Starboard Astro Blend ISUP Review

paddling the Starboard Astro Blend Deluxe

I had heard a lot of good things about the Astro Blend inflatable SUP but I just recently got to try it out.

I had several emails from people who had tested out different boards and ended up buying the Blend and absolutely loved it.

They gave it rave reviews and I couldn’t wait to try one.

For 2015 Starboard came out with two redesigned Astro Blend models…

  1. the Astro Blend Zen
  2. and the Astro Blend Deluxe

I got to try out the Starboard Astro Blend Deluxe, which was perfect as that was the specific one I kept hearing awesome things about.

Although our test trial with this board was brief I felt we got a really good feel for it.

The consensus was that this board basically rocks and I totally agree. It feels great to paddle, is rigid and stable and performs quite well.

Specs For The Starboard Astro Blend

Astro Blend Zen – 4.7″ thick

  • 11’2” long
  • 32” wide
  • 4.7” thick
  • weighs 25 lbs.
  • can hold up to 188 lbs.
  • air pressure: 18 PSI
  • includes two removable 4.5” side fins and one removable 8” fin

Astro Blend Deluxe – 6″ thick

  • 11’2” long
  • 32” wide
  • 6” thick
  • weighs 28 lbs.
  • can hold up to 210 lbs.
  • air pressure: 18 PSI
  • includes two removable 4.5” side fins and one removable 8” fin

Material: Super strong drop-stitch material with abrasion and UV resistant 1000-Denier polyester reinforced PVC rail bands.

Best Suited For: Cruising on flat water, riding ocean waves and wake, surfing, whitewater

Pros: Easy to paddle, responsive, glides nicely, versatile, tracks well, performs at a decent level for a crossover board, padded handles, bungee system is close to deck pad and easy to access, removable fins

Cons: It’s not super fast although speed is decent, price is a little higher than other boards of similar size, D-rings that secure bungee cords are just plastic (back D-ring for leash and front nose D-ring however are metal)

Where To Buy The Astro Blend

Astro Blend Zen:

Click here for the Starboard Astro Blend Zen at PumpedUpSup.com – use coupon code ISWPUS75 for $75 off your purchase of $500 or more.

Click here for the Starboard Astro Blend Zen at Amazon.com.

Click here for the Starboard Astro Blend Zen at GreenWaterSports.com.

Astro Blend Deluxe:

Click here for the Starboard Astro Blend Deluxe at PumpedUpSup.com – use coupon code ISWPUS75 for $75 off your purchase of $500 or more.

Click here for the Starboard Astro Blend Deluxe at Amazon.com.

Click here for the Starboard Astro Blend Deluxe at GreenWaterSports.com.

More In-Depth Info On The Astro Blend

taking out the Astro Blend inflatable SUP

What I like best about the Blend is a little hard to explain because it is more of a feel.

Sometimes a board might feel a little heavy, or have a little drag or take more effort to paddle, be too wide or too tippy or just not feel ‘quite right’.

Everything about the Blend feels right. It is an awesome board to paddle and it would suit a very wide range of people.

Riders of all different ages could paddle this board and probably feel quite good riding it.

The shape makes it quite versatile. I found it equally enjoyable cruising on flat water as well as riding choppy ocean waves.

It moves easily, is quite responsive and tracks in a fairly straight line.

It is not the fastest board but unless you are really looking for speed, I don’t think you would be disappointed… It cuts through the water nicely.

Plus as I have said many times before Starboard never leaves any details out. They think of everything from functionality to performance to design.

Astro Blend Deluxe Performance

I paddled this board mostly on the ocean. The Blend Deluxe is 6” thick and it felt really stable for both my boyfriend and myself.

Paddling over waves and taking on chop from speedboats was not a problem.

The 32” width provides a good base without making it too bulky. A leaner board would be even more responsive however for ocean paddling, the 32” width is nice to have.

As mentioned, it is not super fast but it does glide nicely and overall does not take a lot of effort to get moving.

paddling the Astro Blend ISUP at Deep Cove

It felt quite responsive and we kept looking at the design trying to figure out what makes it stand out from other boards of similar size that we have tested.

It is hard to pinpoint the difference. It seems to be shaped nicely to provide optimum stability in the right places yet still cut through the water in an efficient way.

I would say it is very functional and easy to paddle.

Starboard Astro inflatable stand up paddle board

Blend Versatility

Crossover boards are typically like a jack-of-all-trades but master at none and I would say that does apply to the Blend.

It is not the fastest on flat water and it is not the most responsive surf board.

However it can still paddle on most types of water quite well and the majority of paddlers will be quite happy with it.

It provides stability for a beginner but performs well enough to keep you challenged and happy as you improve your skills.

I personally think it excels most on ocean bays and riding on ocean chop and waves.

paddling the Astro Blend ISUP in Deep Cove

Construction

I rarely hear of issues with the Starboard ISUP’s. They tend to be solid and strong.

