Historically, surfing has been deeply rooted in Hawaii. The Hawaiian word, He’enalu, breaks down to “He’e” meaning to change from a solid to a liquid form and “nalu” meaning a wave motion. Hence the translation of wave riding and eventually surfing. The first recorded history of surfing was in 1769 but what about stand up paddling?
Historians believe that since Hawaiian watermen and women were so skilled with a paddle, the history of SUP could be dated back to the beginning of surfing. However, documentation of the SUP culture has only been present in the early 19th century. Since then, SUP has only become more and more mainstream as we get farther into the 20th century. This was when I got my first chance to SUP.
Now almost 15 years later, I SUP every chance I get! Living in Kailua, Hawaii is any waterman’s (or woman’s) dream. Ocean conditions vary on a daily basis, putting my SUPing skills to the test. My favorite days are when you get to ride big clean waves. Heading out to catch a huge wave with friends is the best feeling. However, flat conditions are excellent for exploring the reef with a snorkel set. And the best days to hone your skills are always the windblown and choppy days.
Just like many outdoor lovers, I am an equipment geek and generally hoard whatever outdoor toys I can find. While I traditionally have ridden hardboard SUPs, a few years back a very long-time friend of mine Nadia Almuti let me try her inflatable on a multi-day trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. It was my very first SUP experience on a river. I loved it! It felt so natural to pull into eddies just to peel back out and try for another surf. A few months later I was back on the river with Nadia and the crew. I got to spend even more time on an inflatable SUP and ended up bringing a Hala Nass back to Hawaii!
As someone who travels on a plane frequently, I love that Hala Gear easily rolls into its travel bag. There is even space for other paddling gear. The backpack straps made it easy to lug around with other luggage and the rollers glided too well throughout the airport. It even fit within my baggage allowance. Huge win!
The Nass has since been my most versatile and used board. It’s perfect to take to secret snorkeling spots where you can lash your snorkel, sunscreen, and dry bag to. It handles chop well and much to my surprise, it feels like a rigid board when fully inflated. The Nass kills it in the ocean as an all-around user-friendly board and the ability to pack it up and check it on the plane has opened up many new paddling locations that I would have never been able to take a rigid board to. Finally, Hawaii is hard on everything from electronics, to cars to glues. Even with frequent use/sometimes abuse, the board is showing no signs of wear and tear. For the ocean lovers or ocean livers, this is hands-down your most versatile board in your quiver.
Steve Haumschild is a team rider for Hala Gear.