Hands-on Gear Review

Surftech Saber Review

This board will get you where you need to go, but is for experienced paddlers only.
By: Marissa Fox ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 10, 2017
Price:  $1,199 List  |  $1,199.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Unmatched gliding performance, speedy
Cons:  Lacks stability, hard to move
Manufacturer:   Surftech
59
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 12
  • Glide Performance - 35% 8
  • Stability - 25% 3
  • Maneuverability - 15% 7
  • Ease of Transport - 15% 4
  • Durability - 10% 7
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Our Verdict

The Surftech Saber is fast. Period. This exceptionally speedy board is also very maneuverable, as well as durable. However, this board lacks stability and is quite difficult to transport. This board is a little pricey and is not suitable for beginners. This is a great model for those that want to go far and fast but is a poor choice for casual paddling.

Graphics Update
Surftech updated the top sheet graphics for the Saber this year. The board is now green and white, as seen in the photo above. Surftech informed us that there are no changes to the technical specs or construction of the board itself.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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The Surftech Saber is a high-speed touring board, even suitable for racing. This 11'6" board glide astonishingly well, putting up the fastest time in almost all of our time trials. Unfortunately, this board is the least stable of the entire group and can be a little difficult to transport due to its length and recessed deck design. This is an excellent pick for an experienced paddler who plans on touring for immense distances, but intermediate and beginning paddlers should consider a more general, all-around model.

The Saber is one of the fastest SUPs that we have seen.
The Saber is one of the fastest SUPs that we have seen.

Performance Comparison


To rate these products and rank them to determine the award winners, we spent a ton of time researching this category of products in general, then selected the top models to buy and test side-by-side. Each SUP received a score from 0-100, based on the results of our five weighted rating metrics: Durability, Ease of Transport, Stability, Maneuverability, and Glide Performance. The following sections explain how the Saber performed, where it exceeded expectations and where it had a less than desirable performance.

The Saber glides exceptionally well.
The Saber glides exceptionally well.

Glide Performance


The most heavily weighted metric of our test, Glide Performance is responsible for 35% of the overall score for each SUP. We conducted a time trial for each board, both on flat and rough water, to test the speed of each board, as well as a distance per paddle stroke test, once again on both calm and choppy conditions. This second test assesses the efficiency of each board. The Saber did an excellent job in this metric, earning the top score in three of the four tests, causing the Saber to score an 8 out of 10 overall for this metric. We conducted two trials for each test and averaged the results, trying to eliminate any factors that might confound the results.

In the flat water time trial test, the Saber put up the best time overall, with an average time of 65.37 seconds — narrowly beating the Boardworks Raven by about a second and a half. This model also maintained its top spot in the rough water time trial test — though the gap between it and the Raven did narrow to only a second.

Continuing its reign, the Saber won the top spot in the flat water distance per paddle stroke test, with the Raven once again right on its heels. It took the Saber an average of 36.5 strokes to complete the flat water course, one fewer than the Raven. However, there was a surprise upset in the choppy water version of this test. The BIC Ace-Tec snagged the top spot with an average of 22.5 paddle strokes, bumping the Saber to the runner-up position.

This SUP is a bit skinny and thus is not particularly stable.
This SUP is a bit skinny and thus is not particularly stable.

Stability


Next, the Stability metric is responsible for 25% of the total score for each board. We compared the ease at transporting extra cargo or passengers, the opinions of first time and novice paddlers, as well as how each SUP handled in choppy, rough conditions to determine the scores. The Saber did not impress at all in this metric, earning the lowest score of 3 out of 10 for its efforts.

This touring board is decently stable when moving through waves and chop, but its stability drops dramatically when stationary. This narrow model doesn't have a very high weight capacity, so transporting additional passengers and cargo can be a harrowing experience — one likely to end up in the water. Consequently, beginning paddlers were not enamored with this board at all, and it was our novice paddlers least favorite board of the entire group.

For being a touring board  the Saber is quite maneuverable.
For being a touring board, the Saber is quite maneuverable.

Maneuverability


Redeeming itself, the Saber earned a 7 out of 10 in the Maneuverability metric for its excellent performance. This metric is worth 15% of the total score and is comprised of two tests: U-turn and slalom. We timed each board through our buoy slalom course, with the Saber putting up the second-best time of the group with 82.26 — lagging the Raven by a little over a second. This fantastic performance is what boosted this board's score in this metric, as it only delivered an average performance in the U-turn test. We attempted to complete a U-turn without back paddling in a small lake, comparing the turning radius of each SUP to calculate the scores. The Saber was about average, completing the turn in the small lake without running aground, but turning much wider than boards like the Pau Hana or Naish Mana.

The SUP's length makes it a bit cumbersome to carry.
The SUP's length makes it a bit cumbersome to carry.

Ease of Transport


Moving out of the water, this metric consisted of assessing the ease of carrying each SUP, loading it on a car, weighing it, and ranking the ergonomics of the handle. The Saber once again delivered a subpar performance in this metric — worth 15% of the overall score — earning a 4 out of 10.

The Saber is one of the largest boards of the group, with its long size making it difficult and unwieldy to carry. This stand up paddle board is also the second heaviest of the entire group at almost 31 lbs. This meant that it was quite difficult to load on a car — an almost impossible task to accomplish solo.

Strapping this board down requires a little extra care to keep from denting it.
Strapping this board down requires a little extra care to keep from denting it.

In addition, the recessed deck gave us some cause for concern when strapping it down to a car roof rack. Rather than the foamy deck contacting the crossbars, the raised edges would be the only point of contact, requiring you to add supplemental padding to prevent damaging the board.

This SUP didn't sustain any major scratches or scrapes in our testing process.
This SUP didn't sustain any major scratches or scrapes in our testing process.

Durability


For the last 10% of the score, we move on to our Durability metric. To rate this, we extensively researched user reviews and online forums and comments to look for any commonly encountered issues people had found with this SUP. We also gave each board a thorough once-over, noting any damage that had was sustained during testing. The Surftech scored very well in this set of tests, earning a 7 out of 10 for its great performance. This model didn't have a scratch on it at the end of the tests, seemingly much more resilient than most of the board in the group. We also found no common issues reported online about this board.

Value


This model might be a value touring option, saving you a couple hundred bucks over the Raven, but is a relatively poor value when compared to the rest of the boards in general.

Conclusion


The exceptionally fast and agile Saber is a great choice for those looking at touring or racing, but might disappoint the more casual paddler. This board isn't very stable and is for a much more specialized set of uses than the all-around boards. It's not for everyone, but it will most likely get you where you want to go well before most other SUPs in the review.

Marissa Fox

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