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Review of the 2016 Red Paddle Co 13′2″ Explorer Plus inflatable paddle board

The 2016 Red Paddle Co 13’2″ Explorer Plus stand up inflatable paddle board is a new model for 2016. The 12’6″ Explorer gets a big, tall, lanky brother! The 12’6″ Explorer has long been a popular workhorse touring, expedition board and all rounder for the bigger paddlers and now, for 2016, the 13’2″ fills the gap for those looking for a board that can carry gear, or any other extra weight up front or down the back, but paddles a little faster so you can see more in less time. It is designed to be a fast paddling, good gliding, touring and expedition SUP which is still super stable thanks to the width being carried a long way back into the tail which also provides lots of space for gear. People, and adventurers, who love to paddle fast, see the sites and maybe carry some gear, now have a better option.

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding this board. Last year you only had the 12’6″ x 32″ Explorer or the race boards up in this length so people are obviously happy to see a new option. Is this buzz justified, is 13’2″ a weird size that won’t work or will it be the perfect fit for paddlers looking to go places fast but still with some gear on board? Let’s take a look at the details, how it paddles, who it’s good for and how it fits into the Red Paddle Co range. So let’s begin with the 2016 Red Paddle Co 13’2″ Explorer+ review and walk around video.

TL;DR: Straight up, Red Paddle Co have hit the nail on the head again. A board that paddles fast, has plenty of carrying capacity, super stiff under any load and still stable. Red Paddle Co now has another option in the longer touring style board that caters to paddlers looking for speed and capacity in one single package.

The bag

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.

Red Paddle Co SUP Carry BagSpace is aplenty for the pump, fin, RSS battens, 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 pump

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 13’2″ Red Air Explorer Plus took me 5 minutes and 42 seconds including the time required to insert the RSS battens. Add another 30 seconds to attach the US box style plastic fin and you’re good to go!

The board

As mentioned above, prior to 2016 you only had the 32″ wide Explorer and the Race and Elite boards in this length but as the sport grows, people are becoming more adventurous and the inflatable SUPs are a perfect match to this lifestyle. So, it’s a new model for 2016, and let’s just say, it’s already making it’s mark. Attempt to paddle the longest river in Australia, 13’2″ Explorer+. Current attempt to paddle the length of the UK, 13’2″ Explorer+. The board is serious business for adventurers and paddlers wanting to go fast with some kit on board.

See a detailed video review of the Explorer+ 13’2″ by SUPBoarder here.

The board includes many of the 2016 upgrades as seen in the other Red Paddle Co models. Most notably, the MSL Fusion construction, new padded handle, uprated stainless steel tie-down rings, integrated leash d-ring and tail handle.

MSL-Red-Paddle-Co-construction-light-weight-inflatable-paddle-boardsThe 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 models, 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.

[twentytwenty] Deck-2016-Red-Paddle-Co-inflatable-SUP-13-2-explorer-plus


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!

With no 2015 model for comparison, the 2016 13’2″ Explorer+ weighs in at 25lbs, including battens and fin. 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.

Like the 12’6″ Explorer, the 13’2″ Explorer+ is 5.90″ thick. This offers a stiff board with more volume better suited for larger paddlers.

Unlike the 12’6″ Explorer the Explorer+ 13’2″ 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.

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 dolphin fin shape which is the standard for most paddle boards. It offers good tracking but allows manoeuvrability as well.

Further updates to the range featured on this board are 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.

The rest

The package includes a repair kit with glue and patches. A waterproof phone case that comes with inflation instructionspump tips and care tips inside. A wrapping strap to keep the board rolled up.

On the water

Well this thing trucks along with any kind of weight on board. It does what it says on the label and then some. Excellent glide thanks to the long fast outline. Excellent stability from the wide tail. Excellent tracking from the US box style fin, tail runner fins, and nose runner fin. You can place items under the bungee in the ample fore deck cargo area or aft cargo area.

Not a whole lot of rocker in the nose but enough to keep the nose out of any wind chop you might encounter. Having a nice flat rocker aids in speed and stability but is a little more susceptible to chop hitting the nose.

This board is 5.9″ thick and oh so very rigid and stiff, even under load. Adding RSS feels like a little overkill to me but when you’re looking to squeeze out every ounce of performance to make the next camp site by sun down, you want a board that’ll perform and stand up to any conditions you may run into. Adding cargo to the board is going to cause some more flex in rough waters so you want those battens in there keeping you paddling straight and true.

Deck pad is positioned just where you need it providing plenty of tail mountable cargo space. Personally I am a fan of the diamond cut deck pads, I like a little extra grip and texture under my feet.

Extra carry handles for 2016, like on the other boards, make lifting, dragging a board this size very easy. Imagine you have 40lbs of camping gear on board and you need to cross a sand bar or similar, lots of handles make life easy.


  • Length: 13’2″
  • Width: 30″
  • Thickness: 150mm, 5.90 inches
  • Volume: 360 liters
  • Weight: 25 lbs board only, 33 lbs with backpack and pump
  • Max payload: 330 lbs/150 kg


  • Likely the best/fastest expedition and touring SUP for intermediate/advanced paddlers
  • Top notch finish
  • Super stiff at 5.90″ thick and with RSS battens
  • Quick inflation with the Titan Pump
  • Multiple center handles, comfortable and useful nose and tail mounted handles
  • Comfy diamond cut deck pad
  • Excellent glide and tracking
  • Dual cargo areas


  • Hmm… Paddlers might like to upgrade to race/weed fin to complete a perfect package

In conclusion

Another new model with a clear and deserved space in the 2016 Red Paddle co range. An excellent touring and adventure board for those who want good glide and speed, and to carry the gear to explore their world. Excellent value for money when you consider the excellent quality of the board, bag and pump and the memories of the expeditions of life with no bars. Find all the details here: 2016 Red Paddle Co 13’2″ Explorer+. If you can’t decide between the 12’6″ Explorer and the 13’2″ Explorer+, give us a call: 1-888-252-4983.

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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.