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Honu Byron: Overview
When minimalist design and maximalist construction meet, you get a Honu paddleboard. The Byron is their flagship all-around iSUP that has quickly become one of my favorites. Its advanced construction, well-balanced shape, and on-water performance come in a high-quality, light-weight package at a very reasonable price point.
— Honu Byron Summary Ratings and Review —
Construction & Durability
Features and Versatility
Warranty & Customer Support
The Honu Byron is a high-performance all-around iSUP focused on the paddling experience.
- Woven drop stitch fabric
- Cross-stitched drop stitching
- Fusion PVC
- Truly ultralight
- 4.7” thickness
- Beautiful design
- Excellent deck pad
- Great tracking and maneuverability
- Biodegradable packaging
- US fin box standard
- Minimalist feature set may not be enough for some users
- No paddle included
Construction and Durability
One of the biggest differences with the Honu Byron is its 4.7” thickness. While most inflatable paddleboards are 6” thick. The thickness of the board can drastically impact its performance and thinner, and thicker, boards have their benefits and drawbacks.
If all other things (shape, size, materials, etc.) are the same, a thicker board will have a greater carrying capacity and will be stiffer overall. Thinner boards lower the user’s center of gravity (increasing stability) and allow for easier engagement of the rails for steering and surfing.
However, it is very rare to find two boards that are made entirely the same except for their thickness. While the example of the two hypothetical boards shows how changing just one variable can impact a paddleboard’s performance, it’s not the whole story. The Byron uses a few extra tricks to get the best of both worlds.
First, Honu uses a woven fabric base layer – which is stiffer and lighter than traditional knitted fabric – along with X-woven drop stitching. The X-woven drop stitching once again reduces weight, but actually increases the overall stiffness, much like the crossed bracing members on a bridge.
The PVC shell is then fused to the polyester fabric base layer rather than glued. This fusion construction once again reduces weight (since it eliminates a layer of glue) and increases stiffness. Lastly the Byron gets three independent layers of PVC wrapped around the rails (sides) of the board for – you guessed it – increased stiffness and durability.Now that my paddleboard-tech-nerd section is done – what does this actually mean? The Honu Byron is an amazingly built iSUP that performs excellently on the water and weighs just 16.9lb according to Honu, but my scale reads 16.6lb.
The Byron is rated to 20 psi maximum recommended inflation pressure. At 20 psi it performs very well on the water. I did find a noticeable bend when bouncing on the board (seen above) and when sprinting hard, but not when paddling under normal conditions. While the Byron did rank right in the middle with our bend test, it’s also one of the very few 4.7” thick boards we’ve tested.
|Max Capacity||240 pounds|
|Board Weight||16.6 pounds|
(SUP & accessories)
|Returns period||30 days|
Features, Accessories and Versatility
The Byron, like Honu’s other iSUPs, is a beautiful iSUP with minimalist design. The deck itself is “lacking” in features compared to many other brands’ boards, but still has plenty of functionality for those who value the paddling experience itself.
There are three carrying handles (rear, center, and front), but at just over 16.5 lbs It’s hard to find a reason to buddy-carry the Byron. The front handle has an integrated D-ring for towing or anchoring, and the rear handle has two integrated D-rings for your leash. This lets you choose which side of the board to favor for your leash to match if you are regular- or goofy-footed for surfing.
There is a four-point cargo tie down on the front of the board. It’s not a very large area, so there’s just enough room for a water bottle, flip flops, and a small, 5L dry bag. I’m not a huge fan of the soft nylon webbing loops used to anchor the bungee cord. Fabric loops like these are more susceptible to wear-and-tear, and UV degradation compared to metal D-rings.
The deck pad is die-cut for each color (there is just a tiny bit of glue staining between a few sections on mine) and has a pebbled and diamond-groove texture for absolutely incredible grip. At the rear of the deck pad, Honu has included a raised kick pad for better control and stability when surfing and pivot turning.
Just behind the kick pad is another small bungee cord to use as a paddle holder. Simply slide the paddle under the cord and wedge it against the kick pad for a secure fit.
Under the board there is vibrant, bold color PVC sheet (red for the “dusk” colorway and teal for the “perfect day” option) with the model name and a few symbols inspired by the namesake city in Australia (Byron Bay). Just in front of the standard US fin box, you’ll find a quote by renowned science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke “How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.”
The wheeled carrying bag is made of a lightly padded, heavy-duty nylon material and is, like the Byron, minimalist in approach without losing functionality. There is a small zippered pocket in front, two mesh pockets on the side, and compression straps inside and outside of the bag.
