Well-known for eye-catching graphics and innovative technology, Hala Gear is one of the few standup paddle board companies focused on the inflatables market – most feature hard-shells with a few inflatables thrown into the mix.
Founded in 2011 by Peter Hall, Hala Gear headquarters is based out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The company philosophy is centered on performance, durability and quality – in fact, each of the Hala inflatable boards carries a three-year manufacturer’s warranty.
For 2018, Hala has 20 models for surfing, whitewater, recreation, touring and racing, ranging in size from 6’11” to 14’0″. We awaited our first shipment of Hala inflatable SUPs, which included the Carbon Nass 12′ 6″.
With its sleek lines, vibrant graphics and unique carbon stringer, we opted to try this out first. So, here is our product review on the Carbon Nass inflatable SUP, a 12’6″ by 30″ touring model from Hala Gear.
Hala Carbon Nass 12′ 6″: Getting Started
The box as received weighs 44 lbs, measuring 37 x 22 x 13 inches.
Inside the box is the SUP body, high-pressure dual-action pump, pressure gauge, roller backpack, cinch belt, removable blue race fin, instructions and repair kit with valve wrench and patch material (no glue) – as well as a bonus 12-volt car pump. (AirKayaks note: The 2019 Hala boards do NOT include the bonus 12V pump). Once rolled up, the SUP board and pumps fit into the backpack, as well as optional breakdown paddles under 37 inches.
Weight is 39 lbs for backpack, board and pump, which all easily fit in the back of a small car. The board alone is approximately 30 lbs, while the pump is 2.5 lbs and the backpack nearly 7 lbs.
For your first set up, remove and unroll the SUP body. Lay it out face up so that you can access the military valve.
The Hala Carbon Nass 12’6″ utilizes one spring-loaded military valve for inflation. These are very simple to use and feature an inflate mode (spring plunger is UP) and a deflate mode (spring plunger is DOWN). By using your finger to gently push on the plunger, it can be moved to the inflate mode (air goes in and doesn’t come back out) and deflate mode (air goes in and comes back out). Before you go to all the effort of inflating the board, PLEASE make sure the plunger is in the inflate position.
If using only the dual action pump, you will pump up the board in the UP (inflate mode) position.
If you are near your vehicle, you can start off with the included 12-volt car pump, which uses a slightly different process. Insert the cord into the car power point, and then extend the pump to the board (it has a 6 foot cord), with valve in the DOWN (deflate mode) position. Why do you do that? The pump does not have enough torque to open the valve when running. While the pump does come with a couple of adaptors, they do not couple with the board’s valve, one just needs to hold it over the valve, and turn it on. Immediately the pump will start inflating the board until it fills out (about 1 to 2 PSI ) taking one minute – you can hear a change in the motor. At that point, turn the 12-volt off but QUICKLY turn the plunger into the UP (closed) position so that the air doesn’t come back out. (AirKayaks note: the included instructions are in Chinese, so not that helpful. But, the instructions for both pumps are imprinted on the dual action pump.)
Now we move over to the dual action pump. The Hala boards come with a single action /double action hand pump. One selects the mode by moving the red lever on the pump. Begin with the lever pointing towards the right which is the double action side. This means the air is pushed in on the up and the down stroke. This can become tough to pump as you get up towards the 5 PSI range. With a simple “twist of the knob” towards the left, the pump becomes a single action pump – pushing air in on the down stroke only, making it easier to reach the higher ranges.
Attach the hose to the pump, making sure there is no cross-threading. (AirKayaks note – we did cross-thread the hose and lost some air). Then attach the integrated adaptor on the end of the hose to the board by pushing in and turning. You’re ready to pump!
At this point, we made our first error. There are two sides to the pump – one says IN and the other says OUT – featuring an inflate mode and a deflate mode. Having used many inflatables for years, we attached the hose to the IN side, assuming that was short for “inflate.”
We merrily pumped along before noticing that the board was soft. At that point we started testing the air coming out of the hose, and realized that on this pump, IN meant air was sucked in, and OUT meant air was pumping out. So, we went back to the 12-volt technique to refill the board, and – older and wiser – attached the hose to the OUT side. A much easier way to tell is that the gauge will be upside-down if you have it on the wrong side.
That settled, we did 50 pumps using the double action side until it became somewhat tough – we were at 5 PSI. We switched to the single action mode, and with another 50 pumps were at 8 PSI. An additonal 50 pumps took us to 11 PSI – once again it was getting tough.
We then switched to single-action half-strokes – another 25 took us to 12 PSI.
The higher the pressure, the stiffer the board. Hala’s recommended pressure is 12 to 15 PSI; if you are a smaller person, you can easily get away with the lower-end PSI – no sense in spending more time pumping than one needs to. So, a total of about 175 strokes taking several minutes, along with the one-minute 12-volt prefill.
