• Paul Clark

Hala Luya: Whitewater Paddle Board Review

Paddle boarding is among the fastest growing outdoor sports. On ocean surf and placid lakes, SUP is a perfect way to travel self-propelled on the water. SUP surfing, SUP racing, SUP touring, SUP Yoga, SUP Polo, paddle boarding is very popular with a variety of people.

What about whitewater SUP? Yes, people are doing that, too.

Hala Gear is a paddle board company from Steamboat, Colorado where SUP means something different. Hala is influenced by the river and is committed to making paddle boards that are capable of withstanding the abuse of running rivers.

Hala doesn't stop at simply making the most durable inflatable paddle boards on the market. They design boards specifically for river use.

The Hala Luya is the prime example of this. Short and wide, colorful, the Luya resembles a whitewater kayak more than a traditional paddle board, It has a retractable fin system called the StompBox, and is built with a double chamber rail using DoubleStack™ Construction. The innovative construction behaves like chines on a boat for maneuverability and stability.

It is an attention grabber, for sure.

But how does it perform? Simple answer, it is the answered prayer for whitewater paddle boarders.

I have had the opportunity to test drive the Hala Luya on the rapids of Central Oregon and the Bend Whitewater Park. I am in love with it. For fast eddy turns and peal outs, precise ferry angles, and hard charging lines, the Luya is a game changer.

A paddler making the transition from boat to board will instantly appreciate the design. Whitewater experience dictates how this board is paddled. Expect to run it in an athletic stance. Dynamic paddling, steering, prying, bracing, and powerful strokes are all necessary to drive this thing.

The whitewater boater understands these things, but it may take a little to get used to if the paddler comes from a standard SUP background. It may also take a little time getting used to paddling with a helmet, PFD, shoes, dry suit, and quick release leash. Whitewater paddle boarding is different that what most people know about SUP.

Photographer and author Paul Clark is “the duffel bag paddle boarder” and adventure SUP correspondent based in Bend, Oregon. Visit his site www.suppaul.com for media, photography, and adventure paddle boarding resources.

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