Guide to Choosing Your Red Air Inflatable Paddle Board ISUP note: This article has been updated for 2014. See Choosing your 2014 Red Air Inflatable Paddle Board.

Summer months in the northern hemisphere are just around the corner, and possibly you’ve been thinking about a standup paddle board. With all the models, sizes, thicknesses and activity types, how does one choose the best board?Red Paddle Company 2013 Inflatable SUP Line-up

With the help of John Hibbard of Red Paddle Company, and Tim Meakin of Coastal Sports, we’ve put together a table (below) that will hopefully take away some of the guesswork and confusing options when looking at the Red Air ISUPs.

For 2013, Red Paddle Company offers 7 models ranging in size from 9 ft 2 inches to 12 ft. 6 inches. Each of the boards can be pumped up from 15 to 25 PSI.

How do you use this table? First, ascertain your size from the list:

  • Big & Tall – 210+ lbs and 6’1″ plus inches in height
  • Average – 140-200 lbs, 5’7″ to 6’0″ inches in height
  • Small – Under 140 lbs, Under 5’7″ inches in height
  • Child – Under 100 lbs, under 5’0 inches in height

Then decide the type of paddling you want to do (paddling situations):

  • Touring – Ocean, waves, long paddles, camping
  • Recreational – Lakes, sloughs, slower rivers, coastal, calm
  • Whitewater – Downriver whitewater activities
  • Surfing
  • Fishing
  • Racing

Rank your experience level, realizing that the more you get out on the water, the better you will get. More experienced paddlers can get away with smaller boards. Last of all, will this be used by various members of the family? Do you want the ability to bring along a child, dog or gear? Might two people be on this together?

  • Multi Paddlers/Family: Two small adults, Adult and child or dog.
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate/Medium
  • Advanced Paddler

Follow the color key to decide what board is good for varying sizes and activities:

  • Blue – The board is great!
  • Green – The board is good.
  • Yellow – This board is not recommended.

For instance, if you were 5 feet 10 inches with a weight of 180 lbs, and surfing was the highest priority with a bit of recreational paddling, the Surfer 10-0 would be a good choice. But, if you wished to do predominantly recreational paddling with a bit of surf, the Ride 10-6 would be best.

If you are having trouble viewing the details in the table,  follow this link for a larger and printable version of the Choosing Your Red Air Inflatable Paddle Board ISUP.


Why are there varying board thicknesses?

Some of the larger boards feature heavier drop-stitch materials, thus making the boards thicker. What does this mean? The thicker the board (and larger the board) the greater the air volume. This will increase the board rigidity at lower pressures. The Ride and Mega boards – constructed from 120mm materials – will have roughly 20% greater ridigity at 15 PSI than the 100mm material boards (Surf Star, Surfer, All Water), thus will carry more weight. The 150mm material boards – such as the Race and Explorer – will exhibit roughly 50% greater rigidity. But, the 100mm boards (as well as the 150mm Race) have been beefed up with the Rocker Stiffening System (RSS), which also gives them a roughly 20% boost over the 100mm boards built by other manufacturers.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you can view details on the various Red Air Inflatable SUPS at You can also read the following reviews on our blog:

So get out and enjoy!

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