Inflatable Kayaks, SUPS & Canoes Reviews

Product Review: Rival Nass 12’0″ Inflatable Paddle Board from Hala Gear

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.

Hala Gear Rival Nass

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.

Our first review centered on the Carbon Nass with Hala’s unique carbon stringer. Based on that, we opted to test out the economy version Rival Nass package, which features the roller pack, dual-action pump and a breakdown paddle – part of Hala’s “Straight to the Water” package series.

So, here is our product review on the Rival Nass inflatable SUP, a 12’0 by 32″ x 6″ recreational and touring model from Hala Gear.

Hala Rival Nass 12’0″: Getting Started

The box as received weighs 42 lbs, measuring 39 x 22 x 12 inches.

Hala Gear Rival Nass - What's in the box.

Inside the box is the SUP body, high-pressure dual-action pump, pressure gauge, roller backpack, cinch belt, removable blue race fin, breakdown paddle, instructions and repair kit with valve wrench, fin plate 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 the paddle.

Weight is 35.5 lbs for backpack, board, paddle and pump, which all easily fit in the back of a small car. The board alone is 23 lbs, while the pump is 2.5 lbs, the paddle is 2.35 lbs and the backpack 5.4 lbs.

Unfolding the Hala Gear Rival Nass

For your first set up, remove and unroll the SUP body. Lay it out face up so that you can access the military valve.

Opening and closing the valve

The Hala Rival Nass 12’0″ 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.

Filling the Rival Nass with the included 12-volt pump

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 about 1.5 minutes – 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 not totally helpful. But, the instructions for both pumps are imprinted on the dual action pump as well as in the Hala SUP Manual.)

Dual action hand 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.

Attaching the hose to the board

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). One side of the pump says IN and the other says OUT – for inflation, attach the hose to the OUT side. Then attach the integrated adaptor on the end of the hose to the board by pushing in and turning. You’re ready to pump!

Pumping up the Hala Gear Rival Nass

We started pumping in double-action mode – at 45 pumps it reached 5 PSI. We then continued another 20 pumps to 7 PSI – at this point it became tough. We switched to the single action mode, and with another 50 pumps were at 10 PSI. Once again, it started getting tough. We switched to single-action half-strokes – another 25 took us to 12 PSI.

Pumping up the Hala Gear Rival Nass

The higher the pressure, the stiffer the board. Hala’s recommended pressure is 15 PSI; if you are a smaller person, you can easily get away with lower pressure such as 12 PSI – no sense in spending more time pumping than one needs to. So, a total of about 150 strokes taking several minutes, along with the 1.5 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 12’0″ Rival Nass uses a US Fin Box – this is a common, slotted box that allows one to use various fin styles. The Rival Nass comes with a blue 9-inch, Sarusurf race fin which quickly snaps into position without need for hardware or tools. The fin uses a finger screw to ensure the fin is secure.

Here was our first issue – the instructions said the thumb screw/plate was on the fin, but it wasn’t. We finally located it in the repair kit.

Attaching the fin to the Hala Gear Rival Nass

Note that one side of the fin has a pin, the other a hole for the screw and fin plate. Point the fin towards the tail, and insert the side with stainless steel pin into the center slot – pushing back.

Attaching the fin to the Hala Gear Rival Nass

Drop the fin plate into the center slot and move forward. This is easy to do if you minimally 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.

Three-piece breakdown paddle

Last step, assemble your paddle. The Rival Nass comes with an aluminum, adjustable, 3-piece breakdown paddle. While there are no instructions, here is the assembly. Take the center shaft with pushpins, and insert into the blade section. You may need to push the interior foam further down into the blade shaft. Do NOT remove the foam – this creates an air barrier that will allow it to float for a short time.

Assembling the paddle

The handle with grip and center shaft are ovaled, making it easier to position in two ways – but only one is right. Open the clamp on the center shaft, and insert the handle end, making sure the numbers printed on the shaft are pointing towards the side of the clamp with screws – this will ensure the handle grip and paddle are both pointed in the right direction. While the paddle can be adjusted from 68 to 89 inches, adjust the paddle roughly 8 inches longer than your height – this may need to be adjusted later, but it’s a good start.

Picking up the Hala Gear Rival Nass

That’s it! About 10 minutes with an excellent upper arm workout, you’re ready for the water.

Hala Rival Nass 12’0″ 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.

Eye-catching graphics on the drop stitch material

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 Rival series 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.

Side d-rings

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 Rival Nass features the Glide Rocker (depicted by a slight rise in the nose and tail, shown above on the Hala Carbon Nass) which increases glide and speed, yet still allows some maneuverability.

Hala Rival Nass 12’0″ Features and Specifications

At first look, the board is actually incredibly simple and streamlined.

Front carrying handle and military valve

There is one military valve for inflation, located a couple inches from the snout on top of the board. This sits next to a 6.5 inch woven handle.

Bungee deck lacing

A bungee deck-lacing system with four woven, cloth d-rings begins 46 inches from the nose, measuring 14 inches wide and 16 inches deep – a perfect spot to attach gear.

