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Steamboat Springs, Colorado-based Hala Gear got started in 2011, and over the past few years they’ve gained a reputation for their high-quality inflatable SUPs and envelope-pushing designs. The Hala SUP brand is synonymous with top-shelf build quality, cutting edge designs, and great performance.
In this Hala Playa review, we’ll take a closer look at this inflatable paddle board’s best features, specs, construction, included SUP accessories, pros and cons, and more. If you’re searching for a board that performs extremely well as a touring/surfing SUP and you have the budget to afford the best, the Hala Playa might just be the paddle board you’ve been looking for.
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Hala Playa Review: SUP Overview
The Playa’s rocker and gun profile make it easy to maneuver and turn down the line whenever you’re catching waves. While it may not perform as well in the surf as a rigid board, the Playa is quite capable and holds its own.
For those who are looking for a super stable SUP fitness or fishing rig, there are better options out there such as the Hala Straight Up. Stability was not the top priority when Hala designed the Playa — it is definitely a board that’s geared more towards performance.
The traction pad also has a nice raised kick tail which makes it much easier to perform advanced maneuvers, and there’s a raised foot index at the rear which really helps with blind foot placement.
Mid-board is the typical carry handle, which makes it easy to carry the Playa around when fully inflated. Additionally, there are four stainless steel, triple reinforced D-rings for tying down gear, and it’s also possible to attach a kayak seat and kayak foot bar for seated rowing.
Moving forward, the Hala Playa has four additional D-rings and a bungee cord storage area for stashing your backpack, dry bag, flip flops, or other valuables. The board’s nose is also the location of the high-quality air valve and a convenient grab handle. The grab handle really comes in handy when pulling the board out of the surf.
At the rear of the board is another D-ring for attaching a SUP leash, as well as a second grab handle.
Hala Playa Fin Setup
We love the fact that no tools are needed to remove and replace the flex fins on the Playa — just click the fins in and out.
The Hala Playa’s fin setup is extremely versatile as you can use any tab-style fin with its fin box. Also, you can experiment with different fin setups based on paddling conditions.
The Playa’s sidewalls are made from two separate layers of tough PVC, and they’ve been specially designed for maximum air retention. The unique internal fibers of the sidewall material used by Hala are coated in liquid PVC before being combined with the outer PVC skin. This results in incredible durability — the Playa resists cuts, scrapes, and tears exceptionally well.
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Included SUP Accessories
Included with the board are the following:
- Hala Gear SUP backpack
- 8″ flex fin and 2 4″ side bite click fins
- Dual-action hand pump with built-in pressure gauge
- 12v electric car pump
- Inflatable paddle board repair kit
Of course, the Hala Playa also comes with Hala’s awesome 3 year warranty which covers materials and manufacturer defects. This is one of the best warranties available, and really shows that Hala is serious about standing behind their gear.
One thing that is missing from the package is a SUP paddle, which we’d love to see added in the future.
What is better: thin or thick inflatable paddle boards?
Thicker 6″ inflatable SUPs like the Hala Playa are more rigid and stable than thinner 4″ boards. Also, thicker boards have a higher paddling profile and will keep your feet out of the water and dry.
What’s the recommended PSI for the Hala Playa?
Hala recommends an inflation pressure of 12 to 15 PSI.
The Hala Playa isn’t the cheapest SUP on the market, but you really do get what you pay for. The overall quality of Hala’s boards is unbeatable, and their cutting-edge designs and innovative features make them a strong contender for one of today’s best SUP companies.
For paddlers that want a great hybrid touring/surf SUP and can pony up the dough, the Playa is an excellent choice. This board is highly capable in both surf and flat water paddling conditions, and the outstanding build quality and 3 year warranty mean you’ll be enjoying it for many years to come.
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