The year 2020 was a watershed moment for iRocker, as they improved nearly all of the existing models and even added a few new ones. If you’re not familiar, Blackfin is iRockers’ premium paddleboard brand, which takes everything we love about their normal products and amps it up to 11.
If you’ve read our prior reviews, you’ll know that we love everything iRocker puts out. This is because this company takes great pleasure in the product that they manufacture as well as maintains a strong relationship with the people that end up using it.
The year 2020 was a watershed moment for iRocker, as they improved nearly all of the existing models and even added a few new ones. If you’re not familiar, Blackfin is iRockers’ premium paddleboard brand, which takes everything we love about their normal products and amps it up to 11. The 2021 range of blackfiniSUPs brings us a lot more refined feel to these boards, despite not having as many new features as last year, and the blackfin XL is a fantastic illustration of that. Because these aren’t what we’d call budget boards, we believe these reviews are critical in assisting folks in determining whether or not it’s worth their hard-earned money.
iRocker Model XL 2021
Pay particular attention as we go over the iRocker model XL 2021, not only to what’s new and intriguing about this model but also to the board as a whole. It may be high-end, but is it appropriate for you?
Let’s Find Out
This is the most all-purpose board in the blackfin lineup, out of the three. This is due to the proportions of its length and width. The Model X is much shorter and stout, making it ideal for exercise and even fishing, but the Model V is designed for speed. The model XL boasts a perfect length-to-width ratio, allowing it to perform almost anything you ask of it – a genuine jack of all crafts.
As a result, except for the general size of the board, which is greater in volume than your typical iSUP, you won’t have any concerns with drag. It ends up being a pretty comfortable and pleasurable ride, with speed and maneuverability at exactly the levels you’d expect. This is ideal for larger writers who still want to get the best performance out of their board. Some smaller riders and children may find this iSUP to be a little tougher because of its overall size and weight.
Those of you who wish to surf with your iSUP should probably avoid the model XL and save that for the model X. The difficulty is that if you have some big waves, the nose can drop into the water, throwing you off the tail. The Excel model, on the other hand, is more than capable of handling the waves if the circumstances are becoming choppier than you had anticipated. You’ll find it easier to maintain a center of gravity that will improve your speed and stability thanks to a newly built deck pad that we’ll discuss later in the review. While it may make riding a little more challenging for novices, individuals with a little more experience will discover that they will have a much better time understanding just where to stand for best performance
Three grasp grips are included with the model XL: one in the front, one in the back, and one on the nose. The board’s rear grab handle is convenient because it allows us to move it on land without damaging the fins. It was intriguing to see how they moved the nose grab handle from the deck to the front of the rail. This comes in handy when trying to move the board in deeper water.
The front and back Bungie storage portions not only give adequate storage space for your goods but also provide an extra handhold.When trying to move or attach the ice up in less-than-ideal situations, it makes life a lot easier.
One of the D rings underneath the nose of the board was something we particularly liked. This is something that many manufacturers overlook as unimportant, but if you’re behind a boat or having someone pull you into shore, that one small element can make all the difference.
The model XL comes with three grab handles one in the front, one on the back, and one on the nose. We like that the board has a rear grab handle since it allows us to move it on land without hurting the fins. The way they shifted the nose grab handle from the deck to the front of the rail was fascinating. When trying to move the board in higher water, this is really useful.
Bungie storage sections at the front and back not only provide ample storage space for your belongings but also provide an extra handhold. Yes, we understand that these bungees aren’t supposed to be used as a grab point and aren’t made for it, but when you’re out on the water, you might need a quick location to grasp on to pull yourself on board, especially if you notice a large wave coming your way. Having these strengthened sheaths to grip provides you the confidence to grab without fear of injuring yourself. Of course, we must discuss the action mounts, which number up to eight in all. These are universal and can accommodate cameras, cell phones, GPS devices, and even cupholders! There are also two fishing rack attachment points, allowing you to get even more use out of this iSUP. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a sand spear attachment that lets you anchor in shallow waters or on sandbars.
