2016 Hala Atcha 86 review
As primarily a whitewater SUP paddler, inflatable boards are my go-to choice for the abuse of the river. In fact, the only scenario where I’m using a true ridged board is for surfing. The 2016 Hala lineup has really pushed the limits of what can be done with inflatable technology. Of the 11 models Hala released this year, the new smaller sized, Hala Atcha 86, is a board that has really changed what’s possible. At 8’6”x34”x6” it’s one of the shortest inflatable stand up paddle boards that you can purchase.
Who is the Hala Atcha 86 Good for?
Specifically, this board is designed for running shallow water, tight turns, holes, waves, and drops. It’ll handle anything the river can throw at you, except massive water. Here’s the rundown on what makes this board a whitewater fav:
STOMPBOX CENTER FIN – This is a game changing option for running shallow water and
taking on drops. It’s a 4” fin on a tension spring that allows it to retract when the
impact of hitting the bottom or rocks occur. The Stompbox can take hits from the side and from the back of the fins – it’s super durable.
CLICK SIDE BITE FINS – There’s four mounts that can be utilized, with (whitewater) or
without (calm water) grub screws. Slide them and you have several options. Thruster
and single are what I’d pick for most whitewater, but the options of quad and double
side bite exist. Single fin paddling does take some getting used to; it’s just enough to
track, but lets you turn on a dime. This is a godsend in conditions like creeks and low
water rivers. With the two upper click fins added to create the thruster position, the
stability is drastically increased.
ROCKER, LOTS OF ROCKER – This is a personal/style preference. It creates a lot of
different choices depending where you are/how you’re standing on the deck. If you
only paddle squared up, you’ll want to take a second to get comfy. If you embrace surf
stance (kung-fu) rocker gives you a crazy amount of maneuverabilityand, with the
built in stomp pad on the tail, you can literally spin in a circle. Keep in mind though,
this changes a normal dynamic. The center point isn’t the handle; it’s a foot behind it.
A foot forward TOTALLY disengages the fin boxes.
SHORT LENGTH – The obvious small size cuts down on weight and heightens handling.
When the change in stability is embraced, it’s hard to paddle without. The ability to
pick it up and toss it around is a huge advantage in a lot of whitewater aspects. As far
as inflatables go, a short length combined with high pressure and quality materials make it ultra-stiff!
As far as sporty boards go, it’s hard not to fall in love with this shape. Whenever something drastically new comes along, there’s always a few learning curves, but with the Hala Atcha 86 the stoke is there from the get go. So for now, this is the whitewater board of choice (except for huge water).