If you're looking to get started with a new hobby, the Surfstar 10’6" Advance Star inflatable paddleboard kit includes all the accessories you need to get out and paddling on the water, and with an RRP of $399.99 / £379.99, it's one of the more affordable options around. Is it good enough to rank amongst the best paddleboards for beginners? I've reviewed one to find out.
Thankfully, the availability of decent quality inflatable paddleboards over the last couple of years has made the watersport far more accessible. Surfstar is a relatively unknown brand compared to the likes of Red, but the team behind the brand has been in the SUP business for more than a decade, and have tons of experience crafting, in their words, 'a perfect SUP board'. Today's best inflatable paddle boards deliver on performance and features, but also pack down to a manageable size for storage and transportation, so it will be interesting to see if Surfstar can compete with the more well-known brands.
Now, it's worth noting, while you're unlikely to be surfing 10-foot waves on an inflatable board, with practice, you should be able to catch smaller waves on the more rigid inflatables (such as the Ride MSL from the Red Paddle Co). We'd say these more affordable inflatable stand-up paddleboards are better suited to calmer waters, such as lakes, calm-ish seas, and rivers.
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Surfstar 10’6" Advance Star inflatable SUP review: design and accessories
Surfstar 10’6" inflatable SUP review: specs
Board size (LxWxD) inches: 125.98 x 323 x 6
Board size (LxWxD) cm: 320 x 83 x 15
Board weight: 14.06kg
Total weight (inc. accessories): 10.58kg
Max weight capacity: 145kg
Pack size (LxWxD): 92.71 x 37 x 28cm
Paddle weight: 850g
At 10'6" long and almost 33-inches wide, the Surfstar Advance Star has plenty of length and width which provides a stable feel. It's essentially the same dimensions as the 10'6" Red Ride MSL board, which is the premium brand's best selling model.
At 5.91-inches thick, it's slightly thicker than the Red, which means it has a higher centre of gravity and takes a little longer to inflate. A reasonably broad nose and wide, flat tail help make the Surfstar straddles the line between beginner-friendly and suitable for more advanced users.
With a $399.99 / £379.99 price tag, the Surfstar seems priced at that particular market as well – there are more affordable models around (this isn't even Surfstar's cheapest model) but there are also much more expensive boards available too. It's nicely pitched between the two and should give you more 'growing space' that an absolute budget model.
Just like most affordable models out there, the Surfstar 10'6" comes complete with all the accessories you'll need to get on the water. This includes a paddle, pump, ankle leash, removable fin and repair kit. Surfstar goes one step further, including a waterproof phone case and large backpack capable of carrying everything (including the board) in it.
Unlike a lot of other SUPs around though, the Surfstar can be converted into a sit-on kayak with an additional 'Kayak Conversion Kit'. The accessory attaches to the board via additional D-rings which are new for 2022.
Also rare for a budget model is the Advance's action camera mount, which has a universal thread allowing you to attach any waterproof camera you wish. It's a really neat feature, and is something I've only personally seen on the Red 15'0 Tandem MSL Inflatable Paddle Board which costs five-times more than the Surfstar! It makes recording video and timelapses a breeze.
My only criticism of the design is that while the pastel colours look very stylish, they do show off dirt and scratches more.
Surfstar 10’6" Advance Star inflatable SUP review: portability and setup
With a weight of 8.5kg, the Advance Star is actually surprisingly lightweight. I thought that more affordable boards might rely on heavier materials, but thankfully that's not the case here.
As I mentioned before, the entire SUP kit can be carried in the supplied backpack, which has a number of carry straps, including backpack-style shoulder straps, which make it fairly easy to travel over short distances and move around.
Setting up the board is straightforward too and despite the pump being of the single action variety (rather than double-action where you add air when extending as well as depressing the plunger), it takes only a few minutes and not too much effort to reach the required pressure of 15psi.
The pump can also be set to 'suck' air out of the board, which is useful when the day is over and you're packing up to return home.
The removable fin easily slides into place and locks with a simple but effective bolt mechanism. It's made from sturdy black plastic. It isn't the most premium looking part of the SUP, but it serves its purpose.
The paddle comes in three parts, and can be adjusted to the required length once on the water.
If you're on your own, a carrying handle in the centre of the deck helps when transporting the inflated board to your launching spot. There are also solid handles at the bow and stern of the board for when two people are carrying it.
Surfstar 10’6" Advance Star inflatable SUP review: performance
On the water, the Advance Star's wide deck gives a stable platform from which to paddle. The EVA deck pad provides plenty of secure grip and doesn't sag as much as I expected an affordable board to do.
Perhaps due to the higher centre of gravity, the board can suffer from slight flexing over waves and swell, as well as some roll that I haven't experienced on larger boards. It could unsettle novice riders but you quickly get a feel for the board.
Unlike cheaper boards that can resemble a giant floating banana, the Advance Star's triple-layer PVC and reinforced drop-stitched core (nylon threads that run between the upper and lower faces of the board) give it a very uniform shape that helps it move efficiently through the water.
The paddle was impressively built as well and is actually an area Surfstar focused on in its 2022 upgrades. It's made from UV sterilised fibreglass and feels durable and lightweight. Of course, it's no carbon fibre, but it's stronger and lighter than aluminium paddles that are bundled with cheaper models. Overall they weigh only 850g and float in both saltwater and freshwater.
Surfstar 10’6" Advance Star inflatable SUP review: verdict
With a $399.99 / £379.99 price tag, the Surfstar 10’6" Advance Star inflatable stand up paddleboard represents great value for money and is ideal for beginner stand up paddleboarders who are just starting out but also looking to become more advanced.
It's stable, well-built, and features a number of more premium features not usually found in this price category, such as an action camera mount and lightweight fibreglass paddle.
It's very difficult to criticise, with my main issue being that the light pastel colours, while very stylish, can get dirty and mark easily. But really, that's a minor issue when you consider how good this package really is.