Sea Gods Elemental Wave ULF iSUP: Overview
The Sea Gods Elemental Wave ULF can be summarized with a single word: Balance. It balances on-water performance characteristics for a variety of uses. It balances built-in features with a clean and usable deck. It balances design aesthetics and durable construction. And lastly, it offers great balance for paddlers of all skill levels with a comfortably stable shape.
— Sea Gods Elemental Wave ULF Summary Ratings and Review —
Sea Gods Elemental Wave ULF
Construction & Durability
Features and Versatility
The Elemental Wave ULF is a great all-around iSUP for paddlers of all levels
- ULF construction provides great performance in a lightweight package
- Great durability and longevity with fusion PVC and heat-molded seams
- Multiple cargo areas and accessory mounting points
- Beautiful design by painter Colleen Wilcox
- High quality accessory kit
- Standard US fin box with a tool-free click fin
- Lifetime warranty with excellent customer service
- As a jack-of-all trades the Elemental Wave ULF does everything well, but doesn’t excel in any one particular area
- The lower nose rocker sometimes pushes water when paddling at high speeds rather than gliding over it
Construction and Durability
The Sea Gods Ultra Light Fusion (ULF) construction offers a great balance between weight savings, durability, and performance.
The Sea Gods Ultra Light Fusion construction begins with an internal drop stitch core that utilizes a woven base fabric and standard V-pattern drop stitching between the top and bottom base layers. The woven fabric uses less material than a traditional knitted fabric (reducing weight) and the straight woven material does not stretch as much as a twisted knitted fabric (increasing rigidity).
A layer of reinforced PVC tarpaulin is then fused to the fabric base layer using heat and pressure. Fusion constructions eliminate glue from the shell material and create a mechanical bond between the fabric base and the PVC material. This again reduces weight and reduces the possibility of manufacturing errors compared to hand-glued layups.
Once the board shape is cut from the raw material, a layer of PVC heat-molded around the edges to bond the top, bottom, and rail layers together. The heat-molding process helps increase board longevity and durability by gently heating and pre-stretching the pvc prior to adhering the layers together to ensure a proper “fit” once the board begins to be used (sort of like a pre-shrunk T-shirt).
The rail gets another layer of PVC to protect the inner layer, and then finally two narrow strips of PVC are adhered to the top and bottom edges of that outer layer to help further protect the rail materials from wear and tear. Once the board is built and the deck pad and other features are installed, it comes out to a very light 21 lbs and has a maximum recommended pressure of 20 PSI.
One of the big questions with any inflatable SUP is how stiff will it be? If a paddleboard isn’t rigid enough it will bend when you stand on it, which will negatively reduce its stability and performance.
We put the Elemental Wave ULF through our dry land bend test and it came out with a great result. When loaded with 170 lbs of weight, the Elemental Wave ULF bent just 1.54” (4 cm) which is right on par with our average bend test result from over 80 different iSUPs. The recommended maximum rider weight for the Elemental Wave ULF is 250 lbs. I’m 230 lbs, so let’s see how it does on the water near its maximum.
While standing on the Elemental Wave ULF and paddling it normally I didn’t notice any flex or bend in the board. Even walking to the tail of the board didn’t produce any significant flex. I did notice some moderate to high flex and bend when I was purposely bouncing up and down on the board and when I was paddling very hard during our speed testing. Though there was a significant bend, once I stopped bouncing or sprinting, the board had a very comfortable rebound and gently came back to its flat shape without feeling springy or twitchy.
|Max Capacity||250 pounds|
|Board Weight||21 pounds|
|Returns period||30 days|
Features, Accessories and Versatility
The Sea Gods Elemental Wave ULF is a great all-around iSUP for paddlers who like to do a little bit of everything. The on-board features and user-friendly shape make for a very versatile experience on the water. The ocean-inspired artwork was created by painter (and avid surfer) Colleen Wilcox of Honolulu, HI.
As an all-around iSUP the Elemental Wave ULF is ready for most SUP adventures. There’s plenty of cargo space for a full day on the water and options to attach accessory mounts at the front of the board for fishing rod holders, cameras, or just about anything else that uses a standard M6 bolt.
Sea Gods includes a high quality accessory kit with the Elemental Wave ULF. In addition to the board you also get a three-piece carbon fiber paddle, a 9” surf-style toolless fin, padded coiled leash, repair kit, and a double action hand pump (the photo above shows the optional triple-action pump). All of this comes packaged in a high quality roller backpack travel and storage bag. The bag itself has storage pockets for the smaller accessories, a comfortable harness, multiple compression straps to keep everything from flopping around, and multiple handles to carry or wheel it around as needed. The only other thing you’ll need to get out on the water is a well-fit PFD!
The Elemental Wave ULF comes with the Sea Gods three-piece carbon fiber/nylon paddle. It’s a great companion accessory for casual cruising and some light touring.
