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Glide O2 Retro 10’6” iSUP Review | 2023
Glide O2 Retro 10’6” iSUP: Overview
The Glide O2 Retro 10’6” iSUP is an eye-catching, buy-it-for-life, all-around iSUP that paddles as great as it looks. The new 2023 models feature four extra d-rings and cargo bungee on the tail of the board, and two new colorways. The O2 Retro iSUP has excellent stability, great paddling performance, and a full-coverage deck pad to bring a friend, lay out and relax, or get a little yoga in on your paddle session. Add to all of that Glide’s excellent construction and lifetime warranty, and the O2 Retro 10’6” is an excellent value that is hard to pass up.
— Glide O2 Retro 10’6” iSUP Summary Ratings and Review —
Glide O2 Retro 10’6”
Construction & Durability
Features and Versatility
Warranty & Customer Support
The Glide O2 Retro 10’6” iSUP is a high-quality, high-durability all-around iSUP with great looks.
- Woven drop stitch and dual-layer fusion PVC shell create a very stiff and durable paddleboard with a reasonable weight
- Heat-welded interior seams provide excellent longevity
- Full-length brushed EVA foam deck pad is comfortable and spacious
- Kit includes a padded folding seat
- Roller bag has plenty of room for all of the accessories (and then some) without being too big
- The Retro is a little slower turning than some other similar-size iSUPs
- There are no accessory mounting points and the full length deck pad makes adding your own tricky
Construction and Durability
Glide started by making incredibly durable (near-indestructible) solid paddleboards, and they have kept that core ethos going with their O2 range of inflatable SUPs.
Building an inflatable stand up paddleboard starts with a drop stitch core. The two layers of fabric form the base of the deck and hull of the board, and thousands of fibers are woven between the two to set the board’s thickness and keep it flat when inflated. The Glide O2 Retro 10’6” (do you mind if I call it the “Retro” for this review? Thanks!) uses a woven fabric base and V-shaped drop stitching to increase rigidity and reduce weight. The deck and the hull are made up of two layers of fusion-laminated PVC tarpaulin. This means each layer is made of a fabric base and a PVC coating, and they are heat-fused together rather than glued. Fusion materials are becoming more and more popular in the industry as they prove themselves to be lighter, stiffer, and just as durable as hand-glued layups, with fewer chances of manufacturing error.
The top and bottom of the board are then joined with a heat-welded interior seam around the entire board to create the air tight chamber. Welded seams physically fuse the materials together to create a much stronger bond that can withstand higher pressures and temperatures than a traditionally-glued seam. The Retro also has an additional layer of PVC wrapped around the rail for improved durability and stiffness.
How a paddleboard is built and what materials are used greatly impact its rigidity when inflated, and its performance on the water. We put the Retro through our 170 lbs dry-land bend test and were extremely impressed with the results. At 20 PSI, the Retro deflected barely over an inch when weighted. It’s the highest performing 32” iSUP we’ve bend-tested so far, and by a good margin with a performance that we typically see with high-quality 34” wide boards that weigh significantly more.
I’m a nerd, and I love data. The bend test makes it easy for us to compare boards on paper, but it doesn’t give us the whole picture. There’s a subjective element to stiffness with an iSUP as well.
Out on the water, the Retro also did very well. There was a low, but noticeable, amount of flex while bounce-testing (shown below). However, as the board settles down, the rebound is smooth and controlled, and I never felt like I was going to be bucked off if I didn’t get my paddle blade back in the water.
During normal paddling, and even while moving around on the board, there was almost no noticeable flex or reverberation. I’ve found throughout my testing that full length deck pads tend to help smooth out the rebound on the water, but don’t typically make a big impact on the bend test results.
Overall, the Glide O2 Retro 10’6” iSUP is built with durability and longevity in mind without sacrificing weight or performance.
|Max Capacity||400 pounds|
|Board Weight||23 pounds|
(SUP & accessories)
|Returns period||30 days|
Features, Accessories and Versatility
The Glide Retro iSUP is well-sized for most paddlers, has a healthy amount of cargo space and d-rings, and features a full-coverage deck pad that is grippy and comfortable.
The Glide O2 Retro 10’6” is probably the most versatile size and shape paddleboard available today. Though specified at 33”, our 2023 Retro measured in at 32.5” at the widest point. Though this is a little bit narrower, it’s still an excellent width for paddlers of all skill levels – including beginners. The wider front half of the board lends to its stability, while the narrower tail keeps the board a little more nimble – and even surfable for the casual wave rider. There’s enough volume and length for paddlers of all sizes, but not so overly wide to make it difficult for shorter paddlers to maintain good form.
