This 12’6” Sport SUP from Red Paddle Co is in the company’s touring line of boards. Red Paddle Co is unique in that they offer only inflatables. In other words, if anyone knows how to make a good inflatable, they do. The company has been around since 2008 and, judging from the accents of many of the folks on video, their HQ is in the UK. I was in Hungary this spring and was considering a trip to Lake Balaton. I did a little research and noticed that the paddleboarding rental shop there was outfitted with Red Paddle Co SUPs. Exclusively. This leads me to believe that the company has a pretty big footprint--in Europe and North America.
Here, below, is a video we shot of the Red Paddle Co. 12’6” Sport:
For a number of reasons, most of the boards we’ve reviewed here on Backcountry Skiing Canada are inflatables. This is our second year reviewing paddleboards and last year, we reviewed the Sevylor Willow. Virtually every paddleboard manufacturer now makes at least one inflatable--likely because they’re easy to pack and transport, feature bombproof construction and are almost indistinguishable from their rigid counterparts. For our review of the Boardworks Shubu Raven, which is a direct competitor to the 12’6” SUP from Red Paddle Co, click here to take a look.
A total of 19 Red Paddle Co SUPs are grouped into the following categories: all-around, touring, race, junior, yoga, whitewater, surf and windsup. In other words, there is a board for everyone. If you are keen on instructional videos, Red Paddle Co has a boatload on their site.
And, let’s look at a few pics to get a better idea of the features and benefits of the Red Paddle Co 12’6” Sport:
Here, all laid out, are the contents of the box. Left to right: 1) pump hose, 2) patch kit, 3) super cool roller bag, 4) Titan pump, 5) deflated board and 6) the RSS battens. Note that the water resistant phone case didn’t make it into the picture.
Here’s the sturdy pump valve. The 12’6” Sport can handle 20 PSI—that’s a big jump up from many iSUPS. I don’t like the social media logos featured here—maybe I’m just old fashioned. Here is one of two handles and a D ring.
Here is the other handle (at “midship”) Note that there are two EVA surface treatments. The alligator skin, pictured here, and the more common diamond patterned program near the stern. I like the feel of the alligator surface and find the grip to be great.
Here are the bungee cords on the foredeck. These came in handy but, on one overnight trip in the fall, I found myself wanting another bungee in the rear for improved weighting when carrying a full load (see the RPC Explorer 13’2”)
More-or-less standard US fin box with swappable fins (just one included).
Side view showing off the 6” thickness. Makes the board stiffer overall.
Here are the RSS battens, slotted in. These are central to making the board feel as stiff as many rigid boards. Good idea.
Here’s the D ring on the “hull” upfront. Very handy for tying the board, inflated, to the roof of your vehicle if you so choose.
Here’s the full board, topside:
And the underside:
Because Red Paddle Co. is focused solely on inflatables, they are ahead of the pack in figuring out, and addressing, many of the issues that were identified with first-gen boards like the Sevylor we mention above. The main issue, for me and other paddlers, is stiffness. With earlier boards like the Sevylor Willow, there was a “bowing” effect just forward of the handle and your feet position. This was because of the weight exerted on that point of the board and the fact that there was pressure/weight/energy added with every stroke. Current Red Paddle Co boards have addressed this with their batten system, known as Rocker Stiffening System (or RSS), and a 5.9 inch thickness which also contributes to the board’s rigidity. The result is a SUP that is virtually indistinguishable from a rigid board. Perhaps one can feel a little flex but it’s a vast improvement over first generation boards.
The 12’6” Sport is a good choice for people keen to try out something that’s a little “sportier” than other SUPs in Red Paddle Cos touring line. The closest board in size and shape is the 12’6” Explorer. At two inches wider, the Explorer is likely a little more stable but less easy to foot-steer with weighting.
Though the board itself is what really matters, the Red Paddle Co Titan pump deserves mention. All the manufacturers say how easy it is to pump up an inflatable board. I have to say that I disagree with that statement until I used the Titan pump. Its dual chamber (one big, one little) program is a simple yet smart way to expedite pumping and save your energy for paddling. The bag (with! rollers!) is also a pretty cool value add. Big and burly, it works on your back for a hike up to an alpine lake or in an airport—thanks to the roller assist.
|Quality / Price||1/2|
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