In this review, we will be going through the Gili Meno 12’6” Touring SUP.
We were pretty pleased with how this SUP struck a balance between stability and on-water performance so we added it to the Best Touring Inflatable Paddle Boards List.
One could even say that if beginners wanted a bit more on-water performance for future touring purposes that this would be a pretty good choice. This is due to the SUPs long 12’6” length and 31” width.
So what details made this SUP a good pick for paddlers of a variety of different paddling backgrounds? Read on below.
Gili Meno 12’6” Paddle Board Review Ratings
Below is how I rated the Gili Meno 12’6” Paddle board. Click the links below to skip to each section.
Total Score: 8.4/10
- On-Water Performance – 8.2
- Stability 7.5
- Tracking 9
- Speed 9
- Maneuverability 7
- SUP Construction – 9
- Board Features – 8.4
- Deck Pad 8.5
- D Rings 8
- Deck Bungees 8.5
- Action Mounts 8
- Handles 9
- Accessories – 8.5
- Backpack 8.5
- Paddle 8.5
- Pump 8
- Fins 9
- Set-Up/ Take Down 8
- A couple of inches extra width provides more stability which is easier for less experienced paddlers to learn on
- Has a lot of onboard features like action mounts that other touring SUP manufacturers don’t provide.
- It comes with 3 Different fins to suit different environments which is a rare find with inflatable SUPs
- A Diamond grooved deck lining on the back coupled with a stomp pad makes doing quick maneuvers like pivot turns easier.
- The standard paddle comes with a lightweight carbon shaft
- The backpack is well-labeled and organized with pockets
- This is a great candidate to paddle in coastal waters due to its extra few inches in width to aid with stability
- Features a good amount of glide for its wider dimensions
- Proceeds of SUP sale go to Ocean charities
- Rear deck bungees have an easy release system to allow you to get to the tail easier
- Will not be the fastest or best-performing touring SUP available
- We wish that the fins were US Fin Box spec so you had more fin choices
- The G logo on the back of the deck pad can be a bit slippy for those transitioning from the middle of the board to the rear due to the smoother surface
Who Should Be Using the Gili Meno 12’6” SUP?
The Gili Meno is best used for paddlers that have some paddling experience and want to start getting into touring. Some of the most common buyers are paddlers who have had a few all-around SUPs in their time but want to upgrade to something a bit faster.
You may have noticed in the pros section that this board can be used for beginners. And this is true! The 31” width coupled with the 12’6” length will make the SUP feel more stable than most touring spec boards out there.
Touring boards have a considerably longer length than your average 10-11 All Around SUP. As a result, your board will be less responsive from a maneuverability aspect compared to All Around SUPs with those dimensions.
What SUP Activities Can the Gili Meno 12’6” Be Used For?
There are a few SUP activities that the Gili Meno 12’6” can be used for. Of course, its slightly wider frame also lends itself to a few more potential opportunities compared to other touring SUPs.
You could try even casting a line from this SUP or SUP yoga on this board thanks to some of its action mounts. But it’s not the first board in the Gili line-up that I would think of doing that with.
The Meno 12’6” is ideal for day touring excursions where you want to cover a good amount of distance in a shorter amount of time. There have been a number of times when I’m on an All Around board for a number of hours that I wish I could have a genie just magically swap it out for this SUP. But thus is life.
This SUP would be able to maintain a lot of stability while allowing the pointed board profile to do its thing and glide more efficiently in the water. As previously stated folks who are just getting into touring would be wise to give this SUP a serious look.
If you have the skills behind your belt or you are going with an experienced friend. Then the Meno 12’6” SUP offers a good amount of possibilities for gear. Some of the most I’ve seen for a touring paddle board actually.
The Meno 12’6” features 3 rows of bungee deck webbing at the front and two optional rows in the back for smaller items. The bungees on this SUP are placed optimally.
When you are touring you usually want heavier gear at the front and lighter gear at the back. This helps plant the board’s nose which is the first point of contact with the water, making it track more efficiently.
The board’s 300 lb maximum capacity also makes it more than capable to be loaded up with overnight gear like tents, sleeping bags, tarps, and various dry bags.
While I would say this board may be a tad bit overkill for this task it is more than up to having a casual paddle with friends. Just don’t be surprised if you have to paddle a bit slower to allow your friends all around boards to keep up!
