Inflatable Kayaks, SUPS & Canoes Reviews

The 15-25 PSI Red Air 9’6 All Water Inflatable SUP with RSS Side Rockers!

This is the second in a series of write-ups on the new 2013 Red Air inflatable paddle boards from Red Paddle Company. In this particular blog, we will focus on the redesigned Nine Six All Water; our first review featured the Ten Six Ride, Red Paddle’s most popular model to-date.

Named for its ability to handle most types of water conditions – from surf to mild whitewater, lakes to coastal bays – the new 9’6 All Water Inflatable SUP  is somewhat similar in shape to the 10’6 Ride, but one foot shorter and sports the new Rocker Stiffening System (RSS), featuring side battens for even greater rigidity.

This past week, the newest 2013 models arrived in the States – three updated current models and four new ones – for surfing, touring and racing, ranging in size from 9’2″ to 12’6″. See the complete Red Air lineup of seven models.

As previously mentioned, 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 this year that the Red Airs started appearing in the US and Canada.

Well-known for their ruggedness, each of the Red Air boards utilize high pressure dropstitch technology – allowing them to be inflated from 15-25PSI – and feature quadruple rail construction, double layering, thick traction pads and integrated fins. Each board comes with the Red Air EZee pump, allowing one to inflate a paddle board to 20PSI and higher in less than 10 minutes.

So, here are our findings on the 2013 Red Air Nine-Six All Water inflatable SUP from Red Paddle Company. Please note: Some of the verbage will be identical to that in other writeups, as many of the features are the same.

Getting Started

The box as received weighs 38 lbs, measuring 38 x 15 x 15 inches.

Inside the box is the 9’6 All Water SUP body, EZee pump, two side battens, pressure gauge, backpack, cinch belt, fin guards, instructions and repair kit – and some nifty Red Paddle stickers. Once rolled up, the SUP board and pump fit into the backpack, as well as breakdown paddles under 37 inches. Weight is 32 lbs for the backpack, SUP body and pump, which all easily fit in the back of a small car. The board alone is 25 lbs.

Setting Up the 9’6 All Water

The 9’6 All Water inflatable SUP arrives rolled up around the high pressure EZee pump, neatly strapped inside the backpack.

For your first set up, remove the fin guards and 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 9’6 All Water 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, it 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 – 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!

Here is where we need to make a note about the new 2013 valve adaptor and gauge, which is not mentioned in the current manual. Most pressure gauges work on back pressure, so the previous valve adaptor had a small interior “lip” which – when screwed onto the valve – caused the valve to open, allowing the gauge to read in real time. While this is convenient, the amount of back pressure was so huge that sometimes the adaptor would pop off when removed, allowing air to swoosh out, and making it difficult to re-attach the hose to top off the SUP. The “new” adaptor does not have that interior lip, hence the gauge will ONLY read while you are pumping air on the downstroke, and it won’t start reading until about 8PSI. On the positive side, under high pressure, the adaptor screws on and off very easily.

First step is to install the two side battens, termed the Rocker Stiffening System (RSS). This was a bit of a guess, as the included instructions mentioned nothing about them. Pump up the board about 30 strokes, so it is slightly inflated – this gives it enough form to grab onto. Then gently slide the battens into each of the side slots, until just the red string is showing. As you push, the batten will reach the curve in the board side, you can push down on the batten slightly to guide it along.

As a note, the first time you attempt to install the battens, you will be facing a major challenge! As the material becomes somewhat stuck to itself during the “long trip over” it was nearly impossible for me to insert the battens into the side sleeves. After 15 minutes of frustration – and deflating and repumping twice – I finally managed to get them most of the way in. On the plus side, the second time is MUCH easier, and I imagine within a couple subsequent setups, it will be a breeze. So, plan on having a tough time the first setup, bring a large friend.

Now you can complete the inflation process. The first couple of minutes with the single action pump will be so smooth you could almost do it with one finger. It took us roughly another 100 full pumps to get to 8 or so PSI, and the gauge started reading. At this point, you will start noticing a change – 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.