The full-length and full-width deck pad is a really nice feature on an all-around iSUP. While it’s not a tandem board, having that extra deck pad space in the front makes it very easy to bring along a friend, child, or dog while you are out on the water. It’s also a great feature if you just want to stretch out and relax without anyone else, too!
Up front on the nose is a grab handle and four-point cargo area. The cargo space on the front of the board is fairly limited, but still large enough for a small dry bag, sandals, and a water bottle. There are no accessory mounts on the O2 Retro 10’6”, and the full-length deck pad eliminates any space that could be used to add one yourself. For an all-around iSUP it’s nice to have a few more options for items like a camera mount or the occasional fishing rod holder.
There are six more D-rings around the sides of the Retro. These can be used with the included shoulder strap to help carry your board to the water and/or with the padded kayak seat included with the kit.
For 2023 the Glide O2 Retro is getting a little bit of a makeover. First – a rear cargo area! This is a fantastic addition as the front cargo area is a little limiting in size. The rear cargo area is larger than the front to hold larger dry bags/soft coolers, etc., and the extra D-rings make it easier to tie down a hard cooler or other bulky items.
The second big change for 2023 are new colorways! These new colors keep the same retro vibe, but are now available in the same classic blue, and new green and purple variations. There is just something about the Retro’s look that just resonates with me. I’m getting some updated-70’s vibe and it just works. The yellow and blue hues with orange accents just give me a vibe I can’t really explain. So the short version is this: it looks great. As much as I like to think of myself as a utilitarian, I really do like a good-looking board and the Retro has the looks and the performance to match. My personal preference is still the blue, but the green and purple are both well implemented designs as well.
On the hull of the board, the Retro has a D-ring under the nose to tow or anchor the board. At the tail, the Glide Retro has a single US fin box in the center and two fixed side bite fins. The side bite fins are new for the 2023 model. Personally I’m not a fan of these types of fins. In my experience, and from my testing, they don’t offer any substantial improvement to tracking or stability. They bend easily (and eventually bend back), and make the board bulkier to pack up. I think three-fin setups on all-around iSUPs can be useful (particularly for shallow-water paddlers), but only if the fins can provide some quality traction. On the flip side, they don’t really detract from the board’s performance, so there’s no harm in having them, either.
The Glide Retro O2 10’6” iSUP comes as a complete kit with everything you need to get on the water (except a PFD). The board, paddle, pump, and other accessories all fit easily into the heavy-duty nylon wheeled carrying bag.
In addition to the basic items that come with most iSUPs, Glide also includes an adjustable padded shoulder strap to carry your board, and a padded kayak seat for those who prefer to sit for long periods of time.
The O2 Retro iSUP comes with a fiberglass/nylon paddle that’s easy and comfortable to use.
The included three-piece paddle has a fiberglass shaft and nylon paddle blade. While many people see the word “fiberglass” and instantly think it must be inferior to carbon fiber, that’s not really accurate at all. Not all composite materials are made the same, and strength-to-weight ratios aren’t the only thing that matters in a paddle shaft. In this case, the Glide 3-piece paddle’s fiberglass shaft is still quite lightweight, durable, and it has a very pleasant amount of flex that is easy on the shoulders and body. This flex makes it great for cruising all day, but it does give up some power for those who want to go fast, but that’s not what the Retro is about.
I did notice just a little bit of play in the lower section of the paddle while on the water – but only when I was looking for it. That is pretty typical for breakdown shaft designs like this. The handle section uses a pin-and-clip mechanism for simple, secure adjustment. This also has the added benefit of automatically indexing your handle and paddle blade in the correct orientation. While there are no length/height markings, It’s easy to count the number of pre-drilled holes to set the paddle up at the same length every time.
The Glide O2 Retro’s combination of shape, width, and rigidity give it great stability for paddlers of all skill levels.
One of the hallmarks of an all-around or cruiser style iSUP is their beginner-friendly stability. To achieve better stability, board shapers can change the board dimensions, shape, and materials to find the right combinations.
The O2 Retro uses a double layer fusion PVC shell with a very rigid and durable 1300 denier base fabric to keep the board extremely rigid while on the water. Having a rigid board means your body (particularly your feet and lower legs) have less work to do in stabilizing you and maintaining balance. You can think of rigidity like walking on a solid surface vs walking on sand. Rigid iSUPs also resist flex and bounce better in rougher conditions or when paddling hard. While the Retro can be inflated up to 25 PSI for maximum stiffness, the gains in rigidity are diminishingly noticeable past 20 PSI. Even at 15 PSI the Glide O2 Retro is stiffer than most of the other iSUPs in our bend test.
