I woke up, and there was a light dew on my board. The nearby lake was glass. The sun hadn’t risen, and there was no wind, sound, or stirring of humans coming down the trail. You could hear a pine needle drop. I was totally out in the elements, 10 miles from the nearest trailhead, with no cell service, alone — with a small gear pack, headlamp, and my paddleboard.
Let me explain.
The Chasm Lite packs down smaller than most of my sleeping bags. When I first opened the Chasm Lite SUP bag and kit, I was confused about where the actual SUP was. But underneath the spectacularly-small folding pump and an annoying amount of plastic wrapping, I found it neatly tucked away like a Swiss roll.
After seeing the Kokopelli Chasm Lite SUP debut at OR, we couldn’t wait to get our hands (and feet) on one. After a few months, we got one from Kokopelli’s first Kickstarter shipment to put to the pack-paddleboarding test. Kokopelli set out to make the lightest, most tightly-packed SUP and SUP package on the market, challenging where you can go and aiming to rival all current touring SUPs.
In short: I paddled over 30 miles on this board in the first few weeks of testing. But most notable is not how many miles put down in testing (that’s more crucial when you are testing hiking boots) but different usage scenarios that would really require the lightest and most packable SUP possible. I carried it around, portaged with it, hiked in with it, and backpacked with it overnight on a couple of occasions. In order to properly test, the Chasm Lite and I went off-grid.
I set out to answer all the standard review questions and more as they related to the Chasm Lite’s performance on my local backcountry lakes and the trails leading to them. I pushed this SUP to its limits, and its performance deserves an A.
It’s a small, super-packable powerhouse of an inflatable SUP.
Kokopelli Chasm Lite
- Materials 500-denier single-layer, drop-stitch PVC construction; double-layer rails; EVA deck pad; welded D-rings and bungee
- Paddle 4-piece, carbon, adjustable
- Size 10' x 30" x 6"
- Packed size (full kit) 26" x 13" x 9"
- Weight (SUP only) 12.9 lbs.
- Weight (full kit) 19.6 lbs.
- Included Pump, paddle, leash, and accessories
- Extremely light and packable
- Great stability and performance for size
- Easy to pack, portage, and carry
- Quality paddle
- Small pump design
- Carry-on size
- Great price
- Only single fin
- Smaller deck pad area
- Not most durable
Kokopelli Chasm Lite Paddleboard Review
Alpine Lake Tour With the Kokopelli Chasm Lite
I wanted to push the limits of packing and portaging with the Chasm Lite as far as I could muster. So one weekend in October, I set out for a 2-night, 3-day paddle circuit. I chose a cluster of alpine lakes on the outskirts of Rocky Mountain National Park, deep enough that it’d require an ultralight SUP and kit (paddle gear, apparel, layers) as well as an ultralight overnight bivvy setup and lots of warm layers. Also, a stove and food.
Hiking in to SUP an off-the-beaten-path lake for a day is one thing and can be done on a few other lightweight SUPs on the market. But pack-paddleboarding from one lake to the next and carrying paddle, PFD, and backcountry camping gear is a whole other beast.
Full SUP Kit That Packs to Half the Size
As advertised, this SUP truly does pack to about half the size. Its board design (with a minimal section of EVA deck pad) allows it to fold in half and pack very small, well below the top of the welded backpack straps shown above. This leaves room in the dry bag for the pump, accessories, and any other gear you can fit.
The only thing I wasn’t able to fit inside for my overnight testing trip was my PFD (which, by nature, cannot really be packable unless you opt for the manual belt kind). My PFD was easy to lash to the top strap of the SUP pack once closed. If you brought along a few other Voile or ratcheting straps (which I recommend), you could secure other light and small items as well. (Note: I also didn’t bring a full tent.)
One of my points of feedback for the brand is the side pockets. If you are hiking short distances and opt to use the pack to carry gear while carrying the Chasm Lite inflated in hand, that’s one thing. But if you are packing in with the SUP in the backpack along with the other essentials, the pockets become pretty unusable. There’s not a ton of stretch, and I wish the mesh was a burlier material. The bag itself is a super burly woven waterproof nylon, and overall a good design. But I’d definitely change the pockets to accommodate wider items (Nalgenes) and give better access to them while on trail.
The Chasm Lite’s Comfort While Carrying
I’ve put nearly as many miles hiking and portaging with the Kokopelli Chasm as I have paddling on it in the water, which says a lot. If something claims to be the most packable and portable, I’m going to focus on that in testing as much as possible.
