Red Paddle Co 12’6″ Explorer ISUP Review

Red is known for making some of the best quality inflatable SUP’s on the market.

I first tried a Red paddle board in the Cook Islands several years ago while on vacation.

At the time I didn’t know the name Red and I didn’t have much experience with stand-up paddling but I remember two things… being very impressed with the Red board I was using and falling in love with stand-up paddling.

So I was excited to get the opportunity to try out and review some of their newer boards.

This Red 126” Explorer did not disappoint and has a ton of great features.

Quick Stats

  • 12’6” long
  • 32” wide
  • 5.9” thick
  • weighs 34 lbs.
  • air pressure – 15 – 25 PSI
  • rider weight is almost unlimited
  • has one large sleek removable fin

Material:  150mm dropstitch PVC material

Pros: Very stable, can hold a lot of weight, super rigid and stiff, tracks well, large removable fin, 9 separate D-rings for securing gear, comes with one of the best ISUP carry bags in the industry.

Cons: A little heavy at 34 lbs. and a little on the pricey side

Where To Buy

Click here for the Red Paddle Co Explorer at PumpedUpSup.com. – Use coupon code ISWPUS75 at checkout for $75 off your order of $500 or more.

Click here for the Red Paddle Co Explorer at Outdoorplay.com – use coupon code IK3722 for 5% off your order.

Click here for the Red Paddle Co Explorer at GreenWaterSports.com.

More In-Depth Info

There were three things that really stood out for me with this board.

  1. The first was how solid it was. It felt very rigid and I felt very stable and secure on it. The Explorer is able to be inflated up to 25 PSI which basically means it can hold far more weight than the majority of other ISUP’s with no flex.
  2. The second was that it came with the coolest fin I had seen for an inflatable SUP. The fin is red, sleek and fairly large. It is removable and really helps with tracking.
  3. Third, the backpack carry bag is the most functional and best quality carry bag that I have seen for an inflatable stand-up paddle board.

What Makes This Board Unique?

What makes this board unique is the construction and design.

All Red inflatable SUP’s are built using Tec Air specifications to make sure they are as strong as they need to be.

The rigidity and quality is evident when you inflate a Red board. The drop-stitch technology used with this board allows it to be inflated up to 25 PSI. I don’t know of any other board that promotes an inflation level that high.

For many people 15 PSI is as high as you need to go. However for someone heavier, inflating the board closer to 25 PSI means no flex while paddling and a very strong board.

The design of this board is great. The nose does not turn up like many other inflatable SUP’s.

The nose and tail are more flat and the nose is slightly pointy which helps with gliding and control. This type of design is ideal for touring on flat water.

Setup

Setup is simple. Take the board out of the bag, unroll it, press and turn the spring-loaded valve so that the plunger is UP.

The valve should be in the UP position for inflating the board and when deflating, press and turn the valve so that it is in the DOWN position.

Attach the hose from the EZee pump that comes with the board and begin pumping.

This is a large board with a volume of 370 liters. That means it will take a little longer to inflate.

With some effort the pump that comes with the Explorer is able to inflate it up to 20 PSI.

However Red Paddle Co offers a High-Pressure version of the EZee pump that is sold separately that will make inflating this board up to 25 PSI much easier.

It’s nice to have both pumps but not totally necessary.  The regular EZee pump inflates faster, but the HP EZee pump makes reaching the high PSI level easier.

The fin can be installed either before or after inflation.

The fin uses a US Fin Box. The nice thing about this fin box is that it allows you to use various fin styles… so you could change your fin down the road if you wanted to.

Performance

I found the performance to be good. It’s not the fastest board I’ve been on but it does track well and is great for flat water paddling.

The size of this board makes it ideal for a wide variety of people.

Beginner paddlers will enjoy the stability, larger paddlers will appreciate the rigidity and experienced stand-up paddlers will like the shape and design which cuts nicely through the water.

The fact that it is bigger and a little heavier makes it not quite as easy to turn quickly and I also found it took a little more effort to get going.

However overall I really liked the 12’6” Explorer and felt it would get me safely though a variety of conditions.

The size also makes it ideal for fishing as there is plenty of room for gear and it is stable enough for quick movements.

Important Features

There are several features to be aware of with this board.

