2018 red paddle co all round paddle boards best inflatable sups

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    2018 Red Paddle Co 9’8″ Ride

    From: $1199.00 $1079.00
The 2018 Red Paddle Co 9’8″ Ride inflatable stand up paddle board is an evolution of the 2017 model. A graphics refresh, refined features, attention to detail and upgraded bag round out the bigger changes over the 2017 version. After the huge step up in finish quality for the 2016 model year when MSL Fusion drop stitch construction was introduced, and now with a solid 2 years under their belt from this revolutionary change, the 2018 Red Paddle Co range updates focus on not only making the boards better looking but improves on the smaller details of the board, the bag and Titan Pump.

Note: This article is a review of the 9’8″ Ride, for more info on how to set up and use the board, please see our knowledge base area or view the Red Paddle Co User Manual.

We last reviewed this board for the 2015 model, it’s about time we looked at it again! So, what exactly have they updated for 2018? What features have they changed, what details are refined, are the boards better? Should I get a 2018 9’8″ Ride or stick with a 2017 model? In an attempt to answer these questions, let’s begin with the 2018 Red Paddle Co 9’8″ Ride review and videos. You’ll notice some similar info from our recent 2018 Red Paddle Co 10’6″ Ride review.

TL;DR: Red Paddle Co have yet again managed to improve on an already top quality board. With a larger 6-point cargo area, great deck pad and refined bag, this is one of the best all round boards for the smaller paddler, or a great board for a larger paddler looking to surf waves. Complete with industry best pump and bag, it’s hard to go past the 9’8″ Ride if you fit the board for your desired use.

Red Paddle Co in 2018

Red Paddle Co is at the forefront of inflatable SUP technology. From boards, to pumps, to bags and even the fixtures and fittings, they have always lead the way. Mainstreaming double layer boards with their first models, then introducing MSL Fusion in 2016, Red Paddle are never ones to sit still. Aside from MSL, we’ve seen Rocker Stiffening System (RSS) battens and the Forward Flex Control (FFC) rod, the double barrel Titan Pump, wheeled bag with stowable back pack straps, RAM mounts, tool-less fins and now a 2 year warranty.

Content to just improve the technical aspects of inflatable paddle boarding, Red Paddle Co’s line hasn’t seen much in the way of aesthetic changes since 2015. For 2018 however, Red Paddle Co has made range wide changes to the graphics, colors and names of models. Offering a more eye catching and eye pleasing range of boards, they have aligned their position of using market leading technology with some of the best looking boards available.

The bag

The 2018 inflatable sup bag is an updated version of the 2017 bag. Now in a charcoal color with red stitching. For 2018 they have moved the internal mesh pocket, used for a leash, fin, keys etc, to the inside of the front flap, making it more accessible than the 2017 version that had it hidden behind the paddle if a paddle was in the paddle pocket bungees. As mentioned the paddle bungee tie downs for a 3 piece paddle feature again, as does the foil lining on the bag material and upgraded zipper pulls.The foil lining improves the heat protection of the board if you leave it in your car or in a hot climate, and doubles as a waterproof lining so your wet gear won’t leak out of the bag after a session.

For your board, you have a strap to hold the board wrapped up but there is also a handy internal cinch strap which keeps your board positioned and secure in the bag during travel. The bag features an easy loading system where the bag zips all the way along 3 sides opening up wide so you can get your gear in and out very easily.

Bag dimensions remain the same at: 37″ high, 14″ wide and 12″ deep.

Space is aplenty for the Titan pump, a 3 piece paddle, leash and even wetsuit, PFD etc. The Titan Pump comes with the board wrapped around it which is a great space saving technique and something I continue to do. It also keeps the pump secure with the board when cinched down. With previous pumps, this wasn’t such an issue but as the Titan is a little bulkier it makes sense to use the space inside the rolled up board for something, keep it secure in the bag and have room for more. I’ll get into this more later in this review but thanks to the MSL Fusion construction process, the board also rolls tighter leaving you even more room in the bag for extras.

