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

Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP review
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The Isle Pioneer 3 is a hybrid paddle board and kayak that is a blast to paddle in either configuration.

Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP Review: Overview

Isle’s newest version of the popular Pioneer inflatable paddle board brings more versatility to the ultra stable platform along with several upgraded accessories.

The Isle Pioneer 3 is a super-stable, beginner-friendly, paddle board with the latest construction technology, near-infinite setup options, and upgrades to the paddle, bag, and other accessories. It’s a great option for beginner paddlers, paddling with a friend or pet, and even for SUP yoga and fishing – a truly all-around paddle board.

— Isle Pioneer 3 Review Summary and Ratings —

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

Overall Score

The Pioneer 3 is an extremely versatile and stable all-around paddle board with the latest construction and materials.


  • Updated drop stitch and shell materials make this relatively large board quite lightweight at under 20lbs
  • Full length deck pad and Isle Link system integration allow for near-infinite uses
  • Extremely stable shape and size make it great for beginners, larger paddlers, and SUP Yoga/Fishing
  • New welded interior seams increase durability and longevity
  • Updated fin system makes the Pioneer 3 easier to roll without losing tracking performance
  • Isle Remix paddle is lighter than the previous version and ready for kayak conversion
  • Kayak-conversion ready with the Isle Link system and Isle’s Cloud kayak seat


  • The lightweight construction does introduce a little more flex into the Pioneer 3, but it’s not noticeable under normal conditions
  • The Pioneer 3 has excellent paddling efficiency at casual speeds, but is harder to paddle at a faster pace.

Construction and Durability

Isle has been on the forefront of iSUP technology for the last several years and the Pioneer 3 is the recipient of several of these advances first made in Isle’s “Pro” series paddle boards making the Pioneer 3 lighter and more durable.

Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP rail construction
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Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP rail construction

Inside the Pioneer 3 Isle has upgraded the drop stitch core from a traditional knitted material to a lower-density, but high strength, woven fabric and drop stitch pattern.

The woven fabric reduces the amount of polyester yarn needed to make the drop stitch base layer. This greatly reduces the weight of the board even before the PVC outer shell is applied. It also reduces the amount of flex in the fabric itself, so that weight reduction doesn’t negatively impact the rigidity of the board.

The next big change for the Pioneer 3 is its single-layer fusion PVC shell. Now 10 – or even 5 – years ago most folks in the industry would agree that single-layer PVC was almost a four-letter word. But with companies like Isle, and many others, developing improved materials and processes, that’s no longer the case. This fusion PVC skin is still extremely durable and far, far more rigid than its single-layer ancestors. However, it is slightly less rigid than the dual-layer fusion PVC of the previous generation Pioneer. The trade off is in weight.

The new Pioneer 3 sheds over 4 lbs of weight while increasing the size of the deck pad and adding the Isle Link system. That’s seriously impressive.

The deck and hull of the board are sealed together with an inner rail band of PVC material that is now heat-welded in place rather than glued, followed by an outer layer of PVC that is glued-on to further protect the seam. Isle rates the Pioneer 3 with a recommended maximum inflation pressure of 17 PSI.

This new “PowerFuse” construction was first debuted in the Isle Pro series iSUPs and is now being used in the Pioneer and Explorer 3.0 models as well

In fact, the Pioneer 3 construction is nearly identical to the Pioneer Pro series boards, but without the Infinity Fiber stringer system found in the Pro models. The Pioneer 3 also gets the added benefit of PVC stringers on the outside edges of the board that serve to stiffen the board and act as an anchor point for the Isle Link system.

Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP PVC Stringers
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The Pioneer 3 uses PVC stringers on the top and bottom of each rail to increase rigidity while keeping weight low.

With the new drop stitch core, fusion PVC shell, and PVC stringer system, I was really curious to see how well the Pioneer 3 held up in our static bend test.

After inflating the Pioneer 3 to its maximum 17 PSI, we load up the standing area of the board with 170 lbs of weight and measure how much it bends when suspended between two points.

The Pioneer 3 bent 1.85” with the 170 lbs load.

