Pau Hana Big EZ Air Inflatable SUP
Photos by Jessie Keller

I know, I know. An inflatable stand up paddle board sounds as sturdy as a sew-it-yourself backpack or a click-and-lock mountain bike. But once inflated, the Pau Hana Big EZ Air inflatable SUP feels as solid as a fiberglass board. And, unlike those unwieldy boards that can only be hauled to the beach in a truck bed or on a roof rack, the Big EZ Air rolls up into a backpack that can be checked as luggage or packed to the nearest mountain lake.

Inflated, the Big EZ Air is 11 feet long, 32 inches wide and 6 inches thick. The deck includes crisscrossing tie-downs and six sections of an ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) pad. The 8 inch underside fin is detachable and screws in easily. A mid-board strap handle makes it easy to carry once inflated. Standard on the 2015 edition is Pau Hana’s SeaMount System™, a series of threaded bolt inserts that allow you to screw in anything from GoPro mounts to fishing rod holders. Rolled and packed, the entire kit weighs 35 pounds, making it perfect for a day hike.

Pau Hana Big EZ Air Inflatable SUP

I’ve gone SUPing before, but never on an inflatable. After seeing Heather Porpiglia’s Alpine SUP photos, I was sold. It seemed like the SUP Platonic Ideal to hike to a mountain lake, and instead of circumnavigating it on foot, simply glide along the surface to the distant shore. Practically, however, there are a few things that give the Big EZ Air a few unfortunate snags.

It’s recommended that the Big EZ Air be inflated to 20 psi. I have pretty good upper-body strength, and it took me over five minutes of near-continuous pumping just to get it up to 14 psi (the pump comes with a gauge attachment so you don’t have to guess). Once I’d hit 14, I either ran out of strength or the board ran out of room for air. Over five minutes to inflate manually seems like its own P90X workout – not exactly the fatigue you want to have before you’re on the water.

Pau Hana Big EZ Air Inflatable SUP

When I pulled the pump hose to secure the seal plug, a torrent of air gushed through the valve, and I lost so much pressure I figured I’d better start over. When I became more familiar with the stopper, I reattached the pump, and I saw that I was down to about 8 psi. That’s a lot of air lost between pump and plug. So I pumped the board back up to 14 psi and switched quickly to stopper (though I think I still lost three or four pounds). But the rubber washer wasn’t fully sealed, and, though I tried several times, I continued to hear air hissing through the crack in the seal.

To be fair, the SUP I was using had seen some wear. It had been used in competition at the Payette River Games in Idaho and the Ultimate SUP Challenge in Ottawa in rough and rocky waters. So I can be a little forgiving of the stopper, which may just need a new rubber washer. But I still think there’s got to be a better way to inflate the board and keep it from losing so much pressure in the transition.

Editors Note: After publishing this review Pau Hana informed us that we had been operating the inflation nozzle incorrectly.  To inflate, you need to depress the button and twist it before putting on the hose.  Doing so allows the air to only go in and not rush out when the hose is removed. Also 15psi is sufficient for rigidity, but they recommend 20psi for running rivers that are cold and when there are a lot of rapids.  The extra 5psi does take a bit more effort, but it’s not necessary for casual paddling.

Once I was afloat on the lake, the Big EZ Air handled almost as well as a solid fiberglass board. There was an extra layer of balance-keeping: not only was I balancing on the waves, I was working to balance on the board’s air. That’s not a deal-breaker. In fact, I appreciate the subtle differences of an inflatable SUP.

Pau Hana Big EZ Air Inflatable SUP

Taut as it was, it gave my calves a workout in a way a regular board wouldn’t have.

The Big EZ Air retails for $1199.99, which is relatively steep considering some inflatable boards go for around $800. The cheaper competitor’s durability and portability may not be up to Pau Hana’s standards. (And they certainly won’t have the roster of pro riders Pau Hana has.) If the Big EZ Air were easier to inflate without losing so much pressure in the transition, the few extra hundreds may be worth it.

 

Bottom Line:

Pau Hana makes it easy to get a fun and durable SUP board into the outdoors. But they need to figure out a way to make the prep just as easy.

 

 

Included:

Big EZ Air

Removable plastic flex fin

3-piece paddle

Pump with hose and guage attachments

Repair kit

 

Tech Specs:

MSRP: $1199.99

Dimensions: 11’x32”x6”

Weight: 24lbs

Volume: 240 L

Core: Air

Lamination: Drop stich

Pau Hana Big EZ Air Inflatable SUP

$1199.99
8.1

Weight

8.0/10

Usability

8.5/10

Packability

8.0/10

Comfort

8.0/10

Pros

  • Easy to pack
  • Relatively lightweight
  • Strong and durable

Cons

  • Extremely difficult to manually inflate to the recommended 20 psi
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