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KIALOA Insanity Review

This is a high-performance paddle that is easy to pull through the water.
KIALOA Insanity
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $200 List | $198.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, strong, easy on the body to use
Cons:  The handle allows excellent grip but can become uncomfortable
Manufacturer:   Kialoa
By Megan Ferney and Shey Kiester  ⋅  Oct 18, 2019
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SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 14
  • Performance - 30% 8
  • Weight - 20% 6
  • Ease of Adjustment - 20% 10
  • Locking Mechanism - 20% 10
  • Aesthetics - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Insanity Adjustable Fiberglass is a fantastic lightweight paddle, constructed with a durable impact-resistant fiberglass blade and shaft. While this makes it a little heavier than our lightest-weight paddle, it also means it is more affordable than the uber-light top-tier carbon models. We love this paddle for its performance and construction.


Compare to Similar Products

 
KIALOA Insanity
This Product
KIALOA Insanity
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award  
Price $198.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$270 List$364.00 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$170.00 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$151.96 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
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Pros Lightweight, strong, easy on the body to useGreat paddling performance, lightweight, compact for travelingLightweight, easy to adjust, high performanceCuts cleanly through water, durable bladeEasy and sturdy adjustment, lightweight, high performance
Cons The handle allows excellent grip but can become uncomfortableSlight paddle flutterPricey, blade can flutterHeavy, looks like a toySmaller adjustment range
Bottom Line This is a high-performance paddle that is easy to pull through the water.If you need a travel paddle and don’t want to sacrifice paddling performance, the Lock and Load is the right choiceThe Trance is a breath of fresh air, with good performance and an unbelievably lightweight construction.The Vibe is a great all-around paddle that moves water well and is easy to manage.The Aqua-Bound Challenge has a a high-performance paddle for serious paddlers.
Rating Categories KIALOA Insanity Hala Travel Lock & Load Werner Trance 95 Performance Werner Vibe Aqua-Bound Challenge 85
Performance (30%)
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Ease Of Adjustment (20%)
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Specs KIALOA Insanity Hala Travel Lock &... Werner Trance 95... Werner Vibe Aqua-Bound...
Paddle Weight 1.56 lbs 1.125 lbs 1.2 lbs 1.7 lbs 1.3 lbs
Blade Design Dihedral Dihedral Dihedral Dihedral Dihedral
Blade Shape Teardrop Teardrop Rectangular Rectangular Rectangular
Offset 10 degrees 10 degrees 10 degrees 10 degrees 10 degrees
Blade Material Fiberglass fibrlite Polycarbonate Carbon Injection molded fiberglass epX engineered polymer reinforced with carbon
Blade Dimensions 83 sq in Unavailible 95 sq in 100 sq in 85 sq in
Shaft Material Durable fiberglass Carbon Carbon Fiberglass Carbon
Adjustablility (inches) 16" 16" 8" 16" 10.5"
Length Range (inches) 70"-86" 62"-78" 70" - 78" | 74" - 82" | 80" - 88" 68" - 84" 70" - 80"
Number of Pieces 1-piece (avaliable in 1 or 3) 3-piece 1-piece (available in 1, 2, or 3) 3-piece (available in 1, 2, or 3) 2-piece
Compact Size NA 41" NA 34.5" 66"
Warranty 1 year 3 years 1 year 1 year 2 years
Comes with cover No No No No No
Locking Mechanism Handle LeverLock Handle LeverLock Handle LeverLock Handle LeverLock "Performance" Snap Button

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Kialoa Insanity Adjustable Fiberglass is a fantastic paddle. Its shaft is light and comfortable to grip, and it features a durable impact resistant Fiberglass Fibrlite blade. These blades are created using recycled material.

It was the easiest of all of the paddles to pull through the water, and some testers felt less fatigued at the end of the day. This model has a two-piece shaft and does not break down for travel. The Insanity is a lightweight, high-performance paddle that allowed our testers to make quick and decisive movements while on the water.

Performance Comparison


Wildfires couldn't keep our testers off the rivers or lakes! The Insanity features high performance and lightweight design.
Wildfires couldn't keep our testers off the rivers or lakes! The Insanity features high performance and lightweight design.

Performance


We tested the Insanity with a size small blade, which is a teardrop shape that measures 83 square inches. It has a versatile 10-degree blade to shaft offset, which works for a range of SUP styles and weighs 1.56 pounds (25 ounces). It has a strong and light blade made of Fiberglass Fibrlite which improves impact resistance. This paddle was the favorite among river surfers because of the durable blade material and shape. (One tester even ended up buying the test paddle.) It's also eco-friendly and is one of the only high-performance blades that include recycled materials in production.

The Insanity blade is high performing and durable.
The Insanity blade is high performing and durable.

