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Hydrus Joyride XL Inflatable SUP Review | 2023
Hydrus Joyride XL iSUP: Overview
The Hydrus Joyride XL inflatable stand up paddleboard is a fantastically capable larger-size all-around iSUP. At 11’6” long and 34” wide, the Joyride XL is a great option for larger paddlers, paddling with dogs, kids, or even another adult, or for loading up with fishing equipment or camping gear. The Joyride XL is equally comfortable on flat water and rivers, stable enough for yoga, and durable enough for whitewater.
— Hydrus Joyride XL Summary Ratings and Review —
Hydrus Joyride XL
Construction & Durability
Features and Versatility
Warranty & Customer Support
The Hydrus Paradise is an all-water touring iSUP that handles flatwater and choppy conditions with ease.
- Triple-layer construction with welded seams and aramid fibers make the Joyride XL incredibly durable and stiff.
- The wide outline is extremely stable, even when loaded up with equipment or passengers.
- The large cargo areas easily hold everything you need on the water.
- The Joyride XL comes with a variety of different fins to meet your needs.
- The raised kick pad and diamond-groove deck pad give great control and tactile feedback for foot placement.
- The Joyride XL is at home on both flatwater and rivers up to Class II whitewater.
- The Joyride XL is covered by Hydrus’s lifetime warranty and excellent customer service.
- The Joyride XL could benefit from additional carry handles on the nose and tail for easy partner-carries to the water.
- The Joyride XL does not include a paddle, however the Hydrus carbon fiber paddle is available at a reduced price when bundled with the board.
Construction and Durability
Hydrus Board Tech is well known for their incredibly well-built and durable inflatable SUPs, and they back up their construction with a lifetime warranty.
Hydrus Board Tech has two governing philosophies – Function First designs and Boards that Last. To help build boards that last, Hydrus uses the strongest materials and constructions available. This does make their inflatable boards a little heavier than other similarly-sized products, but the results speak for themselves.
At the core of the Hydrus Joyride XL is a triple-layer composite material that uses a layer of aramid fiber sandwiched between two layers of PVC material. Aramid fiber (better known by its trade name Kevlar) is an extremely abrasion-resistant material with essentially zero elasticity within its fibers. What this means for an inflatable paddleboard is that it better protects the inner layer of PVC from damage caused by rubbing or cutting (though it still can be cut). This triple layer material is bonded to a knitted fabric with thousands of linear drop stitch fibers inside the board going from the deck to the hull. These drop stitch fibers keep inflatable paddleboards flat (rather than turning into a tube) and also increase their rigidity. The Joyride XL’s interior seams are heat-welded together to create the airtight chamber. Heat welding physically fuses the materials into one solid piece, eliminating the concern of glue eventually failing. Additional rail layers and seam reinforcement strips are then adhered to the board for additional stiffness and abrasion resistance. The Joyride XL is rated for up to 25 PSI internal pressure, but Hydrus pressure tests their inflatables at over 30 PSI.
The inability of the aramid fibers to stretch also increases the Joyride XL’s stiffness. Hydrus iSUPs, including the Joyride XL have been holding a commanding lead as stiffest iSUPs we’ve tested. At 20 PSI the Joyride XL bent only 1 inch with our 170 lbs test load. Once you put the Joyride XL on the water, you can feel the stiffness – or rather you can feel a lack of flexibility. Under normal paddling conditions the Joyride XL feels incredibly solid. I was able to find some flex while jumping up and down on the board, but it was very mild and had a smooth and controlled rebound.
With welded seams for long-lasting construction, aramid fibers for increased rigidity and abrasion resistance, and reinforced rails the Joyride XL is already set to be a high-performance iSUP that will last a long time. What else could we ask for in an inflatable SUP? Apparently Hydrus has asked that same question.
This review is for the 2022 Hydrus Joyride XL, however Hydrus has announced that 2023 models (currently available for pre-order) will have a new, and somehow improved, construction. According to Hydrus the seam welding system has been improved, the drop stitch fabric is getting an upgrade to a woven material, and the PVC shell is using a heat-fusion construction instead of glue between the layers. What we typically see in iSUPs with woven fabric and fusion materials is a significant weight reduction while maintaining (and in some cases increasing) their rigidity. We’re excited to check out these new 2023 models and will update our reviews once we’ve been able to thoroughly test them.
|Max Capacity||400 pounds|
|Board Weight||32 pounds|
(SUP & accessories)
|Returns period||30 days|
Features, Accessories and Versatility
The Joyride XL is a large, all-around iSUP. It’s designed to meet the needs of paddlers who like to do a little bit of everything. The feature set allows you to set up your board how you like it while reducing clutter. Its larger size has excellent stability for larger paddlers, paddling with pets and passengers, or loading it up for long-form adventures.
