Fun. That’s what riding things on water is about, right? I like it fun. You like it fun. And that’s what the iSK8 inflatable is for: fun.
So a word to the cynical: if you’re into performance surfboards only, click the back button now. That’s not what this is about. And that’s not to say good surfers couldn’t rip with this thing, either (of which, I’m not one).
But generally, the iSk8 is for crusing on river waves–steep, or slow. Hard, rail-to-rail carves? Hard to imagine that any inflatable would be made for that. But of all the inflatable surfboards that have come along over the years (and there’s been quite a few), the iSk8 has to be up there as far as control.
Quick deets on the setup: I rode the iSk8 on a river wave that I had to paddle into. Coming in at 5’9″ x 26″ x2.75″, it’s also made in a composite model but I actually like the inflatable for its novelty.
The board is made by a brand called Badfish, and its designer Zack Hughes, is a San Diego transplant to Salida, Colorado. He and partner Mike Harvey–a whitewater park engineer by trade–started Badfish several years ago. They launched the brand by creating super functional river SUPs–which are pretty cool in their own right–and have now extended their lineup into river surfing.
The iSk8 comes with a traction pad, a pump, and a thruster setup with a set of factory FCS-style fins, which includes an extra trail fin (call it a Knubster?). Running the rear fin like that is kind of trend in river circles these days, giving the tail a looser feel without sacrificing too much drive. The iSk8 folds down to a really tight little package that can be kept in a trunk, a suitcase, board bag or anywhere gear is stowed away, really.
Inflatables, if you’ve ever used one, have a tendency to be kinda floppy. Meaning they lack–like, really lack–the stiffness of composite material. But no bullshit here, the iSk8 has very little flex (for an inflatable). You can actually pump this thing to stay in the pocket without feeling it flop around (they recommend inflating to 17PSI). Badfish also reinforced the rails with a proprietary system they’re calling Parabolic Reinforced Rails or PBR (the acronym couldn’t have been an accident).
Kept in its lane the iSk8 seems like a rad little tool, perfect for carting around on trips to the mountains where there are big rivers or whitewater parks (like Bend, Oregon), on raft trips, or maybe even kept in the suitcase if you want to get out for a mushy session in the ocean to annoy longboarders at the beginner break (when it’s bigger). The iSK8 isn’t for everyone. Unless of course you want to have fun surfing in places you wouldn’t expect to.