Thurso Waterwalker 132: Overview
The Thurso Waterwalker 132 all-around inflatable paddle board offers great performance at an equally great value. While still the same great all-around iSUP design at the core, the Waterwalker 132 has changed a little. In the spring of 2023 the Waterwalker 132 got a little bit of a facelift, some changes to it’s internal construction, and the inclusion of a battery-operated electric pump.
— Thurso Waterwalker 132 Summary Ratings and Review —
Thurso Surf Waterwalker 132
Construction & Durability
Features and Versatility
The Waterwalker 132 is an all-around iSUP that leans more toward a fast and efficient design.
- Lighter weight construction makes the board easier to transport both rolled and inflated
- Great versatility with lots of cargo space and accessory compatibility
- Carbon fiber reinforced side rails provide additional durability
- US and Two-tab fin boxes allow you to fully customize your fin setup
- Classic looks are combined with a high-quality finish
- Battery electric pump included with the board
- Great carbon fiber kit paddle
- 2 year warranty for the board and 60-day to 1 year warranty for the accessories
- The new construction needs to be fully inflated to 20 PSI to meet the rigidity of the previous, heavier, construction
- The board is a little narrower than specified, so paddlers on the cusp of the weight limit should size up
- The electric pump is handy, but needs a firmware update for improved speed.
Construction and Durability
For 2023, Thurso Surf updated the construction of its Waterwalker 132 and 126 models. This new blend of materials makes the boards lighter with a higher pressure rating than before.
The Thurso Waterwalker 132 went on a small diet for 2023 and dropped about 2 pounds in weight compared to its predecessor. It has done this through a change in a few of the materials that make up the core of the board. The new Waterwalker 132 starts with two layers of knitted fabric with thousands of drop-stitch yarns separating them and setting the board thickness to 6”.
The outer PVC shell changed from a dual-layer PVC material that was hand-glued together to a dual-layer PVC fusion material that uses heat and machine lamination to bond the layers together rather than gluing by hand. This has multiple effects including reducing weight, reducing cosmetic errors from the gluing process, and reducing the use of glues and accelerants (good for customers, workers, and the environment).
Once the deck and hull PVC layers are adhered to the knit fabric, the board is cut to shape and the side seams are sealed with a layer of PVC material glued around the entire board. While this does make the board air tight and technically usable, Thurso takes a few extra steps with the Waterwalker 132. Another PVC band is glued over the first rail band to provide additional protection and rigidity. Along the standing area of the board there is a run of carbon fiber fabric sandwiched between the two layers of PVC. This carbon fiber enhancement adds a ton of durability and puncture/abrasion resistance to the widest section of the board and also helps increase rigidity in the standing area of the board. Lastly, a narrow band of PVC material is glued over the top and bottom edges of the outer band to further protect the rail layers from damage.
All together the Waterwalker 132’s new construction keeps the full board weight (including all of the exterior accessories) to a very manageable 24.5 pounds. The new materials also have a new maximum pressure rating of 20 PSI (formerly 15 PSI recommended maximum pressure), so I was excited to put the Waterwalker 132 through our bend tests to see how it performs.
In our dry-land bend test we put all of our reviewed iSUPs through the same process to compare exactly how much they’ll bend in a standardized test. With 170 lbs of weight, the Waterwalker 132 bent 1.575” (4.0 cm) while inflated to its maximum 20 PSI. This result is exactly average compared to test results of over 80 iSUPs we’ve tested. However, this does show a decrease in rigidity compared to the previous model of just over .25” (0.6cm). There are a few different things going on that account for this difference. First is the switch from a woven fabric base to a knitted fabric base. Woven fabrics have less stretch than knitted fabrics. The second is with a reduction in weight there’s typically a reduction in overall material thickness (by tenths of millimeters) which can also reduce stiffness. While the dry-land bend test gives us some numbers to compare, the most important part of our bend testing is evaluating how it feels on the water.
