Top 6 Best Whitewater SUPs | 2020 Reviews (Hala, NRS)

There are many SUPs on the market, and they come in different varieties. If you are a newbie, you should know the differences between them. After all, you do not want to buy the wrong type of product for your whitewater adventure. It is because it is your life at stake.

This review will teach you the differences among these varieties. You will also know some of the best whitewater SUP products that you can consider to add to your quiver.

Top 6 Best Whitewater SUPS Reviewed

  1. Hala Atcha 8’6
  2. Hala Atcha 9’6
  3. NRS WHIP Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard
  4. Hala Rado
  5. Hala Radito
  6. Hala Fame

#1. Hala Atcha 86 Whitewater SUP

Specifications

  • Hala Atcha 86
  • Length: 8’6”
  • Width (inches): 34
  • Volume (liters): 269
  • Deck Pad: Diamond groove
  • Rider Capacity (pounds): 350

If you are looking for a perfect SUP to use for river and downriver surfing, you should try the Hala Atcha 86. Even though it is not as stable as the Atcha model, you can still make the most of your adventure, especially if you are on the small side. It is because this model is the smaller version of the Atcha model.

It is an ideal SUP to use when you have to ride the waters in narrow areas. Aside from that, it is also highly maneuverable and fast. It can even ride the rough regions of whitewater.

Because of its Stompbox fin system, you can ride even the shallow part of the rivers.

Aside from the mentioned features, the Hala Atcha 86 has a core construction, river rocker, centralized rigging, swallowtail, side bite fins, bottom D-ring, and side handles. 

Riding the Hala Atcha 86, you will love the compactness and responsiveness of this board. 

ProsCons
Built specifically for smaller paddlersWe got nothin'
Maneuverable
Responsive

#2. Hala Atcha Whitewater SUP 9’6

Specifications

  • Length: 9’6”
  • Width (inches): 36
  • Volume (liters): 335
  • Deck Pad: Diamond Groove
  • Rider Capacity (pounds): 350

The Hala Atcha is your best choice if you are looking for SUP to use that is excellent for river and downriver surfing. This product will give you a lot of fun because of its playful feature.

The Atcha is Hala’s original whitewater SUP board when playing on the whitewater is what you want. If you are a whitewater SUP rider who wants more stability to your board, you can go for this model.

This model is capable of catching steep waves and navigating your way through the river.

Hala Atcha uses Stompbox technology. It is a patented Hala innovation that you can only find in this brand. It allows you to ride the shallow rivers safely by passing through river challenges such as rocks, and the like.

It uses Core Construction, which is another Hala innovation that uses along with the Double-Layer Drop Stitch technology, causing the board to have a playful performance. Aside from the mentioned features, the Atcha also has a full rocker, six rigging points, bottom D-ring, removable side bite fins, and more.

Using this board, you will enjoy both stability and mobility.

ProsCons
Maneuverable
Paddle not included
Durable fins
Stable

#3. NRS WHIP Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard

Specifications

  • Length: 7’8”
  • Width (inches): 33
  • Volume (liters): 189
  • Rider Capacity (pounds): 150

Suppose you are looking for a perfect inflatable SUP that provides you an excellent carves and surf in whitewater. In that case, you should try to consider the NRS WHIP Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard. Compared to several SUPs, the NRS WHIP is shorter and rounder with a surf-style fin and tail.

Many whitewater paddlers love using the NRS WHIP to ride the downriver and whitewater because of its characteristics and features.

This product is rigid, but you can still fold it into a compact size once you deflate it. It used a durable PVC drop-stitched material with double sidewalls. That is why you cannot doubt this product’s durability against punctures and abrasion.

It has detachable fins to have a personalized experience.

This product has a D-ring at the deck and the tail. It also uses the Leafield D7 valve.

