In this review, we will be going over the Gili Air Paddle Board in the 10’6” size.
The Gili Air is an entry-level series of board that fuses the world of budget paddle boards with mid-tier board features and quality.
We will be dissecting the board with a fine-tooth comb to see areas in which it succeeds and areas in which it can improve.
Let’s get into the review!
For the Review on the Gili 11’6″ Paddle Board Click here!
Gili Air Paddle Board Review Ratings
Total Score: 7.4 (Average of Below Numbers)
- On-Water Performance – 7.5
- Stability 7
- Tracking 7
- Speed 7.5
- Maneuverability 8
- SUP Construction – 7
- Board Features – 7.5
- Deck Pad 8
- D Rings 8
- Deck Bungees 8
- Action Mounts: 7.5
- Handles 7
- Accessories – 7
- Backpack 7.5
- Paddle 6.5
- Pump 6.5
- Fins 7.5
- Set-Up/ Take Down – 8
- Great Price for what you get in the package
- The Package has undergone some noteworthy upgrades for 2022 and beyond
- Lots of D rings
- Comes with options for mounts
- Extremely lightweight
- Comes with a 2-year warranty
- The return period on this board is a generous 60 days
- The main goal of the company is to help make a difference in the world’s oceans
- Great travel package
- Great decal schemes
- Paddle is Aluminum
- Comes with a 20% restocking fee if returned
- Materials on the lower end of Gili’s SUPs
- Complaints about snap-in fins
Who Should Be Using the Gili Air Paddle Board?
The most common sector of people who buy the Gili Air paddle board are customers who are new to the world of stand up paddle boarding but don’t want to break the bank.
The Gili Air is for paddlers who are on the beginner spectrum of skill range. Intermediate and advanced paddlers can paddle this board and do advanced maneuvers like pivot turns. There are better quality boards that are made by both Gili and other companies to do those types of things.
How do Beginners find this Board?
The Gili Air series featured a 4.7/5 star rating on Amazon as of the time of me writing this. The vast majority would be in the beginner range.
Many of them stated that they have even taken their kids/ dogs on the board for a ride while standing up and paddling the board. There were also some comparisons to other boards such as the iRocker Nautical series and the Body Glove Performer 11. Both budget-style boards!
And a lot of the times in the reviews Gili Air came out to be the preferred board. And that’s saying something!
Who Should Not Be Using the Gili Air 10’6”?
The boards 10’6” length coupled with its 32” width may be a bit challenging for bigger and taller paddlers.
In this case either get a wider board like the Gili Komodo or Meno series or upgrade to the Gili Air 11’6”. Also more experienced paddlers with a bigger budget would prefer boards like the Adventure 11 or Meno series.
What SUP Activities Can the Gili Air be Used For?
While the Gili Air can be classified as a beginner/ budget board, it has a few other uses.
This will be what the vast majority of paddlers will be using this board for. Learning how to paddle the board and testing their skill set. This year’s board features a bit more of a pointier nose which gives the board a bit more of an on-water performance boost.
The Gili Air 10’6” is not made specifically for this but it can be done! A customer reported that they paddled this board 2 miles up Rio Grande while standing, laying, sitting and dragging it around all day!
I probably would not have recommended this board for this kind of use a few years ago when it had a more rounded hull. But with the board’s redesign and improvements made over the years, the Air 10’6” could be a decent candidate for day touring with a lighter person.
Its 19 lb frame also makes it lightweight which makes it a bit more responsive to paddle strokes as well.
Like many other Gili boards, the Air features 4 labeled D rings that are designated for the kayak conversion kit that Gili sells. This allows you to transform your paddle board into a fully working kayak for those wavey/ windy days.
You are also able to paddle at a slightly greater clip with the conversion kit as the time in between paddling strokes is decreased.
Gili Air Paddle Board Stats Deconstructed
- Type of Board: All Around
- Length: 10’6”
- Width: 32”
- Thickness: 6”
- Volume: 225 L
- Weight: 19 Lbs
- Maximum Capacity: 280 Lbs
The Gili Air has some rather generalized terms when it comes to its construction. It states that it has “Military Grade PVC”. This general term can be found with many boards that you can find on Amazon. In their comparison table below the product page, Gili has this particular SUP labeled as “Single Layer” Construction.