While standing and paddling normally on the Waterwalker 132 there’s no real perceptible flex or bend in the board. I did notice more flex in the board while paddling hard for a sprint, but only when I was actually looking for it. While bouncing up and down on the board I did feel some moderate flexing, but with a smooth return to flat when I stopped. All of this was done at its maximum 20 PSI (as we do for all testing). I compared the 2023 Waterwalker 132 directly to the 2022 Waterwalker at 132 at its maximum pressure (15 PSI) and found that the new model actually flexes slightly less while on the water compared to the older one.
The biggest takeaway from both the dry-land and on-water bend testing is that the Waterwalker 132 remains very rigid when paddled in normal conditions and shows only a little bit of flex in those extreme conditions.
|Max Capacity||330 pounds|
|Board Weight||24.5 pounds|
|Returns period||30 days|
Features, Accessories and Versatility
As an all-around iSUP, the Waterwalker 132 is well-designed and featured to allow you to do pretty much anything you can think of from your paddleboard. The onboard accessories and versatile fin setup is ready for just about anything you can throw at it.
The Waterwalker 132 now comes with a battery-powered electric pump rather than the double-chamber hand pump that was previously included with it. Electric pumps are great options for paddlers to get their boards ready without breaking a sweat (literally). They also let you continue to get anything else ready you may need (sunscreen, changing clothes, organizing gear, etc.).
With an internal battery, the Thurso electric pump does not need to be plugged into your vehicle to operate, though it does come with a 12v DC plug that you can use if you run out of juice in the battery.
While convenient to use, the electric pump is slower than the old hand pump, so expect it to take about 12 minutes to inflate the Waterwalker 132 to 15 PSI, and about 16 minutes to inflate to the full 20 PSI. You can inflate the board twice (or inflate two boards) to 15 PSI on a single charge, but may struggle to inflate it to 20 PSI two times in a row.
Part of the reason the pump takes so long to inflate the board appears to be a firmware issue that causes the pump to switch from the high-volume, low-pressure first stage to the low-volume, high-pressure second stage after about 10 seconds. This doesn’t give the pump enough time to fill the board before using the high-pressure pump mode.
The hose connections for the Thurso electric pump use a quick-connect system that installs with just a 90° turn rather than multiple screw threads. This is convenient, and seems to work well, but you do need to be aware of how the hose pulls against the connections to make sure it doesn’t untwist itself while inflating the board.
The LCD screen is quite dim and difficult to read in bright sunlight, so you will want to make sure to use the pump in the shade (which is best to keep any electric pump from overheating), or shade the screen while changing the settings.
Overall the Thurso Electric Pump does exactly what it’s meant to – inflate your board hands free. While there is room for improvement with the pump’s firmware, this is still a fantastic piece of equipment to see included with the board kit. While some companies are beginning to offer electric pumps as kit upgrades (or with their base kit) this is the first I’ve seen it with a built-in battery.
The Waterwalker 132 comes as a complete kit. Along with the board you’ll get the Thurso battery-electric pump, carbon fiber/nylon paddle, color-matched leash, three fins, repair kit, and a very nice accessory organizer bag to keep track of all of the small parts. The Wheeled carry bag is lightweight and has lightly-padded stowaway backpack straps to keep things from getting tangled while wheeling the bag around.
Thurso’s carbon fiber/nylon paddle is a great accessory that comes with the Waterwalker 132. It’s light, built well, and is interchangeable with a spare blade for kayak conversion, a carbon fiber blade for a lighter and more powerful paddle, or both!
The Waterwalker 132 comes with Thurso’s carbon fiber/nylon paddle. I really like this as a kit paddle for a few reasons. First, the carbon fiber shaft is lightweight and has a really good balance of strength and flexibility. That allows you to paddle efficiently without stressing your shoulders or back.
The fiber-reinforced nylon blade is very durable (you can see how much I’ve been using it in the photo above!). The blade itself can feel a little bit large, though it’s more of a truly medium size, but it has just enough flex to be comfortable to use for long periods of time. The modular design of the paddle shaft also allows you to swap this nylon blade for the Thurso Carbon Elite blade without needing to buy a whole new paddle.
