BLACKFIN Model XL iSUP Review
- Well built, stable, multi function board - great for everything from paddling in open ocean waters to fishing in the local lake.
- High weight capacity great for larger paddlers and taking gear/kids, but still paddles well as a solo board
- Durable. iRocker slowed down production and improved the construction, and it has shown through in our crazy testing of this board (yes, we went wayyyy too far testing this boards durability, but it still held up)
- Heavy duty construction (triple layer PVC, carbon fiber rails) + 3 Year warranty on seams, 2 years on other board elements
- Great speed on the water for such a large inflatable SUP.
- Plethora of D-rings, action mounts, straps, and accessory mounts
- We like the new designs and 6 different color options
- New board building tool allows you to customize your kit (so no need to purchase a manual pump if you already have 1 or 2)
- Rear action mounts could be integrated into the side handles
- We like the dual chamber pump, but would like to have a deflate valve to help packing up the board.
Improved construction lead to more rigidity and better paddling performance on the updated 2023 Blackfin Model XL
The Blackfin XL has long been one of my personal favorite iSUPs, and has consistently ranked at the top of our best inflatable paddle board lists. With the boards being recalled last year along with several other brands’ boards, we wanted to make 100% sure that we felt good about recommending the Blackfins again.
And we do – 100%. In fact, we’ve been so impressed with the improvements of the 2023 Blackfin lineup, that we are awarding the board as one of the best overall inflatable SUPs for 2023.
Bottom line: the 2023 Blackfin Model X is new, improved, and ready to make yet another splash in the SUP industry. It’s back as one of my personal go-to boards when I need a larger, more stable iSUP that I can load up with gear and/or paddle around the lake with my family, or even take out fishing.
This is a great board for:
- Beginner and/or bigger paddlers (height above 6’ and over 200lbs) looking for a seriously stable board that also allows them to bring a lot of gear
- More experienced paddlers who want one board that does most everything really well, including going on long SUP adventures where you need to carry a lot of gear
- Families who want to easily take a child or pet (or both) as well as a days supplies for a nice day on the water
- SUP fishing enthusiasts who want to be able to carry all their tackle with them to their favorite fish holes
- Anyone wanting to paddle in a variety of waters, from flat water lakes to rivers and open oceans.
Blackfin Model XL: Spec Sheet
- Main Category: Large All-Around
- Nose Shape: Wide, but slightly pointed (good combo for stability without killing speed)
- Tail Shape: Square (also helps with speed)
- Board Dimensions: 11’6” x 34” x 6”
- Listed Board Weight: 29 lbs
- Listed Max Capacity: 485 lbs
- Recommended PSI: 14-16 psi
- Fins: Nylon, triple flip lock, removable
- Materials: Triple layer composite PVC, carbon-fiber reinforced rails, knitted linear drop-stitch inner core
- Paddle (OPTIONAL): Full carbon shaft + Nylon blade
- Price Range: Medium to High
- Warranty: 3 yrs (seam leaks) + 2 yrs for board defects
Performance Review of the Blackfin Model XL Stand Up Paddle Board
Overall Score: 9.8/10
- Stability: 9.8/10
- Speed: 8.9/10
- Tracking: 8.9/10
- Maneuverability: 8.8/10
- Construction Quality: 9.4/10
- Features/Accessories: 9.8/10
Stability Rating: 9.8/10
At 11’ x 34” x 6”, this is a high volume, very stable inflatable SUP – one of the most stable on the market.
A few years ago, the Blackfin lineup stood almost alone in the space of large, all-around inflatable SUPs. And while there are several other ‘big board’ options now, the Blackfin XL still is one of my favorites. If you’re comparing, you’ll notice that the Blackfin is ever so slightly less stable than the Isle Switch and Hydrus Joyride XL. However, we are talking very slightly and marginally – to the point that you have to really focus to be able to tell the difference.
