In the northern Hemisphere, summer is around the corner and water activities are heating up. While the standup paddle board craze has been on the rise during the past decade, more recreationalists are hopping onto inflatable boards due to ease of storage and travel-ability.
Well-known for eye-catching graphics and innovative technology, Hala Gear is one of the handful of 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 committed to performance, durability and quality – in fact, each of the Hala inflatable boards carries a three-year manufacturer’s warranty.
For 2019, Hala has 19 models for surfing, whitewater, recreation, touring and racing, ranging in size from 6’11” to 14’0″. This includes the introduction/evolution of two new models – the Carbon Playita 2+2 and the Peno 2+2 – and the retirement of both the Daze workhorse and Luya. All 2019 boards feature updated graphics and color schemes. Boards range in price from $999 to $1599, with some minor pricing changes.
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.
Hala boards have three general construction types – carbon, core and fusion. The Carbon boards feature a carbon/kevlar-type woven stringer, strategically placed to give an extra layer down the central length of the board – think “rigidity and performance.” The Core boards are constructed with two layers of drop-stitch material and are typically found in the boards that will see more hard “core” action – think “bombproof.” The Fusion SUPs utilize a newer laminating technology that saves material and weight, think “lighter” and “value-priced.”
For 2019, Hala has refined their previous 3-style rocker construction, now separating the full rocker into surf and river, while maintaining the progressive and glide rockers. The Surf rocker features a minimal rise in the tail with a curved nose; this places the center of balance back further to allow the nose to rise naturally. The River rocker features a precise curve from tail to nose allowing maneuverability and surfability. The Progressive and Glide rockers continue to focus on performance and speed.
All 2019 Hala iSUPs come with the Back Country Comfort Rolling Backpack or Travel Tough Backpack – both feature integrated wheels, making it easier to thread through airport lobbies, while still comfortable enough to pack into the remote country. All boards come with the Hala pump and pressure gauge, repair kit and instructions. The Rival series and Asana fitness board – called the Straight-To-The-Water package – also include an adjustable, breakdown paddle, which for 2019 has been upgraded to a carbon paddle rather than aluminum.
With all the models, activity types, sizes and features, how does one choose the best board? We’ve put together a comparison chart on each of the boards we carry – use this guide to take away some of the guesswork when looking at the myriad of options with Hala iSUPs.
How do you use the following tables? First, ascertain your size from the list:
- Big & Tall – 210+ lbs and 6’1″ plus inches in height
- Average – 140-200 lbs, 5’7″ to 6’0″ inches in height
- Small – Under 140 lbs, Under 5’7″ inches in height
- Child – Under 100 lbs, under 5’0 inches in height
Then decide the type(s) of paddling you want to do (paddling situations):
- Touring – Ocean, waves, long paddles
- Recreational – Lakes, sloughs, slower rivers, coastal, calm
- Whitewater – Fast-moving maneuvering with eddies, drops.
- Downriver – Wide-open moving water.
- Expedition – island hopping, camping, long paddles
- Adaptive – boards more appropriate for handicapped paddlers or those with special needs
Determine what attributes are important (or not!) to you – do you want tracking or maneuverability? Stability or speed?
Rank your experience level, realizing that the more you get out on the water, the better you will get. More experienced paddlers can get away with smaller boards. (AirKayaks note: While several of the boards are “not recommended” for advanced paddlers, this is based on the premise that advanced paddlers are looking for more performance-oriented boards. Certainly, advanced paddlers would be able to use any of the boards.)
Last of all, will this be used by various members of the family? Do you want the ability to bring along a child, dog or gear? Might two people be on this together?
Follow the color key to decide what board is good for varying sizes and activities:
Blue – The board is great!
Green – The board is good.
Yellow – This board is not recommended.
For instance, if you were 5 feet 10 inches with a weight of 180 lbs, and running whitewater rivers was the highest priority with a bit of recreational paddling, the Radito would be a good choice. But, if you wished to do predominantly recreational paddling with a bit of whitewater, surfing and a little bit of fishing thrown in, the Carbon Straight-Up 10’6″ would be a better all-round board.
For easier viewing, the Hala boards in the following tables have been separated into three categories: Carbon, Rival Fusion and River. If you are having trouble viewing the details in the three tables, follow this link for a larger, zoomable and printable PDF version of the Choosing Your 2019 Hala Inflatable Paddle Board iSUP.
And many thanks to Hala Gear’s technical guru, Jake Castle, who played an integral part in piecing together this information!
(AirKayaks note: There are an additional 6 Hala Boards focused on surfing, that we have not included in this list).
2019 Hala Carbon Inflatable SUPS
This section outlines the Carbon models, featuring the carbon stringer for rigidity and performance. This includes the Carbon Nass-T 14’0″, Carbon Nass 12’6″, Carbon Playa 10’11”, Carbon Hoss 11’0″ and the Carbon Straight-Up 10’6″.
2019 Hala Rival Fusion Inflatable “Straight-to-the-Water” SUP Packages
This section outlines the Rival Fusion “price-point” models which are durable yet lighter-weight, and come packaged with an aluminum breakdown paddle and more streamlined backpack. This includes the Rival Hoss 10’10”, Rival Straight-Up 10’0″, Rival Playa 11’0″, Rival Nass 12’0″ and Rival Asana 10’0″.
2019 Hala River/Core Inflatable SUPS
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you can view details on the various Hala Inflatable SUPS at http://www.AirKayaks.com. Or feel free to contact us with questions at info@AirKayaks.com, or call 707-998-0135.