The Joyride XL has a large six-point cargo area on the nose of the board. The included cargo bungee has plenty of room for daily necessities or easily fitting dry bags up to 25 liters in size. Under the nose of the board is another D-ring that is set for adding an anchor to your board for fishing or yoga, or for rigging your board to be towed.
Behind the main cargo area is another set of D-rings with a bungee cord between them. This extra storage space is for those small essentials you want to keep close to you – water bottles, shoes, sunscreen, etc. You can also use these two D-rings to extend the front cargo with another bungee cord, rope or webbing strap.
The deck pad is a diamond-groove foam with additional grooves cut into the diamond pattern. This creates a soft, but firm traction pad that gives excellent grip when wet. The diamond-groove pattern covers the entire deck pad all the way to the tail.
The center carry handle is padded and comfortable to use, but what is missing from the Joyride XL are handles at the front and rear of the board. This does make it harder to partner-carry the Joyride XL. When loading the board up with lots of equipment, make sure to take this into consideration and load as close to the water as you can. While on a recent SUP camping trip using the Joyride XL I did find myself dragging it by the leash anchor to get it in the water the first time I had it loaded up. The second time I loaded the board while the tail was in the water, which meant I was ready to go with just a small slide across the beach.
Between the center handle and the front cargo area are two additional padded handles on each side of the board. These make a great handle for passengers sitting or kneeling at the front of the board, and they also make great “O.S.” handles. “O.S.” handles are named for the phrase often uttered when things get dicey and a SUP paddler (particularly whitewater SUP paddlers) suddenly needs to find themselves holding on to their board. They can also help you get back onto your board in the event a board-body-separation still occurs.
Behind the standing area are four more d-rings. These are set with the intention of holding a cooler, milk crate, or being used to rig additional dry bags for longer trips. While Hydrus does not have a paddle seat accessory, these rear D-rings and the small cargo strip D-rings can be used with third-party seat adapters for those who prefer to sit.
If you like to move around on your SUP and use the tail of the board for quick pivot turns, better control on bumps or surf, then you’ll appreciate the unique kick pad on the tail. Leading up to the kick pad itself is a 12” long raised pad down the center of the board. This raised pad gives you a no-look tactile feedback to know how close you are to the kick pad itself and to let you know that your rear foot is centered on the board for easy heel-toe control.
The Joyride XL carries its width through most of the mid-section of the board to give you great stability whether you like to stand in front, over, or behind the handle (or need to adjust to accommodate passengers or equipment). The square tail is very wide at 23” which lends even more stability to the board (even if you aren’t standing right over it). The nose is likewise quite wide (21”) and rounded, and has almost six inches of rocker. Rocker is how far turned up the nose (or tail) of the board is from the water line. The Joyride XL’s rocker is higher than what we often see in all-around iSUPs, but for some very good reasons. The additional rocker gives better handling in choppy conditions by riding up-and-over the chop and waves rather than plunging through them. The same also works for navigating whitewater features like wave trains and small holes. The up-turned bow keeps the Joyride XL riding high and dry. It does all of this without negatively impacting its performance on calm water. To add to its versatility, Hydrus also includes three different fins with the Joyride XL, but I’ll get to those in the Maneuverability and Tracking section.
Hydrus does not automatically include a paddle with their boards. However, they do have an excellent carbon fiber paddle available at a special rate when bundled with your board purchase. Like their iSUPs, the Hydrus paddle is also built to last.
Because choosing the right paddle for you is just as important as choosing the right board for you, Hydrus only offers their adjustable carbon fiber paddle a la carte rather than included with each board. However if you do want the paddle with your board, they do offer an extra discount when bundled with a SUP purchase.
The Hydrus three-piece adjustable paddle offers excellent performance at an extremely approachable price point. The blade is a medium-large 96 square inches with a mostly rectangular shape. This shape gives you a consistent feel as the blade moves into the water, and it makes it easier (though not required) to paddle with a faster cadence. The single dihedral ridge on the power face of the blade helps reduce flutter.
The carbon fiber paddle blade is coated in Hydrus’s proprietary Armalight composite material. This is one secret they are holding on to for sure – no matter how many times I’ve asked what makes up their Armalight material they won’t tell me! From what I’ve been able to tell it seems to use a composite fabric layer with what I think is a plastic resin, rather than an epoxy or polyester resin. Don’t quote me on that – it’s just my hypothesis.
The rest of the paddle is made of carbon fiber for the shaft, and molded fiberglass for the handle. This combination of materials creates a paddle that is durable, relatively stiff, and reasonably light. At 26 ounces it’s not the lightest paddle I’ve used, but it’s the one I pick up when I’m paddling rivers (whitewater or not), and it makes a great general-purpose paddle. The weight is also well-balanced, so it doesn’t become “heavier” feeling to use throughout the day.
