For paddlers who love a portable paddleboard, the Gili Air is a great option. It is lightweight, durable, and performs well in all conditions. The iSUP claims to balance everything perfectly, making it one of your best budget inflatable paddle board options of 2021. It seems to be the ultimate SUP for beginners and intermediate paddlers alike. But is it really that good? We are about to find out in this Gili 10’6 Air inflatable SUP review.
But first, learn a little about the manufacturer.
In 2017, Jay Regan decided to get out of the corporate world and follow his passion. That is when he started Gili Sports, all on his own. Today, Gili paddleboards are competing with much bigger brands that have been in the game for a long time. In addition to manufacturing some of the finest iSUPs in the market, Gili Sports donate a part of their profit to saving the oceans. So every time you buy a Gili board, you help support aquatic life.
- Durable construction, two-year warranty
- Lightweight, easy to carry around
- All-inclusive package, upgraded accessories
- D-rings for gear and accessory attachment
- You help in saving oceans with every purchase
- Paddle wasn’t upgraded, still aluminum (but it floats)
- Gili logo on paddle and pump fades off
- Paddle Board Specs
- Length: 10’6
- Width: 31”
- Thickness: 6”
- Weight: 19 lbs
- Weight capacity: 275 lbs (advanced riders may exceed)
Who Should Buy The Gili Air SUP Board?
The Gili Air is suitable for beginners, youth and smaller paddlers, adventurous SUPers, and any paddleboarder looking for all-around SUP.
The right paddleboard for newbies is one that is simple and stable. The Gili 10’6 Air has a simple design and is good for learning SUP. The width is right for stability. The all-around shape allows beginners to experiment with different SUP variations before they find one that they love.
This inflatable paddle board is also affordable. It doesn’t make sense to spend a ton on your first SUP because you’re not sure what you like yet.
Additionally, the Gili comes with all the necessary accessories you need to get started. Buy a PFD and you will be ready to hit the water.
For youth and smaller paddlers, a big paddleboard is not ideal. Bigger boards are bulkier and hard to handle. Not to mention they are a pain to transport. You want a SUP that you can transport on your own and control in any situation. The Gili Air is of medium length and width, making it suitable for young SUPers.
Adventurous paddleboarders typically travel all over looking for SUP spots to explore. In as much as you’d like to show off your exotic-design, 12’6 wooden SUP, there is a limit to where you can take it. The Gili 10’6 Air is super lightweight. You won’t have a problem hiking with it on your back. Besides, you can travel all over the world with it—no issues bringing it on a plane. And another thing, it is extremely durable. It comes with a 2-year warranty for assurance. You can use it wherever you want without worrying about dings and dents.
The Gili 10’6 Air is an awesome all-around for paddlers of all skill levels. It is perfect for the SUP parent who wants to introduce the rest of the family to paddleboarding. Or the avid SUPer who wants a secondary board that can handle what his fancy solid SUPs can’t. Any paddler could use a Gili 10’6 in their lives.
Beginners are not the only ones who prioritize stability. There is nothing fun about riding a wobbly or tippy SUP. So you will be happy to know that the Gili Air is stable.
The paddleboard has a rounded nose that helps with stability. The pointier the nose, the less stable you can expect a SUP to be. It may not be a problem when riding alone but it will become one when you have a dog or child on board. They’ll barely sit still and their movement may make the board unstable.
Wider paddleboards are more stable. And while the Gili is not the widest SUP, it is wide enough. Its width allows for stability without making it difficult to paddle, especially for teen paddlers. You can learn SUP on the Gili, try Yoga and bring a child with you if you like.
The construction also largely contributes to its stability. Poorly made paddleboards may flex even when fully inflated. But the Gili’s construction is outstanding, as you will see below. You won’t believe how stiff it will be when you inflate it.
The Gili 10’6 Air is six inches thick, which makes it buoyant and extra rigid. Unlike most thinner inflatables, it will not sink when you get on it.
Generally, a smaller paddleboard is more maneuverable. It handles well and is quite responsive. Regardless of your size and skill level, you won’t have any issues handling your Gili 10’6. And it navigates sharp turns impeccably. This is usually an issue with bigger, heavier SUPs. But the Gili is on the smaller side and is one of the lightest boards around.
When paddling, you want your board to maintain the course. That is what is known as tracking. And it is the reason why paddleboards come with fins. The Gili Air 10’6 comes with three fins (we will talk more about the setup later).
