GILI 10’6” AIR Inflatable Paddle Board – a Detailed Review
It’s certainly a tough call when it comes to buying your first paddle board. While no one wants to get fleeced, you do get what you pay for so making an informed decision based on credible information is particularly important.
If you’re after a quality entry-level inflatable board inclusive of all the key accessories, then the GILI 10’6” AIR Inflatable Paddle Board represents great value for money so should definitely be on your shortlist.
Let‘s take a closer look.
Length: 10′6” (320 cm)
Width: 31″ (79 cm)
Thickness: 6″ (15 cm)
Construction: Single Layer Military Grade PVC / Drop-stitch
Weight: 19 lbs (8.6 kg)
Capacity: 280 lbs (127 kg)
Inflation PSI: Recommend 12-15 psi
Volume: 225 Litres
D-rings: 15 (includes Bungee & Leash Point)
Paddle: 3-Piece Adjustable Aluminium Shaft
Fin: 2+1 Detachable 9″ Snap-In Centre Fin
Pump: Single Chamber Dual-Stage High Pressure
Leash: 8′ Dual-Swivel Coiled Ankle Leash
Warranty: 2 Years
Why Paddle Board
As a recreational activity, paddle boarding offers some tremendous health and fitness benefits ranging from a full body workout engaging many of the core muscles albeit in a low impact way, through to improved balance, improvements in endurance and stamina, injury rehabilitation, weight loss and improving our cardiovascular health. Its an exciting way to unwind and decompress whilst at the same time engaging with nature. As one of the fastest growing water sports globally, if you have access to water then its definitely worth giving it a go.
About GILI Sports
Named after a beautiful little island just off the coast of Lombok in Indonesia, GILI Sports set out with the simple intention of producing the highest quality paddle boards that represented genuine value for money.
With an absolute passion for travel, Jay Regan foundered the Phoenix, AZ based business in 2018 so they are still a relatively young company. Their youth aside, GILI now produce 6 different inflatable SUPs and quality accessories that cater for multi-discipline paddling ranging from touring, yoga, fishing, surfing and general all-round conditions. In-house designed and tested, for each GILI board sold, the company also contributes to several ocean charities with proceeds supporting the oceans, reefs and marine life.
At a Glance
☑️ A great value entry-level board
☑️ Suitable for paddlers of all levels
☑️ All inclusive SUP board package
☑️ Quality all-round paddling performance
☑️ Extremely light-weight
☑️ Easily transportable
☑️ Ample D-rings for accessories
☑️ Tri-fin configuration
☑️ Forward and rear bungee systems
☑️ Enlarged deck traction padding
☑️ Multiple colour schemes available
☑️ A portion of sales proceeds goes to charity
☑️ Backed by a 2-Year manufacturers warranty
?Single layer only PVC construction
?Detachable side-fins would be nice
|<< After more options? Our Best Paddle Boards for Beginners Guide is a great place to start >>|
With dimensions of 10’6” – 31” – 6”, the AIR is a well-balanced all round paddle board that is well suited to entry level recreational paddlers who are looking for a versatile board that will not break the bank.
Construction – the vast majority of modern day inflatable paddle boards are made from an internal layer of drop-stitch which is then wrapped with a PVC outer skin. Each manufacturer employees their own technology, design and manufacturing standards so the quality and resultant board will vary. Drop-stitch technology is a process where thousands of polyester threads are woven together to form a highly durable core. It is this woven process that helps the board maintain its shape and rigidity whilst under extreme pressure once inflated.
On this board, GILI use a single layer of cross-stitched reinforced military-grade PVC material that envelopes the internal drop-stitch core. While other manufacturers use dual layer PVC or other composite methods and materials, this single layer is what helps make the board ultra light making it ideal for smaller and less experienced paddlers.
While additional layers of material or engineering will typically make for a more durable paddle board, it can also have a significant impact or both the board weight and cost. For an entry-level board, GILI are very confident that the AIR will more than meet expectations and even rival the more expensive high performance boards in terms of durability and longevity. It also has a solid weight carrying capacity at 280 lbs so will nicely accommodate average sized adult paddlers or additional accessories or even the dog for the adventurous.
External Board Features
More features typically equals more expense but for a board within this price bracket, the current model GILI AIR stacks up pretty well.
Bungee System – the 6-point forward and 4-point rear bungee provides ample capacity to store all of your necessary accessories including dry bag, water bottle, towel, sunscreen and other small personal effects.
Grab Handles – the durable GILI logged neoprene and nylon centre handle comfortably enables a single paddler to carry the board with comfort and ease particularly given its weight. The forward handle makes the board easier to pull through the water or can also double up as a towing or mooring point.
D-rings – spoilt for choice here in terms of an ability to attach pretty much any accessory you can think of.
Traction Pad – the grooved traction pad extends to cover the majority of the upper decks surface making for a really comfortable under foot paddling surface. This is particularly import if you are paddling over longer distances or stationary when fishing or doing SUP yoga perhaps. The board also contains a diamond shaped tail pad for extra stability when putting weight on your back foot during turning manoeuvres.