I’ve got some mixed feelings about this result. One one hand, it is noticeably more flex than the Pioneer 2.0 (which only bent 1.20”), and did fall below our running average of 1.56”. On the other hand, the Pioneer 3 is incredibly lightweight for its size and feature set. When you take that into account, it actually did quite well, especially compared to other boards of similar size and weight (like the Bote Wulf at 2.4” of bend).

But even the best lab testing in the world can’t tell you how a board is going to feel on the water. So how does the Pioneer 3 hold up in the real world?

Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP bounce test
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The Pioneer 3 does have some moderate flex when bouncing, but not while paddling.

Short answer: better than the bend test would have you think!

In testing the Pioneer 3 side-by-side with the Pioneer 2.0 I could tell a small difference between them while on the water, particularly in how they behave after the bounce test. But, unless I was swapping these boards back and forth constantly I had a hard time noticing any real difference in rigidity on the water during normal paddling.

While standing and paddling on the Pioneer 3 I didn’t feel or notice any flex or bend in the board. I did feel a little bit of bounce when taking large steps around the deck, but only when I was actually looking for it.

Paddling in a sprint did produce some “mild +” flex – not really enough to call it “moderate” flex, but also a little more than what I would consider to be “mild.” I know, super helpful descriptions. More simply put, I don’t feel that the flex made an impact on the sprinting performance of the board. It didn’t cause the Pioneer 3 to bounce around or suddenly begin pushing water when paddling hard.

While bouncing on the Pioneer 3 I did generate a moderate amount of flex that was quite noticeable. However the biggest “flaw” of the Pioneer 3’s rigidity was in its rebound. When I stopped bouncing on the Pioneer 3 I felt that it had a springy feeling that was less smooth than the Pioneer 2.0, and even the Explorer 3.0.

Overall I’m very happy with the Pioneer 3’s construction, durability, and rigidity. The new materials make it very lightweight, but don’t sacrifice any actual performance on the water.


Length10’ 6”
Max Capacity285 pounds
Board Weight19.6 pounds
Kit Weight
(SUP & accessories)
Buying Info
List Price$695
Warranty5 years
Returns period60 days

Features, Accessories and Versatility

The Pioneer 3 embraces versatility with a full-length deck pad and Isle Link system that allows you to customize your loadout for any activity. The wide shape gives the Pioneer 3 excellent stability so you can use it with friends and pets, for fishing, and even for Yoga, without worrying about tipping off the board. The Pioneer 3 is also compatible with the Isle Cloud Kayak Seat and other accessories.

Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP dimensions
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The Isle Pioneer 3 is 10’6” long, 33.5” wide (measured), and 6” thick. It has a weight capacity of 300 lbs and weighs just 19.6 lbs.
Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP nose
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The Pioneer 3 has a broad, rounded nose with a mild rocker profile to keep the board stable, but able to handle choppy conditions. The front cargo area is pre-strung with a large, adjustable and removable bungee cord, and the deck pad extends all the way to the nose of the board.
Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP tail
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The tail of the Pioneer 3 is quite wide at well over 22” for stability, but features a small taper at the back of the board to help shed water and reduce drag for more efficient paddling.
Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP adjustable bungee cord
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Both cargo bungee cords are adjustable with a simple friction toggle, and you can move them to any position on the board or remove them entirely.
Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP Isle Link System
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The Isle Link system uses 19 pairs of polyethylene tabs along the sides of the board to let you move the cargo bungee cords and attach any number of accessories like kayak seats, fishing crates, shoulder straps, or tie down coolers and other large items.
Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP threaded accessory mount
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There is a threaded accessory mount built into the handle on the nose of the board.
Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP paddle holder
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There are velcro loops on the right side of the board that can hold a spare paddle/blade or even a fishing rod.
Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP handle
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There are three padded carrying handles on the Pioneer 3.
Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP deck pad
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The deck pad covers the entire length of the Pioneer 3. For most of the main standing area and nose of the board the EVA deck pad has a brushed texture; it changes to a logo-embossed pattern for the rear quarter of the board for improved traction when standing at the tail.
Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP anchor/tow d-ring
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There is an anchor/towing D-ring on the underside of the board’s nose.
Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP fin box
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The new split-style US fin box works with all Universal Standard fins, but also makes it much easier to roll the Pioneer 3 when you are done paddling.