The center fin is the one that is mostly used to enhance tracking. The longer it is, the better the tracking. The 9-inch Gili fin prevents the tail from moving sideways every time you push water back with your paddle. As a result, your board will stay the course instead of spinning.
For a budget SUP, I’d say the Gili’s speed is good. It glides gracefully on the water making your experience much more pleasant.
Unless you get into a race with people paddling racing SUPs, you won’t have to complain about the speed at all.
I like that it is a little narrow. So it manages to remain stable without sacrificing speed. Wider boards face more resistance. This is why some of the more popular iSUPs like the Atoll and Bluefin Cruise Carbon 12 have a somewhat long and narrow shape. It gives them less resistance and more speed.
For Gili Sports to offer a two-year warranty, they must be pretty confident about the construction. In this price range, a one-year warranty is more common.
The Gili Air is built using military-strength PVC. This is the material used to make all high-quality SUPs. With the more expensive ones, however, manufacturers use dual-, triple-, and even quad-layer PVC construction. Although more layers mean added durability, they make the board heavier.
Gili Sports found a way to use one layer without compromising on weight or quality. So you get a super lightweight paddleboard that is just as long-lasting as some of the more expensive models. The manufacturer says that there is nothing the Gili Air 10’6 can’t handle. You can drop it or bump into rocks and it will still be intact.
They also test every single paddleboard they make before selling. This explains why their boards are competing with brands that have been around for over a decade. With this kind of commitment, you are assured of quality.
In 2020, Gili Sports completely redesigned the Gili Air and we love the new design. Previously, the board was plain and a little dull. Now it looks much better and is available in four colors. You can get the Gili 10’6 in blue, teal, light blue and green. There is a cool turtle logo at the bottom with the words “SAVE OUR TURTLES.” The upgrade also includes more attachment points and improved accessories.
The Gili Air features a three-fin system: a central fin and two side fins. The center fin is removable. It is a snap-in so it is easy to detach and attach. The side fins are not removable. We thought that would be part of the upgrade. But the 11’ Adventure is the only one that got upgraded to having removable side fins. No complaints here, however. The fins do a good job when it comes to tracking, stability, and maneuverability.
2. Deck Pad
The traction pad is large and extends to the back. It is pet-friendly and soft enough for kids. The deck pad prevents you from slipping and doubles as a yoga mat for SUP yoga.
There are two grab handles on the Gili Air. The neoprene center handle allows you to carry the SUP comfortably on your own. The nose grab handle is strengthened. Other than using it to transport your paddleboard, it can act as a tie-up point.
As already mentioned, the Gili 10’6 model comes with more D-rings. Six of them have a bungee cord attached for storage at the front. One is at the back for your leash and the rest are conveniently placed for attaching a kayak seat and other stuff.
SUP Board Accessories
The Gili Air inflatable SUP comes with a paddle, leash, pump, center fin, and travel backpack. The leash and paddle come in four colors to match the SUPs.
a. The Backpack
The bag was upgraded and is now one of the best SUP backpacks in this price range. It is made of heavy-duty nylon and has padded waist and shoulder straps. It has an outer bungee pocket and extra handles at the side and top. It is a spacious bag and will easily fit all your gear and accessories.
b. The Paddle
The paddle is made of aluminum—not impressive but expected for an entry-level paddleboard. The good thing is that it floats, according to Gili Sports. It is built using high-strength aluminum for strength and has a nylon blade. The paddle is collapsible and adjustable 64 inches to 86 inches.
c. The Pump
The Gili 10’6 pump received an upgrade as well. It is a dual-action pump which means that it inflates the SUP on the downstroke and upstroke. There is a pressure gauge (starts registering after 10 PSI). The hose is 40 inches long.
d. The Leash and Fin
The 10-foot coil leash has a neoprene ankle cuff that is very comfortable. It will fit an ankle of any size. This leash has a triple Velcro lock and features a compact design.
The center fin is 9 inches and is made using nylon. It is responsive, safe, and easy to attach.
What Users Are Saying
A beginner paddler wanted to buy his first paddleboard. He had a budget ($400) and ideal specs. So he asked Redditors on the SUP subreddit.
needanightlight said he has the Gili Air 10’6 and he loves it.
ZillaGonnaZilla posted on Reddit, showing off his new Gili paddleboard. He said that everything is so simple and in 15 minutes he was done inflating, adjusting the paddle, and snapping in the fin. His cute dog was also in the photo so the first few comments are about the dog ????.
