With all the new kayaks and paddleboards zooming around the ICAST Demo Day pond, Vibe’s new Uptown 100 Lite caught our attention with cool colors and smart rigging. In the years since Vibe first hit the water with no-nonsense fishing and recreational kayaks, they have matured into a real player in the full-feature fishing kayak race. Now, they are taking their experience and unique perspective to inflatable paddleboards.
First Look: Vibe Uptown 100 Lite
The company’s first inflatable is a modest but exciting addition to its line-up. Starting with a drop-stitch platform with a removable fin is pretty standard for blow-up boards. But that’s where the similarities end.
The most obvious departure is the pedal system that propels the little board. The Uptown can be rigged with either their X-Drive fin drive or a new Impulse propellor drive. This gives anglers the versatility to use the fin drive in shallow water or the prop drive for long-distance hauls and forward and reverse maneuverability. If you mostly fish skinny water, then the instant shallow-water clearance of the fin drive is a perfect choice. On the other hand, if long-distance days and precise boat positioning are most important, choose the versatility of the prop drive.
To match the drive, Vibe included a special version of their Summit seat. With the same comfortable mesh back and seat and durable construction, the Uptown 100 seat features shorter legs that can fold down to pack into the boat’s carry case.
A small rudder in the tail of the board controls directions. We are stoked to see Vibe choose durable and responsive stainless steel rudder cables to attach the rudder to the control knob.
Four gear tracks make it easy to add accessories like rod holders and cup holders. The board is peppered with D-rings for strapping down gear and tackle.
Uptown On-Water Performance
The Uptown is only 10 feet long but is 39 inches wide for plenty of stability. The small footprint allows the board to weigh in at around 30 pounds and pack up with the seat and accessories into a small TSA-approved roller bag. The Uptown 100 Lite comes ready for the water with the carry bag, a double-chamber pump, either the fin or prop drive, seat, rudder and patch kit.
A small inflatable paddleboard is intended to be easy to transport and store, but the short waterline usually sacrifices tracking and stability. Vibe solves the problem with the power and performance of the pedal drive and rudder.
Pedaling the Vibe was smooth and easy. The pedal lower unit and rudder improve tracking and stability. In fact, the short board is more wind resistant adding to the pedaling performance. At only 10 feet long, the Uptown turns easily and still maintains a straight line.
The drop stitch board is stiff and sturdy. When it is time to stand and fish, the board hardly wobbles. Even with the pedal drive, there is space to stand. Behind the seat, D-rings and bungees hold a small crate with rod holders and gear.
Vibe Impulse Drive
Sitting and pedaling is comfortable and efficient. I chose to test the Impulse drive since I already have experience with the reliable X-Drive in other Vibe models. Either drive is simple and sufficient for propelling the little board.
When I was standup paddling the Uptown, the drive and rudder contributed to stability and straight line tracking.
So, the Uptown 100 will still go anywhere and perform better than similar-size paddle-powered inflatable kayaks and boards. Now anglers looking for a small SUP don’t have to sacrifice performance on the water.
This board is super accessible for family fun with the range and versatility to take on longer adventures inaccessible to traditional kayaks and SUPs.