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Blackfin Model XL Review 2022: Overview
The Blackfin Model XL is one of iRocker’s flagship, performance, iSUPs designed to give you the best paddling experience possible. In addition to being the most feature-packed of iRocker’s offerings, the Model XL also is also shaped and built to handle everything you can throw at it. The Blackfin series, and the Model XL, are made with the SUP angler in mind, but don’t limit their use to fishing. The Model XL makes an excellent all-around board for beginners, larger paddlers, paddling with passengers, and even SUP expeditions.
— Blackfin Model XL Summary Ratings and Review – —
BLACKFIN Model XL
Construction & Durability
Features and Versatility
Warranty & Customer Support
The Blackfin XL is one of the most versatile and stable iSUPs we’ve tested.
- Excellent stiffness and durability from the carbon fiber rails
- High weight capacity
- Stable size and shape
- Great tracking and glide
- Accessory mounts and storage for everything you could want
- Compatible with two kayak seats for tandem paddling
- Backed by iRocker’s rock-solid warranty
- Includes an array of high-quality accessories
- The included paddle is well-balanced for all-day use
- The deck pad could be larger
- May be too large for paddlers under 5’8”
- Maneuverability could benefit from adding a kick pad in the rear
Construction and Durability
A key component of the Blackfin Model XL’s construction is the carbon fiber rail system integrated into the side of the board. You can actually see the carbon fiber material sandwiched between layers of PVC along the sides of the board. This additional composite layer reduces board flex and stretching while under pressure and loaded with passengers and gear. There is a noticeable difference in stiffness when paddling the Blackfin Model XL, and that also aids in stability, tracking and speed.
The Model XL uses three layers of PVC glued to the 6” drop stitch core to add stiffness and increase durability in the deck and hull of the SUP. With this robust construction there’s no need to worry about whether your dog can come along on your paddling trips or what happens if you bump into rocks, docks, or something else while paddling. Like all iSUPs the Blackfin XL can still be damaged by sharp objects, so be careful around oyster beds, reefs, and other manmade hazards.
iRocker backs their board constructions with a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty as well.
|Max Capacity||485 pounds|
|Board Weight||29 pounds|
(SUP & accessories)
|Returns period||90 days|
Features, Accessories and Versatility
Blackfin iSUPs have more features integrated into the board itself than you can shake a paddle at. Okay, I guess you can actually shake a paddle at it, but you get the idea. Here’s a quick run-down of what you’ll find on your Blackfin Model XL:
- 3 padded carrying handles
- 4 padded (and removable) passenger grab handles
- 20 stainless steel D-rings
- 8 M8 threaded multi-use action mounts
- 2 flush-mounted Scotty fishing accessory mounts
- 2 large cargo bungee cords
- Dual texture, logo-embossed and super-grippy deck pad
- 2+1 flip-lock fin system
Let’s not forget that the Blackfin Model XL also includes a high-quality triple-action hand pump, leash, and high-value three-piece adjustable paddle.
This litany of features allows you to customize your Blackfin Model XL as much, or as little, as you desire to match your paddling needs. The 11’6” length provides great tracking and glide for distance paddling, and the 34” width makes it plenty stable for new paddlers, moving passengers, and fishing.
All of the accessories – and the board itself – easily fit into the wheeled backpack for transportation and storage. The Blackfin bag includes several zippered pockets for smaller items, a large external pocket for the triple-action pump, and a dedicated fin pocket to keep everything organized. Inside the bag there are straps to keep your board from sliding within the bag and enough room for your paddle and PFD. The bag itself has four compression straps to keep the whole kit easy to carry when using the padded backpack harness.
A high-quality paddle can vastly improve your stand-up paddleboarding experience. iRocker recognizes this and includes a high-quality carbon fiber/nylon paddle with their performance Blackfin-series iSUPs. The carbon fiber shaft and thoughtfully-shaped nylon blade balance weight, performance, and durability into one of our favorite iSUP kit paddles.
The Blackfin paddle is easily adjustable in length from 72” to 86” to fit most paddlers between 5’2” and 6’4.” The handle section is filled with closed-cell foam to keep water out while paddling and help the paddle float if it gets dropped into the water. The pin-and-clip adjustment system is easy to use and keeps your paddle handle oriented correctly with the blade. iRocker does not print a sizing scale on the paddle, however the pin-holes do allow for relatively easy repeatability between paddling sessions.
The nylon blade is durable without being overly heavy. The rectangular shape lets the paddler choose how much power to use with each stroke by adjusting how far they submerge the blade into the water. It also lets you use a faster cadence, if desired, to further increase your speed.
