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Turn iSUP into a Kayak

Our family, friends, and co-workers had enjoyed stand up paddle boarding late last year during the COVID-19 pandemic as an effective way to safely enjoy the outdoors while socially distancing. We had since tested and reviewed several inflatable stand up paddle boards (iSUPs), one of which was fully ready to be used as a kayak. To do so, one simply had to purchase a kayak seat and attach it to the iSUP’s 2 or 4 D-Rings. But what if your paddle board does not have the attachments available? Easy. Cement some D-Rings to your board. Here is how.

iSUPs and Kayak Converted iSUP /iRocker

iSUPs and Kayak Converted iSUP /iRocker

What You Need

  • D-Ring Patches: 2 or 4 per seat, depending on the number of straps provided by each seat
  • Kayak Seat
    • Molded, foam seats provide better comfort
    • You can put 1 (single) or 2 (tandem) seats on an iSUP
    • We bought the South Bay Board one that also included a storage bag
      • It also comes as a kit, but the provided PVC glue was barely enough to securely attach 2 D-Ring patches. Get HH-66 instead
  • HH-66 Vinyl Cement (preferred) or PVC glue
    • Be SURE you have enough glue available, especially if you apply multiple layers!
  • Pencil / Rubbing alcohol or acetone
  • Painter’s tape
  • Optional: Utility knife / Sand paper / Spoon

Determine D-Ring Placements

If you do NOT have D-Rings already on the board for attaching the seat(s), you will have to determine where to put them.

  • Single seat: Have 2 in front of and 2 behind the board’s center carry handle, but do not let the seat cover it entirely
    • The 2 rear ones should be directly below where your shoulders would be while sitting up
    • Runwave Kohala and DvSport Sunshine iSUPs were already configured for a center seat, but you could easily attach 2 D-Rings at the back to turn them into a tandem kayak
  • Double seat (tandem):  Space 8 D-Rings evenly for weight distribution
    • 4 rings in front of and 4 behind the board’s center carry handle
      • 2 should be directly below where your shoulders would be while sitting up
    • You can still use the iSUP with a single seat by sitting at the center or back
Tandem Kayak Seats /Tahe

Tandem Kayak Seats /Tahe

How To Attach D-Rings

Ideally, you will want to place the D-Rings directly onto the vinyl part of the inflatable board for the strongest bond. I watched someone filming herself attaching the rings onto the board’s deck pad, but be warned: doing so is not secure as the padding could come loose and drop your precious cooler down the ocean.

I had found that 3.15″ (8cm) diameter D-Ring patches are a good size. Larger ones like 4.3″ or 4.5″ would usually be too big to attach onto the side of the board if a deck pad is in the way.

Let’s go over the general steps of gluing D-Rings first. We will then go over how I removed part of my DvSport Sunshine iSUP’s deck pad to more securely attach the rings.

General Installation Steps

For more step-by-step pictures, see the “Deck Pad Removal” section (below) after reading through these general steps first.

  • Unroll the deflated iSUP
    • Some recommend to fully inflate the board, but I prefer it to be flat so the D-Ring patches can be weighed down easier (especially if they taper onto the side)
    • Ensure board is clean and dry
  • Determine where to place the D-Rings
    • It is best to put them onto the vinyl part (not the deck pad) of the iSUP near the top. It is okay for the patches to slightly go over to the side
  • Circle the outline of the D-Ring patches with a pencil onto the chosen locations
    • Optional: Lightly roughen up the board with sand paper where the D-Rings will be placed. Do that to the patches too
  • Clean the patches and the board with rubbing alcohol or acetone, ensuring no debris is left behind

Vinyl glue layering. Before you start, be SURE you have enough glue available for completion!

