Isle Explorer 3 Hybrid Inflatable Paddle Board and Kayak Review | 2024

Isle Explorer 3 iSUP and Kayak Review
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The Isle Explorer 3 is a crossover all-around and adventure touring board, plus a hybrid kayak.

Isle Explorer 3 iSUP Review: Overview

The Isle Explorer 3 uses the latest inflatable paddle board materials and construction methods to create a high-performance and lightweight Adventure Touring / All-Around iSUP crossover that also brings a seamless, high-quality, kayaking experience to the water.

— Isle Explorer 3 Review Summary and Ratings —

Isle Explorer 3 Ratings
  • Construction & Durability
  • Features and Versatility
  • Stability
  • Speed
  • Maneuverability
  • Tracking

Overall Score

The Explorer 3 is a touring-capable all-around iSUP that can also double as an effective sit-on-top kayak.


  • Stable shape and size makes the Explorer 3 easy to use for beginners or loaded up for an expedition
  • PowerFuse welded seams for increased durability and longevity
  • Very lightweight and easily packs into the new wheeled bag
  • Extremely efficient and quick on the water
  • Isle Link system makes the Explorer 3 very versatile
  • Compatible with Isle’s Kayak seat, foot brace, and paddle conversion


  • Lightweight construction does introduce flex in the board while paddling very hard/fast, but doesn’t impede paddling while at cruising/touring speed

Construction and Durability

The Isle Explorer 3 uses the same core construction as the brand’s “Pro” series paddle boards, but without the added Infinity Fiber stringers. This makes the Explorer 3 very lightweight, but still durable and feels great on the water.

Isle Explorer 3 iSUP rail construction
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The Explorer 3 uses Isle’s PowerFuse welded interior rails and additional PVC layers for maximum durability.

The ultralight construction of the Explorer 3 starts with a woven drop stitch core. Inside the board the woven fabric base layer uses less yarn, and has less stretch, making it lighter and stiffer than traditional knitted fabrics. Holding the two base layers together are thousands of low density drop stitch threads that keep the board flat and rigid when inflated.

The outer PVC shell is a fusion laminate material that uses a single layer of PVC material. Single-layer PVC iSUP construction has come a long way in the last few years and is no longer automatically considered to be less effective or durable than multi-layer constructions. By selecting high quality materials and using new processes, the Isle AirTech construction is still extremely durable and reliable. It also happens to be the same core construction as Isle’s Pro series paddle boards.

New for the Explorer 3, the top and bottom of the board are joined together with Isle’s PowerFuse heat-welding process. Welding the inner rail layer physically bonds the board into what essentially becomes a single continuous layer of PVC material. An outer PVC layer is glued on top of the inner rail band, and the Explorer 3 also has seam-reinforcing pin lines on the top and bottom edges of the outer rail band – all made with reinforced PVC.

In addition to the lighter, yet stiffer, woven drop stitch core, the Explorer 3 also has four PVC stringers along the top and bottom edges of the rails to increase stiffness without drastically increasing weight.

All together, the Explorer 3 weighs in at just 20 lbs, and has a recommended maximum inflation pressure of 17 PSI.

Isle Explorer 3 iSUP stringers
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The Explorer 3 has 4 PVC stringers to increase rigidity.

With all of the new construction tech borrowed from the Pro series iSUPs I was really interested to see how the Explorer 3 would do in our static bend test.

Inflated to its maximum 17 PSI, we put the Explorer 3 onto the saw horses and added 170 lbs of weight to the standing area of the board. The Explorer 3 did well, and on par with the Pioneer 3, by bending 1.85”.

Now this is more bend than our current running average (1.56”) and is nowhere near the ridiculous rigidity performance of the Explorer Pro 12’ (0.87”), but considering the Explorer 3’s weight and width, it actually did pretty well.

But, as always, the most important measure of rigidity is how the board feels on the water.

Isle Explorer 3 iSUP bounce test
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The Explorer 3 does have a significant amount of bend while bouncing, but very little while paddling.

While standing and paddling normally on the Explorer 3 I didn’t really notice any bend or flex in the board. I could tell that it was just slightly softer than the Pioneer 2’s double-layer PVC construction, but only while comparing them side-by-side. After just a minute or two of paddling the Explorer 3 I never noticed it again.

However, I did feel the Explorer 3 begin to flex when I started paddling hard for a sprint. Here I could feel a moderate amount of flex, but strangely it didn’t feel like it was interfering with the board’s speed performance. I could feel it flex, but it didn’t feel like it was pushing water forward or pressing down into the water, either.