Fins – like the vast majority of other all round stand up paddle boards, the AIR has a tri-fin or thruster fin configuration. The durable snap-in 9” centre fin and two fixed plastic side fins (side-bites) allow for greater all round paddling and versatility in all water conditions.
Paddle Holder – a neat little two-point Velcro paddle sheath / holder runs down the right-hand side of the board. Handy when fishing, doing yoga or simply catching a tan.
Inflation Valve – the all important durable high pressure inflation value is located at the very rear of the board. The value enables the SUP to be fully inflated to the recommended 15 psi in less than 10 minutes.
Performance / Suitability
When looking for your first or an entry-level paddle board, the most important consideration will normally be the boards stability. Without a stable paddling surface it is hard to build confidence and find your feet so you can develop the core paddling skills.
The stability is in the main governed by the boards width as well as rigidity and buoyancy. At 31” wide and with 6” of depth or thickness, the AIR sits squarely within the all round board category and offers great versatility for recreational paddling or even mild surf conditions. Having a rounded nose also creates more forward stability which is handy if you have a child or dog on board with you. Wider boards have an impact on speed but this shouldn’t be your first consideration if you’re new to paddle boarding.
If you are after a specialist board e.g yoga or fishing, then wider boards make more sense but for a versatile all-rounder, the AIR checks the stability box nicely.
Having an ability to maintain a straight line course or go in the direction that you want is known as tracking. The fin configuration is the key driver here and is why all boards (surf, windsurf etc.) have fins. The larger the centre fin the better in this respect so at 9”, the GILI AIR will track well. The mild front rocker (upward turned nose) also helps the board cut through the water or glide as the nose will not catch the wave as much.
Speed and manoeuvrability are the other two key performance metrics. As you become more proficient and if you are taking to the water on a semi-regular basis, then investing in a more performance oriented board might make a little more sense – at a cost of course. This said, at 10’6” long and not particularly wide, the AIR doesn’t sacrifice too much so you will be able to get up some decent speed once you settle into your stroke. The front rocker again also assists here as it will not catch as much water when paddling.
The tri-fin configuration is an important driver behind how the board with turn and manoeuvre through the water. The fact that the board is also not too long and cumbersome as well as being very light also helps with making more agile turns or changes in direction. This comes with time and practice but the AIR is a fairly responsive board and a lot of fun out there on the water.
If you are looking for a more performance oriented all round paddle board, then taking it up a notch with either the Atoll 11’ Inflatable SUP or the Red Paddle 11’3” Sports iSUP are also worth considering. Better specs and more expensive but they offer a nice comparative when compared to entry-level options.
As we touched on earlier, the GILI AIR comes complete with all of the core accessories that will get you out on the water at no additional expense.
Pump – the single chamber dual-action high pressure manual pump complete with 40” inflation nose certainly does the job albeit with a bit of a pre-paddling workout. If you can afford the additional spend and do plan on using the board more regularly, investing in an electric pump is always a great option. If you would like to learn more about some of the key ‘need to know’ electric pump vital signs, take a read of our article on our Top 5 Electric Pump picks. Some great options and all with universal attachments that will nicely accomodate the 10’6” AIR or indeed other inflatable products.
Paddle – not getting too far without one of these of course. The included 3-piece floating aluminium paddle is a basic entry-level option that will cater for paddlers of all heights. Portable and easily transportable, it comfortably fits within the included carry bag. The more you paddle the more you will appreciate your paddle. Similar to your pump, spending a few more dollars and upgrading to a carbon fibre version is well worth the expense. Far lighter weight and with considerably more rigidity and stiffness, carbon fibre paddles are great for paddling over longer distances and allow for more efficient performance oriented paddling. One for the wish list.
Backpack – upgraded from the earlier model and made from a heavy-duty nylon material, the bag comfortably fits the deflated board and all accessories. Featuring adjustable cushioned shoulder carry straps with chest and waist buckles; mesh side pocket for wet items, separate fin pouch; side and top carry handles; an I.D window as well as side adjustment straps, the bag nicely completes this portable SUPing package.
Leash – the 8’ coiled ankle leash has a multi-layered neoprene cuff which provides greater comfort and security ensuring that you and your board do not become separated. The dual swivels ensure that the leash does not become tangled around your ankle whilst the coil assists in keeping it out of the water thus reducing drag. If you would like to learn more about leashes, you can find a few tips and options HERE.
If you’ve been online and done a bit of research, you have no doubt worked out that there are a ton of options out there. The good thing though is that with improved technology, materials quality and more manufacturers entering the market, there are now a lot of price competitive quality entry-level options to choose from. For those new to paddle boarding, you are really spoilt for choice.
Our site features many other product reviews so take a read and don’t be shy. If you have any questions or would like to start a conversation we would love to hear from you so please feel free to leave a comment below.
Until then, stay safe and get wet.