This review photo shows the ISLE Pioneer 2.0 Inflatable Paddle Board floating on a lake.

ISLE Pioneer 2.0 iSUP Review

- Field-tested -

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The ISLE Pioneer 2.0 iSUP is the second generation of ISLE’s most popular inflatable stand-up paddleboard — the beginner-friendly Pioneer iSUP, which has been widely regarded as one of the best all-around paddle boards for years.

To get us a closer look, ISLE sent Man Makes Fire a Pioneer 2.0 iSUP review unit. After paddling the Pioneer 2.0 during the testing and review process on an Idaho mountain lake, this is what we learned:

ISLE Pioneer 2.0 iSUP Review

This photo shows the author paddling the ISLE Pioneer 2.0 Inflatable Paddle Board on a lake during the testing and review process.
The ISLE Pioneer 2.0 iSUP is a stable, beginner-friendly all-around paddle board.

The ISLE Pioneer 2.0 iSUP uses ISLE’s durable double-layer drop-stitch construction. Compared to entry-level iSUPs, the Pioneer 2.0 is several steps up in quality. While the specifications of the Pioneer 2.0 make it a great beginner iSUP, the Pioneer 2.0 is more of a midrange board than an entry-level iSUP due to its excellent overall quality and price point. The price-to-value ratio is very good, and if you’re able to nab it on sale, the Pioneer 2.0 is an excellent value.

Of course, most inflatable paddle boards are now sold in a package. The Pioneer 2.0 Inflatable Paddle Board Package includes a Carbon Hybrid 3-Piece Adjustable Travel Paddle, a coil leash, a travel backpack bag, a manual high-pressure iSUP hand pump . . . and a 12v electric iSUP pump. Our review unit didn’t include the electric pump, so we only used the manual hand pump during testing.

Check here to see if ISLE is still including both pumps in the retail Pioneer 2.0 Package!

Like the great quality of the iSUP itself, ISLE’s included package components are all better designed and more rugged than what you find in most entry-level iSUP packages. The package components are consistent with ISLE’s awesome multi-person Megalodon paddleboard package, which we reviewed — and very much enjoyed — earlier this year: Read our full ISLE Megalodon Review for more detail.

 

The ISLE Pioneer 2.0 Paddle Board

This photo shows a side profile closeup of the ISLE Pioneer 2.0 Inflatable Paddle Board.
The 6-inch thick and 34-inch wide ISLE Pioneer 2.0 results in a stable, high-volume ride.

The heart of the package is the ISLE Pioneer 2.0 board itself. The Pioneer 2.0 has an all-around shape that’s very stable and plenty wide. Its 10’6″ length is good, as is its 34″ width. Better yet, by having a relatively small taper at the nose and tail, ISLE retains width throughout most of the board.

I’m a relatively big guy — 6’3″ and 220 pounds — so I appreciate high-volume boards that are 6″ thick, which is the thickness of the Pioneer 2.0. The overall size delivers 326 liters of volume. ISLE rates the capacity at 285 pounds — which is about the weight of myself and a small black lab.

Paddling with dogs can be harder than paddling alone of course, but the Pioneer 2.0 handled the weight well and remained stable.

The ISLE Pioneer 2.0 is a solid, can’t-go-wrong all-around iSUP that delivers an excellent price-to-value ratio for more discerning paddlers looking for an affordable higher quality iSUP package.

My favorite Pioneer 2.0 feature is the long, wide and cushy EVA traction pad. This new design includes grooves for extra traction, but more importantly it’s soft on bare feet — and your knees, which is important for beginner paddlers and friends and family using your board for the first time.

For easy portability, ISLE includes nose and tail grab handles, as well as a center carry handle. You also get two velcro straps on the edge of the board to hold your paddle. You’ll like these paddle straps if you inflate your Pioneer in the parking lot with the included electric pump.

This photo shows the included iSUP paddle attached to the side of the ISLE Pioneer 2.0 Inflatable Paddle Board.
If you’re carrying your Pioneer 2.0 iSUP inflated from the parking lot, you can use the handy
attachment straps for your paddle.

The two elastic front and rear bungees give you options for your gear, as well as a spot to stow your life jacket if you decide not to wear it. (Technically, even if you’re just lounging on the board out in the lake, many waterways are governed by state boating laws that still require lifejackets on iSUPs — and sometimes safety whistles.)

 

Key Pioneer 2.0 Specifications

Length: 10’6″
Width: 34″
Thickness: 6″
Weight: 24 pounds
Volume: 326 liters

Handling

Most all-around iSUPs error toward stability, and the Pioneer 2.0 is very stable, as you would expect from the wide taper. Sweeping turns are particularly easy, which is great for beginners. At my weight of 220 pounds, maneuverability was good, but lighter Man Makes Fire gear testers ranked it even better.

ISLE has a three-fin setup, with two small permanently attached fins as well as one large removable dolphin-shaped fin. The system results in very good tracking. I could hit some power strokes and stay on course easily, even with a canine companion.

This photo shows the author testing the ISLE Pioneer 2.0 Inflatable Paddle Board while paddling on a lake with a dog.
The ISLE Pioneer 2.0 has enough volume to deliver great stability and handling even with a relatively heavy load.

Some of the solid handling is due to the board’s stiffness — we spent most of our time on the Pioneer 2.0 at 15 PSI, which is in the middle of the board’s inflation recommendation of 13-17 PSI.

At 13 PSI it had a bit more flex than I personally like as a taller, heavier guy, but it still performed well. At 15 PSI, the reduction in flex was noticeable and performance was very good for me.

