In this review we will be going over the Gili Air 11’6” Paddle board. The 11’6” is a budget board made for larger folks who want a good quality introductory paddle board that has the potential to grow with them.
So What makes the 11’6” Air great and what areas can it improve on? How does it compare to the 10’6” Air and other brands?
Read on below as we go through all of the board features nose to tail. Curious about the Gili Air 10’6″? See Our Review here.
What Did We Think of the Gili Air 11’6″ SUP?
The Gili Air 11’6″ is a great introductory board that is actually packed with a good amount of features for a board of it’s price point. We felt the 11’6″ is an especially great board for bigger/ taller paddlers who feel 10’6″ are a bit too unsteady for them.
While the Air 11’6″ Isn’t going to be breaking any on-water perfomance records it performs fairly well in most tests for a SUP of its price range. One of the things that holds this board back is the single layer construction of this board. You can feel considerably more bounce on the board which makes it feel a bit less stable and adds a bit of drag when you are putting in those harder paddle strokes.
One positive that stood out on this board is the amount of deck bungees you get as well as the standard paddle holder, action mounts and handles that often comes with higher prices SUPs.
Overall if you want a cheap board that just gets you out on the water is a good introductory pick.
Gili Air 11’6” Paddle Board Review Ratings
Total Score: 7.4 (Average of Below Numbers)
Click on the ratings below to jump to each section.
- On-Water Performance – 7.5
- Stability 7.5
- Tracking 7.5
- Speed 8
- Maneuverability 7.5
- 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
- Fantastic Price to value ratio
- Tracks well in the water due to longer length
- Feature 3 Action Mounts
- 2 textures of deck pad are a nice touch
- Unlike 10’6” Both bungees are removable
- Gili Kayak Seat Can be Used on this model
- Great money-back guarantee period
- The backpack is well padded and of good value to the package
- Board is lightweight for its size
- The aluminum paddle is heavier than the fiberglass ones that Gili provides with other SUPs
- Single-layer construction will not be as durable as dual-layer that Gili has on other SUPs
- 20% restocking fee if returned
- Some customer complaints on Snap-in fin system arriving as unusable
Who Should Be Using The Gili Air 11’6” Paddle Board?
The Gili Air series is meant to be that first step to introducing folks to paddle boarding. And in our opinion, it’s one of the best budget paddle boards you can get your hands on.
The Gili Air 11’6” is a great board for bigger/ taller paddlers within the 170 – 230 lb range who want a stable platform to paddle, learn and grow their skills on.
The Gili Air series also has a solid 3rd party customer rating of 4.7/5 stars for the Air series on Amazon.
Who is this board not for?
It should be noted that heavier paddlers above this range should look at boards like the Adventure 11 or the Gili Meno 11’6” boards that have dual layer PVC construction, and a maximum weight capacity of 330 lbs and 485 lbs respectively.
And while smaller paddlers can ride this paddle board comfortably, it may be a bit too bulky to maneuver because of its bigger 11’6” frame. If you are around 170 lbs and under its best to go with the Gili Air 10’6” paddle board.
What SUP Activities Can the Gili Air 11’6” Be Used For?
The Gili Air is an introductory to intermediate board so it’s built more for stability and getting folks onto the water.
The Gili Air 11’6” is meant to get people out on the water and learn how to paddle board. Thankfully the single-layer construction of this board allows the board to weigh 21 lbs (about the weight of the smaller Atoll 11 and Nixy Newport G4). While the light weight is great for carrying the board, there are 2 sides to every story.
While single layer construction can still be durable, it will not last as long as dual layer or triple layer paddle boards. SO with this SUP you should take some care as to the environments you put it in to make the board last as long as possible.
For light touring purposes the 11’6” board will be an upgrade over the 10’6” Air series. The extra foot length allows this board to track better and be more streamlined in the water.
Add in the fact that the Gili has upgraded this board from a rounded nose hull to a more pointed hill also helps this board become a better candidate for light touring. In my experience rounded noses plane the water which adds drag and reduces your paddling speed.
Is it the best paddle board in the Gili line-up for this purpose? No, the Adventure 12, Meno 12’6” would be better boards to get if you wanted to jump into long-distance paddling sooner rather than later.