Crocodile deck pad

A textured, traction deck pad is 92 x 24.5 inches, the main portion beginning 43 inches from the nose.

Center carrying handle

In the center is a soft, padded 7 inch handle, positioned 72 inches from the nose. A stretchy, removable, padded handle cover makes carrying the board more comfortable, but it can also be removed to expose the low profile woven handle. Additionally, one can shove the paddle blade under the bungee deck lacing, then wrap the handle cover around the handle and paddle shaft, providing a simple and nifty means of carrying both.

Two more sets of d-rings are located 5 inches and 29 inches behind the center handle (36 and 60 inches from the tail.) 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.

Stomp pad

A rear stomp pad with an approximate 1.25 inch rise begins about 4.25 inches from the bottom of the deck pad. A 6.5 inch mesh rear carry handle with ankle-leash d-ring is located at the tail.

Bottom view of the Hala Gear Rival Nass

There is one removable, deep-water blue SaraSurf flexi fin measuring 9 inches, in a US fin box.

Dual action hand pump

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 pump measures 25 inches tall with a 3-inch barrel and 12-inch wide foot base. The hose is 48 inches long with one adaptor.

Opening up the Hala Gear Rival Nass

The included “Hala Rival Rolling Backpack” (size Small) 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.

Hala Rival Rolling Backpack

Inside, an integrated cinch strap system allows one to strap the board into position, while three outer compression straps (two sides and one top) allow one to tighten up the load. One upper and one side handle allow one to carry the bag in alternate positions – these also feature removable handle covers. The bag weighs roughly 5.4 lbs with approximate measurements of 36 x 17 x 12.

Ajustable, padded shoulder straps, chest and and waist strap allow one to use it as a backpack. Two d-rings are available to attach more gear. When traveling, the straps can quickly be hidden inside a rear panel pocket measuring 20 x 16 inches, 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. An ID slot is located on the back exterior as well as one more cloth carrying handle.

Side view of the Hala Gear Rival Nass

We did measurements. The board length came in at roughly 144 inches (12 feet), 32 inches in width, and 6 inches deep – on target with the advertised specs. Carrying capacity is estimated at 250 lbs.

Hala Rival Nass 12′ 0″ on the water.

I took out the Hala Rival Nass for a short time on both calm water and some chop. First impression, this is a really nice board!

Hala Gear Rival Nass on the water.

On calm water, the Rival Nass handles like a dream – very smooth glide, good tracking, and relatively fast. The board’s 32-inch beam feels quite stable but also fairly maneuverable. In chop, the board also handled well, gliding over small swells.

The included pump and adjustable aluminum breakdown paddle are entry level but sufficient.

Adding a seat to the Hala Gear Rival Nass

I headed back in to grab a kayak seat and paddle. 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, though the addition of four small carabiners would make it simpler.

Hala Gear Rival Nass used as a sit-on-top

In sit-on-top mode, the Hala Rival Nass is a dream – smooth and fast with great turning capabilities – rivaling the handling of some inflatable kayaks.

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 Rival Nass 12′ 0″ Inflatable SUP: Packing it Up

Packing up the Hala Rival Nass is pretty simple. First, 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.

Folding up the Hala Gear Rival Nass

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.

Unpacking the Hala Gear Rival Nass

At the end, 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 and paddle.

Bottom line on the Hala Rival Nass 12’0″ Inflatable SUP

Hala Gear Rival Nass : Side view

Like its big sibling, the Carbon Nass, the Rival Nass 12′ 0″ is a great, all-around performance board. The Glide rocker – with a slight nose lift, flat center and minimal tail rise – optimizes speed, glide and traction, while the wider 32-inch bullet-shaped silhouette provides a stable base without sacrificing performance.

Paddle attached to the board

A front bungee deck lacing system and centralized rigging provide enough attachment points to stow an afternoon of gear.

The Hala Gear Rival Nass easily fits in the trunk of a car.

The included Rival 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. The fusion-material construction is rugged yet lightweight – at a mere 23 lbs, the Rival Nass is easily carried by most people. Stash the straps in the hidden pocket and the Rival Nass is just as easily wheeled through an airport or across a parking lot.

Hala Gear Rival Nass with a kayak seat

The Rival Nass is perfect for lake crossing, coastline cruises, lazy rivers and day-long excursions. When the wind kicks up, or you need a break, strap on an optional kayak seat and paddle; the Rival Nass makes a fabulous sit-on-top vessel – zippy with great tracking – extending the usability.

Add in eye-catching colors and graphics, economical pricing and a well-thought out “Straight to the Water” package with backpack, 12V, paddle and pump and you have a winner. MSRP is $1199.

AirKayaks note: A limited amount of 2018 Rival Nass “Straight to the Water” packages are available at AirKayaks for a sale price of $899. Now is the time to pick up a great board – replete with backpack, paddle and pump – at a really great price!

For more information or to purchase, visit the Hala Rival Nass 12′ 0″ inflatable SUP product page at Or give us a call at 707-998-0135. Stay tuned – we hope to have the Rival Nass 12’0″ video out in a few weeks.

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