2020 ISLE Pioneer
- Ample storage space on both the front and back
- High maneuverability
- One of the most stable boards in its class
- Premium paddle
- High drag slows down the board
- A little heavy
- Low weight capacity for its width
[ez-toc]In the paddleboard world, a 10’6 board is considered the standard size since it’s right in that Goldilocks zone — not too short, not too long. So, it makes perfect sense that the 2020 ISLE Pioneer is a board designed their truest all-around iSUP, would come in at that very standard length.
But in the process of upgrading and improving their lineup, ISLE decided to switch things up on us. Just as 10’6 is considered the standard length, 32” is considered the standard width. Previous Pioneer models came in at a slim 31” inches while this year’s model comes in at a hefty 34”. It looks like we’re not the only ones that added a few inches during the first half of 2020!
Given the drastic change to the shape and dimensions of the board, how does it work out in the real world?
|10'6"||34"||6"||300 lbs||24 lbs|
ISLE Pioneer SUP Review
The ironic thing is that our review in this category will be almost the exact opposite as our review for the 2019 model. By making the board so wide (especially when compared to its length), you end up getting a board that is by no means fast since there is so much drag. However, it ends up being exceptionally stable and can turn on a dime.
ISLE was sure to do what they could to minimize drag, however. For instance, they used a 3-fin setup to give the board as much of a chance as possible to keep up with other boards. That said, if you are a newer paddler or just need extra stability, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how easy this iSUP is to handle.
Like most other ISLE boards, the Pioneer has a removable center fin with a universal, US fin-box. As much as we would love to see the side fins have the ability to be removable as well, that’s only a feature available on a select few other brands on the market.
This year, ISLE upped their game by giving us a total of three neoprene handles, one on the center of the board and one in the front and rear. The center handle is for easy transport out of the water while the front and rear handles are for moving the SUP in the water. The new rear handle is a welcome addition to this year’s model since it gives you more options in moving the board on land without causing damage to the back fins.
The deck of the ISLE Pioneer has their standard tracking pad made of a brushed EVA foam that does its job while being comfortable enough to let her kneel or stand for hours on end.
As the expression suggests, being “up the river without a paddle” isn’t a positive experience. ISLE has always been on our shortlist of companies that include a paddle holder on the side of the deck, letting you hop off the board for a swim or do SUP fitness without worrying about your paddle floating away.
The change of design this year is a big deal, as we’ve already mentioned. However, the rest of the board seems to have stayed relatively unscathed by the designers at ISLE HQ. As such, the low rocker makes it ideal for calmer waters but the rounded nose means that it can take some changes in conditions. Still, we wouldn’t take it surfing or on fast-moving rivers.
As far as the color scheme, you now have the option of 1 of 3 colors, one of the only ISLE boards to offer that.
There are 14 D-rings attachments, as well, though the back ring is meant to be used for the included ankle leash or to attach to a dock. The trend in a lot of 2020 of models of all brands that we’ve reviewed seems to be adding more attachment points, which is fine with us! An ingenious feature of the Scout is that it hides the D-rings so as to still have a smooth profile. You can find them in the bungee areas, and the front and back grab handles each have a D-ring on either side of them.
Something that surprised us this was how ISLE was able to keep the board at the same 21 pounds despite it being noticeably larger than the previous model. ISLE was able to do that using a process they call AirTech Fusion Lite. They only use 2 layers of military-grade PVC compared to the 3 or 4 of similar boards.
That would normally be a red flag of the cutting corners, but what they did was use extra dense material, so even though it’s only dual-layer, you could hit that sucker with a hammer and you wouldn’t have a problem.
- ISLE Manual Dual-Action iSUP Hand Pump — not the most impressive pump on the market but pretty standard. We would love to have seen an upgrade with this for 2020.
- ISLE iSUP Travel Bag — padded straps and back which gives you maximum comfort if you find yourself traveling with it for a while
- ISLE 3-Piece Hybrid Adjustable SUP Travel Paddle — with a carbon fiber shaft and nylon blade, you’ll be getting a major upgrade over other brands on the market
- ISLE 8’ Coil Leash — attaches to the rear D-ring to make sure that even if you fall off the board, you won’t get abandoned
Like much of the 2020 lineup of ISLE’s iSUPs, the Pioneer has some pretty major changes. We’re not saying it’s a reason to complain, since we feel that it makes for a better board for some people. The only issue we have is that it changes the overall form and function of the board, as if it was a new design altogether.
With that in mind, we still think this is an excellent board for people who want to get the most out of the calmer waters. Also, if you’re a lighter and shorter paddler, this would also make one of the best SUP fitness or yoga boards in its class. Some taller and heavier riders may not be able to take advantage of all this board has to offer, so keep that in mind. Overall, the 2020 ISLE Pioneer has morphed into a very unique and exceptional board that would be a great decision for most riders.