The Sea Gods three-piece carbon fiber paddle is a great “kit” paddle. The carbon fiber shaft and handle sections keep the overall weight of the paddle down (30 oz) while the tough nylon blade provides a comfortable amount of flex and high durability.
The blade is a larger-size (around 92 square inches) with a rounded teardrop shape. This puts most of the surface area on the lower half of the blade giving you a good amount of power even if the entire blade isn’t fully submerged. A blade this size made of stiff fiberglass or carbon fiber would be quite large for most paddlers; however, the reinforced nylon material has a moderate amount of flex in the water giving the paddle an overall softer, more comfortable feel. This lets you keep paddling longer without becoming as tired or sore after a long day. This does have one drawback, though it’s not a true negative against the paddle, in that if you do like to paddle fast and hard you will feel the paddle blade (and shaft) flex fairly significantly in the water, which reduces your power output during these sprints. This isn’t a typical or common use for all-around or even touring iSUPs, though, and is not a scenario most users are likely to ever encounter.
The handle has both a length scale and an indexing groove to assist you in setting it up consistently between sessions. The length scale is easy to read with useful increments and the indexing groove helps keep the handle and blade properly aligned. We did notice that a few of our Sea Gods paddles over the last few years have had some alignment issues, however Sea Gods’ 1 year warranty on all of their accessories covers issues like this, and their customer service is top notch for an easy replacement.
The handle grip breaks from the mold of common pear-shaped palm grips (often made of softer plastics) and instead opts for a molded carbon fiber T-grip. The T-grip has plenty of room for your fingers on the front (another measure to help new paddlers correctly orient their paddle) and gives you a very secure feel in the hand without the need for more aggressive texturing.
The Elemental Wave ULF has great stability and is quite beginner friendly thanks to its width and shape.
SUP stability comes from many different size, shape, and construction factors, but one of the most telling specifications is width. The Elemental Wave ULF is specified to be 32” wide, however when measuring the board I found the wide point (just in front of the center handle) to actually be just over 33”. While 32” is pretty standard for an all-around iSUP (and is what the newer Elemental Wave CX iSUP measures at), having that extra inch of width really pumps up the stability of the Elemental Wave ULF.
While paddling the Elemental Wave ULF I did feel extremely comfortable and stable on the water. I didn’t notice any twitching or rolling as I was standing, paddling, and moving around on the deck. It is for sure beginner friendly. As you do walk back toward the tail, the stability does drop a little as you get into the narrower portions of the board, however it was a smooth transition rather than a sudden change in stability.
The nose of the Elemental Wave ULF is quite wide all the way through the rounded nose. This not only adds volume at the front of the board, but it also provides more resistance to tipping side to side. When you do have the board on its edge, the relatively parallel outline keeps more of the board in contact with the water and gives you more secondary (or edge) stability than a severely tapered nose. Rocking the Elemental Wave ULF side to side was smooth and consistent without any catching or twitching, and holding the board tilted on its rail was quite easy.
All-around iSUPs focus more on balancing performance features rather than overly emphasizing them. Often speed is a secondary concern for all-around boards. The Elemental Wave ULF is not a super-speedy iSUP, but has typical speed performance for all-around boards of its size.
With a wider overall size and a lower, wider nose, the Elemental Wave ULF is designed more for stability and cruising along at a moderate pace rather than sprinting across the water at full speed.
In our sprinting and top speed testing the Elemental Wave ULF clocked in with some average speed scores for all-around boards and was noticeably slower than the Elemental Wave CX. The Elemental Wave ULF sprinted at an average speed of 5.0 MPH and had a top speed of 5.4 MPH. While these speeds are pretty typical for an all-around iSUP I did notice that the Elemental Wave ULF had a significant amount of flex during this high-output paddling. That flex slows the board down as it pushes the board into the water than a board that doesn’t flex as much.
However the Elemental Wave ULF isn’t designed for sprint paddling – it’s a cruiser style all-around iSUP! So how well does it cruise? With a casual paddling cadence of 25 strokes per minute (gentle continuous paddling with a slight pause between strokes) the Elemental Wave ULF clocked in at 3.5 MPH – exactly the same as the Elemental Wave CX.
Between paddle strokes the Elemental Wave ULF also traveled an average of 20.5 feet before slowing down. That gives it an efficiency score of 2.0 board-lengths per stroke which is top-notch for an all-around iSUP (and is what we typically see in high-quality touring boards!).
While it’s not a sprinting race board, the Elemental Wave ULF is an excellent cruiser.
Maneuverability and Tracking
Maneuverability and Tracking are intrinsically linked together and every design decision that changes one impacts the other. As a cruiser-style all-around iSUP the Elemental Wave ULF is designed to be more agile on the water rather than lock into a single course for a long distance.
