Inflatable Kayaks, SUPS & Canoes Reviews

Product Review: New 2017 Red Paddle Co Sport 11’3 MSL Inflatable SUP

As reported in our previous write-ups, the first Red Paddle Co inflatable paddle board models for 2017 started arriving in the States earlier this year.

Red Paddle Co Sport 11-3 Inflatable SUP

Founded in 2007, Red Paddle Co. is a UK-based company which focuses solely on the design and manufacture of inflatable paddle boards and accessories – the Red Paddle Co boards are now well-known for performance, innovation and ruggedness. Each year, Red Paddle Co raises the industry bar with new models and new features, now sporting 22 models ranging in size from 8’10” to 22’0 for single to multi-paddlers.

Our first 2017 boards arrived in early September, and we were excited to try out one of the exciting new models in the lineup – the Sport 11’3.

So, following is our second write up on the Red Paddle Co 2017 line, with the 2017 Sport 11-3  – our first focused on the popular Ride 10-6. (Please note, some of this is repeated from previous writeups.)

Getting Started with the Red Paddle Co Sport 11’3″

The box as received weighs 39 lbs, measuring 38 x 15 x 15 inches.

What's in the Red Paddle Co Sport 11'3 Box
Inside the box is the SUP body, roller backpack, Titan pump, pressure gauge, RSS fiberglass battens, FCS II fin, cinch belt, instructions, repair kit and cell phone case. Once rolled up, the SUP board and pump fit into the backpack, as well as a breakdown paddle under 37 inches.

Weight is 34 lbs for backpack, board and pump, which all easily fit in the back of a small car. The board alone is 22 lbs.

The 11-3 Sport inflatable SUP arrives rolled up around the high pressure Titan pump, inside the backpack. The instructions (Welcome Guide) are located in a mesh pocket inside the backpack. These include generic information on using the pump, using the valves, deflating the board, basic tips on using a paddle board, fin details and board care.

Unfolding the Sport 11-3

First step, unroll the SUP body. Lay it out face up (fins down) so that you can access the military valve.

Opening/closing the military valve

The Red Paddle Sport 11-3 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).

Red Paddle Co Titan Dual Barrel Pump

The included Titan dual-barrel (or twin cylinder) pump comes with a built-in pressure gauge, so you can monitor the board’s PSI. It also now comes with multiple adaptors, which can be used on inflatable kayaks, dinghies and kite equipment. To start off, you will be using both barrels, allowing the board to be filled in less time, and with less strokes. To do this, make sure the red plug near the pump handle is inserted in the hole – not to worry, the instructions are printed on the pump body.

Military valve adaptor

Screw the hose onto the pump. Tip #1: Make sure you screw the hose 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. Then take the military valve adaptor (adaptor on the end of the hose), and screw it onto the valve slightly to lock into position. Make sure to remove the clip attaching the pump body to the red plug (we know the hard way what happens if you forget.) You’re ready to pump.

Pumping up the Red Paddle Co Sport 11'3

The first step is to fill out the board enough that the two Rocker Stiffening System (RSS) fiberglass side battens can be installed. To do this, inflate the board until it has some shape – but is still relatively flat – as this will make inserting the battens easier.  We pumped about 60 strokes until the board unfurled. This gave us enough bulk to stand the board on its side without “flopping over.”

RSS Rocker Stiffening System batten

Locate the side pocket openings then gently slide the battens into each of the side slots. As you push, the batten will reach the curve in the board side; by pushing down on the batten slightly, you can guide it along.

Installing the RSS Rocker Stiffening System batten

Having used the RSS system in the past, we were aware that the first time you attempt to install the battens, you could be facing a major challenge! Before inserting the batten, we worked over the sleeve by pressing on it. The first batten slipped in fairly easily to the halfway point; while the last several inches were a bit tough, by straddling the side and pulling (rather than pushing), they slipped into place. This gets even easier with subsequent installations.

RSS Rocker Stiffening System batten

New for 2017 is a velcro tab on the end of the batten tether, which can be attached to the side of the board rather than dangling. The tab also makes it a bit easier to push/pull.