When it comes to design, we think this is the most balanced of the three boards in the Blackfin lineup. While it is true that it is broader than most ice UPS’ normal 32 inches, it is extra long to compensate. When you look at the board itself, the proportions are superb and exactly what we would expect from an all-purpose board.
One of the weaker aspects of the design of the Excel 2020 model was the limited color selections, which were essentially the same item with varying proportions of the colors. Berry Pink, Ice Gray, Summer Blue, Steel Gray, Regal Blue, and Mossy Green were the possibilities this year.
The deck pad is perhaps the most noticeable change this year. It was completely overhauled, with two unique portions in this model. The first is the general part, which is padded with channeled foam. This section of the deck pad is exceptionally comfy, and it’s ideal for sitting, lying down, or doing any type of exercise on board, such as yoga.
The rails are reinforced with carbon fiber to increase the board’s strength and make it even more sturdy when completely inflated. Plus, if you’re going by docs that might have barnacles or oyster shells that would ordinarily rip other iSUPs to tears, it gives you a little extra confidence.
Just in front of the rear bungee region, there is an extra portion where you can stand and gain extra traction. This is something we’ve seen on other companies’ models, but it’s a first for iRocker and the blackfin range. While most manufacturers normallyutilize a diamond groove pattern on this section of their deck pad, iRocker includes a blackfin logo texture instead. At the end of the day, it’ll still provide the same level of grip as a diamond groove, but it’s a pleasant touch.
One of the reasons we like this company’s iSUPs is the three fins configuration. It’s not only more maneuverable, but it’s also easier to set up and pack away because all three fins are removable. Plus, if you find yourself in very shallow water, you may discover that having the fins is a burden, so having the option to remove one or more is a fantastic thing to have.
When it comes to the higher-end inflatable paddle boards, there’s always the discussion about whether three or four layers of material are required. On the one hand, having four layers gives you the strongest construction, but it comes at the expense of a large amount of weight and performance loss when compared to a triple-layer construction. Four layers, in our opinion, feel more sturdy, but we’ve never noticed any further advantages over triple-layer structure.
As a result, the 2021 blackfin models from iRocker continue to use triple-layer construction. With the exception of the most discerning clients, there is likely no discernible difference between it and a four-layered iSUP. Given the weight of this board, we believe that adding another layer would be counterproductive. After all, the weight of this board is pushing many paddlers to their limits.
Even so, having a board of this size and weight has its benefits. It can, for example, support a whopping 485 pounds of weight. We doubt most riders would be so heavy. However, this means that you can bring on another person and their stuff without fear of falling in or tipping over.
As you might expect from a board that prides itself on its high-end appearance, the accessories department is well-stocked. You can expect the following right out of the box:
- 1 X 3-Piece Travel Paddle with Carbon Matte Shaft and Nylon Blade (An upgrade from the carbon blend shaft used in the previous years)
- 1 X Dual Chamber, Triple Action Hand Pump
- 1 X 10’ Leash with Key Stash Spot
- 1 X Travel Roller Backpack
- 3 X Removable Nylon SUP Fins (1 Center and 2 Side Fins)
- 1 X Repair Kit (Patches and Valve Wrench)
We’re well aware that iRocker is pushing the features on these boards, and with good reason. You’re paying a lot of money for a lot of board that can be used for a lot of different things, especially if you add extra gear like a kayak seat or a fishing rack.
The Blackfin Model XL is our favorite of all the Blackfin models since it is truly an all-purpose board. The Model X appears to be designed more for fishing or fitness activities than for writing, but the Model V is designed for speed and does not allow you to use as many features as readily.
The board’s major flaw is its price, which puts it out of reach for many casual paddleboarders. However, not only can we find alternative brands with identical figures for less money, but iRocker also offers incredibly good quality iSUPs with many of the same features at a more affordable price. You do, however, get what you pay for. If you have the cash to spend on a beautiful up that costs more than $1000 (though there are often sales), we believe it is money well spent. This is a strong, trustworthy board that we believe will last you for many years and will most likely be upgrade-proof for the next few years. While we can think of a few areas or features that may be improved, we believe that if you have the 2021 Blackfin Model XL, you should be able to get by for a while without needing to replace the board!