Tower Xplorer Review
Cons: Humongus, not easy to transport or inflate
Compare to Similar Products
|Price||$949 List||$999.00 at Amazon||$1,399 List||$795.00 at Amazon||$750 List|
|Pros||Glides well, stable||Stable and fast, carbon reinforced construction, kayak conversion kit, high-volume pump||Very rigid, lightweight, maneuverable||Stable, tie-downs and handles on both ends, nice paddle||Solid all-around performance, includes a good paddle, appropriate price point|
|Cons||Humongus, not easy to transport or inflate||Heavier, somewhat expensive||Expensive, doesn't include a paddle||Not super fast or maneuverable||Lacks 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 around||A high-performing SUP board that includes accessories to convert it to a kayak||A smaller but versatile board with excellent all-around performance||Scores well across the board with consistently solid performance and well-executed design details||This 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'|
|Glide Performance (25%)|
|Ease Of Transport (10%)|
|Ease Of Inflation (10%)|
|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"|
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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