Those that really want to make it easy, should take a look at the AquaGlide 12-volt HP 2-Stage Turbo, which will fill up to 20 PSI.
Last step, install the tracking fin. The 12′ 6″ Carbon Nass uses a US Fin Box – this is a common, slotted box that allows one to use various fin styles. The Carbon Nass comes with a blue 9-inch, Sarusurf race fin which quickly snaps into position without need for hardware or tools. The fin includes a finger screw to ensure the fin is secure.
Note that one side of the fin has a pin, the other a screw and fin plate. Remove the fin plate and screw. Point the fin towards the tail, and insert the side with stainless steel pin into the rear slot – pushing back.
Attach the screw into the fin plate, and use this to guide the plate into the “forward” slot. Push down on the fin, then screw through the fin hole, into the fin plate, tightening with your fingers – this gives a pretty snug fit. As a precaution, pull up on the fin to make sure it is truly attached.
That’s it! About 10 minutes with an excellent upper arm workout, you’re ready for the water.
Hala Carbon Nass 12’6″ Inflatable SUP: Board Design and Construction
As shape, thickness and construction all make a difference in a board’s performance under varying conditions, we’ll first give a little insight into the thought-process behind Hala boards.
First, the Hala boards – like most inflatable SUPs – are constructed using “dropstitch” technology. The top of the board is held together with the bottom via thousands of “stitches.” These threads are “double stitched” so if one were to break, another holds. This allows the boards to be pumped up to high pressures of 15 PSI.
Hala boards have three general construction types – carbon, core and fusion. Hala’s performance touring boards are constructed with Fusion Technology, a double-layer, machine-laminated process which reduces the amount of glue used, creating a lighter board that is structurally sound. This is beefed-up with the Carbon Technology. The Carbon series – including the Carbon Nass – feature a unique carbon/aramid (kevlar-type) woven stringer, strategically placed and machine compressed at 200,000 lbs to give an extra layer down the central length of the board, both top and bottom. Aramid is a light-yet-durable material well-known for its strength, and is used in bullet-proof vests and body armor. Aramid rolls more easily than carbon, but carbon creates the stiffness. Put the two together and think “rigidity, durability and performance.” Hala flex tests have shown the carbon technology to be up to 3 times more rigid than standard inflatable SUPs.
The weakest link in an inflatable paddle board is the rail (side edge) area – where the top and bottom panels join together. Some iSUPS are constructed with one rail layer – Hala features two layers of taping to ensure minimal chance of air leakage due to punctures.
Besides construction type, the rocker (how straight or curved is the side view from nose to tail) makes a difference in board attributes. Hala has three generic types – glide, progressive and full. The Carbon Nass features the Glide Rocker, depicted by a slight rise in the nose and tail, which increases glide and speed, yet still allows some maneuverability.
Hala Carbon Nass 12-6 Features and Specifications
At first look, the board is actually incredibly simple and streamlined.
There is one military valve for inflation, located a couple inches from the snout on top of the board. This sits next to a molded rubber nose handle.
A bungee deck-lacing system with four metal d-rings begins 25 inches from the nose, measuring 18 to 22 inches wide and 15 inches deep – a perfect spot to attach gear.
The woven carbon/aramid stringer is positioned on both sides of the board, beginning 28 inches from the nose and measuring 11 x 86 inches.
A textured, traction deck pad is 88.5 x 24.5 inches, beginning 5.5 inches back from the bungee deck-lacing.
In the center is a soft, padded handle, positioned 26 inches from the top of the traction pad.
Two more d-rings are located across from the central carrying handle, with another set located farther aft for a total of 4 sets of d-rings. These are positioned 25, 40, 79 and 104 inches from the snout. The two back sets can be used to attach gear, but also can be used to attach an optional kayak seat for “sit-on-top” paddling.
At the top of the traction pad are two cloth loops, 1-inch in diameter, positioned 9.5 inches from the beginning of the deck pad. These can be used to attach gear, but are also strategically placed for use as a foot brace when paddling seated. AirKayaks note: Hala does offer an optional seat, but they do not offer an optional foot brace. This could easily be fashioned with a piece of piping covered with a pool noodle or pipe insulation.
A rear stomp pad with 1 inch rise begins about 5 inches from the bottom of the deck pad. A “foot index” – basically a slightly raised 7 x 3 inch oblong – is located 7 inches before the stomp pad. This allows one to easily move back to the center of the board without having to look.
A rear carry handle with ankle-leash d-ring is located at the tail.
There is one removable, deep-water blue flexi fin measuring 9″ inches, in a US fin box.