The Astro Blend Deluxe is made of:

  • 6” linear drop stitch core material providing extreme stiffness
  • 4” dot precision drop stitch core material for shape optimization and better performance on waves
  • high tensile UD center stringer for stiffness
  • top and bottom high tensile rail bands along the outline, which creates a stiffening Parabolic Anti-Torsion System

Basically what all that means is that it is super rigid when inflated to maximum air pressure between 15 – 18 PSI.

Also this quality of construction is likely what makes it handle so well on the water.

nose of Astro Blend Deluxe

Blend Zen or Blend Deluxe?

The Blend Zen is slightly thinner (4.7” thick instead of 6” thick) making it a little more responsive and 3 lbs. lighter.

The Blend Zen can hold up to 188 lbs. and is better suited for someone with a smaller frame.

The Blend Deluxe is thicker at 6” thick, a little more stable, 3 lbs. heavier and will suit a larger frame.

At 130 lbs. I think I would personally suit the Blend Zen the best.  I didn’t get to try this one out but I really like the sound of the 4.7″ thickness… It is a little thicker than the regular 4″ thick boards but not as thick as the larger 6″ thick boards.  It sounds ideal for me.

However for anyone over 160 lbs., unless you are a really skilled paddler who values extreme responsiveness over rigidity and stability, I would suggest to go for the Blend Deluxe. It will definitely provide more rigidity and be able to handle the extra weight better.

No matter your size anyone could feel comfortable and happy on the Blend Deluxe. I was very happy paddling it. On the ocean especially the 6” thickness is a bonus.

However a smaller framed person will probably enjoy the ease of paddling the Blend Zen.

Blend Setup

Setup is easy. The pump that comes with this board is decent. It takes a bit of effort to inflate as it does with all hand pumps but nothing too major. Overall it works well.

The pump has a pressure gauge so you can check your progress and has a double action and single action mode for easier inflation up to 18 PSI.

It also has an ergonomically designed foot pad that helps create a stable platform while pumping.

Starboard hand pump

I prefer using an electric pump, which makes the job much easier but it isn’t critical.

Once inflated you can slide in and secure the center back fin. It clips in easily, no tools required.

After you are finished paddling, dry the board off with a towel, deflate and remove the fin. It rolls up and easily fits into the included backpack.

If you are paddling in salty ocean water remember to rinse the board after use with fresh water to keep the material clean and strong.

Starboard Astro valve

carrying the Astro Blend Deluxe to the water

Starboard Magic Bag

I didn’t have the backpack for this board so I couldn’t take any pictures however I have included Starboard’s stock photos below. You can click the photo to make it bigger.

Starboard Magic Bag

The backpack has nice padded shoulder straps, a top padded carry handle, a large front zippered pocket and best of all a full front zipper allowing you to load the board into the front of the bag as opposed to loading it from the top… makes it much easier!

It also has twin roller wheels on the front of the bag, which is a real bonus and makes it really easy and convenient for transport.

My favorite feature of this bag however is the belt strap.

One of my pet peeves is the fact that with most ISUP backpacks you can’t actually hike too far with them because they have no waist strap for added support.

I love that Starboard has thought of this detail. Between the belt strap, the front loading non corrosive zipper and the roller wheels, this bag is awesome!

Important Astro Blend Features

A few important features to be aware of are:

  • US fin box for large center removable fin
  • 2 easy slide in fin boxes for smaller side removable fins
  • 3 removable fins

large removable center fin on Astro Blend ISUP

  • very strong PVC drop-stitch material
  • can inflate to 18 PSI making it very rigid
  • soft padded center handle for comfortable carrying

Starboard ISUP padded carry handle

  • grab handle at the tail
  • 3/4 deck EVA deckpad has a 4mm thick square groove in the standing area and a 2mm thick aft section
  • 4 plastic D-rings at the nose of the board that attach the bungee cords for securing gear

bungee tie down cords

  • One metal D-ring at tail of board for attaching board leash
  • One metal D-ring underneath nose of board for towing

New for 2015

The Blend has been very popular since it first came out but the 2015 Blend has some significant improvements over the previous models.
Starboard states that the 2015 model has:

  1. a wide tail for increased stability
  2. a straight outline for a smooth and efficient glide
  3. a pulled in nose that cuts through the water
  4. stiffer technology – the 2015 rails are 70% thicker and stronger than the 2014 rails

More Pictures of the Astro Blend

Starboard Astro Blend Deluxe inflatable stand up paddle board

Seth and Darryl on the Astro Blend ISUP

Starboard Astro inflatable SUP

side view of the Astro Blend Deluxe

Final Thoughts

I am rarely disappointed with Starboard. They think of every little detail and although the price might be slightly higher than some other ISUP’s of similar size, I feel they are worth it.

