PaddleXaminer got a sneak peak at Red Paddle Co’s (Red) new inflatable SUP, the Compact ahead of the official release on August 29th. I met up with Jordan Curet who represents Red in the U.S. on the upper Colorado river near Kremmling, CO to do the demo. As the name suggests, the board is smaller at 9’6” x 32” x 4.7” (2896mm x 813mm x 120mm). The entire board, pump and paddle all fit in a small backpack.
The backpack fits securely on your back with comfortable straps and lumbar support. I tried it on walking around the parking lot, the backpack felt comfortable on my back, weighing 20 lbs (kg) by my estimate. I immediately imagined myself hiking up to a remote alpine lake with this board.
The Compact’s bag is significantly smaller than that of other inflatable SUPs.
Phil Hawthorne, Head of Design at Red explains, “The new highly engineered backpack for the Compact has unique levels of adjustability and comfort, plus incredible shoulder and back support.” The small compact size of the bag makes this board ideal for the city dweller with limited space to store gear. The backpack could easily fit at the bottom of a closet.
Advanced inflatable SUP construction
I rolled out the board as Jordan told me more about how the board was designed. Red spend two years developing the board with the goal of creating a smaller, stiffer, and easily transportable SUP for the everyday user without compromising on performance. The Compact meets these goals. The Compact uses PACT Technology ™. This is a material with a new weaving process which creates an extra-high-tensile thread matrix at the core of the board that is combined with a super-strong but malleable outer layer. This makes the Compact board stiff and durable when inflated but can be folded down into a bag half the size of standard inflatable boards. The board feels supple, almost like leather when inflated.
The Compact comes with Red’s world class Titan pump. The pump has two cylinders which can pump up to 60 mph into the board. I was able to pump up the Compact to 21 psi (recommended pressure) in 7 minutes, 6 seconds; this is by far the fastest I’ve ever pumped up a board.
As we approached the put-in spot carrying the board, it was much easier than carrying one of the two boards I own which are much larger in size. I could see how this would be advantageous for some users. Once on the water, I got to paddle around a bit on the Compact. The inflatable SUP has a very stiff feel,very similar to a hard board. It doesn’t have any bounce as you go over a small rapid or wave like other inflatables tend to have.
The new Red Paddle Co Compact inflatable SUP.
A nice feature is that the Compact comes with everything you need in the small back-pack, including a five-piece paddle. On the water, the paddle felt loose in my grip due to all the connections. When I examined the paddle closely, I could tell the pieces don’t quite fit tightly together as I’d prefer, giving the paddle a little shimmy as you paddle. I’ve been paddling for three plus years and have become tuned in to the minor differences in gear I test; some paddlers may not notice this potential downside.
As I got comfortable with the Compact, I really began to like the smaller, stiffer board. It felt like a race car on the flat sections of the Colorado river; I could really cruise with this board. The Compact is quite maneuverable on the water due to its smaller profile. I did a couple tight pivot turns on the Compact and had to catch myself because it turned so fast.
What’s in the bag
The Compact comes with:
- Compact board
- Titan pump
- Two click fins
- Coil leash
- Five-piece paddle
- Backpack to carry all items
The price tag is on the high end for inflatables currently on the market at $1,899 due to the PACT technology included in the board. It’s definitely different than any other inflatable SUP currently on the market. The board is available for pre-order now on Red’s website.