Updated September 20th, 2023
The Blackfin Ultra CX is a new more portable inflatable paddleboard from iRocker. The Ultra CX board is a normal 10’6″ board but it fits into a bag half the size of a normal paddle board bag. If you are short on space and want something that easily fits in a closet or doesn’t take up room on a trip, the Ultra boards are for you. Keep reading to get all the details on the new Blackfin Ultra CX.
- Video Review
- Features of the Blackfin Ultra CX paddle board
- SUP Accessories
- Setup and Inflation
- On water performance
- Heavy weight paddlers
- Kayak conversion
- Deflation and packing
- Similar SUP Boards
- The Verdict
- You might also like:
☆ Best Compact Inflatable Paddleboard
- Size – 10′ 6″ x 32.5″ x 6″
- Weight Capacity – 320 lbs
- Board Weight – 19.8 lbs
- Bag Size – Bag Size – 10″ x 16″ x 21″
- Bag Weight – 33.3 lbs
- Construction – 2 Layer Woven PVC with carbon rails
- Paddle – 5 piece Carbon
- Pump – Electric pump
What we liked:
- Very compact bag that is easy to travel with and store
- Comes with a top of the line electric pump
- Very stiff board construction
- High quality 5 piece carbon paddle
- Nimble and quick on the water performance
- Excellent tracking and glide
What we didn’t like:
- No wheels on the carry bag
- Folding the board so that it fits in the bag takes a little practice
- Twin fins are a few inches deeper than a traditional 3 fin setup
Features of the Blackfin Ultra CX paddle board
We got one of the first Blackfin Ultra CX paddleboards to try out. The Ultra series of boards from iRocker is a new series of ultra compact paddleboards. They are designed to fit into smaller bags and weigh less so they are easier to take with you when you travel. They are perfect for people without a lot of storage space such as tiny homes, apartments or townhomes.
The Blackfin Ultra CX is a 10’6″ x 32.5″ x 6″ all around shaped board. It fits into a bag that is 33.5″ x 17.3″ x 10.6″ about half the size of a normal paddleboard. How do they do that? There are a few unique features to this package.
- The board can be folded in half lengthwise. This is accomplished by splitting the deck pad, using 2 fins, and moving the air valve off center.
- A 5 piece carbon paddle that collapses into a smaller size
- The board is provided with an electric pump instead of a large bulky hand pump.
We are super excited about this paddleboard and love it after giving it a try. As with all our reviews. We will give you all the good and bad of everything we try out.
The entire package fits into a much smaller than normal bag. See the below image for a comparison of the Ultra CX bag and a couple regular sized inflatable paddleboard bags.
This bag will easily fit a lot of places that a normal inflatable paddle board bag won’t. It will easily fit into the front or back seat of a car, a closet, a bus seat. We checked it at the local airport carry on bag checker. It’s a few inches big in one direction. You might be able to make it work taking out the bag with the pump and fins and putting that in your personal item.
The Blackfin Ultra CX is a 10’6″ x 32.5″ x 6″ all around shaped board. The board itself weighs 19.8 lbs. The overall package including bag, pump, and paddle weighs 33.3 lbs. The board has a weight capacity of 320 lbs. For comparison, a normal paddleboard such as an iRocker All Around weighs 36 lbs in its bag. A lighter weight paddleboard such as an iRocker Nautical weighs 27 lbs in its bag.
50% Less packaging waste
All the iRocker Ultra series paddleboards including the Blackfin Ultra CX use 50% less packaging materials. The shipping box is less than half the size of a normal box. The board and accessories use less plastic shipping material the way they are packed. The Ultra series is a huge improvement in reducing shipping waste too.
The Blackfin Ultra CX retails for $849.99. It is available directly from iRocker and from Amazon.
The Blackfin Ultra CX paddleboard uses an advanced fusion woven PVC drop stitch construction. This is similar to Red Paddle Co MSL or Starboard Woven construction. It is stiff like a 3 layer laminate but lightweight like a single layer laminate. It has carbon reinforcements in the side rails for added stiffness.
The board can be folded down the centerline to enable it to compact down into a much smaller bag. There are some unique features in the construction that allow this to happen.
