Whether you are actively shopping for a Red Paddle board or learning of the the brand for the first time, there is a lot you should know about the Red Paddle Co, plus an extensive assortment of boards to sort through before you can really understand the company and its offerings.
This article will cover Red Paddle Co's origins and where it stands in the SUP industry and also explain the product line in enough detail that you can narrow in on the board that best suits you. The final section will answer the most frequently asked questions about Red Paddle Co boards.
The purpose of this article is to help you figure out which Red Paddle Co 2023 board is the best fit for your needs. Rather than give you a series of confusing charts and specifications, or a list of boards with marketing-speak descriptions, we’ll tell you in plain language how to narrow down your search so that you know which boards to put on your shortlist.
Our goal is to make it easy to understand where your needs intersect with their product line and then give you the details necessary to make your choice.
If you are still getting familiar with the brand, some background information is in order:
Red Paddle Co was one of the first companies to design and produce high-performance inflatable SUPs, at a time when the industry was dominated by utilitarian and uninspiring board sold at warehouse stores.
At this time, there were just a handful of small companies attempting to make high-performance boards in the inflatable category, while the leading companies in the industry looked at inflatables as a cheaper and more portable alternative to hard boards.
Red Paddle Co saw and acted upon the need for inflatable paddle boards that could provide a viable and much more accessible alternative to hard boards for buyers wanting quality, high-performing equipment. The UK based company continues as one of a small number of performance-focused brands that are bucking the trend toward ever-cheaper mass-marketed boards that sacrifice performance and quality to achieve a low initial purchase price.
Red Paddle Co came on the scene with a focus on all-around boards, with the 10’6 Ride. The 10’6 Ride became well known as an all-around board that performed well enough to convince performance-minded buyers to go inflatable. To this day, the 10’6 Ride is still a very worthy all-around board, with a level of construction, and material quality that set it apart from mass market boards and all but a few brands that maintain a focus on building higher performing boards.
But where Red has transitioned too is its collection of more unique boards with an emphasis on speed, travel or specialty use.
Red continues to produce excellent all-around boards, though the company has become focused on designing a broad range of specialized boards with unique and specific performance characteristics and use cases.
Red Paddle Co started designing and manufacturing boards in 2008. Some milestones in Red Paddle Co’s product line evolution include: the 2011 introduction of the Red Air 10’6, which is the predecessor of the current 10’6 Ride; The 2012 introduction of Red’s first touring board, the 12’6 Explorer, later renamed Voyager, and the 10’8 Mega all-around board, later renamed 10’8 Ride; The 2013 rollout of 12’6 Race, which is now part of the Elite racing board series; The 2015 addition of the 10’8 Activ yoga board and 14’ Elite race board; the 2016 introduction of the lighter weight MSL construction; the 2019 introduction of the 9’6 Compact travel board; and the 2021 switch to flat cargo bungees on all boards and a twin-fin setup on various models that previously used three fins.
Today’s Red Paddle Co product line is comprehensive, covering most categories of inflatable paddle boards, including all-around boards, race boards, touring boards, surfing boards, yoga boards, windsurfing boards, and various other specialty models.
Buyers can experience sticker shock upon noticing that some Red Paddle Co boards cost multiples of the price of cheaper mass-marketed boards.
While acknowledging that the price of Red boards will be a stretch for many buyers, we also recognize that they fill a need they fill for those who are willing to invest in higher end equipment that will last longer and perform at a more nuanced level than boards that are mass produced to lower standards.
Red Paddle Co buyers generally fit into one of two categories. You are either buying a board for general use, perhaps as a beginning to intermediate paddler, or you have a specialized need and want the perfect board for the activity you will be doing the most.
General use all-around board buyers look to Red Paddle Co for a higher quality and better performing alternative to the many mass market boards flooding the market. Specialized-use buyers look to Red for boards that are designed and shaped for a specific purpose and have unique features performance characteristics for that purpose.
