Blackfin Ultra CX Review

Published on

In this iRocker Blackfin Ultra CX Review, we will be going through all of the features of this board with a fine-toothed comb. We go over the good, the bad and compare the board directly to other Blackfin and Ultra models

This board is by far the lightest blackfin model that iRocker offers with a board weight of 19.8 lbs and a total package weight of 33.3 lbs. 

So how does this model compare against the aforementioned models? 

Read on as we discuss who the board is for, some of its onboard features, accessories, and on-water performance. 

iRocker Blackfin Ultra CX Paddle Board Review Ratings

Below is how I rated the iRocker Blackfin Ultra CX. Click the links below to jump to each section. 

Total Score: 8.7 (Score Rounded Out)

Pros

  • One of the fastest boards in the iRocker line-up
  • A solid touring all-around board for those longer excursions
  • Tracks well in the water may be the best tracking board in the Ultra lineup
  • Very portable, one of the lightest SUP packages around
  • The bag is very well made and thought out, package fits back in, even with below average folding technique
  • One of the best-constructed boards in the iRocker line-up with cross-threaded drop stitch (also known as woven)
  • Carbon side rails help the board keep rigidity
  • Compatible with most kayak hybrid seats that have 4 straps
  • I love how they included an electric pump with the package
  • The added tethers to the fin are a great example of iRocker taking note of customer complaints

Cons

  • Less stable than other Blackfin models 
  • If you are a bigger paddler you may want to look at other Blackfin models like XL
  • Maneuverability is more limited due to the two 9″ fins
  • Less cargo room and action mounts compared to classic Blackfin and iRocker models

Who Should be Using the iRocker Blackfin CX Ultra? 

The first thing that pops into my mind is this is a perfect board for intermediate paddlers. The Blackfin CX Ultra is a great upgrade board for those who may have outgrown their “Amazon” branded boards and want something more performance-oriented. 

And boy, this is one of the better Blackfin models when it comes to speed, despite being a foot (or 2 feet when it comes to the model V) shorter. It makes up its ground through its lightweight design. In this case, it’s:

Beginner paddlers, we have not forgotten about you, don’t worry! The CX Ultra is a good board to get started on. However, if you are balance challenged like I was at the beginning of my SUP journey you may want to look for something a bit wider

Models like the Blackfin X or XL are 35” and 34” in width respectively compared to the 32.5” width of the Ultra CX. These models will make the learning curve a little bit easier and you will have more options for storage and accessories if that is important to you. 

Of course, the main reason to get the CX Ulta SUP is for carrying convenience and having a more storage-friendly board. We go into this in full below. 

What SUP Activities Can The Blackfin Ultra CX Be Used For?

Like with the rest of the Ultra series, the name of the game is to be compact and not take up as much room as other inflatable paddle boards. In my mind, the Ultra CX exceeds this and allows you to partake in SUP activities such as..

Traveling

This is a big one, but this SUP will be one of the best options on the market for travel. In fact, it can even be taken on as carry-on luggage on most airlines (check your local airline first before you take my word for it though).

Of course, this SUP is not just limited to air travel, the Ultra CX is also a fantastic board for traveling to the cabin with some friends, family camping trips or even RV excursions across the country! You save almost 2 feet in space with the Ultra series bags so this gives you more room to bring more stuff. 

Touring

The Ultra CX is not necessarily a classic touring board, but from an All-Around board’s perspective, it strays closer to the touring side than your average recreational board. 

The CX Ultra board is great for those folks who want a more performance-oriented play from their inflatable boards. The lightweight frame of the Ultra CX gives the board more momentum per stroke, which means a bit less effort to get to speed from you!

The Ultra CX board’s fin set-up also makes it an excellent long-distance board as the fins are closer together, pushing water through the space between the fins, giving good tracking when you are putting in more powerful strokes.

Recreational Paddling

The Blackfin Ultra CX is a good board for recreational paddling if you also have longer trips in mind. Paddle durations of 2 hours plus would be ideal for this kind of board as its lightweight frame allows you to travel at a slightly faster pace than many other inflatable SUPs. 