One of the ways to measure how well an inflatable board is made and how well it will perform is how stiff it is. To measure this we set the board up on 2 stands 8 feet apart. We loaded the board up with 120 lbs of weight and measured how much the board deflected under load.
The Blackfin Ultra CX dropped just 1 inch after being loaded up with 120 lbs. This makes it the stiffest board we have tested so far.
|SUP Board||Board Size||Construction||Deflection (inches)|
|Blackfin Model X (15 psi)||10'6" x 34" x 6"||3 Ply PVC||1.0|
|Blackfin Model V (15 psi)||12'6" x 32" x 6"||3 Ply PVC||1.1|
|Blackfin Ultra CX (15 psi)||10'6" x 32.5" x 6"||2 Ply Woven PVC||1.0|
|BOTE HD Aero (15 psi)||11'6" x 34" x 6"||3 Ply PVC||1.1|
|Coolwave (15 psi)||10'6" x 32" x 6"||1 Ply PVC||3.3|
|Chasing Blue Orion (14.5 psi)||12'6" x 32" x 6"||2 Ply PVC||1.6|
|Chasing Blue Infinite (14.5 psi)||10'6" x 34" x 6"||2 Ply PVC||1.4|
|DAMA (15 psi)||11' x 33" x 6"||1 Ply PVC||3.0|
|Freein Overall 11 (15 psi)||11'' x 33" x 6"||2 Ply PVC||1.4|
|iRocker Nautical (15 psi)||10'6" x 32" x 6"||2 Ply PVC||2.8|
|iRocker All Around 11 (15 psi)||11' x 32" x 6"||3 Ply PVC||1.3|
|iRocker All Around 11 Ultra (15 psi)||11' x 32" x 6"||2 Ply Woven PVC||1.1|
|iRocker Cruiser Ultra (15 psi)||10'6" x 33" x 6"||2 Ply Woven PVC||1.1|
|Nice C (15 psi)||10'6" x 32" x 6"||1 Ply PVC||2.6|
|Nixy Newport G4 (15 psi)||10'6" x 33" x 6"||2 Ply Woven PVC||1.1|
|Nixy Monterey G4 (15 psi)||11'6" x 34" x 6"||2 Ply Woven PVC||1.0|
|Outdoor Master Swordfish (15 psi)||10'6" x 32" x 6"||2 Ply PVC||2.8|
|Red 12'6" Sport w/RSS (20 psi)||12'6" x 30" x 5.9"||MSL with Battens||1.2|
|Thurso Expedition 150 (15 psi)||12'6" x 31" x 6"||2 Ply Woven PVC||1.4|
|Thurso Max (15 psi)||11'6" x 34" x 6"||2 Ply Woven PVC||1.2|
The EPA deck pad is split down the centerline. It’s not split across the board at all. Starboard Compact boards have deck pads split in several places to allow more compact folding. iRocker decided it wasn’t necessary to split the pad more times giving you a better cleaner deck pad.
The split EPA deck pad has a grooved pattern with an embossed logo texture giving good grip. It is comfortable to stand on.
The deck pad runs from behind the front bungee to in front of the rear bungee. It does not extend as far as it does on other boards. There is enough to cover your standing area plus extra.
Handles, D-Rings, and bungee cord
The board has 7 handles and 2 bungees. 1 at the back, 1 at the front, a set of grab handles at the front and rear bungees, and a center handle. There are 15 D-Rings on the board. There is a dedicated D-Ring at the rear to use for attaching an ankle leash.
There are 2 action mounts located with the front bungee and 1 at the back of the board. They are positioned in easy to access locations. There aren’t as many as a normal Blackfin board. The action mounts aren’t bendable so the more you have, the less you can compact the board.
Double tethered fins
This board has a 2 fin setup as opposed to the normal 3 fin setup on almost every all around board out there. Using 2 fins means there isn’t a fin down the centerline of the board allowing it to fold. There are several touring boards that use 2 fins for performance. 2 fins will have less drag than a 2 fin setup. It will provide good tracking. It won’t track as good as a 3 fin setup while going slow. It will provide less drag and tracking once you get the board up to speed.
