Thurso Waterwalker 126: Overview
The Thurso Waterwalker 126 is a highly-versatile all-around inflatable paddle board designed for smaller paddlers. With a recommended maximum rider weight of 180 lbs and a total capacity of 300 lbs, the Waterwalker 126 blends a right-size board for smaller paddlers with the capability of a larger iSUP.
— Thurso Waterwalker 126 Summary Ratings and Review —
Thurso Waterwalker 126
Construction & Durability
Features and Versatility
The Waterwalker 132 is a versatile all-around iSUP great for paddlers up to 180 lbs
- Lightweight construction allows the board to remain stiff while still being easy to carry and paddle
- Increased durability and longevity thanks to the carbon fiber reinforced rails
- Carbon fiber hybrid paddle is light and comfortable to use
- Standard fin boxes allow you to fully customize how the Waterwalker 126 rides
- Included electric pump takes all the work out of getting ready for a day on the water
- Accessory storage bag keeps all of the small, but important, pieces together and easy to find
- Excellent tracking performance and efficiency for longer-distance paddling
- 2 year warranty
- The new electric pump is a little bit slower than the old hand pump, but allows for hands-free inflation
- The fin positioning can make maneuverability difficult, but the standard fin boxes allow you to change the fins to your liking
Thurso Waterwalker 126 iSUP Video Review
Construction and Durability
Thurso Surf has updated the construction of the Waterwalker 126 for this year to make it lighter while still providing great performance and durability.
The Thurso Waterwalker 126 uses a knitted fabric base layer with a standard drop stitch core. The drop stitch yarns sewn between the two fabric base layers set the thickness of the board and give it its flat shape once inflated.
The outer shell of the board is made of a dual-layer fusion PVC material that uses heat and pressure to fuse two layers of PVC together into one (versus hand gluing between layers of material). This lightens the board, reduces cosmetic errors, and still maintains great rigidity and performance.
The top and bottom layers are then joined together around the side of the board with a band of PVC material. This inner rail band finishes the air tight chamber of the board. Another layer of PVC is wrapped around the rail of the board to completely cover the first to protect it and provide additional rigidity. Through the middle of the board there’s a layer of carbon fiber fabric sandwiched between the rail layers. This carbon fiber reinforcement greatly improves the durability of the board, protecting against punctures and abrasion at the widest point, and helps to increase rigidity as well.
Lastly two strips of PVC material are glued over the top and bottom edges of the outer rail band to help further protect the board. Finally all of the other components of the board (deck pad, D-rings, etc.) are glued in place. Together the total weight of the Waterwalker 126 is 24.0 lbs without fins.
We put the Waterwalker on the saw horses for our static bend test. With a 170 lbs load, the Waterwalker 126 bent just 1.575” (4.0 cm) when inflated to its maximum 20 PSI. This is the same result as the Waterwalker 132. Considering these two boards use the same construction and are actually the same width (the Waterwalker 132 measures 1” narrower than specified), I’m not surprised they had the same result. This result is exactly on average for all of the iSUPs we’ve tested so far. But as we’ve seen before, the bend test gives us numbers to compare, but boards can vary greatly in feel once we get them on the water.
At 230 lbs, I’m actually significantly over the recommended rider weight for the Waterwalker 126 of 180 lbs, but well under the maximum capacity of 300 lbs. Even with that weight difference, the Waterwalker 126 felt very rigid while standing on the board and paddling normally. I did notice some flex while paddling hard for the sprint test, but only when I was looking for it.
While bouncing up and down on the Waterwalker 126 there was some moderate flex, but with a very clean rebound that was smooth and short-lived once I stopped bouncing.
Features, Accessories and Versatility
The Thurso Waterwalker 126 iSUP is a versatile all-around board that’s great for smaller paddlers who want to be able to cruise around the bay one day, and load up for a long-distance trip the next.
The Waterwalker 126 now comes with an electric pump included in the kit rather than a hand pump. This new internal-battery-powered pump makes the job of inflating your board super easy. The quick-connect hoses are simple to use, though you do want to make sure they aren’t twisted where they can accidentally come off during use.
The control layout is easy to use with a power button that doubles for an “on” button, pressure adjustment buttons, and a units button to switch between PSI and BAR. The LCD screen can be difficult to read in daylight, so I do recommend setting the pump up in the shade. Ideally you always want to use electric pumps in the shade to help keep them cool, though.
I did find that the electric pump is a little bit slower than many others I’ve used. It takes about 12 minutes to inflate the Waterwalker to 15 PSI, and will take about 16 minutes to inflate it all the way to 20 PSI. While this is much slower than the old double-chamber hand pump, the nice thing is you can set the pump to inflate the board while you finish preparing anything else you need (change clothes, apply sunscreen, etc.).
The internal rechargeable battery has enough power to inflate the Waterwalker 126 twice before needing to recharge. If you do find yourself running out of power, there is a 12v plug at the back of the pump you can use to power the unit from a car.
