Hands-on Gear Review

California Board Company 10'6" Review

Price:  $550 List | $529.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive, paddle included
Cons:  Not stable, glides poorly, slow
Bottom line:  This model from the California Board Company is a cheap, foam board that performs exactly as such.
Editors' Rating:   
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Measured Weight:  25 lbs 1 oz
Board Volume:  Unknown by Manufacturer
Weight Capacity:  300 lbs
Manufacturer:   Keeper Sports

Our Verdict

Earning the lowest score of the entire group, the California Board Company stand up paddle board wasn't exactly our favorite. This low-cost foam board is the cheapest of the group, but for only $200 bucks more you can get an excellent fiberglass model. This board might be a good option for kids or other situation where the board will take a beating and isn't worth the extra investment. This board basically struggled in all of our on-water testing metrics, but it did do reasonably well out of the water, being relatively durable and easy to transport.

Name Change & Graphics Update
CBC has implemented a couple of changes for this SUP in 2018. See below for more details.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Stand Up Paddle Boards (SUPs) of 2018


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Marissa Fox

Last Updated:
Thursday
June 21, 2018

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Board Renamed for 2018


California Board Company renamed their 10'6" Classic board the 10'6" Hydra. The folks at Keeper Sports (CBC's parent company) assured us that the only changes to the SUP are the graphics and the name and that all other technical specs remain the same between the two. See the new version below, left, followed by the original version we tested last year.


Hands-On Review of the CBC Classic 10'6"


The most economically priced board of the bunch, the CBC is a bit of a letdown. It's not very stable, maneuverable, or fast, but it's light, easy to move, and will withstand being dropped or falling off a car better than the rest of the group. It included a paddle, leash, and pads for roof racks, making this the cheapest option of the group. It doesn't perform well — but doesn't cost a whole lot of money either.

The CBC foam board is an uninspiring performer  but it will get you out on the water.
The CBC foam board is an uninspiring performer, but it will get you out on the water.

To determine which stand up paddle board is indeed the best, we bought the top models on the market today and put them through a series of head-to-head challenges. We assigned each board an overall score — from 0-100 — based on its results in our five rating metrics. These weighted metrics are Glide Performance, Ease of Transport, Maneuverability, Stability, and Durability. The sections below provide more detail on how the CBC did, where it disappointed and where it impressed.

Glide Performance


We based our Glide Performance scored on the results of a time trial and a distance per paddle stroke test, conducted in both flat water and choppy conditions. The CBC earned a 3 out of 10 for its performance in this metric, worth 35% of the total. This was the lowest score of the entire group.

For the first time trial test on smooth water, the CBC hit an average time of 81.61. This was the slowest time of the entire group, about 6 seconds slower than the Saber, the fastest board overall. Moving on to the rough water version of the time trial test, the CBC once again received the slowest average time of the group with 117.39 seconds. However, the CBC did narrow the gap between it and the next slowest boards, with the Pau Hana and the BIC all finishing the test with an average time within a second or so of each other. Moving on to our efficient paddling tests, the CBC once again locked down the last place position for the rough water version of the test. It took the CBC an average of 33 paddle strokes to cross our test course — over ten more than the BIC, the top scoring model. For the flat water version of the test, the CBC moved up in the ranking to the second to last position, edging out the Pau Hana.

Stability


The next most important metric in our test, Stability, made up 25% of the overall score. To evaluate the performance of each stand up paddle board for this metric, we compared their handling in rough water, the ease at transporting additional cargo, and the opinion of our novice testers. The CBC earned a score of 4 out of 10 for its poor performance, tying for the second-lowest score of the entire group.

This model was the worst of the entire group at handling in rough water. This model had us kneeling for every wake and wave that went by, at the risk of otherwise falling into the water. This board did a little better — moving up from last place — at retaining stability when transporting cargo, doing a slightly less than terrible job at having an additional passenger or a dog on board. The only boards the CBC surpassed were the pair of touring models in the group, the Raven and the Saber.

For the final test of this metric, we had a few novice paddlers try out each board and give their assessment. The CBC was not their favorite by any means, tying for the second-worst score in the group, on par with the Raven. The only board that they disliked more was the Surftech Saber.

A tri-fin set up helped keep the CBC board on track.
A tri-fin set up helped keep the CBC board on track.

Maneuverability


For the Maneuverability metric, we conducted two tests: a timed slalom course and a U-turn in tight quarters. The CBC finally delivered an acceptable performance, earning a 6 out of 10 in this metric, worth 15% of the total score, putting it squarely in the middle of the group.

The CBC put up a time of 87.69 seconds in our slalom course. This was faster than three of the boards in the group and right on the heels of the Kraken, our overall top scorer and Editors' Choice award winner. The CBC also did reasonably well when tasked with performing a U-turn in tight quarters. It completed the turn in the area without back paddling or running aground, though it didn't finish the tightest turn of the group.

The light board is pretty easy to carry.
The light board is pretty easy to carry.

Ease of Transport


The CBC continued to improve in our Ease of Transport metric, also responsible for 15% of the total score. This SUP earned a 7 out of 10 for its performance in the four tests of this metric: ease of carrying, ease of loading on a car, weight, and a comparison between the ergonomics of the handle. The CBC weighed in at 25 lbs, 1 oz. making it the lightest boards of the group.


This meant that it was one of the easiest boards to carry, being so light and relatively short compared to the rest of the group. This also meant that it was very easy to load on a car, even without the assistance of a second person.

The relatively forgiving foam made transporting this board easier than the fiberglass models.
The relatively forgiving foam made transporting this board easier than the fiberglass models.

However, this board had the handle that we liked the least. It is the standard recessed handle, but located asymmetrically on the board, making it impossible to reach if you grabbed the board from the wrong side.

Though the foam punctures and dents readily  the resulting dings don't really impact performance.
Though the foam punctures and dents readily, the resulting dings don't really impact performance.

Durability


For the final metric of the review, we assessed the Durability of each board. We did this in two ways: reading through online reports and reviews to look for patterns of damage and examining each board for any injuries sustained in the course of our testing. The CBC scored very well, tying for the top score of 7 out of 10. This soft foam board didn't display any sign that we had tested it, with no dents or other damage. However, we found there were plenty of online reviews complaining about the foam scratching and fading over time. While we couldn't verify this in our testing, it did prevent this board from taking the top spot in this metric.

Value


While this board is the least expensive of the bunch, it also scored the worst — not a good value option.

Conclusion


The CBC is a cheap foam SUP that is easy to move and seems very durable. It's the least expensive of the group — and the lowest rated. If you are looking for a first board or are shopping on a tight budget, then this may be a good option. However, don't count on gliding well and getting where you want to go anytime soon and be prepared to end up in the water on a not too infrequent basis.

Marissa Fox

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Most recent review: June 21, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (2.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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Rating Distribution
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5 star: 0%  (0)
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2 star: 100%  (1)
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