Pau Hana Malibu Classic Review
Cons: Struggles with waves, no bungees included
Manufacturer: Pau Hana
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Pau Hana Malibu Classic
|Price||$949 List||$1,430 List|
Check Price at REI
|$995 List||$1,349 List|
Check Price at REI
|Pros||Looks cool, good for flat water||Fast, stylish, stable||Relatively inexpensive, lightweight, paddle included||Good glide performance, very stable, reasonably priced||Inexpensive, durable, stable|
|Cons||Struggles with waves, no bungees included||Pricey, felt a little more fragile than other models||So-so maneuverability, could glide better||cumbersome to turn, not the most durable||Mediocre glide performance, extremely slow in choppy water|
|Bottom Line||If you want a flatwater board with classic lines and looks, this is a solid SUP||If you are looking for the best of the best when it comes to stand up paddle boards, it’s hard to go wrong with the Catalyst||If you are shopping on a budget for an all-around SUP, we think the Versa is a very good choice||The smooth-gliding Kraken blends speed and stability and is the best of the best for most people||If you are searching for a soild SUP on a skinny budget, then this board is a good choice|
|Rating Categories||Pau Hana Malibu Cla...||/prAna Catalyst Tuf...||Isle Versa Rigid||Boardworks Kraken||Sun Dolphin Seaques...|
|Glide Performance (35%)|
|Ease Of Transport (15%)|
|Specs||Pau Hana Malibu Cla...||/prAna Catalyst Tuf...||Isle Versa Rigid||Boardworks Kraken||Sun Dolphin Seaques...|
|Measured Weight (pounds)||31 lbs||27 lbs||26 lbs||26.6 lbs||46 lbs|
|Board Volume (liters)||234 L||203 L||175 L||326 L||Not listed|
|Weight Capacity||249 lbs||215 lbs||215 lbs||290 lbs||250 lbs|
|Width (inches)||34 in||32.5 in||32 in||32 in||33 in|
|Length (feet)||10 ft, 6 in||11 ft, 2 in||10 ft, 5 in||11 ft||10 ft|
|Thickness (inches)||4.0 in||4.8 in||4.5 in||4.8 in||6.0 in|
|Fin Configuration||Single||Single||Single||Single, 11" center fin||Single|
|Bungee Cargo System||Inserts Only||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Malibu Classic is available in three different colors — wood, white, and aqua — with our personal preference being for the wood version, which is the version we tested. This SUP also includes a paddle, making it a great package for someone starting out looking for a complete package to get out on the water.
We started by ranking and scoring the glide performance of each of these boards, looking at how much glide we got per paddle stroke in both calm and choppy water, as well as how much effort it took to accelerate each board up to speed. The Malibu Classic delivered some fairly good results, earning it a score just above average in this metric.
Starting with flat water, we were actually very impressed with how this board did, given its shape. This board is on the shorter side with a rounded nose, so it definitely pales in comparison to any of the longer and pointier race or touring boards but does well, given its shape. It accelerates fairly fast, and you will get some glide per paddle stroke.
However, this all changed once the water started to get a little choppy in our experience. This board struggled to make much headway against wind and waves. We also found that it doesn’t surf all too well and tends to slap when going against the waves. Overall, we feel this SUP glides well enough for longer tours as long as you are reasonably confident that the water will remain calm — or you might be in for an unpleasant experience.
Our next set of evaluations for the Malibu Classic and the rest of the SUPs in the review is how stable they are. We awarded points based on how stable each board felt for beginner to intermediate paddlers in varied conditions, as well as on how stable each board is when loaded up with additional weight — in the form of kids, cargo, or canines. The Pau Hana again did pretty well, meriting a score in the upper portion of the group.
This Malibu Classic is a 34” wide board, making it one of the wider boards relative to its length. We found this SUP to be very stable on flat water and is great for lakes or ponds. It’s a fantastic option for beginners or novices, offering both stability — and style. It also has a listed maximum capacity of 249 pounds, so usually more than enough for a paddler and a bit of cargo.
However, we did notice that stability can degrade a bit in wavy water. It actually handles the waves fairly well from a tipping perspective, but the flat nose tends to slap a bit when going head-on into waves. This slapping motion can be a bit jarring — to the point where you can lose your balance and take the unexpected dunk.
Our next set of tests for this stand up paddle board look at how nimble and maneuverable they are. We assessed this by looking at how easy it is to run each SUP through a slalom-style course, how confident we are that we could avoid an obstacle at the last minute, and how large of a radius it took to complete a U-turn. The Pau Hana did alright in these tests, earning a score just above average.
This board is definitely a flatwater board, so it doesn’t respond particularly well to leaning into a turn to try and make them tighter. However, it is a shorter board, so it fared fairly well in the U-turn and slalom tests. It’s fairly nimble, but we could definitely see a collision happening if you didn’t spot an object in front of you until the last moment though.
Ease of Transport
Our next set of tests looked at how it is to move the Malibu Classic to and from the water. We based this on the weight, handle comfort, and overall feel when carrying on land. This board again did decently well, earning a score just above average.
This board is shorter compared to the touring options, which does make it a bit easier to haul. However, it is on the heavier side, tipping the scales at just over 30 pounds, so not our favorite to carry for more than a short distance.
Fortunately, the molded handle is fairly comfortable, and the board feels alright to hold, just a little fatiguing over time due to its heft.
Our final metric looked at the durability of each SUP, with scores based on how each one held up to our comprehensive testing process. The Pau Hana finished out with a solid score once again.
This board has a VFT shell that makes it much sturdier than some of the composite boards, in our opinion. It seems to handle minor bumps and abrasions very well. However, we did notice that some of these scuffs and scrapes do show a bit more clearly due to the coloration, so it lost some marks for that.
Overall, we think this board could be a good budget buy, offering a generalist performance at a below-average price — even including a paddle!
If you are a beginner or intermediate paddler searching for an all-around SUP, we think the Pau Hana Malibu Classic is definitely worth checking out — as long as you stick to the flat water. It’s stable, has a decent glide, and is fairly maneuverable when the water is calm, but we found it struggled a bit when the afternoon wind and waves kicked up or when surrounded by boat wakes.
— Marissa Fox