Anytime there’s a conversation about cheap inflatable paddle boards, the Pathfinder will always come up. It is a popular, all-around SUP for paddlers of all skill levels. It claims to be one of the most durable iSUPs in the market. And it comes as a complete SUP bundle—minus a leash.
The versatility, size, and affordable price of the Pathfinder board set it apart. For a reasonable amount, you get a paddleboard that is easy to store and can be used by everyone in the family.
This iSUP is manufactured by Vilano Bikes. Despite their name, they make SUPs and market them under different brand names. There isn’t much information about the company online. However, they have made a reputation for themselves with their products. It started as an idea between three friends. Now it’s a company known for affordable but quality sporting products.
Take a quick look at the Pathfinder’s pros and cons.
- SUP package that saves you money
- Good quality for the price
- Made with tough material making it durable
- Stiff when inflated—almost like a solid board
- The package doesn’t include a leash
- The aluminum paddle can be heavy and does not float
- It’s shorter, thinner and narrower, hence less stable
- Only suitable for lighter riders because of lower weight capacity
SUP Board Specs
- Inflates 15 PSI
- Measures: 9’9 x 30” x 5”
- Weight limit: 240 lbs
- Weight: 35 lbs
Who Should Buy The Pathfinder SUP Board?
The Pathfinder iSUP is ideal for beginners, families, smaller paddlers and people on a budget.
Generally, SUP newbies just want a basic paddleboard that they can use to learn. They’re not after any fancy features or specific about things like speed. It is a stable enough board that poses no challenges when it comes to maneuverability.
The Pathfinder SUP can’t accommodate several riders at once, but it is a good family board because anyone can use it. Note that heavier paddlers will be limited because of the low weight limit and how thin the Pathfinder is.
Different members of the family might be into different SUP variations. The best way to make everyone happy is to buy a board that can be used for anything. Even better, it comes with an adjustable paddle.
You already know that the Pathfinder is one of the best cheap paddleboards. So you should consider it if you’re on a budget. It is important to note that you get what you pay for. Don’t expect 1000-dollar features. But a lot of users have positive things to say about it.
One of the things that define a paddleboard is how it performs. And here are the four factors that determine performance.
An iSUP’s stability is determined by its width, thickness, shape, and quality of materials.
The wider and thicker the paddleboard, the more stable it is. The Pathfinder is 9’9, 30” and 5”. Most people would consider it narrow but it can be surprisingly stable, especially for lighter SUPers.
Heavier users will most likely notice that it flexes in the middle. This makes it unstable and gives a poor user experience. If you’re on the larger side, the Pathfinder inflatable may not be ideal. But read on for the perfect alternative.
There’s no fun in having a paddleboard you can’t control. For many users, the Pathfinder is maneuverable. That’s why they love using it. This allows them to make turns easily and have control over how the SUP moves.
Among the features that affect a board’s maneuverability include its hull, length, and width. A planing hull, like the Pathfinder’s, causes it to float above the water. Shorter and narrower SUPs are typically maneuverable. The length and width of this board are just right. They allow for maneuverability without sacrificing stability.
This refers to a paddleboard moving in a straight line. Have you ever paddled a SUP that keeps turning all over the place? It is horrible.
The Pathfinder isn’t so bad in this area, thanks to its large center fin. It reduces drag and helps the board stay the course.
As far as speed is concerned, the Pathfinder iSUP is not the best option—honestly. But only if you’re looking for a racing or touring SUP. Those are usually long and narrow to make them streamlined. They also have a displacement hull to cut through the water.
The Pathfinder is advertised as an all-around paddleboard. Its speed is decent and great for leisure paddling. It is nice for when you just want to float around.
The Pathfinder SUP is made of strong PVC material, reinforced with a multi-layer Dropstitch construction. All the quality iSUPs in the industry are made of this outstanding technology. The material is among the toughest. There is very little you can do to dent the iSUP.
Whatever the conditions are, you can always count on your Pathfinder to hold together and come out of it completely unscathed.
While the Pathfinder sounds like the most durable board on the market, the price should tell you something.
