The Isle Switch paddleboard, an inflatable SUP and kayak hybrid, shines in its adaptability and performance. Ideal for both novices and experienced paddlers, this board provides a smooth transition between stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking, perfect for water enthusiasts.
In my performance tests, the Isle Switch impressed with its stability, speed, and maneuverability. Despite being a hybrid, it didn’t compromise on the paddling experience in either mode.
The board’s lightweight design (only 19 lbs) enhances its speed and ease of handling, while its capacity to support up to 425 lbs ensures a steady and comfortable ride for a wide range of users.
The Switch is a premium choice, but its versatility, design, and performance justify the investment. It’s an excellent option for those seeking a quality, multi-functional touring board for various water conditions and activities.
Reasons to buy
Speed: Fastest board tested for this size, with a lightweight design.
Hybrid: Performs well as a paddle board and as a kayak.
Stability: Offers excellent stability, suitable for larger riders up to 425 lbs.
Reasons to avoid
Cost: Priced at the higher end of the market.
Tracking: Requires more frequent side-switching for paddling straight than with comparable boards.
How We Tested
I tested the Switch in multiple sessions over several weeks, each lasting between 1 to 2 hours. The weather conditions include calm days and days with winds up to 12 knots. The testing was performed on flat water, choppy waves, a local lake, and on canals.
To ensure a well-rounded evaluation, I tested the board both as a stand-up paddleboard and as a kayak. I focused on key performance indicators such as stability, speed, tracking, maneuverability, construction and durability, and features and accessories.
I compared the Switch against similar boards like the Gili Meno 11’6, Blackfin XL, and Bote HD Aero.
I also conducted specific tests, like the “bend test” for rigidity, involving placing 150 lbs of weight near the center of the board and measuring the extent of bending.
This test, along with my hands-on experience, helped me evaluate the construction quality and durability of the Isle Switch.
When it comes to stability, the Isle Switch SUP and kayak hybrid is a game changer. I’ve had the pleasure of taking it out on the water, and it’s certainly a super stable board that feels solid to stand on.
The board’s dimensions (11’6 x 35.5″) and wide shape are specifically designed to provide excellent stability as both a SUP and an inflatable kayak. I’ve also tested the Blackfin XL and Gili Meno 11’6, and they were slightly more stable, but the Isle Switch was still a dream to ride.
Gili Meno 11’6
Bote HD Aero
What impressed me was the fact that this board can support up to 425 lbs of weight and still feel safe and secure on the water. As someone who weighs around 220 lbs, I can vouch for the Isle Switch’s ability to remain steady and comfortable with absolutely no wobbling, sagging, or sinking.
The Isle Switch performed well in windy conditions too. I tested it in about 10 knots of wind, and it remained super stable!
When going into the wind, it was more stable and faster than the Bote HD Aero, which I’ve also paddled extensively. Even with the wind coming from the side and creating small waves, the Switch was more stable and faster than its competitors.
I’ll preface this part of my review by saying that I wasn’t expecting the Isle Switch SUP to be a speed demon.
After all, it’s a wide 2-in-1 SUP/kayak hybrid, which usually means some compromises in performance. But let me tell you, I was pretty blown away by the speed and overall paddling performance.
So, what makes the Switch so unexpectedly fast?
Well, I believe this all comes down to a few key factors: its super lightweight design (just 19 lbs!), tapered nose, and hatchet fin. These features work together to give the Switch a surprising amount of speed for a board that’s also incredibly stable and easy to handle. It’s kind of like having your cake and eating it too!
When I took the Isle Switch out on the water, I was genuinely surprised by how quickly it cut through the waves. I’ve tested a lot of paddle boards, but the Switch stood out in terms of speed, especially considering its size. I even put it against similar boards like the Bote HD Aero, Blackfin XL, and Gili Meno 11’6 to see how it would fare.
Gili Meno 11’6
Bote HD Aero
When testing the Switch against the Bote HD Aero, with 10 knots of wind, I found that the Isle Switch was noticeably faster.
And when I compared it to the Blackfin XL and Gili Meno 11’6 in 12 knots of wind, the Switch continued to impress me with its speed. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not the fastest board out there, but for its size and versatility, it’s one of the quickest I’ve tried.
Going into the wind on the Blackfin XL was a real struggle. It took way more effort and was noticeably slower than the Isle Switch. So, I conclude that the Switch has an edge when it comes to battling headwinds.
It’s Still Speedy Even as a Kayak!