Excellent Package Quality

The key reason to choose the ISLE Pioneer 2.0 over most beginner-focused iSUP packages is the overall price-to-value ratio. At an $800 price range, the Pioneer is competitive — but ISLE has offered the Pioneer 2.0 on sale for much of the summer — and when it’s on sale, the price-to-value ratio is very competitive. Pricing and availability can change, of course. The key takeaway here is that the list price is fair while most any sale price is excellent.

Check current ISLE Pioneer pricing here!

The build quality is noticeably better than cheaper iSUP boards and packages. For instance, the Pioneer 2.0 double-layer drop stitch construction is lightweight, durable, and has great overall fit and finish along its seams and D-rings.

The ISLE manual hand pump is durable and the pressure gauge works well. It’s a step up from what’s included in most entry-level packages. One benefit of the hand pump that we’ve come to appreciate is the foldable bottom supports. They make the hand pump more packable inside the backpack.

This photo shows the tail of the ISLE Pioneer 2.0 Inflatable Paddle Board.
All the seams are precise, which is one indicator of superior quality.

As for the backpack, the fabric build quality and stitching is much better than what you get in cheaper paddleboard packages. We expect the pack to last for years, along with your board.

Like the pump and pack, the included ISLE paddle uses a carbon hybrid construction and is relatively light and stiff. Most cheaper included beginner paddles flex and have loose joints. I’m pretty sure most Pioneer 2.0 customers will be satisfied with the included paddle for quite some time.

 

60-Day Guarantee Trial Period

This photo shows the author and a dog sitting on the ISLE Pioneer 2.0 Inflatable Paddle Board in lake.
If you’re going to paddle with dog, eventually you’re going to get wet!

ISLE covers its paddle boards with a two-year warranty against defects in workmanship or materials, but the 60-day guarantee trial period is the most important benefit. Basically, if you get the board and you’re not happy with it, you can return it for any reason within the 60-day period. However, there are some details you’ll want to pay attention to. The downside is the 20% restocking fee per item and time limit — and you can only return one board per customer within a 180-day period. Obviously ISLE is trying to deliver customer peace-of-mind in their investments while not leaving the door wide open to bad people trying to take advantage of a company.

Drawbacks

This photo shows a close up of the fin attachment system.
Our only quibble is the removable fin attachment system, which has a nut that makes us afraid we’ll drop it!

The only real drawback to the ISLE Pioneer 2.0 Inflatable Paddle Board Package comes down to a minor quibble: We’re not fans of the main removable fin attachment system. It requires a nut to hold it in place, and it’s notoriously easy to drop this nut while you’re assembling the fin. If you drop it on the edge of shore and a wave crashes over it, you might lose it. We’ve been careful and we haven’t lost one yet, but we recognize the risk. In case you’re wondering, after testing two different ISLE iSUPs that use this system, we haven’t yet had one loosen during full days of use. The system works, but you’ll want to pay attention to it.

Competitive Alternatives & Options

There are lots of great iSUPs available these days — but there are just as many cheap and poorly made knockoffs, too. If you’re looking for a good all-around paddle board that’s beginner friendly, these competitive alternative options might also meet your needs:

ISLE Explorer 2.0 — At 11’6″ long, the ISLE Explorer 2.0 is one foot longer than the Pioneer 2.0. It is also 2″ narrower. It weighs about the same and has a very similar overall design. The key difference is that the longer, narrower shape with a more tapered nose makes it better for touring or just paddling farther and longer for fitness or exploration. The only drawback is that it will feel slightly less stable for beginners during the learning process. Choose the Explorer 2.0 if you see yourself exploring miles of shorelines.

Bass Pro Shops Ascend iSUP Package — The Bass Pro Shops Ascend iSUP Package is a low-cost entry-level package aimed at beginners. It doesn’t have the same level of overall quality compared to the Pioneer 2.0, but it still offers a good price-to-value ratio for beginners on a tight budget. The biggest drawback in performance compared to the Pioneer 2.0 is that it is narrower and only 5″ thick, which means it’s not as good for heavier paddlers or multi-person/canine play.

iRocker Nautical 10’6″ iSUP Package — The iRocker Nautical 10’6″ iSUP has a similar size and shape compared to the ISLE Pioneer 2.0 — but it is 32″ wide and has a lower overall volume compared to the Pioneer 2.0, making it more suitable for smaller, solo paddlers. The iRocker Nautical 10’6″ competes very well in budget pricing and performance compared to the Bass Pro Shops Ascend iSUP.

NRS Thrive Stand-Up Paddleboard — The NRS Thrive iSUP series comes in four size options with a versatile all-around shape. The biggest benefit of the high-end Thrive series is the long-lasting, rugged 3-layer construction. It’s stiffer than most midrange iSUPs and is rated for up to 20 PSI. Aside from the excellent rugged quality, the biggest differentiating feature is the built-in pressure relief valve — if you pull the Thrive up onto a hot beach in direct sun and forget about it while eating lunch, the pressure relief valve can save you from blown seams or stitches.

The Bottom Line

The ISLE Pioneer 2.0 is an all-around iSUP that delivers an excellent price-to-value ratio for paddlers looking for a quality iSUP package at a midrange price point. We like the Pioneer 2.0’s can’t-go-wrong taper, length, and volume because it delivers a forgiving ride for beginners yet remains fun for more experienced paddlers. Very highly recommended.

Get the Gear:

ISLE Pioneer 2.0
Benefits
Wide, high-volume design delivers excellent stability for beginners
All-around taper is versatile
High overall package quality with a great price-to-value ratio
Drawbacks
The small nut on the attachment system for the large removable fin is easy to drop and possibly lose.
4.8

 

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