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TripSavvy / Justin Park
Not good for larger riders
Turning is difficult
The HydroForce White Cap Inflatable Stand-Up Paddleboard and Kayak is one of the cheapest stand-up paddleboards available and is a great option for families and beginners on a budget.
We purchased the Bestway HydroForce White Cap Inflatable Stand-Up Paddleboard and Kayak so our reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
Bestway specializes in ultra-low-cost camping and watersports products that sell in almost any big box store you can think of from Walmart to Costco to Target. To see if these low-cost products sacrifice quality for savings, my friend and I tested the HydroForce White Cap Inflatable Stand-Up Paddleboard and Kayak on the mostly flat water of Colorado lakes and reservoirs. We assessed its performance over several weeks, evaluating factors such as durability, glide, stability, and maneuverability as well as the overall package and value. Read on for our findings.
The HydroForce White Cap comes with everything you need to get out on the water. The included pump was simple to connect and worked well, though it oddly seemed to offer more resistance pulling up than pushing air out. Unlike most pumps that feature an analog dial display, this pump was digital, though it’s not obvious if that offers any clear benefit over analog.
Like most inflation projects, the pumping got harder the more pressure built up inside the board. While it seemed satisfactorily inflated at around 10 pounds per square inch (PSI), we struggled to gain much more pressure despite wanting to in an effort to better buoy our heavier tester.
The kayak addition is a surprising add-on for what is basically the most affordable SUP out there.
Deflation was easier, of course, simply requiring you to depress the valve to let the air out. The valve does feature a lock-out via twist, but it was a bit of guesswork with larger hands to spin it just right to stay open.
When we wanted to try the board out as a kayak, we simply strapped on the included seat pad and back, added the included footrest, and converted the aluminum paddle to its two-handed mode. One drawback is that because the paddle must be converted and the seat attached, you do have to decide in advance whether to kayak or SUP. It’s not practical to switch between the two once on the water because of the paddle changing and extra parts that would be lying around when you’re in SUP mode.
The HydroForce White Cap might be mass-produced, but it employs most of the same modern materials and construction as more expensive inflatable SUPs. It’s made of a TriTech material—a polyester mesh core surrounded by two layers of laminated PVC—that’s resistant to UV rays and oils. It’s constructed using drop-stitch technology, which is essentially thousands of polyester filaments woven together in a way that allows the board to withstand high air pressures (whether the pump can deliver them is another story) and still maintain its lightness.
The board is fairly rigid for an inflatable and, like most inflatables, is less prone to damage on rocks and in transport thanks to its durable casing and build. This makes it a great choice for beginners who might not have the skill and experience with boards to handle a more expensive and fragile fiberglass or epoxy board.
While it doesn’t glide smoothly, especially under heavier riders, it works well enough to get in a good workout.
In terms of aesthetic, the board features a fairly generic bright orange, blue, and white color scheme. It measures 120 inches long, 32 inches wide, and 4 inches thick, with a weight limit of 209 pounds—which is on the lower end compared to other inflatable SUPs. The package comes with a carrying case that fits the deflated board, pump, and accessories, although we found it to be fairly cheaply made.
As on most SUPs, there’s an anti-slip traction pad covering the part of the board you should be standing on and four D-rings at the front with an attached bungee cord that can be used to secure small items such as an extra layer or fishing pole. At the back end of the board, there’s another D-ring, where you can attach a leash (not included). There’s also a carrying handle.
The White Cap is stable, which is partly because of its fairly wide (32 inches) deck area, and as such, it’s a great option for most beginners. Nothing will turn you away from stand-up paddleboarding faster than spending your day falling into the water. That being said, the stability comes at a cost. The flat bottom, rounded edges, and lack of any rocker (upward curve at either the nose or tail that’s often found on high-performance boards) make this board useless in anything besides flat water. Waves and turning feels like a bit of a chore despite the relatively short 10-foot length.
The 4-inch thickness of the board worked well for our lighter testers, but our heavier rider (me) at 190 pounds pushed the board lower than was ideal in still-icy Colorado spring waters. We recommend this board for riders who don’t come anywhere close to the 209 max weight limit, though if riders are too small, they might struggle to maneuver any board of this size.
Just don’t plan on trying to cover long distances on it.
While it doesn’t glide smoothly, especially under heavier riders, it works well enough to get in a good workout and spend some quality time on the water. Just don’t plan on trying to cover long distances on it.
We didn’t find it to be the greatest kayaking experience; the positioning was a bit awkward for paddling and the support of the backrest was limited. It also leaves you closer to the water than most kayaks, which, especially for heavier riders, means a lot of water sloshing onto your backside. The gliding experience also doesn’t get any better in kayak mode and in some ways it feels harder to propel the board forward with the shorter kayak paddle strokes.
However, the kayak addition is a surprising add-on for what is basically the most affordable SUP out there, and it allows for great versatility if you have family members or friends who aren’t interested in SUP. The kayak option isn’t useless and definitely adds value to the board, but it certainly doesn’t replace an actual kayak experience.
Most stand-up paddleboards aren’t cheap, but inflatables bring the cost down significantly, partly because they can be made compact for shipping. It used to be hard to find a SUP for less than $1,000, and even now, most cost at least $500. Bestway’s HydroForce White Cap retails for around $250, which is remarkable given its capabilities as both a stand-up paddleboard and kayak.
If budget is your main concern, it’s hard to argue against the HydroForce White Cap. However, if you’re willing to spend double and beyond, but still want the benefits of an inflatable, you have some options. The Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer 2 is a solid choice and offers an upgrade in terms of performance and buoyancy for heavier riders.
At around $700, though, it lacks many of the accessories included with the White Cap, like the carrying case and the kayak add-on. If you’ve tried other inflatable paddleboards and fear you may be let down by the performance of a simpler board, it’s worth looking at the Adventurer 2 and its higher-end competitors for a boost in performance without cracking into four-digit prices.
Want to take a look at more options? Check out our roundup of the best inflatable stand-up paddleboards.
For the cost of a handful of board rentals, you can own the Bestway HydroForce White Cap Inflatable Stand-Up Paddleboard and Kayak, and it’s up to the task for occasional beginner riders. If you grow your skills beyond it quickly, great! At least you haven’t invested too much on your first foray into SUP.
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