The key to choosing which Red Paddle Co board to buy is to ask yourself this basic question: What do I want to do with my board? The answer to this questions will determine which of the following categories you should be looking in.
For the rider who wants to do a little bit of everything on their board and is not looking exclusively for a single specific performance characteristic such as speed, surfing performance, or ultra-portability, an all-around board is generally the best choice.
For this, we would point you to the Ride series, particularly the 10’6 Ride for most riders under 200 lbs or the 10’8 Ride for riders needed a little extra weight capacity or enhanced stability. The 10'0 Ride (evolved from the previous 9'8 model) can also be considered as an all-round board for smaller, lighter riders or for more advanced paddlers who intend to use the board for surfing. New for 2023, the 12'0 All-Ride is a larger board with extra handles and attachment points designed to make paddle boarding more accessible to riders with balance issues or other special needs.
The Ride series, including the historically popular 10’6 Ride, takes its place on our Best All Around Inflatable SUPs list. They are lightweight boards with permanent fins and a universal shape that works well for various types of paddling.
Starting with the 2021 release of the Ride series, Red Paddle Co moved from the previous three-fin setup to a two-fin setup, eliminating the center fin and moving the side fins farther back on the tail of the board.
The new fin setup is designed to improve folding with a performance effect of maneuverability and turning speed in the surf, where the tracking effect of a center fin is not essential. The change however mostly results in a looser tracking feel to the board in general flat water use where most paddlers of these boards will find themselves.
Fin set ups contribute to the performance of each board shape for more information read our article on SUP Fin Systems - What You Need To Know Before Buying A Paddle Board.
For paddlers who want to put some speed into their paddling, the Sport series has several options with sleek outlines and other features to enhance glide and maximize speed. The Sport Series boards include a semi-rigid edge at the tail (“speed tail”) designed to make the board go faster by aiding in water release and are an option for those looking for more speed than a Ride series board would provide.
The 11’ Sport and 11’3 Sport, which have outlines that are more speed-optimized than the Ride series boards and have the RRS stiffening system and a removable center fin, though are somewhat straddling the line between the all-around and touring categories.
The 11’ Sport, at 30” width, is designed with speed as a priority, but since it has a low profile, being only 4.7” thick, still provides good stability for lightweight riders or medium weight riders with intermediate paddling skills.
The 11’3 Sport has the same fast outline shape as the 11’ but with its 32” width, it crosses over more into all-around board territory. It is similar to a 10’6 ride, but with an extended nose section and a sleeker outline shape. The extended water contact area from being a longer board with low rocker increases straight ahead speed compared to shorter all-around boards, but at no cost to stability and only a slight decrease in turning quickness, which the rider can adjust for with a minor rearward adjustment to foot position.
The 12’6 Sport is more of a dedicated touring shape, but just a little narrower than the Voyager for increased speed, and has the simplified single center fin, which is optimal for straight-ahead speed paddling.
With its 30” width, it is positioned somewhere between a touring board and a race board. The board has enough stability to serve as an every day excursion board for experienced riders but is narrow enough for some recreational racing or race training.
Red Paddle Co has a number of boards that are suitable for distance paddling, but the four boards in the Voyager series (formerly named ‘Explorer’ series), the 12’6 Voyager (12’6”x32”x6”), the 13’2 Voyager (13’2”x30”x6”), and the 12’ Voyager (12’x28”x4.7”), and the 15' Voyager Tandem (15'x34"x8") are the models designed specifically for SUP touring.
What makes them ideal for touring is their length (12’6”, 13”2”, 12’, and 15') which increases glide, the choice of widths (34", 32” and 30” and 28”) to meet different stability and weight capacity preferences, and accommodations for cargo.
The 12’0 Voyager, with its thickness of just under 5 inches and relatively narrow 28” width, will handle less volume than the larger Voyager boards, but is a good choice for lighter paddlers who are confident their balance. Comparing the 12'6 and 13'2 boards, the 13’2” will paddle faster in a straight line due to its longer and narrower outline, the 12’6” will be more stable and generally easier to handle. The 15' Tandem Voyager is a unique board designed for two riders paddling simultaneously.
