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Aqua Marina Beast Review | 2023
Aqua Marina Beast Review: Overview
The Aqua Marina Beast is a lightweight, sporty all-around iSUP for paddlers who like to keep things simple. The minimalist design focuses on everything you need for a fun day on the water. As part of the Advanced series of all-around iSUPs from Aqua Marina, the Beast boasts better build quality and a stiffer feel than its standard series counterparts.
— Aqua Marina Beast Summary Ratings and Review – —
Aqua Marina Beast
Construction & Durability
Features and Versatility
Warranty & Customer Support
Construction and Durability
The Beast is an all-around iSUP in the “Advanced” series of boards offered by Aqua Marina. The Advanced series boards start with the same DS Light Tech single-layer PVC construction for the deck and hull as their standard all-around iSUPs and still get the double layer PVC wrap around the rails (sides) of the board. An additional layer of PVC is placed over the tail of the board on all sides (the bright yellow section shown in the photos). Then a seam reinforcement strip is added all the way around the top edge of the rails of the board.
This construction technique produces a very lightweight board, weighing less than 20lbs, however it does limit the real-world weight capacity. The listed weight capacity is 308lbs. While I don’t doubt that 300lb evenly distributed across the board would not be an issue, larger paddlers over about 220lb will notice quite a bit of bending and flex in the board on their own. With this in mind, I feel that the Beast is best suited for paddlers under 180lb and under 6’ tall to reduce any performance impacts. Larger paddlers should consider the Aqua Marina Magma, Atlas, or check out our Best High Weight Capacity iSUPs page for more options.
The single layer construction, while not as robust as having additional layers on the deck and hull, is still quite durable. Care should always be taken to avoid sharp objects and dragging any iSUP, but the Aqua Marina Beast will handle typical launching/landing and occasional bumping into objects just fine. With proper care, the Beast will last for many years.
|Max Capacity||308 pounds|
|Board Weight||19.2 pounds|
(SUP & accessories)
|Returns period||30 days|
Features, Accessories and Versatility
The All-Around and Advanced All-Around iSUPs from Aqua Marina are designed for fun, casual paddling. They don’t have many bells and whistles integrated onto the boards directly, but just enough features to keep you on the water for a few hours at a time.
The front of the board has a standard four-point cargo area that will easily hold a 10L dry bag, pair of flip flops and a water bottle. The adjustable bungee cord lets you tighten it down a little bit if you bring smaller items (like just a pair of shoes). However there’s not much room for expansion to easily fit larger dry bags or coolers.
The four D-rings on the middle of the board are set up to secure a kayak seat for those that like to sit and paddle. The rear of these two could also easily tie down a small cooler (BYO Straps).Having a raised kick pad and super-grippy deck pad is a nice touch found on the Advanced series iSUPs. These elements give you more confidence to move around on the board and work on advanced techniques like pivot turns.
Aqua Marina’s standard set of accessories is included along with the Beast iSUP. You get an aluminum/nylon Sports III adjustable paddle (more on that below), 9” slide-in fin, super lightweight leash, and the upgraded Liquid Air V2 hand pump. The V2 has a slightly larger diameter chamber than the V1, contoured handles, and a lever switch to change between single action and double action instead of an insert key. Most of these changes are comfort-based and we are hoping to see an upgrade to a double-chamber, triple-action pump in the Advanced series boards in the future.
The carrying/storage bag itself is plenty large enough to fit everything you need in it, but like the board is otherwise austere. There’s a single open pocket on the inside of the bag, ¾ length zipper closure, and a simple backpack harness on the outside. Because the Beast is so lightweight, the simplified harness and lack of wheels is not really a problem unless you plan on carrying it for long distances.
The Sports III aluminum paddle that comes included with the Beast iSUP package isn’t going to win any awards for weight or speed, but does offer a few features that other paddles don’t.