The biggest, and most visible, changes for the Pioneer 3 are the full length deck pad and the Isle Link system. These two elements together make the Pioneer 3 an extremely versatile cruiser iSUP. You can stretch out for some Yoga (or just a quick cat nap), bring your pets and friends without worrying about a slippery deck, and rearrange the board to carry fishing equipment, snorkeling gear, coolers, or anything else you can think of.

Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP kit
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The Pioneer 3 comes as a complete iSUP kit.

The Pioneer 3 comes as a complete iSUP kit. Included in the box are:

  • Pioneer 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 Pioneer 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 Pioneer 3 – like shoulder carry straps, link straps, fishing cargo boxes, kayak seats, foot braces, and more.

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


The Pioneer 3 comes with Isle’s carbon fiber/nylon, 3-piece, Remix paddle.

Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP Remix Paddle
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The Remix paddle uses a carbon fiber shaft and handle section with a nylon blade and palm grip..

The Remix Paddle, like the Pioneer 3, is designed for performance and versatility. The carbon fiber paddle shaft keeps the remix paddle feeling light in your hands and has a medium flex profile that feels neither flimsy nor overly rigid.

The handle section adjusts with a pin-and-clip system that’s extremely easy to use and automatically aligns the blade and the handle each time you adjust the length. The back side of the handle section also has a printed scale with both height recommendations and paddle lengths. The grip is made of a textured plastic that feels solid in your hand, but not quite as comfortable as a molded carbon fiber grip. However, the texturing is very light, so it doesn’t rub against your skin like some more aggressive textures tend to.

The Remix uses a fiber-reinforced nylon paddle blade with a medium size and rectangular shape. This blade is much lighter than the paddle blade that came with the Pioneer 2.0, making it much more comfortable to paddle for long periods of time.

The main section of the Remix paddle is symmetrical, so it doesn’t matter which end you use for the handle and blade. This is designed this way so you can convert the paddle for kayaking with a second Remix blade. The blades also use the pin-and-clip connection system and have a few different settings so you can somewhat adjust the length of the paddle in kayak mode as well.

The blades also come pre-installed with drip rings. This is a nice addition for use when kayaking, however I’m not as much of a fan when SUPing simply because they tend to catch on the side of the board – particularly on the paddle holder tabs.


The Pioneer series has always been known for its excellent stability, and the Pioneer 3 continues this legacy.

Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP stability on edge
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The Pioneer 3 has excellent stability while flat and while holding on its edge.

The Isle Pioneer 3 is shaped with stability as a core feature. It’s a great board for beginners, larger paddlers, or anyone who wants an extra stable board that still has great paddle-ability.

While standing on the Pioneer 3 I didn’t feel any twitching or rolling. As iSUPs get lighter and lighter, sometimes ultralight constructions can feel slightly “corky” or “twitchy” as they become more responsive to weight changes. However, the Pioneer 3 did not exhibit any of this behavior on the water. I could comfortably shift my weight from side to side, walk on the board, and (of course) paddle without any feeling of instability.

Because the Pioneer 3 has a wide nose and tail, the sides of the board are extremely parallel. This keeps the SUP feeling consistently stable as you change position. That’s great news for paddling with passengers or larger pets as you may need to change where you stand in order to make room for them.

Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP stability on edge
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Rocking the Pioneer 3 side to side was consistent and comfortable.

Tilting the Pioneer 3 onto its edge was quite easy and comfortable, and again that parallel shape keeps the board feeling consistently stable even tilting and holding the board on its rail. Rocking the board side to side and paddling over boat wakes was likewise predictable and never felt like the board was bucking or “corky.”

The wide tail makes the Pioneer 3 an excellent board for learning how to pivot turn on a SUP. There’s tons of stability as you move your feet to the back of the board, the deck pad takes on a logo-embossed texture for improved grip, and the Pioneer 3 easily lifts its nose and spins cleanly through the water with just a few paddle strokes.


As a cruiser-style iSUP, the Pioneer 3 isn’t meant to be paddled fast like a touring board, but it does have a moderate speed profile and excellent efficiency at lower speeds.

Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP speed
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The Isle Pioneer 3 isn’t the best sprinter, but is very efficient at lower speeds.

In our speed testing we look at four different measures: sustainable sprinting speed, maximum speed, cruising speed, and glide distance.

