The iRocker Nautical and the Gili Air are among the most popular entry-level inflatable SUPs. They are both budget boards from two reputable iSUP companies.
These paddle boards are similar in so many ways, with few differences. If you’re looking for a good cheap stand up paddle board, the chances are that you’ve found yourself torn between these two. And it’s hard to decide.
I have personally tested these paddle boards, so I have a real live experience of what it’s like to use them. I’ve also done a lot of research (both to help me prepare for testing and to figure out which was better) so I’m pretty excited to share my findings.
This is an honest iRocker Nautical Vs Gili Air comparison based on my research and experience to help you make an informed decision.
So keep reading.
A Quick Overview of the iRocker Nautical Inflatable Paddle Board
The Nautical is iRocker’s entry-level SUP board and the cheapest one in their lineup.
You can get the Nautical in two sizes: 10’6 and 11’6. The shorter one didn’t feel right for me and I noticed a lot of resistance. I’m 6’1 and 192 pounds. The longer Nautical feels great and the performance is amazing. It’s the better option if you’re a bigger guy or lady.
The iRocker Nautical has a basic design and package, compared to other iRocker SUPs. But it’s one of the best cheap paddle boards out there.
It’s built using dual-layer military-grade PVC and it can take a lot of use and abuse. Previously, the Nautical came with a one-year warranty but it’s now two years.
The 10’6 Nautical weighs 20 pounds and has a 240-pound weight capacity. The 11’6 Nautical weighs 22 pounds and has a 265-pound capacity.
This budget inflatable board has seven handles–three carry handles and four safety handles. It also comes with two bungee areas for luggage, extra D-rings for accessories, and an action mount.
The iRocker Nautical package is outstanding, especially considering the price. It comes with a nice bag, easy-to-use pump, fiberglass paddle, repair kit, and a premium leash. (The leash is the same one you get with the more expensive iRocker SUPs).
All the three fins on the Nautical are removable.
A Quick Overview of the Gili Air Inflatable Paddle Board
The Gili Air is an entry-level board from one of the most popular inflatable SUP brands, Gili Sports. It’s also their cheapest paddle board.
The Gili Air paddle board comes in two sizes, 10’6 x 32” and 11’6 x 32”. Previously, it only came in one size, 10’6 x 31”.
I found the shorter Gili Air to be a little sluggish, just like the 10’6 Nautical. The 11’6 is fine and glides much better. So the 10’6 Air is more suited for smaller paddlers and bigger paddlers are better off with the 11’6 Air.
The Gili Air SUP board is built using military-strength PVC and it can also take a beating. It comes with a two-year warranty.
When fully inflated, the Gili Air has a weight capacity of 280 pounds (10’6) and 295 pounds (11’6).
Despite being rugged and durable, the Gili Airs only weigh 19 pounds and 21 pounds, making them perfect for traveling.
This inflatable SUP has seven handles: three grab handles and four safety handles. They make handling the paddle board easier.
There are two bungee areas for your cargo, three action mounts for accessories like cup holders, and a paddle holder for when you want to free your hands. There are also extra D-rings so you can attach a kayak seat or other optional accessories.
The Gili Air comes with everything you need in the package. You’ll get an aluminum paddle, dual-action hand pump, excellent backpack, leash, and a repair kit. They have an option of upgrading to a fiberglass paddle if you like.
Every time you buy a Gili paddle board, a percentage of the money goes to ocean charities so you’ll be donating to a worthy cause.
iRocker Nautical Vs Gili Air: The Similarities
The Nautical and the Air are more similar than they are different.
Their first similarity is the size and dimensions of the boards. Both paddle boards are 32 inches wide and six inches thick. They are available in two lengths: 10’6 and 11’6.
When I measured them I found the Nautical to be 0.5 inches wider but that’s negligible and you barely notice.
The two inflatable paddle boards perform the same. The Nautical 10’6 and the Gili Air 10’6 felt a little sluggish for me and I’d recommend them for lighter paddlers. They are, however, still stable.
The 11’6 boards are amazing. They track so well and I have no problem paddling in a straight line. They are stable too, and I’d say that they are adequately fast.
I find pulling the board out of the water much easier thanks to these grab handles, especially if the bank is steep. The safety handles also come in handy when you bring kids since they can hold on to them.
The two paddle boards come with a two-year warranty, which is amazing at this price range! The Nautical previously came with a one-year warranty but it has been extended to two years as of 2022.
They all have a three-fin setup with all removable fins–a large center fin and two side fins.
The deck pads are the same size and I found them both grippy and comfortable. They’re pet-friendly and would make a good yoga mat.
These budget SUPs come with everything you need to get started with paddle boarding and the accessories are of good quality.
iRocker Nautical Vs Gili Air: The Differences
While they are the same size and very similar dimensions, the Nautical and the Air have slightly different shapes. The Nautical has more rocker at the nose (the nose curves up slightly more). This usually helps with chop and waves, but I have to say that, honestly, didn’t notice a difference.
