Kokopelli Chasm-Lite iSUP: Overview
The Chasm-Lite is a brand new inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard made by the packraft juggernaut Kokopelli and became available for retail purchase in late 2022. With over a decade of experience designing (and paddling) their range of lightweight and highly-packable packrafts, the Chasm-Lite is the brand’s first foray into SUP. True to their core, the Chasm-Lite isn’t just your typical iSUP – it’s the most compact and lightest weight iSUP on the market.
The small size and light weight make it a fantastic choice for those with very limited storage space, strict travel size requirements (It’s the only iSUP i’ve seen that will qualify for most airline carry-ons!), or strict weight requirements for chasing blue lines on a topo map. On the flip side, that does mean there are some drawbacks to the Chasm-Lite that don’t lend it to being an ideal all-around iSUP for the casual paddler. Its unique design and construction definitely take the Chasm-Lite into the category of “specialty” iSUP. Like all specialty iSUPs the Chasm-Lite makes tradeoffs in some performance categories for gains in others. I’ll get into all of the nitty-gritty details of the Chasm-Lite below.
— Kokopelli Chasm-Lite Summary Ratings and Review —
Construction & Durability
Features and Versatility
The Kokopelli Chasm-Lite is the ideal iSUP for packability for travel and exploration off the beaten path.
- The Chasm-Lite is outstandingly lightweight and packable
- The sleek outline has excellent gliding characteristics
- The entire kit packs into a small, functional, dry-bag with a comfortable backpack harness
- The 4-piece paddle is lightweight and packable while eliminating additional connection points found in 5-piece paddles
- Excellent value compared to the next-closest lightweight iSUPs
- Lifetime warranty on the paddleboard
- The smaller size and lightweight construction reduce overall stability and durability
- While the Chasm-Lite is efficient on the water, its tracking performance (and stability) would be greatly improved by switching to a twin-fin system.
Construction and Durability
The Chasm-Lite is the lightest, most packable iSUP on the market. In order to get to that point there are some trade-offs with the construction and overall-durability compared to larger, heavier iSUPs. However, the overall trade off is a net-positive as the Chasm-Lite still performs well and clocks in at a jaw-dropping 12.9 lbs board weight.
The Chasm-Lite uses a single-layer PVC construction with lightweight 500-Denier fabric for the deck and hull of the paddleboard. The lower denier fabric does reduce the overall weight of the board, but also reduces its rigidity and abrasion and puncture resistance compared to paddleboards made with heavier 1000D-2000D fabrics. It’s important to keep in mind that the core design principle of this iSUP is to be above-and-beyond portable. A decrease in rigidity and durability is not a great choice for a beginner’s all-around iSUP, however for the intermediate paddler looking for a highly-packable paddleboard, this trade off makes total sense.
To further reduce weight, but help increase its rigidity the Chasm-Lite is made with a woven base-layer fabric under the PVC and “crossed” interior drop stitch yarns. These two components have shown in our testing to both reduce weight and either maintain, or even improve, rigidity in an inflatable SUP compared to the more common knitted fabric and linear yarns.
The rails are made with two layers of PVC material to help increase stiffness and add more abrasion resistance to the areas of the board that experience the most bumping and rubbing while in use. The seams are all glued, which is a bit of a surprise as welding the seams is not only more durable, but also lighter weight than glue. Hopefully we’ll see welded seams in the next version of the Chasm-Lite.
When I put the Chasm-Lite onto the blocks for our Bend Test, I was a little nervous. I had that little voice in the back of my head saying “hey, this thing is super light, are you sure you want to put 170 lbs on it while it’s off the water?” So I made sure to take my time when loading it up to the full weight of our test. I’m glad that the little voice of worry was wrong, though! Even with the extremely lightweight construction and smaller size (wider iSUPs tend to be stiffer in our testing), the Chasm-Lite had “just” a 2.5” bend in our 170 lbs bend test. While 2.5” is on the very low-end of our testing results, even with the single-layer, low-density construction, the Chasm-Lite was not the lowest-scoring board across our testing. The Chasm-Lite has a maximum recommended inflation pressure of 15 PSI. I believe the use of welded seams would also allow for higher pressures and thus a stiffer construction.
