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. Andy_O_Brien_Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Action

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.
    Andy_O_Brien_Hala_Atcha_86_Review_86_Stomp_Box The Stomp Box center fin is a total game changer for whitewater SUP. The fin is engaged until it hits a rock. When the rocks hits the fin it retracts up into the box (instead of breaking off like traditional fins). Nice job Hala - amazing technology right there!!!
  • 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.
    Andy_O_Brien_Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Fin_Setup The click in side bite fins are easy to install and take out. The fins themselves are very flexible.
    Andy_O_Brien_Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Click_Fin Close up of the click in side bite fin and FCS set screws...
  • 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.
    Andy_O_Brien_Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Rocker In this photo you can see the rocker profile of the Hala Atcha 86. It's got a lot of nose and tail rocker. This helps the board turn on a dime in tight, rocky rapids, as well as surf well!
  • 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!
    Andy_O_Brien_Hala_Atcha_86_Review_86_Smaller The Hala Atcha 86 is 1 foot shorter than it's big brother - this is what gives it the nimble feeling.
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). Andy_O_Brien_Hala_Atcha_86_Review_Pic

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