As the amount of weight put onto a paddleboard increases, the board will become less stable and more difficult to control as it approaches its weight capacity. At 34” wide and 11’6” long, the Blackfin Model XL has a huge amount of volume to increase that weight capacity. The Model XL’s shape also helps increase its stability – long, gentle tapers to the nose and tail create a more parallel shape that reacts predictably as weight is added and moved around the deck, and a moderately-wide square tail helps dampen side-to-side rocking. All of this combined creates a very beginner-friendly and stable iSUP, even when loaded with lots of weight. When paddling the Model XL you can easily shift your weight, move around on the board, and carry extra passengers and enough equipment for a multi-day trip without sacrificing stability.
Overall speed is a combination of a number of things – paddling cadence and technique, paddle size, board length, board width, board shape, conditions, etc. When just looking at the size of the Blackfin Model XL it’s easy to think it is a slow board. Once you start paddling it, you realize how all of the small details iRocker considered when making the Blackfin Model XL really add up. The additional stiffness from the carbon fiber rails, the 11’6” length and gently tapering shape, and the high quality paddle all add up to make the Model XL surprisingly quick for its width. While its top speed doesn’t match the Blackfin Model V (at 12’6” and 32” wide, that makes sense), the Model XL glides incredibly smoothly and efficiently making it possible to paddle at a higher speed for extended periods of time.
iRocker recommends the Blackfin Model XL for paddlers over 5’8” tall (and the Model X for paddlers less than 5’8” tall) to best match the board size to the paddler for ideal paddling performance. Longer boards like the Model XL can be more difficult for shorter paddlers to maneuver on the water, and our testers agree. For larger paddlers the Model XL can be maneuvered easily, though it does become more difficult as it is loaded up with passengers or cargo. A raised kick pad in the rear would help paddlers lever the board out of the water for quick pivot turns. Experienced paddlers will still be able to pivot turn the Model XL, but as the deck pad doesn’t reach as far back as we’d like to see it makes it a little tricker to sink the high-volume tail.
The Blackfin Model XL has excellent tracking – or how straight the SUP will travel on its own. Once we had the Model XL up to cruising speed, we noticed very little course deviation when we stopped paddling. The board continued to glide smoothly across the water as it slowed down. This is due to the triple fin setup designed to translate your paddling energy into forward, straight, movement and the board’s longer water line (how much of the board is in contact with the water) providing resistance to turning. At 34” wide, it does take some extra concentration to keep your paddling form straight compared to narrower boards like the Blackfin Model V or iRocker All-Around 11’ at 32” wide each.
Warranty and Customer Support
All Blackfin iSUPs are covered under iRocker’s industry-leading warranty and returns policy. You have 90 days to try the Model XL and make sure it’s the right board for you; if not, you can return it with no questions asked for a full refund. The Model XL is also covered by a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty against any defects. iRocker makes it easy to get in touch with their customer service department by email, phone, online chat or social media if you do have any issues.
We evaluate the price of an iSUP not just by its list-price, but by comparing the cost of the kit as a whole, the value of the kit components, quality of the board and accessories, and consumer protections against other boards in the same performance categories. The Blackfin Model XL falls into our Performance SUP category and the list price for the Model XL iSUP kit we find to be extremely competitive and a great value.
Overall Impressions/Review Summary
The Blackfin Model XL by iRocker is possibly the most versatile iSUP I’ve ever used. Its size and weight capacity are great for casual paddling, bringing a passenger, fishing, or camping. The on-board features let you customize the Model XL in an almost unlimited number of ways. The high quality construction and thoughtful shape make paddling efficient for long distances and durable enough to take on any number of adventures. The included accessories are high-quality and easy and enjoyable to use. While it is more expensive than other options out there, the Model XL is still a great value.
Blackfin Model XL FAQ
Is the Blackfin Model XL worth it?
iRocker’s premium Blackfin range is a bit more expensive than their regular line, but what you get for the additional expense is a bargain in our opinion. The Blackfin Model XL comes with features and accessories that you typically only see on boards costing nearly twice as much.
Blackfin SUP vs. iROCKER — what inflatable paddle board should I buy?
The Blackfin SUP range and iRocker’s regular paddle board lineup are both outstanding options if you’re in the market for a new iSUP. The Blackfin line offers a bit more in terms of stability and of course, upgraded premium features and accessories. For more details, please see our iRocker vs. Blackfin vs. Nautical guide.
Is the Blackfin Model XL a good paddle board for SUP fishing?
Absolutely. All of the Model XL’s mounts and features give you the ability to transform it into a serious SUP fishing rig and the board’s outstanding stability makes it an ideal choice for anglers.
Blackfin Model X vs. Model XL — what’s the difference between these boards?
The Blackfin Model X is shorter and slightly wider than the Model XL. It’s the better choice for smaller paddlers while the Model XL’s added length makes it the faster SUP on the water.
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