GEAR REVIEW! The Hala Radito SUP
Investing in the sport of stand up paddle boarding can leave you feeling overwhelmed when it comes to researching gear. We believe it's important to read honest, descriptive, real-life reviews of products tested and used by folks just like you! So, from time-to-time we will post gear reviews with the sole purpose of helping you choose!
THE RADITO FROM HALA GEAR
By San Juan SUP Co. Founder, Nola Svoboda
After Hala Gear came out with their new Rado/Radito boards last year, I was super curious about their performance with their unique shape and rocker profile. Due to the lack of variety of brands and models across Western Colorado, it took the entire summer to find a Radito to demo.
Thankfully Hala team rider Jeremiah Williams made an appearance with a fleet of boards during the Montrose FUNCfest in July and I was finally able to demo the Radito. I tested it both on a flat water pond as well as in the whitewater park. After my first run through my favorite smaller waves, I was blown away by how stable the Radito was! I've ridden a variety of models from other brands through the Montrose Water Sports Park and have always had a heck of a time staying on my feet. With the Radito, it felt like we had been riding together for years! I was sold and had to order one right away! Unfortunately, due to popularity and high demand at that time of the year, the Radito was on backorder and I had to wait till late September for my board to arrive (Seasoned rider tip? Order your new boards early in the season!).
Flash forward to Fall after receiving my new Radito. My maiden voyage was the first week of October and just happen to be my last guide trip of the season with Telluride Outside. As always, it was another fun trip with a couple who were vacationing at Dunton Hot Springs. It was a pleasantly warm, 50 degree, albeit very breezy day on Trout Lake near Telluride. The wife killed it and cruised at record pace in the side wind across the lake, while her husband struggled and didn't have the strength to get across the lake. He tried as hard as he could, on his knees and all, but wind managed to push him to the far west side of the lake and I ended up having to tow him, in a direct head wind, half way back across the lake to the boat launch (he didn't help me out by paddling, not one bit. The Dunton folks really make you work for your tip, lol!). This was a good first test of the Radito's lake performance and it did a fabulous job towing!
At 10 feet x 34 inches, it isn't the fasted thing on the water, but it's not the slowest either. It's very stable and doesn't feel like a tugboat. With it's more crossover rocker profile and it's 5 fin setup, it paddles relatively straight without too much fancy paddle work. It is very stable on the choppy water and the bigger waves and cruises flawlessly on glass as well! I've since gone out on various lakes and ponds, dozens of times and have fallen in love with it's overall flat water performance!
I haven't had many river trips on the Radito yet due to getting it so late in the season, but I managed to get a little whitewater action by squeezing in a trip to Moab to run "The Daily" at the end of October. Again, I've ridden a couple different models from other brands down "The Daily" and have had an absolute heck of a time not going for a long swim. New Rapid and Rocky Rapid tend to be the most challenging for me. Nervous about going for a long, cold swim (it was Halloween, we were wearing costumes, it was very warm and none of us wanted to wear wetsuits), the Radito and I dropped into New Rapid. Here's where my amazement began to grow. Where other boards tend to punch, nose first, right into the large waves, generally lurching me forward, causing me to fall off, the Radito rode right up and over every wave, water crashing in every direction. I stayed standing through the entire rapid! BOOM! I was STOKED! I knew right then and there, we were going to be BFFs! Later, in Rocky Rapid, the only issue I has was was due to the very low water (4000 cfs at the time) and the fixed fins hitting the occasional surprise rock. Yet, I never swam a single rapid that day!
My friend Rob ended up loosing his paddle after swimming the last rapid. For the second time that month, I ended up towing. The Radito towed my friend and his Minions on his Hala Fame the rest of the way to Takeout Beach. It was a heavy load and I got a ridiculous workout. The Radito? Well, it did a fabulous job towing that load a few more miles down the Colorado!
My only issue with the Radito isn't so much with the board, but more with the rivers in our area. The rivers tend to be very shallow and full of rocky gardens most of the season, especially the San Miguel, Dolores and Uncompahgre.
The Radito's fixed fins seem to void out the Stompbox™ fin entirely in shallow water. I prefer to run finless on the smaller rivers or run just a 4" center fin on the larger rivers such as the Gunnison and Colorado and I don't have the skills to hop on it's nose to raise the fins up at every moments notice, so the Stompbox™ is obviously the perfect solution to the shallow river problem and the annoyance of removing and replacing the center fin.
The fixed fins tend to find all those rocks you didn't see. On the flip side, the fixed fins do a wonderful job at helping the board track straighter, which is great on larger rivers. However, they do seem to make it harder to maneuver the board quickly through tighter places and rock gardens. If Hala ever decides to replace the fixed fins with click fins, they will achieve absolute purrrrrfection with this model!
The Radito stomps whitewater, cruises flat water, can haul a large load and even surfs! Fins aside, it's the perfect do-it-aller and my newest all-time favorite board. The Hala Radito would be a solid investment for anyone with any skill level looking for a stable one-quiver board that performs great on flat water and tackles rivers as well!