Waterwalker 11’ 2019
Until last year, Thurso had been putting all their eggs in their all-around model basket, which is understandable considering they were still young. But they realized the need and came out with the Expedition touring board[i] which measures at 11’6” X 30” X 6” and weighs in at 20 pounds — not bad considering its size. With this solid model, that built a board that will get you where you need to be, regardless of where it is or how long it will take to get you there.
If you compare between the two models, you can certainly see that the Expedition has a makeover. But the differences are more than skin-deep Being such a young company, they do a great job at listening to what customers are saying and are quick to make adjustments accordingly. This is why you’ll see more drastic changes between the 2019 and 2018 models than you would expect from other manufacturers — and it paid off!
THURSO SURF Expedition Touring 11’6
Weighing at a solid 22 pounds, the limited edition Atoll 11’ inflatable paddle board is one of the lightest products that Atoll Boards Co. has introduced (although it is three pounds heavier than the standard Atoll Co. 11’). The inflatable has a similar size to conventional mid-range boards as it measures at 11’x 32” x 6”.
The light weight accompanied by its 32” width makes the Atoll Limited Edition 11’ iSUP an ideal board for paddlers of all skill levels, since this length is quite comfortable for anyone to sit on. You can bring along your kids or even your dog for an adventure. It does not matter if you are a professional SUP enthusiast or someone just looking to get into the sport, the Desert Sand 11’ iSUP is capable of catering all your needs.
With a perfectly streamlined body, the paddle board’s compact shape allows it to cut through wind quite easily. Its light weight also helps in smooth paddling and tracking on the water.
11’ of length on the paddle board is enough for you to load up lots of gear without having trouble turning. This length is a safe bet if you are just starting out on paddle boarding. These dimensions of the limited edition Atoll Desert Sand 11’ iSUP add to its versatility, which means the inflatable can be used for a number of paddling activities including water excursions, SUP fitness, fishing and touring.
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Having just come on the market in 2016, Thurso has made a splash (some pun intended) on the market and continues to offer some of the best boards in their category. What set them apart from the beginning is their quality construction, value and beautiful design that will get you noticed on the beach. Their current SUP lineup[i] is made up of 6 board starting at 7’6” and maxing out at 11’6”.
THURSO SURF Expedition Touring 11’6 Reviews
In our review, we’ll go over the 2019 model of the THURSO SURF Waterwalker 11’ by not only over going over the design, construction, features, accessories and performance, we’ll also be sure to highlight the major differences between this and previous models for those who might be thinking about upgrading.
Not to sound superficial but let’s get straight into the design on the board itself. Last year’s model was looked pretty fun with the faux wood design on the deck and their 90’s Star Trek font logo while the bottom was just a plain white. This year, the board still has a woodgrain inspired top, the colors are much more subtle, giving it a more serious look to the comfy ribbed EVA foam traction pad while they added a couple of racing stripes to the bottom.
They added a newly designed mid-board carrying handle which is important when you’re carrying a board of this size. The 2018 model had a suitable Velcro handle, but we’ll get into more of what was improved on this year’s.
Along both sides of the traction pad are four stainless-steel D-rings on the rails for securing gear or optional accessories, such as THURSO’s own kayak seat. On the rail, they have a well-situated paddle holder keep your paddle secured while you’re taking a break or going for a dip without having to worry about going from paddleboarding to just boarding.
On the nose you’ll find six more D-rings and a generous bungee cord area for storage. Remember that this is a touring board, so it’s smart to have both the room and the bungees that the Expedition gives so you can carry your gear and accessories for what could be a multiple-day trip. Speaking of the nose, they also redesigned the grab handle in the front so that you always have a secure grip when you’re moving it in and out of the water.
As if you didn’t have enough storage in the nose, the 2019 Expedition sports a second bungee storage area on the tail with four additional D-rings. So, feel free to use this for any additional gear or even a SUP cooler[i]. Not only does this work well if you’re not the kind to pack light, but it also gives you the option to move any gear that you might have normally stored at the nose if you have a dog or small child riding up front.
