June 17, 2021
By Florida Sportsman Editor
When inflation is a good thing
I admit it. I’m getting tired of lugging around my 11-foot rigid fiberglass paddleboard. It’s awkward and not that light, especially when carrying it a half-mile down a trail to a launch.
I’m sure I’m not the only one. Today, inflatable paddleboards are becoming the new thing. With complex stringer systems and other features, these iSUP’s may be the answer for a fun day on the water.
Luke Hopkins, President of Body Glove Watersports, is a pioneer in the SUP world, and the kayak world before that. With feats like paddling the whole Grand Canyon of the Colorado River on a SUP, to winning medals in the world championship of kayaking, it’s safe to say he knows his way around paddle craft. He also designed Body Glove’s latest fishing specific iSUP, the Mariner.
What are iSUPs made of? My thought when I first saw one was “Oh, that’s going to pop on the first rock it hits,” or “it’s going to buckle with the first boat wake,” but you’d be pleasantly surprised at how strong they really are.
“ISUPs are fiber-reinforced PVC,” Hopkins said. “They’re crazy durable. We make every board strong enough to drive a car over it. The triple layer stringer design is part of the top and bottom of the board, promoting rigidity, with a focus on the centerline to keep tension. They are durable enough for fishing or paddling in rapids but are soft enough for my kids to crash into each other in a game of SUP joust.”
Fins are typically mounted permanently on iSUPs, but have enough flex that an abrupt stop on a rock won’t snap them off.
Appealing to the fisherman, iSUP’s are now outfitted with attachment points for accessories. For example, the Mariner has two Railblaza attachments that accommodate over 70 different accessories. Cooler tie-downs and anchor line guide system are also standard.
So: No more dinging the board on everything as I take it out of my garage to load in my truck. It’s an all-in-one deal. I don’t even need my truck now; a trunk of a car will suffice. You get everything needed to hit the water. A large bag backpack with wheels to carry everything, a pump to inflate the board, a paddle, a few accessories and of course the board. FS
First Published Florida Sportsman Magazine January 2019