If you look at the overall board shape of the XL Blackfin, you’ll notice that it’s a fairly wide board throughout, from the nose to the tail. However, it does pull some elements from more classic touring SUPs: it tapers slightly in the nose, and is squared off in the tail, and that does improve its speed performance a bit (see below).
However, that doesn’t negatively impact the stability. If you are a larger paddler (above 250, and over 6’5) then you are still going to be fine on this board. We’ve tested it with our staff, and we have 3 paddlers who are all above 6’2 and 225 lbs. All of them absolutely love paddling the Blackfin XL and it’s one of the boards they consistently take out because of how stable it is for them.
For 2023, iRocker also improved the construction (see below as well), making the XL even more rigid than last year. This increased rigidity helps maintain the board shape under load, and is one of the factors that give the XL its high weight capacity. For me, when I paddled the XL with my young teenager, that put us to 250 lbs. Yes, the board was slower with Max on the board, but we were completely fine stability-wise.
Speed Test: 8.9/10
|Top Sprint Speed:||5.2 MPH|
|Average Cruising Speed:||3.6 MPH|
Once again, the Blackfin Model XL surprised us in our speed tests. I actually was able to reach 5.2 MPH at top speed in my sprint test and 3.6 MPH in our cruising speed test.
Put simply: the XL is a fun SUP to paddle, which we can’t say about too many other 11’6 x 34” wide iSUPs.
For top speed, I was able to hold that 5.2 MPH for a good 5-7 seconds, which is .2 – .3 MPH faster than expected of an inflatable SUP of this size. We attribute this speed as a result of iRocker tapering the Blackfin XL in the nose and then tapering and squaring off the tail.
If you’re looking for a board to go out and tour/fitness paddle 2-3 miles, a few times a week then the Blackfin XL is not going to be your first pick. However, if your looking for an inflatable SUP that provides a ton of weight capacity and is still fairly fast, then the XL is going to be towards the top of your list.
Tracking on a 34” wide board is going to come down mostly to the paddlers experience. If you are a skilled paddler, then you won’t have any problem keeping the Blackfin XL straight. I was able to paddle 6-7 times on each side before I needed to switch sides (5-6 if I’m trying to be super straight).
I’m actually always surprised at how it’s fairly easy for me to keep the Blackfin straight, and when I’m taking this out for fun I almost never have to think about the tracking.
For beginners, the tri-fin setup + 11’6 length also helps you keep the board straight as you build up your paddling skills. This is not a board where you’re going to need to worry about tracking.
You shouldn’t expect an iSUP that is 11’6 x 34” to be incredibly maneuverable, as that’s not it’s purpose and you don’t want to take away from the tracking capabilities.
However, you do want a SUP that isn’t overly hard to turn using either forward or back sweep strokes. The Blackfin Model XL did pretty good there, taking just 4.5-5 back sweep strokes to turn around fully.
In addition, I like to test out how easy it is for someone to do a step back turn (see the first photo above). In the step back turn, I want to be able to easily and comfortably plan my rear foot directly over the fins, pushing them down and lifting the nose out of the water. This should make it so I can basically spin in circles.
I found the XL to be on the easy side of things when it comes to step back turns, and would be a great board for beginners to learn on. However, I would note that there are a few of the accessories that can get in the way (scotty mounts, bungee cords), and there is not a raised kick pad to plant your foot on. That is something I’d love to see improved on the next Blackfin models, as raised kick pads make step back turns much more comfortable.
Construction Quality: 9.8/10
The Model XL follows the same construction as the Blackfin Model X and Model V: what iRocker terms “Triple Layer Composite PVC, carbon fiber rails, and reinforced seams”. What this actually means is the Model XL has the following construction:
Drop Stitch Inner Core:
- Knitted Base Layer. This fabric layer that the nylon threads, or ‘space yarns’, attach to and forms the base shape of the board.
- Linear nylon threads.
We see that in the dimple pattern on the board.