There’s plenty of room inside the bag for the included double-action hand pump, leash fin. The included repair kit, like the rest of the board and accessories, comes packed in a biodegradable baggie rather than non-recyclable plastic.
Conspicuously absent from the Byron’s kit is a paddle. Paddles, in a perfect world, would all be matched to the individual paddler, but beginners (and even intermediate paddlers) don’t always have the technical knowledge or experience to easily choose between different paddles. While we do normally like to see a high-quality paddle included with iSUP kits, Honu does also offer a line of reasonably priced, high quality, paddles that perform very, very well.
Honu does not include a paddle with their iSUP kits as a default option, and, unfortunately, I was not sent one to review at this time. However, I have used the Honu Evolution paddles a few different times now and will add a few of my thoughts here if you are considering getting one with your Byron – and you should.
The Evolution paddles by Honu are a serious piece of gear at an approachable price point. Not all carbon fiber paddles are the same, and they can certainly come in at any point on a wide spectrum of quality.
Honu’s carbon fiber paddles are lightweight, stiff, and well balanced. They have a medium-sized (86 sq in) blade with a medium rake angle to work well in a large variety of conditions for a large variety of paddlers.
They come in two varieties – the Evolution Carbon and Evolution Bamboo. Both use carbon fiber for the shaft and blade. The Evolution Carbon uses a 3K carbon fiber twill for the entire construction, and the Evolution Bamboo uses 12K carbon fiber weave and has a bamboo veneer on the blade. In theory the 3K Evolution Carbon will have a little more flex for increased comfort and the 12K Evolution Bamboo will be a little stiffer for increased power. However, after using them both side-by-side it was incredibly difficult to feel those differences, so I say go with whichever suits your aesthetic! Both are a great choice and give my 1-piece carbon fiber race paddle a run for its money at ⅔ of the cost.
Stability is one of the most important factors in an all-around board. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced paddler, a board that isn’t stable isn’t going to be easy to work with or fun to paddle.
The Byron, though, is very stable. At 10’6” x 32” that’s understandable and is my most recommended size for new paddlers and all-around boards to begin with. While the thinner build does reduce the Byron’s maximum stiffness a little bit, it also lowers your center of gravity and makes it easier to stay upright.
I’ve found the Byron to feel excellently stable on the water. The small amount of flex in the board isn’t noticed during normal paddling, and is very gentle, so if you do like to hop around on the board you won’t feel like you are getting bucked off.
The deck pad has an incredible amount of grip across its entire surface, so whether you are standing right up on the handle or back toward the tail, you won’t be slipping off.
How a board reacts when it is not flat on its hull is also important to understand. With the Byron, it was very smooth when rocking back and forth, and was very easy to simply hold on its rail. The thinner board is easier to rock under the surface, but smoothly returns to the top. Because the thinner shape reduces volume throughout the board it’s important to remember that the edges and tail will dip under with less effort. I was reminded of this when pivot-turning the Byron for the first time – I was able to sink the tail far faster than I anticipated and did become captain of the swim team that day.As a performance all-around iSUP, the Byron has the stability needed for beginners, but also will grow with beginners and intermediate paddlers as they progress in skill, rather than becoming “too easy” after a season of paddling.
Speed can mean different things to different paddlers. Top speed is not the Byron’s forte, nor was it meant to be. For those craving the fastest boards they can get their hands on, check out the Honu Sorrento – it is incredibly quick, especially for its size!
While it’s not the fastest sprinting iSUP I’ve used, it does have excellent glide and a smooth feel when cruising around. It crushed our cruising test, averaging 4 mph with ease over a quarter-mile circuit. A big part of this is due to how efficiently it glides with each paddle stroke. I measured 1.93 board lengths for each stroke. For perspective, some of our top performing touring iSUPs are in the neighborhood of 2.2 board lengths per stroke.
Maneuverability and Tracking
All-around iSUPs are designed to perform reasonably well for a large variety of uses. Normally they balance maneuverability and tracking by giving more preference to being easy to turn. It can be frustrating for beginner paddlers to paddle a board that is difficult to get pointed where they want to go! Because of that, all-arounds are not normally known for their tracking performance beyond being acceptable for casual use.
I normally test boards in that same order as well – maneuverability first and then tracking. So when I completed my turning tests and found that the Byron swings a full 360° with fewer than 5 forward sweep turning strokes (which is really good, by the way), I was not expecting it to do well with our tracking test…
… Oh, but I was wrong! The Byron’s tracking ability was incredibly impressive given its size and maneuverability!