Some settings that would be good for recreational paddling include lakes, bigger rivers, bays, and gentle coastal waters.  The Blackfin Ultra CX can get a bit unsteady when there is too much chop prevalent though. 

Kayak Hybrid

The Ultra CX along with all the other Blackfin boards features 4 designated D rings to place the iRocker Kayak Conversion kit. 

If you are looking for a kayak hybrid that can move quickly while tracking well this is an underrated combo that needs to be considered. 

IRocker Blackfin Ultra CX Specifications Deconstructed

  • Type of Board: Recreational
  • Length: 10’6″
  • Width: 32.5″
  • Thickness: 6″
  • Volume: 317 L
  • Weight: 19.8 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 320 Lbs

The Blackfin CX Ultra is made differently compared to its other Blackfin compatriots. New for 2022 iRocker decided that with these new portable SUPs, there needed to also be some changes in saving weight while keeping their boards rigid among the best of them. 

Their solution was to use cross threaded drop stitch material (also known as woven drop stitch). This is a process where the inner core threads have been modified from single threaded strands to woven strands (think of a pattern like a wicker chair) where the strands are sandwiched into each other. 

This process saves money as fewer of these woven strands are needed compared to the lesser single-stranded threads. 

On Top of this iRocker has switched to a fusion laminating process, much like Nixy, Red Paddle and Starboard do. Instead of having 3 layers of PVC glued together iRocker now takes 2 PVC layers and pressed them together using a machine. 

This “fuses” the PVC  together to make it a stronger layer. This process saves glue and man hours of applying glue. It is also a more reliable material as the layers are fused together as opposed to having many layers of glue. 

One of the things that stayed constant between the Ultra and the classic blackfin series is the carbon side rails which help keep the rigidity of the board. 

Blackfin CX Ultra Board Profile

Blackfin Models

We will be doing a little board comparison between the Blackfin CX Ultra vs classic Blackfin models like the Model V, Model XL and Model X

Outside of the Model V, The Ultra CX  features the shortest width compared to the much wider XL and X series. The CX Ultra is meant to be a more speedy board that is used to travel greater distances. 

So if you were thinking of doing fishing, yoga, or any other type of SUP activity that requires balance, it’s best to stick to the aforementioned model XL and X boards

In terms of storage space, the Ultra CX can hold a decent amount of gear, but it won’t be as ideal as the classic Blackfin models in this department. 

In terms of pure tracking ability, I believe the model V will have the edge over the Ultra CX due to its length being 2 feet longer at 12’6” compared to the 10’6” length of the CX. Both feature thinner tails and narrower board profiles but the model V features the 3 fin set-up compared to the 2 fin. 

In my preliminary testing I have found that when paddling relaxed strokes, 3 fin set-ups track a bit better while 2 fin setups keep a straight line better when there is more power behind each stroke.

– Editors Notes

Whats On Deck

The Blackfin Cx model along with the other Ultra models has been a bit more stripped down compared to their classic cousins. This is the fine line that SUP manufacturers have to walk when they are trying to produce a more portable lightweight SUP.

Blackfin Ultra CX Deck Pad

Of course one of the most noticeable things is the fact that the deck pad is split in half. Much like the rest of the Ultra series, this allows you to fold the board in half properly without worrying about damaging the deck pad area. 

One thing to note with this SUP and other Ultra series boards is the fact that the deck pad does not extend as far down as other Blackin, or even iRocker models for that matter. 

This is fine if you are using it for recreational purposes but for those who want to do pivot turns on this board, you may find that things may get more slippery, especially if the deck is wet. 

Blackfin CX Ultra D Rings

If you look closely, you will notice that the Ultra features fewer D rings compared to any of the other Blackfin models. 

  • Blackfin Ultra CX: 15 D rings
  • Blackfin Model X, XL and V: 20 D rings

For the recreational day paddler, this won’t be a big deal as you should find enough space to strap your gear down. But if you are going on longer excursions like overnight camping then this may be a bit of an issue.