Installing the RSS Rocker Stiffening System batten

Flip the board and install the second batten. AirKayaks note: If you are a smaller person, you might not even need to install the side battens as the board is pretty stiff as-is.

Pumping up the Red Paddle Co Sport 11'3

Continue to pump up the board. At this point, the gauge was fully registering and with another 15 pumps we were at 5 PSI – the the pumping was getting tough.

We removed the red plug on the Titan, and started using the single barrel. A breezy 50 more pumps brought us to 8 PSI, and another 40 to 12 PSI. The pumping again started getting harder, but with another 26 pumps we were at 15 PSI and quit. So, about 190 strokes and under 10 minutes – even fussing with the battens.

The higher the pressure, the stiffer the board. The Red Paddle recommended pressure is between 16 to 22 PSI; if you are a smaller person, you will find it tough to pump up much higher than 15 PSI, but you can also get away with less pressure; for my height of 5’4″ and weight, 15 PSI is more than adequate. Larger people will find it easier to pump up to the higher pressures.

Remove the adaptor, replace the valve cap.

US Fin Box and included FCS Fin

Last step, flip the board over and install the tracking fin. New for 2017, the Sports now use a more standard US Fin Box which fits 90% of the US Fins. The Sport 11-3 comes with an FCS Connect Tool-less system fin. What does this mean? Just pop it in place and go – no more nuts/bolts to lose or “screwing around” with fin set up.

Installing the fin.

To install, take the side of the fin with protruding pin, slip it into the center slot opening, push back and then push down on the fin until you hear it pop into place. A very easy two-seconds. Pull up slightly to make sure it is attached.

Lightweight and easy to carry
And that’s it! You’re ready for the water. Despite the upper arm workout, it’s surprisingly easy!

Red Paddle Sport 11-3 iSUP Construction

Red Paddle inflatable paddle boards are well known for being some of the best on the market – this has to do with the internal construction.

Drop stitch material and screen printed graphics

First, the Red boards 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 16 to 22 PSI and ensures that air doesn’t move around inside the board, creating a stable ride. The Sport 11-3 utilizes 120mm dropstitch technology, making the board 20% more rigid than many boards yet still allowing the rider to keep a low center of gravity.

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.

Side rail taping

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 – Reds feature four layers of staggered taping to ensure minimal chance of air leakage due to punctures.

Red Paddle Co construction cross-section

In 2016, Red Paddle Co kicked it up a notch with the introduction of Monocoque Structural Laminate, or MSL fusion technology. In the past, the “board within a board” was glued together, creating extra weight and the potential for hand-gluing errors. The new process consists of industrially fusing the second layer of polymer to the dropstitch core at the raw material stage. The end result is a material that is structurally more sound, even more rigid, as well as lighter – in fact, many of the boards are now 5-10 lbs lighter than previous models. For 2017, Red Paddle again tweaked the material, making the injected, reinforced second layer thicker with increased bond strength.

Features and Specifications on the Red Paddle Co Sport 11’3

Front d-ring and RAM Mount attachment

There is one nose (tether) d-ring located 4 inches from the snout on top of the board.

Integrated RAM mount socket with optional RAM mount.

New for 2017 is an integrated thread which allows one to add an optional universal RAM mount socket (shown above), available in two sizes. With this socket, paddlers can purchase a myriad of optional RAM mount accessories, allowing one to attach a cell phone holder, camera mount, fishing gear, Go-Pro fixture, cup holders – you name it! This is located next to the front d-ring, 5 inches from the nose.

Bungee deck lacing

A bungee deck-lacing system with four metal d-rings begins 33 inches from the snout, measuring 15.5 to 20 inches wide and 20 inches deep – a perfect spot to attach gear. There is approximately 5.5 inches overlapping the deckpad.

Comfortable carrying handle

A textured, traction pad is 74.5 x 25 inches, beginning 47 inches from the nose. In the center is a low profile, padded handle, centered 23 inches from the top of the traction pad. Roughly 3/4 of the traction pad features a low-profile, crocodile texture, while the rear 19 inches is comprised of diamond groove.

Comfortable carrying handle with ankle leash d ring

A padded, rear carrying handle makes it easier to pull the board into the water, and also has an integrated ankle leash d-ring. The handles have been redesigned to be more robust, yet easier and more comfortable to grab. This is located 9 inches from the tail.

