Words & photos: Tez Plavenieks
O’Shea has always delivered the goods by providing quality inflatable paddle boards for the real-world rider. I’ve tested plenty of the brand’s offerings over the years and never encountered any issues. Some models are more in line with specific rider needs than others. But that’s a good thing as it means you can always find a design to fit your requirements.
So with O’Shea’s 2023 range now landing, what can the company do to improve upon an already quality product?
The HPx line-up of O’Shea iSUPs is billed as their premium choice. Lighter (up to 20% lighter than Fusion or MSL construction) and more rigid, they’re a joy to use and lug about to and from the put-in. O’Shea’s 10’6 version is reviewed here. Speaking to brand owner Farrel before getting the demo board, he signposted the fact all HPx iSUPs have new welded seam construction as standard. This gives a better aesthetic, firstly, but also increases the overall structural integrity of the board.
Hopping aboard the 10’6 for the first time, there’s plenty of rigidity and minimal deflection, even when carrying a passenger (my son, who decided to get involved during testing). Paddling around, it’s an iSUP that keeps its shape and allows the rider to focus on simply having fun. You might not have experience with multiple inflatable boards, but I can’t stress enough how much a rigid SUP improves the overall experience of paddle boarding.
A fairly flat rocker helps the 10’6 with glide, while tracking is pretty good. This being a shorter iSUP means there’s still a manoeuvrable and playful element which should keep engagement levels high. And from a stability point of view: no issue at all. The 10’6 sits planted and remains composed – even if the water state gets a little choppy.
On deck, you have a super grippy yet comfy pad, a space to stow belongings via bungee chord and sturdy D-ring attachment points. Underside, O’Shea’s fin system is simple yet effective, with two fixed side bites and an easy screw-in central US box skeg. Ultimately, the O’Shea 10’6 is a fine example of what a recreational inflatable SUP board should be.
O’Shea’s 10’6 HPx inflatable paddle board is a fun and functional design that has fulfilment written all over it. This is all without skimping on quality. In particular, the 2023 welded seam technology makes a difference to overall rigidity, whilst the lighter HPx construction gives additional appeal. You will do much worse if you’re after a new recreational iSUP this season.