The Blackfin CX Ultra only features 4 free D rings in the middle of the board(which if you have a kayak seat will be used up). It also has a smaller maximum weight capacity and is probably one of the less steady boards in the Blackfin lineup. 

So for those who want something that can carry more weight, it may be best to scrap portability and focus more on weight/ carrying capacity. 

Blackfin CX Action Mounts

One of the areas where iRocker has significantly stripped down the Ultra CX is action mounts. Instead of having 8 placements like the Blackfin XL, the Ultra CX, like many of the Ultra boards features 3 placements. 

  • One at the rear (where the Ankle leash goes)
  • 2 at the front (last row of Bungees) 

While this may not be the fisherman’s ideal pick it still allows you some functionality in terms of shooting footage onboard as well as a few other things like:

Blackfin Ultra CX Handles

The areas in which the CX handles are placed differ from any of the other Blackfin or classic iRocker boards. There’s a handle at the very tip of the nose, to guide the board in the water (best not to drag it on the ground).

And there’s an off-center handle in the middle of the board. This off-center handle may be a godsend for shorter folks who may have trouble wrapping their arm around the board when carrying it.

Interestingly enough the rear handle stays in the same place. And in my experience folding the All Around 11 Ultra series, does not get in the way of the fold. 

Of course, the above changes are all done in the name of portability allowing you to fold the board in half lengthwise. 

A feature they luckily haven’t stripped away were the 4 child handles that feature on both front and rear deck storage areas of the board. 

Blackfin Ultra CX Accessories Explained

The Blackfin Ultra CX features some rather unique accessories that differ from any other Blackfin line. All of these features have been cleverly thought out in the name of portability.

Blackfin Ultra CX Backpack/ Bag

The bag of the Ultra CX is one of my favorite things about the SUP package. What I really like about it is the fact that you can still fit the board in the bag with a “less than perfect fold”

This is thanks to the two front zippers that follow the bag lengthwise. Simply zip and unzip and you can easily take out or place the board back into the bag. Contrast this to many other SUP bags where you have to wrestle it in just to get the darn thing to fit inside!

The bag comes complete with loops on the inside that hold your collapsed paddle. I usually like to have the 4 parts of the shaft on one side and the paddle blade on the other so that everything fits in easier. 

The bag also comes equipped with side pockets on the outside for miscellaneous smaller items you may have. I personally like to put my phone holder for the action mount inside! 

The bag also features bungee lacing at the front that you can use to clip items on. 

When you first open the bag, you will notice that there is a pouch bag that sits on top of the board. This is used to store the electric pump, the hose as well as the snap-in fins, instructions, spare parts and a sticker kit. 

This is a good idea as it’s a great area to store any smaller loose ends you may have and have everything together as opposed to searching through all the pockets of the bag

In terms of carrying comfort the bag is one of the better ones. There is sufficient paddling on the bag to make it feel like a proper hiking bag. The size and lightweight also aid in making the bag feel more comfortable. It feels more like a bulkier backpack as opposed to a SUP/ hiking bag.

Blackfin CX Ultra Paddle

* The Above Photos are from the All Around 11 Ultra Paddle. I am told that they are very similar to the Blackfin Ultra CX paddles but just with different color schemes.*

The paddle features a few improvements including the scratch-resistant blade that is color coordinated to the SUP package. This is an improvement to the paddle blades that the classic styles have which tend to show scratches more. 

However, I found the paddle performance was a step back from what the classic Blackfin series have. And this is all down to the 5 piece paddle. When comparing this 5-piece paddle with 3-piece paddles you can feel more play in the paddle, which gives the paddle a bit more bend. 

This is not as noticeable if you are paddling with casual strokes, but I could definitely feel the difference as I padded faster. I could especially feel this effect when I was paddling against the tide.

