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BLACKFIN Model XL Review



Overall Rating



  • 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
  • Plethora of D-rings, action mounts, straps, and accessory mounts
  • Heavy duty construction (triple layer PVC, carbon fiber rails) + 2 year warranty
  • Really nice weight in the water - not too heavy, but also not too light
  • The board I decide to take if I have to choose just one given it’s versatility


  • 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.
Note: The Blackfin Model XL is not currently available for sale on As such, the links in this post will take you to the newest Blackfin SUP – the Blackfin CX Ultra (read our review of the Ultra CX here)

We are big fans of the Blackfin CX Ultra, and recommend it for anyone looking for a faster, more compact SUP than the Model XL. If you are someone who is wanting a larger, wider board for stability reasons, then we currently recommend that you consider the Isle Switch (read our review of the Switch here).

-SupBoardGuide Team

The more we have tested and reviewed the Blackfin Model XL this year, the more we find ourselves loving this board. Yes, Blackfin has gone through the recall and that is super frustrating for paddlers. However, we are glad that iRocker has been so up front with everyone and that soon everyone will be getting their replacement boards for 2023 paddling season!

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The Blackfin Model XL proved itself as a jack of all trades in our review. With its high volume comes the ability to take more gear, people, and pets and adventure about anywhere you would want to go on the water. With triple layer PVC construction, carbon fiber composite rails, and tons of features and accessories this is a great board for fishing, touring, and whatever SUP adventure you may want to do. And with it’s high weight capacity, it’s a perfect SUP to bring the whole family!

This is a great board for:

  • Beginners looking for a seriously stable board
  • More experienced paddlers who want one board that does most everything really well, including going on long touring SUP adventures
  • Anyone looking for a stable, high quality iSUP
  • 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
  • Bigger paddlers ( height above 6’ or over 200lbs) and/or those looking to bring a lot of gear
  • SUP fishing enthusiasts who want to be able to carry all their tackle with them to their favorite fish holes

We think the Model XL is great for the following water conditions/situations:

  • Flat water paddling (lakes, bays, marinas, etc.)
  • River SUPing
  • SUP Fishing
  • Ocean paddling
  • Surfing in small surf (1-3 ft)

Blackfin Model XL Review Overview

The Blackfin Model XL comes with a brand new look as well as a major splash of 6 different color choices. I personally love the look and am a big fan of the several blue options. This board is really packed with all of the available accessory mounts you could ever need. Not to mention it comes with so much great equipment right out of the bag. All in all this board represents a great investment for new paddlers wanting a long lasting iSUP, as well as seasoned paddlers looking to upgrade from a smaller or less equipped board.

Blackfin Model XL Review 2023

Blackfin Model XL Nose
Blackfin Model X Overview

Note: We put in a lot of time riding and evaluating these iSUPs. Short spec reviews are just not our thing. We test the boards in real world conditions and try to get the best feedback for you, the consumer, to make an intelligent buying decision. If you have any questions or comments let us know below.

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Blackfin Model XL: Spec Sheet

  • Main Category: All-Around, Inflatable
  • Board Shape: All Around / Inflatable
  • Board Dimensions: 11’6” x 34” x 6”
  • Listed Board Weight: 29 lbs
  • Listed Max Capacity: 485 lbs
  • Recommended PSI: 15-18 psi
  • Fins: Nylon, triple flip lock, removable
  • Paddle: Full carbon shaft + Nylon blade
  • Materials: Triple layer composite PVC, carbon-fiber reinforced rails, high density drop stitch inner core
  • Price Range: Medium to High (depending on color price varies)
  • Warranty: 2 yrs + 1 yr for accessories

Official Test/Review: Blackfin Model XL

The results of our tests for the Blackfin Model XL are listed below. We try to test these boards in a variety of conditions to get the most usable data possible. Our goal is to verify the manufacturer’s claims so you can make the best decision possible.

Overall Score: 9.9
As a larger all-around iSUP, the Model XL performs near the top of the list when it comes to stability and versatility, and even did quite well with tracking as speed.

  • Stability: 9.7/10
  • Speed: 9.0/10
  • Tracking: 8.9/10
  • Maneuverability: 8.8/10
  • Construction Quality: 9.3/10
  • Accessory Review: 9.8/10

*Please note that we typically don’t award 10’s very often (if ever)

Our overall rating of 9.9 on the Blackfin Model XL is us saying this is one of the best, all-around inflatable SUPs.

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In-Depth Review of the Blackfin Model XL Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

Blackfin Model XL Perfomance Review

Blackfin Model XL Sand Spear Holder
Blackfin Model XL Sand Spear Holder

The Blackfin Model XL is just a dream to paddle. As I mentioned above, the more we paddled and tested iSUPs, the more we liked this board. It’s a great combination of everything you would want if you have to choose just one board. From paddling solo on long adventures, to carrying gear and kids and just having fun on the lake, this board does everything very well.