The yoke, padded backpack straps, adjustability, and sternum strap on this pack are all functional and comfortable. The position of the backpack straps on the drybag that contains the SUP is good as well. Even without a hipbelt, I was able to carry the whole package with the weight evenly distributed and fairly comfortably. I never had pain points on my shoulders while carrying the pack. However, I did have to repack/redistribute the weight of the items inside on a 4-5 mile hike a couple of times.
If you are choosing to pack in with the board, pump, and paddle only, this SUP can fit in other traditional backpacking packs for better comfort, depending on your objective. We tested it with a couple of different brands we own (REI, Deuter, etc.) and found it fits best in packs 60L or more if you want to leave appropriate room for other gear. Also, the 4-piece carbon paddle is wicked light, but it still takes some time and wiggling to get the paddle blade end to fit nested in either the drybag or another pack.
The exterior drybag is a high-denier woven fabric and was able to withstand brushes with sharp tree branches, resting on rocks, and other wear along the trail. Once on the water, though, I did keep in mind that Kokopelli sacrificed some durability of the material in order to achieve the lightest weight possible. This is not a SUP you’ll want to bump and drag over shallow, rocky waters. That being said, in all the lakes I paddled in, the board’s durability held up: the inflation, the rails, and the bottom.
Paddling on the Chasm Lite
Having the lightest anything is impressive for a brand. But when it comes to the quickly-growing market of inflatable paddleboards, this is especially so. Last September, Kokopelli put itself out there, claiming to have the lightest, most packable, but still good quality SUP. One that packs down to the size of a tiny sleeping bag, one that easily carries on your back, and one that performs great on the water.
Well, Kokopelli’s invention finally arrived, and once we tested it over several months, we determined it delivers. The board is nothing short of amazing craft and ingenuity. There are some cons, but none that offset the achievements this SUP makes in size to weight to performance ratio. The Chasm Lite SUP lived up to its claims of being ultra-light, ultra-packable, able to handle the weight limit, and of course, a heck of a lot of fun.
The Chasm Lite is definitely not your entry-level paddleboard. The split-deck area is small, with few welded lash points or accessories, which is kind of the point. If you do plan to paddle with drybags full of gear, you’ll likely need to split up the weight and bring some gear straps. The Chasm is designed to be light and fast and requires some paddling skill for balance and your strokes. Once on board the Chasm for a day, I was comfortable knowing its limits and possibilities.
The 10-foot-long board has a 290L volume and a weight capacity of 250 pounds. (This is on the shorter side when it comes to inflatable SUPs.) But it weighs under 13 pounds. More impressively, the full kit weighs under 20 pounds. Mind you, most inflatable SUPs (just the board) on the market now weigh more than that.
We tested with adult riders of 125, 150, and 200 pounds, plus and minus gear. The board is light and nimble but can definitely handle the full weight limit. Here’s how the Chasm Lite fared in terms of balance, stability, tracking, overall weight, and maneuverability:
The stability wasn’t 10 out of 10 with weight to the max (but maybe 8/10) at max psi.
Overall, the tracking was good as can be with a single fin instead of a twin fin setup; I’d give it 7/10. High wind and wake conditions — and I typically encounter wind at high-altitude lakes — may be this board’s only weak point, given it’s so light.
In calm conditions, I’d give this board’s maneuverability 9/10. In winds over 20 mph, I’d rate the board’s maneuverability 6/10. Even with extra weight on board, you’ll have a harder time paddling this featherweight vessel.
Obviously, the biggest pros of this board are the lightweight and packability — garnering 10/10 ratings for sure.
Construction and quality of both the board and paddle components get a 9/10.
The Kokopelli Chasm Lite has changed the standard for what a truly lightweight and still capable touring paddleboard can be. This board is light and packable enough to take nearly anywhere, especially if your SUP trips include portages. Organizing your gear in the included drybag and on the deck of the board will take some planning. The board is only 10-foot — you have to travel light. But otherwise, the Kokopelli Chasm Lite does live up to its intended ultralight, packable use.
For more experienced paddlers, the Kokopelli Chasm Lite is going to be a fantastic SUP option. For beginner paddlers know that it’s harder to learn to paddle and balance on a SUP with a narrower width, like this one.
The Chasm Lite, at a great price of $999, is best for those who want the most SUP in the smallest package. If you enjoy hiking 10 miles in, paddleboarding a pristine alpine lake, then setting up camp for a while, the Kokopelli is the only SUP that can make that happen easily. And comfortably, that is.
After our fall and spring tests, I couldn’t be more pleased with how the Chasm Lite performed. I look forward to pack-paddleboarding on it many more times this year.