Both the iRocker Nautical and the Gili Air have extra D-rings for a kayak seat. However, the Air has six extra D-rings while the Nautical has just four.
Usually, budget stand up paddle boards don’t come with action mounts – but the Nautical and the Air do, so that’s great! The iRocker Nautical has one action mount at the nose while the Gili Air has three. You can use them to attach accessories like a cup holder or fishing rod holder.
The Gili Air’s center fin is bigger than that of the Nautical. In theory, that should make it track better. I didn’t notice any difference though.
The iRocker Nautical has a six-point bungee area at the back while the Gili Air has a four-point rear bungee. I was able to bring along a little more stuff during my outings on the iRocker, compared with the Gili Air – but I’d say the air has adequate space for most people. It’s just nice that you can bring a little more stuff on the Nautical.
The Gili inflatable board has a paddle holder mounted on the side. It’s great when you want to free your hands for yoga or fishing. It also makes it easier to carry your inflated paddle board to the water.
The Nautical package includes a fiberglass paddle while with the Gili Air, you only get an aluminum paddle as standard. It’s heavier, but you can opt for a fiberglass paddle in your package for a slightly higher price.
The Gili Air includes a foot pump with a detachable foot. It’s a great feature, and while it may seem small, it makes a difference when packing the pump. It packs more compact making it easier to store.
What’s more, the foot is attached with a cord so it’s difficult to misplace it. Another nifty feature that I enjoy.
Both the Nautical and the Air backpacks are fantastic but the Air’s bag has a separate fin compartment, which found very useful. Fins usually disappear to the bottom in the main compartment and that can be annoying, so it’s nice to have a separate fin pocket for them.
Lastly, we have color differences. The Nautical is available in four colors: blue, teal, sky blue, and gray. The Air comes in coral, camo, orange, green, blue, and teal. You have more color options and they’re also more attractive in my opinion.
iRocker Nautical vs Gili Air: An Honest Comparison of Two Budget Paddle Boards
How do these inflatable paddle boards compare in five key areas?
1. Stability: Which One Is More Stable?
As far as stability goes, the Nautical and the Air are the same. The Nautical is 0.5 inches wider but I didn’t notice any difference in stability. They’re both stable all-around paddle boards.
2. Performance: How Do They Compare Out on the Water?
Again, there’s no difference in performance between these two inflatable SUPs. The Gili Air 10’6 inflatable and Nautical 10’6 board are excellent choices for smaller paddle boarders.
Larger riders (over approx. 175 lbs) should go with the 11’6 models. This is the length that worked best for me and I love how they glide.
The inflatable paddle boards track pretty much the same and there’s no noticeable difference in speed.
3. Inflatable SUP Package: Which One Is the Better Deal?
Both paddle boards come with all the necessary SUP accessories and they are all high quality.
The Gili Air pump and bag are nicer, because of the pump’s detachable foot and the bag’s fin pocket.
But the Nautical has a fiberglass paddle which is much better value for money, considering the prices of these two SUPs.
4. Build Quality: Which Of These Boards Will Last Longer?
The Gili Air is built using single-layer construction while the Nautical features dual-layer construction. Theoretically, the iRocker Nautical should be tougher but they’re both rugged and come with a two-year warranty. With good maintenance, they’ll both last a long time.
5. Extra SUP Features: D-Rings, Handles, and Action Mounts
The Gili Air and the Nautical have almost the same features. You get two bungee areas with both, D-rings for your kayak seat, and seven handles.
The Gili’s bungees are color matched. But the Nautical has a slightly bigger rear bungee area.
The Gili Air has two more action mounts than the Nautical, two more extra D-rings, and a paddle holder. The Gili board also features cool graphics and messages about saving our oceans. They look good and help raise awareness. It comes in vibrant colors too.
In this case, the Gili Air wins.
Who Is the iRocker Nautical Inflatable SUP Best for?
The iRocker Nautical is ideal for the paddle boarder who wants value for money. The Nautical and the Air paddle boards are almost the same price and the accessories in their packages are high quality.
But with the Nautical, you get a fiberglass paddle which is lighter and more efficient. You won’t have to spend any more money upgrading.
Who Is the Gili Air Inflatable SUP Best for?
The Gili Air iSUP is best for you if you want beautiful color options and graphics as well as extra features such as more action mounts and a paddle holder.
If you’re also passionate about saving the oceans and sea creatures you’ll be happy to know that a portion of every sale goes to ocean charities.
So the iRocker Nautical Vs the Gili Air: which one is better?
This is a tough one because both boards are high-quality and made by reputable iSUP companies. They are also quite similar.
When it comes to durability and performance, there’s really not much difference.
If you want better value for money, I would recommend the iRocker Nautical package (10’6 or 11’6). The fiberglass paddle is much better compared to the aluminum one you get with the Air for almost the same price.
If you want more action mounts, a paddle holder, and more color options, the Gili Air 10’6 or 11’6 would be right for you. And you’ll also play a part in saving the oceans which is pretty cool.
Your turn. Which one of these two paddle boards are you picking?