Kayaking looks fairly intuitive, and most people quickly work out how to move their kayak around in roughly the right direction. But there’s a difference between making your boat move around and paddling your kayak efficiently.
A paddleboard that can switch to a kayak (and back again) in just a few seconds? Yes, please!
We’ve talked about hybrid kayaks before (in this review), so when I spotted Isle Surf and SUP’s awesome “inflatable kayak and paddleboard package”, I knew I had to give it a try.
Let me tell you, it’s an absolute game-changer for anyone who wants to enjoy a day of paddleboarding but still have the option to turn it into a kayak—or vice versa.
Below, I’ll share my review and photos of my hands-on test of this hybrid kayak/SUP, and by the end, I think you’ll agree that it’s a truly awesome option for any summer spent out on the water.
Size and Weight
Let’s start off with the basics…
When all packed up, the Switch is pretty much the same size as every other inflatable paddleboard I’ve owned and used.
It’s compact enough that I can store three of them in the back of my Toyota Corolla, making it perfect for a quick trip out to a nearby lake.
When unpacked and fully inflated, however, the paddleboard is 11’ 6” long (350.5 cm) (longer than average) and 35.5 inches (90 cm) wide (also wider than average). You’ll see in the Performance section how this extra length and width contributes to significantly better stability (though slightly slower paddling).
The bag weighs about 19 pounds (8.6 kg), light enough that I can sling it over my back and haul it from the car to the lake and back. Even my 5’3” wife could manage its weight, though I doubt she’ll be hiking with it, as it’s just too heavy and bulky for someone her size.
One cool feature: the backpack has been designed with thickly padded shoulder and waist straps and cross-chest straps that actually make it surprisingly comfortable to hike with.
What’s In the “Inflatable Kayak and Paddleboard Package”?
Open up the bag, and you’ve got everything you need to inflate your paddleboard and turn it into a kayak and back again.
I loved how neatly everything was organized—made for much easier unpacking and getting everything set up.
Inside the bag, you have:
- Inflatable Kayak Seat
- Inflatable Kayak Footrest
- Manual iSUP Hand Pump
- 4 Piece Adjustable SUP Travel Paddle
- Switch Center Fin
- 8′ Coil Leash
Isle’s website doesn’t specify what materials are used in the construction of the board. Really, the only mention of any sort of material available refers to the brand’s proprietary “Air-Tech Fusion Lite™ technology”, of which there is precious little information available.
However, the material used to manufacture the board is lighter-weight than other large (11’+) SUPs I’ve tested. It’s also made using drop-stitching technology that ensures it’s durable and resistant to impacts and punctures.
Here’s a quick primer on drop-stitching, taken from our Best Drop-Stitch Kayaks article:
To explain it simply: two (or more) sheets of a synthetic fabric like nylon or polyester are joined together using hundreds of needle threads. And I mean hundreds—up to 400! These needle heads sew a continuous, evenly-spaced pattern back and forth across the sheets of fabric. As a result, they’re locked together so thoroughly that it would take an immense amount of work (or strain) to sever the threads.
When joined, they are incredibly strong and resistant. Once the joined sheets of fabric are inflated, the threads actually hold them together. Think about it like thousands of tiny strings that are keeping the two sheets from tearing apart, but keep them inflated to perfection and provide sturdy resistance to make them ultra-tough.
Drop-stitched SUPs are significantly tougher and more resilient. Using the Isle Switch, I felt the thickness and sturdiness of the material, and I had no doubt that this is a paddleboard that would last for years of even rough handling.
Inflation/Deflation and Assembly
Let’s be honest: inflating any paddleboard is a bit of a hassle. It takes a solid 5-15 minutes of working the pump to get it inflated to the recommended PSI—in the case of the Isle Switch, 13-17 PSI.
Being a larger, heavier guy, I always make sure to fill the board up to 15 PSI. I have an electric pump to do most of the work of inflating it for me—in this case, the VACHAN Electric SUP Air Pump-12V Air Inflator, which I connect to my car to do the hard work of pumping.
However, for the sake of analyzing the effectiveness of the Switch’s pump, I filled up the last 8 PSI myself.
The Isle pump comes with a lever that lets you switch between single-action (all the inflation on the down-pump) and dual-action (inflation on both down- and up-pump). This made it fairly easy for me to inflate the last 8 PSI quickly—in about 45 seconds of pumping.
I have two other paddleboards with their own pumps (the Zray X-RIDER 10’2” and the Naakua ix7), so I’ve tried a few different pump designs and options. While I liked that the Isle pump had extendable feet (which made it compact enough to fit in the bag), the design was a little on the compact side for a guy my size. I struggled a bit with trying to keep my balance, keep my feet on the pump’s base, and pump at high PSIs when the work got harder. I’d rate it 7/10—better than the Zray pump, but not quite as good as my current favorite, the Naakua pump.
Once inflated, it was time to get to work putting together the final piece of the puzzle: the fin. This proved a lot tricker than I’d expected!
Typically, paddleboards come with a pretty simple fin assembly/housing and basic design: slide the fin into the open slot in the mount and use a plastic “pin” to lock it in place.
The Isle Switch, however, has a more complex system that involves a bolt and specialized nut that you have to remove and insert into the mount’s slot. But you can’t mount it yet—you have to insert the back end and slide it into place first, and only then can you connect the bolt to the nut.
