Inflatable Kayaks, SUPS & Canoes Reviews

Product Review: New C4 Waterman 10-9 XXL Inflatable Paddle Board ISUP

Just this week, we received our first shipment of C4 Waterman’s 2013 inflatable paddle board line-up. This includes 8 models – 3 BK Pro models (9-11, 10-11 and 10-11 150), the 12-6 iTrekkers, the popular CMAC 10-6, and the 10-9 XXLs.

C4 Waterman 10-9 XXL Inflatable Paddle Board

Our first review will focus on the 10-9 XXL inflatable SUP, a beefed-up version of the popular CMAC 10-6 that larger riders – or smaller ones looking for stability – will find appealing.

C4 Waterman is well-known as one of the leading paddle board companies in the world – the C4 founders have more than 150 years of combined surfing, paddling, racing, and water safety experience. Both the company philosophy and their boards are based on the four core values of Balance, Endurance, Strength and Tradition.

In 2008, the C4 team came out with their first inflatable stand up paddle board, coining the term “ISUP,” and revolutionizing the paddling industry. The ability to roll up your board and travel globally opened the market up to the world. While three or four years ago, only a handful of inflatable SUPs were on the market, today there are literally scores of models, in a wide variety of prices.

Well-known for their ruggedness, each of the C4 Waterman ISUPs utilize high pressure dropstitch technology – allowing them to be inflated from 15-17 PSI – and feature four-layer rail construction, membrane block and thick traction pads. Each board comes with a slim-barrel hi-pressure single action pump, allowing one to inflate a paddle board to full pressure in less than 10 minutes.

In 2009, the C4 Waterman 10-9 XXL was made legendary by well-known Hawaiian waterman, Archie Kalepa, who set a world record as the first to make the 187 mile journey down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon on an inflatable SUP.

So, here is our writeup on the C4 Waterman 10-9 XXL inflatable stand up paddle board.

C4 Waterman 10-9 XXL – Getting Started

The box as arrived is 38 x 23 x 11 inches weighing in at 40 lbs.

Backpack and slim barrel pump

Inside the box is the 10-9 XXL ISUP body, backpack, repair kit, single action pump with pressure gauge, cinch belt and instructions. Once rolled up, the SUP board and pump fit into the backpack, as well as breakdown paddles under 37 inches. The board itself weighs 28 lbs, or 34 lbs inside the backpack with pump – these all easily fit in the back of a small car.

Unrolling the SUP body

For your first set up, uncinch the strap and unroll the SUP body. There are three integrated tracking fins at the rear of the board. Lay it out face up (fins down) so that you can access the military valve.

Opening the military valve

The C4 Waterman 10-9 XXL utilizes one spring-loaded military valve for inflation. These are very simple to use and feature an inflate mode (spring plunger is UP) and a deflate mode (spring plunger is DOWN). By using your finger to gently push on the plunger, it can be moved to the inflate mode (air goes in and doesn’t come back out) and deflate mode (air goes in and comes back out). Before you go to all the effort of inflating the board, PLEASE make sure the plunger is in the inflate position.

New slim-barrel hi-pressure single action pump

The included single-action pump comes with a pressure gauge, so you can monitor the board’s PSI. In past years, the pumps included with C4 ISUPS were plagued with various problems – broken handles, hoses that didn’t couple, leaking gauges – but this appears to have been solved. The spiffy, single-action red pump (new for 2013) features an extra-tall, slim-barrel body, making it much simpler to attain the necessary 15 to 17 PSI.

First, screw the gauge onto the pump. Tip #1: Make sure you screw the gauge on carefully – if it gets cross-threaded, air will leak out and you will have a difficult time pumping the board up to necessary pressure.

Next, attach the hose to the gauge. Take the military valve adaptor, and screw it onto the valve slightly to lock into position. You’re ready to pump!

Pumping up the SUP body.

The first minute with the single action pump is so smooth, you hardly notice what you’re doing – it took me 60 seconds to make 100 full stroke pumps, bringing the ISUP to 4 PSI. Now it starts to get slightly more difficult; the next 100 full stroke pumps took another 2 minutes, 10 seconds, taking me to 13 PSI. At this point I switched to the “half pump” method.  With 50 easy half pumps (57 seconds), I jumped to 15+ PSI, another 50 half pumps took me to 17 PSI. So keep plugging. I was able to bring it up to 17 PSI pretty rapidly and easily. All in all, it takes about 5 minutes, without resting.

