Updated September 20th, 2023
A large, very stable inflatable paddleboard with stiff durable construction that is good for almost any use.
Top Pick – Best Inflatable Paddle Boards
Best Value – Best SUP for Big Guys
Top Pick – Best Paddle Board for Dogs
- Thurso Surf Max Review and Test
- 6 – Board Construction
- 6 – Deck Pad
- 6 – Built in Fish Ruler
- 6 – Removable fins
- 6 – D-Rings and Accessory Mounts
- 6 – Recyclable Packing
- 6 – Stiffness (10/10)
- 7 – Stability (10/10)
- 8 – Speed (7.5/10)
- 9 – Tracking (9)
- 10 – Heavy Weight Paddlers
- 10 – Accessories (9/10)
- 11 – Portability (8/10)
- 10 – Kayak Conversion
- 10 – Setup and take down
- Recommendation – Buy or No Buy?
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The Thurso Surf Max is a big stable inflatable paddle board that can be used for almost anything. It is a great paddleboard for paddling with dogs. At 11’6″ x 34″ it works well for the biggest dog and paddler you can combine. It makes a great paddleboard for bigger and heavier paddlers of any ability level. It uses 2 layer woven carbon reinforced construction and feels stiff and sturdy on the water. It’s got a full length deck pad and enough D-Rings and action mounts to be good for just about any use except racing.
What we liked:
- Very large and stable board
- Good platform to do things like paddle with a dog, fish, or yoga
- Removable handles to make a more clear deck
- Full length deck pad that covers the entire board
- Easy to use fin system that uses standard US Fin Box for center fin
- Carbon paddle with quick release clamp for lower connection
- Fast triple action hand pump
- Bag with wheels
- Paddle holders on both sides of the board
What we didn’t like:
- Bag has no padding where it’s worn as a backpack
- No second side handle on the bag
- Not as many action mounts as other fishing SUPs and no Scotty mounts
- Size – 11’6″ x 34″ x 6″
- Weight Capacity – Recommended 200-300 lbs, Max 370 lbs
- Board Weight – 29 lbs
- Construction – 2 Layer Woven w/Carbon Rails
- D-Rings – 17 D-Rings, 4 action mounts, 1 GoPro mount
- Paddle – 3 piece carbon
- Pump – Triple Action
Thurso Surf Max Review and Test
Thurso Surf describes the Max as the SUV of inflatable stand up paddle boards. That is about the best description I can think of to give it. It is a really large stable platform with enough extra features that you can use it for just about anything.
Want to take your dog out? Great. It’s got a fully padded deck. Want to go fishing? Good for that too. It’s very easy to stand up on and has enough action mounts to make a good setup. Want to go camping? It’s got plenty of plenty of room and weight capacity to store gear. Do you want a big stable board for doing yoga? The Max will do that too.
If you are a heavier 300 lb paddler it has enough weight capacity and stability to work for you too. It’s one of the best boards out there for larger paddlers who need more than a 10’6″ x 32″ all around board.
There really isn’t much you can’t do with the Max. It’s just a very versatile large inflatable paddle board. Let’s get into the details.
6 – Board Construction
Thurso Surf boards are constructed with 2 layer woven PVC drop stitch with carbon fiber reinforcements running along the rails. We have found this construction method to be very stiff on other boards both on our bench test and on the water. Overall constructionn looks tight. No slop in the seams. It looks like construction you would expect to find on a $1000 paddleboard.
6 – Deck Pad
The Max has a full length deck pad that extends from the nose to the tail of the board. The deck pad is grooved with an embossed pattern in between the grooves. This gives it good grip while also letting it drain water easily. The board is comfortable to stand on for long paddles.
The full length deck pad is perfect for taking dogs or passengers out on the max. It protects your board from claws and gives your dog a good surface they can get good grip on. The bungee cords are tied on with some shrink wrap over the knots. You could remove them if you wanted a more clean deck.
6 – Built in Fish Ruler
One of the fun features built into the Max is a ruler you can use for measuring fish. It is located down the centerline of the board. It can measure up to 28 inches or 70 centimeters. You can measure the big one you just caught without waiting to go to shore or carrying a separate ruler.
6 – Removable fins
The Thurso Surf Max comes with 3 removable fins. All can be installed and removed without any tools. The 2 side bite fins attach by being pressed into the box and slid rearward.
The large center fin has a standard US fin box. It attaches by sliding a pin on the fin forward into the box. After that snap the rear of the fin into place. There are rubber fittings in the fin. You can use 3 for the most secure fin fit. You can use 1 for the easiest to remove fin. We have been using 3 all the time and don’t find them that hard to snap in.
6 – D-Rings and Accessory Mounts
The Max has 17 D-rings plus 4 action mounts plus a GoPro mount in the front. It has a front and rear bungee. The action mounts are in the front and rear bungee D-Rings. There are 2 velcro straps on the side to use for paddle holders.
6 – Recyclable Packing
We get a lot of items shipped to us here for review. We end up throwing out a ton of plastic and foam packaging. We like to point it out any time a vendor uses recyclable or otherwise sustainable packaging. Thurso Surf inflatable SUPs are shipped using brown packer wrapping along with some cardboard pads. They did not use any plastic wrapping or foam anywhere in their shipping package.
6 – Stiffness (10/10)
We conducted our standard stiffness test with the Max. We inflated it to the max recommended pressure and then set it on 2 stands placed 8 feet apart. We put 120 lbs on the center of the board and measured how much it deflected. The Thurso Surf Max deflected just 1.2 inches.
