Last week, we received our new 2016 shipment of Aquaglide Cascade inflatable paddle boards consisting of three models ranging in size from 10 to 12 feet.
As a division of North Sports Inc, the Aquaglide brand has grown steadily over the past 15 years to include products such as commercial and residential water trampolines, tow toys, recreational water equipment and the highly popular Multisport 270 – an inflatable windsurf/sailboat/pull toy/kayak combo. In 2006, Aquaglide forayed into the stand-up paddling market, and in 2010 launched their inflatable paddle board line, expanding into inflatable kayaks in 2013.
For 2016, Aquaglide has jazzed up the Cascade image with beefed up graphics, upgraded backpack and redesigned dual action, high pressure pump – still maintaining low price points. The Cascade 10’0″, 11’0″ and 12’0″ are $699, $799 and $899 respectively, making them great options for those getting into the sport, yet not ready to make a major commitment. All three Cascades are now 6 inches thick.
So … our first review will focus on Aquaglide’s new Cascade 11’0″ – a 14-18 PSI inflatable SUP with a capacity load of 230 lbs. Please note, some of this will be repeated from other write-ups.
Aquaglide Cascade 11’0″ iSUP – Getting Started
The double-boxed board as-arrived is 43 x 27 x 8 inches weighing in at 44 lbs.
Inside is the Cascade 11’0″ body, backpack, repair kit, high pressure pump with gauge, removable fin. The instructions were missing, but we did manage to locate them online – we have attached a link here. Once rolled up, the SUP board and pump fit into the backpack, as well as breakdown paddles, though the backpack is set up to also attach paddles to the outside (the pump is too large). The board itself weighs 25 lbs, or 32 lbs inside the backpack with pump – these all easily fit in the back of a small car.
For your first set up, uncinch the strap and unroll the SUP body. Lay it out face up so that you can access the military valve.
The Cascade 11-0 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.
The 2016 Cascade paddle board systems includes a new-style Bravo high-pressure, dual-action pump with a gauge. The Cascade instructions we found online still included the old style pump, so we spent some time fiddling around to ascertain how it works.
The dual-action pumps feature both a single-action mode (air goes in on the down stroke) and double action mode (air goes in on both the up and down stroke.) You switch from one type to another by flipping the red plug located near the handle. The photo above shows it in “single action” mode.
First, attach the hose to the pump handle. Take the military valve adaptor (the one with locking arms, the other is a Boston valve adaptor), and screw it onto the board valve slightly to lock into position. You’re ready to pump! (AirKayaks note: the first time may be difficult to attach due to the vacuum. If you open the valve and allow air to creep into the board, then close the valve to start pumping, it creates an air pocket, making it easier to attach.)
Start off in double-action mode, which will put air in rapidly; do this by making sure the slim side of the red lever is pointing to the right, marked “double action.”
At about 140 pumps the board filled out, and at 150 pumps the gauge started to register. With another 25 pumps we were at 5 PSI and it was getting tough, particularly if you are short as you must pull the handle up high. We switched to single action mode by moving the red lever to the left. Please note, take care to keep the plug in the pump, as it keeps wanting to wiggle out with turning.
Another 65 pumps took us to 9 PSI, 45 more to 12 PSI. At this point, pumping became difficult again, so I switched to the “half pump” method. With another 40 half pumps, the board was up to 15 PSI, and I quit. All-in-all about 10 minutes and 300+ pumps.
At this point I removed the adaptor from the valve when the unthinkable happened – the adaptor came off but didn’t re-engage the valve. Meaning, all the air swooshed back out, and I had to start back up from 5 PSI. So … please carefully remove the adaptor, pressing in slightly as you turn.
Remove the hose adaptor and replace the valve cap.
Flip the board and lay out the fin, making sure it is pointing towards the rear of the board. The Cascade uses a US fin box, allowing one to use after-market fins for varying water conditions. A 8-inch deep water fin is included. Here is where we came to another issue. While the AquaGlide description touts the fin setup as “easy and tool-free mounting,” the fin pin uses a phillips head screw, and we did not have a screwdriver. We plugged on using our fingers but as a note, you must have a phillips head to remove the fin. So throw a small one in your repair kit.
Remove the screw and plate from the fin, then screw them back together. Use the screw to guide the fin plate to the front of the track. Put the “pin side” of the fin into the center track, and push toward the stern. Then lower the other end of the fin over the fin plate. Take the phillips head screw and tighten into the plate. Double check to make sure the fin is fully attached by pulling up on the fin.
That’s it! Surprisingly simple and in roughly ten minutes of great upper arm workout, you’re ready to go!
Aquaglide Cascade iSUP Construction
The Cascade 11’0″ is constructed from 150 mm thick, 31oz. 1000-denier drop-stitch material, a construction where thousands of fibers (threads) lock the top and bottom layers together, allowing the board to be pumped up to higher pressures.
Three layers – dropstitch layer, reinforcement PVC layer top and bottom, and an additional “PowerStrip” layer on the underside – provide protection against air leakage as well as improving board stiffness. Overlapping, taped side rails also provide added protection and rigidity.
Aquaglide Cascade iSUP Features and Specifications
The Cascade 11’0″ inflatable SUP is very simple.