Voyager series boards (except the Tandem) are equipped with Red’s RSS stiffening battens to further enhance rigidity. The newest versions of the Voyager boards have a twin fin system that utilizes two US center fin boxes in the side fin positions and eliminates the main fin that would normally be in the center of the tail. Total fin surface area is increased with this modification, which may increase lateral stability at the tail, with the expected tradeoff being a minor increase in drag and some additional weight from the added fin box.
The Voyager series boards also have V-Hull shape at the front end of the board, which is designed to channel water under the nose to aid in tracking. Both boards in the series are equipped with a center fin box compatible with US and FCS-standard fins and a pair of long but shallow tracking fins on the sides for lateral stability at the tail.
The Voyager boards are featured in our Best SUP Touring Boards. We feel they provide a good all-around touring series that offers enough features to satisfy most paddler who know what they are looking for in a reliable touring shape.
The Red Paddle Co 8'10 Compact, 9’6” Compact, 11’0” Compact, and 12’0” Compact are all-around boards that are designed to fold down smaller than other inflatables so that they can be packed in a smaller travel bag. To make this possible, the Compact is made from a thinner and lighter base MSL fusion material. To achieve optimal rigidity with the lighter material, the design includes a pair of stringers on both sides of the board to reinforce the board structure.
The deck pad has a gap down the middle and the handle is slightly off-center so that the board can be folded in half along its length before folding from nose to tail, resulting in a smaller folded board that fits in a half-height pack.
The core all around Compact boards are 32” in width and 4.7” in thickness and have removable fins, which makes them a more travel-friendly alternative to the Ride series.
The 9’6 is the easiest to maneuver on the water. The 11’0 version adds some glide to the equation by virtue of its extended length. The 12’0 version is the fastest board of the Compact series and is great for longer excursions and touring where glide efficiency is helpful.
The Compact kit includes a 5-piece collapsible paddle that fits in the bag with the board and a basic 8-foot Red coiled ankle leash.
Serious paddle surfing is typically done on hard boards, but there are times when you just can’t take your hardboard with you and you’ll miss out on opportunities to surf as a result. An inflatable SUP with good surfing capabilities can get you on the waves in these situations while also serving as a portable paddle board that you can take anywhere. While most inflatable paddle boards can be used for catching waves, Red has a couple of boards that are designed specifically with surfing in mind.
The 8’10 Compact is a board that incorporates design features lending it specifically to ocean surfing. The board’s short length and 4-inch thickness removes it from consideration as an all-around board, except perhaps for kids and really small adults.
The board’s rigidity is enhanced by the RSS stiffening system which helps make up for the inherently less rigid 4-inch build, resulting in a board that is thin, but not too flexy. The tail is narrower than other boards in Red’s product line, lending itself to carving of bottom turns, while a wide rounded nose gives balance and a softer landing off the drop balanced against less speed out of it.
The 10'0 Ride is a board that Red places in their all-around series, but we feel that it equally can be positioned in the surfing category. Like the 8'10 Compact, it is built with a 4” thickness with reinforcement from the RSS stiffening system. Also like the 8'10 Compact, it has a narrow tail, which is beneficial for some surfing maneuvers but reduces the overall stability of the board for general paddling. For some smaller riders, it can bridge the gap between a surf SUP and an all-around board. The 10'0 Ride has a set of twin permanent fins at the tail and no center fin, which results in a loose / wider pivot feel from the board while turning.
The 10’8” Activ is a 34” wide board that is particularly adapted to SUP yoga, pilates, and other in-place fitness activities. It shares the same outline with the 10’8” Ride, but is an inch thicker, which is intended to keep you higher off the water to stay dry while lying prone on the board. (The drawback to this is that the stability of the board is reduced, which can make balance more challenging during Yoga poses.) In place of a center handle, it has a pair of handles spread out to the edges of the board and a set of D-rings along the rail that could be used to attach a shoulder strap. The Activ can be used for all-around paddling, but the absence of a bungee system presents a problem if you want to take anything on board.