The Blend Deluxe is an all around great board and with a little care it will last a very long time.

It is just as ideal for paddling at home or for traveling with the convenient Magic Bag.

Where To Buy The Astro Blend

Astro Blend Zen:

Click here for the Starboard Astro Blend Zen at PumpedUpSup.com. – use coupon code ISWPUS75 for $75 off your purchase of $500 or more.

Click here for the Starboard Astro Blend Zen at Amazon.com.

Click here for the Starboard Astro Blend Zen at GreenWaterSports.com.

Astro Blend Deluxe:

Click here for the Starboard Astro Blend Deluxe at PumpedUpSup.com – use coupon code ISWPUS75 for $75 off your purchase of $500 or more.

Click here for the Starboard Astro Blend Deluxe at Amazon.com.

Click here for the Starboard Astro Blend Deluxe at GreenWaterSports.com.

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Comments

  1. Nice Post. I have a 12’6″ x 26″ x 4″ thick ULI with a Wiki rail. But I would love to try Astro Blend ISUP board.

  2. Hi Allison,
    First thanks for such an amazing website which has been really helpful with all the reviews. I was debating between a Red Paddle 10’6 and the Astro Whopper Zen and leaning more to the Red Paddle when I saw a deal for the Whopper Zen for $800 including paddle (apparently because they are re-designing them for next year), which is too good to pass up. In an online chat with the store, the guy mentioned I’d probably prefer the Astro Blend which I was glad to see you favorably reviewed as well. My only concern was its longer length might make it less maneuverable in the ocean, though i guess it’s thinner width would be better. Any thoughts on which would be your preference? (I’m 5’8, 155 and would use it mostly for flatwater here in CO but also 2-3x / year in the ocean on trips to FL). also, since i’m not that far from 160, should i be considering the 6″ deluxe instead of the 4.75″? thanks so much for any thoughts you might have.

    • Hey Michele, It’s a great deal for sure. All three you mentioned are really good ISUP’s so you can’t go too wrong either way. The Red 10’6″ has a great reputation. I know of several people who own it and love it, I don’t think you would be unhappy with it. However I personally favor the Starboards. I always love paddling them… They feel good, they perform well and I think they look great. The Whopper is good for cruising around on flat water but I think better suited for ocean surf or rivers in my opinion. It is super responsive making it really fun to paddle but it wouldn’t be my choice for flat water touring. The Astro Blend is definitely one of our favorites. The longer length does make it slightly less responsive but I found the size really nice as it is a little more stable but still really fun to ride. In fact I would say it is one of our favorites for sure for ocean paddling. As far as whether to go for the 4.75″ or 6″ deluxe it is a really tough call. If you have some SUP experience you might really like the 4.75″ thickness as the board will turn faster and easier and take little effort to really move. The 6″ thickness of course adds more stability and rigidity under more weight but takes more effort to turn quickly and will be slightly slower (although the difference is small). I find that most people seem to prefer the added stability of the 6″ thickness especially in ocean waves. However if you feel comfortable enough you could definitely go for the 4.75″. Hope that doesn’t confuse you more, it’s a tough choice between the two. ColoradoKayak has the Blend Zen on for $800 including paddle, which is a wicked deal. Also worth noting is that the Blend Zen would be slightly more stable than the Red 10’6″ that you were considering. Good luck!!

      • Thanks for your thoughts, Allison. Colorado Kayak is exactly where I was looking and they were who suggested the Blend Zen which is what I’ve decided to go with after reading your comments as well. Much appreciated!

  3. Hi Allison,
    Many thanks for your thorough and authentic reviews. These are highly helpful.
    I am based in Singapore and am looking to get an inflatable board for the ocean on usually calm waters. The idea being to go out for me or my husband with 1-2 kids (I am about 50kgs; he is 75kgs. And each kid is about 20-25kgs). I am hesitating between the Starboard blend deluxe but it is expensive, the Isle explorer or the Atoll (I don’t think you have reviewed it. Do you know about this one?). I have not considered the NN 126 as it seems too narrow for our use. My preference for now given dimensions / reviews / price would be the Atoll. Keen to get your views! Thanks.

    • Hi Johanne, The Starboard Blend is definitely the better board (quality and performance) but of course it comes with the higher price tag. I have been quite happy with the Isle Explorer and although it’s a little on the slow side, it is stable and feels solid. It is a good option for paddling with kids for sure. The Atoll is high on my list of boards to review this year. The shape and dimensions are very similar to the Isle Explorer and I would guess it will paddle very much the same. I like the look of the Atoll SUP and the price is decent for what you get. I’d say it’s a good option for your needs. If you end up trying it I’d love to hear your thoughts. With the Singapore humidity be sure to fully dry your board after use and you might want to store it out of the bag – especially that Atoll bag doesn’t look like it breathes that well. Good luck!

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