By far the best value option of the entire group, the ISLE Versa is a fantastic all-around board that won't break the bank. Retailing at close to half what some of its competitors cost, the Versa holds its own, being exceptionally stable and gliding decently well. This earned it our Best Buy award and is our top recommendation for those that want a rigid SUP without spending a ton of cash and even includes a paddle.
ISLE revamped the Versa since our test cycle ended. Read on below to learn what's new on the updated board.
Our Analysis and Test Results
The 2019 ISLE Versa Epoxy vs. the Version We Tested
ISLE Surf & SUP upgraded the Versa with such features as an updated deck pad, new handle design, and a top sheet makeover. The whole package now comes with a 10' leash. See the updated version on the left, followed by the version we tested last year on the right.
Graphic Updates — The board got a facelift and is now available several different color and graphic options.
Updated Deck Pad — The latest Versa features a brushed EVA traction pad, designed to be non-abrasive when you're paddling on your knees.
Lift SUP Handle — The new retractable Lift SUP handle lifts up (hence the name!) from the center of the board when you need it, and also acts as a locking point to secure your board when you're away from it. Neat!
Cargo Bungee — The old Versa didn't come with a cargo bungee to hold down your belongings, but ISLE added that feature to the latest incarnation.
We haven't put the board to the test yet at OutdoorGearLab, and though we believe these are exciting updates to our Best Buy winner, the following text still refers to last year's version of this SUP.
The ISLE Versa performs well across the board, especially considering the vast discrepancy in price between it and the top models. This board is very stable and an excellent bet for beginning paddlers. It handles reasonably well, glides great, and won't demolish your wallet. This model matched the performance of our top-performing stand up paddle board, the Boardworks Kraken in the on water tests and cost hundreds of dollars less. What's not to like?
The Glide Performance metric accounted for 35% of the overall score. This metric consisted of two types of tests — conducted on smooth and choppy water — to evaluate each board's speed and efficiency. The Versa did reasonably well in the time trials we conducted, earning a 6 out of 10 for its above average performance.
The Versa did about average in the glide per paddle stroke test in calm conditions, taking about 45.5 paddle strokes on average to complete our course, compared to the top score of around 37. It did a little better compared to the rest of the group in the rough water version of the test, averaging 25.5 paddle strokes to traverse the test course, only slightly behind the top score of 22.5 put up by the BIC.
The performance of the Versa continued to improve in our time trial tests, doing very well in the calm water test. The average time of the Versa was 72.99 seconds. The Versa continued to perform above average in our choppy water time trials, only finishing a measly two seconds or so behind the top model. This close finish with the top boards is particularly surprising, as the Versa is at a distinct disadvantage to boards like the Boardworks Raven. The Versa is an all-around board, meaning that it's substantially shorter and broader than the touring and racing boards, subjecting it to appreciably more fluid drag.
The Versa did very well in our stability metric, earning an outstanding 8 out of 10 for its exceptional performance. This metric — making up 25% of the total score — consisted of a careful evaluation of each board's handling in rough and choppy conditions, the opinions of first-time paddlers when using this board, and the ease at transporting cargo or additional passengers.
This board did very well in rough conditions, staying relatively stable through minor wakes and waves. However, it couldn't quite match the resilience of the BIC in these conditions. The Versa wasn't quite as good as the Kraken or BIC at carrying cargo, whether it was kids, coolers, or canines, but it still was more than capable.
This model was also another favorite of beginners and first-time paddlers, especially for those that found the BIC too large and heavy to carry. It was the only board of the entire group — besides the BIC — that our parent testers felt confident enough to take a toddler on.
The Maneuverability metric — responsible for 15% of the overall score for each board — consisted of two tests to evaluate the agility and handling of each product. We timed each board through a slalom course made of buoys, as well as measuring the turn radius of each board through a U-turn — without back paddling. The Versa scored a 6 out of 10 for its above-average performance, putting it solidly in the middle of the pack.
The Versa excelled in our timed slalom obstacle course, completing it in 84.28 seconds — only lagging the top performer — the Raven — by about three seconds. However, the Versa's performance dropped to below average in our U-turn test, having a somewhat wider turning radius than boards like the Kraken or the BIC.
Ease of Transport
Performing about average, the Versa scored a 5 out of 10 in our Ease of Transport metric. This metric made up 10% of the final score, consisting of evaluating the difficulty of carrying each board, loading it on a car, and its weight, as well as assessing the ergonomics of the handle.
This board was about average in terms of weight, measuring in at 27 lbs, 9 oz. in our test. This meant the board was pretty easy to carry on land, with a standard recessed handle.
This model was decently easy to load on a car, a task that could be accomplished by a single person without too much difficulty.
Responsible for the residual 10% of the total score, our durability metric consisted of carefully evaluating and examining the condition of each board at the conclusion of our testing process, looking for any critical or aesthetic damage. In addition, we also scoured user reviews and forum to look for any common complaints or issues. The Versa scored 6 out of 10 in this metric, comparing quite favorably with the rest of the group.
This model only sustained a few minor scratches in the course of our testing — most likely from our canine transport test. It suffered no other damage, major or minor. We also found no commonly repeated issues or complaints with this model online.
This model is an amazing value, offering great performance at an unbeatable price. It was the only board of the entire group that scored well and cost less than a grand.
The ISLE Versa is a great stand up paddle board, particularly stable and beginner friendly. This model is a fantastic value, earning it our Best Buy award, and is the only model of the entire group that scored in the upper half of the group and costs less than a thousand dollars. On top of all that, it even includes a paddle. This is our top recommendation for anyone that is shopping for an excellent stand up paddle board and trying to remain on a budget.
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