An Additional Small Passenger
However, having a small passenger onboard like a kid or dog should be fine as long as you have a bit of SUP experience under your belt. Like most other Gili SUPs there are passenger handles at the front and rear of the board.
It’s best to allow the smaller rider to be upfront so you can see them at all times :).
Paddle Board Hybrid
The Gili Meno 12’6” can make for an excellent paddle board-kayak hybrid board when you add on the conversion kit that comes separately.
The board’s pointed profile will be ideal as it will track better and allow you to do fewer corrective strokes when paddling in a straight line.
Simply add the kayak seat and attach the kayak paddle attachment and voila!
Gili Meno 12’6” Stats Deconstructed
- Type of Board: Recreational/ Tandem Use
- Length: 12’6″
- Width: 31″
- Thickness: 6″
- Volume: 265 L
- Weight: 24 Lbs
- Maximum Capacity: 300 Lbs
When you get the Gili Meno 12’6” board you get some of the best materials that Gili has to offer. Shape aside (we will talk about this in the next section) The Meno 12’6” is an upgrade to the Adventure 12’ or Gili Air 11’6” in that its made with a dual layer fusion PVC material. On top of this, it also has carbon side rails.
There’s a lot of debate within the SUP community as to how much stiffness the built-in carbon side rails offer the SUP. But at the very least it gives you another layer of protection on the sides which are the most prone area for scrapes. But also on the seams which is one of the biggest fail points on inflatable SUPs.
If you regularly clean and maintain this board and are not reckless with the Meno 12’6” it should last you at the very least 5-12 years.
Gili Meno 12’6” Board Profile
The best few words to describe the Meno 12’6” board’s profile is “efficiency and stability”. The board’s more tapered nose allows it to cut through the water with greater ease than any of the other Gili models. So if speed, glide, and tracking is your main priority then this is a great model to start off with.
While the Meno 12’6” won’t be the most stable SUP in the Gili stable, it is one of the more stable touring paddle boards I’ve come across in my research.
This makes this a good board for those longer touring excursions and instances where stability would be preferred. Especially compared to thinner boards like the Nixy Manhattan G4 which is 3 inches shorter in width and has a much more pointed nose profile.
What’s On Deck
Below are some of the features that the Gili Meno 12’6” board comes featured with. Some of these features were one of the main reasons why we rated it well in our best inflatable touring boards list.
Gili Meno 12’6” Deck Pad
The deck pad of the Meno is pretty specious for a touring board and overall it’s well-designed. Starting off at the front there is stripped deck padding at the front that has sufficient grooves to grip your foot.
On the back of the deck pad there is a raised diamond grooved deck padding stomp pad that provides extra grip for your foot. And in my experience, this is crucial, especially when I was learning on the All Around 11 Ultra which in fact has no deck padding on the back whatsoever. As you can imagine I fell in quite a few times before getting it.
One of the things I’m not a big fan of is the giant G in the middle of the two-deck pad textures. While it looks cool there is no texturing on it like with the stripped and diamond-grooved deck pads. Which can make the transition from standing in the front to inching toward the rear a little less smooth.
Gili Meno 12’6” D Rings
The Gili Meno features 16 total D rings on board.
- 10 are dedicated to the deck bungees at the front and rear (you can take these off and do your own rigging though)
- 4 are dedicated to the Kayak Conversion kit sold separately. Although you can use this for other things like a shoulder strap, tie-down for a cooler, etc.
- 1 is a towing D ring that allows you to be towed by a boar
- 1 is a Leash D ring that allows you to attach your leash securely
Meno 12’6” Deck Bungees
The Gili Meno Touring SUP has 2 main areas to store gear. The front has 3 rows of bungee webbing and the rear has two for smaller items. When doing some more heavy-duty SUP touring you want more weight at the front than the rear for performance reasons. If you put all the weight in the rear there won’t be as much weight on the front of the board which is the first point of contact with the water.
So you can pack the front with bigger backpacks, coolers, tents, and tarps while the rear can be smaller items like dry bags with miscellaneous items.
If you really wanted to stow a lot of gear you could also use the D rings in the middle where the kayak conversion kit is. Although it’s pretty close to the middle of the board which is the optimal place to stand on the SUP.
