Hobie Recon iSUP: Overview
The Hobie Recon is a fishing-centric all-around iSUP for the SUP angler looking for an all-in-one kit with heaps of versatility. The ample cargo space and deck rigging options make it easy to kit out the Recon exactly how you want it so you can spend more time fishing and less time futzing.
— Hobie Recon Summary Ratings and Review —
Construction & Durability
Features and Versatility
The Hobie Recon is a great mid-level fishing iSUP.
- Durable construction provides a good feel on the water and protection against cuts and scrapes
- Well-balanced performance and good stability make the Recon a good choice for a variety of conditions
- Kayak seat compatible
- Easy to use flip-lock fins
- Plenty of accessory mounting options
- Efficient glide across the water
- 2 year warranty
- Tracking performance is less than expected given its size and fin setup
- No first-party SUP accessories available at this time
Construction and Durability
The Hobie Recon has a double-layer PVC shell reinforced with a carbon fiber fabric rail for additional abrasion resistance in the higher-wear areas on the board.
Inside the recon is a standard double-wall knitted drop stitch fabric material separated by thousands of 6” long yarns to give the board it’s flat shape and uniform thickness. The fabric material is covered with a liquid PVC material to seal the fabric and a second layer of reinforced PVC tarpaulin is applied to the first layer for additional rigidity and durability.
The sides of the board are joined together by gluing a layer of PVC material around the entire edge of the board. Then a second, wider layer is glued over the inner layer for additional durability. Around the midsection of the board a layer of carbon fiber fabric is sandwiched under another PVC layer for even more abrasion and puncture resistance along the edge of the board. This area is the most likely to see damage from accidental bumps and dragging. Finally narrow strips of PVC are glued around the top and bottom edges of the rail layers for one last layer of reinforcement.
Once the deck pad, features, and fin boxes are added, the Hobie Recon tips the scales at just under 27 lbs for the board only, and 38 pounds for the entire kit.
With the board inflated to its maximum recommended pressure of 16 PSI, we put it through our dry-land bend test. With 170 lbs of weight, the Recon bent 1.6” (4 cm) – just a little more than our total running average across all tested boards.
With a good bend test result and medium weight I was eager to see how the Recon felt on the water.
While standing on the Hobie Recon and paddling normally I didn’t notice any flex or bend in the board, but did feel some flex when paddling hard for a sprint, when walking on the board, and there was moderate flex when bouncing. Though once I stopped bouncing, the board’s rebound was very comfortable and predictable, rather than springy.
|Max Capacity||485 pounds|
|Board Weight||27 pounds|
Features, Accessories and Versatility
The Recon is decked out for SUP fishing with multiple accessory mounting options and Scotty-style mounting plates built into the deck.
With numerous tie-down points, threaded accessory mounts, Scotty mounts, and kayak seat compatibility, there isn’t much that the Hobie Recon can’t handle. Anglers will appreciate the wide variety of attachment points, though those who don’t plan to primarily fish from their SUP may not need as many of these options. The Hobie All Around 11’ and Hobie Cruiser both have a variety of similar features at a lower price point, but the Recon is the do-it-all iSUP of the group.
Along with the board itself, the Recon comes with a wheeled travel backpack, triple-action hand pump, carbon fiber/nylon paddle, coiled leash, fins, and a repair kit. The only other thing you’ll need before hitting the water is a PFD.
The Hobie SUP paddle is a three-piece carbon fiber/nylon hybrid with a classic design that works well for many paddlers.
The Hobie SUP paddle blends a carbon fiber shaft for a lightweight feel (about 29 ounces total) with a nylon blade for worry-free use. The carbon fiber shaft has just enough flex for comfortable all-day paddling without feeling too soft when paddling moderately fast.
The handle section is also made of carbon fiber and features a pin-and-clip adjustment system that is easy to use, easy to reset between uses, and automatically aligns the plastic handle grip with the blade. The grip does have some texturing molded onto the palm side for additional grip, though some paddlers may find this to rub slightly after long days on the water.
The blade is medium size with a rectangular shape. This shape allows you to easily use the entire blade for the most power, or submerge part of the blade for a lighter touch. There isn’t much rake angle on the blade, though there is a noticeable scoop shape. The scoop shape helps the blade flatten out in the water for a more powerful stroke (rather than bending backward), however the lack of rake angle does mean your stroke length is a little shorter and the paddle can’t provide quite as much stability support at the start of the stroke.
Overall this paddle is a good compliment to the Recon with its ease of use and fits a wide range of paddlers well.
At 34” wide, the Hobie Recon has good primary stability when standing and paddling, though the narrower tail does reduce it slightly when stepping back to the rear of the board.
While standing and paddling on the Hobie Recon I didn’t notice any unusual tipping or twitching. The SUP felt quite stable overall. When walking to the back of the board for a pivot turn I did feel the primary stability drop as I moved onto the narrower portion of the board. The square shaped tail helps mitigate this loss of stability, but it’s not as effective as the extra wide square tail of the Hobie Cruiser.
I was able to easily and confidently rock the Recon side to side in the water, and it had a comfortable feeling as it resurfaced. I was able to hold the board tipped onto its rail with moderate ease, but it did take some concentration to do in choppier conditions.
The deck pad is comfortable to stand on, but the light textured surface doesn’t offer as much traction as I normally prefer. Grooving, texturing, or embossing the deck pad would all work well to improve its grip. Without a change in texture or a raised kick pad on the tail it is a little hard to know exactly where your feet are without looking when you step to the rear of the board.