Overall the Thurso Waterwalker 126 comes with quite an excellent kit. In addition to the electric pump you also get a carbon fiber hybrid paddle, color-matched coiled leash, three fins, repair kit, and a very nice accessory pouch with zippered pockets and clear fronts for each part of the kit. The wheeled carry bag has more than enough room to carry everything (and then some) and the backpack straps can be stowed away into a pocket to keep them from tangling in the wheels.
The included carbon fiber/nylon paddle is a great blend of materials and design for easy cruising, long distance, and even putting down some power for a faster workout session.
The Thurso hybrid paddle uses a carbon fiber shaft and fiber-reinforced nylon blade to create a lightweight, durable, and comfortable paddle. The blade is medium-sized with a slight angle and scoop shape. The fiber-reinforced nylon material is impact resistant and has a moderate amount of flex to help soften your paddle stroke for greater comfort while paddling.
The carbon fiber shaft is relatively lightweight and has the same attachment mechanisms on each side, so it does not matter which end you use with the blade or the handle, and you can easily swap the handle for another blade to use as a kayak paddle.
The handle section is also made of carbon fiber and has a length scale for easy setup. However, it does not have any indexing measures so you will need to manually adjust the handle to make sure it is in line with the paddle blade after each length adjustment.
The grip is a unique T-grip with a rubberized outer coating. This combination of shape and coating gives you a very secure feel when holding the paddle and, when properly aligned, gives you a tactile indication of how your paddle blade is aligned without needing to look.
The Waterwalker 126 is only 31” wide at its midpoint, but has a parallel shape and generous nose and tail for increased stability.
Though the Waterwalker 126 is slightly narrower than many other 10’6” iSUPs, its parallel mid section and wide nose help keep it stable, especially for riders within the recommended weight range of 130-180 lbs. At 230 lbs I’m well over the recommended rider weight, but well within the weight limit for this board. I found it to be quite stable for me given its size, but for new paddlers I would recommend staying within Thurso’s recommended rider weights.
While standing on the Waterwalker 126 without moving I did notice that it felt slightly twitchy as it reacted to any shift in balance. However, once I began paddling that feeling went away and the Waterwalker 126 leveled out, only tilting when I wanted it to. The logo-embossed and grooved deck pad provides a ton of great traction no matter where your feet are positioned without feeling like it’s too soft under your feet or “digging in” when sitting on the board.
The parallel shape helps keep more of the board in contact with the water even when it’s not totally flat. Because of this, it has a more stable feeling if you do put it on its edge. I was able to easily hold the Waterwalker 126 on its rail even with a mild boat wake passing through.
Similarly I found the Waterwalker 126 to smoothly and predictably rock from side to side. I expected that twitchy sensation to come back when I did this, but it did not. I’m chalking that up to simply the difference in board size and rider size. I did feel the same twitchiness on the Waterwalker 132, however as I describe in that review it is actually the same 31” width, so I’m not surprised that these two boards’ stability felt so similar.
Most all-around iSUPs are designed to be cruisers – easy paddling at low speeds. The Waterwalker 126 offers that plus the ability to get up and go when you want it to.
We break our speed testing into four categories. First up are the sprinting speeds and top speeds. Here we find out how fast we can maintain a short distance sprint and what absolutely peak speed we can reach. With the Waterwalker 126, I was able to sustain sprinting speeds around 5.2 MPH. That’s pretty typical for an all-around iSUP of this length. But I was also able to crank up the speed to a maximum 5.6 MPH, which is definitely on the high-side for boards of this size. While those are fun numbers to achieve and test for, they are definitely the fringe usage for this paddle board.
The next part of our speed testing is cruising speed and efficiency. These are what most paddlers are (or should be) more concerned with unless you are interested in getting into SUP racing. Here we test the cruising speed by paddling at a set, moderate, cadence of 25 strokes per minute. This is basically a casually-continuous paddling rate with a slight pause between each stroke. The Waterwalker 126 really surprised me with an average cruising speed of 3.7 MPH. That’s quite high for an all-around iSUP of this size (typically 3.3-3.5 MPH).
Coming in with another pleasant surprise is the Waterwalker 126’s gliding efficiency. With each paddle stroke the Waterwalker 126 travels an average of 19 feet before slowing down. That gives it a glide ratio of 1.8 board-lengths per stroke – once again very high for an all-around iSUP.
Overall the Waterwalker 126 is a very efficient paddleboard on the water and easy to paddle at moderate speeds. You can even crank up the speed for short periods of time to catch a wave or a friend with relative ease.
Maneuverability and Tracking
There are so many tradeoffs made with each design choice on a paddleboard it can be hard to get a perfect balance of characteristics. The Waterwalker 126 has a great set of fin boxes to let you really dial in your own performance, however as it comes “out of the box” the Waterwalker 126 leans more toward better tracking ability at the cost of easy maneuverability.