There is one upper front d-ring in the nose.
Front bungee deck lacing with four cloth d-rings, measures 16 inches deep by 16 inches wide. The gear attachment system begins 19.5 inches from the nose.
An EVA traction pad is 69 x 26.25 inches wide, beginning 46 inches from the snout. Two thirds of this features a diamond groove, while the back portion is smooth.
In the center is a padded 7-inch carry handle.
There is one military valve and one rear d-ring for an ankle leash.
The included tracking fin utilizes a US fin box and measures roughly 8 inches deep.
As mentioned previously, the “PowerStrip” – an additional layer of PVC reinforcement – runs from nose to tail on the underside. This strip stiffens the area under the rider as well as providing an added layer of protection, without adding undue weight.
New for 2016 is AquaGlide’s Crossroad DLX backpack. Made from a rugged, commercial-grade polyester, the Cascade’s oversized backpack measues 40 x 17 x 10 inches. There are two padded, adjustable backpack straps which can be hidden inside a large, zippering pocket when not in use. Two lower straps form an adjustable waist belt, which also can be stashed into two lower side compartments.
Thick, foam strips with breathable mesh, provide padded comfort across the back. Two side mesh pockets can be used to house gear or a breakdown paddle; two cinching side straps keep paddles in position as well as cinching down the load. The pack features a rubber-molded handle on top and rear carrying handle, two lower drain holes, and a zipper which runs 2/3rds of the pack perimeter. A 17 x 8 inch bungee deck lacing system tops off the list, for attaching gear. While the pump is too big to fit in the side mesh pocket system, it can be stashed inside the back. The bag itself weighs 3.5 lbs.
Also new is the nifty, dual-action, high pressure pump. Ergonomic features include wider pump handle with grip, and angled feet. Measurement are 25 inches tall by 11.5 inches wide, and a 3-inch barrel with metal pump shaft. The integrated pressure gauge can read up to 30 PSI. The hose is 48 inches long and comes with both military and Boston valve adaptors, allowing the pump to be used with any of the AquaGlide inflatable kayaks.
We did measurement tests. At 15 PSI, the Cascade 11’0″ inflatable SUP ran 132 inches long, slightly under 32 inches wide and 6 inches thick – pretty much right on-spec. Max payload is 230 lbs.
Aquaglide Cascade iSUP On the Water
I took the board out on a calm day that turned into mild chop, for a first short jaunt.
I was immediately surprised at how well it handled for an entry-level price. It tracked decently and had a smooth glide, though it’s not a speed demon. The squared-off tail provides added stability to the 32 inch beam, in fact it was easy to get up and down, without feeling “tippy.” The EVA deck pad was comfortable and provided good grip. Turning was fairly maneuverable, but as a recreational board, not quite as necessary.
I headed into the wind, over some small chop. The board nose has a slight rise and handled well with slight hopping over the waves. Even with the slight chop, I didn’t feel flexing underfoot.
While I did not take out my paddling buddy Cleo, I have taken her out on one of the prior model Cascades (shown above). The boards are quite rugged – dog claws are not an issue. In fact, the board bounces off protruding branches and submerged rocks without a blip, and it’s stable enough that sudden movements are not catastrophic.
The one thing to note is that the removable fin is long. While great for deep water, one might want to invest in a shorter, aftermarket fin if paddling in shallow or rocky areas.
Aquaglide Cascade 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, 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.
Leaving the plunger in the deflate mode, move to the nose of the iSUP. Start folding up the board from the nose, top side down. As you roll it up, air will continuously be pushed out of the open valve.
When fully rolled up, replace the valve cover and drop the board into the backpack. As a tip, you might want to find a cloth belt to cinch around the board, keeping it folded up.
Aquaglide Cascade 11’0″ iSUP – Bottom Line
At $799, the Aquaglide Cascade 11’0 is a great board for a paddler wanting to get into the sport without breaking their budget. It glides nicely, tracks decently and is rugged. It’s stable enough for beginners and is actually quite easy to pump up.
It’s a great choice for a family board – even kid-sized paddlers will have fun … yet easily provides on-the-water enjoyment and exercise for adults up to 230 lbs. And it’s roomy enough for an adult to bring a small child (or a furry friend) for a cruise along the shoreline.
The Cascade 11’0′ is great for lakes, calm rivers and coastal inlets. For those headed out for a few hours of paddling, the bungee deck lacing and d-rings provide ample space to attach extra gear.
Best of all, it’s highly portable. The new Crossroads DLX backpack is a huge step up, and roomy enough to easily fit your board with some gear. Multiple attachment points, padded back, hidden pockets for loose-hanging straps and side pockets are just a few of the amenities. It can easily be stored in a closet, or stashed in a car for spur of the moment fun. Traveling? Take your Cascade on your next vacation or for a jaunt to a secluded beach.
The upgraded dual-action pump is also a leap forward, now featuring high and low pressure pumping, an integrated gauge and ergonomic handles and feet. With two included adaptors, the pump works just as easily on the AquaGlide kayak line.
The Aquaglide Cascade 11’0′ inflatable paddle board with backpack and pump is a great buy at $799. For more information or to purchase, see the Cascade 11’0′ Product Page at AirKayaks.com. Stay tuned, we will have a video available shortly.