While single layer construction is not necessarily our favorite type of construction for SUPs it is a material that is used around the Gili Air’s price range. And these materials can last more than a couple of seasons a lot of the time.
One of the things I was a fan of with this board was the fact that it had a 19 lb weight. This is great news for folks who are smaller in stature and don’t want to lug a heavier board to the shoreline. Although 5 or 6 extra pounds does not sound like a lot it does add up if you are walking your board all the way down in low tide!
Gili Air SUP Profile
The Gili Air has transformed its SUP profile over the years. A few years ago the board’s nose was more rounded like the Serenelife Free Flow series. But from 2021 onwards Gili has reconstructed the board’s profile to be more hydrodynamic.
Personally, I think it’s a good move from Gili as many “starter boards” have that rounded nose. While the rounded nose can help with the stability it can cause extra drag and be carried by waves a bit more. As a result, many people upgrade their boards to have that pointed nose profile as their experience grows.
With the Gili Air, it appears you don’t need to do this though. Its profile will allow the board to grow with your skillset.
Another change the Gili Air has undergone is the fact that for 2022 they have made the board an inch wider. This may not seem like much but width is one of the defining factors for stability. This new 32” width will make the learning curve to standing up on the board a lot easier.
What’s On Deck
One of the things I like most about the Gili boards is the fact that they put different stylings into their deck pads. We explain below.
Gili Air Deck pad
The Gili Air features 2 different textures on the deck pad. Grooved slits in the middle and diamond grooved deck padding in the back. The grooved deck pad in the middle is new. In previous versions, it was a smooth deck pad with line decals. A few reviewers and customers have requested this so it’s good to see that Gili has listened and implemented it into their design.
In my personal opinion, I find that the diamond grooved deck padding is the grippiest so it makes sense that they put it on the back. Not only will this help hold your gear in place at the rear bungee area but Gili also places it there to encourage you to work on doing more difficult maneuvers such as pivot turns.– Editors Note
Gili D Rings
The Gili Air 2022 model features a whopping 18 D rings on its board which is more than you would expect for a SUP of its price range.
If you compare the Air to other budget brands like Serenelife Free Flow where you only have 11 D rings and one storage area it starts to look like a pretty good deal! Other competing brands in its price range like Body Glove Performer only have 9 available.
- 6 D rings for front bungees
- 4 D rings for rear bungees
- 1 D ring for towing at the nose
- 1 D ring at the tail for Ankle Leash
- 4 D rings for Kayak Conversion Kit or Shoulder strap (labeled)
- 2 Free D rings just above the rear cargo storage areas (good spot to put a cooler)
So if you want a good budget SUP with smart D ring placement this board would definitely be a good pick. More D rings equal more rigging possibilities!
The Gili Air features 10 D rings that make up the deck bungee area. There are 6 in the front and 4 in the rear. As I’ve gained more experience with paddleboards i’ve come to appreciate boards that have the extra bungees at the nose. The nose area is easier to reach and grab stuff when on the move.
So if you have a backpack or dry bag that you are bringing with you and you need to grab your phone or snacks from it. It’s a good place to put them.
The rear deck bungees are more centered to the board which makes the cargo area a bit smaller. This could be an ideal placement for a waterproof speaker or a spare water bottle while on the go.
Another thing that I like is that there are handles on both Deck bungee areas for those smaller passengers to hang on to when it gets choppy!
Another new feature of the 2022 Air boards are action mounts. You typically find these on boards that are more in the mid-tier $700 and up boards. So the fact that it’s now included on Gili’s budget line is a big plus for those who want good value for a SUP.
The action mounts are located on the very nose of the board where the front D ring is and 2 towards the back, just before the rear deck rigging area.
I personally like the nose placement as it allows the camera to have a wider angle of viewing as opposed to it being closer up on the front deck pad area.
