Posted by: airkayaks | February 27, 2014

Product Review: New Cascade 10’0″ Inflatable SUP from Aquaglide

Last week, we received our first shipment of Aquaglide Cascade inflatable paddle boards consisting of three models – the Cascade 10’0″, the Cascade 10’6″ and the Cascade 12’6″ iSUPs.

As a division of North Sports Inc, the Aquaglide brand has grown steadily over the past 13 years to include products such as commercial and residential water trampolines, tow toys, recreational water equipment and the highly popular Multisport 270 – an inflatable windsurf/sailboat/pull toy/kayak combo. In 2006, Aquaglide forayed into the stand-up paddling market, and in 2010 launched their inflatable paddle board line.

The Cascade 10'0" inflatable SUP from Aquaglide.

The 2014 Cascade 10’0″ piqued our interest as it featured a freshened look and a major change in pricepoint – at $599 for the board, pump and backpack, it looked like a great option for those just getting into the sport, yet not ready to make a major commitment.

So … our first review will focus on Aquaglide’s Cascade 10’0″ – a 10-PSI inflatable SUP with a capacity load of 180 lbs.

Aquaglide Cascade 10’0″ iSUP – Getting Started

The double-boxed board as-arrived is 37 x 17 x 13 inches weighing in at 41 lbs.

What's included with the Cascade 10'0" inflatable SUP

Inside is the Cascade 10’0″ body, backpack, repair kit, single action pump with pressure gauge, cinch belt, removable fin and instructions (after a bit of searching, we located these inside the repair kit). Once rolled up, the SUP board and pump fit into the backpack, as well as breakdown paddles (34″ shafts angled, longer lengths can jut out of the top). The board itself weighs 26 lbs, or 33 lbs inside the backpack with pump – these all easily fit in the back of a small car.

Unrolling the Cascade SUP body.

For your first set up, uncinch the strap and unroll the SUP body. Lay it out face up so that you can access the military valve.

Opening the military valve to the inflate position.

The Cascade 10-0 utilizes one spring-loaded military valve for inflation. These are very simple to use and feature an inflate mode (spring plunger is UP) and a deflate mode (spring plunger is DOWN). By using your finger to gently push on the plunger, it can be moved to the inflate mode (air goes in and doesn’t come back out) and deflate mode (air goes in and comes back out). Before you go to all the effort of inflating the board, PLEASE make sure the plunger is in the inflate position.

The Cascade paddle board system includes a Bravo high-pressure, single-action pump with a gauge – what we term the “wide barrel” as it pushes out a bit more air, though takes a little more effort to attain very high pressures.

Pressure gauge registering 10 PSI

First, screw the gauge onto the pump. Tip #1: Make sure you screw the gauge on carefully – if it gets cross-threaded, air will leak out and you will have a difficult time pumping the board up to necessary pressure.

Attaching the pump hose.

Next, attach the hose to the gauge. Take the military valve adaptor, and screw it onto the valve slightly to lock into position – the first time, you may need to push a bit harder to attach, but it gets easier. You’re ready to pump!

Pumping up the Cascade 10'0"

The first minute with the single action pump is so smooth, you hardly notice what you’re doing – it took me just under a minute to make 75 full pumps, which unfurled the body. While the pressure gauge reads from 8 to 22 PSI, it wasn’t until 115 strokes that the needle started moving. At this point, pumping becomes slightly more difficult, so I switched to the “half pump” method.  With another 35 easy half pumps, the board was up to 10 PSI, all-in-all, about 5 minutes. As a note, I did hear some slight air escaping from the pump – it may have been cross-threaded, but it didn’t affect the pumping.

Replacing the cap on the military valve.

Remove the hose adaptor and replace the valve cap.

Installing the removable tracking fin.

Flip the board and lay out the fin, making sure it is pointing towards the rear of the board. Take the front portion of the fin, and “lock” it into the track, pushing down on the backside of the fin. Double check to make sure the front of the fin has “hooked” into position, and then push the pin through the hole, locking it in place. As a note, the pin thread could be slightly longer, making it easier for larger hands, but this can easily be replaced.

The lightweight Cascade 10'0" is easy to carry.

That’s it! Surprisingly simple and in just over five minutes, you’re ready to go!

Aquaglide Cascade iSUP Construction

Cross-section of dropstitch fabric

The Cascade 10’0″ is constructed from 100 mm thick, 1000-denier drop-stitch material, a construction where thousands of fibers (threads) lock the top and bottom layers together, allowing the board to be pumped up to higher pressures. Three layers – dropstitch layer, reinforcement PVC layer top and bottom, and an additional “PowerStrip” layer on the underside – provide protection against air leakage as well as improving board stiffness. Overlapping, taped side rails also provide added protection and rigidity.

Aquaglide Cascade iSUP Features and Specifications

The Cascade 10’0″ inflatable SUP is remarkably simple.

Military valve.

There is one military valve, one front d-ring and one rear d-ring for an ankle leash.

Stomp pad and diamond-groove EVA deck pad.