- Dual layer PVC, glued to the base layer
- Two layers of PVC, glued
- Carbon Fiber Stringer running from about 2 feet from front and rear of the board)
- Reinforced seam PVC tape
We are seeing a few brands move to a combination of welded seams, fusion construction, and woven cross drop stitch inner cores. iRocker, however, decided to stick with the same construction process they have had the past few years with two big exceptions:
1. They slowed down the construction process. Yes, this is something they claim and that can be hard for us to verify. However, what I can tell you is that the rails on this board are straighter and more crisp than past boards and everything looks and feels much more precise. This is a very clean, well-made board.
2. The decreased the amount of space between the top and bottom layers of PVC on the rails of the board. This improvement is VERY important, and one that we pushed iRocker on pretty hard last year. We were stoked when they listened and decided to make this improvement.
Here at SupBoardGuide, we are still testing which construction methods we prefer, specifically between glued and welded seams. However, what we can say is that the Blackfin XL performed exceptionally well in our bend test, which is one of the biggest indicators of quality construction for a board and leads to great performance on the water.
Stiffness Test: .75” Bend
By reducing the rail gap and slowing down construction, iRocker was able to improve the rigidity of the Blackfin Model XL by 20% vs last year. I was able to feel this rigidity on the water, and love how we are seeing such a focus by brands on improving the construction of their boards.
We think iRocker did a fantastic job with the 2023 Blackfin Model XL, and think consumers are going to be very happy with not only the improved performance vs past models, but also with the improved durability.
One final note: iRocker lightened the rails, and no longer are offering black rails on the Blackfin lineup. While we have seen some people not love this from a design perspective we want to make sure we point out the reason iRocker did this: to reduce heat on the rails and improve durability. You will be surprised at how hot inflatable SUPs can get, especially when they are not in the water. We test boards routinely in 110 degree heat (we are located in southern Utah about 2 hrs away from Las Vegas, Nevada). Boards with black rails can literally burn you, and we have encouraged all brands to move away from black rails to lighter greys.
Features/Accessory Review: 9.8/10
As always, the Blackfin XL comes loaded with both features and accessories. This really is a board that you can do everything on. Included on the board are the following features (yes, this list gets a little bit long)
- Front and rear launch handles
- Front and rear, removable bungees (we love how they made these easily removable)
- Front and rear safety handles (also removable, but I always leave them on since my kids love them)
- 17 total d-rings
- Kayak dedicated D-ring mounts (note: iRocker removed one set of kayak D-ring mounts, so the connection is a little bit different than last year. We found the location a little better for single kayak paddlers, but a little more complicated for those who want to mount 2 kayak seats, although it’s still doable).
- 2 Scotty mounts + 2 sand spear mounts for the avid fisher peoples.
- Center handle for carrying the board (the board center handle was done well and leaves the board very balanced when carrying, which isn’t something we find with all SUPs)
- Tethered fin attachments so you don’t lose your fins
Overall, we love all the features that come included in the Blackfin, and is one area where the XL stands out vs its competition.
This year, iRocker has completely changed up the way you purchase the Blackfin XL. Instead of having a default kit that you have to buy, you are able to customize what comes with your board.
Included in the base price are the following:
- Blackfin XL inflatable paddle board (kind of goes without saying, but just in case…)
- 3 removable, flip lock fins (with tether attached to fin boxes)
That’s it, the board and fins. From there, you build your kit with the following items that you chose:
- Wheeled SUP bag (there will soon be 2 options to choose from and we’ll update our review with details when the new premium bag is available)
- Paddle (there will also be 2 paddle options to choose from here shortly, and we are excited to test out the new premium paddle to see if it’s worth the upgrade)
- Manual dual chamber, triple action pump (which we still wish had a deflate valve)
- Electric pump
- Coiled leash
Note: iRocker requires you to add a leash to the kit. We 100% agree with this and want to make sure all of our readers know to wear a leash when flat water paddling
Overall, we are still unsure of the new checkout process and wish that iRocker had an option to start with the normal base kit that includes a manual pump, leash, paddle, and bag and then let consumers choose what to upgrade or take away from the kit.
