Review: Badfish Cobra

Benjamin 11 months ago reviews
4 out of 5




Summary: The Badfish Cobra is a good board for surfing holes. However it’s hard for me to recommend this board when comparing it to other boards on the market. Continue reading for the full review…

Manufacturer’s Website:

Badfish Cobra SUP




In depth review: This board is a difficult one for me to review. There’s very little wrong with it, and almost nothing I would change. At the same time, I have a hard time recommending it to any particular person or as the best choice for any given wave. There are other boards that are better for beginners or advanced river surfers. There are better boards for small, rowdy holes and better boards for big, smooth river waves. Despite all this, the Cobra is a good board.

Badfish Cobra
Erin Livingston smearing the Cobra across Dave’s Wave

The chined hull makes the Cobra best suited for surfing holes or waves with uneven faces. The shape of the board will smooth out just about any bumpy hole. It makes small holes, which don’t even look surfable, fun to surf! The extra volume provided by the 6 inches of thickness allows the board to float well, even through turbulent whitewater.

As good as the Cobra is at surfing holes, the Badfish MVP-S is even better. If you mostly surf steep, bumpy holes, then I’d recommend the MVP-S over the Cobra. The MVP-S will make any bumpy hole feel like you’re cruising over a glassy wave. If the hole is in shallow water where hitting rocks is likely, then an inflatable like the Badfish IRS or the Sol Jah are better options.

Badfish Cobra
Liz Riviere surfing a 2014 Cobra

While the Cobra is capable of surfing smooth waves like Glenwood, Miracle, or Big Sur, the shape is not fast enough to do much else than front surf. Waves like these are better suited for ocean shaped SUPs. For clean, smooth, waves, the Cobra is not the best choice.

Badfish Cobra
Benjamin Smith surfing the Cobra in Missoula

The Cobra is a decent choice as a beginner board. The chined hull/forgiving rails makes it easy to get started, but again the Badfish MVP-S is an easier board to learn on. Another good option is the Badfish IRS. It might be a little harder to learn to surf on compared to the Cobra, but the fact that the IRS is indestructible makes it as good, if not a better choice, for a beginner board.

The area the Cobra beats out the competition is when surfing sideways. This board is the best side surfer on the market today thanks to the forgiving rails. If you want to learn how to grind, or even spin, this board helps make it easy.

Badfish Cobra
Benjamin Smith busting the fins out in a past 90 degree grind

While it is good for getting sideways and even learning to spin, I wouldn’t consider this a trick/jibbing board. Once you’ve learned the tricks, a smaller/lighter board is preferred. Take 360s for example, the Cobra is good to learn them on because it can surf sideways (and getting sideways is part of spinning). Once you learn the principles of 360s however, a smaller, lighter board is preferable because it will spin faster. Typically the faster you spin, the less likely you are to fall… and it looks dope too! I consider the Badfish 6’11” River Surfer a better trick board for surfing holes, or the Starboard Impossible for surfing waves.

Here’s another way to look at this board vs the other Badfish boards when it comes to skill level:

Badfish SUP board by skill level

The Badfish MVP-S is an easier board to learn on. The Badfish IRS is decent to learn on, and it’s an inflatable (i.e. indestructible). The Badfish 6’11” River Surfer is a better board for advanced riders. The Cobra sits somewhere in the middle.

It boils down to this: if you’re a beginner you should get the MVP-S or the IRS. Once you’ve outgrown one of those boards, you’ll most likely upgrade straight to the River Surfer. It might be challenging at first, but it’s not a huge jump. The only people I’d recommend the Cobra to is anyone who has been surfing awhile, has tried the Badfish 6’11” River Surfer, and felt like it was too low volume or unstable for them.

The last thing I’d like to talk about is construction. My board is from 2015, and can easily be identified by the light green color. Unfortunately, the 2015 Cobra is very easy to ding. Most small bumps in the water or on land will result in a ding. This board has required more repairing than any other board I’ve owned.

The 2016 models can easily be identified by their matte black/carbon fiber look. This construction is MUCH more durable, but cannot handle heat. I have a Badfish River Surfer in this construction. After traveling around the country for a summer, the foam melted and caused the board to develop large dents. This happened to only the 2016 Badfish (and not any of the other 5 boards I had) despite keeping the board under towels and out of direct sunlight.

I don’t know if this issue has been fixed in the 2017 models, but I’d be wary. The appearance looks the same as the 2016 boards. If you do purchase either a 2016 or 2017 model, I’d highly recommend keeping the board stored in your house and transporting it inside an air-conditioned vehicle.

Badfish Cobra
Dan McGraw going fins first!

Despite the construction issues and the fact that I rarely recommend this board to anyone, the Badfish Cobra is a good board. The shape is great for surfing small holes. It’s just hard for the Cobra to shine in a crowded quiver of board options. I enjoyed surfing it this year, but I almost always found it didn’t surf as well as other boards for any given conditions.


