I recently had a chance to try out the Solstice Bali inflatable stand up paddle board, at Surf Expo. While I was there, I decided to take the Solstice Tonga for a spin as well.
About Solstice Sports
Solstice has been building inflatable paddleboards for about 8 years, and is one of the original manufacturers. Their boards are made with a durable 1000-denier 3-ply PVC reinforced fabric material, using a double overlap drop stitch construction.
In English, that means they’re pretty strong and durable boards.
All of Solstice’s paddleboards feature 4 stainless steel tie downs for securing gear, as well as a stainless steel ring on the tail for attaching a leash. As far as I’m concerned, this is a must, both for durability and resistance to corrosion in salt water.
I’ve seen a few boards out there that use plastic for their tie downs. It’s not a question of if, but when the plastic D-rings are going to break.
Both of these boards come with a carry bag, a high pressure pump, and a gauge. The Bali has 3 fins, and the Tonga features a single fin for slightly better tracking.
Solstice Sports Bali
The Bali is the first inflatable SUP that Solstice built, and is still a very popular board today. After trying it out, there is no question why. For a small inflatable board, the Bali is surprisingly stable.
Although it does have a little bit of flex, it’s still a pretty fast board and very maneuverable. This is a great board for smaller riders or for paddling on flat water. The Bali sells at a very competitive price, compared to many of the inflatables available today.
Capacity: 250 lbs
Get the Solstice Sports Bali on Amazon, at a great price, with FREE shipping.
Solstice Sports Tonga
The Tonga is 1.5″ wider than the Bali, making it just a little more stable. Also, being two inches thicker, it’s a much more rigid board. I didn’t notice a big difference in the speed or the tracking between the 2 boards, but the glide on the Tonga is better, due to its extra stiffness.
I did find it a little bit harder to do buoy turns on this board, but that’s only because of its extra buoyancy, and me not exactly being the biggest guy. I’m sure larger riders won’t have this problem.
Capacity: 325 lbs
Get the Solstice Sports Tonga on Amazon, at a great price, with FREE shipping.
And The Winner Is…
As with most things, it really depends on the rider and where you’re planning on using it. If you’re on a budget, the Bali is a great general use board at a great price. It handles very well for its size, and is a lot of fun to paddle.
For larger riders, those looking for a little better performance, or for paddling in rougher conditions, I’d definitely recommended the Tonga, for its greater stability and rigidness.