Gili Air Handles
There are 3 handles (technically 7 but I don’t like to count the ones attached to the deck rigging) at the front, middle, and rear of the board.
The front and rear handles are well placed but do not feature any neoprene or soft plastic covering them. Although that being said, those are not the main areas from which you will be carrying the board.
The main one will be from the middle handle which does feature some padding to it.
One of the things I like best about Gili’s paddle boards is its paddle holder. It’s a nice simple velcro strapping device that allows you to stash your paddle away when you just want to go full Savasana and lie on your board. Paddle-free baby!!
I like the fact that the placement is on the side of the board. Sometimes companies will have the placemats to these paddle holders in weird spots such as the front of the board which in my opinion makes little sense.
Gili Air Accessories
Over the years Gili has upgraded some of the accessories that come with the board to make it a more comfortable package. Improvements can be found on the bag as well as the fins.
The bag that comes with the Gili Air will be an upgrade to almost any Amazon off-brand board you would get. In Fact, the bag itself is probably at the level that you would expect from boards on a slightly higher pricing tier.
The bag has a square shape to it but this is good. It gives you more room to not only put the pump and paddles in but also any other gear you would desire as well.
Often times boards of this price tier will cheap out on the bags and give you a tiny bag that you have to wrestle with just to get all the included accessories in.
The bag features padded shoulder straps as well as back padding placement. I feel this is a must-have for SUP bags these days as bags with no padding hurt to wear after like 5 minutes (looking at you Serenelife!!). It also makes it a pretty good bag to do smaller hikes with since this SUP is one of the lighter ones on the market.
What I like as well is the designated Fin pocket that is clearly labeled. I find seeing this writing will break your thinking of just shoving it into the main compartment.
On top of the mesh fin pocket, there are also 3 other mesh pockets where you can store smaller miscellaneous items like phone pouches, whistles, smaller water bottles, etc.
The Paddle looks nice and does its job but the shaft is made of aluminum which makes it a bit heavier. You compare that to a competing package like the iRocker Nautical that has a fiberglass paddle which gives a + 1 to the Nautical series.
Not to say that aluminum paddles are the worst thing on earth but if you are wanting to spend more and more time using your board. Then it’s best to get a lighter-weight paddle. On average paddle boarders typically do 1,500 strokes per hour so every bit of weight you can save with the paddle counts. Especially for longer trips
The paddle does come color-coated with a nylon blade that is color-coordinated to what SUP you purchased.
The Gili Air comes with a single chamber dual action hand pump that comes with a PSI gauge. The double-action is activated by pressing the button on the side of the pump.
Make sure when pumping to start off at the dual-stage to get more air into the board and finish off at the single-stage! It starts getting more tricky at 8 PSI plus.– Editors Note
The pump also comes with a removable base attached to a string and detachable handles that help it collapse better into the bag. I’m personally not a big fan of these kinds of single-stage pumps but if you like a workout before heading out it will do the job just fine!
One of the things I love about the Gili boards is the fact that they include racing fins on almost all of their boards. This is an upgrade from previous models that had the 8” dolphin fin followed by the attached side bite fins.
The last few generations now come with the racing fin and the attachable 5” side fins. These longer side fins make a bigger difference in the tracking ability of the board.
One of the things I’m not a fan of is the snap-in style of fins. I personally believe the FCS “screw fins” are more reliable and have fewer problems because they require a simple screw and a nut. There were also some customer complaints about the fins malfunctioning. There’s even been a few complaints of the fin not fitting like the video below.
I usually don’t like to spend too much time writing about the leash as a lot of them are pretty standardized. It has a swivel base on the attachment and ankle part and has neoprene padding which makes it feel comfortable while wearing it.
Gili Air On-Water Performance
The Gili Air stands out compared to many other budget boards in a few areas.
The Gili Air clocks in at 32” which is the standard for many inflatable all-around paddle boards. In fact, new for 2022 it has actually tacked on another inch to make the board more stable. There are even reviews of customers taking their dogs and kids onboard in calm water.