While out on the water with the Chasm-Lite, I found it to have a very noticeable flex in the board any time I moved on the board or put a larger amount of effort into my paddle. With general cruising the flex is still a little noticeable, but greatly reduced. When it does flex, the Chasm-Lite has a very slow rebound that gives you plenty of time to react and adjust to the board’s movement.
I think of the Chasm-Lite like other “UL” backpacking equipment. It’s meant to be functional and lightweight first, and durability will ultimately be up to the user’s care in use and maintenance. While it doesn’t cover things like punctures or misuse (very few do), the Chasm-Lite does include a lifetime warranty against any manufacturing issues. More details on that in the “Warranty and Customer Support” section below.
|Max Capacity||250 pounds|
|Board Weight||12.9 pounds|
(SUP & accessories)
|Returns period||30 days|
Features, Accessories and Versatility
The Chasm-Lite takes minimalism to heart with both its weight and features. Again, the focus of this speciality iSUP is on lightweight portability, but it would be nice to see a few tweaks for improved usability in a future version.
The Chasm-Lite’s feature set is best defined as utilitarian. It has the basic features you need for a day of paddling, but not much else. The board has a single, relatively small, cargo area at the nose, a truncated deck pad, single carrying handle, inflation valve, and leash d-ring. There’s a single slide-in fin box on the hull of the board, and that’s it. The deck pad is quite comfortable, and the honeycomb traction pad does a great job of providing a grippy feeling for your feet.
While it’s not full of flashy mounting points for fishing tackle and speakers, nor is it covered in dozens of D-rings or daisy chains, the Chasm-Lite really has everything you need and nothing you don’t once you consider who this board is designed for.
Similar to a packraft, the Chasm-Lite is meant to be used while traveling off the beaten path. It provides a recreational opportunity and a means of conveyance in places you couldn’t otherwise take a larger vessel. Since I received the Chasm-Lite I’ve been trying to really think about its ideal use case, and I think I’ve finally landed on it. For serious backcountry travelers looking for the absolute smallest water craft that can carry them and their equipment for long distances, I still think a packraft (like Kokopelli’s Rogue Lite) offers the best solution – primarily for their better cargo carrying abilities. Doubly-true if you are bike-rafting. However, the Chasm-Lite is best for day-hikers and jet-setting SUPers.
Here in the Mountain West, we have thousands of alpine lakes accessible by hiking for 2-10 miles. That is doable in a day, or as a shorter overnight excursion where you don’t need to take more supplies for a longer trip. The entire kit packs into an extremely small dry bag backpack – with room to spare. You can easily pack your lunch, water, first aid kit, and your other hiking essentials into the Chasm-Lite’s bag for a quick day hike. There are even two stretchable mesh pockets and a small daisy chain on the outside of the bag. The small packed size of the Chasm-Lite also means it can easily fit into a backpacking bag for those shorter overnight trips.
Kokopelli marketed the Chasm-Lite as being roughly the size of a sleeping bag. That’s going to really depend on the sleeping bag, but I’d say it’s a bit bigger than any of the backpacking bags I’ve used in the last five years or so. But… This is still the most portable paddleboard available, by a good measure. Taking a short vacation and want to bring a SUP without worry about baggage size? I’ve put larger bags into overhead storage bins on airplanes! You certainly won’t need to worry about any oversize/overweight fees if you check it. I had the Chasm-Lite sitting packed up in its dry bag at home this holiday season and my wife (who also loves SUPing) had no idea there was an entire SUP kit in there.
While the cargo area itself isn’t very large, it is large enough to hold the Chasm-Lite’s dry bag. I would like to see either one more pair of d-rings up front, or a pair of d-rings in the back to help increase the gear-carrying capacity of the board. Adding those couple extra attachment points would make it far easier to use the Chasm-Lite on a true backpacking/SUP hybrid trip, paddling to/from campsites.
