The SereneLife comes with everything a high-end board offers for less than half the price, which makes it a fantastic buy for families. Sure the plastic is lower quality, the board is smaller and less stable, the storage bungee is minimal, and the included paddle is truly bad — but you're paddleboarding. Things like handles matter less when you're on the water. Getting back out is another matter entirely.
You will want to buy a new paddle promptly, so factor that into the price. While most package-deal paddles are sub-par, this one is sub-bogey.
The SereneLife is a simple and affordable first step into the SUPing world.
The 10' SereneLife is not as stable as the larger boards we tested. Though it's rated for 275 pounds, it seems better suited to smaller, lighter passengers. This is especially true if you're actually trying to get somewhere. It can accommodate several lightweight passengers if you're just mucking around in the water.
Stepping on the boat feels less stable than our highest scoring boards, like the Hala Carbon Straight Up or Isle Explorer, but its square tail and recreational-style dimensions keep it reasonably well-balanced. Once you get your sea legs and gain some momentum, the platform feels more secure. The long center fin helps the board track and also provides a bit of added stability in the water. It's a reasonably steady board for beginners, but it's not the most forgiving teacher out there.
The SereneLife isn't our first choice for a yoga board or rough water unless you're pretty small, have fantastic balance, or are just not that concerned about getting wet.
The short and casually shaped SereneLife isn't the best glider out there, but it's pleasant enough to paddle.
A medium size SUP, the SereneLife
offers all-around performance at a variety of tasks. It's not built for speed. Generally speaking, longer boards are faster boards. This one is among the shortest we've tested. Here the tail shape works against you. Squaring the tail aids stability but shortens the craft, which ultimately slows it. The rounded nose and flat bottom also translate to casual recreation.
Once you gain momentum and are paddling steadily, the sense of headway is pleasant enough. You're not fighting to push a barge through the water, but if you stop paddling for a moment, you'll lose your flow.
To get the most glide out of the SereneLife remember to buy a new paddle. While some of the higher end packages include a paddle that works well enough to get you through a few mellow seasons of use, this isn't one of them. The paddle that came with our board has a cockeyed blade and slices sideways through the water — not comfortable or efficient.
Ease of Transport
The center handle makes it easy to haul this reasonably light board around when it's inflated. Unfortunately, the lack of handles in the front and back meant that you can't share the task with anyone (a handy option for kids) and that it's tricky to grab the craft to haul it in or out of the water.
When you're ready to pack up and head home, things work better. The board itself has a lower quality plastic feel than the pricier options, but that doesn't impact how tightly it rolls. It's not a sinch — you have to concentrate on getting a tight wrap from the beginning. But, that's just standard boat rolling stuff.
Like many modern kits, the whole shebang packs into a single backpack for easy portage. We're talking board, paddle, pump, lease and repair kit. As such, it's pretty easy to cart around. An included strap holds your fold together to help you wrestle it back into the pack.
The pack itself is functional and reasonably durable, but it offers less structural support than the one included with the much more expensive Isle Explorer. The Explorer pack has burlier zippers and provides a back pad that the SereneLife lacks. If we were hoofing it for any distance, we'd certainly prefer the fancier pack. It's more luxury than necessity though.
The storage bungee is flimsier, and the storage bag is less rough-and-tumble than higher-end offerings. And we're not inspired by the cheap feeling, and smelling, plastic. But the real durability concern is the lack of handles fore and aft on the boat.
Yes, the center handle allows adults to carry it off the ground, but that can be a lot to ask of a kiddo. It also means that it's hard to keep your feet dry when hauling the boat into or out of the water, like when you're helping said kiddo out of the drink. As a result, you're more likely to drag the board across parking lots, rocks and brush. That could wear through the not-so-durable feeling plastic in a hurry.
Ease of Inflation
The pump included with the SereneLife is sturdy and connects securely to the board's value. All-in-all, it works very well. Compared to the larger volume Isle Explorer the SereneLife felt like a breeze to inflate. While pumping up a SUP by hand is never an overly exciting prospect — use your legs and body weight, keep your arms as straight as you can, and you'll be ready to go in no time.
The SereneLife is a solid option for younger families who care less about performance and just want to slash around by the shore. It works best for smaller bodies, and the price makes it easier to watch a gaggle of distracted kids scrape it across the pavement. (Again, bow and stern handles would help.) It's also a reasonable option for a welterweight budget-minded buyer who isn't ready to commit to a pricier, higher performing option. This flatbottom boat is suited to flatwater, not so much for river running.
Offering up the complete package for half the cost, the SereneLife's value is its best feature. Its questionable durability can be extended by caring it by the center handle and keeping it off the rocks. If you do this, the board should escort you through many seasons of splashy fun.
It doesn't stack up to the best boards we tested, but the SereneLife gets the job done. We love that it offers a more affordable way for folks to experience the joy of gliding across glassy pools on blazing hot summer days.