Reviews You Can Rely On

Isle Explorer Review

A reasonably priced board with high-end materials and construction and solid all-around performance
Isle Explorer
Photo: Isle
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Price:  $795 List | $795.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Stable, tie-downs and handles on both ends, nice paddle
Cons:  Not super fast or maneuverable
Manufacturer:   Isle
By Nick Bruckbauer & Jenay Aiksnoras  ⋅  Jul 1, 2021
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 14
  • Stability - 30% 8
  • Glide Performance - 25% 7
  • Maneuverability - 25% 6
  • Ease of Transport - 10% 8
  • Ease of inflation - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Isle Explorer has high-quality materials and construction, excellent stability, admirable glide, and a reasonable price. This SUP can handle everything from long-distance paddles on the lake to windy afternoons and spicy descents down creeks and rivers. With a dual cargo system and an easy-to-use carry handle, the Explorer has plenty of room on deck for all of your gear and is easy to haul in and out of the water. Even with all of these features, it's still one of the lightest boards in our lineup. This is the model we'd recommend for paddlers wanting solid all-around performance with higher-end materials, construction, and style without the premium price tag of the most expensive boards.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Isle Explorer
This Product
Isle Explorer
Awards  Best Buy Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $795.00 at Amazon$795 List$599 List
Check Price at Amazon
$400 List$309.99 at Amazon
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Pros Stable, tie-downs and handles on both ends, nice paddleSolid all-around performance, includes a good paddle, appropriate price pointLightweight, affordable, playful design, includes a capable paddleLightweight, good all-around performance, excellent valueInexpensive, easier to inflate than larger options
Cons Not super fast or maneuverableLacks rear bungee system, lacks a front handleNot very fast, unstable in rougher waterLimited maneuverability, no dual cargo systemSlower and less stable, minimal cargo space, no front or back handles
Bottom Line A reasonably priced board with high-end materials and construction and solid all-around performanceA simple, good-looking, well-priced board with solid all-around performance ideal for most paddlersA fun, lightweight board that provides an affordable way to get on the waterAn affordable price tag and respectable performance highlight this fun and lightweight boardAn affordable entry level board for families or lighter folks who are unsure of their commitment to the sport
Rating Categories Isle Explorer Atoll 11' ROC Inflatable SUP Funwater 11 SereneLife Inflatable
Stability (30%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Glide Performance (25%)
7.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
5.0
Maneuverability (25%)
6.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Ease Of Transport (10%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
Ease Of Inflation (10%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
Specs Isle Explorer Atoll 11' ROC Inflatable SUP Funwater 11 SereneLife Inflatable
Inflated Dimensions 11' x 32" x 6" 11' x 32" x 6" 10' x 32" x 6" 11' x 33" x 6" 10' x 30" x 6"
Weight (lbs) 22 lbs 22.5 lbs 17.8 lbs 18.9 lbs 25 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
Paddle Included? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Folded Dimensions (inches) 33" x 12" x 12" 34" x 14" x 8" 34" x 12" x 14" 34" x 16" x 7" 33" x 12" x 12"
Weight Capacity (lbs) 275 lbs 400 lbs 300 lbs 330 lbs 275 lbs
Bungee Cargo System Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Pump included? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Includes Backpack Yes Yes 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.

Performance Comparison


The Isle Explorer is a high-performing board that balances...
The Isle Explorer is a high-performing board that balances all-around performance with good stability and cargo-carrying capabilities.
Photo: Jenay Aiksnoras

Stability


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.

The shape of the Isle Explorer is designed for stability.
The shape of the Isle Explorer is designed for stability.
Photo: Jenay Aiksnoras

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.

Glide Performance


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 removeable center fin and two attached fins provide stability...
The removeable center fin and two attached fins provide stability and maneuverability when paddling the Isle Explorer.
Photo: Jenay Aiksnoras

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.

Maneuverability


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.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

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.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

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.

Value


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.

The Isle Explorer is a great all-around board with a reasonable...
The Isle Explorer is a great all-around board with a reasonable price. It handles well in most paddling conditions.
Photo: Jenay Aiksnoras

Conclusion


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