- Super sturdy
- Surprisingly nimble
- Highly versatile
- Convenient rolling backpack
- Paddle not included
The Hala Carbon Straight Up is a high performing all-around board. Whether you plan to cruise the river, chill on the lake, or surf white water, this board does it all and does it well. It is truly exceptional in that it combines excellent stability with top-notch maneuverability. A carbon stringer runs the length of the board's top and bottom panels, making it one of the most stable models tested. It also features a progressive nose rocker and rear stomp pad that make it quick and easy to turn. It glides well, and its rolling backpack makes transport a breeze. It even features built-in D-rings and on-deck bungees. These come in handy when lashing on gear. It also comes with both a hand pump and a 12V electric car pump.
The Straight Up is a fantastic board, but is also the most expensive model we tested, and you have to purchase a paddle separately. For that price though, you get high quality and unmatched performance that will satisfy paddlers of all levels. If you are or hope to become a serious paddler, the Hala Carbon Straight Up is worth the investment and will last through years of adventure.
Quality materials, high-performance, and a sleek profile earned the Red Paddle Co Explorer Plus a high score, landing it near the top of the pack. While the Hala Carbon Straight Up is the best all-around option, the Red Paddle Co Explorer Plus is a little more specialized for advanced users looking for a fast glide. It scored the highest for glide performance, making it a perfect option for glassy days when you want to cover some distance. With an FCS Connect fin and an RSS stiffening system, the Red Paddle Co Explorer Plus is a top of the line board. The icing on the cake is the included universally compatible pump. It was by far the best in our review.
Because of this model's sleeker profile, beginner paddlers often feel less stable on it. This isn't an optimal entry-level board, nor the best option for rocky zones or narrow passages. It also costs quite a lot. You probably don't want to spend that much without knowing that you're going to put it to good use. Finally, it doesn't come with a paddle, which is a shame considering how much you are spending on it. Though anyone purchasing such a high-end, high-performance inflatable probably wants a higher end SUP paddle as well.
Article published by Outdoor Gear Lab.