Red Paddle Co Explorer
Brand: Red Paddle Co
Our take An inflatable SUP that goes from closet-friendly bundle to cruising within 10 minutes, the Explorer is an über-stable paddleboard for lakes, bays, and other flatwater. We tested it on Colorado’s Union Reservoir, where its dropstitch construction (tiny interior threads fastening top and bottom) and 6-inch thickness provided surfboard-like rigidity for speed and stability. At 12’6” (also available in 13’2”), there’s plenty of room to strap gear to its cargo tiedowns for extended forays. A “nose-runner” bow fin keeps it tracking straight, as do a removable tail fin and two rear runner fins (they reduce need for correctional strokes). The double-barrel pump inflates the Explorer in 10 minutes with a single-barrel mode for high-pressure top-off. Nitpick: Its size means it’s not very nimble; to turn quickly, step toward the stern to pivot.
River cred “It’s big, powerful, and super-stable—even with kids and a bunch of gear along for the ride,” said our photo director after paddling it with her daughters aboard. “And the rolling-duffel carrying sack has enough space for extras.”