Gili Action Mounts
Something that you don’t see very often on touring boards is a number of action mounts. In this case, they are placed on the last row of the front deck bungees and just before the rear row. These action mounts can house a variety of different accessories such as:
The placement of these action mounts has its pros and cons. For items that you want close to you like Speakers, fishing rods, and beverages they are in a pretty good spot. But for action cameras, I feel that the best spot is on the nose of the board. Like Where the Red Paddle Voyager 13’2” has theirs.
Gili Meno 12’6” Handles
The Meno 12’6” SUP features 9 handles on its paddle boards.
- 2 on the nose and the tail to help guide it in the water
- 1 in the middle to help carry the board to the water
- 2 Just before the deck padding to make running with the SUP easier if you are in a race
- 4 on the bungee deck webbing, 2 in front and 2 in the rear for smaller passengers to hold onto. These are also good to use for extra leverage when carrying the board loaded with gear.
Gili Paddle Holder
One thing I always appreciated about all the Gili models is the placement of their paddle holders. Some manufacturers like to place these paddle holders in an awkward spot like in the front of the board. But Gili puts it right off to the side in the middle of the board which makes it convenient to grab instead of bending over and reaching awkwardly to the front or rear of the SUP.
Gili Meno 12’6” SUP Accessories Explained
Below is what the 12’6” Meno comes with.
Meno 12’6” Roller Bag
Part of being one of the most feature-rich SUPs in the Gili stable means that you get a backpack with wheels on it! I’m personally a big fan of these wheels as they make the bag that much easier to transport on the grass or pavement. Especially when you are hauling the bag from the car to the designated set-up spot.
Below are the bag’s dimensions:
- Height: 41” (104 cm)
- Width: 16” (41 cm)
- Depth: 12” (31 cm)
- Weight: 4 lbs (1.85 kg)
One of the things I will say is that because this SUP is a full foot taller compared to the Meno 11’6”, it may take a few tries before getting the exact folding process down and into the bag.
“My personal recommendation is the drain all of the air out with an electric pump. This makes the folding process that much easier. I’d also suggest using a permanent marker and making marks on the sides where the folding lines are so that you can follow up on what the manufacturer did to fold the SUP in the bag.”– Editors Notes
One of the things I like is the clearly labeled areas that show you where to stash gear. Specifically the “Fin Pocket” label. It’s easy to get back from the water and want to just throw the 3 fins in the bag and worry about it later. But with this clearly labeled pocket it subconsciously reminds you to put the fins in the “fin pocket”.
The main zippered pocket is wide enough to get the full SUP in without wrestling it back in like you would if you were Steve Irwin wrestling a crocodile. There is also a zippered mesh pocket below and mesh pockets with elastics on the sides. If you are bringing a water bottle, it’s best to put it in the zippered mesh pocket in the front. 😉
The bag has relatively sufficient padding although one customer had a bit of something to say about that.
“The backpack: The backpack sucks pretty bad. I new this would be the case but It’s worth mentioning. We do a lot of sports and have a lot of backpacks. we aren’t strangers to 30, 50, or even 70 pound packs and it doesn’t really matter how heavy the bag is as long as its sitting on your hips properly. I wouldn’t want this bag to sit on the waist straps even if it did fit me (I’m 6 ft tall 160 lbs and its too big). The hard bottom which is meant to house the wheels and support the load when rolling digs into my tail bone and all the weight is on my shoulders and it is not adjustable. The bag having wheels is great though.”– Dylan T (Verified Gili Meno 12’6” Customer)
Gili Meno 12’6” Paddle
You have 2 different types of paddles available with this package
- Carbon Nylon Paddle
- Full Carbon Paddle (Extra)
The one that comes with the SUP is the paddle that has a carbon shaft with a nylon blade. This is pretty good for this specific SUP set-up as the carbon shaft will be slightly less weight compared to the Fiberglass one.
Although one could argue that the heavier nylon blade will not make as much of a difference if you were to compare the carbon/nylon to the fiberglass nylon.
If you are serious about touring longer distances we highly recommend getting the full carbon paddle, as the carbon/ nylon weighs 35.2 ounces compared to 28.8 ounces full carbon paddle. It may not sound like much but after it will keep your stamina up for longer which means you can paddle that extra bit farther.
The carbon/ nylon blade paddle that comes with the paddle board is adjustable from 67” to 86” and should fit the majority of the heights most paddlers need.
The Gili Meno 12’6” comes with a 2-chambered manual pump that has 3 different inflation modes that control the airflow of the board. You start off pumping using the 3-stage mode that uses all the chambers on the up and down stroke, as that gets harder you use the 2-stage and then the 1-stage which uses the single chamber which is ideal for that 5 PSI and up range.