The only downside to the 2 fin setup is that each of the fins is about 3 inches deeper than the large fin on a 3 fin setup. You need a few more inches of water for this board to float.
Each fin has a small tether that snaps in place to make sure the fin doesn’t fall out and get lost while in use.
All Blackin boards come with premium accessories. A normal Blackin board comes with a large roller backpack, big dual chamber pump, and 3 piece carbon paddle. The Ultra CX deviates from this with more size and weight conscious accessories. You get a 5 piece carbon paddle, an electric pump, and a compact backpack with no wheels.
The paddle is a 5 piece carbon paddle. This collapses down much smaller than a 3 piece paddle. The joints are tight and I don’t notice much compromise when using the paddle. It has a better blade shape than the typical 3 piece paddle that most inflatable SUP packages come with. One of the joints is where I hold the paddle with my lower hand. I do notice it and a little wobble while at that joint while paddling.
The size adjuster uses a sliding pin system that has been used on windsurfing booms for years. It is reliable and easy to use. It holds the grip in alignment with the blade. I prefer this type of connection over the normal plastic quick release that a lot of package paddles use.
The paddle has flotation in the grip segment and blade segment so it won’t sink.
The Blackfin Ultra CX comes with an excellent iRocker electric pump and no hand pump. I don’t mind not getting a hand pump at all. I never use them except for pumping a board up once by hand for reviews. The iRocker electric pump is way more small and compact than a hand pump. It is one of the fastest electric pumps available. If you get the available battery you can be completely free from needing a car to use your paddleboard.
The electric pump comes in a small zipper bag that also fits the leash and fins. It fits into the carrying backpack above the paddleboard.
See our review of the iRocker electric pump to learn more about the pump.
iRocker has an available battery pack to go with the pump. One isn’t included with the Ultra CX but it’s a great option to have. It lets you use the electric pump anywhere without a car or SUV to power it. I recommend getting this when you get your board. It’s small and easily fits in your Blackfin Ultra CX carry bag.
IROCKER ELECTRIC PUMP BATTERY
A carrying backpack is included. Its published size is 33.5″ x 17.3″ x 10.6″ inches. It’s not quite small enough to take as a carry on bag on a plane but it’s close. It’s about half the size of a normal inflatable paddle board carrying bag. It unzips on the sides with an open top for easy loading. The top can be rolled shut and held closed with a plastic clip. The backpack straps are nicely padded and well made. The only thing missing from the bag is wheels.
An ankle leash is included. It is a 10′ long coiled design. The neoprene ankle wrap is comfortable to use.
A small repair kit is included. There are also extra clips for the fins and an extra fuse for the pump.
Setup and Inflation
This board sets up just like any other inflatable paddleboard. It has an extra fold to undo when rolling it out. The paddle has an extra segment to snap in place. The compact size doesn’t add any steps to setup.
Find a nice smooth place to lay the board out when you inflate it free from rocks and sticks. A board mat works well for protecting boards on rough or dirty surfaces.
IROCKER BOARD MAT
The iRocker electric pump works really well for inflating the board. It takes about 8 minutes to inflate this board to 15 psi. Check to make sure the air hose has a good seal with the pump and board. Set the pressure and let it go.
The fins use a snap clip to hold them in place. You insert the front of the fins into the box. With the snap switch open, push the back of the fin into the box. Snap the switch in to lock the fin in place. Hook up the small safety tether and snap it into place. That will keep you from losing the fin if the main latch comes undone.
On water performance
This board performs on the water as good as any other similar sized all around board. It will be good for paddling around, fishing, small wave surfing, and anything else you want to do. The deck pad might be a little small for yoga. The shape of the board is more narrow at the nose and tail than other 32″ wide all around boards. This makes it feel faster and more nimble.
Glide is good for a 10’6″ board and the board feels fast for its size. It’s only 32″ wide so it doesn’t feel like you are pushing a huge board into wave and chop. The narrow tail and nose make it less stable when you are standing up. It’s a notch less stable for newer or bigger paddlers. Paddlers with some time in will appreciate the nimble and quick feel to the board. Once the board is moving, the twin fins do a good job of stabilizing it. Give it a paddle stroke or 2 before standing to make it easier.
