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Review of the 2019 Red Paddle Co 9’6″ Compact inflatable paddle board

The future is here, the future is now. Red Paddle Co have raised the bar again. Half the size, double the adventure.
 Ten years in the making, the revolutionary Red Paddle Co Compact 9’6” is a full-sized inflatable stand up paddle board which folds down to half the size of a conventional inflatable paddle board but maintains all the full size performance characteristics, features and usability.

The Red Paddle Co 9’6″ Compact is as stiff and durable as all Red Paddle Co boards. Offering the same top-level performance and supporting riders up to 210 lbs/95 kg but with the convenience to easily transport the board and paddle around town, jump on a train or on your bike, plus easily store it in your apartment or on your boat.

The 2019 Red Paddle Co Compact 9’6″ is designed for paddlers who want the convenience of a board that packs down to half the size of a regular inflatable SUP without compromising on performance.

Unique to the compact 9’6″ is that it ships complete with 5-piece paddle and coiled leash for the full package.

Is the Compact 9’6″ truely a revolutionary board? With a high price, come high expectations. Does Red Paddle Co deliver or is this a lot of hype about a board that’s only trick is that it can pack down smaller?

TL;DR: The 2019 Red Paddle Co 9’6″ Compact is a ground breaker. It brings the inflatable paddle board into the homes, cars and boats of those who weren’t so sure about the convenience of inflatable SUP storage vs performance. It rides like the renowned 10’6″ Ride but stows like a 5′ board! It’s a halo board in that it is what we all aspire to own and ride, but can’t necessarily justify. One thing though, trickle down of technology to the standard boards for everyone is what excites us most. Something to keep in mind: Bundle a premium carbon paddle and leash with a different Red Paddle Co board, and you aren’t far off the price of this package – so despite the initial sticker shock, it’s in the realm for most. The future is bright!

Red Paddle Co in 2019

Red Paddle Co is at the leading edge 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 a 2 year warranty.

Now though, they have upped the game considerably with PACTTM Technology, a new weaving process creates an extra-high-tensile thread matrix at the core of the board that combines with a super-strong but malleable outer layer and a tensile quad stringer-system. But, before we get to the board, we must open the bag.

The bag

The Red Paddle Co Compact backpack is highly engineered to offer unique levels of adjustability and comfort, plus incredible shoulder and back support. It’s the most highly engineered and feature rich inflatable SUP bag we’ve seen to date, and the marketing material will have you believe it applies approximately 53% less downforce on the carrier’s lower back, so you can travel in comfort for longer. With customizable lumbar support and adjustable height features, it’s suitable for almost any size of paddler. But it has oh so many more features:

  • Tubular closed cell padding on the handles
  • Concentrated shoulder padding
  • Brushed cotton shoulder and back cushioning
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • All these combine to make it a pleasure to carry, whether you’re on a short walk to the water or off on an epic adventure.
  • Bag dimensions: Height: 22″, Width: 16.5″, Depth: 11″

The Red Paddle Co Compact inflatable sup bag features an internal mesh pocket, bungee tie downs for a 5 piece paddle and upgraded zipper pulls. It 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.

Space is tight but enough for the board, Titan pump, fins, the 5 piece paddle and leash, and even a small wetsuit or PFD etc. The Titan Pump comes with the board wrapped around it which is a great space saving technique and crucial to fitting everything into this bag.

Carry handles on both sides, as well as the top, give you, and baggage handlers, plenty of places to grab and carry the bag. The backpack system is features an adjustable lumbar pad, adjustable shoulder and waist straps so you can carry the bag on your back in comfort.

As packaged from the factory the board is protected by a layer of plastic to separate the board from itself when rolled, the Titan pump in it’s own bag and a bag that bundles the whole lot. Now, to more about the pump.

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 2019 9’6″ Red Paddle Co 9’6″ Compact took me just under 3 minutes.

