Blackfin Model V iSUP: Overview
The Blackfin Model V is an adventure-touring iSUP with a feature set that will make any SUP angler smile. The long, sleek, outline of the Model V gives it great speed and efficiency while the 32” width is both beginner friendly and capable of hauling everything you need for multi-day trips.
— Blackfin Model V Summary Ratings and Review —
BLACKFIN Model V
Construction & Durability
Features and Versatility
The Blackfin Model V is an adventure-touring iSUP with a multitude of uses.
- Rigid and Durable construction with a dual-layer PVC deck and hull
- Carbon fiber fabric rails reinforcements for additional abrasion resistance
- Sleek shape and longer size make the Model V the fastest Blackfin iSUP
- Multiple cargo locations, accessory mounting points, D-rings, and Scotty mounts make it easy to customize for your needs
- Kayak seat compatible and the Blackfin 3 piece paddle is kayak conversion ready
- Tool-less fins are easy to install and remove, locking tethers prevent accidental loss
- 3 year warranty
- The center carrying handle is slightly behind the balance point of the board, which can make it harder to carry over long distances
- I would like to see iRocker introduce a touring-style fin and remove the side fin boxes from the Model V to reduce drag without reducing tracking performance.
Construction and Durability
The Blackfin Model V uses iRocker’s “Triple-Layer Composite” construction and enhanced rails that utilize carbon fiber fabric to greatly increase abrasion and puncture resistance in some of the highest impact areas of the board.
The Model V’s “Triple-Layer Composite” construction is made of, you guessed it, three distinct layers. The first is the knitted fabric base layer of the interior core. On top of that there are two layers of PVC material that create an airtight material and add rigidity and puncture resistance. Inside the board thousands of “drop stitch” fibers are sewn between the fabric base layers of the deck (top) and hull (bottom) sides of the board. These fibers give the board its flat shape and the internal tension increases board rigidity.
The top and bottom layers of the board are joined together by a strip of PVC material that runs around the entire side of the board creating the board’s rails. This interior seam is glued to the top and bottom layers and then covered entirely with another, larger, outer rail layer. Blackfin iSUPs all feature a carbon fiber fabric rail reinforcement. This fabric layer is applied to the Model V’s rail through the middle standing area of the board and then covered with yet another piece of PVC tarpaulin. These two extra layers give the Model V excellent abrasion and puncture resistance along the rail – the area most likely to impact or drag on the ground as you move the board to the water, or against docks and pylons as you are launching and landing. Lastly two more narrow strips of PVC are glued to the top and bottom of the rail layers to provide one more level of durability for the rail.
Once the board is built, then all of the deck features, deck pad, fin boxes, etc are applied. All together the Model V weighs in at 28.4 lbs. The board is rated for a maximum recommended pressure of 16 PSI. While this is a slight decrease in maximum recommended pressure from the 2022 model (18 PSI), the new Model V is still very stiff when inflated.
In our dry land bend test we loaded the Model V with 170 lbs of static weight and measured how much the board bent across a 7’ span. When the dust settled, the Model V deflected just under 1.5” (3.8 cm), scoring “above average” across all iSUPs we’ve tested to date.
With a great bend test result in the bag it’s time to see how the Model V feels on the water, after all that is the most important measure of a board’s stiffness!
While out on the water I did not notice any flex or bend in the Model V while standing on it or while paddling normally. When I picked up the pace, the Model V continued to do very well and I only began feeling some slight flex when I was paddling in a dead sprint.
Jumping up and down on the Model V did produce a mild-to-moderate amount of flex. When I stopped jumping the board quickly and smoothly returned to normal without any springy rebound.
Overall the Model V, and the other Blackfin iSUPs, exhibit a classically great construction with the added bonus of extra durable rails and a pleasantly rigid feel on the water.
Features, Accessories and Versatility
The Blackfin Model V is fully featured for fitness paddling, day touring, overnight trips and fishing adventures. When speed is important and the distances are long, the Blackfin Model V makes the miles feel easy.
