Please note: this post has been updated to review the 2013 version of the Red Air 10’6. Read the updated post, now called the Ten Six Ride.
Founded in 2007, Red Paddle Company is a UK-based business focused solely on the design and manufacture of inflatable paddle boards and accessories. While extremely popular in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, it wasn’t until recently that Red Paddle established a distributor for Canada and the US.
So, here is our write up on our introduction to the Red Air Ten Six inflatable SUP.
The box as received weighs 38 lbs, measuring 36 x 23 x 11 inches.
Inside the box is the SUP body, EZee pump, pressure gauge, backpack, carry straps, cinch belt, instructions and repair kit. Once rolled up, the SUP board fits into the backpack, while the pump and paddle can handily fit into the side pocket. Weight is 29 lbs for back, board and pump, which all easily fits in the back of a small car.
The Ten Six SUP arrives folded in the box – not rolled into the backpack.
For your first set up, unroll the SUP body. There are three integrated tracking fins at the rear of the board. Lay it out face up (fins down) so that you can access the military valve.
The Red Air 10’6 utilizes one spring-loaded military valve for inflation. These are very simple to use and feature an inflate mode (spring plunger is UP) and a deflate mode (spring plunger is DOWN). By using your finger to gently push on the plunger and slightly twist, the plunger can be moved to the inflate mode (air goes in and doesn’t come back out) and deflate mode (air goes in and comes back out). Before you go to all the effort of inflating the board, PLEASE make sure the plunger is in the inflate position.
The included single-action pump comes with a pressure gauge, so you can monitor the board’s PSI. The gauge screws onto the pump (nice touch!) – pull the pump handle up (so the pump body doesn’t get in the way) then start with the gauge face down and it will screw on to end face up. Tip #1: Make sure you screw the gauge on carefully – if it gets cross-threaded, air will leak out and you will have a difficult time pumping the board up to necessary pressure.
Next, attach the hose to the gauge. Take the military valve adaptor, and screw it onto the valve slightly to lock into position. You’re ready to pump! The first couple of minutes will be a breeze with the single action so smooth you could almost do it with one finger. At about 6PSI (just under two minutes), you will start noticing a change. We kept pumping for another 1.25 minutes and reached 10PSI – at this point, it’s still not difficult but you need to change your pumping stance slightly. Put one foot behind and use your legs to move up and down, so as not to strain your back.
After another minute the gauge read 12PSI – and I was finding it nearly impossible to continue. Even throwing my entire body weight onto the handle – almost at the point of handstands – I was not able to push the plunger fully down. So, I took a break, hoping the hot sun would bring it up another 1 PSI. Then I stumbled upon the technique – you don’t need to push the pump handle fully down! With 20 easy half pumps, I jumped to 13.5 PSI, another 20 half pumps took me to 15 PSI. I was even able to bring it up to 18 PSI pretty rapidly and easily. So keep plugging. You want the board to be between 15 and 20, even 25 PSI. All in all, it took about 5 to 6 minutes, once I got the hang of it.
The higher the pressure, the stiffer the board. The Red Air recommended pressure is between 15 and 25 PSI; If you are a smaller person, you may be able to get away with the lower-end PSI. While the pressure gauge only shows up to 15 PSI, when the needle moves around to approximately the “7 o’clock” mark you have reached 20PSI, and at “8 o’clock” it is 25PSI.
Here is where I come to our second note – take care when removing the adaptor nozzle from the valve. CAREFULLY twist the adaptor off the valve. My first attempt, I pushed down a little too much, causing the plunger to open just enough that the air gushed out. Sigh. Nothing to do but start all over – another 5 minutes of pumping, learned the hard way! Finish by screwing on the valve cover – this protects the valve, and also ensures you don’t accidentally push it open.
At this point the board will be incredibly rigid. Take the two velcro straps. Slip each one through the two small fabric loops on the board. These are paddle loops. Take your SUP paddle and lay it across the board, fastening it to the board with the velcro.
This now becomes a very slick carrying handle, getting both your board and paddle down to the beach in one piece.
That’s it! Less than 10 minutes and an excellent upper arm workout, you’re ready for the water. And it’s surprisingly easy!
Features and Specifications
According to the manufacturer, what makes the Red Air inflatable paddle boards superior to others on the market, has to do with the internal construction.
