Imagine Surfer: Stand Up Paddleboard Review

Posted: February 15, 2013 by in Jake VanderZee, SUP
Tags: , , , , ,

We were headed out on a family vacation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for the week and I wanted to bring a paddle board from the shop. My first go-to choice was the Bic ACE-Tec 11’6″, however Bree turned me down since our entire SUP rental fleet was booked for the week. Well, that left the Imagine Surfer or one of the many wood laminated JP Australia boards that everyone is hot for since they are lightweight and faster on the water. I, however, knew I would be having the family and others riding the board and opted for the plastic Imagine Surfer. At only 9’9″ in length, I was a little concerned that my heavy 260lb build would sink the board, but I gambled and threw it on the car.

After a 12 hour car ride that would normally take 6 if you don’t have a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old when traveling, needless to say I was all up for unpacking and a beer or two when I got to Drummond Island and the family cottage. If you are familiar with Drummond Island, you know that the shoreline is all very rocky, something I wasn’t expecting, and I knew right away that the plastic construction of the Imagine Surfer was the right call! Paddling was going to have to wait until the following day.

The next morning I was up and out of bed nice and early at about 11am- what did you expect I was going to say- I was on vacation, HAHA. I grabbed the Surfer off the top of the car, fumbled my grip and dropped it on the ground from about 5′ up, oops! After a quick inspection and no real damage to my surprise, I headed to the water. Can’t say the beach since it was covered with rocks the size of baseballs, a landscape that would eat up any epoxy board. No worries, the Imagine Surfer handled being set on the rocky shoreline like a champ. You see, the plastic construction is exactly the same as you find in all the plastic kayaks on the market.

This type of plastic construction lends itself to being an extremely durable board, but there is undoubtedly an increase in weight. The Imagine Surfer comes in at a whopping 45 lbs. Still manageable for most bigger guys to tote around by themselves, but I can tell you a 50 yard hike to the shore was about my limit. Moving the Surfer around really is easier with two people, one at each end. A hand hold in the center of the board would alleviate most of this issue. I opted to carry the board on my head and balance it with the handles that are located on the sides of the board. If you choose to move this board around in this fashion, I would suggest that you place a folded towel on your head- there is a drain port located right in the center of the board and it does dig into the top of your head, ouch.

After my hike down to the shoreline and giving the Imagine Surfer another quick inspection for damage after the 12hr car ride and me dropping it, there was nothing wrong with the board with the exception of a few scratches from the fall. Off into the water I went. Not too sure that the 9’9″ board was going to float my 260 lb rather fluffy body, however after a couple strokes I could tell this board was going to be my new friend.

The Imagine Surfer was not only able to float me and keep me rather dry, but it actually tracked in a straight line. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either- a $600 board was actually blowing my mind. You see, my expectations for the Imagine Surfer were pretty low. As in, why on Earth would we ever carry a 45 lb paddle board? That just seemed crazy to me, but after my hour-and-a-half paddle around the bay, I was sold. Yeah, it may take 2 people to move it around easily, but for a big guy like me the board really wasn’t that bad to move around as long as I set it on my head. While riding, I did notice on hard strokes that I was able to sink the nose of the board and it did slow it down a bit, however the board never became unstable and popped right back up to the surface of the water.

After a couple more sessions on the Imagine Surfer paddleboard, I have to admit that if my family was in the market to buy a couple boards, I would be buying a couple of these boards. Really, that is how impressed I was. You can take these boards out and beat the crap out of them and they take it like a man. What more do you need to make a perfect family board? Oh, and there is enough room on the deck to carry anything you may need while on the water. Even a little mini cooler filled with your favorite beverages.

The Imagine Surfer is a perfect all-around board for any family looking get into paddling on the cheap. Durable, able to float a boatload of weight, and fairly fast on the water. Yeah, you can expect to see me bopping around the Grand Haven area with one of these on my car in the summer. The Imagine Surfer will make a fun board for anyone wanting to get into padding rivers, flat water, and small waves on a budget. I am really glad we carry a board we can honestly recommend as solid sub-$600 option.

Writer/Rider: Jacob VanderZee
Nicknames: “Muscle Hamster”
Weight: 260lbs
Age: 35
Years riding: Started 2004
Level: Intermediate
Gear: Best Kiteboarding TS 17m, Cabrinha: Switchblades & Drifters, Imagine Surfer SUP

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