Blackfin iSUPs are available from iRocker in multiple configurations thanks to the new Bundle Builder feature on their website. You can choose to purchase just the board (which includes fins and a repair kit), you can select the standard package, or you can build your own custom kit with paddle upgrades, pumps, waterproof carrying bag, and/or other accessories. The standard configuration includes a transportation bag, triple-action hand pump, coiled leash, and three piece carbon fiber paddle.
With the standard accessory kit you get a carbon fiber/nylon hybrid paddle that breaks down into three pieces for easy transportation. The Blackfin paddle has received a visual update this year, but still provides the same great performance we’ve come to expect from this package.
The Blackfin three piece carbon fiber paddle has a lightweight and medium-stiff shaft with a medium-size rectangular blade made of nylon. The nylon blade provides just enough flex to keep the paddle comfortable for all-day use, but doesn’t feel floppy in the water. You can feel the blade flex when putting down high-power strokes while sprinting, but for any paddling other than sprinting, the Blackfin three-piece paddle feels solid in the water.
There is a new handle grip this year made with a textured plastic material rather than the smooth molded composite material of the previous generation. The grip fits comfortably in your hand and doesn’t feel soft, but some may find the texturing to be a little rough at first.
The pin-and-clip adjustment system is easy to use by pulling the clip out to adjust the paddle length and pushing it back in to lock it in place. This system also has the added benefit of automatically aligning the blade and handle and making an easy job of resetting the length between uses.
iRocker also released a new two-piece fully carbon fiber paddle this year. This new premium paddle uses the same basic outline and shape of the three piece paddle, but with a carbon fiber blade and composite handle. You can choose to bundle this new paddle with your board rather than the three piece paddle, however it will not pack down into the board bag. Rather this new paddle includes a padded carrying case.
The Model V fits into a growing category of iSUPs we’re referring to as Adventure Touring boards. These boards combine increased speed and efficiency with more stable and voluminous shapes for more capacity.
At just over 32” wide (32.5” at its widest point) and 12’ 6” long, the Blackfin Model V offers a significant amount of volume and stability that’s better than most shorter all-around boards. The medium-width square tail and broad front half of the board keep the Model V feeling balanced while standing, walking, and of course paddling.
Another benefit of this board shape is its great secondary stability. Because the middle of the board is roughly parallel, when you tilt the board on its edge (or your paddling through choppy conditions that tilt it for you) much of the board’s surface area remains in contact with the water and gives plenty of stability and time to recover. When dipping the edges of the board under the water, they resurface and level out easily without any catching or over-buoyant feeling.
The deck pad has both deep grooves running the length of the standing area and a logo-embossed texture giving it great traction and a comfortable feel. iRocker also extended the deck pad farther back toward the tail of the board which gives the Model V a more secure feeling as you move back on the board. When I walked back to the tail for a few quick pivot turns, the Model V stayed predictably stable and my footing felt great.
As a touring paddle board it’s important for the Model V to not only be fast on the water, but also efficient. Fortunately, it manages both of these while still providing excellent stability and carrying capacity.
In our speed evaluation we look at top speed, average sprinting speed, cruising speed and board efficiency.
While paddling the Model V with the standard Blackfin three-piece paddle I was able to clock the board at a maximum of 6.0 MPH. That’s quite fast for an inflatable paddleboard, however this is not a speed that is easy to maintain for more than a few strokes. The Model V’s average sprinting speed – sustainable sprinting speed – turned out to be 5.6 MPH, which is still quite excellent for a 32” wide board.
While the Model V is fast on the water in a sprint, it’s not built as a racing board, but rather as a touring board to paddle longer distances efficiently. At a far more casual, but rather continuous, pace of 25 strokes per minute the Model V cruises along at a very respectable 3.8 MPH. With each paddle stroke the Model V has the ability to glide an average of nearly 23 feet before noticeably slowing down. This gives it a gliding ratio of 1.8 board lengths per stroke. That is on the lower side of efficiency for dedicated touring boards, but most of those are also two inches narrower. At the same time it is significantly faster and more efficient than the vast majority of all-around iSUPs.
