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.
Despire 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 added benefit of greater portability. 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 an absolute blast to ride. Other than the steep price tag, we can only say great things about this model.
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.
The stability of this all-around board is unmatched making it great for yoga, choppy water, and those new to the sport.
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.
It 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.
The progressive nose rocker, carbon stringer, and 3 fin design make this board a smooth and quick ride across glassy water.
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.
The raised rear stomp pad and exceptional stability of this board make it easy to navigate obstacles and perform tight turns.
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 which 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.
This board fits neatly into its rolling backpack. While the board itself is of exceptional quality, the teeth of the backpack's zipper are prone to misalignment.
Once the board is inflated, it's soft neoprene grips make it easy to carry under your arm, or with the help of a friend. At 23.5 lbs it's also in the lightest tier of inflatable boards.
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.
Hands-Free Electric Pump Option
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.
Using the electric car pump to fill the volume of the board before finishing it with the hand pump reduces the physical effort involved in the set-up. Once the board is inflated, the detachable fins snap easily into place.
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.
A new paddler enjoys the stability of the Straight Up on an alpine lake.
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 PEAK inflatable 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 board may come with a steep price tag, but the quality and versatility of this board is worth the investment.
This was hands down our favorite board. 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 this board. We highly recommend our Editor's Choice for anyone looking for an all-around board that excels in multiple disciplines.