Isle has a pretty great video to explain it:
Fortunately for me, I was at a lake where I had Wi-Fi, so I was able to watch the video and assemble the fin fairly easily. However, had I been out of cell service, it would have been much more difficult to figure out.
Should I have watched the instructional video before taking it out? Probably. I was expecting the “standard” fin assembly/housing, but should have paid more attention to the website, which makes it clear that the “tool-free assembly” is slightly different than the standard—a bit more complex, but exponentially more durable and far less likely to end up broken or missing a fin.
Features: Making the “Switch”
The real selling point of this paddleboard is the ability to switch between kayak and paddleboard in a matter of seconds.
The paddleboard features the brand’s patent-pending ISLE-LINK connection system, two rows of sturdy loops running the entire length of the board. These loops make it insanely easy to clip both the seat and footrest anywhere you want.
The setup of the seat and footrest took all of 30 seconds, and I was ready to go!
Switching up the paddle was equally easy. The bag includes two paddle heads, a padded-grip center handle section, and a knob-ended paddleboard tip.
I could actually swap them out while out on the water in a few seconds, and just keep whichever attachment I wasn’t using stowed in the front bungee cords.
Other awesome features include:
- Velcro straps on the side to hold the paddle
- A rounded, padded carry handle
- Nose and tail grab handles, which make for easy transporting
- 6-point front bungee, which served well to hold my dry bag, water bottle, and portable cooler in place
- EVA traction pad, which proved incredibly grippy and made it much easier to stay balanced while paddling
The seat and footrest are both inflatable and take just a few quick pumps of air to fill them fully. Once they’re secured in place, you’ll find they make for a very comfortable place to sit while you’re paddling. The straps ensure the seat back is sturdy enough that when you drive through your feet, you’ve got decent back support.
But when it came time to lounge and relax, I spent a lot of time shifting and struggling to find the right position. I tested multiple configurations and attachment points for the seat, and I found that if I leaned back fully, the seat would slide forward beneath me.
I can say with a fair degree of certainty that this is a problem for virtually all hybrid kayak/SUPs, and it’s one not easily solved. It’s well worth the discomfort, though—the seat was very comfortable and made paddling a whole lot easier. Thanks to the ISLE-LINK connection system, I can easily remove the seat and stretch out fully on the board when the time comes to lounge.
I can safely say that this is the most beginner-friendly paddleboard I’ve ever used!
I’m more than capable of handling my own out on the water, tackling waves, wakes, and currents. But when I was standing on this board, I never once came even close to losing my balance.
As I mentioned above, the extra width and length of the board give it incredibly high primary stability. I was able to bend forward and reach for something in the cooler bag at the nose of the boat without so much as a wobble.
Who Is This Board for?
I would recommend the ISLE Switch as the perfect board for:
- Anyone still finding their legs/new to paddleboarding
- Paddleboard Yoga
- Paddleboarding with pets and small children
It’s also got an extra-high weight capacity (425 lbs.), meaning I (250ish lbs.) and my wife (whose weight I would NEVER dare to mention!) could share the paddleboard fully confident that it could handle us.
But it’s not just insanely stable as a paddleboard; it’s one of the least tippy kayaks I’ve ever paddled!
I was able to zip around the lake with ease, and the wide platform floating on top of the water was incredibly stable.
It’s safe to say that in kayak mode, it could easily handle fiercer waves and swells, making it a great ocean-going day-touring kayak.
Now, I do have to specify that it’s not the fastest paddleboard or kayak around. It’s extra long and wide, meaning it makes slower turns and can’t reach quite the same speeds that my zippy Naakua does.
However, I’ll take a slightly slower paddleboard if it means I’ve got extra stability when standing and/or sitting.
According to Isle’s website: “2 Year Manufacturer Limited Warranty on all inflatable paddle boards (iSUPs) from date of purchase. We guarantee against any abnormal defect in workmanship and materials within this period. At our sole discretion, we reserve the right to either have the defective part or product professionally repaired, or replaced with an equivalent product at no cost to you. This warranty commitment does not cover claim conditions listed below.”
The paddles, bags, pumps (both hand and electric), and even the leashes are all covered by a 1-year warranty.
As excited as I was to test the Isle Switch 2-in-1 Inflatable Kayak & Paddle Board Package, I’m even more excited to keep using it for the rest of summer—and for many summers to come!
As a kayaker first and paddleboarder second, I love that I can switch between the two (virtually) seamlessly. It literally takes 30 seconds to install/remove the seat and footrest or to switch its position along the length of the board.
Thanks to its high primary stability, it’s a board I’ll gladly lend to my kids, siblings, or friends who are venturing on their first voyages out onto the water. But I’ll use it myself knowing it can handle my weight with plenty to spare, and it’s sturdy enough that it won’t break or wear out quickly.
Sure, there were a couple of quibbles (not easy to install the fin without watching the video, the pump was a bit of a hassle, and I had to paddle extra-hard to match the speed of my wife on our Naakua), but they’re so minor that they did nothing to detract from my overall enjoyment of this paddleboard-kayak hybrid.
Length: 11’6” (350.5 cm)
Width: 35.5” (90 cm)
Weight: 19 lb (8.6 kg)
Capacity: 425 lb (193 kg)