Duotone Unit Foil Wing Review
The Duotone Unit is one of the two wing options in the Duotone range, built in the “full inflatable” style featuring the inflatable centre strut/boom configuration, as opposed to the fixed/solid boom style (what we’ve seen on the Duotone Echo). We’ve now used the Unit a fair bit both personally as well as in teaching, and we’re going to do a full run down here on the new Unit’s performance and features as well as how it compares to the Echo and other wings we’ve used.
On the Beach
First of all before you even get it out of the bag you can see it’s pretty well designed in terms of travel and compactness. It packs down quite small and folds up into a compact tube style bag, much smaller than the Echo and other windowed wings we've used, and it’s quite lightweight too. The 5m complete in the bag weighs in around 2.4kgs. Definitely a big plus if you’re planning to travel with your gear.
Unrolling it we can see it’s got a window, and the placement is designed so that you can fold the wing in half without folding the window. This is good to see as we’ve seen the window placement cause issues with some other wings in terms of transport and storage, folding or creasing the window can potentially cause damage over time especially in cold climates so we’re glad to see it’s easy to avoid here.
The overall build is very nice, pretty typical for what we see from most Duotone gear it feels very robust and well made. Scuff pad reinforcing lines basically all the main seams on the leading edge, all the handles have large reinforcing patches around their attachments, and same with your trailing edge and connection between the strut and leading edge.
A notable feature of the Unit is this weird S shape strut in the middle, something we’ll elaborate a bit more on later. For now, lets just say it looks a bit odd but doesn’t seem to cause any problems in terms of the build/construction.
The handles themselves on the strut are very nice, they’re covered in a soft EVA and hold their shape really well, so they’re super comfy in your hands and easy to switch between too. Again, the reinforcing/attachment of the handles appears to be very robust.
In terms of setting up, it’s definitely super easy, one of the best we’ve used yet. No boom or extra attachments has you pumped up and ready to go in a minute or two, and it features the same Duotone Airport inflation system we see on the rest of their gear which is a great setup, very reliable and easy to use. Just make sure you have the right pump adapter!
One area the Unit really shines is in the packup. The simple addition of a dump/deflate valve on the centre strut has you packed up in only a couple of minutes. If you’ve used other full inflatable wings you likely know that this centre strut can take ages to go down, and often involves you squeezing the air out of it to compress it back into the bag. Between the max flow inflation connectors Duotone uses and the individual dump valve on the strut, the Unit doesn’t suffer from this issue at all and deflates in seconds. The S shaped centre strut also carries a lower volume of air than it would have if it was full sized, so this also likely helps to speed things along.
In the Air:
Getting out and flying the Duotone Unit, we’ve been sufficiently impressed so far. We’d mostly used the Echo with it’s solid boom design previously and have some experience with a couple of other full inflatable wings mostly from the previous generation, but the Unit definitely holds its own.
While losing the solid boom means you lose some level of control/agility, and precision, the simplicity of the handle system definitely makes up for it when it comes to beginners or those who don’t want to overcomplicate things. The handles are very well placed, comfortable in your hands and stand out from the strut being quite rigid with the EVA foam layer, so grabbing them and swapping between them is easy.
For learning especially this makes things extremely simple. You just grab onto the correct handles and go, no messing around or fiddling to figure out where you need to grab or how to hold it. For more experienced riders this does limit your degree of control though, so if you’re someone more technically minded or with a sailing/Windsurfing background there’s a good chance you’ll still prefer the control you get from a boom.
The unit is an extremely stable wing, more stable and better downwind drift than the Echo in our experience, probably the best out of all the wings we’ve tested. It sits very solid in the air, even on the front handle or on the end of the leash. This does translate to a bit less snappy/responsive movement, but for most wing applications this doesn’t seem to be a huge downside, many people preferring a more stable and easy to fly wing.
When flying, the S shaped strut definitely translates to a more comfortable flying position and posture, angling the front handle into a more comfortable position and bringing the rear handles in closer to the canopy than they’d be otherwise.
The wing also flies exceptionally well one-handed. We’ve only used the 5mtr so far, but a combination of the handle placement and the strut shape along with it’s very stable flying characteristics gives you a wing that handles one handed probably better than any other we’ve tested yet.
In terms of power delivery, it’s quite a grunty little wing too, has very good low end power generation and handles well in lulls, light wind or even just when drifting downwind.
Overall, the Duotone Unit is an excellent option for any discipline of wing foiling. We’d especially be recommending it for those who are surf foiling, down winding, or just learning. The handle layout, drift and simplicity of the Unit really lends itself to the “set and forget” style riding where you really want a power source just to get you going, and then be able to reliably shift your focus elsewhere, whether this be your surfing and wave riding, or just learning to actually ride your foil properly without having to focus on the wing too much.
Check out our video below to get a bit more info on the Duotone Unit, including full setup and pack down showing you just how easy it is to get out there with. You can view the Duotone Unit online here, and if you’ve got any questions on the Unit or other wings we’ve looked at feel free to contact us with your queries.