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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    West Palm Beach, Florida
    Posts
    686

    Default Sea Eagle Inflatable SUP Review

    My principal kayak is a Hobie i11s inflatable hybrid kayak/SUP, but while you can stand on it, it is not ideal for use as a paddleboard because the brackets for the seat are located near where your feet need to be, and the rudder and steering assembly get in the way, too. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to set up and break down, and is great when I have the time to spend a half-day on the water, but I wanted something a little more convenient for short trips on the water. I was looking at the Native Watercraft Versaboard and a variety of other hard SUP products, and the final choice came down to the durability of a rigid SUP versus the portability of an inflatable. I am still wrestling with the fear in the back of my mind about puncturing the inflatable, but the more I use the Hobie, the more I am becoming convinced that the top-quality inflatables (i.e., "military grade" PVC) are as durable as the hard craft.

    After a lot of research, I settled on a Sea Eagle NN116C (11'-6" Needle-nose Classic), as Sea Eagle offers a 3-year warranty (longer than any others) and a 180-day trial period after which you can return the product for a full refund (pay only for return shipping). On top of that, when one is returned, they sell it as "used" at a discount of $100 to $200. I ended up getting a used one for $200 less than new, and when it came out of the box, if told it was new, I would have believed it. The used ones come with the same 3-year warranty and 180-trial, so there is really no risk.

    I chose the Needle-nose in part because it is the only inflatable with a hard plastic nose, which makes it faster on the water than the typical inflatable and more durable. It weighs only 23 lbs and folds into a bag that has shoulder straps and can be carried as a backpack. In contrast, my Hobie also folds into a bag, but weighs more than 50 lbs with the seat and pedal drive, and the bag needs wheels instead of shoulder straps. It is fine on pavement, but transport over sand or grass is an ordeal.

    I have been out twice on the Sea Eagle, and the second time I bumped a dock piling that was encrusted with oyster shells and barnacles. The shells broke but there was only a tiny scratch on the SUP nose, so I was very impressed. I'm not sure if another PVC craft would have been damaged, but I am now really glad that I chose the NN. The other issue is rigidity; I have been told by others that some of the inflatables are "floppy" compared with a rigid SUP. The drop-stitch design of the better quality SUPs allows pressure of up to 15 psi, which makes them virtually as rigid as the hard ones. I cannot get this one up to maximum pressure, as even at 165 lbs, I am not heavy enough to push the manual pump handle down past about 12 or 13 psi. At 12-13 psi the Sea Eagle is so rigid that you would swear you are standing on an epoxy board with a high-density foam top rather than an inflatable. And the foam padding on the top is so dense that it actually drew blood when I fell off and scraped my knee in the edge. A fish hook would almost certainly bounce off rather than do any damage (unless really yanked hard).

    I am sure that an inflatable is not as durable as a polyethylene kayak or an epoxy SUP in some ways, but I think it is more durable in other ways, as it will bounce off rocks and docks instead of the plastic or epoxy finish getting dings or puncturing. I've seen videos of drop-stitch inflatables being hit with a sledge hammers or claw hammer, being driven over by a pickup truck, and one dragged on pavement with three people sitting on it. After banging this one into the dock, I am rapidly getting over my fear of puncturing.

    I have no issue with storage space, but I now have two inflatables taking up less than 10 square feet in my garage. For anyone with limited storage, an inflatable is a great option, but just be sure to get one that is high-grade PVC. There is no real cost savings over a hard kayak or board, as a good PVC one will as much as a good hard shell, but you get what you pay for.

    Also, I travel along the south Florida coast for business and can hit the Indian River or Key Biscayne on any given day, but weather does not always permit. Being able to keep an inflatable in the trunk for any time that I have the chance to go out, rather than having to load a hard kayak or SUP onto the cartop is a big advantage.

    I would definitely recommend the Sea Eagle to anyone thinking about an inflatable SUP. Also, the Hobie inflatables are an excellent choice if your budget allows and you have the trunk space for the larger bag. I've fished from the Hobie and it works as well as from a kayak. I have not tried fishing from the SUP yet, as I am still working on not falling off.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Sea Eagle Inflatable SUP Review

    Great review, I've been interested in a Sea Eagle inflatable for a while now due to the versatility, although not exactly that model. Being able to pack it away and take it virtually anywhere really sells it
    The addiction all began on the Cimmaron River in New Mexico...

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    West Palm Beach, Florida
    Posts
    686

    Default Re: Sea Eagle Inflatable SUP Review

    Quote Originally Posted by luj333 View Post
    Great review, I've been interested in a Sea Eagle inflatable for a while now due to the versatility, although not exactly that model. Being able to pack it away and take it virtually anywhere really sells it
    Which one were you interested in? I have an older Sea Eagle kayak, too, and did a lot of research on several Sea Eagle models, as well as other brands.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    West Palm Beach, Florida
    Posts
    686

    Default Re: Sea Eagle Inflatable SUP Review

    Update: So, I've had the SUP for five months now, and while I have been out on it several times and fished from it, I am finding that it is not as versatile for fishing as I would like. As an SUP, it is great and the workout is fun, but I find that I tend to paddle from a seated or kneeling position more than standing, because the constant boat wake in many areas where I paddle/fish makes it too unsteady for standing. I am still within my 180-day trial period, and Sea Eagle confirms that I may return it for a full refund. So I have packed it up and will take it to the shipping store, and I have ordered instead the 385fta.

    https://www.seaeagle.com/FishingKayaks/385fta

    It has a drop-stitch floor, so it will be as rigid as the SUP, but with side chambers, it should be more stable, allowing fishing from either standing or sitting. It also has reinforced layers to protect from hooks, so I will feel more secure fishing from it, and it has built-in rod and gear holders. Sea Eagle tells me that it has already shipped, so it should be here next week.

    I will post a review when I have had a chance to try it out.

  6. Default Re: Sea Eagle Inflatable SUP Review

    mjkirshner

    I live in Playa Del Carmen, MX and I'm now investigating SUP's for fishing. In your experience with the Sea Eagle SUP, do you think it would fair well for SUP fishing just beyond the surf line where the wter is much flatter. We are fortunate enough to have a great reef here, which in some places is only a couple of hundred yards off the beach and I've always thought that the area between the reef and the surf line would be a great place for a SUP with a flyrod or a spincaster.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    British Columbia
    Posts
    332

    Default Re: Sea Eagle Inflatable SUP Review

    Just bought a 385ft Solo Deluxe. Looking forward to using it for a lot more than just fishing.

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