For 2022 the boards tracking has been improved thanks to the board’s change in shape and design. The board has lost the rounded nose and went for a slightly more modified pointed nose design. The 5” side fins and the 9” center racing fin also aid in making the board track better than previous versions.
The tracking on the 10’6” board is good but you will get a better straight line on the Gili Air 11’6” board.
The board’s more hydrodynamic hull will no doubt improve the glide of the board, even in spite of it gaining an inch in width. The board is also super light at 19 pounds which allows you to paddle with a bit less effort.
The only issue in terms of speed is the fact that the single-layer material will give it a bit more bend in the water. It lacks the rigidity of its more expensive cousins like the Gili Meno or Adventure boards. At the same time for a beginner, the difference will not be as noticeable.
When doing maneuvers like sweep strokes, it will always feel like less effort when the board is lighter. The 19-pound weight coupled with the 10’6” board allows the Air to maneuver fairly well in the water.
The only thing that makes it a bit more of an effort to turn is the extra height of the side fins. The good thing though is that the Gili Air has a diamond grooved deck pad in the back that is a perfect learning ground for doing sharper pivot turns.
About Gili Sports
If you care about making an ecological difference by preserving our oceans and waterways this will perk your ears up. Gili donates proceeds of each paddleboard to various ocean charities. The ones currently listed on their website are:
What I particularly like about this is that the proceeds come from all of their paddle boards. Not just the more expensive ones. So no matter what board you decide you are making a difference.
Gili was founded by Jay Regan whose purpose for making the Gili company was to make a difference in the world’s oceans.
Gili features a 2-year warranty on ALL OF THEIR SUPs, even the cheaper models like the Gili Air series.
Gili also comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee for their boards as well as a 90 day money back return period for accessories. Unfortunately, you do have to pay a 20% restocking fee and the boards do need to be in “like-new condition” when they are returned.
What Customers Think
The Gili Air features a 4.7/5 star review on Amazon, which is usually the more trustworthy rating system since bad reviews have to be added to the platform.
The vast majority of the customers enjoyed the purchase of the Air with many of them being impressed at just how well an inflatable paddle board can perform.
Of course, I would say the vast majority of the reviewers are new paddlers who wanted to see if they liked inflatable paddle boards without committing to a steep purchase price.
As we dig more into some of the negative reviews a good amount of them were geared towards the fin snap-in mechanism where either a part would break or the fin just would not slot in because of a manufacturing defect with the fin track.
Where to Buy
You can but the Gili Air 10’6” or 11’6” boards on the Gili website. This is where it will be easier to deal with customer service and fewer miscommunications can occur. You can also buy the Gili Air on Amazon.
The boards that are most similar to the Gili Air series that are within a similar price range go as follows.
iRocker Nautical 10’6
The iRocker Nautical features very similar specs as the Gili Air. The main difference between the two is that the Nautical comes with a fiberglass paddle while the Gili Air features an aluminum paddle. The nautical also has one more row of bungee deck rigging at the back but has fewer available D rings as opposed to the Gili Air.
The Nautical was rated as our Best Budget SUP.
Bluefin Cruise 10’8”
Apart from the obvious extra 2-inch length of the Bluefin Cruise it also has a thinner more hydrodynamic nose profile. The Bluefin Cruise is a champion for extra accessories as this package comes with a paddle, bag, SUP seat, kayak conversion paddle, leash, center fin and pump. The Cruise also features a stomp pad which makes pivot turns easier.
Should You Get the Gili Air Paddle Board?
If you are a beginner and you don’t want to spend next month’s full rent on a paddle board then yes the Gili Air is a fantastic pick.
Despite its cheaper price tag the board comes with a tremendous amount of value that surpasses Amazon brand boards while staying in touch with the top brands like the iRocker Nautical series, Blue Fin Cruise and Body Glove Performer 11.
In Fact many customers preferred the Gili Air to all the above boards! Gili also ensures they make a difference in the planet by donating proceeds of each sale to an ocean charity like Coral Reef Alliance or Save the Turtles.