There’s nothing quite like the feeling of freedom of taking a paddle in hand and working your way down a lake or stream – or river. Few images dominate American Literature more than Huck and Jim rafting down the Mississippi River in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, with the river and raft a complex dynamic of freedom and constraint. As T.S. Eliot famously pointed out, “the river with its strong, swift current is [like a] dictator…treacherous [and] capricious,” with only a raft or steamboat separating Huck and Jim from its whims.
You don’t have a steamboat at your disposal, but hey – a paddle boat is, if anything, a better and hardier modern upgrade to a raft, letting you take command of your destiny while on the open water.
The Bestway HydroForce Oceana bills itself as a strong paddle boat, but can you tame the water on it, or will you be washed away with the current? Let’s take a closer look at what the Hydro Force Oceana has to offer and see for ourselves.
Features of HydroForce Oceana
When choosing a paddle board, you’ll want to give consideration to a few key features, not the least of which being:
- Board Shape: Paddle boards can have a planing hull, which is smooth, flat, and very maneuverable. By contrast, displacement hulls are pointed and can slice through the water at faster speeds. The Bestway Hydro Force Oceana features a smooth planing hull, and can convert into a kayak with ease as well.
- Volume and Capacity: On the whole planing hulls such as the Bestway HydroForce Oceana, it can handle a fair amount of weight without wobbling or tipping over.
- Board Size: You’ll want to pay close attention to the board’s width, length, and thickness.
- Solid Versus Inflatable: While many paddle boards are solid, the Hydro Force Oceana is inflatable, which imbues it with many advantages. At their best, an inflatable paddle board can be more lightweight and thus easier to move to and from the shore. They are also a lot softer, which makes them more comfortable for doing yoga poses if you’re the type of person who loves the idea of lakeside serenity yoga-style. On the other hand, inflatables are also slower than solid paddle boards on average.
- Storage Space: Inflatable paddle boards also typically have less storage space, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t haul along plenty of gear.
So, how do all of those expectations line up with the reality of the Bestway HydroForce Oceana?
Among the most important features of the paddle board are:
- 10 ft long x 33 in. wide x 6 in. thick
- Durable PVC material with drop stitching
- Volume of 320 L, with 15 PSI recommended for optimal inflation
- Weight capacity of 287 lb
- Four top nose D-rings with a bungee cord
- One bottom nose D-ring for towing
- Two center D-rings that can be used to add a kayak seat
- One tail D-ring for attaching a safety leash
- Two carry handles
- Soft EVA deck pad
- Inflatable yet rigid and durable design
- Nonslip traction pad
- Hand pump
Durability and Sturdiness
One of the best things about this model is how maneuverable it is. Though it may be inflatable, when fully inflated it is more than rigid enough to navigate well on the water. As alluded to above, the combination of the carrying handles and the lightweight nature of inflatable kayaks makes it incredibly easy to pack up and transport this kayak wherever you might wish to take it.
The PVC drop stitching does quite a lot to help make this paddle board durable. Puncturing is sometimes a risk with inflatable boards, but this model is made of “sterner stuff.”
That’s what makes it so much more impressive that this model is not only sturdy but flexible and soft on the bottom, allowing paddlers to sit and hold yoga poses for long periods of time in comfort.
There may not be much in the way of storage space compared to other units, but there is still plenty with the addition of a tie-in area near the nose of the board.
Not So Fast
This particular SUP is on the slower side for a paddle board, but that’s due in large part to its thickness, which likewise imbues the board with a great deal of stability.
What Do Users Say?
In general, users have liked many of the features that we have already noted are positive aspects of this paddle board. They have liked the fact that this paddle board is lightweight and easy to carry thanks to the two carrying handles. In addition, they have appreciated the fact that the unit is uniquely suited to yoga poses thanks to its soft nonslip bottom. Both of these factors are necessary – you don’t want your hands or rear to be sore after sitting or posing for minutes or even hours, and you definitely don’t want to slip right off and into the water mid-Warrior 3.
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One odd quirk that users have noticed is that the iSUP version of this paddle board does not come with the paddle itself, meaning you’ll have to spend more money buying one yourself.
Pros and Cons
As with most SUPs, the Oceana comes with pros and cons alike.
Some of the biggest positives offered by the Hydro Force Oceana are:
- Thick and stable
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- Good weight capacity
- Soft bottom is good for yoga
- Nonslip bottom
- Maneuvers well on the water
Some potential drawbacks to keep in mind include:
- Slower than other paddle boards
- The iSUP version does not come with a paddle
In Conclusion – Is HydroForce Oceana Worth Your Money?
Our rating: 4.5 / 5
There is a lot to like about the HydroForce Oceana, especially, as mentioned, for those looking to do yoga out on the water. It is sturdy, maneuverable, comfortable, and affordable. Even better, it is adaptable, and can be used in a wide variety of different situations.
Whether you are looking to paddle on and enjoy Life on the Mississippi, or simply want to sit back, relax, and go wherever the water takes you, this paddle board can take you wherever you want to go – and that’s one fine flowing form of freedom.