Boardworks SHUBU Inflatable Stand-Up Paddleboard
Length Tested: 10 feet
Straight Tape Pull: 9.8 feet
Center Skeg Length: 9.9 inches
Width (at widest point): 30.25 inches
Weight: 24.9 lbs
Thickness: 4.1 inches
Suggested Weight Range: Novice—up to 175lbs; Intermediate—up to 200lbs; Advanced—up to 245lbs
Reviewer Height/Weight: 5’3”, 120 lbs.
Days Paddled: 50+ days over 2 years
Locations Tested: Weber River, the Great Salt Lake, and various reservoirs, UT; Teton Creek, ID; Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park; Nehalem River and Hood River, OR; Green Lake, WA; Balboa Island, CA
For the past two summers, I’ve wielded my SHUBU (“Show Up and Blow Up”) inflatable stand-up paddleboard across a number of America’s waterways.
I’ve found that this board is an excellent option for beginners, paddlers on a budget, or those with storage limitations.
If you’re taller or heavier than I am, I’d definitely suggest buying the 10’7” board. Having let numerous friends give my SHUBU a test run, I think bigger paddlers would benefit from the added length and stability of the longer size.
The SHUBU is constructed of durable, military-grade rubber. It has a cushioned deck pad and three rubber fins. The large main skeg, which is removable, slides into a rubber track (fin box) with a small plastic pin attachment. The two side bite fins are much smaller than the main one, and aren’t detachable.
The nose of the board has a bungee cord to secure belongings like a dry bag. There is a metal D-ring on the tail of the board where you can attach a leash (or a rope to tow less seaworthy vessels, like my friend Mike’s $5 grocery store tube).
The SHUBU tracks well compared to two other boards I’ve tried, an 11’ Boardworks EPS board and a Jimmy Lewis 14’ Sabre Race Board. (To give an idea of the SHUBU’s tracking ability, I paddle 4-5 strokes on one side before switching sides.) The SHUBU also turns fairly well—it takes 2-3 backwards strokes to change directions.
While it’s not as fast as either the Jimmy Lewis Sabre or the 11-footer, its speed is suitable for new paddlers or for those just looking to relax on the water. I’ve also briefly tried BADFISH’s Badfisher board, which is intended for anglers. While the Badfish was more stable than the SHUBU (it’s about 9 inches wider), the SHUBU is significantly faster.
I’ve tried a bit of SUP yoga on this board, and I don’t think it’s your best bet if yoga is your primary interest (you’ll want something wider and longer).
This board handles small chop and swells well, and it’s been a great board to learn on. I’d only tried paddleboarding twice before owing the SHUBU, so I was definitely a beginner when I bought it.
I’ve used the SHUBU on the Weber River in Utah and the Nahalem near the Oregon Coast, and I’m now confident in the board’s ability to handle mellow whitewater (up to a Class II). I don’t typically stand up through the whitewater sections, but I’ve have had no trouble navigating rapids on my knees.
The board is tough enough to handle rocks, debris, errant dogs, and drunken floating companions, but you do have to be careful in shallow water. I removed the long main skeg when I was paddling the Weber, which gave me far less control and decreased the board’s tracking ability. The SHUBU works best on deeper rivers where the skeg won’t bottom out. (More on this below.)
I needed to inflate the SHUBU more when I was on a river so that it was stiff enough to run rapids. I run around 8-10 PSI when I’m on a lake, but I blow it up to about 12 PSI when I’m river running.
The SHUBU arrived in a heavy-duty canvas bag with mesh sides that doubles as a backpack. Take note that this backpack is not ergonomic and the straps are about 39-inches long. I needed to shorten them in order to comfortably carry the SHUBU distances longer than about 100 meters. I wouldn’t recommend using this bag for air travel.
Even though I was uncomfortable, I managed to hike about 1.2 miles at 10,000 feet with the SHUBU on my back. I wouldn’t want to carry the SHUBU much farther than this, but it is much easier than carrying a fiberglass board.
The backpack has one external zippered pocket and drain holes in the bottom. There are also four compression straps and a drawstring closure at the top of the bag. During the first year of use (30-40 trips), I had no durability issues with the bag.
This summer, however, the stitching on both backpack straps has come loose—one strap has blown out and it looks like the second will bust free at any moment. This will require a simple sewing fix, but I think that the stitching used to attach the straps could be a bit sturdier.
Other than the strap stitching, the fabric and mesh are very durable, making this bag a suitable SHUBU tote. There’s ample room to accommodate the board, a pump, the repair kit, main skeg, a towel, extra layers, waterbottles, and snacks.
The SHUBU also came with a single-action plastic floor pump. It was lightweight and felt flimsy—after two uses, both handles had broken off, making the pump nearly impossible to use.
Next, I tried a C4 Waterman SUP Pump advertised to inflate up to 14 PSI. This pump didn’t fare much better than the first—it broke on the third use around 8 PSI. Finally, I invested in a K-20 pump and haven’t looked back. This compact, sturdy pump can handle up to 25 PSI and is much higher quality than either of the previous two pumps I tried.
- Patch Kit
A patch kit is also included with the board and has most of the tools you’d need to make a repair. I’ve never had to use this kit to fix my SHUBU, but the kit has come in handy when friends needed to make repairs to their cheap pool floats.