The handle is also a little bit different with a rubberized T-grip instead of a more traditional palm grip. The T-grip gives you a more secure feel in the hand and allows you to easily feel the orientation of the paddle blade without needing to look. The adjustable handle section does have a height scale, but is not indexed, so you’ll need to make sure the handle and blade are properly aligned each time you adjust the paddle.
The Waterwalker 132’s wide front and relatively parallel sides help keep it more stable in the water than more highly-tapered shapes. However I would recommend heeding Thurso’s recommended rider weight of 210 lbs even though the max capacity of the board is over 300 lbs.
The Waterwalker 132 is the largest in the Waterwalker family at 11’ long, 32” wide, and 6” thick. When I first inflated the Waterwalker 132 I thought to myself that it looks narrower, but that could be an optical illusion. However, it turns out the Waterwalker 132 is only 31” wide when actually measured across its widest point. A little bit of variation is not unexpected, but to be an entire inch off spec is something to note and be aware of.
While out on the water I did notice that the narrower width made the Waterwalker 132 feel a little bit twitchy while not paddling the board, even in very calm conditions. Once I started paddling, though, the board leveled out and the dynamic stability kicked in (similar to pedaling a bicycle vs trying to stand on it without moving). Once I was paddling I felt quite stable on the board, but did miss the feeling of the older model – which it turns out is ¾” wider than specified!
The outline of the Waterwalker 132 gives it a nice large front and parallel rails, so holding the board on its side is relatively easy, and rocking it back and forth produced a smooth, predictable feeling as the rails resurfaced.
I would say that Thurso’s recommended rider weight of 210 is a really good limit for beginner paddlers. At 230 lbs I felt comfortable on the Waterwalker 132, but I’m also a fairly experienced paddler. For beginner paddlers over the 210 lb mark, I’d recommend checking out the Thurso Max Multi-purpose for a more comfortable board to learn with.
The Thurso Waterwalker 132 has always been one of the faster all-around iSUPs and it continues to be so with both great top speed, casual cruising speed, and paddling efficiency.
Though the slightly narrower shape of the Waterwalker 132 does take away a little stability, it also adds a little bit of speed. In our sprinting and top-speed tests the Waterwalker 132 did quite well. Average sprinting speeds were consistently hitting the 5.3 MPH mark for sustained sprints. While paddling for the fastest speed I could muster in a short distance I was able to hit 5.8 MPH – which is absolutely fantastic for an all-around iSUP.
While the Waterwalker 132 can get up and move when you want it to, it still takes quite a bit of effort to paddle that fast. At a more normal paddling cadence, though, the Waterwalker 132 still manages to keep things moving along well. At 25 strokes per minute (a casual pace with a slight pause between strokes) the Waterwalker 132 averaged 3.9 MPH. Again, this is definitely on the high-side for all-around iSUPs.
The last speed test we do is more about measuring efficiency. How far will the board glide with a single paddle stroke? Well, the answer to that is pretty far for the Waterwalker 132. While moving along at a casual pace, the Waterwalker 132 will glide for just under 20’ per stroke before slowing down. That gives it a gliding ratio of 1.8 board-lengths per stroke. Once again, the Waterwalker 132 is leading the pack for all-around iSUPs.
These speed test results were really quite surprising for me. While not quite at the level of a dedicated touring iSUP, the Waterwalker 132 is nipping right at their heels and could make a very versatile all-around/touring crossover for paddlers who might want to try their hand at longer distance or overnight trips.
Maneuverability and Tracking
Along with the construction changes, Thurso has swapped out the fliplock fin boxes for standard US fin boxes, and shifted the position of the fins around. This gives you more versatility in how you can set up your board for various types of paddling. In the standard setup, the Waterwalker 132 heavily favors tracking over maneuverability, but swapping to a smaller center fin can even things out (or provide you with even more maneuverability).