The Air 11’6” has 4 designated (and labeled) D rings that are meant for Gili’s kayak seat attachment. Add a kayak blade to your paddle and your vessel has now transformed into a kayak!
You definitely don’t have to get a kayak seat to enjoy sitting on the Gili Air. But for longer periods of time it is much more comfortable to be able to lean back and paddle instead of being hunched over paddling. It’s also better for your back health!
Years of leaning hunched over on your office chair can make you fall into similar habits with paddling sitting down.
Gili Air 11’6” On-Water Performance
On-Water Performance is the one area that changed slightly in ratings between the Gili 11’6” and the 10’6” Air SUPs.
|Rating Factor||Score||Average SUP Score|
(All Around Boards)
|Total On-Water Score||7.5||8.0|
|Stability Score||7.5 /10||8.3|
|Tracking Score||7.5 /10||7.8|
|Speed Score||8 /10||7.7|
|Manueverability Score||7.5 /10||8.1|
Compared the the 10’6” Air, the 11’6” board got a half a point boost in this category. This is because the Gili Air 11’6” has a bigger surface area length-wise, an extra foot. This makes the board feel more stable, especially for taller/ bigger paddlers.
It’s not all perfect stability-wise as the 11’6” has more bend to it which can make it feel slightly more floppy. This is true especially if you are moving positions or going over waves. For boards that have less bend look at other dual-layer paddle boards from this company like the Gili Adventure 12 or the Gili Meno 11’6”.
The tracking on this board will be better than most boards in this budget range. This is due to a few factors. It’s 11’6” length (most budget paddle boards are between 10’ and 11’ long). And it’s fin set-up.
|Tracking Factor||Paddle Strokes||Average Paddle Strokes (All Around)|
|Paddle Strokes |
To Keep Straight Course
We already explained above that the board comes with a 9” racing fin and 5” side fins. This coupled with the board’s longer length helps it paddle in a straighter line than most. Its newly acquired pointed nose profile also aids in its smoother more hydrodynamic tracking profile.
The speed on the Gili 11’6” is actually pretty surprising. This is because this board is lighter than most boards in its length category, you can make the board travel faster with each paddle stroke that lands in the water.
Its stability also helps you get more power per stroke if you are a larger/ taller individual. Another thing to note is thanks to the board’s solid tracking ability it requires fewer “correctional strokes” by you which also helps your board speed.
This is the section where Gili lost the half point to its smaller kin, the Air 10’6”.If you want a board that has better maneuverability it’s best to look at the 10’6” for that purpose.
However, the 11’6” maneuverability is far from terrible, especially when comparing it to other boards that are of its length.
|Paddle Strokes||Average Paddle Strokes (All Around SUP’s)|
|Paddle Strokes for Reverse Sweep Stroke||4.5||4.2|
|Paddle Strokes for Reverse Side Paddles||13.5||13.3|
The good news is that this board’s single-layer construction makes it more lightweight at 21 lbs. This allows you to use less effort maneuvering the board compared to something heftier like the Bluefin Cruise 12-foot board which is 13 lbs heavier.
Gili Air 11’6” Paddle Board Stats Deconstructed
- Type of Board: Recreational
- Length: 11’6″
- Width: 32″
- Thickness: 6″
- Volume: 234 L
- Weight: 21 Lbs
- Maximum Capacity: 295 Lbs
|Rating Factor||Score||Average Score (All Around)|
|Construction Score||7 /10||8.3|
As we have mentioned above, the Gili Air is made of a “Single Layer” PVC construction. The rails are double layered to protect the board from scraping into docks or dragging on the ground.
This is the one major mark that the Gili Air 11’6” paddle board has against it. We understand that materials are not cheap but iRocker’s Nautical series costs around the same price point while having dual layer construction added to it. This would be something we would like to see Gili incorporate in the future models of the Air series.
I believe adding an extra layer of construction is important to the 11’6” board’s development because there would be less sag.
This is due to the fact that a bigger person is in the middle of a longer board. This can affect the on-water performance of the board due to weight being primarily centered in the middle. If you have stiffer construction it will not affect the on-water performance as much.
Still to the beginner paddler hopping from a Gili Air to a dual construction board the differences will not be particularly noticeable.
Gili Air 11’6” SUP Profile
The Gili Air 11’6” has a more stubby profile compared to the Adventure 12 board.
