Vilano’s Navigator inflatable paddle board seems to hit all of the most current iSUP checkboxes. Just because it’s following suit, however, doesn’t mean this board is of diminished quality, or lacks anything to offer beyond a paint-by-numbers experience. This board stands out precisely because it balances all of its features so well. Rigidity is usually one of the main concerns when it comes to iSUPs, and the Navigator (mostly) passes the test with its Korean Drop-Stitched PVC.
In contrast with many other leading inflatables, the Vilano Navigator is on the compact side. At 10′ long, 31” wide, and 6” thick, the Navigator seems more geared towards youth and beginners. The board only supports up to 250 pounds, which, if you’re big and burly, isn’t going to suit your needs at all. The upside, of course, is that smaller individuals and those who feel uncomfortable with bigger boards have something to cut their teeth on.
The Navigator package comes with many of the onboard and offboard accessories you would expect from inflatable board bundle, and a few more. It’s got a hand pump, paddle, fin, traction deck, carry bag, repair kit, D-ring system, and front-deck bungee. Unfortunately, a few of the accessories, the paddle especially, aren’t at the level of quality you may be hoping for. They’re at least good enough for a complete newbie to use once or twice to get a feel for the water before upgrading.
The Navigator does come in multiple color schemes, including an industrial gray/orange, white/blue, and a cool blue/gray. The board is highly portable, being able to deflate to 12” x 36” once deflated. The included carrying bag accommodates the rolled up board with ease.
- Well rounded board – The Navigator makes a solid effort at trying to cover all of the bases. You will get decent to above average speed, strength, and handling. An excellent attribute for those still learning the basics.
- Groove traction grip deck – Vilano designed this board’s deck with a “diamond groove” pattern and used a strong slip-resistant material. As long as you’re within the board’s rider specifications, it’d be difficult to fall accidentally.
- D-rings and bungee system – If you want to stow away some gear, add a leash, or install a kayak seat, you can do it on this board. Helpful for those that want to adjust their board for different paddling experiences.
- Compact and portable – This board is on the smaller side, both when inflated and deflated. While this precludes larger riders from using the Navigator comfortably, it’s great for smaller paddlers and makes the board easy to transport.
- 1 year warranty – Covers workmanship and material defects.
- Grip deck is no joke – Some manufacturer’s promote features as more of a marketing gimmick. The grip deck on the Navigator is not one of those features. It does an excellent job of keeping rider’s onboard and upright, even in “surfier” conditions.
- Bungee system provides good storage – You’re able to load a decent amount of gear onto this board, as opposed to just leaving all of your things on shore as you paddle.
- Ultra portable – Even more so than a lot of other boards. If you’re a smaller rider, this is going to be a boon for you. No more conscripting a friend just to haul your board around!
- Not sturdy for larger riders – This board isn’t going work will if you’re big. Even when pumped to its optimal range of 12-15psi, the board is wobbly when taller or heavier riders try to give it a go.
- That heavy paddle – It’s no good. Another aluminum paddle so heavy a beginner rider will have to expend too much energy on simply paddling to actually improve any of their other skills. It’s so heavy it sinks in the water. A lightweight paddle would have served this compact board much better.
- Weird fin design – Doesn’t fit into place like the fins on similar boards. Woe to the rider that eventually has to get the thing fixed.
This iSUP iIS Best Suited For
- Smaller riders – The compressed nature of this board lends itself well to smaller sized riders who’d rather not fool around with a big board. The 250 lb weight capacity is enough for most folks under 6′ tall.
- Beginners – This board is slightly on the narrow side, but all around balances it’s attributes in a way that is well suited for beginners. If you’re just starting out with the sport, you’ll likely take to this board well.
- Anyone looking for a value backup board – This board is less expensive than a lot of other models on the market, which makes it a good value inflatable stand up paddle board for the money. And, that makes it a good secondary option for more skilled riders.
This iSUP Is Not So Great For
- Big riders – if you’re tall/heavy, you’re going to feel that this board is wobbly. Larger riders would be better served by a larger board.
The Vilano Navigator is a balanced all-around board with broad performance abilities. It’s not the best at anything, nor is it the worst. It’s excellent value for individuals making their first attempts at paddle boarding, or riders that have been at it for a while and want a backup option at a good price (provided they factor in the cost of a new paddle). Hardcore riders, on the other hand, may want to look elsewhere.