We have recently focused on the new AquaGlide models for 2016 as they’ve arrived over the past few months. A division of North Sports Inc., the Aquaglide brand has grown steadily over the past 15 years, now encompassing inflatable kayaks and standup paddle boards.
We have been eager to try out the new Blackfoot Angler 11’0″ inflatable SUP, which this year joined the three Cascade recreational models – the Cascades 10’0″, 11’0″ and 12’0″ – as the only fishing-specific model in the AquaGlide standup paddle board line.
Time and weather came together last week. So, our second board review will focus on Aquaglide’s new Blackfoot 11’0″– a 14-18 PSI inflatable SUP workhorse with a capacity load of 450 lbs. Please note, some of this will be repeated from other write-ups.
Aquaglide Blackfoot 11’0″ iSUP – Getting Started
The double-boxed board as-arrived is 47 x 24 x 8.5 inches weighing in at 47 lbs.
Inside is the Blackfoot 11’0″ body, backpack, repair kit, high pressure pump with gauge and 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 or pump to the outside.
The board itself weighs 29 lbs, or 36 lbs inside the backpack with pump – these all easily fit in the back of a small car. Folded up in the bag, the dimensions are 38 x 21 x 8 inches.
For your first set up unroll the SUP body. Lay it out face up so that you can access the military valve.
The Blackfoot 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 Blackfoot paddle board we received included the standard AquaGlide wide-barrel, single-action kayak pump with gauge – we understand that subsequent shipments will include the new-style Bravo high-pressure, dual-action hand pump.
First, attach the gauge to the hose, then the hose to the pump handle. Take the military valve adaptor (the one with locking arms) and friction fit it over the Boston valve adaptor, which is attached to the end of the hose.
Then screw it onto the board valve and firmly lock it into position. You’re ready to pump! (AirKayaks note: the first time may be difficult to attach the adaptor 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. But the first time you may need to push and turn, quite hard. Additionally, the o-ring material is quite stiff. Placing it in the sun for a few moments will soften it slightly.)
At 150 pumps the board was starting to fill out and the needle started to register; by 180 pumps we were at 3 PSI and the needle was moving up and down. By 225 pumps we were at 6 PSI with another 25 pumps we were at 8 PSI. The needle now starts to stay in position. At this point, pumping was getting tough, so we switched to the half-pump method. With another 50 half pumps, the board was up to 10 PSI, and we decided to stop.
We removed the adaptor from the valve and SWOOSH – all the air came back out. We were familiar with this as it has happened in the past. As a side note, there is a bar inside the adaptor which presses open the valve when attached – this allows you to get “real time” pressure gauge readings. If you are not very careful when removing the adaptor (make sure you press in slightly as you turn), the valve will not be re-engaged and will remain open. End result, we started back up from 5 PSI.
At this moment we want to point out something else. Make absolutely sure that you grab the adaptor when twisting the hose off the valve, and not the hose. We also learned from experience that if you aren’t careful, the hose can pull off the adaptor while it is still locked onto the valve. Guess what happens? You’ve got it, all the air comes out. As a suggestion, if you do not need to use the Boston valve adaptor, then consider gluing the military valve adaptor onto the hose end.
Continue pumping until you get to your optimum pressure; AquaGlide says to inflate from 10 to 18 PSI, with the recommended pressure 14 to 18 PSI. Smaller people or those without lots of gear, may not need to pump it up that high – I typically stop at 12 to 13 PSI. 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 Blackfoot uses a US fin box, allowing one to use after-market fins for varying water conditions. An 8-inch deep water fin is included. Here we come to another issue, but one we were aware of. 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, or carry around one of those multi-use micro tools.
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! Pretty minimal set-up, with most of it pumping. Roughly ten minutes and you’re ready to go!
Aquaglide Blackfoot iSUP Construction
The Blackfoot 11’0″ is constructed from 150 mm thick, 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 Blackfoot iSUP Features and Specifications
The Blackfoot 11’0″ inflatable SUP is very simple.
Front bungee deck lacing measures 18 to 25 inches wide by 13 inches deep, with 6 cloth d-rings. The lacing starts 16 inches from the nose.
There are six integrated mounts (3 sets) to attach Scotty accessories – four are towards the nose and two towards the tail.
The mounts are 2.25 by 4.25 inches (pad is 5 x 7 inches) and use 4 each 1/4-20 x 7/8th stainless steel screws. The screw locations are approximately 1.25 x 3.25 inches center-to-center. PLEASE NOTE THE SCREWS ARE NOT INCLUDED. AquaGlide states one can use 3/4 inch as well (but not longer than 7/8th inch without risk of puncture), though some users have reported that the 3/4 inch is not long enough.
The mount locations are as follows, and all are measured “center to center” of the mounts. The mounts are 25.75 inches apart side-to-side. The first set is centered 36 inches from the nose, with the second set 54 inches from the nose (18 inches apart center to center) The rear mounts are centered 42.5 inches from the second set, approximately 34 inches from the tail.
A grooved EVA deck pad measures 70 inches long x 27.5 inches wide, beginning 43 inches from the nose and 17 inches from the tail. The handle begins 18 inches from the end of the front deck pad.
