Starboard Atlas Zen 12′ Review

Starboard Atlas Zen 12 feet inflatable standup paddleboard - long stable all-around SUPWhen you first see the Starboard Atlas Zen, you will notice it’s quite a bit longer than the typical all-around inflatable standup paddleboard. With 12 feet long and 33 inches wide, the Atlas Zen SUP is super stable and therefore perfect for beginners to intermediate riders that want to cruise or use it as a fishing SUP or yoga SUP! To find out more, keep on reading!

If you’ve ever been into a surf shop or even done a quick google search, you will have heard of Starboard. For those who have had their heads in the sand for the past 24 years, then here is your chance for redemption!

The Starboard company was founded by one of the best board sailers of his era, Mr. Svein Rasmussen, and with the idea to bring to market stronger lighter boards for every niche.

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Starboard was quickly seen as the innovators first of Windsurf boards before moving into the Stand Up Paddleboard market. Always trying to build the best paddleboard, with the best shapes and strongest materials.

As a brand Starboard lives for quality, a true understanding of people’s needs and at the same time giving back to the environment all that they can, to prolong its future, for generations to come.

Specifications

Length 12’
Width 33”
Thickness 6”
Weight 25.5 lbs
Weight Capacity 265 lbs

Review

Starboard Atlas Zen 12' Inflatable SUP
  • 8.9/10
    Construction - 8.9/10
  • 9.7/10
    Stability - 9.7/10
  • 9/10
    Tracking - 9.0/10
  • 8.9/10
    Accessories - 8.9/10
  • 8.8/10
    Versatility - 8.8/10
9.1/10

Summary

The Starboard Atlas Zen 12′ inflatable standup paddleboard is a great SUP for beginners and intermediate iSUP riders. It’s very stable and, despite its length, surprisingly easy to turn. The package includes a comfortable backpack with roller wheels and a dual action high-pressure pump. Check out the rest of the review and happy paddling!

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Materials

Starboard Atlas Zen 12' inflatable standup paddleboard - drop stitch technologyWhy do you want to buy an inflatable stand up paddleboard? The ease of storage, the option to take it with you anywhere?

With many inflatable paddleboards, you will find a compromise in the rigidity. No one wants to buy a floppy oversized dinghy.

Starboard have broken down barriers and brought to the market some of the closest boards to a true hardboard; yet still compact and portable. The ingenious use of many new modern materials brings quality in line with performance.

The use of a high-density drop stitch core has become standard throughout many top end SUP boards. By utilizing a 2000D twin compression stringer both on top and underneath extra stiffness and better controls has been given to the Starboard Atlas Zen paddleboard.

The PVC decking is high quality and very durable and when combined with the hard standing plates under the deck pad gives the user a feel for no other.

If you want a paddleboard that feels and performs like a hardboard but with the extra usability and versatility of an inflatable SUP, then the Zen construction is perfect for you.

If you are willing to trade a little durability for performance then the lighter even stiffer double construction is another great option.

Deck Pad

Starboard Atlas Zen inflatable standup paddleboardA nice feature about the Starboard Atlas SUP is the size of the deck pad, designed to cover as much of the board as possible to really compliment your riding style. The soft crocodile skin surface is comfortable and offers plenty of grip no matter if you’re booted or barefoot.

At the rear you will find a tail kick pad, this is something we haven’t seen much of on many all-around inflatables. It just allows for better footing and positioning when making pivot turns, this enhanced control is a really nice feature.

The deck pad colors are perfectly matched to the PVC deck giving a good contrast that looks both classy and professional.

D-rings + Bungee

Starboard Atlas Zen 12' standup paddleboardStarboard know exactly what you need when it comes to D-rings. They give you just enough without anything extra.

On the tail next to the large padded handle, you will spot the first of six D-rings. This guy here is super important for securing your board leash so if you manage to take a tumble your board will always stay close at hand.

Upfront you will spot 4 D-rings in your cargo area. These are preloaded with enough bungee to hold down your essentials without overdoing it.

If you roll the board over you will spot number six up on the nose this is a nice touch and is ideal for towing in case you need a helping hand, it is also super handy for tying the SUP board down in windy conditions.

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Starboard Atlas Zen standup paddleboard - happy SUP paddlingFins

Having tried and tested hundreds of different paddleboards, Starboard has a pretty good idea of the ideal fin set up for each of their boards.

The performance and durability really dictate their manufacturing decisions. For 2018 Starboard have released all of their Zen series of boards with a super durable tri fin set up of fixed plastic fins. These are designed to bounce, bend, fold, shuffle and pretty much everything but snap.

The huge advantage of this setup is that it requires no tools and no option to lose or misplace fins, the tough rubber compound is perfect for riders who like to crash, especially into beaches or rocks.

The 3 fins are small enough not to get hung up in the shallows yet offer enough grip to help you track and carve with ease.

Inflate/Deflate

Starboard Atlas Zen SUP - inflata deflateInflating and deflating a paddleboard can really be a make or break.  If it takes you an hour to get setup we can guarantee that you just won’t bother.

That’s why Starboard recommends a pressure of just 14 – 18 PSI, much lower than other paddleboard brands on the market. But with the enhanced building process the SUP board will actually feel just as stiff as other boards.

To inflate the Starboard Atlas SUP can take anywhere from 5-8 minutes and can be drastically reduced through the use of a compressor or car pump. If you have kids then pumping a board can be a great game and very rewarding.