The latest Titan Pump has been totally reworked internally and was even more efficient. With the improved handle design, beefier internal valves, hose adaptors for your favourite inflatable toys, it pumps even more smoothly and efficiently.

The paddle

The new Compact 9’6″ package also includes Red Paddle Co’s innovative new 5-piece, adjustable paddle. Individual shaft sections are constructed from a rigid, high-modulus carbon. They joins have been cut on an angle to minimize twisting and are assembled with a push-pin system. The nylon blade delivers durability and performance.

A LeverLock grip adjustment system enables the paddler to easily adjust the paddle from 71 to 80 inches. The complete paddle weighs in at about 1.8 lbs. A bonus with this paddle, individual shaft sections can be removed to create a shorter paddle suitable for smaller riders. Removing one section yields a paddle with an adjustable range of 55 to 64 in, making it a great choice for families.

The paddle packs away perfectly into the bag, with marked pockets for the sections to slide into. It is an extremely compact, multi-piece paddle that is a bit heavier than others, yet still highly adjustable and there’s no compromises in performance when paddling on the water.

The board

All-new technology. The future of paddle boarding… Using PACTTM Technology, the 9’6″ Compact is the most user-friendly and accessible SUP around. The shape of the Compact 9’6″ is based on the award-winning Ride 10’6″. The dimensions come in at 9’6″ long, 32” wide and 4.72” thick, with a wide nose and tail which make it a really stable yet manoeuvrable board. Weighing in at approximately 17 lbs or 30 lbs for the full package – board, pump, leash, pump and bag, you can easily fold, roll and go on your next SUP adventure.

The Compact 9’6″ is built in Red Paddle Co’s standard all round board 4.72″ (120mm) thickness, making the board rigid, yet still allowing the rider to keep a low center of gravity for improved stability and performance. As board thickness is relative to stiffness (meaning a thicker board is generally stiffer), Red Paddle Co use a thickness for purpose to provide a more authentic experience but use advanced technologies to improve stiffness. This means you can have an all round board just 4.7″ thick, instead of 6″ or even 8″ thick.

PACT™ Technology is a new drop stitch weaving process which creates an extra-high-tensile thread matrix at the core of the board that combines with a super-strong but malleable outer layer and a tensile quad stringer-system. This new technology provides a board that always keeps its shape when inflated, but packs down to an ultra-small size once you’ve let out the air.

While it looks very similar to MSL, PACT is softer to the touch and I can best describe it as a very fine quality, soft leather feel, whereas MSL is more like your standard leather upholstered car seat or chair. This is the malleable outer layer, a crucial part of the foldability and compactness of this board.

The Compact 9’6″ takes advantage of this new malleable, softer MSL construction. Folding in half before rolling, the board shows you how it gained the Compact name. To take advantage of this foldability, a 3″ wide “living hinge” was created by relocating the valve, handle, leash d-ring and a new twin fin arrangement. This uninterrupted line down the center of the board allows it to fold in half before rolling up.

Dual stringers are added to the top and bottom of the board to improve stiffness. This is achieved by reducing the elongation and compression of the top and bottom decks of the board. They also help controlling the twist of the board. As a paddler stand on top of the board, the deck sags a fraction and the extra stringer thickness prevents this. At the same time, the underside of the board stretches around the paddlers weight and the stringers prevent the stretch. For more detailed info on stringer see this article here.

Based on MSL, or Monocoque Structural Laminate Fusion, PACT also 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.

The MSL Fusion 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. PACT and MSL 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.

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!


The fins

The 9’6″ Compact uses a simple click fin system with a secondary grub screw for added security. The twin fin boxes themselves are also compatible with standard FCS fins, so you can easily customise the feel of your board on the water with higher performance surf style fins, shallower river style fins for example. The twin fin arrangement is another part of the “living hinge” of the Compact, allowing it to fold down the middle.

