California Board Company is a well-regarded brand for producing some quality stand up paddleboards (SUPs). They produce the classic Hydra paddle board, a hardshell board that features some distinct differences over its inflatable cousins.
At 10’6″, the Hydra is one of the larger SUPs on the market.
The tie-down cords are near the front of the board cover a wider area than normal, allowing you to put down larger objects like coolers. Though it may seem insignificant, this expanded tie-down area means you can extend the duration of your trips without having to worry about food and drink.
The EPS foam that the board is made out of is rated to carry close to 300 lbs of total weight while only weighing 24 lbs in total. Don’t worry too much about shifting your position on the board because you’ve got a cooler or similar large object tied down in the cords.
What’s the big difference between inflatable SUPs and inflatable SUPs? The obvious difference is the material the shells are made out of. Inflatables are usually made out of PVC while hard shells like the Hydra use EPS foam.
However, the bottom side of the Hydra is coated with heat-laminated polyethylene. This makes the bottom surface extremely slick, and allowing for quicker overall movement through calmer waters.
That’s not to say that inflatable SUPs move like rocks, but the shape of the Hydra and materials its made out of give it the edge over inflatables.
Due to its slicker underside, this board will actually perform better on the oceans and seas than inflatable SUPs. The increased weight capacity also means yoga is a possibility as well if you think you’ve got the balance for it.
The nose of the board also has a hard point of you want to mount an action camera to capture all of your adventures.
Since the Hydra is a hard shell board, its generally going to be more expensive than inflatable SUPs. The hard EPS foam is usually of better quality for gliding through the water with only one fin anyway.
In addition to purchasing the board, you also get its accessories including adjustable aluminum paddle. This CBC specific paddle also has a blade shield to protect you and the board from the sharp edges of the paddle. Perhaps one of the more important inclusions among the accessories is roof racks. These devices can be a pain to search for individually, but CBC has you covered and its all included in the total cost.
In the end, I think this board is well worth the price. It might take some getting used to considering it doesn’t have a grip space in the mid-section. Once you’ve mastered balance, however, you’ll find that the Hydra is one of the best boards around for cruising the water.