The Switch is not just a speedy SUP. It’s also a pretty zippy inflatable kayak. I’ve tried a bunch of boards with kayak seats before, and honestly, I was never that impressed. They were usually uncomfortable and not all that fun to paddle.
But that’s not the case with the Isle Switch. On windy days when stand-up paddling becomes too much of a challenge, switching to kayak mode with the inflatable seat and foot brace is a breeze, and it’s both comfortable and surprisingly fast.
If you are new to paddle boarding, tracking refers to the board’s ability to stay on course and move in a straight line without frequently switching paddling sides.
Tracking is influenced by the length and shape of the board, as well as the fins.
With the Switch, the board’s unique shape might take some getting used to, but once you’ve got the hang of it, you can paddle it in a straight line. The 11’6 length certainly helps in this regard.
Bote HD Aero
Gili Meno 11’6
However, I have to say that the tracking on the Switch isn’t perfect. I found that I needed to switch sides more frequently than with some other boards I’ve tried.
Comparatively speaking, the Blackfin XL and Gili Meno 11’6 track a little better than the Switch. But let me reiterate that it’s not too hard to paddle a straight course with the right paddling technique.
The Switch is a large board at 11’6 long, which you might think would make it a bit unwieldy.
Surprisingly, it’s still pretty easy to turn and move around in the water compared to other high-volume boards.
Sure, it takes a few more sweep strokes to get the Switch to spin around completely, but that’s to be expected with a board of this size. Plus, the lightweight design (only 19 lbs!) makes those strokes feel like a breeze.
Gili Meno 11’6
Bote HD Aero
Comparing the Switch to other 11’6 boards, it’s more maneuverable than the Blackfin XL and Gili Meno 11’6. While the Bote HD Aero is a bit more nimble than the latter two, the Switch outdoes all three of them in terms of maneuverability.
The Isle Switch might not be the most maneuverable board on the market, but itt offers a good balance between stability and agility for its size and design.
Construction & Durability
Isle uses their trademarked Air-Tech Fusion Lite technology. This technology coats the drop stitch core with a special seal and bonding layer and then fuses a machine-laminated, higher-density PVC layer.
In the drop stitch core, Isle uses a cross threaded drop stitch construction, with the stitches not just going up and down but creating ‘X’ patterns, increasing the rigidity of the board.
But Isle didn’t stop there. They added multiple PVC stringers to make the board even more durable.
The “Bend Test”
Now, let’s talk about rigidity.
When testing inflatable paddle boards, I use a “bend test” to measure their rigidity.
It’s not an exact replication of how the board would perform on the water, but it’s a quantifiable way to compare the rigidity of different boards.
In this test, we rest the paddle board on two sawhorses a set distance apart and place 150 lbs of weight near the center of the board. Then, we measure how far the board bends.
So, how did the Isle Switch perform in our bend test?
The Isle Switch bent 1 3/16″, which is considerably more than boards of similar length like the Blackfin XL or the Gili Meno 11’6″, which both bent 13/16″. But hey, it’s also to be expected from such a lightweight paddle board.
You might be wondering, “Does the increased bend affect the performance?” Well, after spending some quality time with the Isle Switch, I can confidently say that it doesn’t noticeably compromise on stability or performance.
Features & Accessories
The first thing that stood out to me about Isle Switch in terms of features, is that it doesn’t have your typical D-ring setup. Instead, it’s got this cool ISLE-LINK connect system with fabric loops along both rails of the board. Instead of lashing down a dry bag with bungee cords, you can fit all the attachments onto the Isle link loops using the link system or G hooks.
Isle claims the system allows you to connect multiple boards together, which is kind of neat, but honestly, I don’t see myself using this feature too often. I mean, sure, it’s fun to float on two boards on a lake, but how often do you do that? I’ll leave that up to you.
What I do love about the ISLE-LINK system is how it lets you install the included kayak seat, footrest, and other accessories along the rails of the board. The adjustability is fantastic – you can position the inflatable kayak seat cushion and foot brace however you like, making it perfect for those long days on the water, and you could even kit it out with two kayak seats to turn it into a tandem kayak for even more versatility.
Now, let’s talk about the full length deck pad. The grooved and brushed EVA foam deck pad is pretty comfortable and offers plenty of grip. But, if you’re looking for a fishing paddle board, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the Isle Switch due to the lack of Scotty mounts or action mounts for rod holders and such.
The board comes with three padded carry handles and two velcro paddle holders along the rail for attaching your paddle – but most inflatable paddle boards come with these nowadays.