The Gili Air series previously had a more rounded nose profile but from 2021 onwards Gili kept with the trend of all-around boards by having a more pointed nose.
There’s a time and a place for paddle boards with rounded noses but I feel once you get your sea legs under you, you quickly outgrow them. Boards with slightly pointed nose profiles can be used for longer paddling excursions without having to spend extra money to upgrade your board.
Whats On Deck
|Rating Factor||Score||Average SUP Score|
(All Around Boards)
|Board Features Score||7.5||8.1|
|Deck Pad Score||8 /10||8.3|
|D-Rings Score||8 /10||8|
|Deck Webbing Score||8 /10||8.1|
|Action Mounts Score||7.5 /10||7.8|
|Handle Score||7 /10||8.2|
For a starter board, Gili does a good job providing a lot of value with their boards. Especially compared to Amazon brand boards that feature limited D rings and no action mounts or add-on capabilities.
Gili Air 11’6” Deck Pad
Gili features 2 different stylings on the same deckpad. This is one of the features I like about Gili actually. In my personal experience boards with diamond grooved deck pads typically are grippier.
So having it at the back of the board makes sense for those learning to move around on the board. The diamond groove increases the grip for items in the rear cargo netting while also giving you firmer footing while attempting pivot turns.
Grooved deck pads may not be as grippy but they are still nice to have on your feet, they are especially helpful if a wave comes out of nowhere and knocks you briefly off balance.
Gili D Rings
(Show Free D Rings)
The Air 11’6” features 18 D rings on its paddle board. Below are out D ring locations mapped out.
- 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 attachment or Shoulder strap (labeled)
- 2 Free D rings just above the rear cargo storage areas (good spot to put a cooler)
The D rings that may not get the attention they deserve are the ones at the end of the grooved deck pad. This D ring pairing is in a good spot for bigger hard coolers like Yeti coolers should you want some room to store bigger items and have a seat on.
I actually prefer this placement compared to the Gili Adventure 11 and Mako 10 and Komodo because of the wider width it encompasses. With boards like the Adventure and Mako series, it’s harder to strap a large cooler when the D rings are further in.
Gili Air 11’6” Deck Bungees
The Gili Air has:
- 3 (Removable)Bungee Deck rows in the front
- 2 (Removable) Bungee Deck Rows in the rear
Another thing that’s a bonus to picking the Gili Air 11’6” over similar-sized Amazon-branded boards is the fact that the Gili Air features both front and rear deck bungees. The Air 11’6” features 2 rows of deck bungees at the rear compared to Amazon-style boards that usually don’t have any.
More bungee deck rigging means more things you can bring with you, which in turn means more time on the water!
Compared to other brands like the iRocker Nautical the rear deck rigging area is smaller. So keep your bigger, more used items in the front and smaller less used items in the rear of the board.
“I personally like to put dry bags with valuables I won’t touch like wallets, and car keys in the back while things in the front I have are water bottles and sandals for disembarking.”– Editors Note
Gili Action Mounts
Like the Gili 10’6” paddle board the 11’6” features 3 action mounts. Which in my opinion is a huge bonus compared to many others in its price range that have zilch, zero, none.
The action mount placements go as follows:
- One on the Nose of the board (Where the Nose D Ring is)
- Two on the rear of the board where the grooved deck pad ends
Items you can attach to the Action Mounts include:
- Gili Bluetooth Speaker
- Gili Cup Holder
- Action Camera Mount
- Fishing Rod Holder
Overall I think Gili does a good job with the placements. Things like the action camera mounts are ideally placed at the front of the board while at the rear you can have the cup holder, speaker, or fishing rod holder attached.
In terms of action mounts, Gili does not necessarily have the most varieties in terms of add-on attachments (that goes to iRocker and Nixy), but for a board of this price range, it provides great value to include these with this introductory board.
The Gili Air 11’6” has 7 total handles. Although truthfully the one that counts the most is the one in the middle. This will be where you will carry your paddle board the majority of the time.
Thankfully the middle handle has padded neoprene which is a good thing! Because let me tell you, nylon handles dig into your hands! You may not think about it much but you will definitely notice after walking 300 meters to the shoreline!
The front and rear handles are not padded, but at the same time, they don’t really need to be. These handles are mostly to guide the board along in the water.