Military valve

There is one military valve to inflate the board – this is imprinted with inflation instructions. The Hull-ID number is located just behind the valve.

Crocodile print deck pad

The logo and many of the deck pad design features are now screenprinted on the board, keeping everything low-profile while reducing potential problems with deck lift.

Installing the RSS Rocker Stiffening System batten

The Sport 11-3 utilizes the patented Rocker Stiffening System (RSS), featuring two fiberglass battens 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. Each batten is 35 by 1.25 inches with a velcroed “pull tab” that attaches to the board rail while paddling.

FSC Tool-Less Fin System

The Sport 11-3 now utilizes a fairly standard US Fin box which fits 90% of the fins on the market. The Sport comes with an FCS II Tool-less Connect 9.0 Touring fin which just snaps into place without the need for tools or hardware. This particular fin is ideal for flat water paddling with a leading edge that sheds weeds quickly, yet features a streamlined design offering quick maneuverability and turning.

The "bump"

At this point, we want to mention “the bump” which can appear to be a defect to first time paddlers. As previously mentioned, the drop stitch material consists of threads connecting the top and bottom layers. To install the military valve, the threads must be removed in that area, creating “the bump” which can be seen on the underside, below the valve. This is normal and not something to worry about.

Roller backpack

The newly-redesigned roller back pack is well thought-out. It features a quilted front and padded back with adjustable padded shoulder straps, a molded rubber top handle, two padded side carrying handles, and a molded rigid handle on the underside – basically, you can carry it just about any way you can think of. Two-way zippers (with very slick Red Paddle branded zipper pulls) allow the pack to be open on three sides, making it much simpler to get the board in and out. A clear pocket on the back is provided for identification labels.

Red Paddle Co roller backpack

Integrated roller wheels allow it to be easily hauled through airports or on sidewalks, if one doesn’t feel like carrying it on their back. A “hidden pocket” on the back – called the Sherpa Carry System – allows the shoulder straps to be un-cinched and stashed inside; this is particularly good for travel/planes as the straps won’t catch on items. Inside this are the adjustable waist straps. Both these and the lower connecting straps are accessed from another two lower side compartments, located near the roller wheels on the back.

New foil lining and paddle holder

Inside, one integrated cinch belt keeps the board in position. New for 2017, the roller packs are foil-lined, minimizing potential extreme heat on the boards. A new interior mesh pocket houses the “Welcome” instructions. Another nifty new feature is the integrated paddle containment system – paddle outlines show how to stash your 3pc breakdown paddle inside the bag so it doesn’t move around.

Outer measurements on the backpack are 40 x 14 x 11 inches, allowing the pump and an optional breakdown paddle to fit inside. The bag weighs approximately 6.4lbs.

Red Paddle Co Titan Dual Cylinder Pump

The Sports come with the highly-acclaimed dual barrel (twin cylinder) Titan pump. This features a large and small barrel; when initially pumping, both cylinders are used, putting in more air rapidly. When it gets tough to pump, remove the pump plug which utilizes just the slim barrel. The smaller barrel makes it easier to pump at higher pressures. The updated 2017 Titan pump is killer. While similar to the original Titan pump, a few updates are quite notable. The handle is now reinforced, so that it can withstand more pumping pressure. While the military valve adaptor is permanently affixed to the hose end, the Titan pump now comes with a variety of additional adaptors – a Boston valve adaptor, nozzle adaptor and two screw-on adaptors. These are attached via a very nifty system, allowing one to use the Titan pump on inflatable kayaks, dinghies and kites. In conjunction with this, the gauge now features three “green” zones – one from 1 to 4 PSI for lower pressure inflatables, one from 6 to 8 PSI for higher pressure kayaks and kites, and then the third from 15 to 20 PSI for paddle boards. The instructions state the pump can inflate up to 30PSI, but I think you would suffer a heart attack before then.

But that’s not all. The gauge now begins registering immediately (before it started at about 5 PSI) and  also reads real time, without the “needle bump” on previous versions, making it easier to see what pressure you have attained. Additionally, the pump no longer “telescopes” if you lift it by the handle; this is also aided by a clip system that attaches from the pump body to the red plug string, making sure the pump stays compact. Not noticeable is the internal redesign to drastically improve pump performance and efficiency. The Titan pump weighs 5.2 lbs.

