The Hala Carbon Straight Up is an outstanding all-around board that will satisfy everyone from beginners to advanced paddlers. Its exceptional performance, versatility, and quality earned it our Editors' Choice award for best overall inflatable stand up paddle board. This board provides a stable platform for first-time users and SUP-yogi's alike and is nimble enough to easily navigate obstacles and surf white water. If you are looking for a high-performance board that will keep you afloat on an array of adventures in a variety of environments, this is your board. The only drawback of this model is that its high quality is matched by an equally high price.
Hala Carbon Straight Up Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Technical design, quality construction, multi-level friendly
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Hala updated the Carbon Straight Up since our testing period. This new board features a lengthened carbon stringer and narrower shoulders, designed to be more rigid and boast a faster glide than the previous version. Compare the new vs. old boards (respectively) below.
Despite this updated version, the following text still refers to our experience with the board we tested last year.
Hands-On Review of the Carbon Straight Up
The Hala Carbon Straight Up is 10'6" long, 36" wide, and 6" thick with a carbon stringer on both the top and bottom of the board. This unique construction provides unparalleled rigidity and offers performance similar to that of a rigid SUP with the greater portability of an inflatable board. Its raised stomp pad and rockered nose also make turning this model an easy task. This is a true all-around board and lives up to the manufacturer's claim of a "one board quiver."
This board is extremely stable, especially in comparison to other all-around boards. It has a fairly wide side-cut, a squared-off tail, and three rear fins that all add to its lateral stability. It's an easy platform for beginners to learn on and also handles well in rough waters.
For many products, an increase in stability signals a loss of maneuverability, but this is not the case for the Carbon Straight Up. Turning is best accomplished by transferring weight to the back of the board. This model's exceptional stability makes moving around an easy task and thus facilitates quick weight transfers and greater mobility.
This metric is all about the distance the board covers per stroke of the paddle, and this model, once again, excelled in testing. The Carbon Straight Up's ability to glide and stay on course without corrective paddling comes without compromising its stability or all-around performance. This board has remarkable glide performance compared to other all-around boards.
Its glide performance was only outdone by one competitor, the Red Paddle Co Explorer, which is our Top Pick for Touring because of its exceptional ability in this area.
Hala did a remarkable job of leveraging key design concepts to create a board that is both highly stable and highly agile. This model outperformed its competitors in its ability to turn with both forward or backward strokes in a time-trialed slalom course.
Keep in mind that this board is designed as an all-around board and is not specifically meant for ocean or river surfing. While it is the most nimble of all of the models we tested, none of the products tested are surfing specific designs.
Ease of Transport
For a board that performs in the water like a hardboard, the ease of transporting this model makes it remarkable. All three of its fins detach and slip neatly into a pocket on its accompanying backpack. When rolled up, the board measures 32" tall x 18" wide x 12" deep, and fits snuggly into its pack which has similar dimensions.
The backpack has padded waist and chest straps that come in handy when moving across rugged terrain. While it may not land itself amongst the winners in a backpacking pack review, one of our testers carried it 5 miles up a canyon to a remote alpine lake. He noted that it was more comfortable than some of the backpacking specific packs he's carried in his guiding career. Hala also added wheels to the backpack, which are convenient for moving the board across a parking lot or other hard surfaces.
Once the board is inflated, its soft neoprene grips make it easy to carry under your arm or with the help of a friend. At 23.5 lbs, it also lands among the lightest of the inflatable boards in our lineup.
Ease of inflation
This product received an above-average score in this metric. It comes with both a hand pump and a small, 12V car pump. It can be inflated using the hand pump alone, or the car pump can be used to fill up the volume of the board to about 1 or 2 psi. Then you use the hand pump to reach the desired maximum pressure of 15 psi.
Hala makes a 12V High-Pressure Electric Pump that can be purchased separately. This aftermarket option makes inflating your board a piece of cake, and its built-in pressure gauge allows you to reach 15 psi safely. Using an air compressor or another electric pump that does not have a gauge to measure the pressure is dangerous as you risk over-inflating your board.
This product is a high-performance board in an all-around package. It's fun for everyone from first-time paddlers to seasoned users. If you are psyched on SUPs, want to use your board for a variety of adventures from the ocean to the river, and want it all with the convenience of easy transport and storage, this is absolutely the board for you.
Retailing for $1,399, this board is one of the most expensive models on the market. As a top performer in every avenue of testing, if you are planning to use your board often, the Carbon Straight Up is worth the investment. Hala also offers a 3-year warranty and sends you home with a repair kit (as most SUP makers do).
While this model is well suited for even the most advanced paddlers, our Best Bang for the Buck, the FunWater 11 will provide fun for the whole family at a much lower price. An intermediate, or less frequent user, may also find the price-tag of our Best High-Performing Buy, the Isle Explorer a better fit.
This was hands down our favorite model that we tested. We were impressed by its high performance and versatility across the board. From teaching a brand new paddler to stand up, to riding whitewater down rivers, we all enjoyed playing with the Carbon Straight Up. We highly recommend our Editor's Choice Award winner for anyone looking for an all-around board that excels in multiple disciplines.
— Leslie Yedor