Badfish Flyweight Compact SUP Review // The Best Paddleboard for Vanlife?
Updated: Aug 22, 2021
Our first paddleboard experience was last summer in Tahoe and we were instantly hooked. This summer we were determined to make paddleboards an essential part of our quiver. So, while in Miami this May we knew if we were going to get paddleboards, we needed to get them right away, that way we could really enjoy the next few weeks and the rest of summer. So we did what any entry-level paddleboarder does, we picked some Body Glove paddleboards up at the nearest Costco.
The Costco boards were the right move, they gave us a low commitment way (the famous Costco warranty) to make sure we would like paddleboarding. But, after only 3 months of using our Costco purchased Body Glove paddleboards, we knew we needed to upgrade.
The boards were falling apart, the foam pad was peeling off one board and the other had a broken valve.
To be completely fair, we used them nearly every day for those three months and it's not like we were exactly easy on them but they shouldn't have been falling apart this quickly. Another issue we had with the
Body Glove Boards is that they were quite
heavy and bulky which is not ideal when it
comes to storing them in our van.
So we hit up our friends at backcountry.com and asked them what paddleboard they suggest we go for next. We quickly landed on the Badfish Flyweight.
At only 18 pounds the boards are 6 pounds lighter than our old boards and they pack down way smaller too!
The boards are a little bit shorter at 10'6 but it's only a 4-inch difference between them and our old Body Glove boards. The fins are also removable so you can really get them compact if you need to!
A Badfish Flyweight will set you back $1198.95. It's not an inexpensive board but all of the unique features I will go over in this blog definitely help to justify the price tag. More on those features in a little bit.
Initial Impressions (Unboxing)
Let's start with my first impressions. Lifting up the unopened box I could right away feel the weight difference and was shocked to see how light Badfish was able to make the board.
Here are some dimensions and the weight I got using a bicycle scale. For reference in the bottom right picture, I am 5'8!
As I started to go through the box I noticed that the Flyweight comes with a lot of the same accessories my Body Glove Costco board comes with, it's also near-identical like the accessories come from the same factory.
I can already tell, the pump, leash, and board bag are just okay, nothing special, and probably not super durable.
I was a little disappointed considering this board isn't cheap but I think this is typical of even the higher-end paddleboards like the Flyweight. The paddle looks like a step up but only because of the carbon fiber paddle, the rest of the paddle (pole and handle) is identical to the Costco ones that started to bend on me. I will probably invest in a real paddle but I do appreciate that this one breaks down to fit in the board bag and in my van.
As I started to unravel the deflated board I became impressed again, the board felt durable and lightweight, the colors are also attractive.
There are even 3 handles, a water bottle strap, and bungees on the front of the board. The last thing I pulled out of the bag were the fins, I didn't realize it when I ordered the board but the fins actually detach in case you need to make the board even more compact when you're traveling or storing it. I don't think I would take the fins on and off every time I want to use the board but for flying this would be really helpful!
First Paddle Review
Our first paddle on the boards was in Breckenridge Colorado at Lake Allen (a pretty epic first exertion if you ask me).
My initial impression was right, the board itself was great but the pump wasn't. As we began to pump the boards up we noticed that the hose sounded like there was air coming out of it near the board and the hose would occasionally fly off if our pumps were a little too aggressive. This isn't a deal-breaker for us considering we have plans to get an electrical pump anyways.
Do you remember my excitement about the detachable fins? Well, the slowly faded.
One thing we didn't expect was the difficulty of getting the fins installed.
The fins stay in place by way of two small screws, one on each that clamp onto the fin to prevent it from coming out. The screws do not go through the fin itself, they just hold onto the fin. This can make the fins crooked if you aren't careful and tighten one side more than the other or if the fin isn't pushed down enough. It was pretty time-consuming and we don't see ourselves taking the fins on and off each time we paddle. This is a huge bummer because it makes the board way less compact. I feel like Badfish could improve this design but we are still happy that we have the option of taking them off.
As we carried our boards down to the water we were of course stoked on the weight. The handles made carrying the board super easy as well.
When we finally got onto the water we were a bit taken aback by the lack of stability (this board is more narrow and shorter than our old ones) but were able to get used to them pretty quickly. And for a little less stability we gained so much more, the board is fast and maneuvers amazingly. I was paddling in circles with ease! We encountered a bit of headwind and even through the headwind, the board felt super fast! Totally worth the small trade-off!
Who is this SUP for?
The Badfish Flyweight is for anyone that is looking for a lightweight compact and attractive paddleboard.
It's the perfect board for those with limited space *cough cough vanlifers* , those who want to hike with their boards to an alpine lake, and for someone who just wants a fast, light, and nimble board.
I'd definitely suggest this one to women and kids who might have trouble carrying a standard paddleboard, they'll also appreciate the weight of the board when they are out on the water. I wouldn't suggest this to men or women that are heavier than 230lbs as this is the maximum weight limit of the board. Mo is just over 200lbs and definitely feels like he is on the verge of the weight limit.
His board noticeably sinks a bit more in the water and occasionally has a little trouble finding his balance.
He stills loves the board because of how fast and light it is but says if it weighed any more that it would be a deal-breaker for him.
All in all, we are absolutely in love with our new paddleboards and can't wait for more paddleboard adventures especially later this summer in Tahoe. Let us know if you have any questions about the Badfish Flyweight and stay tuned for a long-term review.
Thank you to Backcountry.com for giving us these boards!