Remember the days when it was tough to find an inflatable stand up paddle board that was anything other than 10'6" long, 30" or 32" at the waist, and about 4" thick? Fin options also used to be extremely limited, and the definition of the word "stable" meant an ox of an 11' long board that turned as slow as a 16 foot raft.
Well, the times are changing, and they're changing for the better. A LOT of companies are experimenting with progressive board shapes, and a few of them are doing it really well. One company that recently NAILED a design for 2013 is NRS
. They may have actually nailed a few designs, but this review is focusing on the CZAR
. The NRS CZAR is 9'6" of not so lean SUP machine. Imagine a board as stable as your 11' hoss of an SUP, yet as nimble as a 9' high performance surfer, complete with a K Pump, pressure gauge, well constructed back pack, and a 3 year warranty.
At $1195, the CZAR is not the least expensive inflatable paddleboard that we sell, but after paddling prototype versions of it for a season, we can say that it is one heck of a deal for the mid sized to larger paddler, looking for a sexy, high performance, do it all board.
LOTS OF FIN OPTIONS: Fin technology is progressing just as quickly as board design. The Czar comes with 5 removable polycarbonate fins that are functional, and inexpensive to replace. There are 2 x 2" side bite fins, which are perfect for paddling down shallow rivers, and for surfing. Having 2" of fin in the water as opposed to 4", will loosen up the back end a bit causing the Czar to carve a little bit quicker. It also comes with 2 x 4" side bite's which are great for traditional paddling applications, such as deeper rivers, surfing, and flatwater paddling (when used in combination with the 7" center fin). The 7" center fin is reminiscent of a longboard fin and can be used for flatwater paddling, and times where the paddler would want enhanced tracking. The board can also be paddled finless, which is becoming more and more popular on difficult, low volume runs when the paddler would want ultimate maneuverability, and reduced drag.
Multiple fin options. Not only does NRS offer the traditional 4" side bites, and 7" center fin, they also include 2" side bites for shallow rivers, and surfing.
Countless fin setup options ranging from finless to just a 7" center. This board will perform well in a variety of conditions.
READY TO GO OUT OF THE BOX:The Czar comes with everything that you will need to be inflated and paddling within minutes. The included storage bag is well built, has comfortable back pack straps, plenty of room for a 3 piece breakdown paddle and repair kit, and a nice storage pocket on the outside. It also comes with a K Pump 100, which is capable of inflating well over 15psi into the board. If you've ever owned an inflatable SUP that comes with the traditional floor pump that has a tenancy to break after a month of use, you will really appreciate the K Pump. There is also a separate psi gauge, which is nice because the K Pump really does have the ability to over inflate the board.
WYSIWYG - "What you see is what you get" - The Czar comes complete with a pack, K PUMP 100, repair kit and 5 fins. Oh yea, you get an inflatable board too!
The Czar comes ready to rock. Pack it in to your favorite river and you'll be shredding in a matter of minutes.
The repair kit comes complete with patching material, glue and a valve wrench.
STABILITY(without sacrificing performance): Because the NRS Czar is 34" wide and 6" thick, it's primary stability is right up there with the Big Baron, C4 XXl and other over sized inflatable SUP's. What's interesting about this design is that it is only 9'6" long, and has a rockered nose. This means that heavier paddlers in the 200 lb + club will not feel like they are on a floating barge of a board. So, the STABILITY IN PROPORTION TO OVERALL PERFORMANCE IS EXTREMELY HIGH.
The Czar has the width and thickness of a larger board, but the length of a smaller one. The result? Stability, maneuverability, surf-ability and all around fun for a larger paddler.
The 6" drop stitch on the CZAR (bottom) compared to a 4" one creates additional stiffness and stability.
HIGH PERFORMANCE:There are a few key features that contribute to the Czar's performance. 1.) It has quite a bit of nose rocker, which make it a good surfer, and allows it to turn easily. It does not have a tendency to perl on the troughs of steeper river waves like many boards do. 2.) It's fat, short, wide and light, which make it buoyant, easy to maneuver and ultra stable considering it's short length.3.) The EVA foam deck pad is soft, provides incredible traction, and covers most of the board. So in short, this is a board that is stable and maneuverable on harder whitewater rapids, and is super fun on a wave (see below).
