Isle Explorer Review
Cons: Not super fast or maneuverable
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|Pros||Stable, tie-downs and handles on both ends, nice paddle||Stable and fast, carbon reinforced construction, kayak conversion kit, high-volume pump||Solid all-around performance, includes a good paddle, appropriate price point||Lightweight, affordable, playful design, includes a capable paddle||Lightweight, good all-around performance, excellent value|
|Cons||Not super fast or maneuverable||Heavier, somewhat expensive||Lacks rear bungee system, lacks a front handle||Not very fast, unstable in rougher water||Limited maneuverability, no dual cargo system|
|Bottom Line||A reasonably priced board with high-end materials and construction and solid all-around performance||This fast, stable board can be paddled like an SUP or a kayak with a convertible paddle and included seat||A simple, good-looking, well-priced board with solid all-around performance ideal for most paddlers||A fun, lightweight board that provides an affordable way to get on the water||An affordable price tag and respectable performance highlight this fun and lightweight board|
|Rating Categories||Isle Explorer||Bluefin Cruise Carbon||Atoll 11'||ROC Inflatable SUP||FunWater 11|
|Glide Performance (25%)|
|Ease of Transport (10%)|
|Ease of inflation (10%)|
|Specs||Isle Explorer||Bluefin Cruise Carbon||Atoll 11'||ROC Inflatable SUP||FunWater 11|
|Inflated Dimensions||11' x 32" x 6"||12' x 32" x 6"||11' x 32" x 6"||10' x 32" x 6"||11' x 33" x 6"|
|Weight (lbs)||22 lbs||28 lbs||22.5 lbs||17.8 lbs||18.9 lbs|
|Fin Configuration||2+1 plastic fins, with large detachable center fin||2+1 plastic fins, with large detachable center fin||2+1 plastic fins, with large detachable center fin||2+1 plastic fins, with large detachable center fin||2+1 plastic fins, with large detachable center fin|
|Folded Dimensions (inches)||33" x 12" x 12"||34" x 15" x 10"||34" x 14" x 8"||34" x 12" x 14"||34" x 16" x 7"|
|Weight Capacity (lbs)||275 lbs||309 lbs||400 lbs||300 lbs||330 lbs|
|Bungee Cargo System||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Pump included?||Yes||Yes, high-pressure, dual chamber||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Isle Explorer is a favorite among our testers because it's stable, easy to paddle, lightweight, and has tons of cargo space. It scores near the top of its class in nearly every rating metric, and our team is always happy to take it out for a spin. The Explorer combines dependable all-around performance with higher-end materials and construction than most of the bargain-priced boards, but still comes in at a reasonable price compared to the higher-end competitors.
The Explorer is among the top performers in this metric, thanks to its hefty yet surprisingly lightweight dimensions. At 11 feet long, 32 inches wide, and 6 inches thick, this board provides plenty of width and volume to withstand choppy conditions. A triple-fin setup also helps improve stability while maintaining its ability to glide. This provides user-friendly stability for all levels of paddlers, including beginners, without hindering its performance capabilities for more advanced paddlers.
Interestingly, the Explorer's large storage capacity (which we love) with front and rear bungee systems can potentially get in the way of its stability. If you add larger loads but don't balance them properly, the board's stability will suffer. The Explorer is plenty capable of hauling heavier loads, but remember to evenly balance and secure your loads before launching.
This SUP scores well in our glide rating metric, but it isn't quite at the top of the class. Because of the Explorer's low weight, it's able to skim the water well, but its slightly bulkier profile makes it a little bit slower than some of the sleekest boats in the review. During mellow paddle sessions with friends in normal conditions, the Explorer can keep up just fine. When the water gets choppier or the intended pace increases, longer and thinner boards tend to excel.
The Explorer features two hard, smaller side fins with one larger removable middle fin. Most of our testers approve of this setup, which is commonly seen on other boards in our lineup as well. The center fin attaches using a small square screw. Be sure to keep it attached to the board or fin as it can be easily lost in the sand. This configuration of finds balances stability and glide performance on the open water but still allows for some stability in shallow water if you need to remove the larger fin for safety. A drawback to this design is that the built-in fins do not allow the board to be rolled up as tightly as we'd like, but it still packs down compactly.
The Explorer's profile and fairly wide dimensions land it in the middle of the pack in this rating metric. While it is maneuverable enough for general paddling in most conditions, other boards that are slightly shorter, narrower, more aggressively rockered, or include stomp pads can outmaneuver this vessel. We also found that it became more difficult to manage in windy conditions.
Ease of Transport
The Explorer is easy to transport with a very comfortable middle carrying handle that easily allowed testers to tackle a rowdy portage through scrub and mud. Plus, additional front and rear grab handles allow two people to tag-team the carry. Another bonus is that its overall lightweight construction won't tire you out too quickly.
With the included backpack, the Explorer easily rolls up and packs away with plenty of extra room for snacks and a towel. The pack is well padded and has enough room for the included pump, fin, leash, and paddle. The front of the bag does not unzip all the way to the corner requiring a little extra attention when unpacking and repacking. The side carry handle was helpful when moving the bag in and out of vehicles. The stock adjustable three-piece paddle that is included in the package has a hybrid design with a carbon fiber shaft and a nylon blade. It one of the best paddles included in any of the SUP packages that we tested.
Ease of Inflation
Like most of the boards in this review, the Isle earns a middle-of-the-road score in this metric. It outperforms some boards with larger overall volumes but gets outperformed by others with heavier-duty pumps. The stock pump included in the package is very similar to that of most of the products in our lineup. Unlike other pumps, this one has the color orange to designate the ideal inflation zone. The pump has two different potential attachment points. One is for inflation, and the other is for deflation. Be sure to take a close look before attaching the pump hose.
Our testers found that, in general, the inflation process is the biggest drawback to having an inflatable SUP. This process can be time-consuming if you use your board daily and do not have space to store it inflated. We recommend checking out an electric pump or preparing to get some serious muscles by the end of the summer.
This board is not the least expensive in the test, but it is certainly not the most costly, and it boasts exceptional overall performance and high-quality materials and construction. It has an extra-large cargo system with six D-rings in the front and four D-rings in the back, two sturdy handle straps on the nose and tail, and a sturdy middle strap. It also comes with a pump, fin, patch kit, SUP leash, paddle, and backpack. It is made of sturdy materials and comes with a one-year warranty. We tried to beat this board up, but it handled everything we threw at it with grace.
As one of the highest-scoring products in our test, the Isle Explorer is a well-loved SUP among our testers. This board is a high-performer in the water, and its construction and design make it among the most versatile boards in our test. With solid performance across the board and high-quality materials, and attention to detail, the Explorer is an excellent purchase.
— Nick Bruckbauer & Jenay Aiksnoras
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