Latest self-inflating paddle board swaps power for perspiration

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The idea behind the Air line is to eliminate obstacles that stand between paddlers and the water

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Last year around this time, we looked at the SipaBoard, a stand-up paddleboard with an onboard motor used to both inflate itself and power its way across the water. While it is certainly a cool, award-winning water toy, not everyone wants motor power or the added expense of a jet drive. It is a paddleboard, after all. SipaBoards' latest design keeps the integrated self-inflation system but loses the jet drive, offering a lighter, simpler more affordable way to hit the water.

It's been a damn good year and a half for SipaBoards. Founder Sebastjan Sitar thought of the idea for the original Sipaboard in August 2014 and got things rolling in time for an April 2015 Kickstarter campaign. The self-inflating jet board proved an instant hit, raising more than double its $150,000 Kickstarter goal, earning a 2015 Red Dot "Best of the Best" award, and getting voted an ISPO BrandNew Award 2016 finalist. It was also one of Gizmag's favorite water toys of 2015.

Since getting the big go-ahead from the Kickstarter community, Sipaboards has been devoting some attention to expanding its lineup to reach out to new customer demographics, including anglers. The new Sipaboards Air collection is its latest expansion, providing an option for paddlers that believe in old-fashioned, unassisted arm work. The Air board still includes an onboard motor, but its sole purpose is to power the air compressor for self inflation.

Unlike the standard inflatable board, which requires a separate pump, the Air inflates from the power of its onboard, flat-mounted compressor, going from carry bag to water-top in five minutes. The user simply drops the rechargeable battery in, activates the magnetic switch and watches the board inflate to life.

The Air basically provides a simpler, more integrated design that SipaBoards calls the "most easy­-to­-pump inflatable ever." Using an integrated electric pump seems like a clear winner over pumping by hand, and the SipaBoards' design is also simpler and more versatile than 12V electric pumps that require plugging in to a car's 12V outlet or clipping directly to the car battery. There are standalone SUP pumps with rechargeable battery packs out there, but by integrating the pump into the board, SipaBoards gives you one less thing to worry about packing in the car and carrying to the beach. It's an attractive design, and assuming it works effectively at pumping the board to the right pressure, it makes the easy-store, easy-transport inflatable SUP even more convenient and user friendly.

The SipaAir compressor's battery is removable, so you don't have to carry the entire board to the electrical outlet to recharge. SipaBoards says that the battery offers enough juice to inflate the board three times before requiring a recharge, which takes about three hours.

As it did with the original SipaBoard, now called the SipaBoards Drive, SipaBoards has turned to Kickstarter for help raising funding. It's offering the Air in three 11-ft (3.4-M) models: the versatile, all-ages All-Rounder, the speed-focused Cruiser and the SUP yoga-supporting Balance. Buyers can select from those three options at all pledge levels, and while the US$890 super early birds are all sold out, some $940 early birds are still available, giving Kickstarters a solid discount on the projected $1,390 retail price. The company is already just past 3/4 of the way to its $100,000 goal, with 43 days left to go. It hopes to begin SipaBoards Air deliveries in October.

Each board comes with a carry bag and a leash that doubles as a shoulder strap for carrying the inflated board. SipaBoards' three-piece carbon paddle, which fits with the board inside the carry bag, can be added for $150.

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