Additionally, you’ll find a sturdy Halkey-Roberts style air valve and a strategically located D-ring to attach the included SUP leash or other tether on the tail.
The THURSO Expedition has a tri-fin setup on its underside for tracking, which is standard on most boards. However, all three are high quality and removable, making storage and transportation a breeze. This gives it a smaller size when rolled up and gives you the option of stacking boards if you don’t feel like inflating all of your boards just before getting in the water.
Once you’re ready to attach the fins, you’ll find that they lock into place with very little effort. It’s just a matter of dropping the fin in the front of the channel, move it back into place then push down until you hear a click.
Design and Build
While we doubt these will ever be used in a military operation, THURSO still goes though the trouble to make sure that all of their SUPs are make with tough-as-nails, military-grade materials. It’s manufactured by a process that has its inner drop stitch core covered by a durable PVC layer, then a composite layer to a second PVC layer in place. The rails also have double PVC layers to not only make it tough but to keep the board rigid.
Remember that this is a touring board and the longer your board is continuously in use, the tougher the outside needs to be since you’ll be dragging in on and off beaches and passing rocky areas. Plus, remember that you may have at least one person and possibly a furry friend sitting on the deck for hours or even days. The Expedition goes the extra mile since the last thing you need is to get a leak or cut when you’re in the middle of nowhere.
New this year, THURSO added to extra reinforcement seams on the side of the board covering the area were the rail and top deck join. While it may seem insignificant, it really adds a lot to the overall quality of the board.
The Board in Action
Although THURSO designed the Expedition to be able to stay out on the water for a while, it still ended up being faster than some of their other models, such as the Waterwalker 10’6”[i] and Waterwalker 11’[ii].
With its 30” width, the Expedition stands out as being exceptionally stable considering its performance. However, if stability is one of your biggest concerns and this isn’t enough for you, consider checking out the THURSO Max[iii].
If you’re looking for an iSUP that is tough enough to get you wherever you want to go or just want a really comfortable board that’s still fast, the 2019 THURSO Expedition 11’6” board may just do the trick.
THURSO really upped their game this year on their backpack. It’s solidly built and feels like something you can really take on the road with you.
The front area on the outside gives you a generous storage area for non-included items you want to take with you, like maps, electronics or anything else you might need to have organized and at-hand for your trip.
You’ll find grab handles on four sides of the backpack, making it super easy to put in and out of storage or even your car.
The bottom grab handle is the toughest and most durable which makes sense as it will be taking quite a few hits over time from where it’s located. Also, the whole bottom is reinforced with a heavy-duty resin to make sure this backpack will last for years without any notable damage.
Perhaps one of the most important features are the wheels. Not only are wheel not standard on many iSUP backpacks, but these wheels are also oversized and deeply grooved for maximum traction. These bad boys will make rolling the bag a breeze, whether on a sandy beach or an airport terminal.
The backside of the pack has two fully adjustable straps that sit very comfortably on the shoulders and chest, along with an adjustable sternum strap and waist belt. In concert, they make sure that you’ll be able to carry the bag and all the weight around for an extended period if needed. In addition, here you’ll also find webbed loops and D-rings for anything you may want to connect.
The area where your back would be touching is well-padded and ventilated, making sure you don’t turn into a sweaty mess on warm days.
Carbon Shaft Paddle
THURSO spared no effort to make sure that the Expedition came with more than the standard aluminum or fiberglass paddle that you might expect from many iSUPs. Not only is the 2019 paddle and improvement from the 2018, but it’s also probably one of the best paddles out there from any brand.
The carbon fiber part component of the paddle is only in the shaft itself. The blade is made out of a rigid nylon with the THURSO branding on it. While still maintaining an important amount of flexibility, it’s obvious that it can still take a beating over time. In addition to being made out of tougher material, the blade also appears to be attached better than the 2018 model as well.
Another important feature of the 2019 paddle is the ability to detach the handle and attach another blade if you feel like using the optional kayak seat add-on that you can also get from THURSO.
