Explaining the ISS Stringer System
The ISS, or Interchangable Stringer System, has been recently invented and it's had a huge impact on bodyboarding. Here's why.
Before we dive in, if you're unaware of what a bodyboard stringer is, in essence, it's a strong, flexible tube or rail that goes down the center of a bodyboard.
Some bodyboards have as much as two or three stringers. You can view more information about a stringer in our bodyboard buying guide here.
Stringers come into play even more for advanced and pro bodyboarders, who often have to have multiple boards with differing stringer types and amounts for differing surf conditions.
In the past, bodyboarders had to manually insert stringers into some boards.
The ISS essentially removes this process, by providing a tube to insert any type of ISS-compatible stringer on demand, whenever the rider feels the need for a change.
This allows the rider to dynamically change their board for whatever environment they're going to be bodyboarding in.
ISS STRINGER TYPES
There's four main types of ISS stringers. Each is built for a different ride style or surf condition.
ISS CARBON FIBRE
The first type of ISS stringer is ISS Carbon Fibre.
They make this stringer out of aerospace-grade 3K carbon fibre. This stringer type is lightweight and extremely dense. Remember, this is the same material you see on a lot of supercars.
ISS recommends the ISS Carbon Fibre stringer type for warm water temperatures, or for any rider looking for serious speed.
The second ISS stringer is ISS Midflex. This one is made out of 20% Carbon and 80% Fiberglass.
ISS recommends the ISS Midflex for milder water temperatures.
The third type of ISS stringer available is ISS Stifflex+. This is ISS' stiffest stringer type, and for a reason. It's made of 60% interwoven Carbon and 40% Fiberglass.
This stringer type is exceptionally strong. ISS recommends it for those that are rail bodyboarding.
Last but not least, we have ISS Softflex. This ISS stringer is built for a softer flex.
Made out of 20% Fiberglass weave and 80% Unidirectional Fiberglass, ISS notes that this one is built for colder climates where you'd want a more flexible board.
THE ISS KEY
The ISS key is utilized to quickly swap stringers - you can both tighten and loosen stringers utilizing the ISS key.
To tighten a stringer in, you can turn the key clockwise.
To loosen a stringer, you simply turn the key counterclockwise five times.
The ISS key is a durable fiber-reinforced polymer.
THE ISS TAIL PLUG
The tail plug is used to cover your stringer once installed. It protects the area, preventing saltwater and sand from entering the compartment.
If you're purchasing an ISS, you definitely want to have a tail plug as well, as that saltwater and sand can really degrade not only the stringer but the stringer lock and compartment as well.
Luckily, it's a fairly cheap part.
INSTALLING AN ISS STRINGER
Before installing an ISS Stringer, you need to ensure that you've got a compatible board.
VS, NMD, Hardy Shapes and Pride Bodyboards make a few, and the catalog of ISS-supported boards will no doubt expand in the very near future.
Once you know you've got a solid board to install your ISS Stringer on, it's super easy.
All you have to do is the following:
- Insert the ISS stringer into the slot.
- Insert the ISS key into the stringer slot and turn the key clockwise 5 times.
- Go for a session!
When you're done, just turn the key counterclockwise 5 times and slowly pull out the stringer rod for later use.
STRINGER SIZE PER BOARD LENGTH
For bodyboards from 37.5" to 39.25", ISS recommends a Small size stringer.
For bodyboards from 39.5" to 41.25", ISS recommends a Medium size stringer.
For bodyboards from 41.5" to 43.25", ISS recommends a Large size stringer.
For bodyboards from 43.5" to 45.25", ISS recommends a X Large size stringer.
CARING FOR AN ISS STRINGER
ISS recommends to always do the following:
- Slowly insert and remove stringers. If you remove and insert them too quickly, you could mess up the stringer and the insert point.
- Like all gear, thoroughly rinse before and after each session. You don't want sand or saltwater to slowly degrade your brand new ISS stringer. Remember to rinse both the stringer and the stringer compartment. Ideally, you want to leave your board out overnight after rinsing the compartment to let the inside dry.
- Only use official ISS stringer keys designed to insert and remove stringers. Using other tools may mess up the stringer, or stringer compartment.
- Check stringers frequently. You definitely don't want to be riding with a broken stringer.
- Don't drop your board or stringers on rough surfaces. This could cause the stringer, stringer compartment, or board to break.
- Use only official ISS stringers. Other types of stringers may be too big or too small for the compartment, which can add stress or damage to your board.
- Never over-tighten with the stringer key. This can cause damage and wear to the lock point.
- Remove ISS stringers when not in use. If you leave them in the board excessively, it puts excess strain on your board. Luckily, removing them is just five easy turns.
- If you're traveling by air, definitely remove the stringer first. The changes in pressure can cause issues with an ISS stringer.
- Swap out ISS stringers accordingly. Remember that the whole point of ISS stringers is to interchange them as you please! It's best to pick up a couple and ride them in differing types of conditions and see what best fits your ride style. Every bodyboarder has their own personal preference!