Further below, a user responds saying that he also got a blue Gili and it is awesome for the price. The original poster agrees, saying that it is comparable to his friend’s Isle—even though the Isle costs more.
Caro wanted a board but she lived in a small apartment. She didn’t have anywhere to put it or a car rack to transport it with. Then she saw someone using their Gili Air once and she was sold. Her only regret is that she didn’t buy it sooner. It is easy to inflate and the performance is amazing.
Gerald and his wife decided to get the Gili Air for their weekend getaway. He says that inflation was way too hard at first but it is because he didn’t read the instructions properly. The paddle board itself is sturdy and all the people that used it agree. He also appreciates the bag and says that it made transportation so easy.
Angela read tons of reviews while searching for the perfect SUP. She received a lot of recommendations but, somehow, kept coming back to the Gili Air. And she is glad she bought it. The design is appealing and it feels high quality. All the accessories are well-made and, according to her, it’s a great deal.
For Ronald, the best feature about the Gili Air is its weight. He travels a lot with his buddies and he has the lightest paddleboard. He doesn’t struggle even when they have to walk over long distances. Inflation is easier than he imagined and the paddleboard quality has surpassed his expectations.
Joe has one complaint about the Gili Air 10’6. The Gili logo on the pump and paddle seems to rub off after some time. Other than that, he loves how light the iSUP is. He says that inflation is a breeze too. The leash is comfortable and the paddleboard is super sturdy. He highly recommends the Gili Air 10’6 to anyone looking for an inflatable.
Gili Air Alternatives
Gili Air 10’6 Vs Bluefin Cruise 10’8
The Bluefin Cruise 10’8 is another budget inflatable paddleboard. It is made using 1000 Denier laminate PVC and Dropstitch construction. The Bluefin comes as a complete SUP bundle and includes a kayak conversion kit. It measures 10’8 x 32” x 6”.
The Cruise 10’8 has a pointed nose that helps it cut through the water. This enhances its speed. It has D-rings for luggage and kayak seat attachment. There are three grab handles, at the front, center, and rear. It also has a kick pad for quick turns and an action camera mount. When fully inflated, the board can handle up to 330 pounds.
The size of the Gili Air differs slightly from that of the Bluefin Cruise 10’8. The latter is slightly longer and wider by one inch. Their shapes are also different. While the Gili Air has a rounded nose, the Bluefin Cruise has a pointed one. You can, thus, expect the Gili to be a bit more stable. The pointed nose may make the SUP tippy, especially with someone else on board. But this shape enhances speed. So the Bluefin is likely to be faster.
The Gili has a six-point bungee storage area while the Bluefin’s is a four-point. The Gili also has more D-rings. You will not get color options with the Cruise as it only comes in one color. The Air comes in four. However, you will receive a kayak conversion kit in your Cruise package.
The Bluefin is heavier, weighing 25 pounds—that is 6 pounds more than the Gili. It comes with a fiberglass paddle, better than the Gili aluminum paddle.
These two paddle boards are awesome budget SUPs. It is hard to pick a favorite. They are both well-made and popular among paddlers.
Gili Air 10’6 Vs iRocker Nautical
The iRocker Nautical paddle board is the cheapest iSUP from iRocker. It comes in two sizes: 11’ x 32” x 6” and 10’6 x 32” x 6”. The Nautical 10’6 weighs 20 pounds and has a 240-pound weight capacity. It is built using dual-layer high-strength Dropstitch material. There are three grab handles and one bungee storage area at the front. All the fins on the Nautical fin are removable.
The Gili Air and the iRocker Nautical don’t differ much. Their performance would be almost the same. Although the Gili features a single-layer PVC, it has a slightly higher weight capacity compared to the Nautical.
You get an aluminum paddle with the Gili and a fiberglass one with the Nautical. A fiberglass paddle is lighter and easier to use. Both boards have one bungee storage area but they come with extra D-rings in case you want to add more.
The Gili Air 10’6 is an exceptional entry-level paddleboard. Its stability is amazing and so is the construction. The board comes with high-quality accessories. And when you buy a Gili Air, you help save the oceans. This SUP is not just for beginners. Every paddler could use a versatile paddleboard that is easy to transport.
Let us know if you have any questions about the Gili 10’6 Air below. Happy paddling!