***THIS IS AN UPDATED REVIEW SINCE PURCHASING THESE MAY/2019***
When we initially purchased the ISLE Glider Wood SUP’s last year, our personal experience with SUPs had been fairly limited. In the years past, when we had rented SUPs, they were usually the BIC brand, which we were not super impressed with since the rental places only offered boards that were ‘one size fits all.’ So my (Stella) first experiences were not necessarily positive because I am a very small person, and the boards we had rented were large, cumbersome and difficult to maneuver.
However, after doing a great deal of research, I learned how much of a difference the right board can truly make – one size does NOT fit all, and not all boards are ideal for every type of water. At that time, I had no idea there was such a vast array of shapes, sizes and styles of boards, and it was from that research that spurred my (and Larry’s) interest in giving this sport another serious try, but this time, with the right boards! And SUPing has become my passion – I was made to SUP!
Before I discuss the two different brands that we were were debating between, I would first like to discuss inflatable SUPs. Inflatable SUPs are the big craze, and I can partly understand why: pure convenience. They are packable, easy to carry, easy to store, easy to transport, and sometimes less expensive. But, there are some hefty drawbacks to inflatable SUPs, which is why we had never considered purchasing this type of board.
- Inflating/Deflating: if people choose to not deflate these after each use (some people leave them inflated), then they need to inflated and deflated prior to use and after each use. Even if using an electric/battery powered pump, this can take a considerable amount of time. Additionally, we have seen people going back to shore multiple times to reinflate their boards. No thanks!
- Size/weight: we have seen hundreds of different inflatable boards, and they are usually very large, in both length, width and depth. And when we see smaller people and/or kids paddle on them, it does not look ideal. Further, in windy conditions, these boards do not appear to be easy to maneuver – people are floating all over the place versus in the direction they are attempting to go. No thanks!
- Durability: these boards can get very pricy, and there are differences in quality amongst the various manufacturers. However, inflatable boards all share one commonality: they can all be punctured. And regardless if the punctures can be patched, why would anyone want to invest a few hundred + dollars into a product that can be punctured? And, what if that happens when you’re far away from shore? There is NO WAY IN **** that we wanted to take that risk since we planned to be paddling long distances. No thanks!
Given the drawbacks of inflatable boards, we instead wanted boards that would be a good long-term investment, and would not yield any malfunctions. We had narrowed our choice down to the ISLE Glider Wood and the Cruiser Bliss Voyager boards.
The Cruiser boards are mainly manufactured in Europe, and they have an extensive array of different boards. Two great features of the Cruiser Bliss Voyager boards are that there are bungee straps located on the front and back of the boards, and the deck pad covers the entire length of the board, which can be useful for few reasons: 1) It allows more options for where the user may want to stand and put stuff, and there’s no risk of getting scratches on the surface. 2) It provides more space for guests (kids and/or pups). If Aspen had still been with us, that is the board that I would have purchased…with every decision we ever made, Goldie and Aspen were always taken into consideration first. In the future, however, we do plan to purchase one or two of the Cruiser Voyager Bliss boards for guests to use.
We were intent upon purchasing those specific Cruiser boards, and had them in the cart ready to checkout, when we had unexpectedly stumbled upon ISLE brand of SUP boards. We really liked the overall design of the ISLE Glider Wood boards, their construction and the company, as a whole. But the deciding factor between the Cruiser and ISLE boards came down to the size (for me).
I reviewed a dozen different size charts, and all of them indicated that a 9′ foot board (or close to that) would be an ideal length for me. At that time the ISLE Glider Wood came in a 9’10” size; Cruiser did not (at that time) offer a board in that size – their smallest was a 10′. Now, would two inches of length really make that much of a difference? Probably not; however, the width and depth of the ISLE Glider Wood board was also smaller than that of the Cruiser Voyager Bliss boards, and those aspects are of equal importance.