For reference, the best boards we have ever tested deflected just 1.0 inch. The worst boards deflected 4 to 5 inches. 1.2 inches means the board is stiff and it feels stiff on the water with no bounce feeling. We have used it at the same time as the similar sized BOTE Aero HD Full Trax 11’6″ and found the Max feels stiffer on the water. The BOTE had a noticeable bounce to it. The Max was very sturdy and stable feeling without any noticeable board flex.
|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|
7 – Stability (10/10)
The Thurso Surf Max is a big stable board. It’s 11’6″ x 34″ wide. It’s hard to imagine a board being much more stable than the Max. It’s got a lot of width and surface area. It remains steady even with very large paddlers on it. Any beginner or first time paddler will have no trouble standing on it. It makes a great stable platform for paddling with dogs, fishing, or yoga.
8 – Speed (7.5/10)
Speed is not the point of the Thurso Max. It glides okay because it’s long. It’s got a lot of width giving it quite a bit of drag. If you put some weight on it, momentum will help carry it further. The Max does take some effort to paddle into the wind or chop. There is so much board to push through the waves.
9 – Tracking (9)
The 3 fin arrangement and board length give it good tracking. It’s not a skinny touring board that will go forever in a straight line. It’s easy to turn when going slow. Once you get the water moving over the 3 fins they do a good job holding the nose in line.
10 – Heavy Weight Paddlers
We had our 6’5″ over 300 lb test paddler try out the Max. It was very easy for him to stand up on. It showed a little compression under his feet but not too much. He didn’t notice any bounce to the board while paddling on flat water. It did feel a little when paddling through waves. The Max wasn’t quite as good for his weight as a double chamber board but it wasn’t far behind. The board performed well enough that he could easily take it on a several hour paddle.
We would rate this board as more stable than a double air chamber Nixy Monterey due to the extra 2 inches of width. It is a little bit less stiff feeling and more affected by chop and waves with an over 300 lb paddler.
10 – Accessories (9/10)
The Thurso Max comes with the board, a padded roller bag, a 3 piece carbon paddle, ankle leash, repair kit and pump. They put the fins, leash, and repair kit into a folding bag that is different than we have seen from any other board maker. It makes a nice way to keep all the small parts organized.
The Thurso Surf bag takes a different direction than what we have seen before. It zips open along the top, bottom, and one side. I’m not sure if this makes it easier to load or not. It’s different. The bag has backpack straps but no padding on the backside. It has a large cinch strap that goes around the middle of the bag with a large buckle. It has a handle on the top and 1 side.
The bag is on the large size and has more than enough room to fit the Max in with ease. That is good. The bag has no padding on the back so it’s not that comfortable to carry as a backpack. I wish that all SUP makers put a handle on both sides of their bag. A few do and they are much easier to carry up and down stairs with a handle on each side.
3 piece carbon paddle
The Max comes with a carbon shaft paddle with a nylon blade. The lower joint in the paddle has a spring pin and a quick release clamp. This makes it easy to align and gives it less rattle than a paddle that just has a pin. The top of the paddle has a quick release clamp to adjust length. There is no marking on the paddle clamp to help with aligning the top of the handle to the blade.
The paddle works well and doesn’t have as much rattle as other 3 piece paddles. The blade has no cant so that it can lay down in a bag easier and also work as a kayak conversion.
Triple Action Hand Pump
The Max comes with a double barrel triple action hand pump. We have seen this pump design from other vendors which is good. It’s our favorite triple action pump so we are happy any time we see it. It has 2 levers on the side to switch between modes. It has foldable feet and handle ends that unscrew to make it smaller in the bag. It can also deflate which is a big help before rolling up the board.
The 3 levels have just about the right spread in force to make inflating the board by hand as fast as possible. The lowest gear is easy enough to pump that most small paddlers should be able to inflate the board.
A 10 foot coiled ankle leash is included that is color matched to the board.
11 – Portability (8/10)
The Thurso Surf Max only weighs 29 lbs which is light for such a large massive SUP board. It isn’t too bad to carry around or roll around in the bag. The bag isn’t that comfortable to wear as a backpack without any padding on the back. Another handle on the other side of the bag would make it easier to carry up and down steps when you can’t drag it.
10 – Kayak Conversion
A kayak conversion is available from Thurso Surf. It has a paddle blade and seat. The paddle plugs in where the handle goes on the SUP paddle making it a kayak paddle. The seat straps onto the 4 D-Rings that are labeled as seat attachment points on the board.
10 – Setup and take down
Setup and takedown is straight forward. Inflation takes me about 8 minutes of hard pumping to get it up to 15 psi. The fin system makes installing the fins very quick and easy with no tools. Insert the 2 small fins and slide them rearwards. Insert the front of the big fin and snap the back into place. Put the paddle together and you are set to go.
Takedown is equally straightforward. The bag is very roomy so it doesn’t matter too much which way your roll the board. Everything will still fit with room to spare.
We always use an electric pump for inflation. I like to paddle a lot more than I like to pump. We almost always are inflating 3 to 5 boards every time we go to the lake so hand pumping isn’t really an option. A couple good electric pumps are a must to get everything going without spending the whole day pumping.
You can see our article on the best electric paddleboard pumps to find out what our current favorite is.
Recommendation – Buy or No Buy?
We recommend the Thurso Max to anyone looking for a big stable paddleboard. It works great for paddling with dogs. It’s a great board for the larger paddlers out there. If your looking for a board to do SUP camping or any other adventure, the Max is good for that too. It’s just a big friendly, very useful inflatable SUP that is good for almost anything you want to do with a SUP.
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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.