STARBOARD RIVER INFLATABLE
While we trust that this product was highly researched and engineered, the fact of the matter is that it had better be the most solid, well-designed board before we go from calm lakes or somewhat predictable waves to the mountains of West Virginia or Colorado with an iSUP.
That’s why we took Starboard’s River Inflatable to task to see if we can recommend our readers to put this on their list for their next iSUP purchase.
- Nsanely slip-proof
- Multiple dimensions depending on the type of water
- Designed specifically for shallow, fast moving water
- No paddle
- No choice in color
[ez-toc]We’re not going to lie — everything about this board terrifies and excites us. If you’ve ever gone whitewater rafting before, think about all that action and excitement but without the protection of a kayak. Think about doing all that while standing on an iSUP.
There are currently 3 difference variants for this board that we’ll call long (11’x34”), medium (10’11”x31”) and short (9’6”x36”) for the sake of simplicity. Since it’s the truth, we’ll have you assume that each of the boards excel in what they were designed for.
The long board is meant for calmer, smoother rivers and as a result, glides beautifully and can pick up some decent speed while maintaining decent balance. The short board is meant for the nastiest of waters since it’s designed for quick and controlled turning. Lastly, the medium board bridges the gap between the other 2 to give a more balanced feel, though its balance is the weakest of the 3 due to it being so thin which it makes up for in its zippiness.
All 3 of these boards are designed for choppy water but not for waves, per se. However, based on the size and shape of the small board, it can actually do some damage out on the waves in open water, though it wouldn’t make for a good general board.
These are iSUPs that we designed for rivers — plain and simple. First off, in place of a standard EVA foam pad, there is a reinforced standing tray with sidewalls to provide the maximum protection in even the wettest and most unstable conditions. The diamond grooved traction area is generally only used for smaller areas of racing iSUPs but is used on the entire tray here to provide the strongesst protection against slipping possible, especially considering that the paddler will most likely be using shoes or even boots while on this board compared to being barefoot on others iSUPs.
Another feature that was designed specifically for rivers was the addition of multiple grab handles on the deck besides the standard center, front and back handles. These additional handles (5 in total) give you more places to hold on to so that you can get back on the board if and when you fall off. This tells us that Starboard really did their research since people rarely stay on their rafts or kayaks the entire time when going through rapids.
All 3 models only come in an almost purely red motif. However, considering that these boards have more of a rugged feel to them, it makes sense that they wouldn’t come in multiple bright color packages.
The front of these boards have 2 unique features to them that help them in rivers compared to open water. Perhaps the most unique is how the front on the board is designed to almost be squared off compared to the rounded or V-shape we would normally see. The reason for this is that these were designed for maximum maneuverability verses speed. You can really see this to the extreme with the smallest model. Additionally, the nose of the board is raised to for the same reason, especially when the rapids start to kick up and you need your board to be as reactive as possible.
Secondly, the fins are thrusters and all of the same length. Under any other circumstances, this would be less than ideal, these fins are designed to give an excellent tracking without reducing speed and keep a low profile while doing it. This reduces the risk of damage when encountering shallow waters.
While there is some storage area on this iSUP, it’s pretty limited. The front center of the deck has a 4-point bungee area with corresponding D-rings that seems a bit small considering the overall size of the boards. But we suppose that considering the type of water to be expected while using these boards, there probably isn’t really a need for any major amount of gear.
While Starboard generally give a choice of 1 of 4 construction options, the River Inflatables only have one available — the Deluxe Single Chamber. Essentially, it’s a single chamber inflation area on the inside but reinforced rails that use a heat process on their seams versus the traditional glue in addition to drop stitching.
At first this seems a bit odd to us since it would seem best to have their stronger, Deluxe Double Chamber construction. However, a little bit of flexibility can go a long way when going through rapids and other rough waters.
Out of the box, you get a travel backpack and tiki air pump. As a side note, the air pump is made from recycled fishing nets and the newest version is 10% more efficient than the previous model.
Note that this board does not include a paddle.
Starboard — in usual fashion — is a pioneer with this iSUP. While you can go down rivers with a number of boards on the market, there are few if any that have been designed just for that purpose. In all honesty, this is more of a risky activity that normal paddleboarding and if you’re going to do it, you’re going to want a board that’s going to give you the maximum ability to do it safely.
Like most of their other products, the Starboard River Inflatable is a well-thought out and executed board that is a lesson in getting what you pay for. These boards aren’t cheap and don’t even come with a paddle, so keep that in mind for the final purchase price. But overall, if you have the cash and an truly adventurous spirit, we highly recommend checking out the River Inflatbale.