Maneuverability was/is crucial. We wanted boards that would be easy to maneuver, yet with just enough width to provide good stability. The ISLE Glider Wood boards are perfect in each of these areas. They are a touch smaller in width and depth than the Cruiser Bliss Voyager boards, which impacts maneuverability. Since ISLE offered a two-board deal for the Glider Wood boards, it just made sense for us both to get same ones, only Larry purchased the 10’10” size.
Length, width, depth and shape all need to be taken into consideration when choosing a board; you want the right type of board for you, and for the type of water you anticipate to be using the board on. The shape (along with the other features) will determine how the board cuts through the water, and the overall stability and speed of the board. Also, the number of fins on the board is important to consider. Fairly flat water, such as lakes and rivers, typically do well with only one fin – using three fins will create more drag and resistance, thus reducing speed. Conversely, rougher type of water conditions often fare better with three fins.
MANEUVERABILITY: these boards turn on a dime, keep us stable on the water, and are easy to paddle in any given direction: toward the waves, to the back of the waves, to the side of the waves, and going straight. The width of these boards is appropriate to allow for optimal movement. They will cut through anything coming your way!
DURABILITY: it is inevitable that they are going to get some nicks and scratches on them from use. The sides of our boards have attained a few nicks and scratches from our paddles occasionally bumping the sides when we paddle. But other than that, the bungee cords are still tight and the deck pad is still intact; it covers about two-thirds of the board (more about the deck pad below).
CARE/MAINTENANCE: we are extremely conscientious about how we care for our boards. When we remove them from the water, we immediately place them in the Suspenz SUP Stand. We then rinse them with a gallon of clean water that we always carry with us, and then dry them with a soft, microfiber type of towel before placing them on the Yakima SupDawg on the Tahoe.
Another aspect of care and maintenance to consider is to minimize the amount of direct sun exposure when the boards are out of the water, which can get a bit tricky. Naturally, they are going to be exposed while transporting them atop of the vehicle; however, the wind exposure helps to keep them cool. But with that said, you do not want to leave Epoxy boards sitting in the sun for extended periods of time, because the heat from the sun could potentially delaminate the boards, per ISLE staff .
We have talked many times about putting them in carry bags, but again, these bags are not designed for extended storage, and the boards need air to ventilate. Additionally, you do not want to place any type of tarp over the boards because any area of the tarp that may come into contact with the them would transfer the heat to those spots, thus leading to potential damage. While not in use, we keep our boards in the shade at our place in Grand Lake.
If you are considering a hard-side Epoxy board like ISLE Glider Wood, these aspects of care and maintenance need to be taken into strong consideration to ensure longevity of the boards for years to come. Before we had purchased these, we knew that there would be more maintenance and care involved with them, but we did not fully know the extent of what needed to be done. So hopefully this information will help guide your decision about whether an Epoxy board is a good fit for you.
OTHER THINGS: when we had purchased these boards, they came in package, which included the fin, carbon fiber paddles and ankle leashes that attach to a nylon string located at the rear of the board.
- Fins: the boards came with a Fiberglass All Around Center Fin, but at this time, ISLE is now only offering a nylon fin. We have been extremely happy with the Fiberlgass fin, as they have maintained perfectly, without even a scratch! Even though we are extremely conscientious about the fins when paddling in shallow areas and/or those with large rocks/boulders under the water, it is inevitable that they are going to come into contact with something once in a while. We had hoped to purchase a spare fin this year since we will be going on a long vacation soon, but we do not want the nylon fin.
Also, because the fins are adhered to the boards with a screw, it is vital to always check the screw before and after use to ensure it is tight. The screw does become loosened periodically. We choose to leave the fin on our boards all summer, but we do remove them for storage during the off-season. The fins come with a neoprene padded cover that we keep them in.
- Paddles: the carbon paddles are amazing, but I am uncertain if they still offer the same ones now, as they have changed many things since last year. The paddles are extremely lightweight, easy to adjust to any needed length, and the handles are even comfortable for small hands. We constantly adjust the paddles throughout our journeys to accommodate for sitting and standing positions. One thing to note, however, is that the screws in the adjustment section of the paddles may need to be tightened occasionally; one of the screw on mine keeps coming loose and falling out, so we have to keep replacing it.