Carry handles on both sides, as well as the top and bottom give you, and baggage handlers, plenty of places to grab and carry the bag. The Sherpa backpack system is updated in 2018, the strap stash system has been updated to make it easier to access and stash the straps. The Sherpa system allows you to carry the bag on your back with comfortable shoulder and waist straps, or tuck them away out of sight and away from hungry baggage carousel gremlins and just roll the bag on the integrated wheels and be confident the bag will arrive safely. See more photos of the bag here.

As packaged from the factory the board is protected by a layer of plastic to separate the board from itself when rolled, small inflatable “water wings” which go around the fins to help them keep shape, the Titan pump in it’s own bag and a bag that bundles the whole lot. The water wings are the only things you’ll want to keep from all this packaging. They are handy to keep to protect the fins, though not vital as the iFins are very durable and can be straightened easily when heated. Read more here about straightening iFins.

The pump

The majority of the Red Paddle Co line now comes standard with the improved and more efficient Titan Pump. Overall the Titan makes pumping the board a much quicker process. The angled foot base and wide handle work well for me with my long legs and wide shoulders.

I always found the Ezee and Ezee HP a little small to get my frame around, sort of akin to an elephant trying to ride a bike. Anyway, Red have taken into account some of the ergonomics for comfortable and efficient inflation as well as doubling the input volume of air with every stroke.

Pump up to about 8-10 PSI on the included gauge and then you pull the red plug out of the back of the handle, affix to the little nub so it doesn’t flap around, and continue on the HP side to go all the way to 25 PSI. The Titan still beats any electric pump I’ve come across in inflation time, but yes, you do have to do the work…

Inflating the 2018 9’8″ Red Air Ride took me only 2 minutes and 30 seconds, plus 1 minute to install the RSS battens. The Titan pump makes very short work of inflating this low volume, 3.93″ thick, board.

The 2017 Titan Pump had been totally reworked internally and was even more efficient. The 2018 model continues with the improved handle design, beefier internal valves, hose adaptors for your favourite inflatable toys, it pumps even more smoothly and efficiently.

The board

Dimensionally, the board is the same as each year so far: 9’8″ long, 31″ wide and 3.93″ thick and construction wise it’s the same industry leading MSL Fusion that features across the whole Red Paddle Co range. Visually, a bigger update with improved graphics, fitting in with the deck graphics change is a re-worked deck pad grip layout – the diamond cut groove pad extends in the center providing better foot position awareness. Another big change is the larger 6-point cargo area so you can carry more things, more easily. Continued relatively unchanged are the rail and shoulder graphics, Railblaza and RAM Mount on the nose integrated with a d-ring. The carry handles though, are now a softer material on the outside, but still padded EVA inside.

Once again for 2018, thanks to the MSL Fusion construction, the board finish is so good it looks like a regular hard board. MSL, or Monocoque Structural Laminate Fusion, basically eliminates a lot of excess glue and human error. In previous years, the “board within a board” Red Paddle Co is famous for was primarily glued together, making a super durable board but adding extra weight and the potential for hand gluing or human errors.

This process consists of industrially fusing and machine pressing the inner layer of polymer to the high density drop stitch core at the raw material stage. Same “board with a board” construction but with material that is now structurally more sound, even more rigid, as well as lighter. More details about MSL over here. For 2018, Red Paddle Co have refined the MSL construction, tweaking materials, thickness and bond strength which means they’ve all but stopped batch inconsistencies and it allows them to make boards from the most advanced drop stitch available, without any unnecessary excess or errors.

MSL tech talk aside, what does this mean for the paddler? Well, the cosmetic finish is drastically improved over standard inflatables, the boards are about 20% lighter over the standard double layer boards, and since they are fused and machine pressed together, they are essentially one piece instead of 2 layers, and are structurally stiffer at lower pressure. Red Paddle Co recommend a pumping pressure of 16-22 PSI for most applications to make the most of these benefits and improve overall performance.

I’m 190lbs and I usually pump my Red Paddle Co boards to 20 PSI. I find this is a good balance between time pumping and on water performance. At my weight, I certainly wouldn’t want to go less than 20 PSI on this board.