SUP Yoga can also be done on all-around paddle boards if they are equipped with certain features, a dedicated Yoga centric board isn't a must. You can read more in our Yoga SUP Buyers Guide.
SUP racing is another area where hard boards are the norm, but an inflatable race board can solve some problems and open opportunities that might be off-limits with a hard board.
Red Paddle Co. offers a pair of boards designed for competitive racing, featuring long and narrow outlines and a series of technical innovations to enhance performance. The RSS Rocker Stiffening System uses battens inserted into pockets on both sides of the boards to increase board stiffness. The FFC Forward Flex Control System utilizes a carbon fiber pole on the front section of the deck to further control board deflection and increase speed and responsiveness in racing situations. Nose fins or bumpers, a niche feature on a SUP board, help keep the board slicing through the water when the tip of the board is in contact with the water.
Red has two boards in the racing category: The 12’6”x28” Elite and the longer and narrower 14’x27” Elite. As a general rule, the 14’ version will paddle faster in ideal conditions, but the 12’6 version, which is an inch wider, will be more balanced when the water gets choppy.
While these boards are the market standard for racing on an inflatable SUP, if you are looking for a fast board for touring or leisure paddling, we recommend looking at the Voyager or Sport series boards which are wider and have better stability for everyday paddling.
This synopsis of the Red Paddle Co product line should allow you to narrow down to a shortlist of boards to consider in more detail, based on how you intend to use the board, The next step is to visit the product page of each board you are seriously considering, which you can find on our Red Paddle Co Collection page.
Read on for answers to questions we often get about Red Paddle boards. If you would like some direct assistance in choosing a board, we welcome you to give us a call or shoot us an email with your questions.
Pumped Up SUP is an online store specializing in high-performance inflatable stand up paddle boards and accessories. We're always happy to answer your questions - just give us a call at 1-877-777-1769.
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Here are answers to some of the questions we get most often regarding Red Paddle boards:
Red Paddle boards cost more than the average inflatable paddle board because they are built to higher standards that most paddle boards and include many upgrades in materials, components, and features. While the initial investment is higher, the lifetime ownership cost is lowered by the longevity of their boards.
It is up to the individual buyer to decide if the initial higher expense of a Red Paddle Co SUP will fit into their medium to long term paddling plans.
We offer a range of paddling boards from industry leaders and will work with buyers to ensure we have a board package that will suit all types of paddler from the weekend warrior to industry professionals.
Most Red Paddle Co inflatable SUP boards come with a bag, Titan II Pump, and fins with mounting hardware if the board has removable fins. The provided bag fits the boards well when they are rolled properly and is wheeled for easy transport in airports. The Titan II Pump moves a lot of air in the low-pressure phase of pumping, but it’s a lot to carry around and it’s still a workout to get to 15 psi.
Red Paddle Co boards purchased from Pumped Up SUP also come with an option on a discounted carbon hybrid paddle (or choice of full carbon paddle upgrade), a coiled, straight or hybrid leash, and a handheld pressure gauge / dry bag option.
Other accessories that you will likely need, can be added at a discount at the time of board purchase, including portable electric pumps and personal flotation devices.
You can leave your Red Paddle Co boards inflated for as long as you want if you have an appropriate place to store them. For maximum longevity of your board, we recommend storing it in an indoor or covered location, away from extreme temperatures or direct sun exposure. You only need to deflate your board when you want to put it in its bag for longer term compact storage or transport.
Ensure your board is protected from rodents and household pets such as cats / dogs so if in doubt, rolled up in its backpack is the safest option.
Red Paddle Co is a UK-based company and has a Chinese owned partner production facility where boards are manufactured to their specifications and quality standards.
Red Paddle Co recommends inflating their boards between 15 and 22 PSI. In our experience, 15 psi is an ideal inflation pressure for most uses, and inflating to higher pressure does little to improve board performance, except for riders that are at the high end of the board’s weight capacity and some specialized uses.