ProsCons
Durable carry bagLimited weight capacity of 150 pounds
Fins included
Leash not included
Stable

#4. Hala Rado Whitewater SUP

Specifications

  • Length: 10’10”
  • Width (inches): 35
  • Volume (liters): 345
  • Deck Pad: Diamond groove
  • Rider Capacity (pounds): 350

You will love the Hala Rado if you are looking for an excellent and versatile whitewater SUP. If you are on the heavy side, this board is ideal for you. It is versatile enough to propel you whether you want to ride the rough whitewater or the calm flat water. 

This product has the combined features of the Hala Gear River series. It performs excellently by not letting you down when you have to ride strong water flows. 

This model is also an ideal choice if you have to use it for extended periods, such as camping overnight. You can also add someone with you if you want as long as the Rado can accommodate him or her.

This product features the Hala’s fin system innovation, the Stompbox. It allows the board to get through challenging obstacles, such as rocks, stones, and the like. It also has a Core Construction, like any other product in Hala’s river series.

Aside from these features, the Hala Rado has a river rocker, swallowtail, side handles, rigging points, bottom D-ring, click fins, and more.

Riding this board enables you to experience different activities in the river.

ProsCons
Maneuverable when at full speedFins are not as versatile as the typical fin systems
Excellent turnability and traction

#5. Hala Radito Whitewater SUP

Specifications

  • Length: 10’0
  • Width (inches): 34
  • Volume (liters): 314
  • Deck Pad: Diamond groove
  • Rider Capacity (pounds): 350

If you are looking for an all-rounder SUP that can surf the whitewater, the Hala Radito can be your best choice. This model is highly advisable for paddlers who are on the small side. It is a responsive board that is versatile enough for you to use anywhere, including hours of a long trip on the lake. 

It has a combination of features from Hala’s other board shapes, which is the reason for its versatility. You will not have run out of activities on where you can use this board.

This product uses Hala’s unique Stompbox fin system and core construction. It has a river rocker, and side handles, swallowtail, raised stomp pad, bottom D-ring, and rigging points. 

With all the features available in Hala Radito, you can ride the waves without getting out of control. You will enjoy its excellent turnability.

ProsCons
Built specifically for small paddlersSome users do not like the fixed fins
Maneuverable
Durable

#6. Hala Fame Whitewater SUP

Specifications

  • Length: 11’3”
  • Width (inches): 36
  • Volume (liters): 369
  • Deck Pad: Diamond groove
  • Rider Capacity (pounds): 369

If you are looking for the best versatile SUP to use for fishing, cruising, and expedition, you will love the Hala Fame. With this board, you can do a lot of activities. You do not have to buy a separate SUP to perform other actions. 

While this model is excellent for fishing, it can also crush the whitewater, allowing you to have more opportunities to have a great catch.

Hala features this product’s RAILBLAZA design, which is helpful in fishing. Like the other Hala river series, this product uses Stompbox fin system, rigging pints, durable fixed fins, side handles, core construction, and progressive rocker.

Using this board, you will have the confidence to enjoy a lot of river activities, even if you are a novice.

ProsCons
Excellent for fishingWe got nothin'
Versatile
Durable

Top Pick – Our Favorite Whitewater SUPs

There are several SUPs on the market, and they come in different varieties. Among these varieties are the whitewater SUPs.

This article listed some of the best ones that you can find on the market, but what stands out among them all is the NRS WHIP Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard 2020. It is lightweight and short. Although it can accommodate a person whose weight is only up to 150 pounds, the rider will never regret buying this product.

The NRS WHIP is durable, and it provides excellent carves. Even though it is rigid, you can quickly deflate it to store it into a compact size. Also, it is resistant to punctures and abrasion. You will only bounce once you bump into a rock.


Best Brands Where You Can Buy the Best Whitewater SUP

If you cannot pick among the selected products, your next option is to look for it through the best brands. Here are some of the best brands for

Northwest River Supplies (NRS)

In 1972, a business professor named Bill Parks used the principles he taught at school in establishing his business, which is the NRS. He chose this kind of business because Bill used to be a river runner. His passion provided him extraordinary experiences that he wanted to share and promote to other people.

