Hands-on Gear Review

KIALOA Insanity Review

A high-performance paddle that lacks an adjustment system, the Insanity has a specific user.
KIALOA Insanity Fiber
By: Shey Kiester ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 4, 2017
Price:  $200 List  |  $199.00 at REI
Pros:  Lightweight, strong, handle is rubber coated and soft
Cons:  Blade is susceptible to nicks on the edges, no adjustment
Manufacturer:   Kialoa
85
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 10
  • Performance - 30% 10
  • Ease of adjustment - 20% 8
  • Locking Mechanism - 20% 8
  • Weight - 20% 9
  • Compactability - 10% 5
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  • 5

Our Verdict

The Insanity is a fantastic lightweight adjustable paddle, constructed with a fiberglass blade and shaft. While this makes it a bit heavier than our lightest-weight paddle, it also means it is more affordable than the uber-light Werner Trance. It is the only model in our test that does not have an adjustment system, which some of our reviewers loved and other found to be quite annoying. It also features a comfortable and ergonomic grip that was one of our testers' favorites. We love this paddle for its performance and construction.

You Can Adjust the Insanity
It's not always true of life, but it is true of this paddle. The KIALOA Insanity no longer comes in a non-adjustable model. Find out more below.

If you're looking for something a little more budget-friendly, the BPS Alloy scored well overall, and the iGK product is also a good choice, although it is in the same price range as the Insanity.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

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Adjustable Versus Non-Adjustable Insanity


We tested a non-adjustable version of the Insanity SUP paddle. KIALOA is no longer making that version. See the adjustable single-piece version at the top of this review and below at left. The adjustable 3-piece version is in the center below, and the non-adjustable paddle we tested is on the right.

KIALOA Insanity Adjustable Fiberglass SUP Paddle
KIALOA Insanity Adjustable 3-Piece Fiberglass SUP Paddle
KIALOA Insanity Fiber

While the shaft has changed, the paddle blade remains largely unchanged.

Non-Adjustable Insanity Performance Comparison


The KIALOA Insanity adjustable is a great paddle. Its shaft is light and comfortable, and the blade is light and easy to paddle. It has an ergonomic palm grip that is among the most comfortable products tested. However, it is the only paddle that lacks adjustment of any kind. This means that it is best for users who don't plan on sharing their paddle with shorter or taller users, and it requires room in the car and in the garage for storage. This model is not the best for travel. The fiberglass blade of the Insanity is a high-performance blade that allowed our testers to make quick and decisive movements while on the water.

The KIALOA Insanity has high performance and a lightweight design  seen here paddling the iRocker Inflatable.
The KIALOA Insanity has high performance and a lightweight design, seen here paddling the iRocker Inflatable.

Performance


We tested the size large blade, which measures 85 square inches. It is a strong and light blade made of fiberglass. The impact with the water is smooth, clean and nearly effortless. The blade is light and the round carbon wrapped shaft is light, smooth and comfortable. There is nothing to obstruct your hand on the shaft when paddling and switching hands. The power face of the blade has a dihedral shape which performs aggressively when moving water, yet requires minimal effort and promotes a smooth, easy paddle cadence. The thin, light, performance design of this paddle provides nice flex, clean water impact, and a high-performance feel. This metric was by far the Insanity's strong suit.


Another paddle that packs a punch in the performance department is the Werner Trance. This model is more expensive, as its construction is entirely carbon, but if you're a serious user, we recommend looking at it. If you don't require as much performance from your paddle, it may be in your best interest to look at the Best Buy-winning BPS Alloy.

The KIALOA blade
The KIALOA blade

Ease of Adjustment


The Insanity is the only paddle in this review that is not adjustable. For our testers, this was not a problem, as they were the correct height for the paddle. However, if you plan to allow multiple users to play on your SUP setup, it is wise to get an adjustable paddle like the Best Buy award-winning BPS Alloy or the Werner Vibe. Additionally, keep in mind that if you plan on surfing or running the river with your SUP, adjustment can be crucial.


With that said, choosing a paddle that is the right height for you in the first place can eliminate the need for much adjustment. Read our Buying Advice article to determine what height paddle is the best for you.

The KIALOA's handle  which can be removed from the end of the shaft  as show.
The KIALOA's handle, which can be removed from the end of the shaft, as show.

Compactability


The Insanity received its lowest score in this category, as it did not have any compactibility to speak of. However, if you're interested in a high-performance paddle, we feel that the KIALOA delivers a quality blade, and it is worth the extra hassle of hauling around a longer paddle. For users with small cars, this is not the right choice for you. However, we were able to fit this product into a variety of SUVs, and if you have a truck, you'll have no problem at all.


For a more compact paddle, consider either the IGK or Super Paddle models. Both of these paddles can break down into three pieces, and they each come with a carrying case. This makes them ideal for use when you need an extremely compact paddle, and they are especially nice for airplane travel.

Locking Mechanism


The Insanity is the only product in our review that did not have a locking mechanism. Despite this, it scored well in this department (better than some paddles with locking mechanisms!). Why is this, you ask? The truth of the matter is that, in many cases, if you size your paddle correctly, you won't need adjustment. And because most adjustment systems land at about hand height, they often prove annoying when paddling or when switching hands during a mission. Although some of the paddles in this review, like the Werner Vibe, did locking mechanisms right with a low-profile system that adjusted well and didn't get in the way, others, like the Super Paddle and IGK models, did poorly. The Insanity, however, doesn't have to worry about this.


If you plan on being the only user of your paddle, or if the users who will be sharing it with you are around your same height, then you might want to consider a paddle without a locking mechanism. Also consider whether or not you plan to run rivers, surf, or travel with your SUP setup, as these can affect how much adjustment you require from your paddle.

The KIAOLA model  on the far left  is the only non-adjustable model in the fleet. All of the other six paddles have an adjustment mechanism
The KIAOLA model, on the far left, is the only non-adjustable model in the fleet. All of the other six paddles have an adjustment mechanism

Weight


The Insanity weighs 1.5 pounds and is the second lightest product that we reviewed. The Werner Trance is .3 pounds lighter, and the iGK is the same weight as the Insanity.


Best Applications


This paddle is made for non-racers, but it does have some high-performance features. It has an extremely lightweight shaft, and its easy-to-move blade makes it simple to increase your cadence. The Insanity is not adjustable, so it requires users to be proactive when buying a paddle for their height. If you plan on sharing with friends or using for river running or travel, this might not be the right choice for you.

Value


For $219 you get a high performance, 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.

Conclusion


We loved the Insanity and do recommend this paddle. The blade is strong and light and cuts through water cleanly and easily. The shaft is smooth, light and comfortable. The Insanity is assembled in the USA.

Shey Kiester

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Most recent review: August 4, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
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5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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