Blackfin Model XL SUP Review

blackfin model xl sup review

The Blackfin Model XL paddleboard is awesome and well-loved by paddlers. The size is right, it comes with great accessories and the quality is impressive. One thing that makes it stand out is the 485-pound weight capacity.

In addition to that, it has everything you’d want in an all-around paddleboard. This year, iRocker SUP has given paddlers even more reasons to love it. We’re going to discuss all that and more in this Blackfin Model XL SUP review.

iRocker paddleboards are one of the best-selling paddle board brands globally. And to think that the company has been in existence for less than a decade. Two friends came together and decided that paddlers deserve better inflatable paddleboards. Instead of waiting for someone else to make that happen, they created iRocker SUP. Ever since the company was formed, it has been consistent in producing quality boards. Their customer service is nothing short of exceptional too—as you will soon experience.

blackfin model xl board

Back to the Blackfin XL.

Let’s quickly look at its pros, cons, and specs.

Pros

  • Strong, reliable construction—virtually indestructible
  • Sufficient attachment points for kayak seat, cooler, etc.
  • Impeccable stability and high weight limit
  • Complete package, high-quality accessories

Cons

  • May be too big for smaller paddlers

Board Specs

  • Length: 11’6
  • Width: 34”
  • Thickness: 6”
  • Weight: 29 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 485 lbs

Who Should Buy The Blackfin XL SUP?

The Blackfin Model XL would be great for bigger paddlers, families, anglers, and anyone looking for a good all-around SUP.

In some cases, single-rider iSUPs can barely handle heavier paddlers. Their weight limit on paper seems impressive but the story changes when you get to the water. Besides, if you’re a big paddler, you’ll want a board that can hold you, your luggage, and maybe a child or dog. The Blackfin XL, with its high weight limit, is more than you need. The manufacturer has used quality construction that makes it extremely sturdy. There will be no bending or sinking.

blackfin xl 2021

A family day out in the water sounds nice. But if you have young kids or a dog, you can’t buy them their own SUP. This shouldn’t stop them from enjoying the paddling experience.

Thankfully, the Blackfin XL has enough deck space to hold an adult and a child or two. It even comes with safety handles for them to hold on to during the ride. The deck pad is super soft and pet-friendly.

Anglers will be impressed by not just the deck space, but the many attachment points on this iSUP.

You can bring your fishing rack, SUP cooler, a sand spear and much more. (We will discuss the attachment points in detail later). All without having to DIY rig your paddleboard.

Honestly, anyone looking for an all-around paddleboard will love the Blackfin Model XL. You can use it in rivers, oceans, lakes, and anywhere else.

It suits all skill-levels and is ideal for everything—which is the purpose of an all-around. It is suitable for fishing, yoga, flatwater paddling, and touring.

Performance

a. Stability

If there is one thing you are assured of when you buy the Blackfin XL, it is stability. iRocker rates its stability at 100%.

The width of a paddleboard is the biggest determinant of its stability. Wider paddleboards are usually more stable. For beginners and activities that require a stable platform, a width of 32+ inches is recommended. Given that the Blackfin Model XL is 34 inches wide, it is arguably among the most stable iSUPs around. It is also longer at 11’6, making the platform bigger and more stable.

Another thing that affects a board’s stability is the construction. In the past, the construction of inflatable paddleboards left a lot to be desired. As most people expected, they flexed and couldn’t match the stiffness of hard boards. Paddling on a board that bends in the middle doesn’t exactly help with stability. But companies like iRocker stepped up with military-strength material to make the inflatables just as stiff as their solid counterparts. The Blackfin XL features three layers of the highest quality PVC. It is no different from a fiberglass SUP once inflated.

The thickness of an iSUP plays a huge part in its stability as well. Thicker boards are more likely to have a higher volume and a higher weight capacity as a result. They are also buoyant and much more rigid. All of these factors affect stability. The ideal thickness is 6 inches.

b. Maneuverability

The Blackfin XL paddle board is responsive and easy to control. Paddlers don’t have a hard time getting it to turn.

However, considering the length and width, this is not the most maneuverable paddleboard. It will do just fine even in canals. But if you have to navigate vegetation and obstacles, making sharp turns, the XL may let you down. That will require a lot of effort—more so with luggage or another paddler on board.

