The new Carbon Hybrid Hala Playa opens up countless opportunities
As the initial wave of standup paddling spread across the United States, there was an undeniable push of brands and designs from the West Coast towards inland markets. Fast forward to contemporary times and we are beginning to see the first signs of a ground swell reverberating back towards the coast. Inflatable SUP technology is undergoing a transformation and from their home in the iconic Rocky Mountain town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Hala Gear is leading the way for coastal dominance with their new Carbon Hybrid Hala Playa.
The Hala Playa comes equipped with an impressive array of features unique to Hala Gear. This inflatable SUP is truly the best in its class. The Hala Playa exceeds the performance not only of other inflatable SUPs, but that of similarly shaped hardboards, as well. If you are a new paddler living near the ocean who wants a fantastic board for touring and learning how to catch waves, this is the board for you. If you are an experienced paddler looking for the best designed inflatable SUP for surfing and exploring, this is the board for you. You will have a blast paddling this board. I guarantee it!
What do you get?
- Carbon Construction™ – unique to Hala and provides an amazing edge over all other inflatable SUPs.
- Full Rocker – designed to surf, I found the rocker profile really maximizes stability in ocean swell and wind chop when touring, as well.
- Dynamic Shape – this is a performance shape that allows you to get more out of the Playa than you would another SUP with similar dimensions.
- 4 Soft Rigging Points – no need to worry about hooking your toe on an ugly D-ring.
- 4.75” Low Volume Rails – the Playa has a lower profile than your average inflatable SUP.
- 2 Removable, Gummy, Side-Bite Click Fins – these guys track great and will not break or snap off. No tools needed!
- 8” Center Flex Fin – will not break and is super easy to install and remove, no tools needed!
- Backcountry Rolling Backpack – hands down the best inflatable SUP bag in the industry.
The Hala Playa is conveniently shaped at 10’11” x 30” x 4.75”. The length and width provide a perfect platform for beginners to have a stable, comfortable board to learn on, while the 4.75” thickness offers unrivaled potential for performance as your skills improve. The Hala Playa is a board you can grow with.
One of the many great things about owning an inflatable SUP is its ease of use. You don’t have to lug an awkward, heavy hard board on and off a roof rack. In fact, you don’t even need to purchase a roof rack! I enjoy keeping my Hala Playa in the back of my Jeep so I can quickly head to the playa (pun intended!) after work. I have a favorite spot in Playa del Rey not far from my house with ample free parking. The later is a bit of a rarity in the LA area.
Playa del Rey is located directly south of Marina del Rey. I can typically find a parking spot right along the sand. Inflating the Hala Playa is quick and easy, particularly when using the included electric hand pump. The electric hand pump will not fully inflate the board, but it is great for getting some initial volume into it. Hala Gear’s hand pump is straightforward, easy to use and incorporates a readily identifiable lever to switch between single and dual action. To achieve the best result, use the hand pump in the dual action setting until it becomes difficult to pump. Then switch the lever to single action and you will be able to comfortably top off the board to 15 psi.
Playa del Rey is a deep beach with several hundred yards of sand between the road and the water’s edge. Even so, carrying the Hala Playa across the sand is not a burden. From there, I launch off the beach into the oncoming waves and paddle north towards the mouth of Marina del Rey.
After crossing the mouth of the marina (keep an eye out for boat traffic, especially on the weekends) I’ll pop out on the north side in an area where Marina del Rey blends into Venice Beach.
This past winter, Marina del Rey was dredged. Much of the sediment dug up from the bottom was hauled out on a barge and dumped in the bay north of the marina. Right where Marina del Rey becomes Venice Beach. As a result, the sediment formed a nice little sandbar offshore that causes the waves to break. Nice surfable waves similar to what one may find at Doheny State Beach. And you need a SUP to get to them!
The area has become a little SUP surfing hangout, perfect for the longboard style shape of the 10’11” Hala Playa.
Due to it’s length, the Playa easily catches the waves. Best of all, the 4.75” rails and side bites make it possible to carve a bottom turn and truly surf waves vs. merely riding them straight into shore. This board’s got game and will put a smile on your face. It is fun. A lot of fun.
Hala Playa: Conclusion
I’ve paddled a lot of SUPs and as far as I’m concerned, the notion that you are somehow compromising with the Carbon Hybrid Hala Playa compared to a hard board is mute. The Hala Playa is not a compromise. It is a superior product. One which you and your family will enjoy again and again for years to come.
Review written by Paddle Examiner.