Stability Rating: 9.9/10

Stability is where this board really excels. It’s very large, well built, and extremely voluminous. This really makes this board a great choice not only for beginners, but those more advanced paddlers who want to bring a lot of stuff on the water with them. This board was not phased when we loaded multiple reviewers on it for a while as well.

We consider stability to be one of the single most important attributes of a stand up paddle board. No matter what other metrics the board may excel at, if it doesn’t feel stable underneath your feet you just won’t be having a good time.

Board Stiffness:
Stiffness Test: 0.8750” Bend at 18 PSI (board on top of saw horses placed 7’ apart, with 150 lbs of weight added right by handle in middle of the board)

There is still ongoing debate in the iSUP world on whether or not carbon fiber rails provide any benefit without being mixed with the resin and ultimately making them impossible to fold up. Based on our testing thus far it seems that the inclusion of these rails at the very least makes for a more durable exterior and is slightly stiffer than those without this type of construction. We are still testing each day to determine what side of the argument we fall on, but so far we do give the Blackfin lineup a thumbs up for including the carbon fiber rails.

The Blackfin Model XL is one of the stiffest boards we have tested thus far. Carbon fiber rails or not, this board just feels solid under our feet thanks to it’s triple layer PVC construction.

Weight Capacity:
Listed Weight Capacity: 485 lbs
Tested Capacity: 400+ lbs

This is the mack daddy of the BlackFin line in terms of weight capacity. With a manufacturer listed capacity of 485 lbs, this is one serious paddling platform. Take your friend(s), cooler(s), fishing gear, you name it. Bottom line this board will get you and your stuff wherever you need to go. Understand the performance goes down the more weight you put on the board, but with this board there is ample room for gear before you hit any decreased performance. As a side note, the smaller Model X was successfully used to paddle 3 adults. This has even more buoyancy than that, and would be the iSUP we pick for an overnight SUP camping trip.

Speed Test: 9.0/10

Blackfin Model XL sprint test

While this board is not meant to be a speed demon or racing SUP, it did surprisingly well in our speed test, coming in just a few seconds behind the Blackfin Model V. At 11’6”, it’s a faster board than the Model X and is also 1” thinner, which makes it just a little bit easier to maintain a vertical paddle for improved tracking.

Another big advantage of the Model XL vs smaller boards is that the boards stability makes it really easy for even a less experienced paddler to shift their weight to one side, create an ‘edge’ with the board, and reduce drag while paddling. Creating an edge is a technique used to increase speed, and can be a little more difficult on smaller, more advanced race/tour type SUPs. However, we found this to be pretty easy with the XL and helped us achieve faster speeds than we otherwise would have.

For smaller paddlers, you’ll for sure want to practice this technique so you can still maintain a more vertical paddle stroke for improved speed and tracking.

Bottom line – for a board that can carry almost 500 lbs, we were very impressed with the speed.

Tracking: 8.9/10

Blackfin XL Tracking
Blackfin Model XL Fins

This board tracks very well as an all around iSUP. Better so than the smaller Model X due to the increased length (and thus longer water line) and slightly narrower shape. Again the triple fin setup plays a big part here as well. Shorter paddlers might have a harder time maintaining a perfectly vertical stroke (unless they can perfect stepping to one side and creating an edge with the board). However, this board is perfect for larger, broader paddlers.

Maneuverability: 8.8/10

The one area where the Model X beats out the XL is when it comes to maneuverability. The additional foot of length just adds resistance when making basic turns – there is no way around that.

When it comes to performing step-back turns, the XL does a good job, but it’s quite as good as the X there as well. Being a larger board just means that you’re going to have to put in slightly more effort to make it change directions.

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Construction Quality: 9.3/10

Blackfin XL Carbon Fiber Rails

The whole Blackfin lineup shares the same essential construction: 3 layers of high-quality PVC with the carbon fiber reinforced rails all wrapped around the high density, woven drop stitch core. Without tearing the board apart we can’t verify any of this but based on our other testing and observations this board does feel like a tank.

The deckpad was very comfortable and the tiny Blackfin logos and nicely spaced lines do a great job of making it very slip resistant even when covered with water. We also like all the colors of the deckpad and how they are incorporated into the design of the board.

We really liked the overall feeling of the Blackfin Model XL and it’s easy for us to see why they earn all the awards for construction quality. This is just a well built board and if it’s any expectation, we still have the 2019 board they sent out to us and lend it out all the time. It is that well built.

Features and Accessories: 9.8/10

Blackfin Model XL Accessories

Included features/accessories and attachment points is another area that the Blackfin Model XL really stands out. In the box you get:

  • 3 piece carbon fiber shaft, nylon blade paddle
  • Dual chamber, triple action pump
  • 10’ leash
  • Wheeled SUP backpack
  • Standard SUP repair kit
  • 8 multi-use action mounts
  • 20 d-ring attachments
  • Sand spear and fishing rack mounts (spear and racks sold separately)

We can’t think of anything else (except a pfd) that you’ll need to get on the water. This kit just gives you so much customizability, you really can take this on just about any adventure you can think of.