Finally, there are the 4 passenger handles at the front and rear of the board. While I wouldn’t use these for picking up the board they are great for smaller passengers like Lil ones who need to hang onto the board when more turbulent waves hit the SUP.
It always helps to have the handles as it makes smaller ones not used to the water feel more secure and in control.
Gili Paddle Holder
Lastly is the placement of the paddle holder. I really like that first off, this board even comes with one but also the fact that it is placed in a perfect spot on the board. The paddle holder is located on the right-hand side of the board. It’s nice and out of the way but also not in an awkward spot like where some other manufacturers place them.
This paddle holder consists of two velcro tabs that wrap around the paddle and keeps it securely lashed to the side of the board.
Gili Air 11’6” Accessories Explained
|Rating Factor||Score||Average SUP Score|
(All Around Boards)
|Accessories Score||7 /10||7.9|
|Backpack Score||7.5 /10||8.1|
|Paddle Score||6.5 /10||7.8|
|Pump Score||6.5 /10||7.6|
|Fin Score||7.5 /10||8.1|
The Gili Air 11’6” overall provides pretty good accessories for what you pay for. But in our opinion, there can be some room for improvement on some things.
Gili Air 11’6” Backpack
“The thing I like about Gili is the fact that they include the same backpack for each paddle board no matter the price. So if you are in the market for a budget board this is an added bonus.
I can’t tell you the countless amounts of time I’ve come across bags from budget boards that are absolute trash. They are often made of a nylon-like material with no padding on the straps or the bag. Which makes even the simple task of even transporting the SUP a painful experience.”– Editors Note
Thankfully you don’t get this with any of Gili’s bags. The backpack is fully padded on the shoulders. It includes a waist buckle and a chest buckle and on top of that, it has a padded square section to ensure that nothing in the bag is digging into your back.
The bag features 4 pockets. Two at the top of the bag (for the fins) and the bottom for smaller miscellaneous things you may need. It also comes with side pockets that are bound via elastic. This is a good place to put water bottles you intend to bring with you.
In terms of handles, the bag has 3, one on the top and 2 on the sides. This allows you to carry the board upright or from the side like a hockey bag, which is rather useful for getting the bag out of the trunk.
Gili Aluminum Paddle
One of the downsides to this package is the paddle that’s included. The Gili Air 11’6” comes with an aluminum paddle. While this is not the end of the world, the aluminum shaft tends to be heavier and can bend easier. I’ve used a few in my time and in my personal experience the handle often comes loose because it is glued on.
I can’t speak to the quality of the Gili aluminum paddle, but if I were you I would upgrade to the fiberglass package. Is this a bit of an upsell from me? Yes, although in my experience fiberglass paddles are much more pleasant to paddle around for 2 + hours compared to the aluminum shaft.
So if you are paddling more often and longer then the fiberglass package would be ideal. If you are just buying this package to have something for guests to fool around on the lake then the aluminum paddle will do just fine.
I will get this off my chest right now. I am not an advocate of manual pumps whatsoever. Blew out my back a few months ago, got an electric pump, and I’m not planning to pump a board up manually again.
For those who like the extra exercise of using a manual pump, this one will do the job but truthfully it’s underwhelming. This particular pump is a 2 stage single chamber pump which means you have 2 settings.
- Closed Position is air is pumping on the up stroke and the down stroke
- Opening Position is air pumps on the down stroke
So how you would use this is when first pumping the board you will have it in the closed position to get the maximum amount of air out. For the last 2-5 PSI switch the nob to the opening position. This will release less air but will make pumping an easier task.
Gili Air 11’6” Fins
One of my favorite things about this Gili starter package is the fact that they included a racing fin in the package! In almost all SUP packages you have to buy them separately! And the ones that do come with one often come with boards that have a $1000 and over price tag.
The center racing fin that’s included is 9” long which is about an inch longer than dolphin fins that most SUP companies provide with their boards. This extra inch gives this board a tiny little advantage when tracking.
But what helps the tracking more is the 5” snap-in side fins. Many boards of this price range include side bite fins, which are significantly shorter. As a result, they make the board track less and actually affect the stability of the board when it’s in motion. Thankfully you don’t have to worry about this with the Gili Air 11’6” board.