The last improvement is with the matte finish. While it probably doesn’t actually have any real utility, it does make it look like a higher-end product than the previous glossy paddle. While we probably shouldn’t care about something so minor, thought and effort went into the change, so it’s worth bringing up.
The included paddle with the Expedition is great on its own. However, if you’re going to be using the paddle for a while and feel that a slight drop in weight could make a difference or you need an even tougher blade, than this might be worth the extra expense.
Dual Action SUP Pump
Although THURSO’s pump isn’t the biggest on the market, it still holds its own due to its quality. This pump is dual action with a built-in gauge, allowing you to pump faster as you inflate the board with both the up and down strokes while in the first mode.
As you start to get closer to the recommended PSI and it gets more difficult to pump in air, you can switch to the second mode where it only moves air on the downstroke.
The Expedition comes with a standard but quality 10’ THURSO-branded leash[i]
to make sure your board doesn’t get away from you.
At first, THURSO used to include a straight cord, but customers made it clear
that the coiled leash was the way to go — and they listened. One neat feature is a pocket to hold your keys.
Even with high-end materials, accidents can happen. This kit includes a valve wrench, a brush for adhesive two PVC repair patches and three replacement levels for the fins. Like with most other brands for some reason, note that the adhesive itself is not included and needs to be purchased separately.
Hands down one of the most popular accessories is a kayak seat. THURSO’s new model keeps a low profile but still provides extensive back support for long trips. It’s quickly and easily attached using the metal hooks that connect to four D-rings on the rails. This seat goes hand-in-hand with the paddle being able to have two blades.
Insulated Thurso SUP Cold Case
In previous models, an insulated SUP deck bag came standard with the purchase of the board but this year, THURSO decided to make an additional option that can be purchased separately
Although it would’ve been nice to have continued to include it standard, it’s still worth considering as a purchase since it’s a nice bag and fits perfectly on the deck.
The bag itself is water-resistant (as you might expect) and comes with two Velcro mesh pockets for smaller items on the outside. The biggest sell for this bag is that on the bottom are four attachment points and S-clamp mounting to make sure you can secure it to the board. You’ll never have to worry about losing your precious refreshments ever again!
Inside, the bag is fully insulated, which comes in handy when on the board in the sun all day. A mesh divider inside can be used to separate items or to hold ice packs.
Overall, this bag might be worth the investment since this board was designed to be used for long periods of time. This probably won’t have the capacity for a multi-day trip, it should be more than enough for the day or even overnight.
Thurso Electric Paddle Board Pump
New this year to the THURSO lineup is their new electric pump for those whose who really don’t want to have to do the job manually. It’s a cute design and is probably the smallest in its class. This makes it be a convenience without adding any noticeable weight.
If you want everyone to know you’re all about that THURSO life even when you’re not in the water, they’ve got you covered!
Even though THURSO is a young company, they quickly understood the value of taking care of their customers. That’s why they include a two-year warranty that covers any and all manufacturing defects. While we personally haven’t needed to use it, from what we hear, they are quick to address and issues in the customer’s favor.
Where to Purchase
You can pick up the 2021 THURSO SURF Expedition directly from the official company store. A benefit of this is not only getting the best price, but they throw in free shipping and no sales tax. If you are purchasing north of the boarder, there is a special online store for that.
Read More about: Best Inflatable Paddle Boards
If you’re in the market for a solid touring iSUP and want to get the greatest value for your dollar, there aren’t many options on the market that match the THURSO Expedition. Physically, it’s a beautiful board that functions well and is a blast to use on the water, whether it’s for a long day or a long weekend.
We’re impressed with the quality products that this young company has produced in just a few years and look forward to what’s to come in the future. In fact, THURSO SURF has been so responsive to customer comments, we’re pretty curious to see what changes they make to the 2020 model.
While there are a number of great accessories you can purchase to enhance your paddling experience, with the exception of a SUP life jacket, you’re good to go with what comes from the box.