Isle Versa Rigid Review
Cons: So-so maneuverability, could glide better
Compare to Similar Products
Isle Versa Rigid
$995.00 at Amazon
|$1,430 List||$1,479 List|
$1,479 at Amazon
$859.99 at REI
|Pros||Relatively inexpensive, lightweight, paddle included||Fast, stylish, stable||Good glide performance, very stable, reasonably priced||Looks cool, good for flat water||Inexpensive, durable, stable|
|Cons||So-so maneuverability, could glide better||Pricey, felt a little more fragile than other models||cumbersome to turn, not the most durable||Struggles with waves, no bungees included||Mediocre glide performance, extremely slow in choppy water|
|Bottom Line||If you are shopping on a budget for an all-around SUP, we think the Versa is a very good choice||Sleek, stylish, speedy, and stable, this board is one of our all-time favorite SUPs||The smooth-gliding Kraken blends speed and stability and is the best of the best for most people||If you want a flatwater board with classic lines and looks, this is a solid SUP||If you are searching for a soild SUP on a skinny budget, then this board is a good choice|
|Rating Categories||Isle Versa Rigid||Surftech/prAna Cata...||Boardworks Kraken||Pau Hana Malibu Cla...||Sun Dolphin Seaques...|
|Glide Performance (35%)|
|Ease of Transport (15%)|
|Specs||Isle Versa Rigid||Surftech/prAna Cata...||Boardworks Kraken||Pau Hana Malibu Cla...||Sun Dolphin Seaques...|
|Measured Weight (pounds)||26 lbs||27 lbs||26.6 lbs||31 lbs||46 lbs|
|Board Volume (liters)||175 L||203 L||326 L||234 L||Not listed|
|Weight Capacity||215 lbs||215 lbs||290 lbs||249 lbs||250 lbs|
|Width (inches)||32 in||32.5 in||32 in||34 in||33 in|
|Length (feet)||10 ft, 5 in||11 ft, 2 in||11 ft||10 ft, 6 in||10 ft|
|Thickness (inches)||4.5 in||4.8 in||4.8 in||4.0 in||6.0 in|
|Fin Configuration||Single||Single||Single, 11" center fin||Single||Single|
|Bungee Cargo System||Yes||Yes||No||Inserts Only||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Versa Rigid is a great option for beginners just getting into paddling. Not only does this board have a much lower price point than the premium products, but it also includes a dry bag, leash, and paddle — everything you need to hit the water right from the start.
First and foremost, we rated and ranked the glide performance of the Versa and the rest of the stand up paddleboards in our review. Performance in this metric is largely predicated not only on the shape of each SUP but also on its length. We took each of these boards out in both choppy and calm conditions, comparing the glide per paddle stroke and the effort necessary to get each SUP up to speed. Overall, the Versa did very well, meriting a score well above average.
While this board definitely has far from the pointiest profile we have seen, we were pleasantly surprised with how it performed, particularly in choppier water. This board is on the shorter side, so it won’t glide as far per stroke and probably isn’t your best bet for winning any races. However, it gets up to speed fairly well and glides far enough per stroke that we would be alright taking it on some longer tours — though you will be getting considerably more of a workout than with a race or touring-specific SUP.
It tracks well enough that you don’t need to alternate sides of the board for every paddle stroke, as long as you make sure that you are doing a J-stroke. We even took this board on an exceptionally windy day and found that you could make decent progress upwind with substantial waves — something the completely round, flatwater boards couldn’t come close to doing.
For our next round of tests, we looked at the stability of each board, particularly with an eye towards the novice paddler. In this set of tests, we not only looked at how stable each board is in inclement or wavy conditions but also how they handled with additional weight, like kids or cargo. The Versa Rigid again did very well, earning a solid score.
The size of the board we tested — 10 feet, 5 inches — has a moderate displacement of 175 liters, a width of 32 inches, and a recommended capacity of 215 pounds. This is a bit smaller than many of the other boards, so it can get a bit squirrely if you get close to that, either from kids, cargo, or just the weight of the paddler. However, this board is available in a longer length of 11 feet, 2 inches, which adds about an inch to the width and boosts the capacity to 275 pounds. This should add considerable stability and might be something to consider if you worry that you are going to be getting close — or exceeding — the capacity of the shorter SUP.
While the Versa isn’t the widest board in the review, it does handle wakes and waves surprisingly well. It also has enough of a surf profile to catch waves. True, you are probably going to be taking a swim if you let a significant wave hit you broadside, but it does cruise over most waves easily enough if you angle into them.
Next, we moved on to scoring and evaluating how nimble and agile each board is. We scored each SUP on how confident we were that we could avoid an unexpected obstacle at speed, how easy and the number of paddle strokes required to complete a U-turn, and how each board felt while slaloming and leaning into the turn. The Versa fared quite well in this metric, meriting an above-average score.
This shorter board has a definite edge in our U-turn test, taking considerably fewer paddle strokes and a much smaller area to turn around in — especially compared to the extra-long touring boards.
It also has a slower maximum speed, making it a bit easier to swerve to avoid an obstacle, like a sunken log, and is stable enough that you usually won’t fall off in the process. However, it isn’t the surfiest board around, so leaning heavily into turns can definitely dump you into the water, particularly when combined with transverse waves.
Ease of Transport
When it comes to ease of transport, we found the Isle Versa to be fairly average. We based this on its weight, length, and ergonomics of the handle.
The Versa is actually one of the lighter boards of the bunch, tipping the scales at around 26 pounds.
This stand up paddleboard has a pop-up handle in the middle that is fairly comfortable to hold. This, combined with the lighter weight of the board, make it decently easy to carry for short to medium distances — perfect for when the parking situation isn’t that close to the water.
The pop-up part of the handle can be a bit annoying, especially if you store your board on overhead racks, as it sometimes won’t pop out immediately, and you can be left in an awkward position shaking the SUP to knock it loose. We definitely experienced this on a ladder when trying to take the SUP down from storage in the garage rafters.
For our final testing metric, we looked at the durability of each stand up paddleboard, basing it on any damage sustained throughout our comprehensive testing process. The Isle Versa did decently well, earning a middle-of-the-road score.
This SUP is as fragile as we would expect any rigid/composite/epoxy board to be. It has a foam pad to stand on, which also gives it some nice cushioning for transporting your board on roof racks. It did sustain some minor scrapes and scuffs but nothing too bad.
If you are searching for a great entry-level SUP without spending a ton of cash, then this is a great option.
All in all, we think the Isle Versa is a great, all-around stand up paddleboard, particularly if you are shopping on a limited budget. It’s got good enough glide performance for longer tours but is still stable enough for windy or wavy conditions. It’s maneuverable and easy to carry. We highly recommend this board for most beginner or intermediate paddlers — or anyone who isn’t at the point where they want a quiver of specialized SUPs for different conditions. However, we would potentially recommend sizing up to the longer board, as the 10’5” does have a fairly low weight capacity, especially for larger adults.
— Marissa Fox
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