I definitely noticed how easy it was to stay on course while cruising around, and when putting it through its paces, I found that the Byron averaged only about 15° of deviation for 10 consecutive paddle strokes on one side. Most all-around iSUPs around the same size tend to be in the 20-25° range.Where the Byron did not track as well, though, was while sprinting. The lightweight board was pretty quick to turn when pushing the power up with each stroke. This is fairly normal, though, and is not helped by the additional flex the Byron undergoes when paddling with a lot of force. The included 9” all-around fin is well suited to the Byron. It has enough hold to help it track, but with a shape and outlined that lets the board turn easily on demand. The standard US fin box means it is compatible with hundreds of other fins currently available, so you can swap it for a larger surface area touring fin for better tracking and stability, or a shorter draft fin for shallow conditions. The included fin uses the FCS II Connect tool-less system, so you just push the fin into the box and go – no tools or bolts necessary.
Warranty and Customer Support
Honu includes a 4 year warranty to repair or replace your board for any manufacturing defects. For damages that are not related to the manufacturing of the board, Honu will also help you find reliable repair options to get you back on the water as quickly as possible. If you decide that the Byron doesn’t suit your paddling style, Honu does have a 30-day return period for unused or like-new condition equipment. If you have questions about your Honu board, paddle, accessory, or need to file a warranty claim, you can reach Honu directly via phone, email, web form, or social media.
We like to take a holistic approach to determining if a product offers a good value or not. We consider the MSRP, regular sale prices, performance, quality of the included items, and the warranty and customer support when making this decision. Because the Honu Byron does not include a paddle, the overall dollar-to-product value for the kit is reduced, but the performance of the board itself and the excellent warranty still make the Byron a very worthwhile buy.
Overall Impressions/Review Summary
The Honu Byron is one of my favorite all-around iSUPs – easily in the top 3 – and is an easy recommendation for me to make for beginner paddlers who want a board that can grow with them, or for intermediate paddlers who want an all-around iSUP they won’t get bored with. The overall weight capacity is relatively low, and there is not much in the way of accessories built into the board. If you regularly paddle with kids or larger dogs, or like to deck your board out for a whole day of fishing, the Byron probably isn’t right for you. If you enjoy a high quality paddling experience, are interested in a board that’s easy to use, but can also offer you chances to grow and learn, then the Byron is a great choice.
I feel the only things really holding the Byron back from being 5/5 stars (instead of “just” 4.8/5!) are a lack of on-board versatility and its stiffness. Swapping the webbing loops for d-rings and adding even a single threaded mount would massively increase the versatility of this board. The Honu Sorrento uses carbon fiber fabric in the rails and as stringers on the deck and hull to create an incredibly stiff paddleboard, and I wish Honu would add the same to the Byron.Hopefully we’ll see these changes in future versions of the Byron, but until then, I’ll still be reaching for the Byron every time I want a sporty all-around iSUp.
Honu Byron iSUP FAQ
What is the difference between the Honu Byron and the Honu Fairlight?
The Honu Fairlight is 3” longer and is 1” wider than the Byron. This extra size increases the overall capacity, and is recommended for riders up to 290lb vs 240lb.
How does a 4.7” thick iSUP compare to a 6” thick iSUP?
With everything else being equal, a 6” iSUP will be stiffer, but a 4.7” iSUP will lower your center of gravity. In real-world cases it’s nearly impossible to find two boards built the same that only differ in thickness. With the Honu Byron we’ve found that both the stability and stiffness are excellent thanks to the other construction features used in its manufacturing.
Is the Honu Byron worth the price?
Yes. The Honu Byron is a performance all-around iSUP geared toward intermediate paddlers and beginners who want a board that will grow with them in skill. Because it does not include a paddle, the overall price for a complete kit does go up, however the Honu Evolution paddles are excellently made and also well worth their price.
Is the Honu Byron compatible with a kayak seat?
Unfortunately the Byron is not compatible with add-on kayak seats as there are no D-rings to support the seat attachments.
Can I paddle with kids or dogs on the Honu Byron?
Yes, however it is important to remember that because of the 4.7” thickness the overall weight capacity of the Byron is lower than some other iSUPs of similar size.
How long does it take to inflate the Honu Byron?
The Honu Byron is quick to inflate to the minimum recommended pressure with the included hand pump thanks to its overall lower volume (about 8 minutes of average effort). However inflating it to the maximum recommended 20psi does take a few more minutes.
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