Standup Paddleboarding Gear Review

Stand Up Paddle Boarding Gear review

by Mary Lou Cerami

The winter of 2015 I had the pleasure of field testing the Starboard Astro Blend Inflatable Standup Paddleboard (S.U.P) on a S.U.P Yoga trip to Costa Rica. Truth be told, I’ve never really been a fan of inflatables. I dislike that extra layer of instability you sometimes feel in the top layer of the deck. As a S.U.P instructor I’m pretty much on a rigid board all the time, but the traditional hard board does not travel so easily – so, I sought out an inflatable.

The guys at Starboard showed me the Astro Blend 11’2 x 32, a beautifully shaped board in size, but light on the weight I’d have to lug thru the airport and beyond. Fully loaded it weighed in at just 30lbs. The 4ft tall pack is basically a large backpack, with plenty of room for the 3-piece paddle and any extra gear you may want to throw in.

And my most important consideration when choosing an inflatable – when fully inflated how rigid does this board get? I can tell you at times while on the water I actually forgot I was on an inflatable. That’s how great this board was. Thank you to the incredible design team at Starboard. Their high attention to detail in the overall manufacturing process has ensured a brand that outputs incredible boards that perform at a level above.

Upon my arrival I decided on a nice long distance paddle in the protected Gulf of Papagayo in northern Costa Rica. The water bespoke glass, no wind to speak of, it seemed the gods were smiling down on me. I set my sights for a beach about 4 miles away and headed out. Wow this baby can glide. Great tracking, nice response – I made it there and back with plenty of time for some S.U.P Yoga by our beach. The deck provides plenty of traction and stability when paddling, but not too stiff or uncomfortable when trying out a headstand or downward dog on deck.

The Astro comes equipped with bungees on the foredeck for lashing any gear you’d like to take along for the ride. There’s plenty of space to add pretty much whatever you want. I brought along my snorkel. If you are an avid snorkeler having a S.U.P on your next vacation will make a huge difference. Being able to paddle to distant islands, hard-to-reach beaches, or secluded coral reefs is a huge bonus.

Plus this board can handle a rider up to 231lbs, which also means even more stability for lighter riders.

I arrived in Costa Rica’s dry season – which happens to also be the tourist high season since the days are consistently sunny and hot. Basically perfect weather for the weary Chicagoan escaping sub-zero temps and snow from one of the worst winters in recent memory.

Costa Rica is a surfing and paddleboarding mecca. A tiny country abutting both the Pacific and Carribean, you can surf huge waves on either side of the country while also paddle miles of gorgeous coastline in protected bays.

And this board could easily handle surfing the renowned waves of CR. The Astro showcases a true rocker profile, which also helps keep the board stiff. And something to note, the nose rocker actually starts from mid board, not just at the tip like most other boards. Another reason that shows the guys Starboard are creating high performance quality construction, but with your fun in mind.

So next time you’re planning a vacation – it’s more than worth it to bring an inflatable SUP along for the drive or flight. The Astro paddleboard is lightweight, intelligently constructed, fast and responsive. For more specs and info on this paddleboard, check out Starboard’s website.

Also, be sure to check out more of my pics on Pintrest

About the author
Mary Lou Cerami is an ACA certified Level 2 SUP Instructor. Mary Lou teaches SUP lessons and SUP Yoga classes throughout Chicago every summer. During the off-season you can find her teaching studio classes on the Indo Board – a balance board workout that’s a great way to train SUP anytime.

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