I would like to briefly mention the importance of proper paddle length. Have you ever seen people SUPing in a hunched, bent forward position? Unless they are navigating through very rough water, that position is utilizing an incorrect posture because the length of the paddle is too short. The length of the paddle should be adjusted long enough so that the user may stand perfectly straight and upright thus utilizing the core and shoulders muscles to paddle. When the paddle is too short, it forces people into a crouched position, putting strain on the lumbar region of the back.
- Ankle leashes: the leashes that came with the boards are exceptional, and we like that they are short coil leashes. ISLE has recently changed the design of the leashes since our purchase. Now, the leashes have a really long wire and coil, which is just too much cord to deal with and get tangled up in (in my opinion). If I was wearing one of their new leashes and I fell into the water, I can guarantee that it would somehow wrap around me like a piece of seaweed, and I would freak out.
- Bungee straps: the bungee straps, located at the front of the boards, have really held up to a lot of use, and they adequately hold the necessary gear (sandals, water bags, water bottles, etc.). We recently purchased a RTIC Soft Pack 8 cooler, which we plan to attach to the bungee cords for upcoming all-day paddling trips.
- Carrying handle: the integrated carrying handle, located in the center of the board, is an added bonus. It is a large, plastic handle that that pulls out, and it makes carrying the boards to and from the water a total breeze! When done, you simply push it down and back into the board; it makes a snapping type of sound.
- Deck pad: this is the only aspect of slight discontentment that we have with our boards. For example, if you are kneeling on the board in an upright position, be sure to keep your toenails trimmed very, very short, otherwise you will put permanent indentations in the deck pad. This happened to Larry’s board, and is a huge bummer.
Additionally, the deck pad on these boards seems to follow a minimalist concept, as it is not near as cushiony as that of other boards, but it does provide superior traction (anti-slip). But after a few miles, our feet get sore and/or fall asleep, so we have to rotate between the sitting/kneeling/standing positions. We have read about this common problem, and have tried all of the suggestions – none of which have worked.
Between the two of us, I seem to experience the most discomfort in this area because I have very tiny feet with zero padding; the pain initiates in the balls of my feet, and then progresses to my feet falling asleep. And while I understand that it is best to paddle board with bare feet, it just is not working out for me. So yesterday, I purchased a pair of low-profile Oboz Campster Sandal, and I am hoping that these will provide the necessary cushion to remedy the problem. I had considered wearing traditional neoprene water shoes since they also are very low profile, but when those get wet, it feels like I am squishing around in a bowl of oatmeal, and I do not like that feeling.
Also, Larry’s board, the 10’10”, has acquired some large bubbles underneath the deck pad. We contacted ISLE, who stated that that is not an uncommon problem, and that a hole should be poked through the bubble on the padding to let the air escape. While I understand that is not a major flaw that would affect the overall performance of the board, it is kind of a bummer considering the price of the board.
There is also some yellow coloring along the edges of the deck pack from the glue that was used to adhere it to the boards. Also, my deck pad is a light blue, and is difficult to keep clean…I learned this the hard way when I once put muddy feet on it. Now, just before I put my feet onto the board, I rinse them in the water to ensure they are as clean as possible. We both do this.
FINAL THOUGHTS: these are exceptional SUPs, made by a solid company who provides great customer service; we have contacted them many times about various things. And, the sheer beauty of these ISLE boards will draw the attention of everyone who sees them! We are exceptionally pleased with our purchase of these boards. Please let us know if you have any thoughts or questions regarding the ISLE Glider Wood SUP Review.
Overall: Excellent Purchase
Price paid: $1740 (including $100 off the purchase of 2 boards)
Place purchased: ISLE Surf & SUP
Link to ISLE Surf & SUP website: ISLE Surf & SUP
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