Red Paddle Co Sport 11-3 Inflatable SUP

We did measurement tests. The Red Paddle Eleven Three Sport inflated is approximately 11 feet 2.5 inches long, 32.5 inches wide, and roughly 4.75 inches deep – pretty much on target with the published specs. Payload is up to 242 lbs/110 kgs.

New 2017 Red Paddle Sport 11’3″ ISUP Features

So, in a nutshell, what’s new on the 2017 Sport models versus the 2016 models?

  • Integrated threads for attaching optional RAM mounts and accessories.
  • Improved MSL dropstitch material with increased bond strength and thicker second layer.
  • Rollerpack updates as outlined above including the new foil liner.
  • Improved features on the Titan pump as outlined above
  • Slight graphics and design changes.
  • Improved US fin box now fits 90% of US fins.
  • New FCS Connect Tool-less Fin System with FCS II 9.0 Touring Fin.
  • Velcro tabs on the RSS fiberglass battens

The 2017 Red Paddle Sport 11-3 On the Water

Red Paddle Co Sport 11'3

First of all, this is a great-looking board! The graphics, color and shape on the 2017 Red Paddle Co line really pop out.

I had previously taken out the 2016 Sport 12-6 with MSL technology and a pre-MSL 2015 Sport 11 – the new Sport 11-3 model rounds out the series by spanning the gap.

Red Paddle Co Sport 11'3" on the water.

I took it out on a calm day. First impressions – very smooth paddling, great glide, and it’s pretty fast! The slightly wider 32-inch beam feels very stable and was very easy to stand up and drop down without a ripple. Turning was also easy – still with a feeling of stability. The near 5-inch thickness provides plenty of buoyancy – the only thing that I felt was slightly under performing was the tracking, which I put down to my weight – or lack of.

I headed back to shore to get a pack, when it suddenly dawned on me ….  I HAD INSTALLED THE FIN BACKWARDS. Despite having set up scores (if not hundreds) of kayaks and boards with removable tracking fins, I had done the unthinkable. So, I removed the fin (a very easy two-second click out) and reinstalled it properly pointing towards the tail (another easy two-second click in place) and took the Sport 11-3 back out.

What a fabulous board! Paddling was a joy, and I can’t begin to state how much better it moves when the fin points in the right direction. The board is smooth, turns well, and has a wonderful glide.

The Sport 11-3 is stable.

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

Paddling with Woodie on the Red Paddle Co Explorer 13-2

While I did not take members of the pack out on the Sport, I have taken them on previous versions. Here is Woody on last year’s Explorer Plus 13-2 with the new MSL material. The boards are rugged and I would not hesitate bringing along a canine companion.

Lightweight and easy to carry

Best of all, it’s a mere 21 lbs, making it quite easy to carry.

Packing Up the Red Paddle Co Sport 11’3

To deflate the board is pretty simple. Remove the tracking fin and the two RSS fiberglass battens. Burp the valve plunger a couple of times to release pressure, then push the plunger to the open (down) position and immediately the air will swoosh out.

Rolling up the Red Paddle Co Sport 11-3

Leaving the plunger in the deflate mode, move to the snout of the ISUP, top side up. Put the Titan pump on the board (remove the hose if you want to make sure it doesn’t get “squished” and roll the board up around the pump. As you roll it up, air will continuously be pushed out of the open valve.

Rolling up the Red Paddle Co Sport 11-3

When fully rolled up, replace the valve cover and then take the attached strap and cinch it around the bundle. If you’ve rolled up tight enough, the board will easily slip back into the backpack – but stow your paddle in the bag first. Use the interior cinch straps to position the load.

Bottom Line on the 2017 Red Paddle Co Sport 11-3

Once again, Red Paddle Co has hit a winner with the new Sport 11-3 inflatable SUP – by constantly listening to customer feedback, they continue to be innovative in expanding the product line. The Sport 11-3 maintains that excellence as a fabulous cruising board – fast, nimble, very rigid, remarkably stable, paddles well and tracks/glides nicely. The sleek silhouette and striking colors are a head-turner – when you’re on a Red, people know it.

