Red Paddle Flow 9'6" CKS In House Review
Red Paddle is doing something right when it comes to board construction. We have sold the brand for 3 years and have not had to warranty a single board yet!High Quality Carry Bag / Backpack The first thing that I noticed when we pulled the Red Paddle Flow 9'6" out of the box, was the high quality carry bag. It appears to be the same quality as a Patagonia or North Face duffel bag (heavy duty material and beefy zipper) - you could travel around the world this this sucker and not have to worry about zippers breaking, seams splitting, or anything like that. The board fits into the bag quite easily too, which is nice. There are some boards out there that seem to be 10" wide when rolled up and it feels like you are stuffing them in to a 9" bag - the round peg in a square hole issue... BY FAR, the best part of the bag is the recessed carry straps. Red Paddle gives you 2 options: A.) You can roll the bag like a piece of luggage. There is a nice handle on the top and sides. A small child could carry / roll it. B.)Or, you can pull the straps and waist belt out of the bag, and carry it like a pack. The straps are comfortable and supportive. I could see myself hiking a few miles into a river like the Gunnison Gorge with this board / bag combo.
The carry bag, complete with rollers and grab handles. You can see where the back pack straps and waist belt go.AWESOME PUMP For anyone out there that has previously had "pump issues" with their inflatable stand up paddle board, take note! The pump that is provided with the Red Paddle Flow 9'6" is miles and miles ahead of anything else out there (that is sold with a board), or at least that we know of. It's basically a dual chamber pump that is able to get the board to about 6-8 PSI in just a few pumps. Then, by releasing a valve, it changes to a single chamber pump, and can top the board off to about 20 PSI. I found that it was super easy to get the board to 8 PSI or so with the dual chamber mode. Then in about 3 mini pump sessions, I got it to 18 PSI. **All manual pumps take effort to pump a board to 20 PSI. If you are looking for an effortless option, we always recommend going with an electric pump.**
Dual chamber pump with release valve that converts the pump to a single chamber. Both chambers provide volume to get the board pumped up to about 8 PSI, and the single chamber will top it off to 18+.Super Stiff Between the quality material and construction methods used, the shape of the board (6" thick and heavy duty rails), and the ability to pump the Red Paddle Flow 9'6" to 20 PSI - this sucker is stiff! Like I had mentioned, I am about 215 lbs with gear on. The Flow was more than able to carry my weight. The board did not bend in the middle at all. It is SUPER STIFF. One nice thing about stiff boards, is that they are easier to carve on the river. It's much easier to engage an edge, stomp the tail for a pivot turn, or do subtle things like weighting certain parts of the board in a rapid (less input for a greater gain)...Less stiff boards will mushy and less accurate compared to this one.
The combination of high quality materials, a solid construction method and thick drop stitch makes for an extremely stiff board that can either flow a 200 lber + with ease on class III whitewater.Useful Features The Red Paddle Flow has all of the bells and whistles that are found on boards of this caliber. Between the quality deck pad, tie down bungees, multiple grab handles (comes in handy when swimming in hard whitewater or lining a board for a tough portage), iPhone case, leash attachment point, security tie down, and fixed fins that will not come off - you really should not need, or want a whole lot more on your board...maybe a GoPro mount? That is all that I could think of...
The deck bungee is good to have - it's always nice to be able to bring a small dry bag with the essentials.
Nice stomp pad for getting a good grip on the board. There's a spot for a leash (or security lock), and another grab handle on the back. Having the valve in the tail area is nice as well - it keeps it out of the way.Solid Design The overall design is solid. The shape of the board is really good for running harder whitewater (more on that below) because it is stiff, stable and turns easily. The widest point of the board is right in the middle, which gives the stable feeling right under your feet, and center of gravity. The quad fins are cool; it's easier to slip through shallow rocks with the placement being behind each other (as opposed to a tri fin where there is a fin in the middle as well). They are also positioned farther up towards the center of the board (similar to the Starboard Astro Stream). This makes for more predictable and user friendly turning. The rocker profile makes turning the board a breeze; it also surfs well on flatter river waves. I imagine that it would be fun for coastal surfing (as far as 34" wide boards that are 6" thick go). The tail is good. It's easy to stomp on and pivot turn, or carve when surfing....it's not too blocky, and has some taper that makes it a little bit easier to turn (especially for lighter riders).
The Flow has a really good shape. It's nice and wide at the waist and turns nicely...stable in rapids, like it should be.
The quad fins felt good on the board. It surfed well, turned easy, and peeled out with no problems. There is a very wide space between the fins, to allow for rocks to pass through.River Running This board was built to run rivers. In particular, it's meant for harder whitewater (class II+ - IV). Being so stiff, it was very easy to control the Flow. You could subtly edge the side of the board that you want to turn and carve where you want to go - much like a kayak with an edge, or snowboard. It was very stable with the 6" drop stitch, and 34" width. It deflected cross currents and waves nicely, and skimmed across eddylines. Pealing into eddies was easy - the 6" drop stitch helps a lot; the edges stay out of the water, resulting in less eddy swims. Sub 10' boards are really nice on technical rivers like The Arkansas. This is the type of board that enjoys eddy hopping it's way down river and sneaking behind rocks, allowing you to line up your next move. I did not have a chance to paddle it on bigger water, but for low volume, technical class II+ / III- it was a great board. I would have no hesitations taking the Red Paddle Flow down a bigger run like Browns Canyon, Westwater Canyon or something like that... How does it stack up to the Starboard Astro Stream or Badfish River Shred? Guess we'll have to wait to find out. One thing that is nice about this board, is that it is very EASY to paddle. Beginning river SUP'ers will be able to learn the basics on the Flow. It's stable and easy to turn. Also, if SUP yoga appeals to you, this could be a good option. Last, the quad fins worked well for paddling some mid level whitewater. There is a big enough gap in the middle of the board, which leaves a good sized area for rocks to pass through. When the going gets shallow, you can step on the nose of the board pretty easily, which will bring the fins almost clear out of the water. Flatwater Paddling The Flow's obviously not the ideal board for paddling long distances on flatwater. The quad fins will make for a "turnier" board (they act like twins), as opposed to one that tracks well (goes in a straight line). Also, the 6" drop stitch sits you higher out of the water, and gives you a "bobbly", or tippy feeling - even though you are more stable on a 6" board (as opposed to 4"). The upside to this is twhen the chop kicks up, the Flow will stay upright VERY EASILY because it is 6" thick. Is it fun for an afternoon paddle? Sure! Bring the kids or the dog - it's super stable. Also, flatwater yoga would be really fun. If you're looking for a river board that can go on occasional flatwater paddles, this board will be fine, just don't expect to win Battle Of The Paddle in it anytime soon. Surfing I had the chance to take the flow on a mellow glassy wave, and a steeper bigger one. The Flow was really fun on the glassy one. It carved really well considering that it's 6" thick and 34" wide. The nose rocker profile was good, and it did not perl into the trough of the wave. The tail is stable, but tapered enough that you can carve it. On a bigger steeper, breaking wave, the flow was tough to surf. The reason being, it's almost 10' long, and no board over 8' does well on this particular wave (at low water). It was able to get on the wave, but the nose would perl somewhat. Once the water comes up, and the wave flattens out a bit, I have no doubt that the Flow will be money.