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Hydrus Paradise Inflatable SUP Review | 2023
Hydrus Paradise Touring iSUP: Overview
The Hydrus Paradise is a high-performance touring iSUP that is built to last. Its function-first design has it gliding over the water with ease and the aramid fiber construction gives it abrasion resistance unlike any other iSUP on the market. While it is a little heavy in the hand, the Paradise is extremely efficient on the water and the optional carbon fiber paddle offers power and durability in a lightweight construction. All of this is backed by Hydrus’s lifetime warranty and excellent customer service.
— Hydrus Paradise Summary Ratings and Review —
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.
- Exotic materials create an extremely durable board and unique look
- Welded and reinforced seams for longevity
- Fast, efficient shape to cover long distances
- Stable platform suitable for beginners
- Increased nose and tail rocker for better handling in choppy conditions
- Large cargo area with additional d-rings in the rear
- High quality deck pad with raised kick pad
- Excellent carbon fiber paddle available at a reduced rate when bundled
- US fin box with multiple fins included
- Lifetime warranty
- At 29.5 lbs the Paradise can be difficult for smaller paddlers to transport
- We’d like to see carry handles included on the nose and tail for easier transportation.
Construction and Durability
The Hydrus Paradise has a layer of aramid fiber fabric (more commonly known by its brand name: Kevlar) built directly into the board’s deck and hull material to make it the most abrasion resistant iSUP we’ve ever seen.
Aramid is known for its cut and abrasion resistance. The inclusion of this layer adds an amount of durability to the material of the paddleboard that is completely unique to Hydrus boards. Aramid fibers also do not stretch (well, not until they reach about 400,000 PSI) which also increases the overall rigidity of the board. It does also add weight to the board. At 29.5 lbs, the Paradise is a little on the chonky side when you are carrying it. However once it is on the water, those few extra pounds melt away under the stiffness and efficiency of the board.
Another unique aspect of Hydrus iSUPs is their gray coloration that is actually an optical illusion created by this material. Rather than dyeing PVC gray, the board is built with an inner layer that is black, the layer of white aramid fiber, and then a layer of clear PVC. At a distance this appears gray, but looking closely you can see the different layers. The printed graphics on the bottom of the board are actually applied underneath the clear PVC Layer as well. This means that over time – even if your board does experience some abrasion on the beach, neither the color nor the graphics will crack, rub, or peel off.
The Paradise also has heat welded interior seams to create the air-tight chamber, dual-layer PVC rails, and rail reinforcement strips along both the top and bottom edge. Heat-welded seams physically fuse the layers of PVC together to prevent separation whereas glue-only seams will eventually degrade from environmental factors and age.
Along the top of the board is an additional PVC stringer that runs from the nose to the tail of the board. This stringer does add additional stiffness to the board, however its primary purpose is to provide tension and create the unique rocker profile for the Paradise. I’ll get more into the Paradise’s rocker profile in the Features section below.
In our bend test, the Paradise performed very well (significantly higher than average), however it was not the stiffest board we have tested. With 170lb of weight placed in the middle of a 7-foot span, the Paradise deflected 1.3125 inches at 20 PSI. The Paradise is rated to 25 PSI. We do know through our testing that increasing pressure in boards over 18 PSI leads to diminishing gains in stiffness; we also know that most users will be inflating their boards between 15-20 PSI. Now you may be asking yourself “Wait, with all of this fancy material, why isn’t it the best in the bend test?” The answer to that is stiffness is also impacted by board size. Wider boards categorically do better in our bend testing than narrower boards. Our top 5 stiffest boards tested so far are either over 35” wide, or have a second air chamber (and still over 32” wide). At 30” wide, the Paradise is not likely to perform as well as those extra-wide boards in this bend test. Our stiffest board bend-tested to date is, however, another iSUP from Hydrus (The Axis 98).