Summary Review of the Model XL Blackfin – 2023
I still love the Blackfin XL, and the more I paddle the more I find that I choose the XL when I’m taking my family paddling. If I’m paddling solo only, then I’ll grab the Model V, and if I’m going down a river then I’ll grab the Model X. For everything else, I personally have found the XL to be my favorite all arounder of the original Blackfin lineup.
It’s super stable, but still fairly fast, and it has a ton of deck space and volume for loading it up with my kids or with adventure gear.
Are there some small tweaks I’d like to see iRocker make? Of course. These include giving me an option to not have the fishing mounts and including a raised tail pad. However, these really are marginal ‘wants’ and by no means are problems with the board.
Improved quality and better design (in my opinion at least) make the Blackfin Model XL on of our top recommended inflatable SUPs for 2023.
As always, we hope this review of the Blackfin Model XL was helpful. We try to be as in-depth as possible. However, if you still have a question please comment below and we’ll do our best to respond.
Justin - Chief Paddler
Latest posts by Justin - Chief Paddler (see all)
- Isle 12′ Explorer Pro SUP Kayak Review, 2023 - May 2, 2023
- BLACKFIN Model XL iSUP Review, 2023 - April 25, 2023
- iRocker All-Around 10’ SUP Review 2023 - April 1, 2023
47 thoughts on “BLACKFIN Model XL iSUP Review, 2023”
“is a very unique board, which I can’t recommend”
Did you mean can instead of can’t
Haha yep! Cheers for that 🙂
Thanks for great reviews. I’ve just decided to buy a sup, and it is going to be either a irocker or blackfin board.
I’ve read all your reviews, a lot of other ones and watched videos.
I’m still in doubt what to choose
I have never been on any board before 😂 but since I live rigth next to the canals of Copenhagen habour (people ride sups, swim and there is a lot of motorboats) I want to be on the water as well. I would also like to take the board to the beach and suntan on the water a bit away from the crowded beach. I think I most often would bring my boyfriend or sister for company, but I might do some paddling alone as well. I’m 5 foot 11 iches and 180 pounds ( my boyfriend is 6 foot 3 inches and 210 pounds) so the weight capacity plays a role.
Since there can be some waves from motorboats in the canals, the board should be able to handle that as well.
What to prioritice: stability or maneuverability? I also imagine I would like some speed but you can’t get it all, and since I’m a complete beginner I guess that’s not so important
I have considered the allround, X, XL and V.
It sounds like the XL is the best for stability for more than 1 person but also best on completely flat water, so I’m wondering about waves. Then it sounds like the V might be easier to manouvre? Would the cheaper (price also plays a role) Allround be good enough (would it perform ok with a weight closer to its max). The X is the widest so maybe that is nice for suntanning.
Would you be able to recommend one of the boards for my purposes? As you can see my thougts are all over the place 😀
Based on how you plan to use the sup board and where you will be using it most I would recommend either the Blackfin X or the Blackfin XL for sure. It will give you the most stability especially with higher weight capacity with multiple riders. We have tested the weight capacity of the Blackfin boards past their weight capacity ratings with good results, so if you plan to be at the weight capacity or lower you shouldn’t have any issue. Let us know if you have any more questions. Here are links to both those sup boards for you. Blackfin Model X and the Blackfin Model XL
Thanks for your very helpful reviews!
I am trying to decide between nixy newport G3, irocker cruiser and blackfin X or V . I have paddleboarded maybe 10 times and have never had a problem staying on the board so far. I now live near the lake and I want to go out most days. I am 160lbs, 5’6″ female and will not be paddling with kids, but will go out most days with my 25lb small-medium size doodle. (Assuming she will take to it!)
