Solstice by Swimline Bali Stand-Up Paddleboard
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- High-pressure inflatable paddleboard. Sleek, lightweight and fast
- Extremely rigid and strong.
- Includes 4 stainless tie-downs for securing gear
- Durable 1000 Denier 3 ply PVC reinforced fabric material
- Kit Includes: Carry bag, pump & gauge
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Solstice by Swimline Solstice Stand-Up Paddleboard 10'8"
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First, this inflatable paddleboard inflates easy, and the pump was plenty good enough for me. Now with the caveat that I'm in pretty decent shape, I always inflated this board in one go without stopping. But without working it too hard, I timed myself from the point at which I had the pump attached until I got to 15 PSI. 3 minutes and 27 seconds, and as I recollect about 160 strokes There's a secret to that pumping action; if you think you're going to pump with elbow action, it isn't going to happen, and the only way you're going to finish the last 60 or so strokes is to act like your giving CPR - lock your elbows, and pump from you waist or elbows using your entire upper body as a weight to drive the pump in. That might sound like work, but even in 90 degree weather, I wasn't breaking a sweat.
With that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised by the utility of an inflatable SUP. This SUP was christened on a family road trip in a vehicle so loaded that I wouldn't have been able to take a normal SUP. This isn't to say that this thing is small and compact - it certainly folds down, but not counting the paddle it still takes up the volume of what is likely your biggest suitcase (and maybe a bit more). While I expected the inflatability to be useful, I was expecting it would discourage use. But inflating this unit was never an obstacle, and I believe it was actually considerably easier than hauling a SUP off the roof rack. I could unbag, roll-out, and inflate this SUP in about 5 minutes, and I could do it pretty close to the water. Since the bag has backpack straps, it was an easier carry than a hard SUP.
That likely leads you to wonder what putting the board away was like. I carried a coleman 6v inflator with me, that would never be sufficient for inflating, but this unit also has a deflating mode. While the board deflates easily, this makes it pretty easy to suck all of the remaining air out of the board and get it truly flat. Without a deflator, you have to be a little more attentive to rolling the board and getting all of the air out of it. With a deflator, the board rolls easy, I give it a wipe, pull out the pin for the tail fin, and slide it into the bag. All told, this takes about 90 seconds of releasing the valve and running the deflator, and then probably 3 to 4 minutes of wiping and working it into the bag, depending on where you've been paddling. Of course, if sweat is still dripping in your eyes, this is more like 10 or 15 minutes.
Now in terms of performance, this board performed quite nicely. First, at 15 PSI, the board was plenty rigid for my 190 lbs and I couldn't detect any deflection while standing, dropping to knees, or while getting up and down. Standing in the direct center and bouncing on the board, I thought I could detect minor deflection of the ends, but nothing disturbing. The upside or downside depending on how you look at it, is I think the inflatable nature of this board makes it really stable. Versus hard boards, this one is easier to balance on. If you're looking to push your skills, this might be a downside. If you're looking for stability, it is an upside. We also had 3 10 and 8 year olds on this board at once, and it was plenty stable for that as well, but cumulative weight was probably still under 180 lbs.
The surprising rigidity here worked out well for overall board usability on the water. Granted, I'm not doing paddleboard racing, and I'm sure a racing board is a world of difference, but this inflatable moved decently fast. My fastest averaged pace on sustained paddling of 1 1/2 hours was 19 minutes a mile (according to the iphone and Under Armour's MapMyRide app). Granted, that was a little bursty and had various breaks in between, but when making faster runs, I was counting about 25 strokes per minute, using a pretty long and hard stroke that I drop in the water pretty far out in front. According to my app, when I look at my splits, my first mile out was covered in 16 minutes and 30 seconds, or 3.6 mph. On rivers and lakes, that was fast enough for my purposes, and encouraged me to cover 5 to 6 miles each time out. On these longer excursions, the eyelets on the front and a couple of bunging cords were exceedingly valuable, making it very convenient to tie down an assortment of stuff (water bottles, life jacket, water shoes, iphone).
Finally, I think I've had this board on the water probably 7 or 8 times now, for a total of around 30 miles, and it has held up well. A number of times the kids have taken it out also. The skin is certainly tough enough to handle shore landings and running into most stuff that isn't excessively sharp (perhaps a metal dock edge would be a bad idea). During those inflation and deflation cycles, I also haven't seen any indication of the bubbles that occasionally show up on Amazon pictures, other than a soft patch which I think is intentional on the side opposite the inflation valve. I also haven't exposed the board to excessive heat and since I live in Arizona, I wonder if there could be any issues here - time will tell. But I will point out that the foam board pad on top does hold some crease marks / impressions from being rolled up sometimes, and I wonder how that will hold up over a couple of years. It looks to me that any replacement or repair of that type of material would be much more difficult than on a hard board.
Overall though, I don't think I've made any purchase before which I've been so pleased with given the price point. The one caveat here you should notice though, is this board doesn't come with a paddle, and good priced paddles of decent quality are hard to find without spending a fair chunk of change. My SUP came with Amazon Prime, and that was a good deal at the time, even without a paddle.
That's all you really need to know but I've laid out some tips and info about some of the bad reviews and comments I've seen about this board:
"Issues" with rolling it up... I also bought the paddle made for this board. If you leave the valve open, place the pump and paddle on the nose area of the board, then roll the paddle and pump up in the middle of the board, they all fit easily into the back pack that comes with the board. After you roll it up, use the retaining strap to secure it all in a bundle then close the inflation valve. It then slides right into the bag and still has enough room for the 9 inch center fin, a leash, and even a towel and wet suit on top. Also, note that the inflation valve can be turned 90 degrees by pushing it in and twisting it, allowing it to be locked into the open position, helping it to fully deflate as rolling it up.
"Issues" with inflating it... I've timed it twice since I figured out how to use the pump correctly. It averages about 6-8 minutes with very little effort, if you use the pump as instructed. It has two modes: "High Volume" & "High Pressure". It has a small plug towards the top of the cylinder and the instructions written right on the side of the pump tell you how to use this plug. You leave the plug in at first for "high volume" which makes the pump dual action, meaning it inflates on both the down and up stroke of the piston handle. As the board approaches higher pressure, say 6-8 psi, the up stroke becomes very difficult. This is when the instructions say to remove the plug, which means it will only inflate on the down stroke. This is the "high pressure" mode. This allows you to quickly pull up the piston handle and use your own body weight to quickly push it down. This takes several minutes off the total inflation time and allows you to fully inflate without even breaking a sweat. All of this is well laid out in the instruction manual as well.
Hope this helps someone make a well informed decision. Have fun!