More importantly than all of that, though, is how the Paradise feels on the water. While standing on the Paradise there’s no noticeable flex in the board. Jumping up and down on it does create some bend, however it is minimal. You can see in the picture below the deck remains relatively flat, though the nose and tail rocker do make it appear to flex more than it does. Some very stiff iSUPs also have a very tight, bouncy, rebound when they flex. The Paradise has a very smooth and controlled rebound, so when you do jump around, take it over the crest of a large wave, or your dog jumps off the front, you don’t feel like you are riding a bucking bronco.
|Max Capacity||370 pounds|
|Board Weight||29.5 pounds|
(SUP & accessories)
|Returns period||30 days|
Features, Accessories and Versatility
The Hydrus Paradise is what I’d call a versatile touring iSUP. Its core functionality is that of a touring board. It’s fast, efficient, has a high carrying capacity and offers good stability. It’s also designed to be used on rivers, for downwinding, for racing, and even as an all-around board (though maneuverability can be tricky). Hydrus didn’t stop at just thinking of the ways the Paradise could be used, but also acted on that with the inclusion of a number of features and accessories.
At first glance the Paradise seems to be a bit bare, but the more you look into it the more you see available to you. On the nose there is a large cargo area with six d-rings and a fixed bungee cord. There are no action mounts built into the Paradise (and the nose is where many brands choose to add one), however Hydrus does include a stick-on GoPro mount with the Paradise to allow you to place it wherever you’d like. Stick-on mounts do work on inflatable SUPs so long as you give the adhesive enough time to cure before use. I also recommend setting some weight on the mount while it cures. Don’t do what I did and slap it on while you are inflating the board in 90° heat just before you get on the water. I’ve had good success with them on other boards in the past, but just wasn’t thinking about it with this one.
Closer to the standing area you’ll see the Paradise has another bungee cord between two d-rings and two extra handles. The extra bungee cord here is for your water bottle or other items you want to keep within easy reach of the standing area (rather than walking or crawling to the front of the board).
The side handles can be used in a few different ways. They can be used by kids as passenger handles, and they can also be used as “race handles” if you’re wanting to work on your beach starts for racing. However, knowing Hydrus founders’ backgrounds in whitewater paddleboarding and SUPing in all conditions, I’ve always considered these as OS handles. Maybe your adventurous side got the best of you going down the river, or a large boat wake or wave set is coming in fast – these handles are well placed to help keep you on the board right as you are thinking “Oh Shit!” Of course you can also use them to extend the front cargo area with a few cam straps for those longer expeditions.
The ¾ length deck pad is fully covered in a textured, diamond-groove pattern for incredible grip whether you are barefoot or wearing shoes or booties. The Center handle is lightly padded, but still folds flat and out of the way. Behind the standing area are four more d-rings ready to hold more cargo or tie down a cooler, bucket, or crate for fishing.
The rear of the board has a raised kick pad with a raised center strip that runs about 16” in front of the kick pad. This raised strip gives you tactile feedback when moving to the back of the board so you know both how far back you are and how centered your foot is – all without looking. The raised center strip also has small cutouts on it to increase grip even more when stepping on it, so if you don’t need to walk all the way to the kick pad, you still get extra grip when lifting the nose out of the water.
Speaking of lifting the nose out of the water – one very obvious visual difference with the Hydrus Paradise versus other touring iSUPs is the rocker profile. The nose of the Hydrus has a significant amount of rocker (about 6.5” to the bottom of the nose). It also has about 2” of tail rocker, though this is less noticeable visually without a comparison. Below is a photo comparing the Hydrus Paradise with the Thurso Surf Expedition 150 to show the difference in rocker profile. The Expedition 150 has a low amount of nose rocker for a touring board (about 3”) and no discernable tail rocker.
The rocker profile of a board impacts several different aspects of performance, and how it impacts those performance characteristics all boil down to the shape and outline of the board. Increasing the amount of rocker in a board can make it more maneuverable and decrease its tracking ability. It can also improve stability in choppy conditions by keeping the nose out of the water and riding up and over waves. Tail rocker makes keeping the nose out of the water when surfing or downwinding easier, but too much tail rocker can also reduce the efficiency of the fin. I’ll get more into the performance of the paradise in the next sections, but in a nutshell: Hydrus has done an excellent job implementing this additional rocker without negatively impacting the Paradise’s performance.
