*Product was supplied for this review, but it was not paid for and is an honest reflection of in-game experience*
TLDR: The ARIA Disc is a fantastic alternative to the Discraft Ultra-Star. It flies almost exactly the same and has a social good program that see’s your purchase go towards donations to a number of great Ultimate-based aid organisations.
A need for comparison
The Discraft Ultra-Star is largely considered the gold standard of discs within our sport. Over the years we’ve seen other competitor discs enter the market to varying levels of success. From the disruptive Innova to the dreaded Whammo, our community has turned them all away in favour of the Ultra-Star.
In writing this review it was interesting to ponder why we’ve become so attached to our current model of disc. Does our level of skill with the Ultra-Star mean that it’s the ‘best’ model? Could there ostensibly be a ‘better’ one out there that would hugely improve the quality of our sport? Interesting but largely irrelevant questions. Whatever the answer, the Ultra-Star has become so entrenched in our sport that any competitors hoping to succeed in the market must very closely mirror its flight pattern.
Enter the ARIA Disc, providing a strong alternative for any club or tournament looking to supply athletes with discs without changing their ability to play the game.
Does the price compare?
From what we can see the ARIA Disc is comparable if not a little cheaper than the Discraft Ultra-Stars. Both retail for custom orders around $6-7/disc at orders of 100 and then reduce in price as you buy more. This does not include international shipping.
For teams just looking to get off the ground, who might not need 100+ discs, ARIA offers this practice pack for a very reasonable price.
Design assistance is included in all bulk custom orders.
Does it fly differently?
In my testing and from observation during a full tournament with the ARIA Disc (Boon Rockstar Cup 2018) its flight path largely mirrors the Ultra-Star, with perhaps a slight tendency towards being more stable, holding the ‘shape’ of the throw for longer. This is near impossible to test as you’d need someone to throw EXACTLY the same throw twice in a row. A feat made much harder when you’re actually thinking about it. Below are a few side by side videos of my team mates attempting to duplicate a throw. It's pretty difficult to see and you really only notice ANY difference on longer hucks.
Can you see a notable difference?
We took this as a positive attribute of the ARIA Disc. Generally speaking, players don’t want to re-learn how to throw and it means that you can order from ARIA Ultimate without any risk of pushback.
So why should I buy from ARIA instead of Discraft?
Well supporting the little guy to ensure a competitive market place will always benefit the consumer. The more competition the better the product and service offering needs to be from all parties.
Other than that, one big benefit to ARIA Disc is its donation model, which sees it donate 10 discs for every 100 discs you by to an array of social partners. So not only can you sling quality plastic but you also get to feel good about it. In my mind, this is the key differentiator to ARIA disc. Ultimate has the power to change disadvantaged communities and the lives of those less fortunate around the world. If you haven’t seen this video on the impact of Ultimate on disadvantaged youths in India, take the time to watch it over your lunch break, really hard hitting and heart warming stuff.
Here are a list of the organisations you can choose to support with your purchase:
AGE UP empowers young women to develop positive identity and collective strength. We bring girls together across diverse backgrounds through the sport and community of Ultimate Frisbee to build a movement for social justice.
ASUH was formed to grow the sport of ultimate in Haiti beyond the single, existing grass-roots project of free youth clinics that now serves about 100 kids from low resource homes in the neighborhood of Peguyville in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This will be achieved by expanding our use of youth clinics, reaching out to schools, churches, and other civic organizations with a goal creating a self-sustaining community of youth players involved in weekly programs in the Port au Prince area.
Bridging the Gaps India is inspiring a generation of Indian youth to bridge the gaps created by poverty, gender and class through a uniquely designed ultimate frisbee-art camp.
Gauteng Ultimate is passionate about bringing Ultimate to youths from disadvantaged backgrounds in the townships of South Africa, providing them with a healthy activity and the support they need to believe in their future potential. The GFDA is committed to transformation in South African Ultimate.
Early Recognition Is Critical, E.R.I.C. employs Ultimate Frisbee Clinics and Spirit of the Game to teach youth about cancer symptoms, the importance of an active lifestyle, and speak up when something is wrong."