Most beginners start with a Ride Series board, which is shaped for stability and all-around use. The 10’6 Ride is a great choice for most mid-weight recreational riders and the 10’8 Ride is an option for riders looking specifically for added stability and weight capacity.
Beginners can often feel overwhelmed with options so we suggest looking at our article A Beginner’s Guide To Choosing A Paddle Board to get a better understanding of the features you want to look for.
Red Paddle Co boards, with the exception of larger boards for group paddling, range in weight from 16 lbs for the 9'6" Compact to 30 lbs for the 13'2 Voyager.
For general cleaning of your Red paddle board, we recommend using soapy water and a brush. Fill a bucket with water, add a squirt of dish detergent, and brush it over all surfaces with just enough pressure to remove any dirt or grime from the board surfaces.
Follow this with a rinse from a hose to remove any soap residue. For more stubborn stains, you can try a variety of stain removal products, but you should test any product on a small area. Be particularly careful with printed areas, as any ink or paint that is not protected with a clear coating may be damaged or wiped off by solvents.
For the average paddler anticipating varied uses for the board, we recommend a 32” width board. Some Red Paddle Co boards with 32” width include the 10’6 Ride, 11’3 Sport, 12’6 Voyager, and all of the Compact series boards. Riders wanting more speed can go narrower and/or longer and consider the 11’x30” or 12’6x30” Sport, 13’2x30” or 12’x28” Voyager, or 12’x32” Compact.
Correct board sizing is matching the physical traits of a paddler with their intended use of the board. For a better understanding of the topic please see our detailed article What Size SUP Board Is Right For You?
Red Paddle Co boards can be stored either rolled or inflated, depending what storage space you have available. Storing your board in a covered, dry, moderate temperature environment without direct sun exposure is suggested. It is also recommended to release some pressure from the board for long term inflated storage and to clean the board before putting it away.
Red Paddle Co boards are made from better and more expensive materials than mass market boards and are hand-built to very high standards. The high-quality components and accessories that come with the boards also add to their cost. The boards are designed to last longer and perform better, which make them a good investment that pays off over time.
Most Red Paddle Boards can be inflated within 7-12 minutes, but this will vary depending on the board volume and the fitness and energy level of the person inflating the board. An electric inflator can inflate the boards in a similar time frame, but without the physical exertion. We list approximate inflation times for the ERS 12VDC Electric SUP pump on each Red Paddle Co Board Page.
Red Paddle Co boards come with a double-barrelled Titan II hand pump for manual inflating, but can also be inflated with electric pumps designed specifically for SUP boards.
The Titan Pump works well though the much hyped advantages of dual barrel pumps don't play out in reality. Initial pumping is faster but they are required to be switched to their single action sooner than most single barrel pumps because of the increased pressure in the pump chambers.
Most Red Paddle Co boards do not come with a paddle, with the exception of the Compact series boards, which come with a 5-piece collapsible paddle that fits in the small bag with the board. However, Pumped Up SUP offers its own add-on paddle deals on Red Paddle Co boards, allowing the buyer to select the paddle they want at a package discount price.
The latest version of the Red Paddle Co Titan Pump weighs approximately 5 lbs.
To inflate a Red Paddle Co boards, you can use any SUP-specific inflator that is designed to work with Halkey-Roberts SUP valves, which are the most common type of valve used in the paddleboard industry. Be advised that tire pumps and air mattress inflators are not suitable for SUP board inflation because they don’t provide the right combination of flow and pressure that is needed for an inflatable paddle board.
Pumped Up SUP offers a reliable and efficient inflator that works with Red Paddle Co boards and can be added to your board purchase at a substantial discount at the time of board purchase.
The changes in Red Paddle Co boards from 2022 to 2023 are mostly cosmetic with a few minor tweaks to features on some models. The difference in cost is in the $2-300 range, which you could apply toward purchasing upgraded accessories, such as a full carbon paddle or a reliable electric pump so it is a decision each buyer will make themselves.