The 10-foot, 6-inch Ride by Red Paddle Co. is the best-selling standup paddleboard in the world, according to the company, based on the fact that Red Paddle Co. is the top selling premium inflatable SUP brand in the world and the 10’6” Ride is its best selling board. That naturally made me wonder what was the draw for this particular board. So I got the company to loan us a sample for a weekend to see why this board has been so successful in a crowded SUP market.
Short story, the Ride 10’6’’ is a stiff, fairly stable, do-it-all board—a premium standup paddleboard that can accommodate larger paddlers and that can turn, glide, and chill on flat water with ease.
The Ride shoots right down the middle in just about every respect. It is a 32-inch wide, versatile board that’s easy to ride, quick to turn, and can handle casual cruising around flat and mildly choppy water. It’s also a highly responsive board, which also means it will turn a bit too eagerly for some paddlers tastes, but means it is still dynamic enough for paddlers looking tight-turn performance. It’s a great board for beginners without being too dumbed down for more experienced paddlers.
I took the Ride out for three days on calm lake in Maine with a few other paddlers. Everyone had a good impression overall. “OK, I definitely want this board,” one of the beginners said emphatically after a quick lap around the lake.
The first thing you notice is that the Ride absolutely loves to turn. It turns even when you don’t want it to. That’s because of a rounded tail and the three small, 5-inch fins, which loosen up the tail and lets the board pivot quickly. That’s great in tight quarters, like a dense harbor, still river, or narrow canals. But on open water it makes it a bit more difficult to keep a straight line without some practice. Standing in the middle of the board, the bow will shift from 12 o’clock to 1 o’clock in about four normal paddles. Near the tail, you’ll turn that much in one stroke. Each of the three riders who hopped on initially commented that it was difficult to keep a straight line. Everyone got the hang of it, though, and after a little time getting used to it, the Ride was keeping up with our longer board for hour-long out and back paddles.
One advantage of shorter fins is the ability to venture into shallower water and not get pitched by grounding on sandbars or shallow rocks. You can sidle right up to a rocky shore if needed.
When the water got a little choppier in the afternoon under a 10-mph breeze, the Ride was still stable enough that one eager tester tried to pull off a crow position yoga move—which didn’t quite work but it showed how comfortable she felt on the board.
The Ride comes with a nice travel bag with integrated rollers and shoulder straps. Don’t underestimate the importance of a good, rolling SUP bag if you plan to be traveling at all with the board.
One of the best things Red Paddle Co. has going on is innovative, dual chamber pump. The high volume chamber handles the first 5-6 psi. Then you switch to the higher-pressure chamber, which takes a lot less energy to pump when the board starts to fill up. A lot of standard SUP hand pumps require a full-body weight slam to push the pressure past 15 psi, and it’s exhausting. The Red’s innovative Titan pump still takes a while, but it makes the pumping dramatically easier. The pump is light, sturdy, and integrates into the travel bag nicely.
Overall, the Ride was welcoming enough to beginners without pandering to them. It was an easygoing board that still feels playful and up for a challenge. I would have no hesitation recommending it for most paddlers on flat water.
The 10’6’’ Ride MSL costs $1,300. The very similar 10’8” Ride MSL pushes the volume from 240 liters to 296 liters and is two inches wider and longer, making it a better choice for bigger riders, passengers and first timers, with a very similar same overall feel as the 10’6”.