Another 25 pumps (30 seconds) to 10 PSI. At this point most people find it nearly impossible to continue and you need to change to the “half pump” technique. With 25 easy half pumps (25 seconds), I jumped to 12 PSI, another 25 half pumps took me to 13.5 PSI. So keep plugging. I was able to bring it up to 18 PSI pretty rapidly and easily. All in all, it takes about 6 minutes, once you get 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.  It’s a little tough to read the pressure gauge needle (which will be jumping up and down), so mentally make a note of where you want to get to.

Remove the adaptor, replace the valve cap and that’s it! Less than 10 minutes with an excellent upper arm workout, you’re ready for the water. And it’s surprisingly easy!

All Water ISUP Board Construction

While the Nine Six All Water is incredibly simple and streamlined, what goes on “behind the scenes” is quite complex. According to the manufacturer, the key ingredients making 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.

The 9’6 All Water is constructed from 100mm material, allowing it to maintain a lower 4 inch profile with narrower rails. The thinner rails make for better control in the face of the wave, surfing and while paddling out. While thicker boards are more rigid, if a board is too thick it’s maneuverability and stability in the surf and on moving water will be compromised.

After examining how and where a board flexes, the designers at Red Paddle developed and patented the Rocker Stiffening System (RSS) to increase rigidity. The RSS pocket sleeve is built separately, then laminated to the board rails to ensure the best fit and performance. By inserting the two stiffening battens along the rails of the board, the battens work against the downward force of the rider to produce a stiffer board by preventing flex – similar to how a stringer works on a hard board. The stiffening battens are removable for easy board rolling and can be stored in the carry bag for transportation to and from the water.

According to John at Red Paddle CO., depending on rider weight and inflation pressures, the Nine Six All Water can be up to 50% stiffer than other inflatable boards of the same size and thickness.

This dogged attention to detail makes the Red Air inflatable SUPs 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.

Nine Six All Water Features and Specifications

There is one military valve, and one rear d-ring for an ankle leash.

Two RSS battens measure 35.5 inches in length, by 1.125 inches wide and 1/8th inch thick. Two pull strings at the end aid in removal.

A thick sculpted center traction pad is 54.5 x 23.5 inches. In the center is a low profile handle, positioned 59 inches from the back.

Forward and surrounding the traction pad are four flat, cloth “d-rings” or small loops, allowing one to add thin bungee cording or attach a gear bag. These are located 18-24 inches apart, by 21 inches deep, with the first set located about 29 inches from the snout.

A deep, sculpted rear stomp pad measures 19 inches deep by 20 inches wide, with a 3/4 inch rise.

Another d-ring – allowing one to tether the ISUP – is located on the underside of the nose.

Three integrated 6-inch wide by 4.25-inch deep fins – two are slightly v-angled and one is straight – provide control and tracking.

The newly-redesigned backpack features a padded back with adjustable padded shoulder straps, a padded top handle and two padded side carrying handles. The shoulder straps have d-rings and a front cinch strap. A waist strap can be adjusted from approx. 34 to 44 inches. A front zippering pouch measures 9 x 12 inches. Two-way zippers allow the pack to be open on three sides, making it much simpler to get the board in and out. Inside, two integrated cinch belts keep the board in position, while three inflatable fin guards make sure the fins don’t get bent. Outer measurements on the backpack are 37 x 16 x 11 inches, allowing the pump and breakdown paddle to fit inside.

We did measurement tests. The Red Air 9’6 All Water inflated is approximately 9’4 inches long, 31.5 inches wide, and nearly 4 inches deep – slightly less length than listed in the specs.

New 2013 Red Air 9’6 All Water ISUP Features

So what’s new on the 2013 model versus the 2012 models?

  • RSS Rocker Stiffening System, increasing stiffness up to 50% over similar boards, allowing the All Water to be used by riders up to 225 lbs (100 kg).
  • A slightly thicker traction pad with 4 cargo low-profile cloth d-rings, allowing one to bring gear.
  • Rear tail stomp, providing more control in the surf.
  • Low profile center carrying handle, rather than the velcro strips that allowed one to turn the paddle into a carrying handle.
  • Built using Red Tec Air specification, with new valves, improved seals, cap and stronger threads.
  • Totally redesigned backpack, per details above.
  • One d-ring on the underside allows one to tether the ISUP.