We test all of our iSUPs with “layman’s” setups – we use every piece the manufacturer includes with the SUP package. In this case that means using all three fins with the Waterwalker 126.
I found the Waterwalker 126 to be a little difficult to turn in large sections at a single time like in our maneuverability test. Here we use a forward sweep stroke (paddling from nose to tail in a large arc) to turn the board a full 360° in as few strokes as possible. Now, this isn’t a very common occurrence in the real world, but it does give us a repeatable and comparable test. In this case the Waterwalker 126 needed an average of over 8.75 strokes to complete the full circle test. While the first 90-120° went by rather easily, the fins began to take hold at this point and transferred a lot of that turning force into forward momentum.
There are also faster ways to turn than a forward sweep. When using reverse sweeps (same process but tail to nose) the Waterwalker 126 spun much faster and completed the same circle test in just four paddle strokes.
You can also shift your weight to the tail of the board to lift the nose and spin even quicker with a pivot turn. The Waterwalker’s deck pad changes from a logo-embossed and grooved texture to a full-on diamond-groove pattern at the tail of the board. This lets you feel where you are on the board and gives you increased traction when sinking the tail. Spinning the board felt exactly like I expected for its shape and size – just a touch challenging if you took your mind off what you are doing! Otherwise it spins quickly and easily on the pivot.
During our tracking test the Waterwalker 126 provided another excellent surprise with how well it did. Here we paddle toward a distant target, then once “on course” we take 10 paddle strokes on a single side and measure the heading of our new course using a compass. After 10 strokes on a side, the Waterwalker 126 managed to keep things tight by only changing an average of 12° from its original course. Once again that’s quite good for an all-around iSUP.
While paddling casually I found the Waterwalker 126 was easy to both keep heading in the right direction and easy to steer when I wanted it to. A simple forward sweep stroke or bow-draw effectively steers the board where you want it to go.
The Waterwalker 126 has a triple fin box (known as a 2+1 setup in the surf world) that uses standard US and Dual-Tab fin boxes and comes with a 9” all-around/surf-style center fin and two 4.5” side fins. The fin boxes are also positioned very far back on the tail of the board. Their positioning, and using all three together, accounts for the high-tracking, low-maneuverability of the Waterwalker 126. Though we did our official testing with all three fins, I did find that paddling with just the center fin alone helps better balance the tracking and maneuverability of the Waterwalker 126 on flat water. With the inclusion of standard fin boxes you can also swap out any of the fins for thousands of different options and setups to best suit your specific needs.
Warranty and Customer Support
Thurso Surf warranties their inflatable paddle boards for 2 years from the date of purchase. Additionally they also warranty the pump and bag for 1 year, and the leash and paddle for 60 days. If you do have any questions or concerns about your board, you can contact Thurso Surf through their website, via email, and on social media.
Overall Impressions/Review Summary
The Waterwalker 126 is a great all-around inflatable paddle board for paddlers within the recommended weight range (up to 180 lbs). Larger paddlers should size up to the Waterwalker 132 for up to 210 lbs, or the Thurso Max Multi-Purpose for newer paddlers over 210 lbs. The Waterwalker 126 is super versatile with a great set of built-in features, a great kit of accessories, and really good performance on the water. For smaller paddlers, or even beginner iSurfers, the Waterwalker 126 provides a fantastic value and is really fun to paddle.
Thurso Waterwalker 126 iSUP FAQ
What is the difference between the Waterwalker 126 and Waterwalker 132?
The Waterwalker 132 is the larger of the two boards at 11’ long and 31” wide. The 126 is slightly shorter at 10’6” and still 31” wide. While it doesn’t sound like much of a difference it is truly noticeable on the water. Paddlers over 160lbs should opt for the Waterwalker 132 while paddlers under 160 lbs will be comfortable on the Waterwalker 126.
How long does it take to inflate the Wateralker 126?
With the included electric pump it takes about 12 minutes to inflate the Waterwalker 126 to 15 PSI and about 16 minutes to inflate to 20 PSI. While this is longer than the Thurso double-chamber hand pump, the electric pump allows you to walk away from the board and get ready for your time on the water while it does the hard work.
Is the Waterwalker 126 compatible with a kayak seat?
Yes, the Waterwalker 126 has four D-rings around the middle of the board to use with a kayak seat. The Thurso paddle is convertible to a kayak paddle with an additional blade as well.
How do I install and remove the side fins on the Waterwalker 126?
To install the side fins, use the fin key to make sure grub screws are not protruding into the fin box. Then insert the tabs of the fins into the fin box and slide them all the way to the back. Once the fins are in, use the fin key to gently tighten the grub screws to lock the fins in place. To remove the fins simply reverse this process.
Is the Waterwalker 126 good for beginners?
Yes! Beginner paddlers up to about 160 lbs will find the Waterwalker 126 to be a great board. Paddlers up to about 200 lbs should consider the Waterwalker 132 for better stability.