The new fin position on the Waterwalker 132 pushes all three fins farther toward the tail end of the board. Doing this increases the tracking performance, but decreases the maneuverability when using the same fins. In this case, the 9” surf-style/all-around center fin and two smaller side fins can make turning the Waterwalker 132 a little bit difficult.
Our maneuverability stress test requires us to turn the board in a full circle from a standstill using only forward sweep strokes. These strokes are very commonly used, especially by beginner paddlers, to turn the board even though they aren’t the fastest way to do so. Using forward sweep strokes it took an average of 10 strokes (paddling in an arc from nose to tail) to turn the Waterwalker 132 a full 360°. Turning the first 90-120° was relatively easy and quick, but after that the fins were fully engaged and changing that turning force into forward momentum. I did find that by removing the side fins the Waterwalker 132 did become a little easier to turn without sacrificing much tracking performance.
Going in the opposite direction (tail to nose) works against the fins and allows you to turn much faster – only needing 4 strokes on average. However this does stop any forward momentum you have and can sometimes throw paddlers off balance.
Stepping back to the tail of the board for a pivot turn is also a great way to quickly turn more than 90° at a time. The shape of the board provides good stability while back on the tail and the deck pad’s texture changes to a diamond groove for even better traction.
On the flip side, the Waterwalker 132 totally crushed the tracking test. With the rearward positioning of the fins and 11’ length with only a few inches of nose rocker, the Waterwalker 132 slices through the water and stays on course with ease. In our 10-stroke tracking test, the Waterwalker 132 only veered an average of 13° off its original course while paddling for 10 strokes on the same side. Like in the speed testing we’re seeing the Waterwalker nipping at the heels of touring iSUPs like the Thurso Expedition 138.
Even with the relatively low maneuverability score and high tracking ability, the Waterwalker 132 does respond well to steering input while paddling. You can easily turn and make course changes with just a few strokes.
The Waterwalker 132 comes with three fins: a 9” surf-style/all-around center fin, and two 4.5” surf-style side fins. The center fin comes with click-fin inserts for tool-less installation and removal, but also comes with a fin bolt if you want complete security for your fin on the water. The side fins use a two-tab system that lets the fins slide into place and are secured with a small grub screw. The Wateralker 132 does include a fin key with the accessory kit to tighten and loosen the fin screws, and a convenient accessory bag to make sure you don’t lose it! The position of the fins is quite far back on the board, so it doesn’t take much for them to be very effective at their job. If you do want more maneuverability, there are tons of other fin options available for these standard fin boxes.
We do all of our testing with the complete fin setup as provided by the manufacturer. We feel this is the best scenario to show how these boards work when set up by the average paddler or beginner who may not be as in-the-weeds on SUP technical information as we are. The side fins are “toed-in” – pointing toward the center of the board – which is a fairly specific setup for surfing. While we didn’t notice a lot of drag in the water while using these side fins (check out the speed section if you skipped it!), removing these fins will increase speed a little, increase maneuverability a little, and slightly decrease tracking ability for an easier-turning paddle session.
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 132 is a fantastic all-around iSUP that can be outfitted for just about any use on the water. It is a little bit narrower than several other all-around boards at just 31” wide, but still provides great stability for paddlers of all skill levels up to about 200 lbs, and intermediate/advanced paddlers up to 250 lbs. The speed, efficiency, and tracking of this board bring it out of the all-around-only classification and into the world of all-around/touring crossover boards. It’s a great “Swiss army knife” option for those looking for one board that can truly do it all.
Thurso Waterwalker 132 iSUP FAQ
What is the difference between the Waterwalker 132 and 126?
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 160lbs will be comfortable on the Waterwalker 126.
How long does it take to inflate the Wateralker 132?
With the included electric pump it takes about 12 minutes to inflate the Waterwalker 132 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 132 compatible with a kayak seat?
Yes, the Waterwalker 132 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 132?
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 132 good for beginners?
Yes! Beginner paddlers up to about 200 lbs will find the Waterwalker 132 to be a great board. Heavier paddlers may be more comfortable learning on a slightly wider board for more initial stability.