Smaller details include a central logo stiffening strip, some upper color modifications, an exclusive “Blue Marble” design on the underside with the board size printed on tail and nose for easy identification.

9’6 All Water On the Water

While I am less of a novice standup paddler than earlier this year, I still consider myself in earlier paddling stages. That said, this is an incredibly easy board to use, for both beginners and advanced. It was surprisingly simple to stand up and gain one’s balance. The 32 inch width made it feel very stable, and the board turns on a dime. As previously mentioned in the Ten Six writeup, I had some difficulty adjusting the backpack to my size, but it was still very easy to carry.

Whether standing or kneeling, paddling and tracking was straight. In fact, the board feels substantial and rugged – yet nimble.

The RSS battens provide a huge amount of rigidity and inspire a great feeling of confidence – even when pumped up to the lower range of 15PSI. In fact, at a recent SURF show, the All Water was displayed upon two sawhorses. At 16 PSI, the All Water with RSS System was able to support two men totalling 400+ lbs. simultaneously.

Since we haven’t the opportunity to test out surfing or whitewater, we asked John from Red Paddle Company, about his experience with the All Water in those conditions.

According to John, “The All Water was designed to be stable and easy to paddle into waves; it’s a really stiff board that when used with the RSS system will ride better than you expect an inflatable to ride in the surf. And for those interested in some river running, the wide tail on the All Water allows the rider to stand towards the back of the board to get maximum direction control without losing stability. It’s designed to allow you to get the most fun out of moving water and stay standing.”

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.

Remove the two side battens.

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 and fins down, with the bottom on the outside. As you roll it up, air will continuously be pushed out of the open valve. One can also place the EZee pump on the snout so the pump is rolled up inside – remove the hose and gauge first, so they don’t get crushed.

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. Put the fin guards onto the fins and use the interior cinch straps to position the load. As a tip, though (thank you Andrew!), make sure the fins are pointing away from your back, or the trip will be uncomfortable.

Bottom Line

The Red Air 9’6 All Water inflatable SUP is a fabulous board – in fact, I think it might become my board of choice.

They are simple to set up, surprisingly easy to pump up, paddle well and track/glide nicely. At 15-25 PSI, they are also extremely rigid, yet they’ve been pumped up higher without skipping a beat. And the All Water turns on a dime without feeling tippy.

The low-profile cargo ring addition greatly enhances the board versatility without sacrificing performance, allowing one to take along lunch or gear for an afternoon of fun – I hooked on my Chinook AquaSurf 20L deck bag. Next windy day, I think I’ll try it out with a Windpaddle downwind sail.

With a 32-inch beam, they are stable enough for beginners. It’s small enough that at 5’4″ I don’t feel overwhelmed. Yet – depending on rider weight and inflation pressures – with the RSS side battens the 9’6 All Water can be up to 50% stiffer than other inflatable boards of the same size and thickness, making it credible for larger 200+ lb riders.

It’s a great choice for families as the Red Air can be enjoyed by all ages – children to adults – in a multitude of water conditions. And with its near-indestructible construction, parents can relax when the kids start tossing it around.

Best of all, at 25 lbs, the ISUP is lightweight and easy to haul around. It rolls up into the included backpack – which can house the pump and a breakdown paddle – making it a great inflatable for traveling or for backpacking into remote areas.

The Red Air  9’6 All Water from Red Paddle Company is a winner. Designed to work in most conditions, this is a great choice for those that want one board for multiple purposes – some river running, some surf, touring and just plain cruising. And at $1169, it is quite competitive with other inflatable SUPs on the market.

For more details watch our YouTube video below, on the Red Air 9’6 All Water Inflatable SUP. To purchase, visit the Red Air 9’6 All Water product page on You can also read our blog on Guide to Choosing Your Red Air Inflatable Paddle Board.


  1. I am just over six feet tall and around 215 pounds. I live near Lake Michigan and do most of my riding there. I also ride in Mexico and on the lakes in the BWCA. Do you think this board would suit me based on my size and the type of riding I plan to do?

    1. Hi Michael:
      With your weight and height, I would actually suggest the Red Air Ride 10-6 – it’s a great board and with the thicker 120mm material, about 20% more rigid than the standard. Hope that helps! Holly

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