Because of this, with only 2,000 USD as capital, Bill Parks set up the NRS in his garage by stocking a collection of boating gears.

Bill’s love for riding the rivers allowed him to explore several beautiful places. He also experienced the thrill of running into the rapids’ challenges, giving him tons of cherished memories. It was the spirit that he incorporated in his business.

After several years, the NRS is still up and running. When Bill was in his 80s, he chose to sell the business to his employees, whom he has sure shared the same passion that he does. That is why the NRS became 100 percent employee-owned by 2014.

Although the owner of the NRS is different now, the employees claim that it still runs using Bill’s ideals as motivation.

Aside from SUP products, NRS sells gears for kayaking, camping, fishing, rafting, and the like. It sells products for both men and women.

Hala Gear

If there is one company that focuses on providing SUP for whitewater exploration, that is the Hala Gear. This brand came from the Yampa River banks. It lives by the vision of creating whitewater SUP gears.

Although this company has a simple vision, the word spread, and it quickly became famous.

Peter Hall was the one who founded the Hala Hear in 2011. This brand has been selling SUP boards and accessories. It has also become pioneers to several innovations that only this brand can use that includes the Core Construction, Stompbox fin system, and more. 


Three Categories of Whitewater SUPs

If you are a beginner, you should know that whitewater SUPs come in different varieties. It is crucial to know them to know which is the best type to use for a specific water condition.

Downstream

River running is another term for the downstream type of board. Boards of this type are typically wide, which is usually 35 to 35 inches. The length is around 9’6, but others can use a longer one if they are looking for more speed.

These boards provide stability and maneuverability when being around the obstacles. It is due to its small size. That is why these boards are ideal for turbulent water conditions.

However, you cannot use this type of board for paddling other water conditions, because it is going to be slow. You should also adjust by using corrective strokes or paddling farther than usual to clean the edges and ensure straight tracking.

Because you will be adjusting your strokes all the time, it will be strenuous for long term use. Yet, if you are up for a turbulent water ride, you cannot go wrong with this type. The downstream boards can handle up to class 4 of the river condition.

You only need to make sure to get the necessary training to use it for its primary purpose. Specialized boards created for this function typically has several rockers that lift the nose to keep the board moving. You do not want to use this board in flat waters because it is going to be slow.

River Surfing

Park and play is another term for river surfing.

Paddlers describe the water condition where the river surfing SUPs are great at as holes. These holes have small spaces between them.

Commonly the river surfing boards have a nose that curves up. It is shorter than the typical all-around board that ranges from 6 to 8 feet that are 30 to 33 wide, which is an average width.

River surfing boards have rounded and squarish tail. If you want to ride a longer board, it is alright as long as it gives better turnability and recovery. The rocker design should allow prolonged planning and lift of the nose from water.

River surfing is different than ocean surfing. It requires testing and experimentation to learn, which works best for you.

What makes river surfing boards ideal is its stability because of its width and broad tail. You may choose to use a hardboard if you want. It will do because of its thin and shaped rails that can provide better carving.

However, you will have an issue if you bump into rocks. That is why inflatables are the better option because of its resilience.

All-Around

The all-around, as the term implies, is excellent in almost any water condition. You typically use it when riding the river.

When you ride the river waters, you will meet different kinds of water flows. There are flat, still, or turbulent areas. It is possible to encounter cross-stream, even water, and upstream, which is why all-around boards are ideal for beginners.

The all-around boards are not for whitewater per se, but they are versatile enough to handle any kind of water condition. The length of this board typically ranges from 9 to 11 feet.

All-around boards should be able to provide fast paddling and maneuverability when obstacles come in the way. These boards are typically 32 to 34 inches wide.

You can customize your fin if you are in the whitewater to see which works the best for you. If you are to ride the flat water, use the one with a moderate rocker. If your board has an excellent rocker design, using it in the whitewater is possible.


Factors to Consider When Buying a SUP

Now that you know the different categories of the whitewater stand-up paddleboard, you should know some additional information to help you buy the best product. This information involves the crucial parts of a SUP.