When I first saw the aluminum paddle I was immediately concerned with how well it floats if dropped. Having had a few mishaps myself over the years, I was glad to see that each section of the three piece paddle does have a plastic plug to prevent the paddle from filling with water, and does indeed float for at least a short period of time.The blade shape of the Sports III paddle does have a few design issues from a usability standpoint for both beginner and advanced paddlers. For those just starting on their SUP journeys, the double bend in the blade itself may be a touch confusing regarding how to orient the paddle in the water. This is compounded by a handle section that is not indexed – that is, it does not have any alignment features when you put it together.
For the advanced paddler, the extra bending in the blade makes it very difficult to effectively high- or low-brace. This bent shape catches water on the release of the brace, which can throw the paddler off balance. It also eliminates the possibility of a clean release at the end of a normal forward stroke.The heavy-duty nylon blade does seem to be quite durable, and it is thick enough to maintain stiffness when paddling. So you can actually put quite a bit of power into this paddle when needed, and the large blade holds well through the stroke.
When stepping onto the beast for the first time I knew this wouldn’t be my all-around paddleboard of choice, but I am a heavier paddler (230lb). For me the single-layer PVC construction just didn’t offer the stiffness I like in an inflatable iSUP, even at well under the maximum weight capacity. When bounce testing the Beast, there was a very quick and strong reverberation in the board that can best be described as “erratic,” and produced a very un-balancing sensation. Another tester (160lb) did note the same reverberating feeling, but did not encounter quite the same problem with stiffness.
Rocking the board side-to-side was easy and controllable with only a minor “popping” feeling as the board’s rails resurfaced. However, trying to hold the board on its rail with one side raised was very difficult. This secondary stability test helps indicate how stable the board may be in choppier conditions with waves and wake.
The pintail shape of the Beast greatly reduces volume in the rear of the board. When stepping back for a pivot turn, the Beast’s stability reduced greatly. The Beast’s single fin design also contributes to this lower-stability feel. Adding additional fins (like a 2+1 setup seen on many other all-around boards) would increase stability by resisting the side-to-side rocking motion. Hopefully the next iteration of the Beast (and Aqua Marina’s other all-around iSUPs) will introduce additional fin boxes.
The deck pad features both a diamond groove pattern and a pebbling texture throughout. This combination offers excellent grip and feels solid underfoot. At the rear of the board, the raised kick pad provides a solid point of control when stepping back for turning or surfing.
When speed testing the Beast, its single-layer PVC construction once again limits its performance. As I began to sprint, my body movements made the board flex greatly, pushing it down into the water with each paddle stroke. This bend redirects energy away from the paddle, shortens the board’s waterline, causes it to bounce, and also changes the cross-section of the board interacting with the water. All of these together made the Beast feel sluggish, pushy, and erratic during a sprint.
Slowing down to a cruising speed helps reduce all of these factors and makes the Beast far more enjoyable to paddle. And that’s a good thing as most all-around iSUPs aren’t made for sprinting to begin with! While cruising there is still some sensation of pushing through the water due to the lower nose rocker in the front of the board, but the bouncing and erratic feelings were kept to a very dull roar.
Maneuverability and Tracking
Maneuverability and tracking are often two sides of the same coin. Design elements that influence one usually influence the other as well. In this case, the overall size and shape of the Beast, along with its single-fin setup create a very maneuverable board.
When keeping the board flat on the water it is very easy to turn using forward sweeping strokes – averaging about 7.5 strokes to make a complete 360° turn. The single-fin lets the paddler turn with less effort than a multi-fin setup.
Pivot turning the Beast is both easy and difficult at the same time. The pintail shape in the rear of the board has a low volume, so it is very easy to “sink” the tail – especially with the raised kick pad giving a solid point to stand on – and easily moves through the water. However that same low-volume shape and less-stiff construction also reduces stability. Once back on the tail of the board I found myself really keeping my weight well over my front foot (rather than split between them) in order to better balance while turning. The reverberation was also evident when lifting the nose out of the water.