How to turn your paddle board is one of the first things I teach new paddlers. Why? Because it’s really hard to get where you want to go if you aren’t facing the right direction! There are all sorts of ways to turn your board, but one of the simplest to learn is the forward sweep stroke – paddling in an arc from the nose of your board to the tail. This stroke is great for beginners, but is a relatively inefficient way to turn your board. That’s why we use it in our maneuverability stress test. For this test we turn the board in a full 360° circle from a standstill using only forward sweep strokes. The Elemental Wave ULF needed an average of 4.75 strokes to make the full circle. This is a little faster than average and great for a cruiser-style iSUP.
Of course there are faster ways to turn the board, too. With reverse sweeps (paddling an arc from tail to nose) the Elemental Wave ULF made the same full circle turn in just 3.5 strokes.
Stepping back to the tail to lift the nose and make a pivot turn can be extremely fast once you have the technique right. Getting to the tail of the Elemental Wave ULF is relatively easy thanks to its stability. Once on the tail, the slightly smaller, rounded tail takes a bit of getting used to compared to wider square tails, but quickly and smoothly cuts through the water for fast turning.
While the maneuverability performance of the Elemental Wave is excellent, the tracking performance isn’t as outstanding, but it is still decent. To test tracking performance we paddle towards a distant target, take 10 strokes on one side of the board, and then measure the difference between our final course and original target using a compass. Over the period of 10 paddle strokes the Elemental Wave ULF deviated off course by an average of 20°. This is a little below average for all-around boards, but not by much.
Most beginner to intermediate paddle boarders take fewer than 8 strokes per side before changing. While the Elemental Wave ULF was just under average in our tracking stress test, most paddlers won’t be taking that many strokes on a single side at a time and will be able to easily paddle from point to point.
Fin selection will change the maneuverability and tracking performance of any paddle board. The included 9” surf-style fin is designed for easier maneuverability rather than better tracking performance. Because the Elemental Wave ULF uses a standard US fin box you can easily swap the fin to modify the tracking and maneuverability performance, or use a shorter fin for shallower water.
Warranty and Customer Support
Sea Gods is one of the few paddle board companies that believes in their iSUPs so much that they offer a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects. They also offer a repair service for non-manufacturing issues that may arise. Additionally, Sea Gods warranties all of their accessories for 1 year. This includes their paddles, pumps, fins, leashes, and more. Lastly, if you do decide that the Elemental Wave ULF isn’t right for you, there is a 30-day return period, less shipping and a 10% restocking fee. If you do have any questions or concerns you can easily reach Sea Gods via their website, email, phone, or social media.
Overall Impressions/Review Summary
The Elemental Wave ULF is a great all-around iSUP for paddlers of any skill level. The wider shape and outline provide great stability for newer paddlers just getting their sea legs and the on-board features make it easy to use the Elemental Wave ULF for a variety of activities from cruising to fishing to day touring and even some entry SUP surfing and SUP yoga. With equally great looks and a fantastic warranty and customer service it’s hard to beat the Elemental Wave ULF when looking for your first (or next) all-around iSUP.
Sea Gods Elemental Wave ULF iSUP FAQ
What is the difference between the Elemental Wave ULF and Elemental Wave CX?
The Elemental Wave ULF and CX versions share the same general shape, features, and uses, however the CX version uses Sea Gods’ new Cross Weave construction that makes the board lighter (about 3 pounds) and stiffer. The artwork is also different between the two model boards.
Should I get the Sea Gods Elemental Wave, Diatom Ten6, or Carta Marina?
The Elemental Wave is a classic cruiser-style all-around iSUP that is beginner friendly and highly versatile. The Diatom Ten6 is a wider cruiser-style iSUP that is better for larger paddlers or paddling with kids or pets. The Carta Marina is an adventure touring iSUP that is designed to paddle straighter and faster while still maintaining excellent stability. All three are available in ULF and CX constructions.
Can I paddle with kids or pets on the Elemental Wave ULF?
Yes you can. With a recommended rider weight of 250 lbs, the overall capacity of the board is actually a bit higher than that (closer to 300 lbs). The shape and size of the board has great stability and can easily accommodate a smaller passenger or pet at the front of the board.
How long does it take to inflate the Elemental Wave ULF?
It takes 8-10 minutes to inflate the Elemental Wave ULF to 15 PSI with the included double-action hand pump. The Elemental Wave ULF is rated for use up to 20 PSI, and it takes another 3-4 minutes to reach that maximum pressure.
Is the Elemental Wave ULF compatible with a kayak seat?
Yes. The Sea Gods Elemental Wave ULF has four D-rings around the midsection of the board to attach the Sea Gods kayak seat. The three piece carbon fiber paddle is also compatible with a kayak conversion paddle blade.