The Rocker Stiffening System (RSS) works by inserting stiffening battens along the rails of the board. The battens then work against the downward force of the rider to produce a stiffer board by preventing flex – similar to how a stringer works on a hard board. The stiffening battens are removable for easy board rolling and can be stored in the carry bag for transportation to and from the water.

Using the RSS battens in addition to industry leading inflation pressures, it allows Red Paddle Co to make a thinner board which is a more authentic experience when it comes to rail shape and surfing but maintain as much stiffness as possible when paddling.

For a direct comparison of the 2017 and 2018 9’8″ Rides, move the slider to see the changes.


Red Paddle Co have famously tested the durability and toughness of their boards over the years. Most recently you can watch a series of unbelievable durability tests performed on a poor 2017 10’6″ Ride model. Also, take a look at a 2014 board taking a beating. Knowing that the Red Paddle Co MSL construction boards are this strong, should put your mind at ease!

So, the board is exceedingly tough and durable, but at what cost? I put the 2018 Red Paddle Co 9’8″ Ride on the scales and it weighed in at just 19lbs. For reference, the 2015 version of the board weighed in at 24lbs or more. That’s a 20% weight saving. This is a significant weight saving and is immediately apparent when you lift the board out of the box. Then when you have it inflated and carry to the water, much easier. On the water too, more responsive and easier to paddle. However, Red Paddle Co are careful not to make the boards too light. Yes, there is such a thing. Obviously the weight is there for rigidity and performance reasons, but we also need some weight in the board to control it in rougher waters or wind. A board with some weight is predictable and stable making it better suited to all paddlers.

Up a little closer we can once again see the edges of the material are cleanly cut, the glue lines that often wander on inferior brands are all perfectly straight thanks to the robots. To continue the attention to detail, the 6 tie-down d-rings are stainless steel with heavy duty bungee cord. The center carry handle is padded but no longer features the outer decal to improove the comfort and softness. There is also an updated carry handle integrated into the leash d-ring on the tail which is excellent for pulling the board through waves, up the beach or generally just holding on etc.

Since 2017, almost all of the Red Paddle Co inflatable paddle boards feature a Railblaza/RAM Mount, or two. These mounts use a special screw thread to which there are many compatible Railblaza/RAM Mount products, two of the world’s leading accessory bracket manufacturers. This mount enables you to securely attach a range of accessories, from GPS devices and cameras to fishing rods and cup holders. On the 2018 9’8″ Ride, the mount is integrated into the nose mounted d-ring.

The built in, super durable fins, or iFins, for 2018 are now embossed with the Red Paddle Co logo and remain in the same position which promotes better all round performance. The toe-in style of the 2 forward fins in the tri-fin or thruster arrangement helps the board perform and make turns in the waves. The fins remain closely bunched in this thruster arrangement near the tail for better tracking. An extra benefit of the close iFin positioning is a tighter roll up of the board.

The Red Paddle Co logos on the top and underside of the nose are screen printed on rather than a PVC layer in itself, further saving weight.

The rest

The package includes a repair kit with glue and patches, a waterproof phone case, and a general guide book with inflation instructions, pump tips and care tips inside the mesh pocket. Finally, a wrapping strap to keep the board rolled up.

On the water

Back when we first reviewed the board, the 2015 model, it had just come out. A merging of designs between two original Red Paddle Co models, the 10′ Surfer and the 9’6″ All Water, the 9’8″ Ride joined the Ride family as a great all round, cross over wave board. Unchanged in shape or outline since introduction, it is still a great combination of those two original boards. It took the wide and stable nose from the 9’6″ All Water, and the narrower tail from the 10′ Surfer. For paddlers under 180lbs, the shorter length and slightly narrower width than the 10’6″ Ride, the 9’8″ is much more manoeuvrable and manageable, on and off the water. Myself though, at 190lbs, I am better suited to riding this board in the waves. With rails at 3.93″ thick, in combination with the RSS battens, the board performs well riding waves. Being a bit heavier for general use, the board did tend to sit lower in the water and glide was minimal but as expected. For smaller paddlers though, it’s a better package suited to their more compact stature and weight. It doesn’t quite have the same relative stability as the 10’6″ due to the tail being a bit narrower but it does feature a wide and rounded nose so if you stand well forward, you still have a very stable board.

