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Tower Xplorer Review

Excellent stability and respectable glide performance stand out for this jumbo paddle board
Tower Xplorer
Photo: TOWER
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Price:  $949 List
Pros:  Glides well, stable
Cons:  Humongus, not easy to transport or inflate
Manufacturer:   Tower
By Nick Bruckbauer, Leslie Yedor, and Shey Kiester  ⋅  May 18, 2020
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 12
  • Stability - 30% 8
  • Glide Performance - 25% 7
  • Maneuverability - 25% 6
  • Ease of Transport - 10% 2
  • Ease of inflation - 10% 3

Our Verdict

The Tower Xplorer is one of the biggest inflatable paddle boards on the market, measuring a whopping 14' x 32" x 8". It's a big, heavy, awesome board that will definitely make you reconsider your ultralight addiction. It glides nicely and solidly cuts through rough choppy water or boat wake with ease. The Xplorer also offers good tracking and maneuverability for such a big and bulky footprint. It is the least convenient board we've tested to transport, but once on the water, it is well worth the trouble. Its best use would be for users who live near a lake and don't need to regularly inflate, deflate, and transport it.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Tower Xplorer
This Product
Tower Xplorer
Awards  Editors' Choice Award   Best Buy Award 
Price $949 List$1,000 List$1,399 List$795 List$750 List
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Star Rating
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Pros Glides well, stableStable and fast, carbon reinforced construction, kayak conversion kit, high-volume pumpVery rigid, lightweight, maneuverableStable, tie-downs and handles on both ends, nice paddleSolid all-around performance, includes a good paddle, appropriate price point
Cons Humongus, not easy to transport or inflateHeavier, somewhat expensiveExpensive, doesn't include a paddleNot super fast or maneuverableLacks rear bungee system, lacks a front handle
Bottom Line Unwieldy on land but stable and easy to turn in the water, the Xplorer is worth the trouble of hauling aroundA high-performing SUP board that includes accessories to convert it to a kayakA smaller but versatile board with excellent all-around performanceScores well across the board with consistently solid performance and well-executed design detailsThis simple, stylish board performs well and has a reasonable price
Rating Categories Tower Xplorer Bluefin Cruise Carbon Hala Carbon Straight Up Isle Explorer Atoll 11'
Stability (30%)
8
9
7
8
8
Glide Performance (25%)
7
9
7
8
8
Maneuverability (25%)
6
7
9
6
6
Ease Of Transport (10%)
2
5
7
8
7
Ease Of Inflation (10%)
3
7
7
7
7
Specs Tower Xplorer Bluefin Cruise... Hala Carbon... Isle Explorer Atoll 11'
Dimensions inflated 14' x 32" x 8" 12' x 32" x 6" 10'6" x 32' x 6" 11' x 32" x 6" 11' x 32" x 6"
Weight (lbs) 36 lbs 28 lbs 23.5 lbs 22 lbs 22.5 lbs
Weight Capacity (lbs) 800 lbs 309 lbs 350 lbs 275 lbs 400 lbs
Dimensions folded up (inches) 36" x 18" x 18" 34" x 15" x 10" 33" x 18" x 10" 33" x 12" x 12" 34" x 14" x 8"
Paddle Included? Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Time to inflate (minutes) 5-10 5-9 5-9 4-7 4-7
Pump included? Yes Yes, high-pressure, dual chamber Yes Yes Yes
Fin configuration Large detachable center fin 2+1 plastic fins, with large detachable center fin 2 removable side fins, 8" center flex fin 2+1 plastic fins, with large detachable center fin 2+1 plastic fins, with large detachable center fin
Bungee cargo system No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Comes with backpack No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Warranty 2 years 5 years 3 years 1 year 2 years

Our Analysis and Test Results

With a huge footprint and overall volume, the Tower Xplorer is the largest board in our lineup. It provides great stability and respectable performance but is relatively difficult to transport and inflate.

Performance Comparison


The whopping 8" thick, Xplorer stand up inflatable paddle board.
The whopping 8" thick, Xplorer stand up inflatable paddle board.
Photo: Valentine Cullen

Stability


The Xplorer is a very stable board with its large footprint and volume, but it stands very tall on the water. It measures 8" thick, which is the thickest board that we've tested. The one thing that is great about it being so thick is that it actually maneuvers more easily than most other boards we tested, especially if you lean into the turn.

The Xplorer (8" thick) and the Wakooda (6" thick), note the...
The Xplorer (8" thick) and the Wakooda (6" thick), note the increased thickness and length of the Xplorer.
Photo: Valentine Cullen

Glide Performance


Most of the other boards tested seem to take a bit more paddle action to get moving through a turn. The Xplorer easily glides through turns with a lot less effort. It is extra responsive to maneuvering via leg movements and leaning, and requires less paddling than other boards that we tested. It is a delightful board to paddle on and glides well through the water despite its seemingly humungous footprint.

Maneuverability


With its 36-pound weight, 14-foot length, and 8-inch height, the Xplorer is definitely not the most maneuverable board that we tested. Its humongous size makes it difficult to paddle into tighter spaces and makes it more difficult to turn on a dime. While its glide performance and maneuvering are responsive to leaning and leg movements, its overall size makes it less responsive to technical paddle movements.

Ease of Transport


The Xplorer doesn't score very well in this metric because at 36 pounds it is the heaviest board that we've ever tested. Forget about transporting it fully inflated. It's way too big. It takes a bit longer to deflate and roll up than other boards, and doesn't come with a convenient custom carrying backpack like most other models in our lineup. The combination of its size and lack of carrying system makes it very inconvenient to haul around.

Ease of Inflation


The Xplorer loses some points in the category because it's so huge that it takes a very long time to pump up by hand. It does earn extra points for having an inflation valve and pump hose ends that are the same as most other boards tested. This is nice to have just in case you want to use an electric pump or need to switch out some hardware with another pump.

Not the best idea for sure! This is the Xplorer after getting pumped...
Not the best idea for sure! This is the Xplorer after getting pumped up in the boat trailer parking lot on a day when a small boat launch ramp was very busy. Too busy to take up space pumping up a paddle board. We pumped it up up the hill and drove it down for a launch. Note that the nose is touching the front windshield. This gives you an idea of how massively huge this board is.
Photo: Valentine Cullen

Value


This board has one D ring on both the nose and the tail and doesn't come with a cargo system or extra D rings to install a cargo system on your own. The Xplorer does come with a high-quality paddle though. It has a twist to tighten adjustment/attachment system like most of the other paddles that come with boards, but this paddle has a 13.5" long padded foam grip added which is awesome and instantaneously became a favorite. We would like to see at least a small cargo system and perhaps a handle or two. It is made with the same durable material as the other boards made by Tower.

The awesome foam grip that comes on the paddle that came with the...
The awesome foam grip that comes on the paddle that came with the Xplorer.
Photo: Valentine Cullen

Conclusion


This massive no-frills board is great to paddle on busy lakes with lots of boat traffic because it cuts through waves easily. It's heavy and huge, but it is surprisingly easy to maneuver if you lean into the turns. It sits tall in the water with its massive eight-inch thickness. The Xplorer is rated to hold a whopping 800 lbs.

Nick Bruckbauer, Leslie Yedor, and Shey Kiester