I love the US fin box, however, the large hatchet fin is great for tracking, and the US fin box allows you to swap it out for aftermarket fin options if needed easily.
Kayak Seat and SUP/Kayak Paddle
While the carry handles, fin box, and paddle holder are welcome features of this Isle Switch SUP, the accessories and how they fit with the ISLE-LINK system are what make it stand out.
I already mentioned that I love how the ISLE-LINK connection system allows for the installation of the inflatable kayak seat in whatever configuration you want. But this high back, elevated kayak seat and footrest combo are the real game-changers for this SUP/kayak hybrid.
When used together, the seat and foot brace combine for comfort and an optimal paddling position. Inflating between 3 – 6 psi, the seat is an inflatable pillow to sit on and a high-back trekking chair, and a smaller pillow used as the inflatable foot brace.
This provides a comfortable, elevated paddling experience. As a 6’2″ guy, I was stoked about the high back support and the adjustability of the kayak seat and footrest positions, which helped me engage my core while paddling.
Next up is the Remix Alloy 4-piece Hybrid SUP-Kayak paddle. The convertible paddle shaft has an oval shape and is made from aluminum.
I’m a fan of the oval shape of the shaft, which prevents the handle from twisting, but I’m not generally a fan of aluminum paddles, as they can be on the heavy side. This is the case with the Isle SUP paddle – so I’d love it if Isle moved away from aluminum paddles in the future; a carbon upgrade would be fantastic!
The SUP paddle is suitable for people up to 6’2″, but if you’re taller, you will find it too short. Also, I wouldn’t mind a slightly larger blade for more powerful strokes.
The paddle also comes with a second blade for converting it into a kayak paddle, which is a nice touch. However, I would have appreciated the ability to adjust the length and rotation of the blades.
Lastly, the Isle Switch package is rounded off with a quality backpack, manual iSUP hand pump, repair kit, and an 8′ coiled leash. Typical, but appreciated accessories, although you may wish to switch the manual pump with an electric pump at some point to make life a little easier.
Cost, Value and Versatility
To test the versatility of the Isle Switch, I took it out on the water in various conditions, from flatwater to choppy waves, and even some slow-moving rivers. The board handled these diverse conditions with ease, making it suitable for a wide range of paddling needs and preferences. In 10 knots of wind, I found the Switch to be more stable and faster than the Bote HD Aero, both when paddling into the wind and with side winds.
The Switch can also accommodate different activities – which I believe makes it great value for money, as you’re technically getting multiple paddling experiences from one purchase.
The EVA deck pad has a soft rubberized grip, perfect for SUP yoga, and the surface area is large enough to stash a dry bag or camping and fishing gear.
You can bring along pets, and kids, or add on an additional seat and bring a buddy. It’s great for lounging, camping, or even some casual fishing (the kayak seat and foot brace make it comfortable enough to take long trips for this purpose, but mounting fishing rod holders will be more challenging).
I believe the versatility adds to the value of this board, so I’d recommend it to anyone seeking a quality SUP/kayak hybrid. As my findings show, the Isle Switch is a highly capable and versatile hybrid board that can handle various water conditions and environments.
How Much Does the Isle Switch SUP-Kayak Hybrid Cost?
Let’s talk money, shall we? The MRSP of $995 places the Switch at the higher end of the market. This might make your wallet wince a little, but I can tell you from personal experience, that the board’s design and performance both as a SUP and a kayak make it worth the investment.
Warranty and Customer Service
Isle offers a solid 2-year warranty against defects in workmanship and materials for the Switch paddle board. Sounds good, right? But, of course, there are some limitations.
The warranty doesn’t cover damage or defects caused by normal wear and tear, impact, misuse, improper storage, or modifications. That seems fair enough, and it’s pretty comparable to the warranties offered by other brands like Bote, iRocker, and Gili.
The Isle Switch stands out for its impressive balance of speed, stability, and maneuverability.
It’s particularly suitable for larger paddlers, supporting up to 425 lbs, and performs exceptionally well in both SUP and kayak modes.
Its lightweight design (19 lbs) facilitates easy handling and contributes to its surprising speed for a board of this size.
However, it’s important to note that the Isle Switch falls on the pricier side of the market. Additionally, while its performance is generally strong, it may require more effort to maintain a straight course due to its tracking characteristics.
For a higher weight capacity and increased stability, consider the Gili Meno 11’6 or Blackfin XL instead of the Isle Switch.
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