Now, onto one of the things, I’m not as big of a fan of… And that’s the side-bite fin style. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the system per se, and to be fair to Gili they have a wide variety of fin selections available. They include.
- Snap in Side Fins (Replacements)
- Snap in 9” Racing fin
- Snap in 4.5” Speed Fin
- Snap in 3” River fin
- Snap in 8” Dolphin Fin
So Why do I not recommend side-bite fins? Well in the past there have been complaints where customers receive a board with warped fin mounts. I have not seen as many complaints about this more recently as Gili must have improved its quality control for this paddle board.
Still, I like FCS-style fins because they are compatible with many other fin manufacturers that make FCS-style. This means you can swap fin styles from a variety of different fin/ surfboard manufacturers.
The Gili Leahs is a standard 8” long coiled leash that has neoprene paddling on the ankle part. It also features a swivel base attachment on both the ankle and leash sections to avoid it being tangled. For the most part, SUP leashes these days are standardized to be like this.
About the Gili Sports Company
Gili Sports is not just an inflatable paddle board company but rather a company that cares about the future of our planet. They donate a proceed of all paddle board sales (including the Gili Air) to ocean charities such as:
The Gili Air 11’6” (along with Gili’s other SUPs) comes with a 2-year warranty.
In terms of return policies, Gili has one of the better ones which is a 60 day money back guarantee.
There is a caveat though. You have to pay a 20% restocking fee and when returned the board had to be in “like new” condition”.
What Customers Think
The main ratings you should be looking at when judging paddle boards is what’s on 3rd party sites.
On Amazon the Air series (both 11’6” and 10’6”) has a 4.7/5 star review rating. On Gili’s Facebook (as of the time of writing) the brand features a 3.8/5 star rating based on 26 reviews.
Overall most of the reviews about the Air 11’6” are generally positive.
A lot of commonalities in positive reviews that I saw were about the storage space that the SUP provided. Including..
“I use this paddleboard to do some shore diving off of south florida. This thing is so convenient. I can carry all my spearfishing and freediving gear AND this paddleboard with help of the bag that COME WITH THE PADDLEBOARD. This board also has lots of attachments sights for my dive flag and cooler and such. Very reliable and very durable. Would (and already have) recommend this company to anyone. Not to mention their customer service is very respectable and responsive.”– Bryce D (Gili Air Customer)
Other positive comments came in the form of the boards stability on the water. For example..
“This is my first paddleboard- I also have a 75lb dog. We went out on the 11’6 Air I gifted myself- SUPER stable, easy to inflate (get the electric pump). Neither of us fell off. We had the best time ever. The quality of all the accessories is great. This was us practicing “stay” in the house 🙂”– Melinda (Gili Air Customer)
For some of the more negative reviews, you have to look at Amazon and Facebook. The majority have to do with shipping mishaps, or delayed customer responses but a lot of those were due to COVID’s rapid demand summer.
Some other common comments had to do with the snap-in fin not fitting properly to the fin system. Although, since then Gili has fixed the problem with the newer generation of boards.
Where to Buy
They also ship internationally however, Gili is not responsible for paying any duty rates and extra charges that may occur from the border.
The following are some comparable brands if you are shopping for other SUPs with similar stats and dimensions.
iRocker Nautical 11’6” Paddle Board
The iRocker has very similar dimensions compared to the 11’6” Gili AIr. Both are 11’6” x 32” x 6” thick. The biggest difference between the two is the construction. The 11’6” Air is made of a single layer construction while the Nautical has a dual-layer PVC construction. For durability purposes the dual layer is preferred.
Bluefin Cruise 12
The stats between the Bluefin Cruise 12 and Gili Air 11’6” differ quite a bit more. Besides the obvious length difference, the Cruise is 13 lbs heavier but has a maximum capacity of 330 lbs compared to the Air’s lighter 295. The Cruise 12 comes with more accessories including a kayak conversion seat and paddle.
Should You Get The Gili Air 11’6” Paddle Board?
If you are a bigger paddler who wants a bit more tracking ability without paying a larger price for it. The 11’6” Air paddle board is a great pick to choose.
The Gili Air 11’6” is also a good board for stability and its lightweight design makes it easier to transport than many other comparable boards in its length range.
Have you got a Gili Air 11’6” board, let us know what you think about it on our Facebook Page!