Blackfin Paddle

As standard equipment goes you can’t really find much to dislike about the included Blackfin paddle. It’s a nylon blade, (great for durability) attached to a matte carbon-fiber shaft. It’s really a very nice kit paddle.

Always on the hunt for improvements, we recommend that iRocker incorporate a clamp or interior slot to really remove any twisting of the shaft.

Again, this is a great paddle to come in a kit, but if the above issues speak to you then it’s probably time to go custom. In fact most high-end boards don’t include a paddle because of this reason. We like how the Model XL comes with a paddle though, because even if you decide to upgrade to something custom, you always have this one as a backup and as the paddle your friend can use when they want to try your board.

Blackfin XL Pump

The dual chamber, triple action pump works very well. Compared to other kit pumps it’s fairly effective and won’t leave you out of breath when you’re done pumping up your board. We would like to point out that the second of the three stages is not very helpful and we typically switch directly to the third setting. It makes those higher pressures much easier, especially if you’re a smaller person.

The one area we’d like to see improvement here is adding a deflation valve/setting to the pump. Past Blackfin pumps allowed you to both pump up the board and also pump OUT air from the board. This ability makes it easier to roll up the board. We think this is important, as the carbon fiber rails make it a bit harder to roll up nice and tight, so getting out all the air helps.

With that being said, even if they added back a deflation valve, we still would recommend upgrading to the electric pump by iRocker. It is currently our favorite electric pump available for a myriad of reasons. However, for the purposes of this review consider this: you’re bringing out this board to hold a lot of gear and equipment. Buy the electric pump and save your energy for loading and unloading all that stuff and keep the manual pump for a backup. You will thank us later, trust us.

Blackfin XL Bag

Blackfin really includes a nice bag / backpack with their kit. The padding is nice on the backpack straps and back. There are plenty of pockets, bungees, and straps to keep your gear stored and organized. This bag features:

  • Wheels on the outside of the bag, make rolling the pack simple and keep the straps out of the way.
    Mesh side pockets
  • Zipper side pockets for small items
  • Extra large front compartment for the pump
  • Upper zippered pocket (seemingly perfect for the iRocker electric pump)
  • Handles on the top and sides
  • Bungee front straps

Optional Accessories:

Accessories are where the Blackfin line shines. The Model XL is perfect for those looking to adapt their paddling experience for almost any situation. With too many accessories to list, really, go check the website. Here are some of our favorites:

  • iRocker branded electric pump and battery (seriously this should be in your cart already)
  • Kayak conversion kit and seat cushion.
  • Fishing Rack
  • Hard cooler for supplies or sitting on top of while fishing
  • Vibe waterproof speaker

Summary Review of the Blackfin Model XL

Blackfin Model XL Summary Review

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As we’ve said, this board is our top rated all around iSUP for good reason – it’s the one board we grab if we have to only choose one and want to do everything. It has enough attachment points and available accessories to change it’s function drastically. It’s well built and will last you through years of adventures. And it performs really well on the water.

Whether your goals be fishing, touring, carrying family members, pets, or drinks, this board has got you covered. And with the 2 year warranty, you’ll have plenty of worry free time to experience it all.

If you have any questions about this review or think we missed anything please let us know in the comments below. Additionally if you still have any questions on what board is right for you don’t hesitate to ask us. Happy paddling and we hope to see you on the water soon!

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Justin Taylor, Head Paddler

At we are a team who love the water, the outdoors, and are more than grateful that our full-time job allows us to review stand up paddle boards. We paddle year round (it helps that we are just about 2 hours outside of Las Vegas), and we bring in a wide range of paddlers with the goal of providing our readers with the best, most in-depth, and accurate stand up paddle board reviews.

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47 thoughts on “BLACKFIN Model XL Review”

  1. Hi Sarah.
    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 😀


    • Hey Michelle,

      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

  2. Hello,

    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!

    • Cori,

      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!

  3. 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!

    • Karli,

      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.

        Thanks again!!

  4. 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.

    • Jon,

      What dimensions are your looking for? The distance between mounting points, or the dimensions of the actual scotty mounts?

  5. 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?

    • C,

      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!

  6. 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.
    Please help!!

    • 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.

        • Nicholas,

          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.

  7. 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 ?

    • Mark,

      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.

  8. 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.

    • Marie,

      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!

  9. 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!

  10. Overall Rating


    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.

    • Fredrick,

      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).

    • John,

      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.

  11. 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?

    • Adam,

      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.

    • 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.

  12. 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?
    Thank you,

    • Shawn,

      The construction and performance are essentially the same, the main differences are just cosmetic.

  13. Overall Rating


    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!

    • Hi Craig,

      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..

        • Hi Craig,

          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.

  14. 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!)

    • Hi Rian,

      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.

  15. Overall Rating


    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.


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