  • With the newer models Red has improved upon the rigidity of their boards by using the Red Tec Air specification as well as improved valves, seals, cap and they are now using even stronger threads. The quality is top notch.
  • It has one large removable fin.
  • There are also two rear fin runners and a runner on the bottom front of the board to help with straight paddling
  • It is made with double layer construction which adds rigidity, strength and durability.
  • There is an Air Block membrane which eliminates air leakage.
  • It has a nice long and thick EVA deck pad that makes standing on this board quite comfortable.
  • There are several D-rings at front and back to secure gear.
  • There is a center carry handle as well as two side carry handles.
  • It comes with a very well made front loading backpack with two wheels for easy traveling – awesome bag!
  • Also comes with the EZee hand pump with pressure gauge

Rolling Backpack

I’m a fan of the backpack carry bag for inflatable SUP’s in general. Most companies make fairly good carry bags but I never find the quality of them to be worth boasting about.

The backpack that comes with this board is so far above any other carry bag I have seen. It is so much more durable and extremely functional.

It zips all the way around the front so it’s very easy to load the board in and out of it. It has padded shoulder straps that can be tucked away when not in use or when traveling and two wheels on the bottom so it can be rolled anywhere you want to go.

It is the most ideal ISUP backpack carry bag I have seen for traveling by airplane.

The Down Side

The only down side I found was that it is a little heavier than other boards of similar size.

I had no trouble carrying it to and from the water by myself but I wouldn’t want to carry it too far.

When deflated and stored in the bag however it’s very easy to transport because the bag has wheels.

In my opinion this board will be easier to paddle and handle for a larger person but it is versatile enough to support any type of paddler.

My Pics

Overall I liked the 12’6” Red Explorer a lot. I would have preferred it to be slightly lighter but the quality is great, the design is really nice and it paddles well.

It was built to be able to withstand a lot of abuse and it is ideal for flat water lake or ocean paddling. Although not designed for surfing, it can handle smaller waves quite well.

The length is best suited for touring and exploring as opposed to having to make quick turns and fancy maneuvers.

I think it is best suited for someone who wants a stand-up paddle board that can hold a lot of weight and still paddle quite well.

The price is higher than many other inflatable boards on the market and the standard question seems to be whether their boards warrant the higher price tag.

From speaking with those who own a Red board, the answer seems to consistently be yes.

The quality of the board in general, the backpack carry bag and the fin definitely stand out. The fact that this board can be inflated up to 25 PSI makes it unique.

Included with the Explorer is the rolling backpack carry bag, a repair kit, a waterproof phone case and the EZee pump.

Where To Buy

Click Here For The Red Paddle Co Explorer ISUP At PumpedUpSup.com. – Use coupon code ISWPUS75 at checkout for $75 off your order of $500 or more.

Click here for the Red Paddle Co Explorer at Outdoorplay.com – use coupon code IK3722 for 5% off your order.

Click Here For The Red Paddle Co Explorer Inflatable SUP At GreenWaterSports.com.

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Comments

  1. How is this board compared to the se eagle needle nose 12’6″?
    Have you tried the adventurer 2 yet by tower?
    Thanks!!

    • Allison says:

      Hi Matt, My boyfriend and I both prefer paddling the Sea Eagle NN over the Red Explorer. It cuts through the water a little smoother and also feels easier and faster to maneuver. That being said the Red 12’6″ Explorer is a popular board. I have a friend who has this SUP and loves it. He uses it mainly for ocean paddling and it definitely performs well. It offers a little more stability than the NN and I would say it is also slightly more versatile. It also looks really sharp.
      Yes I have tried the Tower Adventurer 2 but only briefly. It is definitely an improvement over the original Adventurer and it is priced well but I still find it kind of basic, in performance and look. The NN and the Red Explorer are much nicer boards all around.

      • What would you think about explorer 13.6 ? A little narrower and a bit longer, same volume i think, would it be to advance for a beginner who also want to bring the kid sometimes.

        • Hey Daniel, I haven’t reviewed the 13’2″ Explorer yet but I love the size and have only heard good things. The extra length and narrower width are really going to help with the performance. I imagine it glides really well. The 30″ width won’t be quite as stable but of course you will have extra room in the length. I think it should be okay for bringing a kid along sometimes especially if you stick to flat water. I would say just go a few times yourself first to get used to the feel before bringing the kid. If you end up getting it I’d love to hear your thoughts!