  • Brush a thin, even layer of HH-66 vinyl cement (preferred) or PVC glue onto the board within the D-Ring’s marked outline
    • Brush another thin layer of glue onto the D-Ring patch
    • Be sure to spread the glue over the entire, outlined area so not to miss a spot
    • Let sit for 1 minute until glue feels tacky
  • Apply a 2nd thin layer of glue onto both the board and the patch. Let sit for 3-5 mins
  • Add a 3rd layer of glue onto the board and patch and wait 30 seconds
  • Once the glue is gummy, firmly press the D-Ring onto the board
    • Smoothe out any air bubbles or humps with the back of a spoon
  • Clean any excess glue
  • Use painter’s tape to hold down the patch, especially the edges
    • Do not use strong adhesives like duct or electrical tape
  • Weigh down the patch or clamp it down
  • Let dry for 24-48 hours before inflating the iSUP. The closer towards the 48 hours, the better

Deck Pad Removal For Stronger Bond

For a more secure bond between the D-Ring patches and the iSUP, I partially removed the deck pad of my DvSport Sunshine iSUP.

Warning: Be extremely cautious of how deep you cut with the utility knife! Puncturing the iSUP will not be the end of day as that can be repaired, but take great care!

  • Outlined the D-Ring patches with a pencil onto the chosen locations
    • Carefully and lightly scored the deck pad part of the outline with a utility knife. Took great care not to puncture the deck
      • Tip: If the cut is not deep enough, lightly score some more. Repeat until you have reached the desired depth and clean up the remainder with a spoon
  • Lifted the deck pad with a spoon and carefully detached the part to be removed
  • If any part of the pad still needed to be trimmed, I used the spoon to scrape out the last bits and/or augmented it with the utility knife
Deck pad removal methods

Deck pad removal methods

  • Leftover pad bits were scraped away with the spoon until the deck was fairly smooth
  • Note in the next photo the carved, rounded “corners” along the edge of the pad. Sharp corners are more likely to snag than rounded ones
  • After cleaning the deck and patch with rubbing alcohol, both were lightly sanded to provide some extra grip for the glue to bond onto. Cleaned the surface again with rubbing alcohol
Deck and patch sanding

Deck and patch sanding

  • Applied three (3) thin layers of HH-66 vinyl cement or PVC glue onto both the board and the D-Ring patch
    • Layer 1 was left sitting for 1 minute until glue felt tacky
    • Layer 2 was left for 3-5 mins
    • Layer 3 was left for 30 seconds

Vinyl glue layering. Before you start, be SURE you have enough glue available for completion!

  • Once the final layer was gummy, the D-Ring patch was firmly pressed onto the deck and air bubbles smoothed out with the back of a spoon
  • Excess glue was cleaned, and painter’s tape was placed over the patch to secure in place. Ensured the patches’ edges were held down
  • Finally, the patches were weighed or clamped down with heavy books, then left to dry for 24-48 hours
Weighing down drying patch

Weighing down drying patch

D-Rings Attached: End Result

I was very pleased with the results. The D-Rings stayed on very securely and even looked like they were part of the original iSUP. My son thoroughly loved sitting in the South Bay Board kayak seat, napped comfortably a few times, and — an unexpected benefit — used the seat straps as a way to firmly hold himself onto the board. I asked him to always have both arms above the straps, however, in case the board flipped and got him trapped by the straps.

Kayak Accessories

Some kayak seats (like the South Bay Board) come with a storage zipper pocket attached to the back to store snacks, drinking water, windbreaker jacket, and other accessories. They usually can be removed and secured to the front bungee cords, too. The bag generally is water resistant (fine against splashes) but NOT waterproof (cannot be submerged) — so, keep that in mind if you plan on bringing things that cannot get wet.

You may want to consider these accessories for your iSUP/Kayak adventures:

Paddling with my son /Dam Vu Nguyen

Paddle Boarding Basics & Tips

We urge you to learn the basics to minimize injury, get more enjoyment out of your iSUP, and be familiar with how to choose and maintain your board so it will last longer.

Life Vests

Life Jackets are essential for your safety and can even be required by law. See our guide on Personal Flotation Devices (PFD): How To Choose A Life Vest For Kayaking, Paddle Boarding.

Where To Buy

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