First, the Red Airs are constructed using “dropstitch” technology. The top of the board is held together with the bottom via thousands of “stitches” – in the Red Airs, 10 stitches per inch. These threads are “double stitched” so if one were to break, another holds. This allows the boards to be pumped up to very high pressures of 15 to 25 PSI – and in some cases higher – and ensures that air doesn’t move around inside the board, creating a stable ride.
Second, the boards use a double layering technique which – in the simplest terms – means they construct a board, and put another board around it. It’s a board-within-a-board, which adds strength and durability.
The weakest link in an inflatable paddle board is the rail (side edge) area – where the top and bottom panels join together. Most ISUPS are constructed with one rail layer – Red Airs feature four layers of staggered taping to ensure minimal chance of air leakage due to punctures.
According to the manufacturer, Red Air inflatable SUPs are virtually indestructible. In one video, a Red Air is dragged through every knothole in the world – hurled repeatedly from the roof of a warehouse; run over with a truck; dashed against high surf and rocks; and the ultimate decimation – used as a snowboard. While it was tempting to devise some other devious test, I decided to take their word for it.
The board is incredibly simple. Features include three 4-inch fins – two are slightly v-angled and one is straight.
A thick traction pad is 94 x 24.5 inches, with 12 inches behind to the rear and 20 inches to front.
The two “carrying” loops are centered 38 “ apart. (26″ from the front and 29″ from the rear)
There is one military valve, and one rear d-ring for an ankle leash.
We did measurement tests. The Red Air 10′ 6″ is 31-32 inches wide inflated and measures 126 inches in length.
On the Water
I must preface this by the fact that I am a novice standup paddler. That said …. this is an incredibly easy board for beginners to use – it was surprisingly simple to stand up and gain one’s balance. The 32 inch width made it feel very stable, I rarely felt like I was going to fall over – and I never did. Turning was pretty easy. And either standing or kneeling, paddling and tracking was straight. In fact, the board feels substantial and rugged – yet nimble.
The closest thing we have to surf is from powerboat wakes, so I didn’t have a chance to test that out.
I spoke with another Red Air paddler, Tim, who has two stashed on his sailboat and uses them along the British Columbia coastline. Besides using the board for a workout, his favorite activity is standing and paddling on clear water. This offers a great vantage point into the shallow coastline water, allowing a paddler to quietly approach and observe sea life.
My personal feeling is that a few added d-rings could make this really versatile – for carrying gear, running a downwind sail or adding a seat – but these can always be added.
Packing It Up
To deflate the board is pretty simple – push the plunger to the open (down) position and immediately the air will swoosh out.
Leaving the plunger in the deflate mode, move to the snout of the ISUP. Start tightly rolling up the board from the snout, top side up, with the bottom on the outside. As you roll it up, air will continuously be pushed out of the open valve.
When fully rolled up, replace the valve cover and then take the attached strap and cinch it around the bundle, between the fins – this keeps the package tightly rolled and the fins keep the strap from slipping off. If you’ve rolled up tight enough, the board will easily slip back into the backpack. As a tip, though (thank you Andrew!), make sure the fins are pointing away from your back, or the trip will be uncomfortable.
The Red Air 10’6 inflatable SUP is a blast! It’s great for all-around paddle boarding – not too wide to make it boring and not too narrow to make it tippy. It is good for users up to 247 lbs (110kgs) and both novice through advanced.
They are simple to set up, surprisingly easy to pump up, paddle well and track/glide nicely. With a 32-inch beam, they are stable enough for beginners, incredibly rugged and are easy to inflate. At 15-25 PSI, they are also extremely rigid, yet they’ve been pumped up higher without skipping a beat.
The 10’6 Red Air is good for standup, kneeling, diving and “lolling” around on shorelines, mild surf, slow-moving rivers, bays and inlets. And if the sun becomes too much – just slide off the board into the water to cool down. It’s a great choice for families as the Red Air can be enjoyed by all ages, kids to adults.
Best of all, it rolls up into the included backpack, making it a great inflatable for traveling or for heading into the back country.
For more details you can also watch our YouTube video on the Red Air Ten Six Inflatable SUP. Or to purchase you visit the Red Paddle Ten Six product page on AirKayaks.com