MSL Fusion is a big step forward for the authenticity of the paddling experience for intermediate to advanced paddlers and gives beginner paddlers yet another reason to go for a Red Paddle Co board and/or an inflatable board and the conveniences associated. The MSL Fusion construction improves on quality, finish, rigidity and ultimately performance and pleasure.
Are these just incremental changes for 2016 or does the MSL really deliver on its promises? Let’s take a look at the details, how this board is different, how it paddles and who it’s good for. So let’s begin with the 2016 Red Paddle Co 11′ Sport review and walk around video.
The 2016 inflatable sup bag is an updated version of the 2015 bag with a thicker internal coating on the bag material and upgraded support for the zip. 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. For your board, you have the 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. Bag dimensions: 37″ high, 14″ wide and 12″ deep.
Space is aplenty for the 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 new construction process/material of the board, it now 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 also features in 2016 so you can carry the bag on your back with comfortable shoulder and waist straps, or tuck them away out of sight and away from baggage belt monsters 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, the fin in a small bag, the RSS battens in a plastic sleeve, the Titan pump in it’s own bag and a bag that bundles the whole lot.
The majority of the Red Paddle Co line now comes standard with the awesome Titan Pump. The 8’10” Whip and 9’4″ Snapper come with the Red Paddle Co Ezee HP since they are small, low volume boards. 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, kinda like an elephant riding 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 2016 11′ Red Air Sport with the Titan Pump took me 3 minutes and 56 seconds including the time required to insert the RSS battens. Add another 30 seconds to attach the US box style flexible plastic fin and you’re ready to go paddling!
Dimensionally, same as last year: 11′ long, 30″ wide and 4.72″ thick. As I’ve mentioned, on the surface it looks like just a few minor tweaks and upgrades, New handle here, uprated stainless steel tie-down rings there, but when you take a closer look at the board, you’ll notice something very significant.
The board finish is so good it looks like a regular hard board. For this we have a new construction process to thank. It is called MSL Fusion, or Monocoque Structural Laminate Fusion, and what it does is basically eliminate 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 new process consists of industrially fusing and 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.
Tech talk aside, what does this mean for the paddler? Well, the cosmetic finish is drastically improved as I’ve mentioned, the boards are about 20% lighter over the 2015 model, 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, and I also, still recommend a pumping pressure of 18-20 PSI for most applications to make the most of these benefits and improve overall performance.
For a direct comparison of the 2015 and 2016 11′ Sports, move the slider to see the changes.
Red Paddle Co have famously tested the durability and toughness of their boards over the years, see a 2014 board taking a beating. Knowing that the 2016 MSL construction boards are even stronger should put your mind at ease!
So, the board is still super tough and durable, what are my actual weight savings? I put my board on the scales and it weighed in at 20lbs. The 2015 board weighed in at 25lbs. 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.
As with the 12’6″ Sport, the 11′ comes with RSS battens which are designed to counter the effects of the paddler’s standing position and weight, the point around which inflatables can flex. RSS battens improve stiffness by up to 50%. That said, it is hard to notice any flex at all when paddling a Red Paddle Co board.
Up a little closer we can see the edges of the material are cleanly cut, the glue lines that previously wandered are all now dead straight thanks to the robots. The tie-down d-rings are now stainless steel with heavy duty bungee cord. The center carry handle is now padded. There is now also a 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. Added also is an underside nose d-ring.
The US style fin box is shorter than in previous years and was upgraded mid 2015 on other Red Paddle Co boards to lower the profile of the box for less drag and to allow the board to be rolled more easily and tightly. The supplied US box fin is a flexible dolphin-fin shape which is the standard for most paddle boards. It offers good tracking but allows manoeuvrability as well.
The Red Paddle Co logos on the top and underside of the nose are now screen printed on rather than a layer in itself, further saving weight.
On the water
A mostly unchanged experience over 2015 except that the lighter weight helps in responsiveness of the board when turning and paddling. New fin box makes it easier to install and remove, fits snuggly so no worries about where to place it in the lower profile/less dark fin box. Cargo area up front offers a little more space and more confidence in the stainless d-rings.
At 190lbs, I’m under the suggested max weight but I find the board sits a little low and I don’t get the full advantage of the fast outline and shape. It can carry me fine but the board is best suited to paddlers 180lbs and under. This gives the paddler plenty of float, glide and stability without being affected in choppy waters.
From the 2015 review:
The 11′ Sport is a top quality all round which carries great speed, tracks well and has good glide. Ideal for someone who wants to do more touring, cover ground faster and still ride the occasional wave, but doesn’t want the larger and thicker 12’6″ boards despite their excellent glide and carrying capacity, but can be more cumbersome to manoeuvre and turn on waves. It’s also ideal for smaller paddlers who would normally have normally settled for a smaller more all round Ride model or a larger 12’6″ model which might be too thick and too hard to handle. The 30″ width provides great glide and combined with the squared off tail, still maintains excellent stability as the width is carried so far back in the board giving the rider a sturdy and stable platform to paddle on.
Deck pad is large and comfortable. It has a “crocodile-skin” textured finish which provides ample grip for general use and is very comfortable. Carrying the board is much nicer and easier now with the padded center carry handle and lighter weight.
- Length: 11′
- Width: 30″
- Thickness: 120mm, 4.72 inches
- Volume: 300 liters
- Weight: 20 lbs board only, 29 lbs with backpack and pump
- Max payload: 200 lbs/90 kg
- Top notch finish
- Quick inflation with the Titan Pump
- Lighter to carry and handle and more responsive on water
- Comfy handles, useful tail mounted handle
- Large and comfy deck pad
- Fast outline
- Flat rocker for excellent glide
- Wide tail for a stable board
- Nice cargo area
- Better suited to lighter paddlers but Red have you covered with the 12’6″ Sport for the bigger paddlers
A great quality product from Red Paddle Co is now even better – the 11′ Sport is a great touring/cruising board for paddlers under 180lbs. Faster than the Ride boards but still stable and great for all round paddling. Excellent value for money when you consider the excellent quality of the board, bag and pump. Find all the details here: 2016 Red Paddle Co 11′ Sport.