Hala Gear 2016 Review

Hala Gear  is an owner / paddler  operated company, run by Peter Hall. We like to sell this brand for many reasons…they make the highest quality whitewater SUP’s and accessories available, have industry leading customer service, are priced competitively, perform at a very high level, and most of all are EXTREMELY durable. Durability in relation to performance (durability:performance) is the most important thing to consider when searching for a SUP. Lots of boards will paddle well, but many of them will not stand up to the rigors / demands of a whitewater environment.  There are also boards out there that will not break or fall apart over time, but many of them do not perform well – they are too heavy, do not have enough rocker, feel like a wet mop when you stand on them,  and are not meant for charging hard on rivers and having fun surfing river waves. Hala Gear SUP’s will perform as well as (or better than) any inflatable whitewater SUP out there. They will last longer, and are backed by solid customer service in the event of a problem (but that most likely will not happen. We have sold the brand  since the beginning and have yet to have a warranty that is the fault of the board).

Japan434Photo Zach Mahone

Hala Gear owner Peter Hall is the lead board designer – in this photo, he is testing out boards in Japan – nice perk to the job…

Read on to learn more about what new features Hala Gear has for 2016, and why the Hala Atcha and Atcha 86 will make the ideal boards for downriver paddling, surfing and having fun on whitewater in general.

HALA GEAR FEATURES FOR 2016

As previously mentioned, when doing a durability : performance comparison, one will find that Hala Gear leads the way in both categories. Here are some features that will genuinely cause you to be a better downriver paddler, and also not spend as much time dealing with warranties, or shopping for a new board at the end of 2 years because your $1000 + SUP will not hold air like it used to.

  • INDUSTRY LEADING 3 YEAR WARRANTY
    All Hala Gear SUP’s have a 3 year manufacturer warranty. This is roughly 3 times longer than what is offered by most other brands. Most other major manufacturers offer warranties ranging from 90 days to 1 year (with the exception of NRS who also offers a 3 year warranty). Besides having an extended warranty period, Hala also has a great customer service team. You can be rest assured that if you do have an issue with your Hala SUP, or even just a SUP related question, someone will be there to assist you.
  • 6″ DROP STITCH AND 2 LAYER RAILS ON ALL MODEL BOARDS
    All Hala Gear SUP’s are constructed from an extremely high quality 6″ thick drop stitch, and 2 layers of rail material. This is the reason that Hala SUP’s are as stiff as they are. The drop stitch material is thick and high quality – even thought the pressure valve says 15 psi max on it, you can pump a Hala board up to well beyond that if you are looking for an uber stiff ride. The double thick rails also help with stiffness. The first layer of rail is what prevents the board from leaking. Because of the material and installation quality, you will find that these boards DO NOT LEAK. The second layer of rail is for durability and abrasion resistance.

    Hala_Atcha_86_Review_6"_Thick_New_Rail

    A 6″ drop stitch makes the Hala SUP’s very stiff and perform well in whitewater.

    Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Double_Rail

    2 layers of wrap around the board prevent leakage and add durability and abrasion resistance.

  • PROGRESSIVE ROCKER PROFILE ON WHITEWATER BOARDS (SPECIFICALLY THE ATCHA SERIES)
    Each and every Hala SUP has a rocker profile that specially caters to it’s intended use. The Atcha and Atcha 86 both have progressive rocker up front, as well as a little bit of kick rocker in the tail. This allows the boards to be nimble, turn easily, yet retain it’s stability.

    Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Rocker_86

    Generous rocker in the nose of the board allow for quick turns, and also make it a better river surfer.

    Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Downriver_Play

    Kick rocker on the tail helps the board to turn easily. Again, it also helps the board surf better on rivers.