The big fat deck, and soft and sticky EVA foam deck pad will give a downriver paddler the confidence needed to run some tough drops.
Aaron Koch has been paddling the Czar all winter, and has been pushing the limits of the board. He's successfully landing 10+ foot waterfalls and is running class IV drops. If you have aspirations similar to Aaron's, check out the Czar.
FUN SURFER:The Czar is short enough to wedge itself in the pocket of small river waves, and has a kicked up nose, which means that it does not perl easily. The block tail is SUPER stable, and has the best stomp pad that we have tested to date. It's the type of pad that gives you added confidence, and enables you to firmly plant a foot on the thick tail when carving the board. This is also a board that is very light in proportion to to it's size. Because of this it feels snappier on a wave than other inflatable SUP's.
Mellow surfing is really fun on the czar. The kicked up nose keeps the board out of the trough, and the tail is fun to stomp and carve on.
The block tail and thick stomp pad make surfing REALLY fun. The tail provides stability, but is not too blocky. One solid foot plant on the stomp pad, and the Czar's ready to rail a turn.
The kicked up nose (rockered) keeps it out of the trough of steeper river waves.
CAN BE USED FOR A WIDE VARIETY OF APPLICATIONS - QUIVER KILLER!! If you are looking for one board that will satisfy the needs of an entire family - the Czar is it. It's stiff an burly enough for heaver riders looking to push limits, yet light and nimble for women and averaged sized paddlers. The Czar surfs really well, yet has fin options for a day on the lake or flat moving water.
QUALITY CONSTRUCTION: NRS builds commercial duty rafts. When it comes to constructing sea worthy, inflatable vessels for the river, they know what they are doing. Everything from the Leafield C7 valve, to the plush deck pad is top shelf.
The leafield C7 valve is an example of a quality part that will last for a long time.
GREAT WARRANTY AND CUSTOMER SERVICE:The Czar comes with a 3 year retail / commercial warranty. This is 3 TIMES LONGER than most other brands. The warranty speaks volumes about the NRS commitment to offering the best possible product, at a reasonable price. Also, their customer service is second to none - give them a call sometime if you doubt this claim.
GREAT PUMP!!No more poorly built floor pump that breaks after a month of light use!!! Thanks you NRS! The included K PUMP 100 is made in the USA, can inflate a board to well beyond 15psi, and is durable enough to endure being driven over by a pick up truck.NRS also includes a pressure gauge with the pump - nice touch.
The K PUMP 100 and pressure gauge are a welcomed addition to this package. Out with the standard floor pumps, and in with a made in the USA K PUMP. This sucker will be able to top your board off at 15psi +
K PUMP TAKES A WHILE TO PUMP UP BOARD: The K-PUMP 100 offers quality over quantity. It was one over the other, and NRS chose to go with a single chamber high pressure pump, as opposed to a low volume one. Because the Czar is 6" thick and 34" wide, it could take a little while pump up the board when it is fully deflated. A low volume pump is recommended for paddlers who will be deflating the board frequently. The good news is that there are a lot of options out there.
If you would like to get your board pumped up a little bit quicker - check out an electric or floor pump. Both of them will get the board to 10psi or so - and the K PUMP can finish the job.
PRICE:At $1,195.00 the Czar is not the least expensive option for an inflatable SUP. When you add up the included accessories (K PUMP, gauge, back pack, etc), 3 year warranty, and the fact that this board can do it all in style, it is actually a great deal. It still comes in at a few hundred dollars less than other inflatables that we sell.
NOT A TOURING BOARD / SLOW: The Czar is a slow board. The reason for this is because it's short and fat. The Czar was designed to crush difficult whitewater, and hang with the best of them (iSUP's) on a wave. You would never take your 6" travel mountain bike on 10 mile paved road ride...
NRS hit the nail on the head wit the Czar
. Because of it's progressive shape (relatively short in comparison to it's width and thickness), it does A LOT of things very well. The coolest thing about this board is definitely it's versatility. Whether it's flatwater yoga, surfing at your local play wave or an overnighter on Westwater Canyon, the Czar's a board that will make the trip more enjoyable.