While bouncing on the Explorer 3 I could easily generate a moderate amount of flex, but once I stopped the board settled back down very calmly and smoothly – which is a welcome change from the Pioneer 3’s more springy rebound.

While editing the photos and video for this review I did notice that it looked like the Explorer 3 had a significant amount of bend in the board while I was paddling – even though I didn’t really feel any. But looking closer I can see that part of this is a bit of an optical illusion caused by the Explorer 3’s rocker profile. The board’s nose rocker starts relatively far back toward the standing area (as seen in the profile view in the next photo below). This makes the board look like it is bending more than it really is during regular paddling.

With good rigidity, lightweight materials, and welded seams, I’m quite pleased with the Explorer 3’s construction. I don’t foresee any durability or longevity issues and even though the bend test results were not the best we’ve seen, it’s feel on the water more than makes up for our static measurement test.


Length 11’ 6”
Max Capacity300 pounds
Board Weight20.0 pounds
Kit Weight
(SUP & accessories)
Buying Info
List Price$795
Warranty5 years
Returns period60 days

Features, Accessories and Versatility

The Isle Explorer 3 is built for adventure touring. It’s a crossover between an all-around iSUP and a touring board that is as ready for a fitness paddle session, as it is a 5 day river trip, as it is teaching beginners how to paddle.

Isle Explorer 3 iSUP size and shape
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The Isle Explorer 3 is 11’6” long, 32” wide, 6” thick, weighs 20.0 lbs, and has a maximum weight capacity of 300 lbs.
Isle Explorer 3 iSUP nose
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The nose is actually quite broad right up until the last 2 feet where it begins to taper into a point. The rocker profile, though, actually begins quite far back on the board (just before the large Isle logo) in order to give the Explorer 3 a more progressive rocker feel that makes it easier to paddle over choppy conditions..
Isle Explorer 3 iSUP tail
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The rear of the board is likewise quite wide with a square tail. This shape gives the Explorer 3 maximum contact with the water for improved stability over round- or pin-tail boards.
Isle Explorer 3 iSUP adjustable bungee cord
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The two cargo bungees are both adjustable and removable. With the Isle Link system, the bungee cords can be rearranged to a different location, made a different size, or removed all together.
Isle Explorer 3 iSUP Isle Link System
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The Explorer 3 has 19 pairs of polyethylene tabs anchored to the rails of the board to create the Isle Link system. These tabs allow you to completely customize how your board is set up and rigged to match your desired use. They are also compatible with accessories like kayak seats, fishing crates, shoulder straps, and more.
Isle Explorer 3 iSUP paddle holder
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There are two velcro loop paddle holders on the right side of the board to store an extra paddle or a paddle blade/handle when switching between SUP and Kayak mode.
Isle Explorer 3 iSUP threaded accessory mount
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There is one threaded accessory mount on the nose of the board, and three padded carrying handles for easy transportation once inflated.
Isle Explorer 3 iSUP deck pad
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The EVA foam deck pad is mostly covered with a brushed texture, but changes to a logo-embossed texture for additional traction on the tail of the board.

While the Isle Explorer 3 may not look like it has the most versatility of an iSUP on the market, the Isle Link system actually allows you to fully customize your setup. You can easily and quickly adjust cargo area size and location, tie down large items, attach accessories like a fishing crate, kayak seat/foot brace, and even create handles for passengers or link up with another Isle paddle board to create a floating raft.

Isle Explorer 3 iSUP kit
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The Isle Explorer 3 comes as a complete iSUP kit.
The Explorer 3 comes as a complete iSUP kit. Included in the box are:
  • Explorer 3 iSUP
  • Double-action/single-chamber hand pump
  • 3-piece carbon fiber Remix paddle
  • 9” touring style fin with tool-less click-fin inserts
  • Semi-stretch lightweight ankle leash
  • 3L Dry bag
  • Repair kit, sticker pack, board strap
  • Wheeled duffel-style transportation bag

Everything that comes with the Explorer 3 fits inside the new wheeled transportation bag, and there’s enough room left over for a water bottle, PFD, and even a spare paddle blade and kayak seat. The new bag has a hard plate bottom that makes it easy to pack the board and set it upright, a small accessory pocket, and lightly padded backpack straps when you need to carry the bag instead of wheeling it.