One thing I found interesting was that this 5-piece paddle is .2 lbs heavier than the classic 3-piece paddles. It’s 2 lbs vs 1.8 lbs with most of the classic Blackfin models sport. 

In terms of paddling, the paddle felt mostly comfortable in my hand, I did find that the little connecting nub did get in the way sometimes when I was doing some harder paddling strokes though. 

So all in all the paddle is definitely different in terms of collapsibility compared to anything you see out there. But I feel if performance is the name of the game for you, it’s best to get a full carbon paddle and just carry it with you

Perhaps in the future iRocker can mitigate this paddle to a 4 piece design to lessen the play? 

iRocker Electric Pump

Another feature that I absolutely loved about this package was the inclusion of the electric pump! I say it’s about time and I’m glad iRocker noted this! 

Most SUP packages (including travel packages) come with manual pumps. And let’s face it, as much as many companies will market these manual pumps as efficient. It’s still a manual pump at the end of the day that expends effort.

While the electric pump may even be a tad bit slower compared to you manually pumping the board, you lose that time setting the board up. Things like clipping the fins, putting the paddle together, and adding accessories onto the deck webbing take a bit of extra time. 

With the electric pump, you can do all of these things all the while your board is being pumped automatically. 

The electric pump features 5 buttons. To get started open the flap on the side of the pump and plug the adapter to a cigarette lighter. 

If you are pumping up more than 2 boards, I highly recommend that you use the alligator clips and hook them directly to the better. I say this because in the middle of the 3rd board we were pumping, the electric pump broke the fuse in the cigarette lighter.“

– Editors Notes

Set the PSI you want (I started off with 13.5 the first time) and then press auto and the pump does the rest for you! When it finishes at the correct PSI, the pump will automatically shut off. 

You can also use this pump to deflate the board completely. If space in the bag is at a premium I recommend doing this extra step. 

Blackfin Ultra CX Fins

One of the most unique features of this board compared to some of the classic Blackfin models is the set-up of the fins. 

The Ultra CX Blackfin board features two 9” center fins that are placed directly across from each other. 

On Top of this SUP having this set-up, in this case, the Blackfin CX Ultras fins are closer together compared to any of the other Ultra boards. This is because the tail on the CX Ultra is thinner.

One of the features that I applaud iRocker for doing is having locking tethers that connect to the board. I have read many reports of customers saying that they have lost a fin (including my own friend). So I’m glad that iRocker has been listening to customer feedback on this issue.

– Editors Notes

iRocker Blackfin CX Ultra Leash

There have been no changes to the leash. It’s coiled, and swivel based on both the ankle and attachment parts. The leash is 10 feet long, .6 lbs weight, and is comfortable to wear thanks to the padded neoprene on the ankle. 

iRocker Blackfin CX Ultra On-Water Performance

The Blackfin CX Ultra is meant to be an intermediate board that you can push the limits for. 

When I talked to one of iRocker’s reps, they mentioned how they wanted to keep the tracking at about the same level as the classic models while making the board more maneuverable in the water. 

So how did they do? 

Stability

Compared to other iRocker models the Blackfin CX had to take a bit of a hit stability-wise compared to its other cousins

While it is perfectly within reason for a beginner to be able to stand on this board, it feels a bit less steady compared to the other Blackfin boards as well as the other iRocker Ultra board lines.

This is in part due to the thinner 32.5” width and narrower tail. In terms of stability, it reminds me a bit of the Nixy Newport that is built similarly. 

If you are looking for the most stable line of Ultra boards, I would look at the Cruiser Ultra or even the All Around 11 if you are a bit bigger/ taller. 

Tracking

Of course, probably one of the first things you are wondering is how the 2 fin setup tracks compared to the 3 fin setups that the Blackfin and most other SUPs have. 

In my experience with the All Around 11 Ultra board, I found that the tracking ability while paddling at a slower pace was average. I got about 6 strokes per side before correcting. But as soon as you paddle at a quicker rate, the board starts to go on rails and tracks much better. 

