NRS Czar 6
- Easy to setup, transport and store
- Super stability
- Turned-up nose prevents trips over the front
- Soft design adds safety
- Durable material takes bumps
With experience from inflatable river rafts and kayaks, NRS has put together a consumer friendly product in the NRS Czar. The Czar stores for travel with ease and has features that will help new users get into the waves and out on the lakes with confidence. The inflatable design also provides feel and flex not found in standard epoxy-EPS boards. The downside of the inflatable design appears on fast waves and in longer distance paddle situations that advance users will likely encounter. But those sticking to fun size waves and short treks will enjoy the ease of use, safety and excellent portability of this design.
Based in Moscow, Idaho, NRS has been in the paddlesport business since the early 1970’s. While inflatable surfboards from Idaho may raise question for surfing purists, people looking for value and fun in a surfing SUP would be wise to give the NRS Czar series a look.
NSR created the Czar series as a more surfing specific version in its inflatable lineup, with the Baron and Earl series fitting more touring and flat water needs. They have wisely sized these down to 9.5 feet for the larger rider and 9 feet for the lighter rider. The combination of shorter length and lighter swing weight allows riders to move the board from the tail and makes steep waves easier to catch without going over the nose of the board. Additionally, the inflatable material, while not as soft as boards when pumped to the recommended 12-15 psi, does provide give and flex not available in hard or soft-top boards. The safety of a deck like this is a great feature for new paddlers and surfers alike - falls from a standing position on a hard deck board is a risk for new users, as is being hit by the board in the whitewater. While the Czar does not eliminate the danger, it greater reduces the chance of an injury from the board in the waves or on the lake.
The stiffness/rigidity of a surfboard in waves or on a lake has a profound impact on its performance, and the inflatable design has a marked impact on the surfing characteristics of the Czar. When pumped up to 15 psi, the NRS Czar can be turned from the tail and basic positioning turns happen after some practice. The chatter under foot on wave chop is noticeable and the board has a slower reaction time than hard boards. This trait also slows the Czar in flat water paddling–the deck adding extra flex under your feet when paddling hard. Additionally, keeping up with friends on longer hard boards for distance paddles will be a challenge. For this reason, the Czar is best for limited distance or touring type trips. Other boards in the NRS line would be good options for paddlers who will see more river or lake outings.
On the plus side of the inflatable story, the width and thickness options of the Czar provide a board that gives a bit in the deck when paddling hard or going through heavy chop. It’s actually fairly hard to get the opposite rail out of the water and the board is exceptionally stable for a 9-foot craft. The included air gauge comes in handy here, as you can raise or lower the psi to make the board more or less ridged. Once you get a handle on this, I think you could easily tune the board to the conditions–something not possible in standard boards.
The drop-stich PVC material seems purpose built, with a full length deck pad and stainless steel deck rings to attach your leash. While the included patch kit may raise some concern, NRS backs the Czar with a three-year warranty.
The Big Picture
The Czar is easy to inflate, surf and store. The included backpack, fins, pump, repair kit, gauge and valve adapter are all top notch and I inflated, deflated and stored the board with ease and without the instructions. The weight and portability will attract buyers to this board, but the safety and tuning ability make this a board users could take from their first trip in the waves to more advanced wave riding. The board is not going to rip cutbacks or air reverses, but if you’re looking for those attributes, you are not likely in the market for a SUP to start. With the Czar, will get a consumer friendly product that will get you to and from the beach without roof rack gymnastics, and will provide a solid platform to ride the waves and do some light touring. The price-to-value ratio is high and users should test this and other inflatables if they are in the market for an entry level SUP
How We Tested It
Weekend training outside deep hole, Matunuck, RI April 2013.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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- Max Width: 34
- Thickness: 6
- Volume: 285 liters
- Fin Setup: Thruster (3 fin)
- Fin Size: 9" center, 5" side
- Leash: Not included
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