The Pathfinder inflatable paddleboard is available in two colors: blue and orange. The paddle matches the orange SUP.
It has a rounded nose and a slightly pointed tail. As already mentioned, the wide rounded nose facilitates stability. The tail is neither too narrow nor too wide. This promotes both stability and tracking.
This board comes with a sizeable deck pad. It mostly covers where you’ll be standing to offer comfort and prevent you from slipping.
There is a bungee storage area at the front of the deck. It is attached to four D-rings and is meant for your luggage. Its placement is convenient because you can reach for essentials like water.
The Pathfinder features a single-fin system. It’s just one large center fin that helps it move in a straight line. Since it is an all-around SUP, it is meant to be used mainly in flatwater and that’s what the single-fin system is perfect for.
It only has one carry handle, at the center. Some boards will have two more, at the front and back. But seeing how light the Pathfinder is, the center carry handle is enough.
SUP Board Accessories
A nice thing about buying inflatable paddleboards is that they usually come with accessories. This one, in particular, comes with a paddle, valve wrench, carry bag, and pump.
The paddle is adjustable and made of aluminum. A paddle made of carbon is known to be lighter and floats on water. It does not leave your arm fatigued and if it falls, you can find it effortlessly. The same cannot be said of the provided aluminum paddle. However, considering it is included as a bonus in the package, it would be unfair to complain. The adjustable aspect is awesome because you can always make it comfortable. It will also come in handy if several people will be using the paddle.
The carry bag is simple—no fancy design or graphics. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It has a compact shape and it’s spacious enough to fit the paddleboard and accessories. There are shoulder straps and a top carry handle.
The manual pump is simple as well. It does a great job but inflating the iSUP is a workout.
What Users Are Saying
Every manufacturer sings praises for their products. So to get an honest opinion, it’s always wise to see what paddlers are saying about their experience. These are the comments we saw online.
Ben says that the Pathfinder is now his favorite paddleboard. It is well made and quite sturdy. Although it is narrower, compared to his other SUPs, he still finds it stable.
According to Cameron, the Pathfinder is amazing, especially if you consider the price. But for him, it is not perfect. He weighs 170 pounds. While it supports his weight just fine, he can’t have another rider on board.
Emily loved the Pathfinder so much, she ordered two. Compared to wider boards, she says that this one is less stable. You can still maintain balance but your core will have to work harder.
Alice says that the construction is high quality but it is way too unstable. She can’t paddle fast with it. Her husband weighs 205 pounds and the board can barely handle his weight as it sinks.
The Pathfinder is a good cheap iSUP. But at the end of the day, know that cheap is expensive. For some paddlers, it will feel tippy, and the thickness will cause trouble for heavier paddlers. Besides, there are tons of complaints about their customer service.
If you’d like an affordable but better alternative, try the iRocker Nautical.
Pathfinder vs. Nautical SUP
Why would you choose the Nautical over the Pathfinder?
The iRocker Nautical is from a reputable company that stands behind its products and has remarkable customer service.
The Nautical is thicker, at six inches thick. It rides above the water and will not bend or sink when you are out paddling. It is also wider at 32 inches. Both of these qualities make it more stable than the Pathfinder.
Another thing that puts the iRocker Nautical at the top is impeccable construction. It features a dual-layer military-grade Dropstitch material. Once fully inflated, the sturdiness is impressive. And it is also extremely durable.
You’ll notice that although the Pathfinder has an advertised weight limit of 240 pounds, it can barely handle a 205-pound rider. The Nautical can easily hold a 220-pound paddler– practically, not in theory.
Lastly, the iRocker comes as a complete SUP bundle—even includes a leash. The accessories are high-quality. If you consider the price you’re paying, it’s a bargain. The paddle is ultralight, made of carbon fiber. Its backpack has features that make it very comfortable and easy to transport your board.
The Pathfinder inflatable is a great paddleboard—no question. It is well-priced making it accessible to all paddlers. The manufacturer includes most of the accessories you will need, saving you even more money. But to offer you a cheap iSUP, compromise has to be made somewhere. So it is better to add just a little more and get the Nautical. It will last a mighty long time and its performance won’t disappoint.