The FunWater 11 easily wins our Best Buy Award with its amazingly low price, lightweight construction, and solid all-around performance. While it's not the fastest or most stable model we tested, it would be a great board for families or individuals looking to get into paddling for the first time and aren't exactly sure where to start. The FunWater is suitable for any type of recreational paddling, from lazy river floats to lake paddles, to splashing around in the ocean. It comes in a package with everything you need to get out on the water and is by far the most affordable SUP in our lineup.
Funwater 11 Review
Cons: Limited maneuverability, no dual cargo system
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The FunWater 11 left our testers highly impressed with its incredible bang for the buck. Its dimensions place it somewhere between the shape and size of a touring board and a recreational board, giving it a nice blend of glide performance and stability. Its lightweight construction makes it easy to transport and quickly inflate, and the included fins, leash, dry bag, and paddle provide everything you need to get out on the water. (We recommend wearing a life jacket, and becoming aware of the regulations for wearing one wherever you paddle.) If you're looking to try paddle boarding for the first time and want the convenience of an inflatable board with a full package of accessories, the FunWater is a great option for you.
With its 11' x 33" x 6" dimensions, the FunWater 11 provides a comfortable amount of stability for most recreational paddlers. Its 33" width is among the wider boards in our lineup, but it does have a more dramatic sidecut that curves to a pointed nose and narrow tail, which makes it a bit less stable than models that are more uniformly wide from front to back. This board should be stable enough for most novice paddlers to feel comfortable while paddling in calmer water conditions, and for intermediate or advanced paddlers in all but the choppiest of water.
This board also comes with a large detachable center fin and two detachable side fins. Using the board with all three fins aids in its stability and helps it track in a straighter line. The only time our experienced testers struggled with this board was when paddling parallel to an ocean breakwater, where the wave energy rebounds back and creates inconsistent choppiness.
The geometry of the FunWater with its aggressive sidecut and pointed nose is similar to that of a touring board and help it glide through the water nicely. The pointed nose does a good job of cutting a path through the water and the 3-fin design helps keep the board stable and tracking in a straight direction, both of which help glide efficiency and performance. Our testers were pleasantly surprised by the overall glide and speed of this board, especially when considering the awesome price tag.
One potential hindrance to the ultimate glide performance of this board is that the air valve system and included pump didn't allow us to fully pump it up to the higher end of the recommended 12-15 psi air pressure. Once the pressure gauge on the pump reached about 12 psi, the hose and pump couldn't withstand the pressure anymore and started leaking air, so that's where we had to stop inflating. It's possible that the pressure gauge reading was inaccurate and the board was already at or above the recommended pressure, but we think this is unlikely since the pump performed like this from the very first time we used it.
Since a more highly inflated board will be stiffer and more rigid and therefore glide more efficiently, we feel like we weren't quite paddling the FunWater in its optimum condition. However, this certainly isn't a dealbreaker for us since we had no problem inflating it to the lower end of the recommended pressure range. We were also still pleased with the overall performance of the board and were able to use it as intended with the included pump.
The same features that allow the FunWater to excel in the stability and glide performance ratings become somewhat of an obstacle in the maneuverability ratings. The 33" width, pointed nose, and 3-fin design that help keep it stable and cut through the water also make it a little more challenging to turn on a dime. This board required a larger turning radius to make 180-degree turns, and generally took extra effort to make quick changes in direction.
With most SUP boards and most pieces of outdoor gear in general, there are typically trade-offs where the same features that allow a certain product to excel in one area prevent it from excelling in another area. In many cases, boards that glide well and track straight aren't able to turn as easily, and likewise, boards that are able to maneuver really easily don't necessarily track or glide well. Considering that the FunWater is meant to be an entry-level recreational paddle board, we think it does a nice job of balancing all-around performance that will suit the needs of most recreational paddlers.
Ease of Transport
The FunWater scores near the top of the group in the ease of transport category, thanks to its scant weight of just under 19 pounds that is currently the lightest in our lineup. The board unrolls and folds up easily, is compact enough to easily grab and move in and out of the included carry bag, and is light enough not to be a burden when hauling it on your back. The overall footprint of the packed up carry bag is smaller than other boards, making it fit more easily in the trunk of the car or corner of the closet.
The included carry bag definitely does the job but isn't all that impressive. The backpack straps are comfortable enough, but that's considering that the fully loaded bag is quite a bit lighter overall than those of competitor models. The top drawstring opening of the bag is sufficient to load and unload the folded board and accessory equipment, but is not nearly as convenient as a full-zip bag with a much wider opening.
The comfortable and sturdy middle handle makes carrying the fully inflated board easy for one person, but the lack of front or rear handles makes it almost impossible to share the load with another person. When a board lacks a front or rear strap, users are typically more likely to drag it across the ground when entering or exiting the water, which can eventually cause excessive wear or damage to the fins. Unfortunately, we experienced this first hand, breaking the center fin during an over-aggressive beach landing.
Ease of Inflation
The FunWater inflates pretty quickly compared to many of its competitors but has one key demerit. As mentioned above, something in the interface between the air valve system and the included pump didn't allow us to fully inflate the board up to the higher end of the recommended 12-15 psi pressure range. The hose and pump housing started leaking right as we hit 12 psi, the lower end of the recommended pressure range.
Though it's possible we received a faulty pump, we couldn't tell that anything was obviously wrong or broken on it. While this was only a minor drawback, we were pleased with the ease of inflating the board up to 12 psi.
With a list price of just $270, this model provides an almost unheard of value. If you're looking for an affordable way to get on the water, this is a great option. While this certainly isn't the ultimate high-performance board, it certainly provides everything that most recreational paddlers will need. While we haven't owned this board long enough to comment on the long term durability after several years, its construction seems solid for the price, and held up just fine during the testing period.
The FunWater 11 provides all the essentials for recreational paddlers to venture into the world of inflatable SUPs, and does so with an incredibly low price. While it's not the highest performing board out there, it doesn't have any major weaknesses and impressed our testers with its solid all-around performance, easily grabbing our Best Buy Award for its amazing value.
— Nick Bruckbauer