A thick, diamond-groove EVA traction pad is 60 x 25 inches wide, beginning 15 inches from the rear with a stomp pad.

Low-profile carrying handle

In the center is a low profile cloth handle.

Bungee decklacing and d-rings for attaching gear.

Front bungee deck lacing – featuring four d-rings measuring 14 inches deep by 15 inches wide –  is located about 20 inches from the snout, allowing the paddler to attach gear.

Removable tracking fin.

The included tracking fin measures 7 inches deep by 6 inches wide.

The Cascade 10'0" reinforced PowerStrip

As mentioned previously,  the “PowerStrip” – an additional layer of PVC reinforcement – runs from nose to tail on the underside. This strip stiffens the area under the rider as well as providing an added layer of protection, without adding undue weight.

Oversized backpack fits most gear.

Made from a rugged, commercial-grade polyester, the Cascade’s oversized backpack features a “messenger bag” style top flap. There are two padded, adjustable backpack straps, a top “shoulder” strap and two adjustable cinches to keep the top flap sealed. Two side straps apparently are meant to hold the pump, but if not cinched in tightly, the pump handle keeps sliding open – not to worry, the interior bag size is more than adequate for storing gear. A small front zippering pocket (9.5 inches wide) is a great spot for storing the fin, while a large mesh vent panel provides air-flow. The bag weighs in at 2.75 lbs, and measures 32 inches tall, by 19 inches wide and 9 inches deep.

The Bravo “thick barrel” high-pressure, single-action pump measures 21 inches tall with a 4-inch diameter body and 9-inch base, a metal pump shaft, 48-inch hose with adaptor, and a pressure gauge. The new gauge can measure from 8 to 22 PSI.

We did measurement tests. At 10 PSI, the Cascade 10’0″ inflatable SUP ran 121 inches long, 32 inches wide and 4 inches thick – slightly longer and wider than the specs, but the boards typically vary slightly dependent on how much air volume has been pumped in.

Aquaglide Cascade iSUP On the Water

I took the board out on a day with very mild chop for a first short jaunt.

Cascade 10'0" on the water.

I was immediately surprised at how well it handled for an entry-level price. It was stable, tracked decently and had a smooth glide. Turning was fairly nimble, and even with the slight chop, I didn’t feel flexing underfoot.

The Cascade 10'0" is stable.

I went out a second day on calm water, with my new paddling buddy Cleo. Unfortunately, she strongly preferred swimming to “standing around and doing nothing” – the high point is that I can now firmly attest that the board is surprisingly stable. After dropping her off, I took the Cascade out once again solo – paddling in calm water, the Cascade was quite zippy, fun and smooth. And it appears to be quite rugged – I paddled over submerged rocks and tree trunks, and ran the board onto a rocky shoreline – without any problems.

Whitewater is not an option here, so I wasn’t able to test it out, but Aquaglide told us the Cascade 10’0″ is popular with downwater river-runners in Colorado.

Aquaglide Cascade iSUP: Packing It Up

To deflate the board is pretty simple – push the plunger to the open (down) position and immediately the air will swoosh out. But, when drawing off the high pressure, you should do this slowly, so as not to “pop” or unseat the o-ring that  completes the valve seal. So, slowly tap the valve to “bleed” off the high pressure several times for a few seconds, increasing the release time as you go.

Remove the tracking fin and store it in the backpack.

Rolling up the Cascade SUP body.

Leaving the plunger in the deflate mode, move to the nose of the iSUP. Start tightly rolling up the board from the nose, top side up and fin-side down, with the bottom on the outside. As you roll it up, air will continuously be pushed out of the open valve.

When fully rolled up, replace the valve cover and then take the attached strap and cinch it around the bundle to keep the board tightly rolled – the board will easily slip back into the backpack.

Aquaglide Cascade 10’0″ iSUP – Bottom Line

At $599, the Aquaglide Cascade 10’0 is a great board for a paddler wanting to get into the sport without breaking their budget. It glides nicely, tracks decently and is rugged.  It’s stable enough for beginners and is actually quite easy to pump up.

Great for kids.

It’s a great choice for a family board – versatile enough for kid-sized paddlers …

The Cascade 10'0" on the water

… yet easily provides on-the-water fun and exercise for adults under 6 ft and 180 lbs.

Roomy enough for a small child or furry friend.

And it’s roomy enough for an adult to bring a small child (or a furry friend) for a cruise along the shoreline.

The Cascade 10’0″ is great for lakes, calm rivers, coastal inlets and downriver white water. For those headed out for a few hours of paddling, the bungee deck lacing and d-rings provide ample space to attach extra gear.

Cascade is easily carried with the included backpack.

Best of all, it’s highly portable. The included backpack is perfect to store in a closet, or stash in a car for spur of the moment fun. Traveling? Take your Cascade on your next vacation or for a jaunt to a secluded beach.

The Aquaglide Cascade 10’0″ inflatable paddle board with backpack and pump is a great buy at $599.  For more information or to purchase, see the Cascade 10’0″ Product Page at AirKayaks.com or watch our YouTube video:

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