When standing on the Retro, there’s no tippy or rocking feeling, and it’s very easy to keep your balance while moving around on the board. At 32.5” wide (measured) the O2 Retro gains a little bit of a width advantage compared to 30-32” wide all-around boards, without noticeably impacting its other paddling characteristics.
The Retro has a rounded shape when looking at the deck or hull directly. There aren’t any true parallel sections of the board, however the curvature is subtle throughout the standing area and toward the front. This is where paddlers will spend most of their time standing on the board and leaning forward to paddle. The gently curved shape provides great stability whether you are standing slightly behind or slightly forward of center, and there’s no hard transition where you go from feeling stable to feeling unstable as you move across the board.
That same gently-curving shape also means that when the board is tilted on its rail (edge) there is still plenty of surface area in contact with the water to provide great secondary stability. It’s actually quite easy to hold the Retro in this position without much effort. This is particularly beneficial in choppier conditions where the board will be rocking around rather than sitting perfectly flat.
The tail section of the board is significantly narrower, however, and when stepping all the way to the tail for a pivot turn or to drop onto a wave, there is a noticeable loss in stability. It’s not a “bad” loss of stability, but rather, just one to be aware of. It’s for this reason that I’d like to see the size of the cargo areas switched for the 2024 model. Having the larger cargo area in the rear encourages packing more weight onto the less-stable part of the board, rather than up front where there is more width and volume.
As an all-around/cruiser-style iSUP, the Glide O2 Retro is not intended to be a fast-sprinting paddleboard, but rather it provides a great gliding efficiency at more casual speeds.
How fast a paddleboard can go on the water is a factor of the board’s design and construction, but also the paddler and paddle. All-around and cruiser iSUPs aren’t intended to be used regularly for sprinting, so they aren’t designed for that particular task – but that doesn’t stop us from trying!
We test the speed of each paddleboard a few different ways. First up is our timed 100m sprint. The O2 Retro did well for its size and shape coming in with an average time of just over 44 seconds (5.0 MPH). This is pretty quick for a 10’6” all-around iSUP, but it does take some significant effort to make these speeds. There was also some noticeable flex in the board when putting the hammer down (which slows the board down), but again, this isn’t a sprinting race SUP.
The next speed test we do is checking for maximum top speed. We don’t restrict the distance or time, but rather smoothly accelerate the board faster and faster and track the speed using a high-fidelity GPS unit. I was able to get the O2 Retro up to a whopping 5.7 MPH, but only for 2 paddle strokes before I could no longer maintain that speed. This is extremely good for an all-around iSUP, but the effort required to do it was immense.
Lastly, and most importantly for this style of paddleboard, we measure the speed and gliding efficiency at a more reasonable, casual speed. First is our ¼ mile cruise test. At an average stroke rate of 25 strokes per minute, the Retro finished our ¼ mile loop in 4 minutes, 8 seconds or 3.6 MPH. This is a little faster than expected and a little faster than other similarly sized boards.
We calculate the glide – or distance traveled per stroke – two different ways. On our fixed 100m course, the Retro O2 took an average of 15.5 strokes from start to finish. We also use our GPS unit (and its accelerometer) to measure the glide directly during this test and compare the results. For the Glide O2 Retro, it absolutely lives up to the brand’s name with an average glide distance of 20.6 feet per stroke or, more importantly 1.95 board lengths per stroke. For all-around and cruiser-style iSUPs like the retro we normally see glide ratios of 1.4-1.6 board lengths per stroke. This puts the O2 Retro into the same efficiency tier as many touring-style iSUPs! Through our testing I’ve found that more rigid iSUPs almost always outperform less rigid boards of the same dimensions when it comes to speed and glide. That’s absolutely the case here with the O2 Retro.
Maneuverability and Tracking
The Glide O2 Retro 10’6” does a great job balancing maneuverability and tracking, with a slight lean in performance toward its straight-line tracking ability
A paddleboard’s maneuverability and tracking performance is primarily impacted by its length and its fin setup. Width and rigidity also play a role.
The 10’6” x 32.5” O2 Retro is a medium-sized paddle board in both length and width. We test maneuverability by measuring how many forward-sweep strokes and reverse sweep-strokes it takes to turn in a complete circle while keeping the board flat. To make the full 360° turn it takes an average of just under 6 high-quality forward-sweep strokes or 4 reverse-sweep strokes. This is about a full forward-sweep stroke more (and a larger turning radius) than average for iSUPs this size. While turning in reverse, the 4 strokes needed is much closer to average.