I would like to explore the lakes on my board and I imagine at some point i will go on an overnight trip, but likely only once or twice a summer. Mostly I will go out for 1-2 hours at a time and a longer trip maybe once per week for 4-6 hours with a cooler and my speaker. Money is a factor, but I also don’t want to buy a board and then want to upgrade after a year or two.
Your advice would be super appreciated. Thank you, thank you!
Great questions! To be honest, you can’t go wrong with any of those boards – they are all great. However, given what your describing I would recommend either the BLACKFIN XL or Model V, with a slight preference to the Model V. If you ever end up paddling with your dog + a cooler and speaker, then you’ll appreciate the more room and weight capacity that comes with either of the BLACKFINS. They will also be more stable for your dog, so hopefully she will appreciate that!) The BLACKFINS are just super solid, and will last you forever – you for sure won’t end up with buyers remorse and wish you would have upgraded.
Between the Model XL and Model V, I would recommend the V slightly more than the XL because it’s geared more towards the touring side of things. If you are going on 4-6 hr long paddles, the V will be faster. The thinner width and extra length help it glide just a little better, but that is something you will notice on a 4 hr long paddle adventure (just note that it will be harder to turn and will paddle more straight – which is typically an advantage on a long paddle adventure).
Let me know if you have any other questions!
These reviews are incredibly helpful. Thank you for providing such great detail.
I’m trying to decide between the Blackfin X or the Blackfin XL. We live in Minnesota, and plan to take the board out mainly on calm lake areas. I am 5’6″, 120 lbs. My husband is 5’10”, 180 lbs. I will likely be the primary user of the board, but we would like something that can hold both of us on a single board, or one of us plus a small child, mainly for leisurely exploring.
The Blackfin models are appealing for their stability, but I am wondering if they will feel too sluggish in terms of speed or maneuverability when I am on my own. My solo use would still be mainly focused on leisurely exploring, so I don’t need the fastest or most agile option, but I want to ensure that managing the board on my own is not a struggle since the cons of your reviews mention that smaller riders may find the board too large – not sure if I fit in that category.
Can you provide any suggestions? Thank you so much for any input!
Great questions. For what you are looking to do, I would say the XL is a great option. You and your husband are very similar to me and my wife in terms of height and weight, and I can tell you that my wife personally loves the BLACKFIN Model XL. We took it out to paddle across Lake Powell (ended up paddling for about 7 hrs), and I can’t tell you how much she loved it! We also took our 3 year old, and he sat in the kayak seat and had a blast!
The board is a few lbs heavier than some, but it’s still lighter than a hard board and it performs very well in the water. I find the weight helps it glide really well, so even though it won’t feel super snappy and quick off the line, you make up for it in overall speed and glide. You will also need a bigger, heavier board if you want to fit both you and your husband on the same board.
I hope that helps – please let me know if you have any other questions!
Just wanted to send a quick update to say thanks so much for this feedback. I ended up going with the XL and just took it out multiple times over this past weekend at the lake. I love it! I was easily able to venture out on my own and my 3 yr old niece loved joining on the front. Can’t wait to try it with my husband next.
So awesome, and thanks for the update!!
Can you tell me the dimensions of the fishing rack mounting points? I am trying to figure out what is compatible with that screw pattern. My intent is to set up either rod holders for a salt water trolling setup or mount the Ram ball and socket system for more universal options.
What dimensions are your looking for? The distance between mounting points, or the dimensions of the actual scotty mounts?
I’m 6’1″ 165 lbs I’m trying to decide between the Blackfin XL or V? Primary use will be solo, but imagine 5-10 times a year I will have my girlfriend join me 5’5″ 125 lbs (or 1 -2 of my medium sized dogs, 30 lbs each).
I’m reasonably athletic at water sports so balance isn’t a personal issue but my significant other is a novice and has never SUP’d or kayak’d
We live in the Portland, Oregon metro area so have the Willamette River (slow moving current), but also a number of larger recreational lakes or sloughs.