    Nose rocker as seen in this photo will help the board punch up and over holes. © Paul Clark/Black&Red Photography

  • EXTREMELY HIGH CONSTRUCTION QUALITY INCLUDING TIP TO TAIL STRINGERS ON THE ATCHA
    The stringer system (hidden under the deck pad) is another redundancy used by Hala to create stiffness. The stringers run from the tip to the tail on the full size Atcha – this is a feature that not all other companies utilize, and in our eyes a reason to justify paying $1578 for a Hala Gear SUP. This is also a feature that you will notice from the moment that you hop on the board. Some SUP’s have a soggy /, and others are very stiff. Hala SUP’s are as stiff as they get.

    Hala_Atcha_86_Review_STOMP_Pad

    A full length stringer from tip to tail creates stiffness that separates Hala boards from the rest of the pack.

  • BOMBER DECK PAD WITH A COMFORTABLE STOMP PAD
    Besides looking really cool, it is soft (in case you fall on it), has great traction, and covers a large portion of the board (so that you are not limited to standing only on the center of the SUP). The rear stomp pad is especially bomber. This is great for surfing, paddling in Kung Fu stance, and doing pivot turns; you’ll have more confidence knowing that your foot is firmly planted.

    Hala_Atcha_Review_Swallow_Tail_Stomp_Pad

    Thick and durable stomp pad.

  • STOMP BOX!!
    The Stomp Box is freaking awesome. Why didn’t someone think of this sooner???
    This is actually a great example of progressive technologies that an owner operated company like Hala is constantly coming up with. Basically, this is a worry free way of paddling on all forms of whitewater, and not having to worry about breaking a fin, or even worse, “super manning” off the front of the board when you hit a shallow rock. Best of all, the Stomp Box system is darn near invincible. The fin can take hits from the side and back, and keep on ticking. Peter Hall (company owner) has been trying to break the system, and has yet to succeed. Do not fear, if you do find a way to crack the fin (but we are betting that you will not), it is easy to replace…

    Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Stomp_Box

    Virtually indestructible, and highly functional, the Stomp Box is an example of a component that will make you a better paddler. It will recess when it hits a rock – genius!

  • CLICK FIN SYSTEM ON ALL BOARDS
    Two thumbs up for the Click Fin system. For flatwater paddling, click the fins into the board and go paddle. If you are whitewater SUP’ing, click the fins into the board and tighten the set screws…the 4.5″ soft flex fins included with the board will get the job done for most whitewater paddling. Hala is also coming out with a low volume whitewater fin pictured below – pretty cool. You can always paddle the board fin-less and use the Stomp Box – this is probably the best setup for lower water paddling. The shallow drag of the Click Fin Boxes in combination with the Stomp Box will give you the perfect amount of tracking for technical whitewater paddling.

    Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Click_Fin

    Close up of the Click Fin Box.The fin inserts and locks in place. For flat water paddling, no screws are necessary. You can use the set screws for WW paddling.

    Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Click_Fin2

    The click fin system with the fin locked in place.

    Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Low_Volume_Fin

    Low profile WW specific fins – soon to be released from Hala SUP. Pretty cool.

  • VOLUME DISTRIBUTION THAT CATERS TO PERFORMANCE WHITEWATER PADDLING AND SURFING
    The Hala Atcha and Atcha 86 have the right volume distribution for whitewater paddling. The boards have lots of  volume are the widest in the center and front / center. This makes them more stable. When the Atcha punches through a rapid, the part of the board that you are standing on is where the volume is – this creates stability.

    Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Deck_Pad

    The mid section on the Atcha and Atcha 86 has enough volume to create added stability in tough rapids.

  • BEST BOARD / TRAVEL BAG IN THE INDUSTRY. PERIOD.We’ve seen a lot of board bag warranties here at CKS. Zippers fall off, bags split open, boards are too big for the bags and wreak havoc on the seams, etc. The new 2016 Hala SUP bags are in a league of their own – they are big enough for a board, paddle, PFD and paddling gear, have convertible pack straps, a super heavy duty zipper,rollers for airport travel, and are constructed from bomb material. Peter told me that they spent some time dragging the boards behind a car to see how durable the material actually was – looks like it passed the test.

    Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Best_bag_In_Business

    The oversize / high quality Hala board and gear bag. The pack straps are cleverly hidden with a Velcro panel.

    Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Best_bag_In_Business2

    Pack straps for hiking into the put in or from the take out.

  • SOLID GROUPING OF ACCESSORIES THAT COMES WITH THE BOARD
    All Hala Gear SUP’s come with a hand pump, an electric pump, repair kit and the above mentioned bag. The electric pump is a nice addition – it takes the struggle out of getting a high pressure board like the Atcha or 86 pumped up to 15-18 psi.

WHAT MAKES THE ATCHA AND ATCHA 86 SO GOOD FOR WHITEWATER

    • STOMP BOX!!!
      The Stomp Box is a true whitewater life saver.  It’s a worry free way to keep your board on track and never have to worry about breaking a fin.
    • CLICK FINS
      The Click Fins offer ease of use and versatility. It’s quick and simple to get the fins in the board, and allows for any FCS compatible fin to be used. Think of them as FCS fins with an extra layer of protection to keep them from falling out of your board!
    • 4 + 1 REMOVABLE FIN IS GOOD FOR ALL TYPES OF WATER
      The 4 + 1 setup allows for the Hala Atcha’s to be paddled on all forms of water. Use just the center fin (Stomp Box) for shallow whitewater or flatwater. Use the quads for big water or surfing. There are plenty of options.Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Four_Plus_One
    • ROCKER PROFILE

Lots of rocker on the nose, and some kick rocker in the tail equals more fun on the river.

    • SHORT LENGTH FOR LOWER VOLUME RIVERS

At 8’6″ the Atcha 86 is the perfect board for lower volume, technical rivers. Check out Andy O’Brien’s review on the 86 – he spent a lot of time on the Arkansas River at low water, which is the perfect shallow and tight environment a board like the 86.

  • FUN TO SURF
    The Atcha, and especially the Atcha 86 are very fun to surf. The Atcha 86 in particular is a great board for paddling downriver in search of river waves. It’s short enough to get on steeper river waves, yet has enough volume to float you to and from the play hole. It has a swallow tail that makes turning easy. The progressive rocker keeps the nose out of the trough of the wave, and the tail kick rocker makes for fun turning…Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Great_Surfer
    Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Surf
  • SUPER HIGH QUALITY CONSTRUCTION – ABUSE THIS BOARD! 6″ drop stitch, 2 layers of wrap around the board, a high quality deck pad, durable and innovative fin options, and an overall attention to detail not often found on inflatable SUP’s is what makes Hala the brand that it is. If it’s a worry free SUP experience that you are after, Hala Gear is the brand for you. And it has a 3 year warranty to boot!
  • WARRANTY BACKED BY A COMPANY THAT WANTS TO KEEP YOU ON THE WATER
    The 3 year warranty is good enough to mention it again….so there it is.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ATCHA AND ATCHA 86, AND WHICH BOARD IS RIGHT FOR ME?

Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Atcha_and_86

The 9’6 Atcha is on the left, and it’s little sister on the right – the Atcha 86. The OG Atcha is good for running serious whitewater with a focus on stability, nimbleness and performance. The Atcha 86 is a better board for lighter paddlers, and those looking for a board that will surf as well as it paddles downriver. Think of the 86 as a Jackson Fun as a SUP.

Are you a heavier paddler (over 190 lbs) looking for a nimble and fun downriver SUP? Go for the Hala Atcha. Are you a lighter paddler looking for a board to stomp the BIG drops? Go for the Hala Atcha. Are you a lighter paddler looking for a board that is fun to paddle and not overly cumbersome? If so, take a look at the Atcha 86. Are you a heavier paddler (over 190 lbs) who is looking for a SUP that is equivalent to your Jackson Fun? Do you want to paddle down class III and have fun surfing on your way down? Then go for the Atcha 86.
Overall, if tighter and more technical rapids, river surfing and playing the entire river are on your agenda, check out the Atcha 86. If having fun on the river, but knowing that you have a little more volume under your feet, as well as a bit more primary stability, then go for the Atcha 86. OR – just get one of each!!

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