The shorter the SUP, the more maneuverable it is. This one is of medium length but still on the longer side.

Shorter paddlers and beginners should expect to have a harder time making quick, sharp turns. 

The bottom line is: the Model XL is maneuverable. Anyone can easily control it and try many fun techniques. When it comes to complicated turns, however, the task gets slightly more complicated. So have that in mind.

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c. Tracking

The Blackfin XL does a good job as far as staying the course is concerned. It comes with a tri-fin system. The large center fin controls water movement below the tail when you push water back. This ensures that the tail doesn’t turn unnecessarily, helping the board maintain course.

d. Speed

When looking for an all-around SUP, speed is usually not the most important factor. But no one wants a slow paddleboard. The Blackfin XL moves smoothly in the water with decent speed.

Being 11’6 long and 34 inches wide doesn’t exactly give it the racing board shape. But it will not disappoint. You should know, however, that there is a tradeoff between speed and stability. Although wide paddleboards are more stable, they face more resistance. So a narrower board of the same length would have better speed. The slightly pointed nose helps with cutting through the water though.

Build Quality

The Blackfin Model XL is built using triple-layer composite PVC and Dropstitch construction. According to iRocker, this is the lightest, yet most durable construction. It makes the paddleboard 20% lighter than other models of its size. Like all other Blackfin boards, the XL includes a carbon rail, making it even more rigid and durable.

It is remarkable how the iRocker SUP company is committed to offering impeccable paddleboards. And you can trust them about the Blackfin XL handling 485 pounds and any situation. Reputable iSUP companies subject their boards to all kinds of tests before getting them into the market. You can easily find videos of inflatables being thrown off roofs or run over by vehicles.

So when exploring with your Blackfin XL, don’t hold back. It even comes with a two-year manufacturer warranty. I like the fact that this paddleboard is light, despite being heavy-duty.

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Design

The Blackfin XL is now available in three colors; teal, white and blue. Its general design hasn’t changed much.

It has retained the all-around shape, as expected. It narrows at the tail to 18 inches. The 2020 model now uses digital printing.

This board’s general design is aimed at making it good for all SUP activities.

The size, shape, and attachment points make it great for touring, fishing, leisure paddling, and yoga.

Board Features

a. Fins

blackfin model xl 2021 fins

The Blackfin Model XL comes with a tri-fin system—one large central fin and two side fins. All of them are removable. Paddlers don’t usually get the option of removing all three fins and so this is awesome. Now you can choose to have a single-fin system, three-fin setup, or just the side fins. It depends on where you will be paddling.

And when you deflate and roll up your iSUP, it folds flat and compact without the fins. The flip-lock fins are super easy to attach and detach.

b. Deck Pad

SUPers have always loved iRocker deck pads because of how comfortable and durable they are.

The EVO deck pad on the Blackfin is super comfortable to help you stay on the water for as long as you like.

For the dog owners, the pad is pet-friendly. So make sure you bring your fur baby with you.

In the new 2020 model, it is logo-branded and extends to the back of the SUP, past the inflation valve. It works perfectly as a yoga mat.

c. Handles

The Blackfin XL has three handles; at the nose, tail, and a neoprene one at the center. It has four safety handles, two at the front and two at the back.

It’s a good thing they didn’t reduce the handles. The neoprene center handle is more comfortable than the rest.

d. D-Rings and Attachment Points

This Model XL iSUP has a total of 20 D-rings. There are two six-point bungee storage areas, at the front and back of the board. Those are 12 D-rings. The rest are placed all over the board for your leash, kayak seat, and whatever else you may want to attach.

In addition to the D-rings, the Blackfin Model XL has a total of eight action mounts. And they are all placed strategically to help you bring your fishing rod holders, camera, and any other essentials. There are attachment points compatible with a fishing rack and a sand spear.

SUP Board Accessories

The Blackfin Model XL SUP bundle includes a bag, paddle, pump, and a leash.

