SUP: The Power of Air

How the Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is Changing the World of SUP

What’s free and revolutionary, allows you to expand your horizons, and gives you a wider range of possibilities? Air, but not just any air. It is the air you put in your Red Paddle Company 12’6” Explorer SUP (Stand Up Paddle) Board. But before I get to the details of this incredibly versatile board, I wanted to take a moment to explain why you should consider an inflatable paddle board for your next SUP purchase.

Red Paddle Company 12'6" Explorer Inflatable SUP Board

Red Paddle Company 12’6″ Explorer Inflatable SUP Board’s removable fin.

There are three basic things most stand up paddle boarders look for in any board: stability, versatility, and performance. And yet, they assume, because inflatable paddle boards are, well, inflated, that somehow they will not be as stable nor will the provide that versatility and performance of a foam core board.

There are three basic things most inflatable stand up paddle boarders consider important in an inflatable SUP: stability, performance, and versatility. So what’s the difference between these two types of boards? Not much if you consider that both can be used in a variety of water situations, both can carry gear, and both offer a fun experience for all levels of stand up paddle boarder.

But this is where the comparisons end. An Inflatable paddle board like the Red Explorer can do one more very important thing: it can fold up at the end of the day and be packed away, or in some instances, packed out.

This particular board provides a high degree of stability when inflated, giving the board an unexpected rigidity and a high level of security. This board, when inflated, might even be mistaken for a solid board. Most Inflatable boards suggest a 15 PSI as an inflation limit. This one can go up to 25 PSI, allowing heavier SUPers the same experience as a lighter boarders.

Tracking is always a concern with inflatable boards, or so it seems when traditional boarders inquire about this type of board. The Explorer comes with one of the best fins in the business and it is removable. And this is a feature that might not prove as interesting as it did for me, but the fin can be installed before inflating or after. And because the fin box is a US design, you can change out the fin based on how you want the board to track on that particular day.

So is the board worth considering based on the board alone? If there are other things to mention about this product, it would be the consideration that Red put into two other features: the ties downs (it has nine) and the bag (it has wheels).

That sounds good, doesn’t it? Are there downsides, you might ask? Small ones and easily not worth considering. The board is heavier than most (but that weight adds to the different types of water you might encounter), it’s long (which can make fast turns difficult but it is ideal for touring), and it is not cheap (but then again, the features of this board make it one of the most highly rated by those who have purchased the board.

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