I observed this when my friend was paddling the Atoll 11 board. His board was zig-zagging more while when I was on the All Around 11 Ultra it stayed planted on a straight course for the most part.

– Editors Notes

 Now I have heard from other sources that the tracking on the Blackfin CX is one of the best out of the Ultra boards. Some speculation was due to the fact that the fins on the CX are closer together than other All Around boards so it creates a pathway for water to channel through. 

Speed

One of the areas where the Blackfin CX exceeded was in on-water speed. This is due to its lighter weight design and its narrower tail which gives the board a more hydrodynamic profile. 

Its weight is on average about 7-10 lbs lighter compared to the classic Blackfin models. This weight difference is significant when you are putting in more powerful strokes. The model X and XL range from 35” to 34” width which gives them more drag compared to the Blackfin CX. 

The model V is 32” in width and is 12’6”. Based on these dimensions it’s safe to assume that this SUP tracks better but the jury is still out as to which SUP is faster between the two. 

There have been various different SUP tests conducted on this board and many of them have concluded that this is one of if not the fastest SUP in the Ultra line-up. 

Maneuverability 

In my experience with the All Around 11 Ultra, the sweep strokes felt good on this board, however, when doing side paddles it felt like there was a bit of a delay. The Blackfin XL is 6” shorter compared to the All Around 11 Ultra so it should be easier to maneuver this board. 

The Blackfin CX will be more maneuverable than other Blackfin models because of the significant weight difference. It is much easier to maneuver lightweight boards as there is less effort you have to put into each stroke when turning the board around. 

About the iRocker Company

Since 2013 iRocker has been making paddle boards. But in my humble opinion, it’s not until 2020 that they really started to stand out and put their nose above a lot of the competition to be one of the best-selling boards on the planet. 

This is thanks to iRocker pushing the design limits each year, adding more features to their product lines each year. 2022 was a big year in terms of reinventing successful SUP lines and making them more portable. iRocker also has distribution centers in the USA, Canada, Europe, and the UK

iRocker Warranty Information

The Blackfin CX along with almost all the other paddle boards in the iRocker line-up comes with a 3 year warranty on their boards. The only line that does not have the same warranty is the Nautical series which comes with a 2 year warranty. 

In terms of a return period, iRocker has a 60 day money back guarantee on their SUPs. Make sure you go through all the return policy and warranty policies before purchase.  

The warranty and return period are above average in the SUP space. Where the average usually ends up being a 2-year warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

What Customer Think

Blackfin CX Ultra Mangrooves

In my mind, the best place to find unbiased reviews is not through the company website, nor its facebook page. But more independent Facebook groups like this one. If you can’t see the posts, join and introduce yourself!

When compared with Blackfin and iRocker Ultra models this is what one person said. 

I have or have had a Blackfin Ultra CX, iRocker Cruiser Ultra, iRocker All Around 11, iRocker Nautical 10’6” and Blackfin Model V.

The Blackfin Ultra CX is least stable of the bunch. The Blackfin Model V is the most stable. Cruiser Ultra is not as stable as the regular All Around 11 but definitely better than the Nautical. I’d really like to try a regular and Ultra All Around 11 together to see how stability compares.

The 2 fins are a little faster and easier to turn than 3 fins. On my Model V I prefer it with 1 fin. I haven’t tried the AA11 with a single fin yet but it’s on the to do list.

Ryan (iRocker SUP Owners Group)

Another note on the Blackin CX vs classic Blackfin series:

I have a Blackfin XL and Blackfin CX. The latter is smaller and much faster but obviously less stable. The XL still gets more use because of the rougher conditions but both have lots to offer

Micheal (iRocker SUP Owners Group)

On the iRocker website, a lot of customers weighed in on the inclusion of the electric pump…

This is my new favorite board! I love how small it packs down compared to my other Blackfin board, but still has that same premium look and feel. The electric pump is an absolute game changer for me. This board is perfect for a day on the lake with my pup.