If maneuverability is the up-side of the coin, tracking is the down-side. The Beast responds really well to turning and steering strokes, but that also means it responds to less-than-perfect forward strokes by turning as well. Even with summoning my best forward stroke technique, I still found myself needing to switch sides or make course-correcting strokes more frequently than I’d like while cruising. Additional fins would greatly aid in the Beast’s tracking. The lightweight construction also turned easily with light winds adding another layer of concern for taking the Beast out for longer trips.
When sprinting, tracking went right out the window. The bouncing and bending of the board kept turning it with every stroke making it harder to stay on course and needing more energy to paddle forward rather than paddle fast.
When paddling casually and gliding, the Beast did well enough for recreational paddling close to shore. While I wouldn’t recommend it for any kind of touring, if you are looking for an iSUP to get you out on the water for short paddles, the Beast will do that just fine.
Warranty and Customer Support
Aqua Marina supports their iSUPs with a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty. So far nothing we’ve seen has indicated any durability issues with the Beast or Aqua Marina’s other boards, so we do expect them to well-outlast this time period. Aqua Marina is distributed in North America by Zoppinh.com. They also handle the warranty process and customer service. You can reach them by email, online chat, phone, or social media. There is a 30-day return window for Aqua Marina iSUPs, however they must be in unused condition in order to be accepted for a refund if you do change your mind after purchase.
We like to look not only at the board itself, but the entire package of accessories and warranty when determining the value of any particular iSUP. We also compare it to other boards of similar size, type, and price range. At its current MSRP we would like to see the Beast packaged with some higher quality accessories and features, a longer warranty, and better build quality in order to be a more competitive choice in value compared to other options.
Overall Impressions/Review Summary
After paddling the Beast, and Aqua Marina’s other all-around iSUPs, I would recommend paddlers halve the weight capacities to determine ideal rider weights for their iSUPs. In this case, the Beast is going to fit paddlers under 5’8” and under 150lb much better than taller, heavier paddlers. Between the Aqua Marina All-Around and Advanced All-Around series boards I wish there were more of a difference in construction. Adding an additional layer of PVC (or use of other, stiffer, construction techniques) and additional fins would likely make the Beast a top option in this price range. I do feel that the Beast definitely outperforms some other, cheaper, options but does not quite hit the value threshold set by several other boards in the same price range. Where I feel the Beast could really be a pack leader, though, is with younger paddlers. The Beast would make a great option for those 10-15 year-olds ready for their own board and looking to build skills in the sport.
Aqua Marina Beast SUP FAQ
What is the difference between the All-Around and Advanced All-Around iSUPs from Aqua Marina?
Both the standard and Advanced All-Around iSUPs by Aqua Marina start with the same single-layer DS Light Tech construction. Advanced All-Around boards then get a second layer of PVC wrap on the tail of the board and a seam-reinforcement layer around the top of the rails. The Advanced series boards also have an upgraded deck pad and feature a raised kick pad in the back.
How long does it take to inflate the Aqua Marina Beast?
The Aqua Marina Beast iSUP can be inflated in 6-10 minutes using the included hand pump.
Can I store the Aqua Marina Beast inflated?
Yes! Like with all iSUPs you can store them inflated, though we do recommend reducing the pressure while stored to prevent any accidental overinflation from temperature changes. Make sure to store it in a dry location out of the sun.
Is the Aqua Marina Beast good for beginners?
The Aqua Marina Beast is good for beginner paddlers who are under 5’8” and under 180lb. Larger paddlers should look at the Aqua Marina Magma or check out our Best Beginner iSUPs page.
Can I paddle the Aqua Marina Beast with a passenger or dog?
This will depend on the size of the paddler and passenger. We do not recommend the Beast for larger passengers or larger dogs. In that case take a look at the Aqua Marina Atlas or our list of Best All-Around iSUPs with high weight capacities.
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