The molded handle has indentations for your fingers, an anti-twist indexing ridge, and has a blank height scale. While it won’t show you a specific length setting based on your height, the markings are easy enough to see and frequent enough without crowding to easily reset the paddle between uses. I actually like this approach quite a bit as preferred paddle length varies greatly depending on the user and the use.
Check the Best Price on the Hydrus Paddle
The Joyride XL’s size, shape, rigidity, and even its weight, all come together to create an incredibly stable iSUP that is equally great for new paddlers working on their balance to experienced paddlers getting into whitewater.
At 11’6” x 34” x 6” the Joyride XL easily falls into our category of larger all-around iSUPs. These boards are great for those looking for better stability or higher carrying capacity, and the Joyride XL does it all fantastically.
While standing on the Joyride XL there is no rocking, rolling, or twitching. The rigidity from the triple layer construction and high max pressure give you a very solid feeling under your feet. While walking around on the board there’s extremely limited flex and rebound. While recently paddling the Joyride XL in near-freezing temperatures I would often jump up and down on the board to increase the blood flow in my feet and toes. Never once did I feel unstable while doing so.
If you do get the Joyride XL up onto its rail, the long parallel mid section (and the board’s rigidity) make it nearly as easy to hold the board on its rail as it is to keep it flat. The same goes with stepping back to the tail for a pivot turn. The wide tail, raised kick pad, and rigid construction make it confidence-inspiring to lift the nose, and it spins around easily. Rocking the board from side-to-side was smooth without any popping or bobbing sensations.
On a recent overnight Class II-III whitewater paddling trip I took the Joyride XL and had no problems staying on my feet through all of the Class II whitewater, though I did take a knee during the one Class III rapid. The Joyride XL handled it all with aplomb.
Large all-around iSUPs like the Joyride XL are not typically known for their speed. While I won’t be taking the Joyride XL to any races, it does paddle efficiently and with a very respectable top speed.
At 34” wide and 32 lbs, the Joyride XL may seem like it should be slow on the water, but the rigidity and shape of the Joyride XL actually make it quite efficient – and borderline fast – on the water.
We’ve recently started using a GPS and accelerometer-enabled device to measure speed and glide, however we’ll keep using our previous method (set distance and a stopwatch) so we can make the best comparisons possible to previously-tested boards.
While testing the Joyride XL I was able to get a peak sprinting speed of 5.8 MPH, but over a 100m sprint the average speed was 5.3 MPH. This is still quite quick for such a large board. I never felt like the board was bobbing in the water or was pushing large amounts of water out in front of the nose.
The Joyride XL’s efficiency is even better than its top speed. We evaluate efficiency by measuring how far a paddleboard will travel with each paddle stroke before it begins to slow down. With each paddle stroke the Joyride XL travels approximately 1.7-1.8 board lengths before slowing down (19.5-20.5 feet per stroke). This is on the very high-side for all-around iSUPs in general, especially larger all-around iSUPs.
While cruising at a comfortable long-distance pace, the Joyride XL managed our ¼ mile test in 3:32 (3.5 MPH). At the end of my recent overnight whitewater trip I had the Joyride XL loaded up with all of my equipment and a 4.5” river fin, and we had a 1.2 mile lake crossing to get to our finishing point. And in true New Mexico fashion we had a headwind (though it was mild), but I was still able to average 3 MPH for the lake crossing.
Overall I’ve been pleasantly surprised and impressed with the speed and efficiency of the Joyride XL. It’s nowhere near as fast as the Hydrus Paradise touring iSUP, but for a large all-around iSUP it’s quite speedy.
Maneuverability and Tracking
The Joyride XL is an all-around iSUP and we like that Hydrus has leaned into the different ways you can use it by including multiple different fin options with the board. Because of those different fins you can really dial in your maneuverability and tracking to meet your specific needs. For this review I’m going to focus on how the 9” touring fin and the 6.5” keel fin perform. I will include some information about performance with the 4.5” fin, but it was not included in our standard testing.
Larger boards and larger fins typically mean slower turning and less maneuverability. However the shape of the fin can also make a big difference in how it performs.
While testing the Joyride XL with the 9” touring fin I found it to be very maneuverable. To make a complete 360° turn from a standstill it only took 5.5 strokes on average. For such a large board with a long touring fin, this is a very solid performance.
Then I swapped to the 6.5” keel fin. This fin is not as deep in the water, but has nearly the same surface area as the 9” touring fin. The swept back design is meant to work better in shallower water and to better shed weeds than the more vertical touring fin. The Keel fin made the Joyride XL a little less maneuverable, requiring almost 6.5 strokes on average to make the same turn.
When it comes to how straight a board tracks there’s a lot more variability from paddler to paddler based on their form, but again the shape and length of both the board and the fin come into play. To test how well a board tracks we gain momentum and paddle 10 times on one side toward a distant target while using the best forward stroke technique we can. We then use a compass to measure the new heading at the end of the 10 strokes to see how far “off course” the board has gone.
