In this review we will be taking a look at the Red Paddle Co 10′ Surfer inflatable stand up paddle board. We’ll see what comes in the bag, we take it out on the river and for a quick paddle in the surf, and run through some pump up, set up and performance points.
Inflatable paddle boards are becoming more and more popular, not just because they are convenient alternatives to lugging around massive boards, but because they have started to have the performance characteristics of hard boards with the conveniences of a roll up, easily portable and storable board. The inflatable 10′ Surfer by Red Paddle Co features technology that improves the stiffness and overall performance of the board but still allows it to be of normal weight and fit into a normal bag. We’ll get into all that in a minute, first let’s take a look at the bag and what you get.
In the bag
Much like the 10’6″ Ride inflatable sup by Red Paddle Co we reviewed in July, in the bag we have the board, pump, dry case cylinder/repair kit, iFin protector “water wings” and the RSS battens. In the shots, you’ll see my Dakine SUP leash. This is not part of the Red Paddle Co package.
The bag is very comfortable to carry using the shoulder straps. Then buckle up the waist strap and the weight trasnfers to your hips for an even more comfortable walk. Material and zips are all very sturdy and would stand up to airline travel, general use and abuse very well. On the front of the bag, there is an extra pocket for bits and pieces.
A few stats about the board before we get to inflation and RSS batten installation. The 10′ Surfer is 10ft long, 30in wide, 3.93″ thick, 190 liters and weighs 27lbs, or 33lbs in the bag with all the bits and bobs. It is rated up to about 200lbs, but reccommeded for riders around 140-170lbs.
For reference in this review, I am 190lbs and 6ft tall. Given my weight is towards the upper end of the scale for this board, I would have to say the rating is fairly accurate. During the test, I did carry a cooler with beers which weighed a few pounds so I think on a nice glassy day this board would work for a larger rider looking for a smaller long board style wave board.
Inflation and RSS batten installation
Inflation is very straight forward. The 10′ Surfer pumps to an industry leading 20PSI, and more if you want, so it is rock hard and stiff. For this review, I timed myself unpacking, unfurling, inflating, installing the RSS battens, inflating some more to 20 PSI and closing off the valve cap. From stowed board to ready to paddle, the entire process took just 3 minutes 56 seconds. Like I said in my 10’6″ Ride review, I do a warm up before I paddle, so this is part of my warm up.
A handy hint for future Red Paddle Co paddlers: You can use the velcro handle off the carry bag on the board’s handle. Makes it a more comfortable handle. See this post about the carry handle for more info.
Now to the RSS battens. What are they? What do they do? The 10′ Surfer has the patented Rocker Stiffening System (RSS) technology from Red Paddle Co. I went into detail about the RSS here and a “with and without batten” comparison here so I won’t bore you with the full details other than mentioning it improves board stiffness by 30-50% and it works by spreading the rider’s weight over a larger area on the board to minimise flex… Science class over.
For installation, it is very straight forward. Inflate the board so it has some shape, slide the battens gently into the pockets/sleeves making sure to keep them straight as you push them in. For the final section stand towards the front of the board and pull on the string while pushing down on the board rail to flatten out the board’s curved outline. This allows the batten to slide in more easily. Tuck the string under the batten to minimise drag while paddling. For more detail on the installation process, see my Red Paddle Co RSS batten installation guide.
Now that the board is fully inflated and ready for action, let’s take a quick look at it in my walk around video.
What you can’t see in this video is the TEC Air construction process. Part of this are the millions of dimples you see on the board’s surface. These are the drop stitch fibres connecting the top and bottom decks to each other. To summarise my post about the TEC air process, more dimples means more strength and rigidity, and Red Paddle Co uses the highest density drop stitch on the inflatable paddle board market. Add this to the patented RSS battens and you’ve got a board that feels and rides like a hard board.
The bulk of the paddling for this review was on our local river. There was a bit of wind and some chop but on a whole it was pretty flat. It cruised well, was rather stable and had no notable flex. The EVA deck was very comfortable and grippy under foot and of course the inflatable body provided some extra comfort. On my hard board surf SUP, my feet are always falling asleep, however on the inflatable (my go to board for everything but big waves is the 10’6″ Ride) I never have any trouble. Even on longer paddles.
The iFin 3 fin thruster set up gave it decent tracking on the flats and good grip on the wave. Red Paddle Co have a standard iFin size so you have noticeably more grip on this board than the 10’6″. The fins are super tough and will bounce off anything. Great for the logs I hit in the river! That goes for the inflatable construction all over. Bombproof, ding proof rails and boards are a god send to anyone who paddles on a river, has kids or is generally tough on gear.
This board is only 3.93″ thick which is similar to many hard boards so it’s right on the money for performance. You’ve probably seen other inflatables on the market which look about 8″ thick and only pump to 11PSI. If you gave this board to someone and didn’t tell them it was inflatable, the only giveaway would be the valve in the tail, it feels that good.
The 10’6″ Ride is 4.72″ thick and the difference between that and the 3.93″ thickness of this board make it a much better surfer. How does thickness have any effect on the surfability of the board? Well, being a thinner inflatable, there is less rail curve, meaning the 10′ Surfer has slightly sharper rails than the 10’6″. This gives the board better tracking and grip on the wave. I only had it 1-2ft waves unfortunately so I can’t comment for larger waves but this felt noticeably more grippy and responsive on the wave. Hence the “Surfer” name… duh!
It surfed much like a hard board. It wasn’t as prone to pearling as the 10’6″ and would handle the turns better thanks to the extra grip.
Truly a cinch. Open the valve and 20PSI will come whistling out in a hurry. Slide out the RSS battens as the board softens. Remember to keep them straight. Take 6″ of the nose and fold over, then roll to the fins. Folding first will give the board a flatter roll and will fit better in the bag and space for the fins to lay flat.
Transportation and storage
Like I mentioned in the 10’6″ Ride review, this is something not normally considered but the advantages of an inflatable are that you can put them in the trunk of a sedan, no excess baggage, no lifting onto roof racks, you can store them in the closet, under the bed, you get the idea.
This is a great board. The thinner construction to the 10’6″ gives a more planted feel and better traction on a wave face. With the RSS battens and high denisty drop stitch pumped up to 20PSI, it really gives you a solid, basically hard board ride. For general cruising or larger riders, it is on the smaller size, but this is true for any 10ft board on the market today. As the inflatables become better known for having comparable performance characteristics to a hard board, you should expect to see more of them at your local spot!
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