The last time we reviewed a McConks inflatable SUP we had the opportunity to check out the brand’s very first prototype. This time round McConks have handed us their 12.8ft Explore touring SUP. With time in the shaping bay McConks have had time to refine, tweak and develop their kit – straight out of the box and this is definitely the case with the Explore.
Coming as a double layer Dropstitch manufactured iSUP it has a few key features which set the board apart. Firstly is the integrated three piece travel paddle holder embedded within the bag’s opening hatch. But it’s the inclusion of Futures style side fin that really grabs attentions. Having a 2+1 thruster set up on a touring board is pretty unusual with Futures fittings making it even more so. We do like the concept, however – it’s nice to see a SUP company doing something different. Over to SUPM’s test team member Stephane Lefevre for the rest of the low down on McConk’s 12.8ft Explore.
‘The recommended pressure is 18PSI. I found that 15PSI was perfectly fine for general paddling, but to get the best out of the board 20PSI helped with rigidity. Quality of the Dropstitch and manufacturing materials is right up there though so it can certainly take more. It takes a little longer to pump to 20 PSI so McConks’ recommendation of 18PSI seems a good compromise if you’re in a rush to get on the water.
It’s nice to have multiple grab handles and carrying nets/tie down buckles on the deck which are perfect for cruising/adventure paddling. Having a front and back bungee system ensures you can lash down multiple pieces of essential gear. This does, however, mean the deck pad coverage doesn’t stretch to the tail which may be limiting for those wanting to pivot turn. Although if this an issue it could be corrected with sticky bumps
On flat water the Explore is nice and stable and glide is efficient. For a lightweight iSUP the 12.8ft generates a lot of momentum and with point and shoot tracking covering distance is easy. It’s also a very comfortable board to pilot.
The centrally located US Box fin helps with tracking. But the real benefit are those Futures side fins. It’s with choppy water paddling that riders will notice the benefits. They bite in and help keep the board composed and moving forwards. Single fin touring boards can be a handful if it’s breezy, especially when paddlers are sweeping across current, chop and wind. Side bites strive to keep the Explorer well-mannered and composed. The result is fewer correctional strokes being needed.’
McConks have to be commended for doing something different with their Explore 12.8ft. Employing Futures side fins bucks the iSUP trend and having front and back kit stowage options gives more places for essentials to be stored during distance or proper touring missions. Gliding well with a good deal of momentum it’s a board that chews up miles easily and will make a fun sled for those who enjoy point and shoot style paddling. The Explorer’s bag accommodates all the necessary bits and bobs with handy paddle storage within the actual opening of the bag. All in it’s a nice board for anyone looking to get a little Bear Grylls, out and about with nature and touring in the purest sense of the world.
Price: £760 inc. carbon paddle. Also available with fibre glass paddle, or without paddle (£680 and £630 respectively).