(The Gear Loop) - The origins of Aquaglide lie in the Pacific Northwest, an area synonymous with adventure and the great outdoors. So making kit that performs well and is fit for purpose should be in the company's DNA. Nowadays, it manufactures inflatable aqua parks alongside its impressive line of inflatable kayaks paddle boards.
We've spent the last few weeks cruising around on its 11ft iSUP model: the Cascade. It's also available in a shorter 10ft version for smaller and/or lighter paddlers.
Upon testing, we bumbled up the Thames and in Scottish lochs and cruised around most places in between, and we were suitably impressed, although our praise didn't come without a few minor gripes. We wouldn't be doing our job properly if we didn't find a few negatives, would we?
It’s a competitive market out there, filled with iSUPs all angling for your hard-earned cash. Some brands are simply slapping logos on cheap boards from China without any R&D at all... and it shows. At the other end of the spectrum, premium brands are innovating at a furious pace and producing feature-rich products, but are happy to pass on that premium to the customer.
The Aquaglide Cascade fits somewhere in the mid-point of this spectrum. The company has clearly done its due diligence and as a result, has produced a solid, stable and easy to live with product. The pump is the only real let down here, but many owners are turning to electric pumps now anyway, so it might never leave the bag.
Aquaglide Cascade 11 foot inflatable paddle board package
- Lightweight construction
- Stiffness promotes confidence
- Highly Manoeuvrable
- Pump ergonomics need work
- Fiddly fin box
- Deck pad thin and not very grippy
In the Loop
Everything you need to know about the Aquaglide Cascade 11 foot inflatable paddle board package in short:
- Dimensions: 11' (335 cm) L x 32" (81 cm) W x 6" (15 cm) H
- Weight: 9.4kg
- 220l volume
- Package includes pump, bag and leash
- Unique snub nosed design
- Micro texture deck pad
- 136kg max weight
The first thing you'll notice when hauling the Cascade out of the box is its weight. This board is light, noticeably less weighty than the Aquamarina Magma we tested a few months ago. This is most likely down to its two-layer laminate construction, meaning less material is required to create a stiffer board.
As with the majority of inflatable paddle boards these days, the Cascade comes with everything you need to get out on the water, including a paddle, pump, leash, fin, and storage bag.
We were particularly impressed with the bag - thick, padded straps made carrying the set-up to the water a cinch and when the board gets thrown into the back of the car, the straps stow away so not to catch and snag on everything else in the boot.
Large mesh panels around the bottom of the carry satchel allow water to drain away and not fester in the bag until the next time you go for a paddle. The build quality felt excellent too, double-stitched handles and beefy zips ensured it felt like it would stand the test of time. We'll update if initial impressions prove to be wrong.
The leash is of similarly high quality, offering a comfortable padded cuff and the coiled section felt sturdy and unlikely to stretch over time.
However, the paddle had us stumped for a while, as it didn't boast the traditional locking mechanism. Instead it uses a clever integrated clamp in the handle, which is very neat. The shaft is 50 per cent carbon fibre and 50 per cent fibre reinforced polymer, so it's pretty stiff and more than adequate for the casual paddler.
Pump woes and storage
The pump was the only accessory that disappointed us. It inflated the board no problem, but we found the handle and foot plates too small to offer a reassuring surface when going for it.
It's not all doom and gloom however, the pump is dual action and offers a decent deflation setting, which avoided the thunderous whooshing when letting the board down at the end of a paddle session.
On the front of the board you'll find a bungee system, which kept a drybag and shoes out of the drink. Aquaglide has also incorporates a multi-use accessory mount, which can be used to mount a cupholder, action camera or fishing rod holder.
We really liked this addition, as we are fans of mounting and action camera to the board and invariably we have to provide our own, which involves sticking and removing cumbersome 3M strips.
Performance on the water
Pumped up to 16psi, the Cascade is a surprisingly stiff board given its weight. Considering that it doesn't use any extra strengthening bars like some Red Paddle Co. models do, it's perfectly rigid enough to cater for heavier riders.
The "micro texture EVA top deck" felt a little thin underfoot than we'd ideally like, and our feet got a little sore after extended periods of standing in the same position. Because of this, it's also not as grippy as some rivals either. Not so good if you like to pull off step-back turns or ride in chop.
The shape of the board's outline is something that should be noted, as most general purpose iSUPs all share a similar template: a slender rear widening to the middle and then tapering off into a pointed nose. Aquaglide shares a similar rear and middle but has opted for a snub-nosed design, which we found has it's pros and cons.
A downside is that it doesn't cut through the water quite as cleanly as the traditionally shaped board. Waves tended to lap over the nose a little more. But on flatter water, it tracked nicely thanks to a slight rocker the bends that nose upwards.
The benefit is that the wider nose gives it a sensation of riding a longer board, which is more stable and glides better over calm waters.
The result is that the Cascade rode very nicely, especially for newbies or those not supremely confident on a board. It tracked straight and required little thought to keep it heading on course, which is partly down to a larger fin. Although we had a minor grip with the fin box, which required a small crosshead screwdriver to install. A small thumbscrew would be much simpler.
We didn't pump the board up to maximum pressure because, to be honest, we got tired and sweaty. But at 20psi, the Cascade would be rock solid. This paddler is likely on the taller end of the spectrum, but we'd have no hesitation recommending this to even larger riders. Aquaglide says that the Cascade can take paddlers up to 135kg, and we don't have any doubts about that.
The Cascade 11 foot inflatable SUP package is a really solid board for those looking for something to tackle their first foray onto the water or fancy an upgrade from a budget model. We were really impressed with the stiffness, coupled with the low weight, it made paddling the board a joy. Coupled with the snub nosed design, this is a perfect option for flat water, but we’d choose a more traditionally shaped model if you’re heading out onto the sea or larger bodies of water.