The Paradise touring iSUP comes packaged with the Hydrus Mothership iSUP bag. This is a large, heavy duty bag designed to hold everything you need for a day on the water. The bag doesn’t have wheels, but does have a comfortable backpack harness and high-quality handles around the exterior of the bag.
You can easily fit the Paradise, pump, fins, leash, paddle, and patch kit in the bag as well as a PFD and small dry bag. The outside has two compression straps to cinch down the bag to your kit to prevent it from shifting around while carrying it. Inside is a large pocket to hold your fins, and the outside has a small zippered pocket for keys or other small items.
The included hand pump is a single-chamber, double-action pump. It certainly gets the job done, but small paddlers may struggle to get the Paradise to pressures above 15 PSI for best performance. We’d love to see a double-chamber pump (as we would for all iSUPs) as they are significantly more efficient, especially at higher pressures for smaller paddlers. Hydrus does offer a discounted rate on the Outdoor Master Shark II electric pump when bundled with the purchase of an iSUP. We absolutely prefer electric pumps to hand pumps, and do recommend any paddler get one as they make preparing to paddle so much easier.
Hydrus recognizes that people paddle in different conditions and want as much flexibility in their iSUP as possible. Because the Paradise uses a standard US fin box, you can swap the fin with hundreds of different options available, and you get three different fins to use included in your kit:
- 9” semi-flexible touring fin for maximum tracking
- 6.5” “Race Keel” fin for better speed and a “weedless” shape
- 4.5” gummy river fin for shallow conditions and maximum maneuverability
I’ll get more into the fins in the Maneuverability and Tracking section below.
The Paradise does not come with a paddle included in the iSUP kit. The team at Hydrus understands that choosing the right paddle is as important as choosing the right board. However, Hydrus does make an excellent carbon fiber SUP paddle and it is available at a special discounted rate when bundled with the purchase of a paddleboard.
The Hydrus three-piece adjustable paddle offers excellent performance at an extremely approachable price point. The paddle shaft is carbon fiber for better stiffness and power transfer than a fiberglass shaft. The handle section is made of coated fiberglass with a molded palm grip with finger grooves. The grooves themselves seem to neither help nor hinder the performance of the paddle. I haven’t found the shaped handle to offer substantial grip improvement over a standard, rounded, palm grip shape.
I have relatively small hands and sometimes find that my fingers aren’t sitting as comfortably in the grooves as around a standard palm grip, but other times it feels totally natural. However one thing it does offer for the beginner is a clear understanding of which direction their hand should be placed on the handle.
The adjustable handle section has scale markings (though no measurements) and an indexing groove so you can’t accidentally install the handle backward. Between the indexing groove and the molded handle, a completely new paddler will instantly know which way to hold the paddle for the correct orientation of the blade.
The blade on the Hydrus paddle is what really stands out, though. First, the medium-sized, rectangular blade has enough surface area for excellent holding power in the water, but is slim enough (7.5” wide) for high-cadence paddling. It has an 8° rake, slight scoop, and a single dihedral ridge. This gives the paddler a slightly longer stroke with the blade in the best position for power transfer, a solid catch at the front of the stroke, and the paddle smoothly and evenly directs water to the side to eliminate fluttering. On top of all of that, the blade is covered in Hydrus’s proprietary Armalight material. The core of the blade is made with carbon fiber and coated with this material. While Hydrus won’t tell us exactly what Armalight is (it’s a proprietary material developed by Hydrus), from our testing it appears to be a type of lightweight plastic coating that is also part of the composite structure (much like epoxy resin is used with carbon fiber or fiberglass).
Overall the paddle is lightweight, stiff, and powerful. You can use it equally as well for casual paddling, touring, or whitewater.
Many paddlers wonder how stable a 30” board can really be. Hydrus has hit the head on the stability nail with the Paradise. The balance of width, shape, and materials make it incredibly easy to balance on this 30” board.
