RRD’s Air Venture 12ft is a beast, in a good way of course. With a whopping 36” inches of width and 360L worth of volume it really is a platform – read mini aircraft carrier! When you consider its name and the job in mind it’s no wonder though. Adventure paddling takes on many different guises but in all cases the need to load up your sled with maximum gear, without losing performance, is key. RRD’s Air Venture then sits firmly at the centre of the camping, exploring and fishing sphere.
Out of the bag
The first thing you notice is the Air Venture isn’t as big as you’d imagine when packed down. For sure there’s a lot more ‘material’ to handle but, as with all quality inflatable SUPs, the RRD fits neatly into its heavy duty wheeled bag, complete with pump and three piece paddle if needed.
Unfurled, and it’s standard procedure to inflate. Even with all that extra space for air the inflating process doesn’t take too much longer – maybe a couple of minutes but that’s all. And with the supplied dual action RRD pump the act of showing up and blowing up is pretty straightforward.
RRD utilise their Sandwich Dyneema Belt (SDB) technology to great effect with the Air Venture. At 6” thick it’s a rigid and tough iSUP. There’s no doubt about these added stringers, however, which increase this no end. Combined with high quality Dropstitch you have an impressive looking, built to last inflatable stand up paddle board that’ll stand the test of time.
The Air Venture is finished off with a single US box fin protruding from the tail. Paddlers are free to swap this out if necessary, but actually there’s no need with the Air Venture. After all, this is a SUP built for exploring and in confined, shallow spaces you may end up scuffing a more delicate skeg. In this this instance the supplied fin does the required job more than adequately.
On the water
36” makes for a wide platform. Long limbed paddlers can certainly get the RRD under their arm to carry but those of lesser stature may need a hand getting it to the put in. A cushioned webbing handle does make the process more comfortable though.
One thing we expected was the Air Venture to be heavy. While there’s no denying all that extra SUP does add some weight, it’s still a light vehicle relative to its size and purpose. Our smaller tester had no issues manoeuvring it around on land, shifting it into position, ready for the off.
Jumping aboard, it’s such a stable board it’s laughable. The wide tail and mid-point do everything in their power to keep you bolt upright. We jumped all over the Air Venture and really had to fight to take a dunking. To prove the point further, one of SUPM’s team also went paddling while sitting atop a beach chair positioned on the Air Venture’s deck. If you know any anxious paddlers worried about falling then introduce them to the Air Venture – dry hair as standard!
With such a stable platform there was expectation RRD’s AV would feel slightly dead in the water. Not so, however. Moving aft and there’s a playful liveliness that makes itself known. So much so that we went for a play in small swell, only to find the Air Venture coped well. It’s certainly not a surfer but it’s nice to discover the board’s versatility.
So what about the AV’s actual purpose? During the test we went fishing, loaded it up with all manner of gear – including toddler and wife. During every ‘test’ the Air Venture remained composed, taking it all in its stride without compromising on the paddling experience.
Fully loaded it tracks well and glide’s great. Paddlers will need to dig in during initial strokes to get the momentum going but once up and running it just goes. As such RRD’s AV does an admirable job of impersonating a more traditional touring SUP.
Bridging the gap between mega SUP and narrower sled, RRD’s Air Venture is a super versatile inflatable stand up paddle board that’s equally happy being taken on camping sojourns as it is gliding offshore in the tide while pilots fish for their supper. Head off on overnighters or take it for a spin in some small waves – whatever you have in mind for fun SUP adventures, the Air Venture will take you there in style.
Light weight, relative to the actual size of the board, its 36” width ensures every SUPers will come away from their session with dry hair smile while family sweepers will find the perfect multiple paddler toy without having to shell out on a giant SUP.
It’s nice to come across a board that wears its size on its sleeve but doesn’t compromise on performance. Everyone who tried the RRD Air Venture had a beaming grin on their face after their session – we’re sure you will too…