The Chasm-Lite’s kit has everything you need to be on the water except for a PFD. The mini hand pump also fits into the bag (though it’s a tight fit). With a smaller volume pump it takes a little longer to inflate the Chasm-Lite, but the packability is fantastic. I was able to inflate the Chasm-Lite to 15 PSI with the mini pump in 9 minutes, 30 seconds with medium effort. The hardest part was the height. The shorter pump does make you bend over more to use it and was not the nicest thing on my back. It would be nice to use a battery-powered electric pump, but the size and weight “cost” of one pretty much negates the size and weight “savings” of the Chasm-Lite.
Kokopelli includes a 4-piece carbon fiber/nylon hybrid paddle with the Chasm Lite that fits neatly inside the board bag.
In order to keep the overall size of the kit small, the paddle must likewise be compact when not in use. Kokopelli designed a four-piece paddle to pair with the Chasm-Lite whereas some other compact iSUPs use a five-piece paddle. Each section of the four-piece paddle is a little bit longer, but having fewer sections also means having fewer attachment points, a lighter weight, and a stronger paddle.
The blade itself is nylon with a mostly-rectangular shape. It’s just on the smaller side of things in overall surface area, but is still plenty large enough to efficiently propel the board across the water. The carbon fiber shaft is lightweight and stiff. There is a small amount of play between the different sections, but it is not noticeable when the paddle is in use.
The biggest drawback I found with this paddle is the clasp for the adjustable handle. The clasp itself works fine, however it sticks out really far from the shaft itself, so I was constantly hitting my hand on it as I switched from side-to-side. In all of the adjustable SUP paddles I’ve used, I’ve not seen one with a clasp mechanism this obtrusive. Otherwise, it holds the handle section firmly in place and is easy to adjust the tension.
The handle section has neither a height/length scale nor any indexing to automatically align the handle to the blade. However, for the intermediate paddlers the Chasm-Lite is geared toward, neither of these is a very critical component.
At just 30” wide and 10’ long, the Chasm-Lite is not as stable as a typical all-around iSUP, but I was surprised with how stable it did feel on the water given those disadvantages.
Stability is a factor of many different design and material choices, and is greatly impacted by the paddler and the conditions as well. Smaller iSUPs like the Chasm-Lite are naturally less-stable than larger ones, however the shape of the board itself, not just the maximum dimensions plays just as large of a role. The Chasm-Lite carries its width through a good portion of the board from just behind the standing area and into the front of the board before it starts to gently taper to a rounded nose. This shape keeps the board’s total volume and surface area higher than a more strongly-tapered board.
While standing on the Chasm-Lite I did experience a small amount of twitchiness. This is because of the narrower width and the lighter weight – both make it easier to tilt the board with only a small amount of effort. Once I began paddling at a cruising speed, the twitchiness did ease up. I felt that I had to give the board at least some amount of attention while in use in order to keep my balance, and that drastically increased when paddling in more choppy conditions. Once there were small wind-waves on the surface of the water I had to work much harder to stop myself from taking a knee or falling in.
I was really surprised by the Chasm-Lite’s secondary stability – or how well it remained stable while tilted on its rail. Here again the shape of the board makes a big difference and those longer parallel sections of the board helped keep it far more stable on its edge than I anticipated.
Because the deck pad is so small, I didn’t do a whole lot of moving around. Once you step off the deck pad, you’re treading on slippery PVC. This is one issue with many of the ultra lightweight and ultra compact iSUPs on the market. The deck pad placement is limiting in where you can safely stand and use the board. Stepping back to the tail on the Chasm-Lite is not confidence inspiring as you not only lose the traction pad, but the stability decreases as well. For the Chasm-Lite’s intended use, though I don’t see this as any kind of major weakness. The deck pad ends at the “hips” of the board – where it begins to narrow toward the tail – and the most useful areas of the board for general paddling are covered by the deck pad.
The Chasm-Lite isn’t particularly fast for a sprint race, but it does glide efficiently while cruising at a more casual pace.