The Hobie Recon is capable of paddling at some respectable speeds when you turn up the power, and it has a comfortable feel when cruising along at normal speeds.
In our speed test the Recon was able to hold a sustained average sprint speed of 5.4 MPH, and it hit a peak speed of 5.8 MPH. That’s quite good for an iSUP of this width. I did feel a little bit of flex in the board while paddling hard, but it was minimal. The paddle, on the other hand, had noticeable flex, particularly in the blade, which was reducing how much power I could put into a single stroke.
While paddling at a more normal cadence, the recon averaged a 3.5 MPH cruising speed. Here I didn’t notice any flex in the board, and the paddle felt much better as well. At cruising speed the Recon traveled just under 20 feet per stroke before slowing down, giving it a gliding ratio of 1.7 board-lengths per stroke. Again, this is quite good for a 34” wide iSUP.
Overall I would say that the Hobie Recon is reasonably fast and efficient on the water, particularly when compared to other wide iSUPs.
Maneuverability and Tracking
The Hobie Recon is designed to be a bit “more” than just an all-around iSUP. With anglers in mind it’s important to be able to get to your fishing destination quickly, and stay pointed in the right direction. The Recon does a great job of balancing its performance to err toward better tracking, but is still easily steerable.
In our maneuverability test, we use the forward sweep stroke – paddling in an arc from the nose to the tail – as a stress test. This stroke is easy for beginner paddlers to learn and understand, but it doesn’t turn your board as quickly as more advanced techniques. Using just the forward sweep stroke, we turn the board in a complete circle, counting the number of strokes it takes to do so.
The Recon took a little bit of effort to complete the test and needed an average of 11.5 forward sweep strokes to turn a full circle. Once the board reached about ¼ of the way, the fins began to really do their job and tried to keep the board moving straight, widening its turning radius.
By reversing the stroke, the reverse sweep stroke works against the fins and turns the board much more quickly and needs only 4.25 strokes on average to turn the same circle. The downside is that the reverse sweep stroke will halt any forward momentum you have.
Stepping back to the tail of the Recon for a pivot turn was relatively easy, though there is a noticeable decline in stability when doing so. Once I was standing on the tail of the board it did slide smoothly and quickly through the water with minimal wobbling as it sped up and slowed down with each stroke. It would be nice to have a different texture or a raised kick pad near the tail so you could instantly tell how far back your foot is without needing to look down.
In our tracking test we measure how far a paddle board will veer off course while paddling with a straight-on forward stroke. After paddling in a straight line toward a distant target we take 10 forward strokes on a single side and then measure the difference between the new course and old course with a compass. The Hobie Recon did fairly well in our tracking test, deviating an average of just 17°, but not quite as well as I had anticipated based on its maneuverability test. This is more in line with your standard all-around iSUPs than it is longer, touring-style iSUPs.
Though the tracking test wasn’t jaw-dropping, the Hobie Recon did easily paddle straight toward our intended destination during normal paddling. Most paddle boarders tend to change sides more frequently (about every 6-8 strokes) in which case the Recon is far easier to stay on course. It also responds well to corrective strokes while paddling that allow you to lightly steer the board with each stroke.
Under the tail of the board you’ll find three fin boxes on the Hobie Recon. The rear, central, fin box and two smaller side fin boxes. Each of them uses a flip-lock style fin box. These tool-less fins are quick and easy to install, but don’t offer quite as many fin options as a more traditional US fin box (which requires a special nut and bolt to hold the fin in place). With the 2+1 fin setup on the Recon, you can use all three fins (like we did) to maximize tracking performance, just the center fin to increase speed, or just the side fins when paddling in shallow water or to increase maneuverability.
Warranty and Customer Support
The Recon is covered by Hobie’s 2 year warranty, however it does not appear that Hobie covers the other included accessories under an explicit warranty program. Because the Hobie Recon is only available through Hobie’s retail dealership network any return policies and all warranty claims will go through your local Hobie dealer. You can contact Hobie via their website, email, telephone, or you can reach out to your local Hobie dealer.
Overall Impressions/Review Summary
The Hobie Recon is a well-balanced iSUP. It’s extra width and good rigidity makes it a good choice for larger paddlers or for paddling with extra equipment (or a passenger). The board’s performance on the water leans toward efficiency over distance versus tight maneuverability, though the fin setup can be changed to alter this mix. With dozens of ways to attach cargo and accessories, it’s an easy choice for the paddler who likes to bring along everything they could want for the day.
Hobie Recon 11’6” iSUP FAQ
Can I bring a passenger along on the Hobie Recon iSUP?
Yes. The extra width and rigidity of the Hobie Recon make it a good option for paddling with kids or pets. Two adults may fit on the board, but will likely need to sit or kneel for best stability.
How long does it take to inflate the Hobie Recon 11’6”?
It takes about 8-10 minutes to inflate the Hobie Recon using the included triple-action hand pump, though we recommend an electric SUP pump for hands-free inflation in roughly the same amount of time.
Is the Hobie Recon iSUP good for fishing and camping?
Absolutely. The Recon was made with the SUP angler in mind - great stability and tons of fishing-specific features make it a great option for fishing. The high weight capacity, good efficiency on the water, and ample cargo room also make it a good option for shorter-distance overnight SUP camping trips.
What is the difference between the Hobie Recon and Blackfin Model XL iSUP?
Both iSUPs are very similar in shape and size, however the Blackfin Model XL has more mounting points, is more rigid, and has a longer warranty. The Blackfin Model XL is also available for sale online along with dozens of purpose-built accessories.