As previously mentioned, the board comes with a dual-action, high-pressure pump with gauge, featuring both inflate and deflate modes, as well as a small 12-volt pump. (AirKayaks note: There is an additional o-ring included with the pump. This allows you to use the pump with other board valves which might have slightly different configurations.)
The included “Hala Backcountry Comfort Rolling Backpack” features a 2-way zipper with a neat slanted feature, that allows one to really open the bag enough to get the board back in easily. Integrated roller wheels allow one to pull the bag across harder surfaces such as sidewalks, parking lots and airports.
A nifty velcro panel on the pack back houses padded, adjustable shoulder straps and waist strap; to use as a backpack, simply pull off the panel to easily pop out the straps, then velcro back into position. When traveling, the straps can quickly be hidden behind the panel so as not to “snag” on other objects. There is one interior zippering clear pocket measuring 14 x 9 inches, perfect for stashing the fin. Inside, an integrated cinch strap system allows one to strap the board into position, while five outer compression straps allow one to tighten up the load. One upper and one side handle allow one to carry the bag in alternate positions. The bag weighs nearly 7 lbs with approximate measurements of 37 x 18 x 11.
We did measurements. The board length came in at roughly 12.5 feet, and just over 30 inches in width, and 6 inches deep – pretty much on target with the advertised specs. Carrying capacity is estimated at 350 lbs.
Hala Carbon Nass 12′ 6″ on the water.
We took out the Hala Carbon Nass for a short time on both calm water and some chop.
First off, the board felt a bit more stable than I expected (nice). On calm water, the Carbon Nass handles like a dream – very smooth glide, good tracking. The board was also fairly maneuverable. In chop, the board also handled well.
I headed back in to try a kayak seat. While not the seat sold by Hala (I had an AquaGlide Core seat) just about anything with good support will do. The seat straps can quickly clip to the two sets of rear d-rings. In sit-on-top mode, the Hala Nass handles just beautifully – smooth and fast with great turning capabilities.
As whitewater, waves and rivers are not an option here, I spoke with Jake Castle at Hala about his experiences with the board. First of all, this is Jake’s favorite touring board. Why? Having taken it on lakes and rivers, he feels the Nass 12’6″ offers a really good balance between stability and speed, that much more versatile and maneuverable than other touring boards such as the Nass T.
While I did not bring out my furry paddling buddy, Cleo, I would have no hesitations in bringing out a canine companion; doggy claws are no match for the board’s rugged construction, and the slightly wider silhouette is more forgiving to “sudden movements” when spying some fish.
Hala Carbon Nass 12′ 6″ Inflatable SUP: Packing it Up
Packing the board up is easy. Remove the tracking fin. (Make sure to screw the fin/plate back onto the fin so it doesn’t get lost. Then simply open the valve and much of the air will swoosh out.
The instructions suggest wrapping the board around the pump, but they also say you may need to pump any remaining air out. We opted to leave the pump out “just in case.” With the board face side-up and the valve still open, fold up the end of the board to the US fin box, then tuck the tail under. Once started, simply keep folding tightly, kneeling on the package to keep pressing out excess air.
At the end, loosely replace the valve cap to protect the valve. If you’ve rolled tightly, you can easily cinch the roll together and put into the pack, along with the pump.
Bottom line on the Hala Carbon Nass 12’6″ Inflatable SUP
The Carbon Nass 12′ 6″ is a great, all-around performance board – a recreational athlete that excels at coastline touring, lake crossings, downriver paddles or island-hopping expeditions.
The Glide rocker – with a slight nose lift, flat center and minimal tail rise – optimizes speed, glide and traction.
The wider 30-inch bullet-shaped silhouette provides greater stability than many racing boards without sacrificing performance, though beginners might feel more comfortable on the wider Carbon Hoss.
Toss in the central carbon stringers, and you have rigidity and stiffness while still maintaining portability – and without adding unduly to weight.
Not limited to day trips, the Hala Carbon Nass has numerous features designed towards excursions. A front bungee deck lacing system and eight centralized rigging points can be used to stow gear, creating a speedy touring model for day trips or overnighters.
When the wind kicks up, or you need a break, by adding an optional kayak seat and paddle, the Carbon Nass makes a great sit-on-top vessel – zippy with great tracking – extending the usability.
And the included Backcountry Comfort roller bag easily fits in the trunk of a small car, yet quickly converts to a backpack, making it a great option for RVing, back-country treks or remote vacations.
MSRP is $1499. For more information or to purchase, visit the Hala Nass 12′ 6″ inflatable SUP product page at AirKayaks.com. Or give us a call at 707-998-0135. Stay tuned – we’ll have the Carbon Nass 12″6″ video out in a few weeks.