While sprinting the Pioneer 3 I did feel a mild-to-moderate amount of board flex, but nothing that I would consider is drastically reducing its performance. In fact, even though it flexes slightly more than the heavier Pioneer 2.0, the Pioneer 3 clocked a faster sustained sprint speed of 5.2 MPH, and a faster maximum speed of 5.4 MPH. Those are both pretty good for such a wide, stable SUP.

However, where the Pioneer 3 really excels for speed is at a more casual (and useful) cruising pace. At 25 strokes per minute, the Pioneer 3 cruises along at a respectable 3.5 MPH. It’s got a very smooth-feeling glide at this pace as well.

When taking one stroke at a time from this cruising pace, the Pioneer 3 travels an average of about 20 feet per stroke before noticeably slowing down. For a 10’6” board – doubly for a 34” wide board – that’s an incredible 1.9 board-lengths per stroke. For perspective, we typically see cruisers like the Pioneer 3 with a gliding ratio of about 1.6 board-lengths, and the most-efficiently-gliding iSUP we’ve tested so far has a 2.2 board-length ratio.

While I’m not going to choose the Pioneer 3 for a race, it’s definitely a smooth paddler that easily and quickly gets you from place to place.

Maneuverability and Tracking

The Pioneer 3 does a great job of balancing its maneuverability and tracking performance by staying nimble when you need to turn and easily keeping you on course over a longer distance.

Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP maneuverability
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The Pioneer 3 has excellent maneuverability.

The Pioneer 3 has a new 9” touring-style fin and a slightly different fin position, so I wasn’t sure how it would behave in our maneuverability test.

In order to compare performance between different boards, we use a standardized maneuverability stress test. It’s not the most real-world example of agility (more on that in a bit), but it does a great job of highlighting the performance capability of a board.

From a standstill, and using only forward sweep strokes, we count the number of strokes needed to turn in a full 360°. Fewer strokes = more maneuverability.

The Pioneer 3 did a fantastic job, and needed an average of just over 5 strokes to make a full 360°. That’s a little better than average in our testing, and the Pioneer 3 was able to turn almost a full 180° with just two strokes.

We also run the same test in reverse, and using only reverse sweep strokes, the Pioneer 3 turns a full 360° in just 3.5 strokes – a very quick result.

While actually paddling, though, the Pioneer 3 also felt very nimble. I didn’t have any problems turning the board up to about 90° using sweep strokes, and it responded very quickly to steering input.

The wide stable tail also makes the Pioneer 3 incredibly easy to step back and pivot turn for extremely quick changes.

Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP tracking
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It also tracks extremely well for a paddle board of its size.

Similarly, we have a stress test to examine a board’s tracking as well. While paddling toward a distant target we take 10 paddle strokes on a single side and measure the difference from our original course and our new course with a compass.

After 10 paddle strokes on a single side, the Pioneer 3 only veered an average of about 17° off course. Again, this is a good result for a cruiser-style iSUP. These size/shape boards typically focus on maneuverability more than tracking, but the Pioneer 3 does both very well. And when you are paddling normally – and generally taking fewer than 10 strokes on a side – it’s extremely easy to keep the Pioneer 3 headed in the right direction.

Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP fin
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The Pioneer 3 comes with a 9” touring style fin and tool-less click-fin inserts.

The fin box on the Pioneer 3 is slightly farther toward the rear of the board than it was on the 2.0. This generally improves tracking, but can make maneuverability harder. The included fin also changed from an extra-large surface area fin to a standard 9” touring fin. The two changes are an overall improvement in both maneuverability and tracking for the Pioneer. The new touring fin does come with tool-less click fin inserts, however if you paddle in shallow conditions where you may be more likely to strike the fin, I would recommend getting a fin bolt to ensure it stays securely connected.

Additionally, the Pioneer 3 no longer has fixed side bite fins. These small plastic fins have been placed on iSUPs for years and years as more of an aesthetic treatment and homage to surfing than for useful performance. The small fins themselves never really aided much in tracking or stability, and mostly got in the way when rolling the board and created unnecessary drag while paddling. I was glad to see that these vestigial fins have been removed from the Pioneer 3’s design.

At the end of the day I was quite impressed with the Pioneer 3’s tracking performance and happy to see that it’s maneuverability wasn’t put in jeopardy. It’s a great balance between the two characteristics and just further aids in the Pioneer 3’s versatility.