Lastly, Isle also has a series of accessories made specifically for the Isle Link system – and are compatible with the Explorer 3 – like shoulder carry straps, link straps, fishing cargo boxes, kayak seats, foot braces, and more.

Isle Explorer 3 iSUP Isle Link Straps
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The optional Isle Link Straps allow you to quickly and easily “raft up” with any other Isle Link iSUP.
Isle Explorer 3 iSUP shoulder carry strap
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The Isle Link loops can also be used with a shoulder carrying strap.


The Explorer 3 comes with Isle’s carbon 3-piece fiber/nylon Remix SUP paddle, but it’s also ready to convert to a double-bladed paddle for kayaking if you choose.

Isle Explorer 3 iSUP Remix Paddle
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The Remix paddle uses a carbon fiber shaft and fiber-reinforced nylon blade.

The carbon fiber shaft of the Remix paddle is lightweight and has a moderate amount of flex – just enough to keep your paddling sessions comfortable without losing efficiency. The handle section is also made with the same carbon fiber material, and the Remix paddle uses two pin-and-clip systems to attach the paddle blade and secure the handle. The shaft is symmetrical, so it doesn’t matter which end you use for the handle and the blade, and this allows it to seamlessly convert to a kayak paddle by swapping the SUP handle for another blade.

The blade is made with a fiber-reinforced nylon material that keeps it lightweight with just a little bit of flex. The medium size and rectangular shape are comfortable to use both at cruising speeds and for short sprints. The pin-and-clip adjustment system keeps the handle properly aligned with the paddle blade and there is both a length and paddler height scale printed on the back of the handle. The grip is also made of nylon with standard palm shape with a deeper concave for your fingers and very light texture.

The Remix paddle comes preinstalled with a drip ring on the blade to help keep you dry while using the Explorer 3 as a sit-on-top kayak. However, I did find the drip rings to occasionally catch on the Isle Link tabs and paddle holder loops from time to time. If you don’t plan to use the Explorer 3 as a kayak, then you may want to remove the drip ring.


The Explorer 3’s shape gives it an incredible amount of stability for its size. Everyone from expedition paddlers to beginners will appreciate the Explorer 3’s stability.

Isle Explorer 3 iSUP Stability rocking
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The wide tail and parallel shape make the Explorer 3 very stable on the water, even when rocking it side-to-side.

The Explorer 3’s shape and size give it some very nice stability on the water. The wide nose and tail allow the sides to remain parallel and nearly 32” wide through the majority of the standing area. This makes the Explorer 3 feel very consistently stable whether you are standing at the center handle where it’s widest, or even ⅔ of the way back to make room for a passenger or heavy cargo on the front of the board.

I didn’t feel any rolling or twitching while paddling the Explorer 3, but rather just felt very comfortable no matter what I was doing – standing, stretching, paddling, walking, and even using the tail of the board for a pivot turn.

Isle Explorer 3 iSUP stability on edge
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It’s also extremely easy to hold the Explorer 3 tilted on its edge.

That same parallel shape also makes it easy and comfortable to tilt the Explorer 3 on its side and hold it there to carve a turn, and it also dips and resurfaces very smoothly and consistently while rocking the board from side to side.

At the tail of the board the deck pad switches to a higher-traction logo-embossed texture and the wide square tail did a great job of supporting me and providing stability while I lifted the nose and spun the board around.

I’d not hesitate to recommend the Explorer 3’s stability to any beginner, larger paddler, or anyone who wants to bring a significant amount of equipment with them on a longer trip.


The Explorer 3 did very well in our speed testing, outperforming many all-around iSUPs and even some touring-style boards.

Isle Explorer 3 iSUP Speed
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The Explorer 3 has great speed performance for an all-around board and the efficiency of a touring SUP.

The Explorer 3 is designed to be an Adventure-Touring board, or as what we also call a crossover all-around/touring board. We started evaluating the Explorer 3’s speed with a sustained sprint and maximum speed test. The Explorer 3 did well for an all-around style board, but fell a little short of most dedicated touring boards.

While sprinting (around 80 strokes per minute), the Explorer 3 maintained an average speed of 5.4 MPH, and when going all in I was able to get the Explorer 3 up to a maximum of 5.7 MPH.

While the sprinting and top speed results were good, but not chart-topping, the Explorer 3 did feel good to paddle at these higher speeds. I did notice some moderate flex in the board, but didn’t feel it really pushing the water to any large degree.