The backpack looks and feels great. It is large enough to fit the SUP, accessories, and a few other things.

blackfin xl package

iRocker SUP has made several upgrades for this year. There is a bungee cargo area at the front for towel storage—you can also clip gear. The bags are now color-coded and match the design of the paddleboard.

On either side of the bag, there are added mesh pockets and extra zipper pockets underneath them. You will also see another zipper pocket at the top. It can fit the iRocker electric pump. Another Velcro pocket has been added behind the back pad support. You won’t run out of places to store your stuff.

The new Blackfin paddle has a full carbon shaft and nylon blade. It is lighter and more fun to paddle with. Despite being lighter, the paddle is more durable.

The blade design has changed to make it sleeker and more appealing. Its color now matches the color of the board as well.

The twin-chamber hand pump makes inflation 100% faster. It is a fantastic pump with a pressure gauge and multiple settings. This explains why they didn’t upgrade it—there was no need. But they did upgrade the hose, making it more flexible and thicker.

The flip-lock fin is more convenient and easier to use.

In addition to these accessories, there other optional ones which include:

blackfin xl sup
  • Kayak kit
  • Kayak seat cushion
  • Push pole and sand spear attachment
  • Sand spear mount
  • Fishing rod holder
  • Fishing rack and dual rod holder
  • Cup holder
  • Cell phone holder
  • Camera mount
  • Selfie stick
  • Electric pump
  • Shoulder carry strap
  • Cooler deck pad
  • Speaker

What Users Are Saying

There is a reason why you jump to reviews whenever you want to buy something. Users write them based on real-life use of the product (iSUP in this case). This lets you know whether or not the board will serve the purpose.

To save you the effort, we checked different platforms to see what paddlers are saying about the Blackfin XL.

A Redditor, CyclistTravi, was looking to buy his first board. So he went to the SUP subreddit to ask for suggestions.

Another Redditor responded, telling him that he should look at iRocker iSUPs. He owns the Blackfin Model XL and the quality is solid, according to him.

The conversation goes on, with iRocker being mentioned several times. CyclistTravi, convinced, says that he will definitely buy an iRocker. He goes on to say that he may be willing to pay extra for the Blackfin. KudzuChimp responds by saying that he owns a Blackfin XL and “it’s really nice.” He wanted an iRocker but decided to spend more for the Blackfin which is better with upgraded accessories.

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Another Redditor was wondering about iSUPs with carbon rails. He was also leaning towards getting a Blackfin Model XL.

CrashKing700 responds, giving his opinion about the carbon rails. He adds another reply highly recommending the Blackfin Model XL, especially for bigger paddlers. He is tall and weighs about 260 pounds. The board holds him well and he likes how it performs.  

uscav24 was a little skeptical about getting an iSUP. But he had heard great things about the Blackfin XL and he wanted to know other paddlers’ thoughts. So he asked them on the SUP subreddit.

DudeBroTX83 says that he owns the model and it’s good. He also thinks that the pump is amazing. When asked about his experience with the iSUP, he says that he uses the board for fishing and leisure paddling with kids. His only issue is that he doesn’t get enough time to use it. He is also not a huge fan of the white deck—but only because it gets dirty fast.

Auhansel responds to the original post advising uscav24 to get the cooler deck bag too if he decides to buy Blackfin XL. He says that it works better than a regular cooler.

Moving on.

Johnson describes the Blackfin Model XL as a “killer”. There is so much room for him to attach cargo and the construction is solid. He loves the weight capacity, especially when you consider how lightweight the XL is. He uses his paddleboard for fishing and family fun time.

Erick is a beginner and he appreciates how stable the iSUP is. It allows him to go fishing, ride with a friend, bring his dog, and navigate unstable situations. Sometimes he wishes he’d have bought a longer and narrower SUP. But he knows that it wouldn’t allow him to do all these things. Other than the fact that his fin broke, he has no problem. He likes the quality of the paddle and he says that the pump makes inflation easier.

Eddy says the paddleboard is exactly as advertised. If given the chance, he would happily buy it again. However, he has a few complaints. First, he thinks that the XL is a little heavy. His wife has a different model and he says that it feels lighter. But this is probably what you should expect for a board that has a 480-pound capacity. Another thing, he has trouble adjusting his paddle. He hasn’t quite figured out the system. Concerning the Blackfin XL pump, he loves it. The three settings make the process faster.