The Compact comes with two removable red 5.25″ FCS fins with lock pins. The fins slot into the boxes and then slide back to engage the lock pins. Using the fin key located in the cell phone case locks the fins in place with the grub screws (the same as standard FCS fins). Without locking the fins in with the grubs screws, a hit on the back of the fin can slide them forward and release them. We always suggest using the key to tighten the grub screws, it’s part of set up rather than an optional feature. The two fins stow easily inside the backpack, in the mesh pocket.

Being slightly larger and deeper than the standard iFins as found on the Ride models, you don’t really notice a difference between the two versus 3 fins set up.

The rest

The package includes a standard repair kit with glue and patches, a waterproof phone case, and a Compact 9’6″ 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

Being modelled on the extremely popular 10’6″ Ride (one of the go to boards in my quiver – read the 10’6″ Ride review here), this board handles all round duties extremely well. Despite being 1′ shorter, the wider nose and tail areas provide more than enough stability. This wider nose and tail areas also give a more square outline with parallel rails, coupled with the deeper and larger twin FCS based Click Fins the tracking is pretty good.

The 9’6″ length means the board turns and manoeuvres very easily. Moving my feet around on the split deck was a little disconcerting at first while my feet learned to follow the grip areas. This is not an issue at all for general use paddling when you’re typically standing with one foot on either side, but in surf situations, I found myself thinking about foot placement more than usual. Being a foot shorter and the larger and deeper fins helped the Compact perform a little bit better than the 10’6″ Ride in small waves.

Being a shorter all round board, glide is only ok, but as with all boards, compromises are made and this is a trusty do it all board with the latest technologies. I would not hesitate switching out my 10’6″ Ride for a 9’6″ Compact, it’s great board.

I’m 200lbs 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.


  • Length: 9’6″
  • Width: 32″
  • Thickness: 120mm, 4.72 inches
  • Volume: 222 liters
  • Weight: 17 lbs board only, 29 lbs with backpack, pump, paddle, fins and leash
  • Component weights: Backpack – 4 lbs; Paddle – 1.8 lbs; Titan pump – 5.1 lbs; Fins and leash – 1.35 lbs
  • Max payload: 210 lbs/95 kg
  • Warranty: 1 year, 2 years with product registration


  • Unmatched portability – unbelievably small package with board, pump, paddle and leash all together in one regular size back pack
  • Exceptional PACT construction – Strong, stiff and nice to handle
  • Perfect all round performance characteristics – Stable yet manoeuvrable
  • Bright graphics with attention to detail – highlighting the technology features
  • Low volume board with the highly efficient Titan Pump means quick and effortless inflation
  • Large 6 d-ring cargo area
  • Great tracking from the twin fin system with the ability to customise the fins with the FCS standard
  • Two year warranty with board registration


  • Spilt deck pad (and no tail kick pad) means you don’t get as much grip and coverage when moving your feet for waves or turns. For normal paddling it is fine, but the gap is disconcerting at times when shifting your feet (this only apples to barefoot paddling)
  • Packing up the board can be a bit fiddly. Folding and then rolling requires a little practice to ensure you have the board as compact as possible for the bag. Getting all the air out by rolling the board normally (unfolded) helps
  • No tail handle – you can often grab your leash at the base to work around this though

In conclusion

An extremely high quality and innovative product from Red Paddle Co. The 9’6″ Compact is the board we all want in inflatables. Hard board like performance, with better durability and outrageous portability. Compromises are made to achieve this but compromises are always made for a “do-it-all” all round board, and this is the ultimate all round board. Some may baulk at the price but once you option up a nice paddle and leash with a regular board, you are not far from the price of this complete package. The board we all want. What excites us most though is, as the technology trickles down to the rest of the range, it’ll be the board we’ll all get.

Find all the details here on the revolutionary 2019 Red Paddle Co 9’6″ Compact inflatable stand up yoga paddle board SUP.

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About the author: Julian Kidd
I have been an avid stand up paddle boarder since 2009. I retired from a decade of 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 football fan, closet petrol head, web tinkerer, husband and father.