Maneuverability and Tracking
Touring boards are known for their speed and their tracking ability, but they aren’t typically considered to be the most agile options on the water. The same is true for the Model V. It’s got great tracking performance, but takes a bit of effort when turning in large chunks.
Our maneuverability test is designed to be a stress test to show any strengths or weaknesses between different boards. While this does give us a consistent way to determine maneuverability, it’s not necessarily a real-world example. In our test we turn in a complete circle from a standstill using only forward-sweep strokes – one of the less efficient ways to turn your board. In this test the Model V took an average of 15.25 strokes to make a complete circle. The longer waterline and triple-fin setup really does a great job of keeping the board moving straight, but can make it tricky to turn.
The good news is there are other, faster, ways to turn the Model V. Reverse sweep strokes (paddling in an arc from the tail to the nose) do a much better job for large turns and complete the same circle test in just under 5 strokes. Pivot turning – stepping back to the tail to lift the nose – is even faster and an experienced paddler can turn 180 degrees in a single stroke. Steering the Model V in smaller increments is also easily accomplished with sweep and draw strokes.
Where the Model V struggled with maneuverability, it does a great job with straight-line tracking performance. When paddling over long distances small changes in your trajectory can amplify and lead you way off target, or an alternating zig-zag pattern can add a significant amount of distance to your trip.
In our 10-stroke tracking test the Model V did a great job of staying on course. Over 10 paddle strokes on one side of the board, the Model V deviated an average of just 8 degrees from its original target. Since most paddlers take fewer than 10 strokes per side, it’s very easy to keep the Blackfin Model V moving in whichever direction you point it.
The Model V has three flip-lock style fin boxes with locking tethers. It comes with a 9” center fin and two 5” side fins. With this combination you can use all three, just the center fin, or just the side fins to adjust the maneuverability and tracking performance to suit your needs (or to paddle in shallower waters). The fliplock fin boxes are easy to use and require no tools or bolts to install the fins. The new locking tethers help reduce accidental fin loss both on and off the water. While the fliplock fin boxes are easy to use, they are slightly limiting in fin availability if you’d like to use different size or shape fins. I would like to see iRocker develop a touring-style fin for the Model V (or any of their iSUPs). That will help improve tracking performance when using just the center fin without the additional drag from the side fins.
Warranty and Customer Support
The Blackfin Model V is supported by a 3 year warranty against seam leaks, and a 2 year warranty against any other manufacturing defects. iRocker’s accessories are also covered by a 1 year warranty. iRocker also offers a 45 day return period in case you decide the Model V is not the right board for you. If you do have any questions about the Model V you can contact iRocker via email, phone, web form or social media.
Overall Impressions/Review Summary
The Blackfin Model V is a great option for any paddler looking for an Adventure Touring iSUP. It has excellent stability and a high capacity, great speed and efficiency, and tracks incredibly well. With a fully-featured deck you can rig the Model V for fishing, camping, day touring, or just with the bare essentials for a great time out on the water.
Blackfin Model V iSUP FAQ
What is the difference between the Blackfin Model V and Model XL?
The Model V is longer and narrower than the Model XL, providing added speed for long-distance paddles. The Model XL is the more stable of the two boards, which makes it a better choice for beginners and as a dedicated fishing SUP.
Is the Blackfin Model V good for SUP camping and multi-day trips?
Yes! The Blackfin Model V is a great option for SUP camping and multi-day trips. The 32” width gives it great stability and extra carrying capacity for expeditions of any length.
How long does it take to inflate the Blackfin Model V?
With the Blackfin triple-action hand pump it takes about 8-10 minutes to fully inflate the Model V to its maximum 16 PSI. With the iRocker electric pump it takes 10-12 minutes to inflate the Model V, but without all the hard work!
Is the Blackfin Model V good for fishing?
The Blackfin Model V has plenty of cargo space, accessory mounting points, and fishing accessory compatibility for SUP anglers who like to reach the best spots (which always seem to be on the other side of the lake!).