A printed 20-inch ruler (measuring 20 inches) is located just forward of the deck pad. There are also centimeter and millimeter increments.
A second set of bungee deck lacing is located at the rear, beginning over the deck pad for grip. This measures 24 to 27.5 inches wide by 13 inches deep, beginning about 16 inches from the tail.
Four stainless steel d-rings (two each side) are located rear of the center handle, 27 inches apart side-to-side and 14 inches apart front to back; these are located 40 and 56 inches from the tail.
There is one military valve. While there is no ankle leash d-ring, one can attach to the back handle or the side d-rings.
The included glass-filled tracking fin utilizes a US fin box and measures roughly 8 inches deep.
As previously mentioned, 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 Blackfoot’s oversized backpack measures 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. The wide-barrel pump can fit inside the pack, or attached to the outside. The bag itself weighs 3.5 lbs.
The AquaGlide high pressure, single action kayak pump features the wide barrel version, which pumps out more air but is tougher to get to higher pressures. Measurement are 21 inches tall by 9 inches wide, and a 4-inch barrel with metal pump shaft. The integrated pressure gauge can read up to 15 PSI (so you’ll need an aftermarket gauge or just wing-it to get to 18 PSI). The hose is 48 inches long and comes with both military and Boston valve adaptors, allowing the pump to also be used with any of the AquaGlide inflatable kayaks.
We did measurement tests. At 15 PSI, the Blackfoot 11’0″ inflatable SUP ran 131 inches long, 35 to 36 inches wide and 6 inches thick – specifications say 11 by 36″ wide by 6 inches deep. Max payload is 450 lbs.
Aquaglide Blackfoot iSUP On the Water
I took the board out on a fairly calm day with some mild chop, and no gear. I was immediately surprised at how well it handled. Tracking was good and it paddled smoothly. While the wider silhouette makes the board quite stable, it’s not a speed demon (but not slow either). It was easy to get up and down, without feeling “tippy.” The EVA deck pad was comfortable and provided good grip. Turning was somewhat maneuverable, but as a recreational board, not quite as necessary.
I headed into the wind, over some small chop – even with the slight chop, I didn’t feel flexing underfoot.
Eyeing the rear d-rings, I went back and grabbed an AquaGlide Core seat and a kayak paddle. The d-rings are near perfectly positioned for attaching a seat, and I headed back out. As a sit-on-top kayak, the board handles beautifully and actually becomes speedy. Turning is easy, the board is roomy and I could easily see bringing lots of gear, a child, or a canine buddy.
I headed back in and grabbed a cooler and some bungees, strapping it into the rear d-rings. While this caused me to stand slightly forward of my normal position, it was not a problem. In fact, for those needing a little bit more stability, resting ones’ calves against the cooler provides more support. The extra weight caused the board to handle even better, though larger guys may not need it.
As a bonus, one can sit on the cooler and paddle if it gets too windy, or one is tired. The board handled great in chop, and paddled well downwind.
While I did not take out my paddling buddy Cleo, I have taken her out on one of the prior model Cascade models made of similar material and construction (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.
While my husband did not try out the board, he did carry it back for me. He noted that the center handle was slightly too far forward to easily balance the board, though moving it might impinge on the d-ring/cooler carrying section.
Aquaglide Blackfoot 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 slip it back into the backpack. As a note, the use of some type of cinch belt will make it easier to keep rolled up.
Aquaglide Blackfoot 11’0″ iSUP – Bottom Line
The AquaGlide Blackfoot 11’0″ is a winner. It looks great, tracks and paddles well and is rugged. The wide beam makes it stable enough for beginners – and it’s so versatile!
While billed as a fishing paddle board, in effect, it’s a great all-around “outdoorsman” inflatable SUP. Integrated attachments for Scotty mounts allow one to outfit the board with fishing rod holders as well as mounts for GPS, fish finder, compass, camera and more. Two sets of bungee deck lacing are perfect for attaching camping gear, dry bags and backpacks while hefty rear d-rings are situated to carry more gear, even a cooler. Couple that with the 450 lb payload, and the Blackfoot turns into a mobile platform capable of carrying an arsenal of supplies for a day or an extended camping trip.
Strip the board down to nothing, and you have a good recreational paddle board for on-the-water enjoyment and exercise. The Blackfoot Angler is roomy enough to bring along a small child and gear, yet rugged enough for a furry friend. It’s a great choice for a family board, perfect for lakes, calm rivers and coastal inlets.
By attaching an optional seat, such as the AquaGlide Proformance or Core kayak seat, to the rear d-rings, the Blackfoot Angler quickly converts into a great sit-on-top kayak, providing an additional dimension to a daily paddling routine.
Best of all, it’s highly portable. The new AquaGlide 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 Blackfoot on your next vacation.
The Aquaglide Blackfoot 11’0′ inflatable paddle board with backpack and pump is a great buy at $999. For more information or to purchase, see the Blackfoot 11’0′ Product Page at AirKayaks.com. You can also watch our YouTube Video (below) on the Blackfoot SUP.