After using the 9” touring fin, I found the Joyride XL only deviated 10° on average. While using the 6.5” keel fin, the Joyride XL deviated an average of 12° off course. Both of these results are really good for an all-around iSUP, and are at the low-end of what we expect to see with a dedicated touring iSUP.
In addition to the fin, the stability and rigidity of the board keep it from rocking or bobbing in the water, which can also throw off tracking performance.
The 4.5” river fin offers far more maneuverability and greatly reduced tracking compared to either of these other two options. However, when paddling in shallow waters or when maneuverability is more important than tracking, it does a fantastic job. This is the fin I used for a 20 mile overnight river trip that was about 30% whitewater, 60% flat moving water, and 10% still lake. I had no problem maneuvering in the whitewater and keeping my line. The fin was shallow enough that I never had to get off my board while navigating miles of shallow sandbars (the same can’t be said for the rest of my group in inflatable kayaks), and when I got to the lake the tracking was reasonable, but not great. I normally like to paddle about 15 times per side while on the lake, but instead was limited to 8-10 strokes per side in order to keep myself on course.
The Joyride XL has a single US fin box, so if none of these fins suit your needs it’s incredibly easy to get a different fin. It also makes it easy to borrow a fin if you happen to leave yours at home! The 6.5” keel fin is also tool-less and uses spring-loaded ball bearings to hold the fin in the fin box. Just press it in to install, and lift it out to remove it.
Warranty and Customer Support
Hydrus Board Tech stands by their iSUPs with a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects. They design their boards to last a long time and want to do everything they can to keep them on the water and out of a landfill. In addition to a lifetime warranty on their iSUPs, you also get a lifetime warranty on their paddle and a 60 day warranty on other accessories. If you are not satisfied with your Hydrus iSUP, there is a 30-day return period. If you have any questions you can contact Hydrus via their online chat, web form, phone, and social media. As a small company based in Idaho, Hydrus greatly values their customers and has excellent response times to any inquiries or issues. If you call, there’s a good chance you’ll talk directly to the owner and Jason loves to talk SUP!
The Hydrus Joyride XL is a high-performance all-around iSUP that is built to last. It’s equally at home on flat water as it is moving water, is incredibly stable, and paddles efficiently. As a smaller brand, Hydrus does batch production in order to provide better oversight to their manufacturing. With this production cycle Hydrus iSUPs are often available for a greatly reduced price while they are on pre-sale during the manufacturing stage. If you are OK with waiting a little for your board, they offer some of the greatest deals around multiple times per year. Even without the pre-order sale, the Joyride XL is a fantastic value. It is a lifetime board – it’s not the cheapest on the market, but it’s built with function-first design and built to last.
Overall Impressions/Review Summary
The Hydrus Joyride XL takes the idea of an all-around iSUP and runs away with it. Beginner friendly? Check. Flatwater Cruising? Check. Bringing your dog? Check. Fishing? Check. Yoga? Check. SUP camping? Check. Whitewater? Check. While there’s always room for improvement in any product, the Joyride XL leaves very little of it. The excellent construction, high paddling performance, and lifetime warranty for both the board and the paddle make the Joyride XL not just a great value, but a true joy to ride.
Hydrus Joyride XL iSUP FAQ
Can I take my dog on the Hydrus Joyride XL?
Yes. The Hydrus Joyride XL is incredibly stable and the abrasion-resistant materials are ready for your pup even if he hasn’t had a paw-dicure in a while.
Does the Hydrus Joyride XL include a paddle?
The Hydrus Joyride XL does not include a paddle by default. Hydrus knows that paddles are a personal choice and customers may already have a paddle they like. The Hydrus 3-piece carbon fiber paddle is available with an extra discount if you bundle it with the Joyride XL (or any other Hydrus iSUP), and it’s a great general-purpose paddle.
Is the Hydrus Joyride XL heavy?
The 2022 Hydrus Joyride XL weighs about 32 lbs. That is on the heavier side for iSUPs of this size. This is because of the extremely durable and stiff materials used. According to Hydrus, the 2023 models (currently available for pre-order) use a different construction and should be 4-5 lbs lighter without sacrificing performance.
How long does it take to inflate the Hydrus Joyride XL?
Using the included hand pump it takes about 10-12 minutes to inflate the Joyride XL to 15PSI. We recommend inflating to 20 PSI for best performance; we also recommend an electric pump for any iSUP to make the inflation process easier.
Is the Hydrus Joyride XL worth the price?
Yes. The Hydrus Joyride XL performs extremely well on the water, in a large variety of conditions and terrains, and is very well built. It is also one of the few boards on the market that comes with a lifetime warranty.
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