Walk on Water
Walking on water is one of humankind’s enduring fantasies. With boats, we get close. And with stand up paddle boarding (SUP), we get even closer. All that allure and mystery makes for a big market for SUPs, and it can be daunting to choose one. When looking for a SUP to test, we had a few criteria. It had to be inflatable, so boaters can pack it up and stow easily for adventures. It had to have a high weight capacity, so every member of your party can join in on the fun. And it had to be just as sturdy as a solid SUP, the (generally pricier) alternative to an inflatable.
The iRocker All-Around 11x32 ($749) meets all those requirements, and it has a two-year warranty to boot. Buoyed by the prospect that we, too, could join the walking-on-water party, we put it through its paces on Block Island and the Connecticut River. The board, paddle, pump and fin all store comfortably in the backpack, which was easy for testers of varying strength to carry. The whole shebang weighs 39 pounds. The board itself weighs 27 pounds, which is heavier than some competitors. But what’s lost in bulkiness is gained in its ability to support 435 pounds, nearly double most SUPs.
Set up is simple and quick (it took us 3 minutes), so long as you follow the inflation instructions, which advise utilizing the pump’s three settings in the proper order. I am ashamed to say I failed to follow directions the first time, which meant I struggled to achieve the recommended 14 psi. But, alas, on the second attempt I easily achieved full rigidity.
With a grippy deck that extends all the way to the rear, the board felt stable. I didn’t whip out my headstand, but the way the board tracked and handled oncoming waves, I venture ambitious users could do yoga without slipping off. And even if they do, the included ankle leash will keep the board from floating away. Our Block Island testers took the SUP aboard a 40-foot Hinckley and were pleased to find it didn’t overwhelm the space. The board’s material is strong but not abrasive, leaving no marks or scratches on board.
When play time was over, I paddled to shore and popped off the fin. I deflated the board manually until the pressure was low enough to twist the valve lock, and within a few minutes it was rolled up and cinched tightly with its accessories in the big blue backpack.
Maybe next time I’ll try that headstand.