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Pau Hana Solo Backcountry Paddle Board Review: Lightweight and Packable


What I don’t like about the Solo is the paddle.

Every design decision involves some trade-offs. Pau Hana wanted to make the Solo pack down very small, so it ditched the traditional hard paddle for a soft paddle with a rigid bottom bar. It works enough that you can get around, but the transfer of power from your arms to the water definitely suffers. The paddle is attached with a plastic clamp that broke the second time I used it. I just tossed it and stuck a hose clamp on it instead, which works but will eventually rust.

In the end, I decided to reverse the portability trade-off and bring a solid plastic paddle along, strapped to the outside of the pack. It didn’t make much difference to the weight or carry of the pack, and it’s an option I’d love to see Pau Hana add. Not everyone has spare paddles lying around.

The other trade-off worth mentioning is the small removable fins. You don’t get anything like the stability of a three-fin setup, like you do on the boat. That didn’t bother me, but it does make this board better-suited to those with some experience. The removable part was a little more worrying. I had quite a bit of trouble getting one of the fins to lock into place, and I’ve seen similar reports around the web, including from one person who lost a fin. In my experience, they lock in place pretty solidly, but getting them to do so can take some serious work.

Finally, I have seen a number of people say that their pump does not register PSI. I can see how they came to that conclusion because it seems to take forever to get it to register anything, but just keep going. Eventually, you get a PSI reading. I had no trouble getting it to the recommended 10-12 PSI.

Portable Price Premium

Whether you should get the Solo boils down to a simple question: Is the portability worth the price for you? If you primarily paddle in places with easy access—that is, you drive right on up, unload and launch—then the extra money isn’t worth it.

However, if you regularly find yourself wishing you could figure out a way to get your board into some water that’s just a little too far to carry your typical SUP, the Solo might be a decent investment. I enjoyed my time with the Solo and was able to launch from and explore places I never thought I’d be able to get to with a paddleboard. That alone would make it well worth it in my view.



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