Summer is near and that means people are excited to head out to the beach and enjoy some water activities. One of the activities that is becoming more popular these days is stand-up paddleboarding. It’s a lot like surfing but you’re standing up and there’s a paddle that you use to bring you from point A to point B.
As a newbie in SUP, you’ve probably heard that it is expensive. Well, it’s not entirely since there are SUPs that are very affordable. Vilano Bikes’ PathFinder iSUP is the perfect example of an affordable SUP. It’s the perfect all-around iSUP that your whole family can use.
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Vilano Bikes Paddle Boards
Wait, did you just read Vilano Bikes? You’re probably thinking that for a company that has the word ‘bikes’ in it, what are they doing manufacturing SUPs? Are they even that good?
Vilano Bikes is a relatively new company and to tell you the truth, they’re not the most popular SUP brands. This is mainly because SUPs are not their main product. As the name suggests, it’s bikes. Nonetheless, Vilano Bikes is known for its passion for affordable sports equipment.
When you do a visit to their site, you’ll see that they sell a lot of things – from bikes, cycling equipment to skates. You could say that whoever the owners are, they’re very into sports.
Vilano Bikes’ SUP line doesn’t have a lot of variety. Today, they only have less than 5 stand-up paddleboards. Most, if not all of their SUPs, were made for beginners, families, and price-sensitive buyers. You won’t find a model that is worth more than $1000. In fact, this is the branding Vilano Bikes has on their stand-up paddleboards.
Quick Overview of the PathFinder Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
The PathFinder iSUP is one of the most affordable iSUPs that have good-quality material. It’s known for being the perfect newbie board that doesn’t wobble a lot. For an iSUP, it’s pretty sturdy and durable. Who would have thought that a paddleboard that costs less than $700 can be good, right?
Other than stability, the PathFinder iSUP features an all-around capability. This means that you can try a number of SUP styles here. If you were planning on trying SUP racing but don’t have the money to buy another iSUP, then the PathFinder iSUP will help reduce your expenses.
Moreover, this iSUP is for family use. No, it’s not capable of having so many kids on board. Rather, it can be used by every family member. This is because the PathFinder iSUP is only 9.9’ in length. It’s a little shorter than other iSUPs but that’s to make sure teenagers can still find this iSUP easy to use.
In a nutshell, the PathFinder iSUP is affordable, all-around, and perfect for families. It’s not too bad for an iSUP that doesn’t cost so much. However, what this iSUP is not is a stylish one. If you take a look at it, it doesn’t have the most sophisticated design. It’s not a deal-breaker, though.
Features of the PathFinder Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
How is it possible that the PathFinder iSUP is a lot of things? Here are the features that make this inflatable stand-up paddleboard a great one.
Sizeable Deck Pad
The first feature that you’ll notice in this iSUP is the deck pad. The deck pad of the PathFinder iSUP is pretty obvious mainly because it has a different color from the PVC material.
What makes this deck pad unique is its size. Except for the nose, the top of the iSUP has a non-slip pad that makes it easy for beginners to step on. Even if you’re not a beginner, you’ll find this deck pad to be really helpful for maintaining your balance.
Bungee Storage Area
There is only one area for all your cargo – right at the top part of the iSUP. The PathFinder iSUP has four D-rings that hold a bungee system in place. This bungee system is very wide. Even if there are just 4 D-rings that hold it together, you can still fit a lot of your things under the rope.
Having the storage area at the front is very convenient. Whenever you want to reach for your water, you can just go to a kneeling position and grab it. Besides, having a centralized place for your cargo gives you more space in the rear for movement.
Did you know that the PathFinder iSUP sports a single-fin system? Of all the features of this iSUP, this one is the most unique. Here’s why.
Most inflatable stand-up paddleboards have a three-fin system. For the PathFinder iSUP, it only has one. This single fin is responsible for maintaining the PathFinder’s movement to a single line. Hence, it’s easy to maneuver even when there are small to medium-sized waves.
Having a single-fin system helps the PathFinder iSUP be an all-around iSUP. With just one fin, you can easily do a number of SUP styles, from SUP yoga to SUP touring.
Touch PVC Material and Dropstitching Construction
The PathFinder iSUP uses high-quality PVC material as its main component. To complement this, a full dropstitching construction is made to hold all the PVCs together. The result is a rigid inflatable stand-up paddleboard that can last you a long time.
Adjustable Aluminum Paddle
The PathFinder iSUP comes with a lot of accessories that make it easier to start your paddleboarding experience. One of the most important accessories is the aluminum paddle.
The paddle that comes with this iSUP is made of aluminum material from the shaft to the blade. This paddle can easily be adjusted to fit anyone’s height. Even teenagers will be able to use this paddle comfortably.
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Pros and Cons of the PathFinder Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
Is the PathFinder iSUP the right paddleboard for you? Read on to find out.
