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A quick review of the 2015 Red Paddle Co 12’6″ Explorer inflatable SUP

In this article we will provide a quick review of the 2015 Red Paddle Co 12’6″ Explorer inflatable SUP. This board is one of the best sellers in the Red Paddle Co line up. Suitable for paddlers of all levels providing good glide, stability, lots of space for carrying a cooler, fishing gear, camping gear or a furry friend.

The bag: For 2014, Red Paddle Co introduced wheels on the bag. For 2015, they’ve gone a step further refining the wheeled bag to be even more sturdy, durable and comfortable. Once again, the back pack straps can be hidden in the “Sherpa Carry System” making wheeled travel more pleasurable and keeping the straps out of the airport conveyor belts. This hiding area for the straps is also the pocket where you’ll find the fin on boards that come with the US Box.

The pump: The 2015 12’6″ Explorer, as did the 2014 12’6″ Explorer, ships with the Red Paddle Co Ezee pump which makes inflation to 20PSI quick and easy. You also get a standard repair kit in the package and a bonus cell phone case which includes the inflation/deflation and care manual.

The inflation process is very straight forward and pumping with the Ezee pump is very easy. Be sure you have the valve in the inflation position so all that pumping doesn’t go to waste when you’re ready to remove the pump hose and put on the valve cap. Read our guide about valve position and board inflation, and watch us inflate a board here.

UPDATED Jan 19, 2015: The board now ships from Green Water Sports with the revolutionary Titan Pump. See which Red Paddle Co boards ship with the Titan pump here.

The board: 12’6″ long, 32″ wide and 5.90″ thick. The most noticeable change is the trimmer tail width over 2014. This gives better tracking and glide as the tail comes to more of a point and makes the board more maneuvrable and “snappier” to turn even though this is a out and out cruiser and tourer. The rear cargo area has been brought forward to stop excess tail drag and improve board speed. The front cargo area has been brought back a little to centralise the cargo carrying areas to aid board performance and make the board more maneuvrable. The tail runner fins have been brought in and placed straighter to aid water flowing around the US Box fin to further improve tracking. See our guide on how to install a US Box style fin in your SUP. The fin shipped with the 12’6″ Explorer is semi-flexible like the iFins so there is no need to worry about hitting submerged rocks, logs or the beach, but it is much superior to the shallower iFins for tracking, long distance paddling and load carrying.

Built using Red Paddle Co’s Tec Air construction process, it features high density drop stitch technology, double layering “board within a board” technique and quadruple layered rails. The weakest part of an inflatable paddle board is the rail (sides) where the top and bottom layers are joined, due to the lack of internal support from the high density drop stitch. Most inflatable stand up boards are constructed with just one rail layer on the rails, whereas Red Paddle Co use 4. Find out more about Red Paddle Co’s Tec Air construction.

Updated graphics and board colors give it a hard board look to match it’s hard board performance.

For a direct comparison of the 2014 12’6″ Explorer and the 2015 12’6″ Explorer, move the slider to see the changes.
[twentytwenty] Top-2014-Red-Paddle-Co-inflatable-SUP-12-6-explorer

[/twentytwenty] [twentytwenty] Underside-2014-Red-Paddle-Co-inflatable-SUP-12-6-explorer


It’s an evolution of a very successful board, but you’ll notice for this year the slightly narrower narrower tail, shifted cargo areas for better balance and performance, improved graphics, larger deck pad area, better instructions and safety tips around the valve, factory installed bungee cord on the tie downs and 2 tone colour scheme.

Let’s take a little walk around the board and see how the real thing looks.

On the water: The 12’6″ Explorer is a great all round, cruising, fishing and touring board for paddlers of all sizes and up to 330lbs combined load capacity. So you can pack a full camp site, a few coolers, a couple of dogs, a few kids and have space to spare. It is very stable meaning anyone can stand on this board and have a good time paddling. The thicker 5.90″ high density drop stitch ensures that your board is rigid even under full load. Lighter paddlers will find you tend to sit higher in the water and may be more susceptible to chop or cross winds but the nose and tail runner fins keep you on tracking and stable at all times.

Either standing or kneeling, paddling is comfortable and tracking from the US style flex fin and tail runners is exceptionally straight and true. This is a very easy stand up paddle board for beginners to start on, larger paddlers to use with extra capacity for gear, or paddlers of all levels to use for distance touring, cruising, fishing or just paddling around. Cruising the coastline, SUP Yoga, paddling workouts, slow moving rivers, bays, inlets, intra-coastals, paddling between tropical islands, you name it! It is also a great choice for families as the 12’6″ explorer can be enjoyed by all ages, with acres of space for children or furry friends up front. The almost indestructible design is also paw friendly.

Under the bungee cords, you could strap down a cooler and fishing rod and enjoy paddling into hard to reach places and catch some whoppers. Maybe a tent and some suppliers on the back, and we’ll see you next week!

Now for some detailed images of the 2015 12’6″ Red Air Explorer, click to enlarge.

The 2015 12’6″ Explorer is one of the best all round, touring and cruising stand up paddle boards for the beginners, people looking to do day trips, over night trips or the larger paddler looking for a board with some extra capacity. As an added bonus, the 12’6″ Explorer is also an inflatable board which makes travel, storage and general handling of the board so much easier. Combine it with a 3 piece SUP paddle, you’ve got the ultimate package for all conditions.

See the 12’6″ Explorer Red Paddle Co product page for more details, specs and images.

If you are not sure which board to choose from the Red Paddle Co range, take a look at our helpful guide to choosing your 2015 Red Paddle Co board or compare all the important specs of each board here with our 2015 Red Paddle Co iSUP range announcement.

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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.