In my opinion, nothing beats the feeling of embracing the natural world around us, to just dive into it and submerge ourselves in the raw elements of this planet. There are many ways to achieve this feeling but the best way for me is to pick up my stand up paddle board and just flow with the current.
I’ve been paddle boarding for quite a while now and if there is one word through which I can describe this sport, it would be ‘rejuvenating’. But it’s not that easy to embark on this journey because, over time, I learned that paddle boarding is a very precise activity. What I mean by precise is that you can’t just jump into it and hope that everything goes well. Instead, you must be very particular when it comes to your initial state of mind, your intentions, but most importantly the equipment you’re going to use.
By now, you must be wondering why I sound spiritual and what not because after all we are talking about what could be an extreme sport. Well, that’s the thing with paddle boarding, it can be many things. I personally prefer the subtle and peaceful side of it. However, that does not mean I don’t like to go crazy with it. In fact, you can’t really help but enjoy everything paddle boarding has to offer.
So, let’s go back to equipment. It is very important to choose the right board for you when you decide to take on this sport. And you’re probably reading this review because you are interested in the ATOLL 11 foot inflatable stand up paddle board. So let me save you the trouble and tell you that this board is just great. It will satisfy most if not all of your expectations and it’s going to be very reliable. However, if that doesn’t help make up your mind then let us talk details.
Your first concern when getting a board should be the size, believe me. Not all boards are the same size and that’s for a very good reason. The ATOLL is 11 foot long and somewhere around 30 inch wide which makes it an appropriate board for anyone under 6 feet tall.
Also, this board is 6 inches thick and that matters a lot. Once on water, some boards will dive at the middle and your feet would always be swimming. However, when your board is 6 inches thick or more, you can even wear socks and not worry about them getting wet. Not only is that great for socks lovers but it’s also much more fun when you jump off your board into the water.
What is significant about this board, however, is the way it is shaped. Most inflatable board out there end up looking like a rectangular planch and that’s fine if you’re into contemporary art but if you appreciate the authentic surf board look then the ATOLL is your friend.
Also, the board has a nicely designed gripping pad which covers most of the board to guarantee firmer balance and grants you more space to move around on top of the board. The gripping pad is not only meant to help you maintain balance when standing on the ATOLL but it’s also very helpful when you want to climb back on top of it.
When it comes to utility, this board is significantly improved when compared to other boards in the same category. For starters, the ATOLL has 6 stainless steel D-rings on the nose of the board that are connected with a bungee cord which allows you to store anything from your shoes to your paddle. It has three carry handles: one on top of the D-rings which serves for toeing or securing your board, a second at the center which helps you carry your board single handed, and a third on the back of the deck which can be used like the first one but it also serves as a base for your ankle leash. (if you can’t carry the board yourself, you can ask someone to help you using the handles at the front and back).
Now, when it comes to user friendliness, this board has really impressed me. The ATOLL comes in an all inclusive package which contains everything you will be needing to maintain this board. First thing you’ll notice is the high pressure hand pump which is every paddle boarder’s arch enemy. You might not mind the 10 minutes long pumping of your board the first couple of times, but it starts to get really challenging with time and this is something that goes for every inflatable board out there. My advice is to simply use your electric pump or buy one if you don’t have it already because you will need it sooner or later.
A great addition to this board is the collapsible aluminium paddle which breaks down to 3 parts for extra portability, a slide-in removable central fin that you should avoid using in shallow water, a generic repair kit which is always a good thing to have and last but not least a practical back pack that’s large enough for the deflated board, the paddle, the repair kit and the pump.
I can’t get over the fact that inflatable paddle boards are just so practical. I mean it fits in a back pack with all the other equipment – How crazy is that? You don’t have to worry about clearing storage space for your gigantic board nor will you have to rent a WV van to transport it to the nearest water side. Basically, you can just wear your back pack and walk down to your nearest lake or beach and BAAM you have everything you need to start. I’m not hating on strong boards but all I’m saying is that inflatable boards have a lot more to offer.