In our 100m sprint test, the Chasm-Lite did OK for a shorter, less rigid iSUP. It clocked in with an average time of 48.75 seconds and an average speed of 4.5 MPH. The biggest issue with putting down some watts on the Chasm-Lite is its flexibility. Because there is a significant amount of flex in the board – and it’s very noticeable when paddling quickly – the board bounces around on the water and twists easily from side to side. This makes it less stable and much harder to paddle in a straight line. The fastest speed I was able to reach on the Chasm-Lite was 4.8 MPH. We do these sprint speed tests with all of the boards we test, but it’s not usually the most critical performance indicator – and that holds true with the Chasm-Lite.
When paddling it at a cruising pace (around 25 strokes per minute), the Chasm-Lite had an average speed of around 3.4 MPH. There was no distinctly noticeable bounce in the board, and maintaining course and stability were quite easy. We also measured the Chasm-Lite’s glide-per-stroke. Over a 100m distance, the Chasm-Lite required an average of 17.5 strokes to maintain a constant speed. On the surface this number is fairly high, but when you include the length of the board (10’) the Chasm-Lite actually has a very good glide ratio of between 1.8 and 1.9 board-lengths per stroke. That’s excellent for an inflatable paddleboard of this length.
All together, while the Chasm-Lite isn’t a true speed-demon, it is an efficient cruising iSUP over longer distances. And that’s exactly what it’s meant for.
Maneuverability and Tracking
With a small size, lightweight construction, and single fin, the Chasm-Lite is set up to be a more maneuverable cruiser paddleboard rather than a high-tracking touring SUP, and that all holds true in our experience.
Beginning with maneuverability, I found the Chasm-Lite to have slightly-above average maneuvering capability when fitted with its included 9” fin. From a standstill, it takes an average of 4.75 strokes to turn the Chasm-Lite in a full circle using forward-sweep strokes. While it’s not frequent that you’ll need to turn a full circle in this manner, it does show how easily the Chasm-Lite can turn in more reasonable amounts. I actually expected the Chasm-Lite to be even easier to turn based on its size and weight, however in this case I believe that the maneuverability is well balanced rather than spinning like a top with every stroke.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect in terms of tracking before I got on the water with the Chasm-Lite. Shorter iSUPs are known for lower tracking performance in general, but with a narrower beam keeping the paddle closer to the centerline of the board I was hoping it would track better than expected.
So I put the Chasm-Lite to our 10-stroke tracking test. After gaining momentum toward a distant target, I take 10 strokes on a single side of the board maintaining my speed and cadence. At the end of the 10 strokes I measure how far off-course I was from my original target. The Chasm-Lite averaged 21° off course during this test. This puts it back on par with other shorter iSUPs.
For me, I would like to think of the Chasm-Lite as a way to explore some hard-to-get-to bodies of water, and maybe even as a way to combine backpacking and SUP camping. In that kind of situation I’d much rather have the Chasm-Lite err toward better tracking and slower turning. All of these maneuverability and tracking performance characteristics are greatly impacted by the fin choice for the Chasm-Lite.
The Chasm-Lite has a single slide-in fin box and comes with a 9”, “dolphin”-shaped, fin. I was very surprised by this fin arrangement because this is an ultra-compact iSUP. In order to roll/fold the Chasm-Lite to fit into its bag, you have to fold it in half lengthwise (hot-dog style) first. With the fin box and the center handle both placed on the midline of the board you can’t fold it exactly in half, but rather you have to off-set it (which makes it slightly larger than it could be). Most compact iSUPs opt instead for a twin-fin design. Using two fins in parallel lets you easily fold the board in half, but it also has some other advantages I think the Chasm-Lite could really use.
With two fins instead of one, you greatly increase your tracking ability. It does also increase drag, but we aren’t racing on this iSUP, so that’s a fairly moot point. It does reduce maneuverability, but as mentioned above, I think that is a trade off many Chasm-Lite users would prefer (at least I would). But the other, huge, benefit of having a twin-fin setup is increased stability. While the fin’s primary role is to keep you moving straight, fins also increase the board’s resistance in rocking from side-to-side.