Victoria (iRocker Website) 

Where To Buy The IRocker Blackfin CX Ultra Series

The best place to purchase iRocker boards is from the iRocker company website. USA folks can buy the Blackfin CX from iRockers main website. 

Folks in Europe, UK, Canada, and Australia can purchase from the designated iRocker website for their countries. These locations have distribution centers which cut down on tariffs and fees for the customer. 

Comparable Boards

First off it’s worth mentioning that the most comparable boards will be from the Blackfin series (Model XL, Model X, and Model V) and the iRocker Ultra series (All Around 11, All Around 10, and the Cruiser). 

But we want to give you other brands as well so that you can see the full picture of portable SUPs.

Red Paddle 11 Compact SUP

Red Paddle Compact 11

The Compact 11 is one of the first SUP boards to use this compact travel-friendly design. These boards are 2 X more expensive than the Blackfin CX but there is a good reason for this. The Compact 11 is manufactured in-house (Not in Asia like most SUP boards) so as a result, you get a board that has some of the finest manufacturing processes and materials in the business. They also have a 5-year warranty on their boards

Nixy Huntington Ultra Compact

The Nixy Huntington Ultra Compact board is meant for the same purposes as the Blackfin CX although its on-water performance will differ as its a foot shorter. This board would be ideal for areas where you need to maneuver like windy rivers. Its weight is also almost a pound lighter than the Blackfin CX Ultra. However, if performance paddling is high on your list it’s best to stick with the Blackfin Ultra CX or the All Around 11 Ultra boards

FAQ’s

There have been quite a few questions posed to me as well as the internet in general about the quality and performance of the Blackfin CX, so we will answer some common questions we come across. 

How Does The Blackfin Ultra CX Compare To The Regular Blackfin Series?

To put it in a few sentences. The Blackfin Ultra CX has been said by many different sources to be less stable compared to the other Blackfin Models. However, it is a faster board in the water thanks to its 19.8 Lbs weight. 

How do you clean the Blackfin Ultra CX?

In my case, I usually use mild soap, and a garden hose to clean up the board. I start off by:

1. Hosing the Board Down of any sand, first and debris
2. With a sponge, I gently scrub away the marks on the board
3. For more stubborn marks I use the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
4. Simply leave it out (deflated) to dry before putting it back into the bag. 

How Do You Pack The Ultra CX Back Into Its Bag?

The Ultra CX, along with the other Ultra SUPs are some of the easier SUPs to fit back into the bag in my experience. The best thing is you don’t even have to have a perfect fold, like you do with those bigger SUPS. 

The best way to fit it back into the bag is to unzip the two front pockets, place the board back into the bag, and zip it back up!

How does the Ultra CX compare to other iRocker Ultra boards?

I find the differences between these boards are slight but most reports and tests have indicated that the Blackfin CX is one of the faster models in the Ultra lineup. Because of the pointy tail, the Ultra CX does give up a bit of stability but the differences are minute. 

Should you get the iRocker Blackfin Ultra CX Paddle Board?

In my mind, you should get the iRocker Blackin CX Ultra SUP if:

  • You are an intermediate paddler and you want a quick SUP to paddle
  • You travel often and want a lightweight, compact bag that can fit most carry on baggage 
  • You want to do day paddles with a SUP that is not heavy
  • You want one of the best-constructed iRocker boards
  • You want a board that ACTUALLY COMES with an Electric Pump

Don’t let the above put you off if you are a beginner though. If you have some patience and admit that you may fall off a time or two, the board will serve you well. 

The accessories were one of the things that impressed me most about this SUP. The bag is very well made and the electric pump takes the back-breaking work of manual pumping out of the equation. 

Overall the Blackfin CX Ultra impressed us with set-up/ takedown time, on-water performance, onboard features, and the accessories that came with the package. 

Photo of author
Author:
Hey, My name is Derek and I'm the owner of Inflatable SUP Authority. I've had over 20 years experience with watersports. My new-found passion is learning about and testing SUP's. I love teaching people what to look for.