Hi-pressure gauge included with pump

A nifty feature on the new C4 pumps is the pressure gauge which now sports a “green window,” visually showing when the optimum inflation pressure has been reached. For the C4 boards, pump it up just to the first portion of the green window, putting it in the 15-17 PSI range.

Remove the adaptor, replace the valve cap and that’s it! Less than 10 minutes with an excellent upper arm workout, you’re ready for the water. And it’s surprisingly easy!

C4 Waterman’s Inflatable Rigid AirCore Board Construction

According to the manufacturer, what sets the C4 inflatable SUPS apart from the masses is due to several design and construction features.

Hefty high-pressure drop stitch material

C4’s uses heavy-duty, 100mm, military-grade, PVC skins that are double-layered, making them twice as thick as many competitor models.

The core of each inflatable is the interior drop-stitching, which consists of thousands of fibers that lock the top and bottom layers together. The number of stitches in a C4 board are nearly 3X the amount of other boards; each of these are stitched while a proprietary adhesive is applied at high temperature, ensuring the best bond, and thus allowing the boards to be inflated to higher pressures.

Quadruple construction side rails

The weakest area in a board is at the side seams – or rails – where the top and bottom skins meet. Each C4 Waterman inflatable SUP utilizes a 4X seam tape overlap that is stitched and fused together with higher quality glue in a proprietary bonding process.

Side view

Higher densities and pressures make for a board that holds consistent shapes based on hard board designs. These construction methods make it purposefully overbuilt for durability – essential in a vessel that will take a beating.

C4 Waterman 10-9 XXL: Features and Specifications

The 10-9 XXL inflatable SUP is remarkably simple.

Military valve and ankle leash d-ring

There is one military valve, and one rear d-ring for an ankle leash.

Central carry handle and thick traction pad

A thick sculpted center traction pad is 57 x 24.5 inches, beginning 42 inches from the snout. In the center is a low profile cloth handle, positioned 19 inches from the front of the pad. While some of the boards may have a camouflage pattern, the boards heading forward will feature a gray pad.

A deep, sculpted rear stomp pad measures 15.5 inches deep by 10 to 17 inches wide, with a 3/4 inch rise.

Front d-rings for attaching gear

Four d-rings measuring 15 inches deep by 18 to 24 inches wide are available for attaching gear or bungee deck lacing, and are located starting about 21 inches back from the nose. The newest boards have switched to a white d-ring, giving the board a more streamlined look.

Three integrated thruster fins

Three integrated 6-inch wide by 4.25-inch flexi-thruster fins – two are slightly v-angled and one is straight – provide control and tracking.  As a side note, the vinyl fins can become “temporarily bent” depending on how tight you roll up and store the board, or from pressure when on the ground. This is normal. With sunlight and ambient heat, the fins have shape memory and go back to their original molded position. If you want to speed up the process, a hairdryer for 10 minutes works well. You can also decrease this issue by using styrofoam blocks to create a “fin protector” when packed up.

The newly-redesigned “clamshell” backpack now zips open on two sides, making it easier to get the SUP back intp the bag. New features include a slightly padded back with adjustable padded shoulder straps, slight padding in the lumbar area, two straps on each side, allowing one to cinch the bag tight.

The bag weighs in at 2 lbs, and measures 37 inches tall, by 16 inches wide and 12 inches deep – deep enough to house a C4 breakdown paddle in its padded case, or any breakdown paddle up to that length. But, an exterior side pocket will also hold a paddle. A deep 23 x 10 x 6 inch front pocket with velcro flap is perfect for housing the pump.

A very nice touch are a series of 5 interior “slim pockets” with velcro closures, ranging from 5.25 x 4 inches up to 9 x 12 inches. In addition is a clear “ID card” sleeve on the top of the backpack, for easy identification when travelling.

The new, slim-barrel, single-action pump measures 24 inches tall with a 3-inch diameter body and 9-inch base, a metal pump shaft, 66-inch hose, and a pressure gauge. The new gauge can measure from 0 to 30 PSI.

C4 Waterman 10-9 XXL - front and back views

We did measurement tests. The 10-9 XXL inflatable SUP is 126 inches long (slightly less than the specs), 33.5 inches wide and 4 inches thick.

