.
The connection system of ratchets seems secure, though the board did flex at the seams with increased weight, literally folding if two people tried to ride. It has a gear hatch (not airtight) and no joke, cupholders for your Mai Tais! It feels heavy, but very stable underfoot. The back fin retracts so those of us that like to charge ahead without looking below don’t have to deal with a damaged fin. There is a gutter that runs from the gear hatch to the bottom that fills up with water. That only gets in the way if you would like to sit, lay, or yoga on the board. For sitting and lounging I found the on-board life jacket to be a great cushion against those edges.
I see this board shining if you follow the namesake: fill the hatch up with ice, mixers, and rum; and melt into your summer. OR if you need something that can take the kind of beating only grandkids and frat boys can dish out.
10’6” long, 32” wide, 24 lbs, 220 lb capacity
I really like the stability that the traditional hard boards offer, and was curious to see how the inflatable would compare. I was surprised by how sturdy and solid the board feels once fully inflated, and it is light and easy to maneuver in and out of the water.
While there is some squishy-ness and a bit of flex, it isn’t a deal breaker. On calm water it can compete with it’s solid brother, but the choppier it gets the more you can feel the difference and sometimes you get wet. My favorite part is the incredibly convenient backpack-style carrying bag, and a high-pressure pump for easy inflating. This would fit into any car, and you could even hike it around for a bit. The Mayra took me a whopping six minutes to fill up! The fins are customizable for the type of water you are on, and slide in and out of the board with ease.
The deflated size and convenience of the inflatable makes SUP ownership realistic to those of us who don’t have a personal lake, truck, or roof rack handy. If portability isn’t an issue and/or you are likely to encounter some rough water I would recommend looking into a solid board. However, I can throw this into my trunk for the summer and it’s handy for an impromptu SUP adventure anytime, which means I will get a lot more use out of it.
Reviewed by Denita, Emily, and Jessica
Photos by Dan Rhodes
Note: We get to keep most of the gear that we test out. While this is a perk, we try hard to give everything an unbiased review no matter what.
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