“You will honestly probably never hear me rave about manual pumps. Especially using electric pumps for the last few years! They are more efficient in that YOU expend less energy and you also have time to set up your SUP properly with gear while it’s inflating.
As of the winter Gili is offering a free upgrade eclectic pump with all of their Meno 12’6” packages! I’d highly suggest taking a serious look at this deal.”– Editors Notes
One of my favorite bits about the package is the fact that the Gili Meno 12’6” comes with 3 different fins. You hardly ever see that with an inflatable paddle board package, let alone an inflatable touring board package!
The fins that come with the Meno 12’6”:
- 9” Race Fin
- 4.5” Speed Fin
- 3” River Fin
Now for the downside to this. While I love all the fins they included you are kind of limited to what Gili makes. Gili uses a proprietary fin system on the Meno 12’6” which means they make their own fin system to fit their fins. Which means you are limited to the fins that Gili makes.
“I personally would have liked to see a US Finbox come with this SUP so that you can choose fins from any paddle board or even surfboard that has that designation. This opens up significantly more doors to unlocking some more performance or maneuverability of your SUP depending on the size and type of fin.
I do realize why they don’t do it though. Apparently, SUP manufacturers have to pay a certain fee to get the US Fin Box designation which is why manufacturers like Gili and iRocker do their own.”– Editors Notes
The leash that comes with Gili is a 8’ long coiled leash that can stretch to about 5 X its length. Like most other leashes it features two swivel bases on the ankle and leash part so that it does not get tangled sup.
Each leash, like the bag, is color coded to match the Meno SUP you buy.
Below are some on-water performance traits you can expect from the Gili Meno 12’6” Paddle Board.
In comparison to many other touring Spec boards the Gili Meno 12’6” will be one of the most stable touring vessels that you can set foot on.
Most touring SUPs have widths that are between 26”-30” depending on what kind of touring board they are. While this quality will give you more glide per stroke compared to a wider all-around SUP it does come at the cost of stability.
The Gili Meno 12’6” seems to have found a good strike to get the best of both worlds. It provides even a beginner a stable enough platform to stand on while being a more efficient SUP to paddle than the vast majority of the all-around boards out there.
From what I have heard from other Meno 12’6” customers that board feels very similar to an all-around SUP from a stability standpoint.
Will this be the best tracking touring board you will ever paddle? Probably not. But the Meno 12’6” will track better than just about any paddle board in the Gili lineup. Or just about any all-around inflatable paddle board for that matter.
The key to this is its 12’6” length coupled with its racing fin. The extra foot and a half coupled with the board’s slightly thinner shape allows the Meno 12’6” to give you more strokes on one side compared to many all-around models.
“In my experience, most all-around SUPs that are within the 10’6” to 11’ range will give you about 4 – 7 strokes per side depending on a variety of different factors mainly depending on the shape and length of the board. The Gili Meno 12’6” will give you around 8-12 strokes per side depending on your paddling ability.”– Editors Notes
Now the fin you attach on the board will also be a big determining factor for how the SUP tracks so keep this in mind when you are potentially judging the tracking ability of the Meno 12’6”.
The Meno 12’6” will be a tad bit slower compared to many 12’6 – 14’ designated touring boards in the market. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, especially if you want to have more emphasis on things like stability.
This is mainly due to the shape of the board being an inch wider than most touring SUPs which will ultimately add that little extra bit of drag. The difference will be fairly minimal but those little things do add up the longer you are paddling.
It comes down to how much touring you really want to do with this board. If you want a true touring board that will cover longer distances with more performance paddling It’s best to go for something like the Voyager 13’2” or Starboards 14’ touring SUP.
But if you are not too concerned about getting the most amount of glide per stroke then in most cases this SUP will be more than fast enough for you.
This area of on-water performance will probably be this SUP’s biggest weakness but this goes for all touring boards. Thankfully Gili has designed this board with some thought in mind.
Not only did they put a kick pad in the back but they also put diamond-grooved deck padding on the surface. In my experience, this type of deck paddling is the grippiest for your feet and will be the most useful when learning more advanced maneuvers like pivot turns.
In terms of Sweep strokes the SUP will be less efficient than short all-around boards in the Gili line-up. But chances are you are not looking into this type of SUP for pure maneuverability performance on the water.