I’m leaning toward the V over the XL, but hoping the V is stable enough for a novice female or the dogs? I’ll likely use it evening 50:50 on the Willamette River and Lake Oswego.
We also do a reasonable amount of camping with open lakes, but also have the availability of the Pacific Ocean just an hour drive away.
thoughts on best option?
I’d go with the V – that’s a fantastic board for what you are looking to do, and as long as your girlfriend is sitting down you won’t have any issues paddling with her. I just paddled the V with my daughter and we were both able to stand up and paddle together, but it was a little tricky at times. So, if you are mostly going to be the one paddling, then go with the V. However, if you are both going to be standing and paddling you will be better off with the XL.
With the dogs, they don’t weight that much so I think you’ll be great on the Model V with them as well.
Hope that helps – let me know what you decide to go with and if you have any other questions!
I purchased the Blackfin X a month ago and love it. I noticed right away that the angle of the paddle blade is very slight, whereas diagrams of how to hold a paddle correctly typically display a blade with a much greater angle. My husband and I were using them last weekend at Wrightsville Beach and an employee of a SUP rental shop yelled out to us and told us we needed to turn the paddle around. We have been holding it with the logo on the blade and down the shaft facing away from us and pointing towards the nose of the board. The Blackfin website has a diagram and written explanation stating the logo should be pointing towards the nose. I have been trying to contact the company to find out if the diagram they have on their website is referring to all of their paddles or is the 2020 paddle to be held differently. The grip does feel more comfortable if held with the logo pointing to the back of the board.
Michelle, that resource on their website hasn’t been updated for the 2020 lineup. You want the logo facing the back of the board. The grip will feel better and you will also have a much more efficient stroke that way.
Hello I want to get into paddle boarding and I’m a big guy 6′,2″ 270lb and was wondering if the blackfin xl would be a good board to start out on. Compared to all other boards this has the best quality and bes weight rating. I need to get away from my 100lb ascend kayak lol.
Given your height and weight, I think the Blackfin XL would be a fantastic board to buy as you get into paddle boarding. The quality is fantastic, and it’s a good price for what you get.
Hi great review,
I’ve just got into paddle boarding and looking at upgrading my board as i only bought a relatively cheap board. I live on the the coast in the uk and will split between sea and river boarding with and without the kids. What board would you recommend that is good for both sea and river ?
For that combo (river and sea), I’d recommend the Blackfin Model X if your looking to bring one child, and the XL if you are looking to bring 2. Both the X and XL do great in those situations, but the Model X is a little more maneuverable – which is nice in river situations where you have to cross from one side to the other, dodge a rock or tree, or for sections with light rapids.
Thanks you for the reviews and comments this is very helpful! I’m also going back and forth between the V and XL. I am leaning more toward the V because I am a short woman (5’4″, 125lb) and the 33′ width might be easier to reach out for me, but I don’t know if I am too short to maneuver a 12’6″ board. I am competitive and want to go on couple of miles rides/workouts on a calm river in MA. However, I am a beginner and also want to bring my 7yr old daughter on adventures so that’s why I’m also looking at the XL… I want her to learn paddling and not just sit on the board. Thanks for your advice.
Both the Model V and XL will work well for what you are wanting to do. I’ve been able to paddle on the Model V with my 11 year old daughter (her paddling with me, not just sitting down), and I’m around 170 lbs, so I don’t think you’ll have a problem. It was a little challenging at first for her, but we got it down after about 1/2 mile.
The main tradeoff you will have between the V and XL is that the V will be faster and a little easier to paddle/keep your paddle vertical, while the XL will be more stable.
Let me know if you have any other questions!
Thank you Justin!! I went with the model V, and we love it!!
Marie – that’s awesome!
I ordered the Blackfin XL based upon your You Tube review. I’m 5’7″ and about 180lbs but plan to be doing some fishing and paddling around some local Missouri lakes. I should get it within a week. I’m looking forward to testing it out.