At a more casual cruising pace that you can sustain for hours at a time, the Explorer 3 did very well. While paddling at 25 strokes per minute, the Explorer 3 clocked an average speed of 3.8 MPH. That’s definitely on the high-side for all-around paddle boards and is just knocking on the door of more dedicated touring iSUPs like the Isle Explorer Pro 12’ and Sea Gods Carta Marina CX.

Where the Explorer 3 really surprised me was in our efficiency test. While paddling at that same cruising pace we take a single paddle stroke and use a high-fidelity GPS to measure how far the board travels before it noticeably slows down. The Explorer 3 traveled an average of 22.5 feet per stroke giving it a gliding ratio of 2.0 Board-Lengths per stroke. That blows all of our tested all-around SUPs out of the water (1.4-1.8 Board-Lengths) and is smack-dab in the midst of dedicated touring iSUPs (1.8-2.2 Board-Lengths).

Though it doesn’t take specialized equipment to notice how easy the Explorer 3 glides across the water. I could just feel that the board was easy and comfortable to paddle and my field-notes even start with “overall, really nice paddling experience.”

Maneuverability and Tracking

As a crossover or adventure-touring SUP, I was expecting the Explorer 3 to really favor tracking over maneuverability, but instead I was pleasantly surprised to find a good balance of both with just a hint of tracking favoritism.

Isle Explorer 3 iSUP Maneuverability
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I was surprised at how easy it is to turn the Explorer 3.

In our maneuverability testing, we perform a stress test designed to highlight the differences between paddle boards. From a standstill we use forward sweep strokes to turn the board in a full 360°. The Explorer 3 did surprisingly well in our stress test and needed an average of 6.25 strokes to make a full circle. This is really good compared to dedicated touring boards (usually around 8-10 strokes) and basically on par with a standard 11’ all-around paddle board.

Reversing the test with reverse sweep strokes turns the Explorer 3 very quickly with an average of just 3.5 strokes for a full 360°. Similar to the Pioneer 3, I found it very easy to steer the Explorer 3 while paddling, and it was also easy to turn in smaller quantities with just a few strokes.

The parallel shape and wide, square, tail also make it really easy to step back over the fin to lift the nose and perform a pivot turn. While not quite as stable as the 34” Pioneer 3, the Explorer 3 did have very consistent stability as I walked back to the tail, and was comfortably stable while lifting the nose and spinning the board.

Isle Explorer 3 iSUP Tracking
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The Explorer 3 has excellent tracking performance for an all-around style paddle board.

With a great result in the maneuverability test I was holding my breath as I began testing the Explorer 3’s tracking ability. Usually maneuverability and tracking are opposite sides of the same coin – design choices that allow a board to be more nimble make it harder to paddle straight. However, I was very pleased with the result of the Explorer 3’s tracking test.

While paddling toward a distant target, we take 10 forward strokes on a single side of the board without any course correction and then measure the difference between our original target and new course with a compass.

The Explorer 3 did very well, with an average course deviation of just 13°. That’s very good for an all-around paddle board, but not quite as good as we normally see in a dedicated touring SUP. However, considering its maneuverability performance this is still a very good result.

Additionally, most paddlers tend to change sides more frequently than 10 paddle strokes, and use corrective strokes when paddling for longer periods of time on a single side. I had no problems keeping the Explorer 3 on track while paddling normally, and it even maintained course fairly well during a heavy sprint.

Isle Explorer 3 iSUP fin
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The 9” touring fin that comes with the Explorer 3 does a great job of balancing tracking and maneuverability.

The Explorer 3 has a single fin Universal Standard (US) fin box with a split design, and comes with a 9” touring-style fin. This setup is simple and versatile – allowing you to use hundreds of different US-compatible fins.

The included 9” touring style fin is fiber-reinforced plastic for rigidity (which aids in tracking performance) and durability. And it comes with a tool-less click fin insert for quick and easy installation and removal. However if you paddle in shallow conditions, or will be paddling far from shore, I do recommend using a fin bolt with it for additional security.

The split design allows the Explorer 3 to roll into a slightly more compact shape, making it even easier to fit into the new duffel-style wheeled carrying bag.

Kayak Performance

The Isle Explorer 3 is designed to be used as both a stand up paddle board and as a sit-on-top kayak. With the Isle Cloud Kayak Seat, foot brace, and Remix paddle I found the Explorer 3 to work well as a kayak, but not quite as well as it does as a SUP.

Isle Explorer 3 iSUP kayak performance
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The Explorer 3 converts quickly and easily into a sit-on-top kayak.