Blackfin Model XL Alternatives

Some inflatable paddleboards appear to be just as good as the Blackfin XL. So let us see how they compare.

Blackfin Model XL Vs iRocker All-Around 11’

irocker all around 11 2021 model beginner paddle board

The iRocker 11’ paddle board is another all-around SUP—as you can tell from the name—made by the same company. It features a triple-layer composite PVC construction. The paddleboard is 11 feet long and 32 inches wide. Its SUP package includes pretty much the same accessories you’ll find in the Blackfin XL package. The iRocker 11 comes with a carbon blend paddle and you can get it in four colors.

While the Blackfin Model XL comes with eight action mounts, the iRocker comes with four. This is fair considering the lower price of the iRocker All-Around. The Blackfin XL is more stable than the iRocker because it is wider by two inches.

The weight capacity of the iRocker is 435 pounds. This is outstanding. But the Blackfin XL can handle more. It has a larger platform and a higher weight limit (it is also heavier by 3 pounds).

Both paddleboards are very well made and last for years. With the Blackfin XL, the manufacturer went a step further and added carbon rails for extra rigidity. The Blackfin backpack and the iRocker backpack are of high quality. They have additional pockets and padded straps. The Blackfin bag is wheeled and this makes it slightly better.

A SUPer was having a hard time choosing between the iRocker 11 and the Blackfin XL. He went on Reddit to ask for opinions.

A fellow Redditor recommended the Blackfin XL since he is 6’2 and weighs 230 pounds. Another user said that he owns a Blackfin XL and he likes it.

Blackfin Model XL Vs Blackfin Model X

blackfin model x

You will most likely find yourself down to these two.

The Blackfin Model X is shorter at 10’6 and wider at 35 inches. It is made using the same construction as the XL, triple-layer composite PVC. It weighs 27 pounds and has a weight capacity of 450 pounds. The SUP package and features are the same as what you get with the Blackfin XL.

The only difference between these boards is the size. And that means that they perform differently. The Blackfin XL is longer and will track faster than the Blackfin X. But the length also means that it is not as maneuverable as the Blackfin X.

A shorter paddleboard is easier to handle, more so for smaller paddlers. When it comes to stability, the two inflatable paddleboards are perfect—none is better than the other.

So it all comes down to your size and the performance aspect that is important to you (speed or maneuverability).

Blackfin XL Vs Bluefin Carbon Cruise 12’

bluefin cruise carbon 12

The Bluefin Carbon Cruise features high-quality Dropstitch construction. It has FRS carbon composite rails. The Bluefin package includes all the accessories you will need for SUP, plus a kayak conversion kit. The paddle is made of carbon fiber.

This board measures 12’ x 32” x 6”. It is narrower and longer than the Blackfin XL. With these measurements, it is faster than the Model XL. It glides remarkably in the water. The Blackfin is a little shorter and wider. While this makes it less fast, it means added stability and better maneuverability.

The Bluefin Carbon Cruise has a super comfortable deck pad, just like the Blackfin XL. It has a kick pad feature, which you won’t find in the Blackfin. There are a total of 14 D-rings on the Bluefin Cruise, fewer than what you find on the XL. You also won’t have the added advantage of action mounts on the Bluefin.

The Blackfin XL can handle much more weight than the Bluefin. The latter has a weight limit of only 308 pounds while the XL has a capacity of 485 pounds.

The Bluefin comes with a five-year warranty, whereas you get two years for the Blackfin.

Bottom line: these are two great boards. As you have seen, they have differences when it comes to performance and features. However, you cannot go wrong with either of them. They are made using advanced technology and materials. The accessories included in their packages are awesome and high-quality.

Conclusion

The Blackfin Model XL is one of the best inflatable paddleboards there is. You can tell from the quality of construction and performance. It has features that you will be lucky to find on other iSUPs—like 20 D-rings and eight action mounts. Its accessories are exceptional and this is something you will hear even from other users. The pump works 100% faster and you won’t need to upgrade the paddle.

Do you have a comment or question about the Blackfin Model XL? Please share it with us in the comment section below.

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