Eric, glad our review could help! When you get your board, let us know how it goes – we’d love to read your review of the Blackfin XL as well!
I just picked up the XL last night, from I guy who only paddled it 3 times… His knee injures keeps him in his yak.
I’m 6’2″ 245lbs ish (beer density), and I have been buying and paddling iSUPs for over 6 years… Of course, my first one was only $400 shortboard that could hardly stand up on. Then I bought and sold three other boards of different sizes and shapes. Even tried boards at paddle events and taken some courses. Still nothing very stable. I’m always trying to save a buck and end up buying the lesser boards.
With the Blackfin XL, I jump right on board and paddled straight away this morning. Super stable for this big guy. I paddled comfortably along the CedarOak Island, hit a little wave action from a small motorboat while still standing on the board. First time I was ever able to do that. Paddled back with ease.
The XL has good speed but I also tried it with only the center fin. It was still very stable and maybe a little faster. Did you get the same experience? Then I switched to running just the small fins for some clowning around… The turns were fun.
Bottom line. Big guys need stable boards so break out the big bucks and get on the water. I should have purchased a Blackfin XL years ago.
Thanks for sharing your review of the Blackfin Model XL! As far as speed goes, I get the most out of the board with all 3 fins and slightly shifting my weight to one side while paddling. This slightly lifts one edge out of the water and increases my water line just a little bit – so reduced friction + longer waterline = more speed. The Blackfin XL is one of the easier inflatable SUPs to do this on, and I find it a little bit more effective with 3 fins vs one. But that’s just me – you could have a different experience given you are bigger than I am (5’11 / 175 lbs).
Can the Blackfin Model XL accommodate two adults paddling?
Is tandem kayaking possible on this model?
The Model XL works for 2 adults as long as one is sitting down. I have paddled it with another adult, but more for just testing purposes – I’d never do that when I’m out with friends or family. If you want a true tandem board, then you can check out the 15′ Bluefin Cruise. That you for sure can paddle with two adults.
When comparing the Blackfin XL to the Bote HD Aero which have identical dimensions, I noticed the speed results varied a ton. I assumed with similar dimensions that the boards would perform closer. Both SUP’s are loaded with accessories is there a reason you’d rate the XL better, outside of the speed results that I just brought up?
Great catch on the speed differences. We rate the Blackfin higher because of speed, but it also performs better tracking and stability wise due to it’s larger, removable side fins. It’s also a little bit lighter. It’s listed at 29 lbs vs 30 lbs, but it feels a little bit lighter than that when carrying it.
I hope that helps. We still really like the BOTE HD Aero, but do prefer the XL.
Hi, Is it possible to connect two kayak seats to the XL Blackfin?
Many thanks, Mel
I personally have not tried to do that yet (although now I am going to have to!). However, there are enough d-rings where you in theory could do that. You might be a little crowded at the knees, but I think you can make it work.
Hello! Love, love, love my XL Blackfin, but the top layer is separating from the board. It is not ripped yet. I have emailed a few times with pictures with no response. Could you please tell me how to fix this? What kind of glue or how I should proceed?
Could you email the pictures to me at [email protected] ? It may be a simple fix, but it’s hard to say without seeing it. Thanks!
Find iRocker on Instagram. They were crazy amazing helping me with the warranty.
Hi is there any big differences between the blackfin XL 2021 vs 2022?
The construction and performance are essentially the same, the main differences are just cosmetic.
Question.. Im on a very windy and choppy (with lots of rollers) section of Lake Michigan. Between the Red Voyager (or 11.3 Sport) and the XL you just reviewed, what would handle those conditions best? I get there’s a big cost gap but trying to avoid using a rigid board which most use off the beach i’m near.. My current nixy Newport is too light and wobbly for my 5 ’10 205 frame… Unless you have any other ideas? THX!