The 2 fin setup works really well. I don’t feel like the board has any more drag than a 3 fin setup. It glides as well as my other similar sized boards with 3 fins. Tracking is very smooth once the board is moving.
Heavy weight paddlers
The board has a rated capacity of 320. I am over 200 lbs and had no problem with board stability or flexibility. The board is stiff and feels like a stiff board on the water. It didn’t feel like i was sinking into the board when standing on it. I don’t feel it flexing pushing into chop.
There are enough D-Rings to mount a kayak seat on the board. There are several D-Rings that are labeled as kayak seat mounts so you know which ones to use. The seat bottom sits on the handle.
On the water, it works well as a sit on top inflatable kayak. I enjoy using my inflatable paddleboards as kayaks almost as much as paddleboards. This board is stiff and feels like it glides better as a kayak than other converted SUPs I have tried.
iRocker sells a conversion kit that includes a paddle blade that works with their SUP paddle. The seat works well. They designed their paddle so that it is balanced when working as a kayak paddle and feels good.
IROCKER SUP TO KAYAK CONVERSION KIT
See our article on SUP kayak conversions for more information.
See our guide to the best SUP kayak hybrids for other good inflatable SUP Kayak combo options.
Deflation and packing
Everything will go back into that tiny bag. There is an instruction sheet included that shows a suggested folding pattern. It works. Start by using the pump to suck all the air out of the board. The less air left in it the better. I let the electric pump go until you can tell it’s starting to pull a vacuum in the board. You can tell by the sound of the pump when it starts to labor in deflate and there is no more air left to suck out.
Let everything dry out before putting the board away. This will make your board last much longer and avoid mold and other dirty things.
Start by folding the board in half lengthwise. Fold the board with larger folds. When you get it folded up use the included strap to hold the board compacted.
The below image shows the folding sequence I have been using to get it all back in the bag.
I find it easiest to completely open the zippers on the backpack. Put the paddle board in. Zip one side completely up. Zip the other side up. You may need to squeeze the board a little to get the second zipper. There is plenty of extra room in the board.
Put the 4 parts of the paddle into the size pockets in the bag. I put the blade on one side and the 3 handle parts on the other side.
Put the pump, fins and leash back in their zipper bag. Put that on top of the paddleboard and fold the top of the back shut.
Similar SUP Boards
The closest competitor to the Backfin Ultra CX is the Red Paddle Co compact package and NIXY Hungtington. They share a lot of common features such as a board that can fold in half. A small backpack that is half the size of normal bags. They all use 2 fins.
The Blackfin has an edge in that it includes the electric pump instead of a hand pump. The Red Paddle Co compact packages still include the massive Titan 2 hand pump. The Nixy board includes a large double barrel pump as well. I’m impressed they can fit a board and those pump into a small bag. Why design a compact board and package and throw a giant heavy pump into it?
The Red Paddle Co compact board packages run around $2000. They are almost double the price of the Blackfin Ultra boards.
See our guide to the best portable paddleboards to learn more about the other choices.
I am really impressed by the Blackfin Ultra CX. They hit it out of the park with this package. You get a great board with 3 layer construction, a great electric pump, carbon paddle and it all fits into a tiny bag. It is a really fast and fun board to paddle. I would recommend this paddle board to anyone who is concerned about storage space or wants an easy to travel with board.
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Co-Founder & Chief Editor
I grew up back east in Pennsylvania and learned to ski on a family trip to Killington, Vermont when I was 6. I immediately fell in love with the mountains and outdoors and have been skiing across the US and Canada ever since. I went to school for Mechanical Engineering, and have a Master’s Degree in Material Science and Reliability.
I am a total gear nerd and love learning how things work and thinking about how they could be improved. Nothing excites me more than trying out new gear. I’d rather spend 3 hours taking my bike apart and learning how to change something than go to a bike shop. These days I reside in Michigan by the Great Lakes and go skiing, biking, and boating as much as possible.