This past month we received our first shipment of the Airis Arrows – the first two in a series of inflatable touring standup paddle boards (SUPs) which have just been launched by Walker Bay. The Airis Arrow 12-6 and Arrow 11 are incredibly lightweight (at 24 and 23 lbs respectively) and feature a proprietary integrated fiberglass skid design. For this review, we focused on the Arrow 12-6 model.
The box as received weighs 33 lbs, measuring 28 x 20 x14 inches.
Inside is the standard Airis backpack, a very nifty duffel bag with adjustable shoulder straps, drawstring top and side pocket. Also included in the box is a repair kit, hand-pump, gauge and instructions. The Arrow SUP can be rolled up to easily fit inside the backpack along with a breakdown SUP paddle (not included). The pump can be strapped to the outside of the pack, while the repair kit can slip into the zippering pocket. Folded measurements are 26 x 10 x 19 inches.
Setup for the Airis Arrow is remarkably simple as there is basically one piece. First step – unpack and unfold the board.
The Airis Arrow features one main inflation chamber utilizing a military valve – this is located on the side rail towards the stern. The military-style plunger valve is simple to use – with your finger, twist the plunger slightly to the “up” position to inflate (air goes in but doesn’t come back out) and “down” to deflate (air comes out).
Put the pressure gauge on the included double action pump, locking it in between the pump itself and the hose. (Please note: there is an inflate and a deflate side to the pump/hose attachment.) The pump comes with a military valve adaptor which locks onto the valve with a slight twist.
All the new Airis kayaks and SUPS come with an updated pump, which we term a “dual action” pump – a single action/double action hand pump. This is defaulted to the “double action” which means the air is pushed in on the up and the down stroke. When obtaining higher pressures (towards the 3 and 4 PSI range) it becomes increasingly tougher to pump. With a simple “twist of the knob” the pump becomes a single action pump – pushing air in on the down stroke only, making it easier to reach the higher ranges.
Continue pumping until you reach the full pressure of 7PSI. Screw on the wingnut cap to protect the valve, and prevent air from accidentally escaping.
Deflation is just as easy. Simply open up the valve and roll up the board, pushing out the air. You can also use the deflate side of the hand pump to completely pump out the air. Replace the wing-nut cap to protect the valve when not in use.
Features and Specifications
The Airis Arrow is constructed with two slim-profile carrying handles (bow, and center).making it easier to roll up for storage.
A bungee deck lacing system – measuring 17 inches wide by 15 inches deep, tapering to 11 inches wide – allows one to carry gear, while one rear d-ring can be used to attach an ankle leash.
The hull has an integrated deep tracking fin, 11 inches x 5 inches.
The board body construction features a proprietary Airweb construction – this consists of a heavy duty, seven-layer polymer coated fabric that is joined inside by thousands of drop-stitch fibers, allowing the Arrow to be pumped up to much higher pressures than standard inflatables.
While many inflatable SUPs tout 10 to 15 – even 25PSI, due to the thicker body (6 inches deep) the Arrow is more rigid at lower pressures, making it easier to pump up. The suggested pressure is 7 PSI, though it can be pumped up to 15 PSI if desired – and if you’re strong enough!
Besides the thickness, the unique feature on the Arrow inflatable SUP are two proprietary fiberglass base plates – these are attached to the body, creating a solid standing platform which feels “stiff on the feet” like a rigid SUP, but still allows the Arrow to deflate and roll for convenient storage. The base plates also help new paddlers to correctly orient themselves on the board.
Behind the two “RigiDeck Non-Skid Fiberglass Base” are two “rear grip” traction pads, offering flexibility in stance.
We did measurement tests. The Airis 12-6 paddle board inflated is 12 feet, 4.5 inches long (148.5 inches), approximately 31 inches at the widest point, and is 6 inches thick. The bungee deck lacing is located at 39 to 59 inches from the bow, while the fiberglass plates are positioned at 70 to 91 inches back. The board alone weighed in at 22.5 lbs, and 28 lbs with backpack and pump.
Weight limitation is 275 lbs for person and gear.
On the Water
I tested out the Arrow 12-6 over a few different days.
First, it was very easy to stand up, and felt pretty stable for my size (5’4″). Despite being a long board, it moved pretty quickly. I clocked myself on calm water – average travel speed was 2.9 mph with a burst speed of 3.8 mph.
Next I went out with my paddling buddy Eddie. He wasn’t as impressed with the Arrow as with the Airis Sport or Airis Play (likes those rail guards) but it went pretty smoothly until he decided to try standup paddling also. Which brings me to my next point – if a power boat or large waves come at it, you can drop pretty quickly and move into paddle-kneeling.
The third time, the water was somewhat rough with swells, and standup paddling was a struggle for my size. Without enough volume to hold the board into the water, I had to switch to kneeling-mode to get back to shore. So, I wouldn’t recommend this for rough weather or swells.
Which brings me to my last point – this is a GREAT sit-on-top. It tracks well, paddles smoothly – and it’s fast. I tried paddling in the kneel down position with a kayak paddle and clocked myself at 3.5 mph average speed, with a burst speed of 4.7mph. Judicious placement of a few d-rings, enabling one to attach a seat or two, would be a great addition.
The Arrow 12-6 is long enough for two people – possibly even an adult and two small kids.
The Airis Arrow is a fun board – perfect for many members of the family.
At 22.5 lbs it’s incredibly light – yet roomy enough for two people to paddle. It’s long enough for larger members of the family and versatile enough for a couple of paddlers with varying paddle styles.
Set up is very simple and takes less than 10 minutes, but for those wanting to speed up the process, investing in a 12-volt pump to kick-start the inflation process would be worthwhile. The included double/single-action pump is a great touch, making it much easier to reach the recommended 7 PSI.
The bungee deck lacing adds just enough flexibility for added storage and accessories without making it too complicated, though the addition of a few more d-rings would allow it to be used as a tandem or solo sit-on-top – though actually, it’s just as easy to hang out on the water without that.
Best uses are on calm waters and slow moving rivers – this is more of a touring board. And if it gets too hot out in the sun, it’s easy to slide into the water and climb back on board.
The included backpack is rugged and roomy, opening up the possibility of a trek into remote areas. It can also be stashed in the trunk of a car or checked as baggage for your next plane flight – it’s a great choice for travel.
To purchase, or for more details and specifications on the Airis line of kayaks, visit the website at www.AirKayaks.com
You can also watch our YouTube Video on the Airis Arrow inflatable SUPS:
Stay tuned. Coming soon – a review of the new Airis Play Tandem Inflatable Kayak for one or two paddlers!