C4 10-9 XXL ISUP On the Water

I took the board out on a fairly calm day.

C4 10-9 XXL inflatable SUP on the water

First off, this is an incredibly stable ISUP, perfect for beginners worried about those first few moments. The board feels rigid and rugged, glides easily through the water, tracks well, and it turns easily.

Roomy enough for an adult and small friend

I went out a second day with my paddling buddy Eddie, who’s become quite adept on the paddle board. While we had chop, once again it was very stable despite Eddie’s attempts to check out waterfowl.

While I love these big boards, in choppy water, this would be best for a larger person with more bulk – at 5’4″ I struggled a little keeping it on track, though running downwind was a blast. I’m looking forward to checking the board out with a Windpaddle sail.

C4 Waterman 10-9 XXL ISUP: Packing It Up

To deflate the board is pretty simple – push the plunger to the open (down) position and immediately the air will swoosh out. But, as pointed out to me (thank you Ted!) when drawing off the high pressure, you should do this slowly, so as not to “pop” or unseat the O ring that completes the valve seal. So, slowly tap the valve to “bleed” off the high pressure several times for a few seconds, increasing the release time as you go. By tipping the board at an angle, you will also drain away any water out of the valve assembly, so that water doesn’t accumulate inside the board.

Rolls up into a small bundle

Leaving the plunger in the deflate mode, move to the nose of the ISUP. Start tightly rolling up the board from the nose, top side up and fins down, with the bottom on the outside. As you roll it up, air will continuously be pushed out of the open valve.

When fully rolled up, replace the valve cover and then take the attached strap and cinch it around the bundle, between the fins – this keeps the package tightly rolled and the fins keep the strap from slipping off. If you’ve rolled up tight enough, the board will easily slip back into the backpack.

C4 Waterman 10-9 XXL ISUP – Bottom Line

The C4 Waterman 10-9 XXL ISUP is a great board – it’s rigid and rugged – and light enough to easily carry.

Lightweight and easy to carry

As a beefed up version of the popular CMAC 10-6, the 10-9 XXL has a longer length, wider silhouette and more air volume. This is a great “all-around board” for advanced larger and taller people (190 to 230 lbs) wanting to “do it all” and need that extra buoyancy and length. It’s also great for beginners (and smaller-sized individuals) wanting stability and not worried about speed.

C4 Waterman 10-9 XXL Inflatable SUP

The full nose, wide point and tail, make the 10-9 XXL a great choice for river rapids and whitewater, with the added stability making it possible to cross eddy lines and bigger water features.

C4 10-9 XXL inflatable SUP on the water

As the closest thing we have to surf is “boat wake” I asked Ted, my C4 person, about the 10-9 XXL surfing performance. According to Ted, the 10-9 XXL surfs like a “classic longboard”, enough rocker to catch waves without pearling. What does this mean in laymen’s terms? The board nose is bent up (rocker) so that when catching a wave, the nose has less chance of going underwater (pearling) and flipping the paddler.

While anyone can use this board in multiple water situations – flat water, surfing, down river, touring – those under 140 lbs who want to try surfing, might feel more comfortable with a smaller board such as the CMAC 10-6.

Rugged enough for canines

Families will also love the XXL – the added length, stability and buoyancy make it a great choice for a parent and child or two smaller adults.

And for those headed out for a day of paddling, the nose d-rings provide ample space to attach extra gear or some camping supplies.

New C4 Waterman backpack

Best of all, it’s highly portable. The included backpack is perfect to store in a closet, or stash in a car for spur of the moment fun. Travelling? Take your C4 on your next vacation, or pack it into the remote backcountry.

See-through viewing panel in the 10-9 XXL Window ISUP

Want to kick it up a notch? Check out the 10-9 XXL Window, featuring the same beefy ISUP with a clear viewing panel. What could be more fun than watching the underwater world below one’s feet or sharing the moment with a small friend. Also a great choice for rental businesses wanting to offer that “something extra.”

MSRP for the 10-9 XXL ISUP is $1189 or $1299 for the XXL Window version. For more information or to purchase, see the C4 Waterman 10-9 XXL ISUP Product Page, as well as the 10-9 XXL Window.

You can also watch a YouTube video on Archie Kalepa’s trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon on a C4 Waterman 10-9 XXL ISUP.

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