Sweep strokes aren’t the only way to turn an iSUP (they’re actually one of the least efficient ways to do so). When stepping back to the tail of the Retro to do a pivot turn, the board remains relatively stable as the nose lifts and the board turns smoothly and quickly as the tail cuts through the water with minimal tipping and bobbing. While there’s not a kick pad on the tail to give even better control, the full length deck pad does go all the way to the end of the tail and provides good traction throughout.
The same features that impact maneuverability also affect how easily a paddleboard tracks in a straight line. We measure tracking performance by paddling toward a target on one side of the board at a time and measuring how far “off course” the board is pointed after 10 strokes. The O2 Retro performed very well in our tracking test, only deviating off course by 10° after 10 paddle strokes on a single side. I was quite surprised by this result based on the board’s length and the included dolphin-shape fin. Typically both of these features would lead toward better maneuverability, but less tracking. The fin’s exact placement on the board, degree of rake (how far it angles back), its depth, and its surface area all come into play and any one, or multiple, of these could account for the difference.
The O2 Retro comes with a fairly standard 9” dolphin-shape fin for the center US fin box. One of the great things about using a standard like the US fin box is that you can easily swap the included fin for a different size, shape, or material at any surf or SUP shop in the world. It makes finding replacements (or borrowing one) if you lose or forget your fin somewhere very easy compared to less-standard or proprietary fin boxes.
There are two fixed, semi-rigid side bite fins on the new 2023 O2 Retro. I’ve never found this style of fin to be particularly useful on a SUP. While they don’t negatively impact the board’s performance on the water, they don’t provide much (if any) additional tracking or stability compared to the center fin alone. There’s some argument to be made that they could be helpful when surfing, but with the 6” rail thickness I don’t think these little side bites are going to be able to really have much impact there. They do make the board a little bulkier to roll up at the end of the day, and ultimately I’ve never had a board where the fixed fins didn’t bend out of shape during storage and transportation. They will eventually bend back. For me, I’d rather not have them.
Warranty and Customer Support
Glide warranties their paddleboards against manufacturing defects for the reasonable lifetime of the board, and their accessories carry a one-year warranty as well. There is a 30-day return period, however the customer is responsible for shipping costs and a 20% restocking fee. You can contact Glide customer service through their website, via email, over the phone, on social media, or in person through their retail network or at their Salt Lake City, UT warehouse if you happen to be in the area!
The Glide O2 Retro 10’6” is a high quality, high performing all-around/cruiser-style iSUP. It’s built with modern, durable materials and welded seams, and carries a lifetime warranty. The Accessory kit is typical for an all-around iSUP with the addition of a carrying strap and padded seat. The MSRP for the O2 Retro is a little bit higher than several other all-around iSUPs, but when factoring in the construction, performance, and warranty the 2023 O2 Retro 10’6” iSUP is a fantastic value.
Overall Impressions/Review Summary
The Glide O2 Retro 10’6” inflatable stand up paddleboard absolutely lives up to the embodiment of an all-around or cruiser-style SUP. The construction quality is top-notch and the Retro is just a pleasure to paddle. The full-coverage deck pad is a huge plus in my book. While there are a few little things that I’d change if I had a magic wand, none of them truly impact the board’s performance or usability. I’ve got no hesitation in my mind recommending the Retro for anyone looking for a buy-it-for-life all-around or cruiser inflatable paddleboard.
Glide O2 Retro 10’6” iSUP FAQ
Can I paddle the Glide O2 Retro 10’6” iSUP with a passenger or dog?
Yes! The O2 Retro has a maximum weight capacity of 400 lbs and is extremely rigid. The full length deck pad has lots of room and plenty of grip for humans, dogs, cats, iguanas, or any other passenger you want to bring along!
Is the Glide O2 Retro 10’6” iSUP good for yoga?
Yes and sort-of. The full-length deck pad gives you the space and grip to use the entire deck of the board for yoga, however at just 32.5” wide, many may find it to be not stable enough to be comfortable for intermediate or advanced poses. Those interested in regularly practicing SUP yoga may want to look into the Glide O2 Lotus - Glide’s yoga specific iSUP.
How long does it take to inflate the Glide O2 Retro 10’6” iSUP?
It takes about 8-10 minutes to inflate the Glide O2 Retro 10’6” iSUP using the included single-chamber/dual-action hand pump.
How durable is the Glide O2 Retro 10’6” iSUP?
Short answer: it’s very durable. The O2 Retro is made with two layers of heavy-duty 1300D PVC tarpaulin and the interior seams are heat welded together. These two things together make the O2 Retro extremely durable for both abrasion/puncture resistance and accidental over-pressurization.
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