Two fin boxes and two fins are heavier than one. So it would push the Chasm-Lite just over the 13 lbs mark in weight – but it would still be the lightest and most packable iSUP on the market.
Slide-lock fin boxes are also not my favorite. For one, they greatly limit the type of fins you can use compared to the far more standardized US fin box. Second, slide-lock fin boxes are prone to damage from being bent or rolled, and that damage can make it hard-to-impossible to insert or remove your fin without a mallet. With a super-compact board that gets rolled tightly, you’ll want to take great care to make sure the fin box is kept flat when getting put away.
Warranty and Customer Support
Kokopelli warranties their packrafts and the Chasm-Lite iSUP against any manufacturing issues for the lifetime of the original owner. However, in order to maintain this warranty you do need to register your Chasm-Lite and keep a copy of the original receipt. This lifetime warranty also includes all of Kokopelli’s accessories. While it does have a few rules to it, this is an incredible warranty, especially with the inclusion of the Chasm-Lite’s accessories. There is a 30-day return period on all Kokopelli products. However there is a 10% restocking fee on new/unused products and a 50% restocking fee on used products (plus shipping). You can contact Kokopelli customer service via phone, email, webchat, web form, and social media. I personally own two Kokopelli packrafts and have had excellent and expedient experiences with their customer service team previously.
The Kokopelli Chasm-Lite is priced in a higher tier than many all-around iSUPs, but for good reason. The unique materials and accessory package, the more niche-focus, and the lifetime warranty for both the iSUP and the accessories make the Chasm-Lite an incredible value for those looking for an ultra light, ultra portable, iSUP.
Overall Impressions/Review Summary
The Kokopelli Chasm-Lite is a speciality iSUP that’s built for those who want to explore. It’s incredibly lightweight, packs up incredibly small, and offers more performance than its size would lead you to imagine. It’s not a beginner’s iSUP, nor is it really meant as an every-day workhorse around the bay (though it could certainly be used for that). The Chasm-Lite is the perfect choice for getting out and exploring the world around you whether that’s loading with your luggage for a distant getaway, helping you cross rivers and lakes on your next backpacking expedition, or going for a day hike to your favorite lake. You choose the adventure, and the Chasm-Lite is an easy choice to bring along.
Kokopelli Chasm-Lite iSUP FAQ
How durable is the Kokopelli Chasm-Lite?
The Chasm-Lite is built with ultralight materials. While it is still plenty durable to stand up to its regular intended use, the Chasm-Lite is slightly less abrasion and puncture resistant than iSUPs made from heavier materials.
How light is the Kokopelli Chasm-Lite and how small does it really get?
The Chasm-Lite itself is just shy of 13 lbs, and when fully packed with all of its accessories in its drybag backpack, weighs 19.5 lbs. When fully packed, the Kokopelli Chasm-Lite is small enough to be considered carry-on baggage by most airlines (though you should always measure and check first). When rolled up, the board itself is 18” tall, 8” thick, and 13” wide.
Is the Kokopelli Chasm-Lite a good iSUP for Beginners?
Unfortunately the Chasm-Lite is not a great option for beginner paddleboarders. The small size and reduced stability will make it much more difficult to learn with compared to a larger all-around iSUP.
Can I paddle the Kokopelli Chasm-Lite with a kid or dog?
Potentially. The real answer to this question is going to come down to the size of your passenger and how well behaved they are. The Chasm-Lite has a maximum weight capacity of 250 lbs. The narrower width and reduced stability mean that any passengers will need to be able to sit relatively still while paddling to avoid capsizing.
Can I take the Kokopelli Chasm-Lite hiking/backpacking/bikepacking/etc?
Absolutely! The Kokopelli Chasm-Lite is purpose-built for striking off, away from the crowds, and getting into adventures. The Chasm-Lite is ideal for day hikes and shorter backpacking trips. It can be used for bikerafting, however with limited storage space and a relatively low weight capacity you’ll definitely want to test and practice first before heading off into the unknown.