The 9’8″ Ride is also a good introductory board to river paddling. The more compact specifications lend itself to manoeuvrability, but serious white water paddles would be seeking more width in the rails over the rough stuff.

The updates in materials and deck pad improve the responsiveness and ease of handling. Handles are now softer and more comfortable and a treat to use to and from the water and getting back on the board. Cargo area is now larger and more useful with 6 stainless steel d-rings, it’s very secure with thick bungee cord.

The deck pad is large and comfortable. For 2018, it now has a “red” logo textured finish which is a nice touch yet still provides ample grip for general use and is very forgiving. Also new for 2018, the tail section of diamond cut textured EVA has a pointed front to it, meaning it extends further forward in the middle of the board, While this fits well with the new and improved deck graphics there is also a functional element here which provides better grip in the center and towards the tail for step back turns or surfing moves. The pointed front edge of the diamond groove deck pad helps locate your foot position when moving on the board. Much like an arch raise on a surf board tail pad. It helps you know where your foot is in relation to the tail and the center of the board without having to look down, in barefoot at least. The diamond texture also provides better grip for getting back on the board to ride waves along with the nice wedge at the end of the tail pad area.

Vitals

  • Length: 9’8″
  • Width: 31″
  • Thickness: 100mm, 3.93 inches
  • Volume: 196 liters
  • Weight: 19 lbs board only, 28 lbs with backpack and pump
  • Max payload: 180 lbs/82 kg for all-round and up to 210 lbs/95 kg for surfing
  • Warranty: 1 year, 2 years with product registration

Likes

  • Slick new and improved graphics with attention to visual details that now match the advanced construction and stiffness technologies
  • Top quality MSL Fusion construction with “hard-board-like” finish
  • RSS battens for improved stiffness
  • Quick inflation with the efficient Titan Pump
  • Clever internal packaging in the carry bag for secure transportation of paddle and other accessories
  • Accessories mount for things like GPS, camera or phone
  • Improved EVA deck pad with pointed diamond texture towards the tail for better feeling and grip
  • Fairly stable board for a smaller paddler
  • Thinner rails for paddlers who want to ride waves, larger paddlers who want to surf this board will appreciate the RSS battens with the thinner board
  • Larger 6-point secure cargo area
  • Bomb proof iFins
  • Two year warranty with board registration

Dislikes

  • I’m a bit heavy for it at 190lbs for general use. This board is better suited to paddlers under 180lbs. Although if you want this board for surfing, up to 210lbs is fine
  • RSS Battens are a pain to get in the first few times before the pockets loosen up
  • This board is so compact and light, the bulky Titan pump really sticks out. An Ezee Pump HP could be a nice lighter weight addition for a lighter more compact back pack to carry

In conclusion

The 9’8″ Ride is an amazing all round cruising board, designed for a rider under 180lbs wanting good all round performance on flat water, rivers, rapids or waves. Bigger paddlers will enjoy this board in the surf. Smaller to handle than the 10’6″ Ride so it’s good for the smaller all round paddler. More manoeuvrable than the 10’6″ Ride but not as small or surf oriented as the 8’10” Whip, so it’s better for waves for the intermediate to advanced regular sized or larger paddler.

Another top quality product from Red Paddle Co. The board, the bag, the pump, all top quality and hard to fault. I’m a bit big for this board for general use but in the waves it worked well. Pack it up and you have a surfing SUP in a bag under 30lbs with paddle! Can’t really go wrong with that. Now there is no excuse to travel the world for those empty barrels!

Find all the details here: 2018 Red Paddle Co 9’8″ Ride. Need some help choosing which board would work for you? Call us on 1-888-252-4983 or contact us via email here.

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About the author: Julian Kidd
I have been an avid stand up paddle boarder since 2009. I retired from professional kiteboarding to focus on SUP. Green Water Sports grew from this love of all things SUP. As well as being a keen paddle boarder, I'm a hockey fan, football fan, closet petrol head, web tinkerer, husband and father.

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