Gear

This in­flat­able pad­dle board is ready for any ad­ven­ture.

Power & Motor Yacht - - IN THIS ISSUE - By Krista Karl­son

An in­flat­able stand-up pad­dle board has some ad­van­tages over its solid brethren with­out sac­ri­fic­ing us­abil­ity.

Walk­ing on wa­ter is one of hu­mankind’s en­dur­ing fan­tasies. With boats, we get close. And with stand up pad­dle board­ing (SUP), we get even closer. All that al­lure and mystery makes for a big mar­ket for SUPs, and it can be daunt­ing to choose one. When look­ing for a SUP to test, we had a few cri­te­ria. It had to be in­flat­able, so boaters can pack it up and stow eas­ily for ad­ven­tures. It had to have a high weight ca­pac­ity, so ev­ery mem­ber of your party can join in on the fun. And it had to be just as sturdy as a solid SUP, the (gen­er­ally pricier) al­ter­na­tive to an in­flat­able.

The iRocker All-Around 11x32 ($749) meets all those re­quire­ments, and it has a two-year war­ranty to boot. Buoyed by the prospect that we, too, could join the walk­ing-on-wa­ter party, we put it through its paces on Block Is­land and the Con­necti­cut River. The board, pad­dle, pump and fin all store com­fort­ably in the back­pack, which was easy for testers of vary­ing strength to carry. The whole she­bang weighs 39 pounds. The board it­self weighs 27 pounds, which is heav­ier than some com­peti­tors. But what’s lost in bulk­i­ness is gained in its abil­ity to sup­port 435 pounds, nearly dou­ble most SUPs.

Set up is sim­ple and quick (it took us 3 min­utes), so long as you fol­low the in­fla­tion in­struc­tions, which ad­vise uti­liz­ing the pump’s three set­tings in the proper or­der. I am ashamed to say I failed to fol­low di­rec­tions the first time, which meant I strug­gled to achieve the rec­om­mended 14 psi. But, alas, on the sec­ond at­tempt I eas­ily achieved full rigid­ity.

With a grippy deck that ex­tends all the way to the rear, the board felt sta­ble. I didn’t whip out my head­stand, but the way the board tracked and han­dled on­com­ing waves, I ven­ture am­bi­tious users could do yoga with­out slip­ping off. And even if they do, the in­cluded an­kle leash will keep the board from float­ing away. Our Block Is­land testers took the SUP aboard a 40-foot Hinck­ley and were pleased to find it didn’t over­whelm the space. The board’s ma­te­rial is strong but not abra­sive, leav­ing no marks or scratches on board.

When play time was over, I pad­dled to shore and popped off the fin. I de­flated the board man­u­ally un­til the pressure was low enough to twist the valve lock, and within a few min­utes it was rolled up and cinched tightly with its ac­ces­sories in the big blue back­pack.

Maybe next time I’ll try that head­stand.

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