As I’ve mentioned in many other reviews, stability comes from multiple different factors in a board’s design and construction. Width is the first thing that comes to mind, but length, thickness, stiffness, shape, and weight are all factors as well.
Standing flat on the Paradise, a paddler who has only ever used wider, all-around iSUPs previously may feel that the board is less stable at the onset. However they will also quickly come to realize that the Paradise is actually quite stable, but with a different feeling under foot. You can more easily tilt the board by shifting your weight from side to side, however it is not any more likely to tip over (so long as you keep your body over the board!). Once you start paddling and engaging the dynamic stability that comes from any SUP that’s under way, the Paradise becomes even more stable with less and less concentration or effort.
While the Paradise is heavier than some other touring iSUPs of a similar size, it has the benefit of being quite stiff (which aids in stability) and the additional mass has more inertia – it resists changes in movements better than a lighter board. Some ultralight touring boards of the same size have a very “poppy” or “rolling” feel as you move them side-to-side. The Paradise has a very solid, confident feel when shifting weight from side-to-side, or when balancing on the edge of the board.
This stability while the board is on its edge (also called secondary stability) is important for narrower boards, especially if they are to be used in less-than-perfect conditions. Having more stability on the edge of the board allows you more time to balance, brace, and correct your board if you encounter a wave or boat wake coming in on the side of your board. From front to back, the Paradise has a significant amount of rocker in the nose and some in the tail as well. This rocker helps you ride up and over these same waves and wakes when you cross them directly. Keeping the nose of the board up prevents water from spilling over and either stopping or slowing the board down or causing the board to roll off balance.
Speed on a touring paddleboard comes through efficiency. The more distance you can cover per stroke, the fast you will ultimately go. The Paradise not only has excellent efficiency on the water, but a great top-speed as well.
At 29.5 pounds, the Paradise is certainly not the lightest paddleboard on the market (nor the heaviest by any means). However it has an excellent top speed and gliding efficiency while sprinting and cruising.
In our 100m sprint test, the Paradise topped out at just over 5.5 mph (8.9 kmh). I have paddled a few other touring boards that top these speeds, but all have their benefits and drawbacks.
Where the Paradise really takes the cake is in its efficiency. While that extra weight does decrease how quickly you can accelerate the board from a standstill, it also helps keep the board moving, especially in more challenging conditions. We test a paddleboards efficiency on the water by measuring its glide ratio. This is how far a board will continue to move between paddle strokes before it begins to slow down. The Paradise is currently topping the charts in our glide test at 2.2 board lengths per stroke (that’s about 27.5 feet) before it begins to slow down. As a comparison, most all-around iSUPs tend to glide about 1.5-1.7 board lengths per stroke.
Maneuverability and Tracking
Once again we see the team at Hydrus taking into account all sorts of different paddlers and conditions when putting together the Paradise and its kit. The Paradise comes standard with three different fin options to let you decide how much maneuverability vs tracking you want for your situation.
The longer a board gets, the harder it is to turn. That’s just a matter of physics as the additional length has to push through more water to turn around. Longer fins also do a better job of keeping a paddleboard straight. So when testing the Hydrus Paradise with the 9” touring fin, I did find it to be a little less maneuverable than I’d like. It took me about 8.5 strokes on average to make a complete circle from a standstill. In the grand scheme of things one might consider this to be low maneuverability, however it is average for a 12’6” touring board. The larger rocker profile on the nose and tail do shorten the water line of the board a little bit, making it easier to turn than if the board had no rocker, however it’s not so rockered that it feels like a banana or just spins around when you paddle.
Swapping out the 9” touring fin for the 6.5” “race keel” or the 4.5” river fin will increase your maneuverability, but will also decrease your tracking performance at the same time.
Using the same 9” touring fin, though, I found the tracking performance to be superb. While paddling on one side of the board only, the Paradise stayed on course incredibly well. I only rotated 5° on average from my original orientation over the course of 10 paddle strokes on a single side. It’s possible to reduce that variation even further by using specialized paddle strokes and steering with the edge of the board, but even without those the Paradise tracks incredibly well with the 9” fin.