The thin, light, performance design of this paddle provides a high-performance feel. The impact with the water is smooth, clean and nearly effortless. The power face of the blade features a PowerARC (dihedral) blade profile, which performs aggressively when moving water, yet requires minimal effort and promotes a smooth, easy paddle cadence. The blade on the Insanity is one of the smallest of the entire group, which limits the amount of power and speed you can gain per paddle stroke. While this doesn't necessarily make for great performance for activities that need immediate speed and lots of it — think SUP buoy racing or surfing — it is great for endurance paddlers. You can get going remarkably fast with the Insanity once you get some momentum going in the paddleboard, and the ease it pulls through the water makes it much less tiring to use. The Insanity is essentially a lower gear paddle than some of the others, making it a great option for anyone putting down some serious distance when they go paddling.


Because the Insanity's lever-lock adjustment system is completely contained within the handle, there is nothing to obstruct your hand on the shaft when paddling and switching hands.

The ridges on the Insanity's handle are less comfortable than solid handles for a long paddle.
The ridges on the Insanity's handle are less comfortable than solid handles for a long paddle.

Unfortunately, the handle isn't very comfortable. Although it's made of a nice, almost soft material, the bottom half is molded ridges that start to irritate your hands after paddling for a while. We're not sure if this design is supposed to increase grip or decrease weight, but we found the solid design of the handles on the other paddles more comfortable.

The Insanity  the blue paddle second from left  is shown here with the Bending Branches Balance  the Werner Trance and Vibe (from left to right).
The Insanity, the blue paddle second from left, is shown here with the Bending Branches Balance, the Werner Trance and Vibe (from left to right).

Weight


The Insanity weighs in at 1.56 pounds (25 ounces) which is just under the median weight for the paddles tested.


Ease of Adjustment


The updated Insanity includes a lever-lock adjustment system, which offers 16-inches of adjustment. As a result, the paddle ranges from 70 to 86-inches in length. There are clear lines marked every 2-inches on the paddle showing its total length and height measurements for the paddler, which help you determine how to adjust it for you.


The lever-lock system is incredibly easy to use and is the favorite locking system among testers. You simply lift the lever from inside the handle and slide the shaft to the desired length. Push down the lever to lock it back in place. Because the locking system is located in the handle, nothing is obstructing your grip on the shaft. It's the perfect system for multiple users, or if you are planning on using your paddle for activities that require different handle lengths such as recreational use and river surfing.

The Insanity is easy to adjust and marks both paddle length and user's height.
The Insanity's Lever Lock system is easy to use.

Locking Mechanism


Kialoa refers to the lever-locking system on the Insanity as their 16" Utili-T insert. The lever-lock is the favorite among all of our testers and it includes the adjustment system and the locking system in one. Simply pull up on and then push down on a lever in the handle to lock and unlock the adjustment.


The lock is tight and doesn't budge once it's set. There are no screws or parts to adjust whatsoever. It also allows the shaft to be free of adjustment system parts, which prove annoying when paddling or when switching hands during a mission. The low-profile lever-lock system is solid and easy to adjust.

The Insanity has great graphics with Hawaiian inspired art.
The Insanity has great graphics with Hawaiian inspired art.

Aesthetics


The updated Insanity is a beautiful paddle with a cool vibe. It features a matte cobalt blue blade with Hawaiian inspired graphics and a shiny black shaft with "KIALOA" printed in a white outline.


The blade attaches thoughtfully to the shaft, and the handle is a nice black, somewhat grippy material. The paddle's aesthetics add to its appeal and demonstrate attention to detail.

Other Versions


The Insanity has a one-piece shaft that doesn't break down. However, if you're interested in high-performance, we feel that the Kialoa is worth the extra hassle of hauling around a longer paddle. For users with small cars, this might not the be right choice for you although we were easily able to fit this paddle into a variety of station wagons and SUVs. We even fit all of the paddles in a 2-door hatchback with the handles of the paddles reaching into the front seat.

The Kialoa Insanity Adjustable Three-Piece Travel model is a great option if you plan to pack your SUP paddle often. This is the compact version of the paddle we tested, and has the same features but breaks down into three pieces for a 38-inch length. It costs a little more. It also adds 4 ounces of weight. It works well for air travel. This 3-piece version is not appropriate for high-impact situations in heavy surf or whitewater.

Testing through wildfire haze  the Insanity was the first choice for river surfers.
Testing through wildfire haze, the Insanity was the first choice for river surfers.

Value


For a fairly moderate price, you get a high performing, easily adjustable, lightweight, and sturdy paddle that is a pleasure to use and won't wear you out. The Insanity comes with a one year warranty. It's not the best bargain option you can buy but is priced fairly reasonably. This SUP paddle would be a good choice for someone who is willing to invest a little more and wants better performance than the cheapest paddles but isn't quite ready to shell out the serious cash required for the top-tier paddles, which can cost practically double the KIALOA Insanity.

Conclusion


We loved the Insanity and recommend this paddle. The blade is strong and light and cuts through the water cleanly and easily. The shaft is smooth, light and comfortable. This paddle is our top recommendation and the perfect choice for anyone that routinely goes on marathon paddling trips or someone who needs a paddle that takes less effort to pull through the water, such as from a previous upper-body injury. However, you should always check with your doctor if you are coming back to paddling from an injury to make sure you won't cause any more damage. The Insanity is assembled in the USA, if that is a concern while you are shopping.


Megan Ferney and Shey Kiester