GILI 10’6 AIR
That’s why we’re always so excited when we see a board under $500 that has some potential. Gili is a great brand with a reputation for packing a punch for the price, so it’ll be interesting to see how this iSUP turns out, being the most inexpensive in their entire lineup.
- Fast board for its length
- Stable in calmer waters for its size
- Very reasonably priced
- Subpar accessories
- No rear grab handles
- Too thin for some paddlers
[ez-toc]While not impossible, it can be difficult to find a decent iSUP for under $500. But if we’ve said it once, we said it a thousand times: paddleboarding shouldn’t be a sport just for people with money. We firmly believe that even if you need to save up a little bit, buying a quality iSUP shouldn’t send you to the poor house.
|10'6||31"||6"||19 lbs||280 lbs|
This was a surprisingly fast iSUP, but it makes sense when you see how thin it is. That being said, taller or heavier paddlers might have a problem keeping their balance, especially in rougher waters. If you’re on the smaller side, then you’ll have a blast in calmer waters.
Again, depending on the size of the paddler, this is probably one of the most stable boards of its size in calmer waters due to the design of the nose. Even so, you still probably wouldn’t want to take on any other passengers since the weight limit is a bit low to keep performance at its peak.
The D-rings play a large role in this category. In all, there are 9 — less than other GILI boards but still respectable. While we would have liked to see rear storage bungees on the back, the setup the 4 rear rings gives you the option to attach your own bungees if you find yourself needing that space or to have extra deck real estate if you don’t. Plus, there are convenient attachments for an optional kayak seat. Even if you don’t have any need for that, you can still use these rings for docking or attaching gear.
Speaking of gear, the front has a respectable 6-point bungee area, which isn’t all that uncommon is comparable boards but still a good thing nonetheless. Unlike other GILI boards, there is no paddle holder on the AIR, a feature we find to be extremely useful if you decide to do something other than paddle with your iSUP. If you want to take a swim or do some SUP fitness, you’ll need to make sure to secure your paddle some other way.
Lastly, let’s take a look at the EVA foam pad. Although not the largest pad in the GILI lineup, it’s still more than sufficient and makes standing or kneeling for hours at a time a little bit easier than with some pads we’ve seen out there.
Like with other boards from this brand, you only have the option of one length. However, you can choose from 4 colors: blue, light blue, green and teal. This is unusual for a budget board since the more colors they offer, the less efficient the manufacturing process and their costs go up. For some reason, if you order in teal, a portion of the proceeds goes to saving sea life but not when you order any other color. So, if that’s a reason for getting this board, keep that in mind.
The nose of the board is very low and rounded. What this means that it’s best used in calmer waters but can take a little bit of chop. Still, you’re much better off sticking to lakes and ponds.
Finally, we can’t forget the fin setup. A 3-fin setup helps to keep your ride a little faster and better tracked than most boards of this size. Other GILI boards have all 3 removable for easier setup and storage. Since this is a budget iSUP, we can’t complain too much about the 2 side fins being fixed. However, once you’ve had this with other boards, it becomes noticeable when it’s not a feature.
In the iSUP world, dual-layer PVC construction is considered standard and 4-layer construction is considered premium. Again, as this is a budget board, we’re not going to complain about the AIR only having 2 layers of construction.
On the plus side, it makes for a lightweight board, coming at a lean 19 pounds.
Out of the box, this iSUP comes with everything you’d need to get yourself out on the water. This includes a backpack, hand pump, ankle leash, repair kit and the paddle. As we mentioned in the outset, these are all subpar and one the most significant differences between this board and other boards on the market. For instance, the paddle shaft is fiberglass and the pump is a dual-action, single chamber model.
Ironically, other boards that cost hundreds of dollars more in the GILI lineup have the same exact accessories, so we can’t blame it on the price of the board. Of course, you can choose to purchase better accessories separately, but they only make life easier and aren’t necessary.
We’re always happy to see an iSUP under $500 perform so well. The GILI AIR isn’t for everyone but is definitely a solid choice for those on a budget and beginners, especially those on the lighter and/or shorter side. However, we would probably suggest a board a little bit wider for a true beginner, at 32 or 33”.
That being said, we have very little to complain about at this price point. Of course, we’d rather see carbon fiber paddle shafts, but fiberglass is still better than aluminum. Also, an upgraded air pump would make setup a lot easier but so would an electric pump.
In the end, the GILI AIR is what it is: a great valued iSUP for under $500 — enough to whet the appetite for beginners or for the price-conscious paddlerboarder to get on the water without worrying about missing the rent this month.