By far, the most impressive advantage the PathFinder iSUP can give you is its affordability. For less than $700, you already get a complete package (except the leash). You have the paddleboard, paddle, carry bag, and a pump.
To add to that, the PathFinder iSUP can last for several years. You won’t find the need to buy a new one even when you advance to a more experienced level. That’s a win for savings!
For a reasonably-priced iSUP, the PathFinder iSUP can be very sturdy. Some people also commented that it feels like a hard paddleboard even when they haven’t inflated the iSUP to its maximum PSI.
- Good quality for its price
The PathFinder iSUP has a good price-quality ratio. This means that even when it is affordable, it doesn’t skimp on the materials. In fact, it still uses a strong PVC material and a dropstitching construction to support it.
As an inflatable stand-up paddleboard, the dropstitching is very important in holding the PVC material in place. Fortunately for the PathFinder iSUP, the construction is so well-made there aren’t any folds and humps when you inflate the board to max PSI.
- Ample storage space
At first, you would think that having only one bungee system is going to be a problem. But after using this paddleboard, you’ll realize that there is plenty of room for all your cargo.
Moreover, it’s a nice design thought that the bungee system is just centralized in front. This way, you don’t need to look back to get your things. You can also easily see if some of your things will fall off.
- Comes with a paddle, pump, and a carry bag
Have you ever wondered where and how you will get all the accessories you need? With the PathFinder iSUP, you don’t need to worry. When you buy from the Vilano Bikes’ site or from Amazon, you’ll get all the accessories you need to start. There’s only the leash that’s missing but that’s easy to find online.
- Takes a while to inflate
The maximum PSI for the PathFinder iSUP is 15. However, even if you just want to reach 10 PSI, you have to continuously pump air for 10 minutes. Maybe this has something to do with the pump, but you would expect that this iSUP will be filled much faster.
- Can’t bring another person on board
Another disadvantage of buying the PathFinder iSUP is the low weight capacity. Sure, it can comfortably carry a 200-lb person but that’s all that it can bring. You can’t bring your kid or dog with you because it will be very unstable.
Despite being called a family paddleboard, the only feature that makes it perfect for the family is that it has the right size for everybody.
- Narrow for a lot of people
If you’re a large person, you’ll find the PathFinder iSUP to be too narrow for your comfort. It’s only 30 inches wide, so this is too small compared to the standard 32-inch width of all-around iSUPs. Don’t worry, though, the PathFinder iSUP can still fit an adult even when their weight is around 240 lbs.
- Not ideal for SUP touring
In spite of being narrow for SUP touring, the PathFinder iSUP is not ideal for this kind of style. Aside from being an inflatable stand-up paddleboard (epoxy paddleboards are better for touring), it’s not fast at all. If you’re an advanced paddler, you’ll lose your patience with this iSUP.
- Poor quality accessories
Even if the accessories come free, this is not an excuse for Vilano Bikes to include low-quality equipment. One example is the paddle. The paddle is made of aluminum, but unlike your usual aluminum shaft, this one is heavy. It’s too heavy for a teenager to hold.
Another is the pump. There have been a few complaints about the pump not working or not being able to read past 10 PSI. This is disturbing because pumps should always be accurate and you’re not sure if the pump is the one at fault or there’s a hole on the iSUP.
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How Does the PathFinder Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board Compare with Other Paddle Boards?
The PathFinder iSUP is definitely a great option for price-sensitive paddlers but is it as good in other aspects such as speed and quality? When you compare this iSUP to other competitors, the PathFinder iSUP somehow falls short in a few areas.
The first is the quality of the iSUP itself. There’s no doubt that this iSUP is sturdy but it only is when you’re on calm waters or when the waves are just small. Other than that, this iSUP can be really wobbly. Thus, it’s hard for beginners to control when the water has a lot of waves.
The second is the quality of the accessories. Although these don’t directly affect the performance of the iSUP, the paddle and the pump are very important. However, as you saw on the cons list, Vilano Bikes failed to have high-quality accessories.
Another area where the PathFinder iSUP fell short is its weight capacity. Most of its competitors have a higher weight limit (at least 240 lbs) and they can accompany another adult. At the very least, some can bring a dog or a kid.
So is the PathFinder iSUP that bad? Not exactly. If anything, this iSUP is ideal for those who need a starting paddleboard but don’t want to shell out a lot of money. It’s also ideal for families who want to share paddleboards. With the PathFinder iSUP, anyone in your family can use it thanks to its size.
Overall the PathFinder iSUP is a good choice for anyone who is price-sensitive. If you’re not too fussy about the sturdiness of the paddleboard, then this is a reasonable option for you. However, keep in mind that this paddleboard has a limited weight capacity. It’s not ideal for anyone wanting to bring their kids aboard.
In any case, if you’re a newbie, you’ll easily love the PathFinder iSUP for its durability. You can use it for a lot of SUP styles, too, so it’s a win-win.