That’s undeniably a tough choice, though either of those boards will handle wind and chop really well, so it ultimately just comes down to your preferences. The Blackfin XL is super stiff and has tons of stability, though it won’t be quite as fast as the 12’6 voyager. On the other hand, the 12’6 Voyager is just as rigid as the Blackfin XL due to the RSS battens and MSL construction, and is inclined to pick up a bit more speed, though it’s not quite as stable since the Blackfin XL has an extra 1″ in width (that’s not to say the Voyager 12’6 is unstable though, just isn’t as rock solid as the Blackfin XL).
Another aspect to consider is cargo space. If you’re consistently paddling with gear or more than a couple drybags, the Blackifn XL would be the better option as it has tons of storage space, where as the Voyager 12’6 has enough room for a couple of drybags, but not much else. It’s also worth noting that unlike the Blackfin XL, the Voyager 12’6 does not come with a paddle, but the rest of Red Paddle Co’s included accessories are a fantastic quality.
I realize that all of that info may be a bit confusing, so lets leave it at this: if you want stability above all else, with the option to bring along a load of gear, go with the Blackfin XL. If you’re looking for a SUP that offers a higher level of performance and speed, while still maintaining an accommodating level of stability, go with the Voyager 12’6.
Great thoughts thank you! Last question.. Do I gain a lot more in performance and Stability by going with a rigid board in my water conditions? The rigid boards seem to sit lower in the water and have different shaped hulls..
Yes, you will gain performance on a hard SUP, though we’ve found the performance difference to be minimized on some of our high quality inflatables. You’re right about them sitting lower in the water as well; this lowers your center of gravity, allowing you to feel more stable in heavy chop. They’re ability to sit low in the water also helps when you’re paddling against the wind, since not as much of the bard is exposed above the water surface. As for the hulls, generally speaking, hard boards will have either a planing hull or a V-hull. A planing hull is the ‘U’ shape and, when combined with an ideal amount of rocker, enables your board to glide over top of the water and over any wake and chop (though they can sometimes be a bit tricky going against the wind; you just need to take a step forward on your board to lower your nose a bit). Hard SUPs with ‘V’ hull (sometimes called a displacement hull) are fairly self explanatory (the nose is in a ‘V’ shape), and enable the board to slice through the water, thereby displacing the water on either side and contributing to a faster board overall. One thing to consider with V-hulls though is that they’re ideal in flatwater, and can handle a moderate amount of chop, but it’s super easy to bury your nose when the bumps get too big.
The main things to consider when deciding between a hard SUP and inflatable is volume. Inflatables typically have more volume than a hard SUP, meaning they’re able to support more weight than a hard board with the same length and width; this is especially important to consider if you’re a taller/heavier paddler. On top of that, there’s also the storage component to inflatables; if you don’t have the space or the ability to transport a hard SUP, than an inflatable is probably a better bet.
Is the Blackfin line worth the extra money over the regular iRocker line? I’m stuck between the Blackfin XL 11’6 or the iRocker All Around 11. I get it that the Blackfin is a little stiffer and a little faster. Is the construction and durability also better? Most importantly: how significant are the Blackfin’s advantages – major or minor – and do they ultimately justify the higher price over the iRocker?
(P.S. It’s awesome how responsive you guys are to the questions and comments here!)
It ultimately comes down to what you need as a paddler to decide whether or not it’s worth the extra money for you. If you need a lot of volume/stability and a higher weight capacity/stiffer construction, then the Blackfin is worth a little bit of a splurge. If you don’t need a ton of excess stability and will mostly be doing solo paddling then you’d likely enjoy the iROCKER 11′. I will note though that if you’re a heavier paddler or want to be able to truly load up with a ton of gear, that Blackfin XL is phenomenal.
Thank you so much for such detailed review. Mind if I ask what is the software you are using in tracking paddling as you showed screenshot here?
I believe Justin was using Strava through his Garmin watch. We’ve since switched to using data from an NK Sports Speedcoach, as we’ve found that to be a lot more accurate.