Red Paddle Co Sport 11'3" on the water.

This is the perfect bridge in the Red Paddle Co Sport line – the bullet shape and longer water line make it zippier and better performing than the Rides, yet easier to inflate and carry around than the bigger Explorers. The 32-inch silhouette cuts through the water cleanly, the elongated nose section makes for a better glide, and the squared-off tail provides more stability when standing towards the back of the board. Coupled with a 120mm material and RSS batten system, the Sport 11-3 can be handled by smaller paddlers, yet provides super-rigidity and speed for larger paddlers up to 242 lbs.

Sport on the water

The slight quilting and rubberized pads on the carrying handles are comfortable to grip, while the molded, stainless steel d-rings and bungee lacing look like they’re built to last, and ample enough for an afternoon of gear.

Textured deck pad

The new MSL fusion technology has smoothed out “the bumps” resulting in a board that looks streamlined, sleek and finished. The lower profile crocodile print deck pad offers standing comfort and just enough grip.

Optional RAM Mount attachment.


The new RAM mount expands the user experience, allowing paddlers to easily attach some of their favorite gear – such as camera, cell phone and GPS – or trick it out with fishing accessories.

US Fin Box and FCS Fin

The updated US fin box with the tool-less fin makes set up a “snap.”

Titan Pump

If that isn’t enough, the Titan pump – with the new interchangeable fittings, is now my go-to pump.

Easily fits in the trunk of a car.

And let’s not forget the roller backpack, which has to be one of the most well-thought out SUP packs out there. The Sport easily rolls up into the included backpack – which can house the pump and a breakdown paddle – making it a great inflatable to toss in the trunk of a car, pack down a beach or wheel through airports.

Virtually indestructible

According to the manufacturer, Red Paddle inflatable SUPs are virtually indestructible. In one video, a Red board is dragged through every knothole in the world – hurled repeatedly from the roof of a warehouse; repeatedly run over with tractors and trucks; dashed against high surf and rocks; and the ultimate decimation – used as a snowboard.

Red Paddle Co Sport 11'3" on the water.

The Sport design is focused on flatwater; it’s good for shorelines, calm and choppy waters, rivers, ocean bays and inlets. It’s perfect for a day cruising along the shoreline and if the sun becomes too much – just slide off the board into the water to cool down.

Red Paddle Co Sport Series

Which Sport to choose? The Sport 11’0” – with it’s smaller air volume – offers fast inflation, more weight-savings and great flat-water performance for riders up to 200 lbs, while the Sport 12’6” is also suited to longer touring trips and can be used by larger riders up to 300 lbs.

Red Paddle Co Sport 11'3" on the water.

The Sport 11-3 from Red Paddle Company is a top-notch choice, providing speed, style and comfort – an all around cruiser for those that want performance without bulk.  In fact, it has now become one of my favorite boards. At $1529 MSRP, it’s on the higher end of the retail market, but worth it.

To purchase or for more info, visit the Red Paddle Sport 11-3 product page on

For more details, you watch our YouTube video on the 2017 Red Paddle Sport 11’3″ Inflatable SUP, below. This is the slightly larger model featuring the new MSL technology material.

#redpaddleco #inflatablesup


  1. hi thank you for your in depth review of the Sport 11’3. I am thinking of buying it. But how is speed and tracking compared to the Explorer 12’6? We own that board and want a second Red Paddle board.

    I am 6”5′ experienced paddler and weigh 105 kg.

    thanks in advance for your reply!

    Aloha. Govert

    1. Hi Govert:
      With your height and weight, I think you would be better off looking at the Sport 12-6, which is a bit thicker and has more air volume. It is slightly narrower than the 11-3, but is pretty stable due to the longer length. I found all to have great tracking, and the Sport 12-6 would be a bit speedier than the Explorer 12-6.

      1. Hi Holly
        Thank you for your reply! A friend of mine has the Sport 12’6. We will do a test on the river. See who’s the boss after a speed test against the Explorer 12’6… We love the Explorer for its stable platform and volume. I will let you know how the test was done and the results..

        Aloha, Govert

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