To deflate a board is definitely the easiest of tasks. Once you’ve finished your paddle simply undo the valve cover, then push the center of the valve. You will hear a loud pop as the first of the pressure is expelled (this is normal). Then give the pin a slight twist and you can set about rolling up your board.

Overall Performance

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Starboard Atlas Zen 12' inflatable standup paddleboard packageWe are not biased but we do believe we have just opened your gateway to another realm with this stroke of genius from Starboard.

At 12’ the Starboard Atlas Zen SUP has enough length to cruise around merrily taking in the sights even being used for yoga or fishing. The wider deck and solid deck pads offer a firmness and rigidity not usually found on ordinary stand up paddleboards. The stability is somewhat comparable to the iRocker Cruiser SUP.

Don’t be mistaken, the Starboard Atlas Zen is no ordinary stand up paddleboard.

Loaded with features and one of the best designers. They really wanted to create a true cruising board not based on performance or speed but of enjoyment and use by all the family.

Boasting a huge 120 kg payload the Starboard Atlas SUP is suitable for a huge range of riders. For the beginner, the Starboard Atlas offers plenty of stability to rely upon yet still tracking straight and true.

The Atlas would make a nice intermediate board. The tapered kick pad offers enough movement and control to push and drive the board exactly where you would like to go. You’ll also find the super stiff design will give you enough feedback that you won’t even know you’re on an inflatable SUP!

Accessories

Leash

Ready to rock and roll! The Starboard Atlas comes preloaded with a sleek lightweight board leash. A comfortable neoprene cuff fits snugly around the ankle. Attaching securely to the rear D-ring of the board the leash sits neatly behind you out of sight.

The leash is only lightweight so don’t expect to use it in the surf or on moving water but for touring and cruising it is absolutely perfect.

Pump

Starboard Atlas Zen inflatable standup paddleboard - dual action pumpPump and play technology. Is the reason you bought a new inflatable is because of its portability and ability to actually take it anywhere? Surely it’s not to spend a day pumping and inflating just to deflate it again and take it home.

That’s why the guys and girls at Starboard have included a really good double action pump. The idea of a dual action pump is to inflate on both the downwards and upwards strokes cutting down the time needed to inflate.

This is fairly common throughout the industry but as always we expect a little more from these premium brands and for that Starboard have not failed to deliver.

The pump offers a high-density hose perfect for delivering all of that air into your board. Also, a really accurate pressure gauge with colorful Tiki to show you the way. The gauge has been premarket with optimal pressures for your new Starboard.

Bag

Starboard Atlas Zen inflatable standup paddleboard - comfortable backpackNothing better than a half decent bag to transport you SUP in! With the Starboard Atlas Zen, you’re blessed with a choice of backstraps or it can be wheeled effortlessly over multiple terrains.

Inside you’ll find heaps of room and straps to secure all your gear. As well as securing inside, the straps on the outside are great to really compact everything all into one neat, easy to move package.

The zippers pull all the way down which makes getting the board in and out way easier than those they only come halfway. As a bonus, those same zippers are also non-corrosive!

Repair Kit

So you buy a new mobile phone, you make sure you buy a protective case and screen protector. But then you always drop it right at the wrong moment. Why don’t you ever drop it on the carpet? Why always on tiled floors?

We all know that no matter how careful you are with your new toy accidents do happen. Whether your own fault or an encounter with Jaws, Starboard want you back on your board as soon as possible.

That’s why tucked into the bag you will find a small repair kit. Equipped with patches and a valve wrench all you need to do is pick up some glue and you are ready to repair any punctures you may encounter.

Just to note we have been testing many boards in a variety of situations, Every time we open a new board we check out the repair kit but as of yet <touch wood>, We have NEVER actually needed to use it. Inflatable stand up paddleboards are built to last they are actually super durable.

Pros

  • Super durable construction
  • Really rigid form even with bigger riders
  • Well thought out wheely bag system
  • Amazing stability and glide
  • Included leash matches the color scheme and is really comfortable
  • Fast to pump and inflate
  • Could be easily mistaken for a hardboard

Cons

  • Only available in one color scheme
  • Removable pump footplate is a nice idea for storage but really just another piece to lose
  • Would of like to have seen added shoulder straps to the bag
  • No paddle included in the package

Conclusion

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Starboard Atlas Zen standup paddleboard - going for a great SUP paddling tourThe inflatable stand up paddleboard market has been inundated with all-around boards, each following a similar pattern:

  • Stable – Check
  • Maneuverable – Check
  • Durable – Check

They all follow these guidelines to the letter, so what is different about the Starboard Atlas Zen?

Well, it really depends on your final destination? For many people happy to plod around the traditional all-around standup paddleboard. Something like the Whopper from Starboard is an ideal candidate.

But what if you told us your final goal was to cruise around in peace and tranquility. Up until now, you would have bought a starter board to find your sea legs, learning the skills before trading up and buying a more specific touring board.

Starboard have made it their business to create boards for each individual niche. Listening to their customer and supplying exactly what they want (though usually improved).

The Starboard Atlas Zen 12′ is no exception. Sitting under the all-around umbrella, ticking all of our boxes but with the extra length to further your days on the water and cruise around covering more ground.

Stability was our number one point and the Starboard Atlas SUP at a solid 33” allows you the confidence without compromise.

So if you want a SUP board you can step aboard right away and that you won’t outgrow its needs, think Starboard Atlas. With its quality workmanship and design, it sure is a board you need to take a closer look at.

See you on the water!

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