Kayak Performance

The Pioneer 3 is part of a new wave of paddle boards that are designed specifically to be hybrid watercraft and used as both a SUP and Kayak. With former US National Whitewater Champion Jimmy Blakeney at the helm of Isle’s design team it’s no surprise that the Pioneer 3 is as comfortable and easy to use as a kayak as it is a SUP.

Isle Pioneer 3 iSUP as a kayak
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The Pioneer 3 is a comfortable and well-performing kayak as well.

Converting the Pioneer 3 to a sit-on-top kayak is very simple. Inflate the Cloud Kayak Seat and foot brace, then use the stainless steel G-hooks to anchor the seat wherever you want on the Pioneer 3. Because your legs are out in front of you while seated, I like to place the seat just behind the center of the board to help keep it properly trimmed on the water.

Forgive the pun, but the foot brace is a huge leg-up over other kayak conversions that use just a seat. Being able to place your feet properly and push with your legs is not only more comfortable than the flat deck of the board, but also helps with your paddling efficiency by letting you engage your entire body with each stroke.

To convert the paddle, simply swap the SUP handle for an extra paddle blade and you are ready to go. With the Isle Remix paddle there is also length adjustment available when using it as a kayak paddle, so longer and shorter paddlers can both comfortably use the same paddle.

Once you’ve changed up the equipment, the Pioneer 3 is ready to kayak. The wide, stable shape makes it very comfortable to use without feeling twitchy or tippy. While sitting does lower your body considerably compared to standing, you do lose the fine motor control of your legs to help balance the board, so this primary stability is really important.

If you’ve read any of my other reviews about paddle conversions for kayaking you know that I’m not a huge fan of SUP blades for kayaking, but after testing a few other models of convertible paddles I will say that this rectangular blade with a slight scoop does do a pretty good job compared to others.

I found it just as easy to turn the Pioneer 3 while kayaking as while SUPing, and of course it became even easier to paddle straight and fast while taking strokes on alternating sides.

Overall the Pioneer 3 is quite comfortable to use as a kayak, is easy to convert, and maintains its paddling performance. While it’s not quite the same experience as a purpose-built kayak, the Pioneer 3 is a great option for anyone who wants both a cruiser-style iSUP and kayak in a single package. The downside is that the Pioneer 3 does not come with the Cloud Kayak Seat and Remix Paddle Blade in its kit, so that is an additional cost, though it is far less than the cost of an equally-good performing inflatable kayak on its own.

Warranty and Customer Support

With the AirTech construction and PowerFuse rail system Isle has doubled the warranty period of the Pioneer 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 Pioneer 3.0 Review
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The Pioneer 3 is a fantastic all-around/cruiser paddle board (and kayak) for paddlers of all skill levels.

The Isle Pioneer 3 is a positive evolution on an already great paddle board. The new construction is lightweight but still pleasantly stiff on the water, and the Isle Link system and full-length deck pad make it immeasurably more versatile than the previous generation. It’s a great performer on the water and has the beginner-friendly stability of a cruiser with even better tracking and speed when you want to go farther. By adding a kayak seat and extra paddle blade, the Pioneer 3 also becomes a very respectable sit-on-top kayak that’s easy to control and very comfortable.

Without a doubt, Isle has knocked it out of the park with the Pioneer 3 Hybrid iSUP.

Isle Pioneer 3 Hybrid iSUP FAQ

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

Absolutely! The Pioneer 3 is a fantastic choice for beginner paddlers. Its excellent stability and well-balanced performance make it easy to learn with, and give it the performance potential to grow with you as a paddler.

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

Yes. The Isle Pioneer 3 is a wonderful option for paddling with kids, pets, and even another adult. The full length deck pad gives your paddling partner(s) a comfortable place to sit, kneel, laydown, or stand, and the Isle Link system means you can attach handle straps anywhere on the board.

Can I use the Isle Pioneer 3 for fishing?

The Isle Pioneer’s excellent 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 Pioneer 3 as a kayak?

The Isle Pioneer 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 Pioneer 3 worth the price?

Absolutely. The Isle Pioneer 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 Pioneer 3 is a fantastic value.

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