Written by | Benjamin

Benjamin Smith is a land locked surfer living in Colorado. He gets his surfing fix on the local rivers, where he SUP surfs standing waves.


  1. Mike Harvey

    February 22, 2017 at 11:59 am

    I wanted to post a couple of thoughts about Ben’s review.

    1. We make more river surfing SUP’s than anyone in the world so yeah there is some overlap between models, but there is a rider that is perfect for the Cobra…that’s why designed it. The Cobra started as a custom project for our friend codename “Cobra” who paddles on the Potomac. It’s designed to surf small, foamy waves, the kind that are common at low flows on the Potomac and all over the Country in whitewater parks and in natural spots. It is a lot higher volume in the tail than the 7’6 MVP, but shorter, and less of a river running shape. The 7’6 is a better choice for people that need to paddle some distance the wave they want to surf. The 7’6 is much easier for most people to paddle downstream than the Cobra. However the Cobra is a better surfing choice for most people looking to surf smaller waves than the 7’6 and have park and play accessibility. You can always just email me directly if you have questions about which board is best for you.

  2. Mike Harvey

    February 22, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    I would also point out that Ben is not a big dude. I don’t know what he weighs (more with the dread weight) but a lot of bigger guys really like the Cobra right Guillermo Loria?

  3. Guillermo Loria

    February 22, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    yeah! I love the Cobra. The 6.11 RS is not an option for me if there is any paddling involved to get to the wave since I sink it. The Cobra floats me like the RS floats smaller paddlers so in reality its a low volume performance river surf sup for me. Much more performance oriented as a surf sup than the 7.6 for the reasons listed above. I think Ben did a good job describing how the Cobra and MVP-S handle in “holes” or what I think of as foam pile waves. But I disagree when he gives the edge to the MVP-S. I know that in bigger more powerful foam piles waves I prefer the maneuverability of the Cobra vs the MVP-S. Good examples in the East of this are Canyon Doors in WV and Holtwood Whitewater Park in PA.

  4. mm


    February 23, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    I agree that the Cobra makes a good alternative to the River Surfer for those that feel they are maxing out the weight/volume limitations. There is a certain amount of skill involved too however. As a beginner you want a board that floats high in the water. Once you become a more advanced surfer, you’ll be able to handle a board that is mostly submerged when you stand on it.

    • Mike Harvey

      February 23, 2017 at 6:46 pm

      That’s not actually true on small waves Ben. If you sub out on a small wave the board bogs down. Volume replaces speed on a small wave and makes actual surfing possible.

      • Jeffrey Banks

        February 23, 2017 at 6:49 pm

        IMHO planing area (surface area) can make up for lack of volume on small waves. I have a 5’10” x 32″ x 2 1/2 thick board that I can surf even on low winter flows. Over time with my boards, and probably being one if not the biggest SUP surfer out there. I have messed more with planning area (single/double concave, etc) then volume over the last few years. I used to think it was all about volume, but now think it is more about planing area.

        • Mike Harvey

          February 23, 2017 at 6:51 pm

          Jeffrey Banks there is no chance a board of those dimensions would be surfable on the type of low volume features the Cobra can surf here in Colorado and out east. The whole point is on a small wave/hole there’s nothing “planing”.

          • Jeffrey Banks

            February 23, 2017 at 6:52 pm

            Got ya. I like the ?. I rode it in a couple of non-planing features. It no 9′ SliMVP, but I get where it would be useful. Our sport is definitely a quiver sport for sure. I like that you responded to this review too. To go along with my comment below. I think it’d be a cool feature (Ben) to allow the brands to respond to your reviews.

      • mm


        February 23, 2017 at 6:53 pm

        Mike that’s true. On small, slow waves it’s all about the volume. On at least some of those waves however, the IRS or MVP/S would be better options.

  5. Jeffrey Banks

    February 23, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    Thanks Benjamin for all you do. In my opinion having someone out there attempting to produce unbiased reviews is NEEDED. (As far as I know you are unbiased :)). To me it feels like 98.5% of the reviews out there are done by “team” paddlers who are conflicted. I think the majority of magazines and websites are conflicted in some form or fashion, whether it be advertising $$ or just conflicted by friendships, business arrangements, etc.
    This is where I think the speciality paddle shop really adds value. I hope every paddler has access to 1 or more quality SUP shops that carry multiple brands (all boards have pros and cons) and have a stout demo fleet. The advice I give people looking to buy a new board, no matter the SUP discipline, is to Demo, Demo, Demo. Boards definitely are not a one board fits all kind of product.

    • mm


      February 23, 2017 at 6:55 pm

      I 100% agree. It’s one of the reasons I originally started blogging about this stuff. There’s very little information out there, and the information that is there is from team riders (aka biased).

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