Isle makes it easy to convert the Explorer 3 into a sit-on-top kayak with the Isle Link system. Simply inflate the Cloud Kayak Seat and foot brace, and use the stainless steel G-hooks to place them on the Explorer 3 wherever you need along the length of the board. Changing the paddle is also just as easy – simply swap the handle for a second Remix paddle blade and you are ready to go. The Remix paddle can even adjust its length when in kayak mode to fit taller paddlers. While seated on the Explorer 3 and using it as a kayak I did notice a difference in stability. Sitting down does lower your center of gravity, but it also removes your ability to control the board tilt with small changes in weight distribution and foot position like you can while standing. Because of this I found the Explorer 3 to be less stable than I anticipated while sitting. The system overall felt a little more twitchy compared to standing, and overall a little less easy-going than paddling the Isle Pioneer 3 like a kayak.

Performance-wise, the Explorer 3 did very well when converted to a kayak. I felt that it was just a little harder to turn the board in large quantities while seated, but the tracking performance and speed both remained very good.

While I personally prefer the Explorer 3 as a SUP (let’s be honest, I prefer SUP to kayaking most of the time anyway), I do think the Explorer 3 offers a good kayaking experience overall. If you are looking for one paddle board that can be used not just as an all-around or adventure touring board, but also as a capable flatwater kayak, the Explorer 3 is a great option.

While the Explorer 3 kit does not include the Isle Cloud Kayak Seat, foot brace, and Remix paddle blade automatically, adding those items to your Explorer 3 is still significantly less expensive than purchasing an inflatable kayak with similar performance.

Warranty and Customer Support

With the AirTech construction and PowerFuse rail system Isle has doubled the warranty period of the Explorer 3 and now covers the board against manufacturing defects for 5 years. Accessories are still warrantied for 1 year. They also offer a 60-day return period. If you don’t like your board for any reason you can send it back for a refund or replacement, however customers are responsible for shipping costs and a 20% restocking fee. If you have any questions for Isle, you can reach them via a form on their website, on the phone, or through social media.

Overall Impressions/Review Summary

Isle Explorer 3 iSUP Pivot turn
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The Isle Explorer 3 is a fantastic all-around and touring crossover as well as a great option for paddlers who want both a SUP and kayak in one package.

Simply put, the Isle Explorer 3 is just a fun board to paddle. It has great stability for its size thanks to its wide tail and parallel shape; It is extremely efficient and fast on the water; and the Explorer 3 can be set up in a near infinite number of ways to carry everything you need for a casual cruise, full day of fishing, overnight expedition, and even doing all of those as a sit-on-top kayak.

The Isle Explorer 3 is one of those (very few) Jack of All Trades paddle boards that actually delivers in performance and comfort. It’s a great option for beginners who want a board that will grow with them, paddlers who like to dabble in all aspects of the sport, and intermediate and advanced paddlers who want a comfortable inflatable SUP that can keep up with their own performance level.

Isle Explorer 3 Hybrid iSUP FAQ

Is the Isle Explorer 3 a good paddle board for beginners?

Absolutely! The Explorer 3 is a fantastic choice for beginner paddlers. It has great stability and well-balanced performance that makes it easy to learn with, and gives it the performance potential to grow with you as a paddler.

Is the Isle Explorer 3 good for paddling with kids or dogs?

Yes. The Isle Pioneer 3 is a wonderful option for paddling with kids and pets. The stable shape and slightly longer size give the Explorer 3 plenty of room and a comfortable experience for your passengers.

Can I use the Isle Explorer 3 for fishing?

The Isle Explorer 3’s stability and cargo capacity make it a great option for SUP fishing. Isle also makes a Harbor Fishing Crate designed to work seamlessly with the Isle Link system to hold all of your fishing equipment.

Can I use the Isle Explorer 3 as a kayak?

The Isle Explorer 3 is designed as a hybrid iSUP and kayak. The Isle Link system is compatible with Isle’s Cloud Kayak Seat and Foot Brace, and the included Remix Paddle is ready to take a second paddle blade for easy seated paddling.

Is the Isle Explorer 3 worth the price?

Absolutely. The Isle Explorer 3 is made with the latest iSUP materials and construction techniques including heat-welded rails. This physically bonds the iSUP together making it more durable and longer-lasting than glued constructions. It has excellent performance on the water, and is highly versatile. Combined with a great accessory kit and warranty, the Isle Explorer 3 is a fantastic value.

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