Fins

You should not take the fins for granted because it dramatically affects your board’s turnability and performance. Your board’s fins come in different configurations. To customize your experiences and adapt to the river’s varying water conditions, you should buy a SUP with removable fins. It allows you to experiment to figure out which figure is the best for your riding style.

When it comes to the fin set-up, there are a few pointers to consider.

If you want a fast ride, a single fin is advisable. If you are going to have better control over the rails and have varied experiences, your board should have a long center fin and short-side fins.

If you are about to ride shallow, rocky water, use three fins at equal sizes with medium-sized length.

If the waters are not rocky, three fins with shorts equal sizes will do.

If you are looking for better maneuverability from obstacles, use a quad or four-fin set-up. On the other hand, if you are looking for better traction, use a five-fin set-up on your board’s side.

Deck Pad

Another consideration is the deck pad. It is because the deck pad is the part that provides the grip, which is a crucial feature that your board must-have when you want to ride the whitewater.

The ideal choices are the ones with crisscross or diamond grooves. Those are the better choice than the ones with smooth or crocodile skin.

Aside from that, make sure that this texture covers not less than half of the front of the board’s overall size. It should also be at the center. It is because you will be standing on it, and your feet need traction as the turbulent waves work against you unless falling from your SUP is one of your bucket lists.

Some boards have in ideal feature, in which the rear part of the board has a raised edge. It is a useful feature because it prevents the foot from slipping. Some also have a raised bar at the tail pad that helps you position your rear foot properly without looking at it. You can also use this feature as leverage when making a turn.

Some manufacturers advertise their boards to have several attachment points, which may not be an ideal feature if it is getting in the way to allow you to perform at your best. One attachment point is enough.


Tips Using Your Inflatable SUP in Whitewater

Although the high-end SUP has all the necessary features to help you with your safety and performance, you should still consider the following tips to get through the waters safely. Also, knowing these tips will provide you a more enjoyable experience and maximize the features of your SUP.

Do Your Homework

It is crucial to know the profile of the river. The water condition in every river is different. Ask the locals about the situation of the water and the whitewater class of it.

It is because not all SUPs can endure the class IV to VI. If you fail to do your research, you might end up in a fatal accident.

Prepare a Complete Set of Gear and Equipment

Weather changes and accidents can happen. There are times that even though you already did thorough research, things still do not go the way as you expected, especially about the river’s whitewater class that can change.

That is why you should do your part in taking extra precautions. Before riding, consider the essentials with you.

Prepare additional fins because it is common to break them when you bump into rocks.

You should also wear a personal floatation device when an unwanted scenario happens.

Do Not Be Overconfident

Some newbies feel excited to feel the thrills of riding the whitewater. Even though you say that you are an excellent swimmer, fatal accidents can still happen in the turbulent whitewater. It is because you cannot control where the waves can take you.

There are reported incidents of head injuries and drowning because of novices who forgo wearing personal floatation devices or attending basic classes.

Thus, if you are a beginner, admit that to yourself and start on the appropriate levels.


Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has helped you pick the best whitewater SUP to use on your next adventure.

Because there are tons of SUPs on the market, you have learned some of the products that most users love. You can choose any of them if it feels suitable for your riding style.

If you cannot pick anything, this article has also helped you know the different varieties of SUPs. Thus, you cannot snag just anything in the store. You should consider some factors like the length, width, fin considerations, and the like.

Additionally, you should consider your safety.


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: Is Inflatable SUP Better Than Hard SUP in Whitewater?

A: At first glance, you would think that hard SUP is a better option. You probably think that it is common sense that you should use a hard SUP so that rocks will not puncture it. However, it is wrong. Inflatables nowadays are durable and resistant to punctures. They are the better option because you do not want to get hurt when you bump into solid rock. When you are using a hard SUP and bumps into one, the impact will be hard. Worst, it may even break your board. For the inflatable type, you will only bounce.

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