About Gili Sports
Gili is founded by Jay Regan who got the company’s inspiration from the damage that local tourism was doing to Bali’s ecosystem. He decided to start a company with the purpose of making a difference in the oceanic ecosystem. Currently, Gili is involved in the Coral Reef Alliance and Conserve Turtles Ocean charities.
A portion of each paddle board sale, including the Gili Meno 12’6” will go towards ocean charities. At the end of 2020, Gili donated $10,000 to Conserve Turtles.
Each Gili board, including the Meno 12’6”, comes with a 2-year warranty against manufacturing defects. It should be stated though that like with most inflatable SUP warranties, it does not cover damages done from outside forces, board misuse or overheating in the sun.
The 2-year warranty is fairly standard with most good quality inflatable SUPs. The return policy that Gili offers is one of the better ones in the industry with a 60-day return period.
It should be noted that this 60-day return policy comes with a 20% restocking fee and all returns must be in “like new condition”. This means no visible signs of wear, along with all the parts and accessories that came with the SUP.
What Customers Think
The Gili Meno has some pretty good reviews from a vast array of customers with different paddling backgrounds. Some of the common threads that I found with many customers who ordered this SUP is the fact that many of them spent a lot of time and energy researching this board. Many were happy with their choice.
“After an exhaustive amount of research into the paddleboard world. I had it narrowed down to three boards with similar sorts of composition. I was having a difficult time making the final decision I reached out to a friend /colleague to ask his opinion and he just so happen to have one of the boards that I was looking at. The “Gili Meno”. He let me try his out and within minutes my decision had been made this was the one.”– Jeremy B (Verified Gili Meno 12’6” Customer)
Most customer reviews I have come across were extremely happy to choose the Gili Meno 12’6” SUP, and were super impressed with their on-water performance. Even a smaller paddler stated:
“I was looking for something to make me a little faster. I am small under 5 foot. So I needed to find something that I can carry and also isn’t too overwhelmingly big for me. I’m also a very beginner/intermediate level. I spent days and hours looking at reviews and researching and comparing prices. Finally this board had most everything that I was looking for at a price that I could afford. I also require an inflatable since I drive a convertible beetle (tiny). I just took this out yesterday for the first time after receiving it 2days ago. I definitely felt an increase in my speed (over my prior 10‘33“ wide inflatable) and I was able to keep up with my SUP group.”– Lisa T (Verified Gili Meno 12’6” Customer)
Where to Buy
The Best place to purchase the Gili Meno 12’6” inflatable paddle board is directly through their website Gilisports.com. You can also check out Amazon.com as well although amazon is typically not the target market for touring boards.
If you are outside of the US taxes and duties may apply, so keep this in mind before getting outraged that your local post office wants to shake you down for more money.
Below are some of the most comparable boards to the Gili Meno 12’6” touring SUP.
Nixy Manhattan G4 Plus
The Nixy Manhattan G4 Plus is a new paddle board line from Nixy that fixes a few of the faults from the previous Manhattan line-up. This SUP is an inch shorter in width but otherwise has similar dimensions and features to the Gili Meno 12’6” paddle board. The main difference being the Manhattan Plus features less bungee deck webbing, one more action mount, and a carbon rail on the top of the board.
Thursosurf Expedition 138
The Expedition is a foot shorter and an inch shorter compared to the Meno 12’6” SUP making it more of a hybrid all-around/ touring board whose characteristics are closer to all-around spec boards. If performance metrics like speed and tracking are important to you I would give the edge to the Meno 12’6” SUP.
Should You Buy the Gili Meno 12’6” SUP?
In comparison to most touring boards, I would say that the Meno 12’6” will be one of the most friendly touring boards for a wide range of paddler skill sets.
You should choose the Meno 12’6” if:
- You are a beginner who wants a SUP that has more touring abilities without sacrificing on-water stability too much.
- You want a board that has a good amount of onboard capabilities for attachments and bungees.
- You are looking to haul a decent amount of gear on this SUP thanks to its many mounting points.
- You want to paddle longer distances with a small passenger like a kid or dog.
- You want a SUP where you can learn more difficult maneuvers like pivot turns thanks to its upraised kick pad and diamond-grooved deck padding.
This paddle board is a great board that encompasses all the things that make touring paddle boards great all the while adding a little extra bit of stability to the mix.