The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Boardworks Kraken Review

The Kraken is the best of the best for most people.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $1,349 List | $811.82 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Good glide performance, very stable, reasonably priced
Cons:  cumbersome to turn, not the most durable
Manufacturer:   Boardworks
By Marissa Fox ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 23, 2018
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64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 12
  • Glide Performance - 35% 6
  • Stability - 25% 8
  • Maneuverability - 15% 6
  • Ease of Transport - 15% 6
  • Durability - 10% 5

The Skinny

Earning the top score overall, the Kraken from Boardworks received the Editors' Choice award for best overall stand up paddle board. This great, all-around board is stable, maneuverable, easy to transport and glides well, making it a solid choice for both beginner and experienced paddlers. The Kraken is our top recommendation for most people, great for pushing your limits with a long trek or for a leisure day out on the water.

2018 Update
The 2018 Kraken has a few cosmetic changes for 2018. Check them out below.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The 2018 Versus the 2017 Kraken


The 2018 Boardworks Kraken, shown below at left, is sporting some spiffy new graphics, a new traction pattern and Boardwork's new logo.

Boardworks Kraken 11'

Boardworks confirms that the 2018 board keeps the same template as the 2017 version we love, shown at right (we tested a lighter color). The two boards have the same size, shape, rocker and volume. They should perform identically.

Performance Comparison


One of our all-time favorite SUPs  the Kraken from Boardworks.
One of our all-time favorite SUPs, the Kraken from Boardworks.

The Kraken is a fantastic, all-around paddle board that performed well in every one of our rating metrics. This board is exceptionally stable, glides decently well, and is reasonably agile. It can be a bit on the pricey side and required some care to transport, but once it was on the water, this model thoroughly earned the title of best SUP.

To rate these products, we scored each model's performance in our five weighted rating metrics: Glide Performance, Durability, Ease of Transport, Maneuverability, and Stability. Each metric had a series of tests to compare the boards side-by-side, with more detailed analysis of the Kraken's results given in the following sections.

The Kraken has some solid glide performance for not being a touring or racing SUP.
The Kraken has some solid glide performance for not being a touring or racing SUP.

Glide Performance


Worth the largest portion of the overall score, our Glide Performance metric accounted for 35% of the total score. We evaluated each boards speed and gliding efficiency to determine the score, conducting a time trial and a distance per paddle stroke test on both smooth and rough water. We conducted two trials for each of these tests in opposite directions, to mitigate any influence from strong currents or winds, then averaged the results. The Kraken did quite well in this test. The chart below shows how this score compared to the rest of the models in the fleet.


The Kraken finished our flat water time trial test in an average of 72.44 seconds, landing it the third place position. It was about seven seconds slower than the fastest board in this test, the Surftech Saber. Performance dropped a little in the rough water version of this test, with the Kraken being more negatively affected by the waves more than other models. The Kraken had an average time of 112.76 seconds, dropping it back to fourth place.

Moving on to our glide efficiency test, the Kraken performed about average in the flat water. We averaged the results of two trials of counting paddle strokes over a set distance for this test, with the Kraken taking an average of 43.5 paddle strokes to cover the distance — about seven more than the top board in this test, the Surftech Saber. The Kraken did better in the rough water version of the test, taking an average of 25.5 paddle strokes to the BIC's 22.5.

The Kraken is relatively efficient to paddle in both calm and choppy conditions.
The Kraken is relatively efficient to paddle in both calm and choppy conditions.

Stability


For our Stability metric — comprising 25% of the total score — we compared the how each board handled carrying additional passengers or gear, traversing rough waters, and the opinions of novice and first-time paddlers. The Kraken did extremely well in this metric, as shown in the chart below.


The Kraken was quite popular with our beginning testers, with only the Isle and the BIC being more favorably received by our novice paddlers. In addition to being a great beginner option, the Kraken is also excellent at transporting goods, whether it's cargo, additional passengers (within reason), or dogs. Finally, while this board's speed and glide were affected negatively by choppy water, its stability was not. This board does an excellent job at remaining stable when conditions were rough, only rivaled by the unmatched stability of the BIC.

This SUP is one of the more maneuverable of the bunch.
This SUP is one of the more maneuverable of the bunch.

Maneuverability


Making up 15% of the overall score, our Maneuverability rating metric consisted of a time trial through a slalom course and a 180° U-turn test. The Kraken offered a solid performance. The following chart shows how this compares to the rest of the group.


This model took 86.34 seconds to complete our slalom course — making it the fourth fastest of the group. It did about average at completing a U-turn without back paddling, successfully completing the entire turn in the test area with its single skeg configuration — though it did cut it a little bit wider than some other boards, like the Naish Mana.

You can usually load the Kraken on a car without an additional person if the car isn't excessively tall.
You can usually load the Kraken on a car without an additional person if the car isn't excessively tall.

Ease of Transport


Accounting for 10% of the final score for each board, our Ease of Transport metric assessed how easy it was to move each of these products out of the water. To do this, we compared and ranked the ease at carrying each board, loading the board on the roof of an average car, and weighing each model, as well as evaluating the ergonomics of the handle. The Kraken did reasonably well. The following chart shows how this compared to the rest of the fleet.


The Kraken isn't terribly long or heavy, making it moderately easy to carry. This board weighed in at 26 lbs, 10 oz. — putting it slightly lighter than average when compared to the group. This carries over to loading it on a car, being very reasonable for an average person to load it by themselves without assistance.

This board also has a similar pop-out style handle to the Raven. We very slightly preferred this style to the recessed type, fitting flush to the deck when not in use and giving you more flexibility and grip positions when carrying.

Some of the damage sustained by the Kraken throughout testing.
Some of the damage sustained by the Kraken throughout testing.

Durability


Finishing out our test, the Durability metric is responsible for the remaining 10% of the overall score for each stand up paddle board. To evaluate this, we conducted two separate tests: damage sustained and common issues found by the online community. At the conclusion of our testing process, we gave each board a through examination, noting any chips in the outer coat, scratches, scuffs, or dings in the board. While our testing process only lasted a few months, we were exceptionally rough on these boards, transporting many at once to multiple different locations, so the wear-and-tear that we saw was substantially more than most.

The second test was conducting extensive research online, reading through as many user reviews and forum posts to find any commonly encountered problems. The Kraken was about average in terms of our Durability metric. The chart below shows how this compares to the rest of the group.


The Kraken seemed to be one of the more delicate boards, sustaining slightly more damage than most. The nose of the board suffered a small collision with a wall when initially unboxing and moving the board. It caused a surprising amount of damage — enough that it needs a little repair and filler to prevent the dreaded "Nose Cancer" from propagating down the board.

This board also had a small section (0.25"x 1.5") section of the outer gel coat flake off, near the fin of the board. However, we found no common mentions of damage in user reviews, leading us to believe we may have simply paddled and tested this board a little too hard — understandable, as it was our favorite model and the first choice for our testers.

Value


The Kraken may be a fantastic board, but not necessarily a great value option. It's a premium SUP at a premium price.

Conclusion


The Kraken stand up paddle board by Boardworks is a fantastic, all-around model that took home the top marks in our test, earning it the Editors' Choice award and the coveted title of best overall SUP. This model handles great, glides well, and is even stable enough for beginners. It's light, making it relatively easy to move, and as long as you treat it gently, should last you for years to come.


Marissa Fox