Switching out to the 6.5” or 4.5” fins reduces the tracking performance – particularly the 4.5” fin, however it does increase the maneuvering performance.
The Paradise has a single US fin box at the tail of the board, but comes with three different fins for different conditions. The US fin box is a great standard that lets you choose from hundreds of different fins available to fit your needs exactly, but the three Hydrus include do a great job of spanning a wide gamut of uses.
The 9” touring fin is a standard touring fin shape – a wide parallelogram with a moderate amount of rake. It tracks the Paradise extremely well and does help with its stability as it resists moving side-to-side in the water.
The 6.5” “race keel” is an interesting shape. It only drafts 6.5” deep, but keeps a high surface area with the wide, greatly raked back fin. It also has a spring-loaded click-fin system so you don’t need to worry about nuts, bolts, or tools to install or remove the fin. It really does offer a middle ground of tracking and maneuverability and still adds to the stability of the board as a whole.
Lastly the 4.5” river fin is a flexible gummy fin with a shallower draft and smaller surface area. This fin is designed to help track the board a little bit, but primarily gives you the most maneuverability – perfect on rivers or for playing in the surf. Because it is a flexible fin it’s also a great choice for those really shallow areas where you may bump the fin into rocks or other underwater obstacles.
Warranty and Customer Support
Hydrus Board Tech offers a lifetime warranty on their inflatable iSUPs, bags and paddles. This warranty covers manufacturing defects for the reasonable lifetime of the product. Leashes and electric pumps are warrantied against manufacturing defects for 60 days. All products have a 30 day return period, but require all original packaging to be returned for full refund. Their customer service is responsive and happy to help. I did have a missing fin, and once I notified them I had a shipping notification within the hour. If you have any questions for Hydrus Board Tech, you can reach them via email, phone, online chat, web form, or social media.
The Hydrus Paradise is a high-performance touring iSUP. While it does not come with a paddle, the Hydrus carbon fiber paddle is available at a discount when bundled with the board. All together this bundle, when compared to the performance, construction, and warranty of other touring iSUPs, is an excellent value.
Overall Impressions/Review Summary
The Hydrus Paradise is a fantastic touring iSUP, but its uses don’t stop there. Fitness, fishing, even down-wind paddling are all within the wheelhouse of the Paradise. The exotic materials and welded seams give it incredible durability and the function-first design keeps it fast, efficient, and stable on the water. I catch myself staring at the unique optical-illusion-gray coloration of the board way too much when I’m on the water with the Paradise. The versatility expands as you swap out the fins for better performance in different conditions. The unique rocker profile keeps the board dry and stable in choppy conditions. While the paddle is not included with the board, it is the best paddle I’ve used within its price range when bundled with the board and has even more versatility than the board itself! Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced paddler, the Hydrus Paradise is one of the best touring boards available.
Hydrus Paradise Touring iSUP FAQ
Can I take my dog on the Hydrus Paradise?
Yes. The Hydrus Paradise is a very stable touring iSUP. It has a weight capacity of 370lb. Paddling with a dog is not an issue, so long as the dog likes to paddle!
Does the Hydrus Paradise include a paddle?
The Hydrus Paradise does not include a paddle. However the Hydrus carbon fiber paddle is available at a deeply discounted rate when bundled with the Paradise (or any other Hydrus paddleboard).
Is the Hydrus Paradise heavy?
The Hydrus Paradise is a little heavy for a board this size - it is 29.5lb. However we did not find the weight to negatively impact the board performance at all. It is still a very fast and efficient touring iSUP.
How long does it take to inflate the Hydrus Paradise?
Using the included hand pump it takes about 10 minutes to inflate the Paradise 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 Paradise worth the price?
Yes. The Hydrus Paradise not only performs incredibly well on the water, but includes multiple fin options, a high quality carrying bag, and is available as a bundle with the high quality Hydrus carbon fiber paddle. The Paradise, bag and paddle are also all covered under Hydrus’s Lifetime warranty.
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