Last year, my partner and I bought an inflatable kayak on a whim. We had low expectations, but it’s paid for itself 100 times over in days of adventure on waterways across the UK. Just when we thought we couldn’t have more fun, we discovered the Rainbow—an amazingly robust and expertly crafted inflatable SUP board by Goosehill.
This board is a real beaut. Elegantly designed and artfully manufactured, it glides effortlessly through the water at impressive speeds. It’s comfortable to stand on, easy to master and incredibly lightweight for transportation purposes. If you’re looking for a new toy to entertain you over the summer, this really is the perfect choice.
Each board is a mix of white and black, with either teal (pictured), red or blue patterning. Handy arrows point forwards to help you orientate yourself. On the top side of the board are elasticated straps to hold your gear, along with a padded handle and the valve for inflation. Underneath are two side fins and a slot for the removable main fin.
With a length of 10’6″ and a width of 32″, there’s plenty of space for paddlers of all skill levels to move around. There’s also a textured footpad for added comfort, and to prevent slip.
Considering its size when deflated, it’s really quite extraordinary how sturdy and solid this board feels when pumped up. In fact, tests have shown it can withstand being driven over, even when inflated to full capacity. It’s also made from hard-wearing materials that resist the abrasive effects of seawater, sand and sunlight.
One of the most stunning features of this SUP board is its capacity to be folded into a compact configuration, packed into a comfortable backpack and transported with minimum effort. Compared with its appearance when first taken out of the box, it’s quite astonishing to see how firm, sturdy and sizeable the board is when fully inflated.
This means you have all of the benefits of a solid board, but without it being so cumbersome. Of course, it’s a bit of a pain to have to pump it up at the start of a session, but this means you can pack it away in your car boot, store it easily at home, carry it further on foot and even take it on holiday with you. And, of course, if you’re not moving about every day, you can leave it inflated for as long as you like with no leakage of air.
The board takes 300 l of air via a hand pump (supplied). A gauge on the pump shows the pressure level, and the board has a label to remind you to aim for around 15 p.s.i. If you’ve been pumping for a while and don’t see the needle budge, keep going. It takes a short while after the board looks fully inflated to reach a detectable level of pressure.
The full process of inflation takes around 10 min (for my feeble arms at least!), and you can really feel the air fighting back towards the end. It’s a little bit tiring, but a good workout for those paddling muscles. When you reach the desired amount of air, simply substitute the pump for the plug. It’s important to make sure the valve is in place, or air will come back out in a forceful gush!
Deflating the board is super easy. Just fold it and apply a bit of pressure, while ensuring that the valve isn’t obstructed.
EASE OF USE
I won’t lie. For the first 10 minutes, I wondered whether I was destined to only ever kneel on the board. I’d launched on a particularly windy stretch of tidal water and initially felt a bit unsteady. To make matters worse, there was constant yacht traffic, and quite a few spectators were watching me as they waited for a ferry.
It wasn’t long, though, before we’d rounded a corner and, on calmer waters, I quickly mastered standing up. I think it’s fair to say that the initial shakes were the result of my nerves rather than any lack of sturdiness on the part of the board, and within minutes I was moving around with confidence.
The aluminium paddle is extremely light, to prevent your arms from tiring, and has a clip-and-slide mechanism for height adjustment, or for use when standing versus kneeling. Reverse paddling is a really effective way to change direction, and it’s possible to pick up a good speed once you’re in the swing of it.
Goosehill’s Rainbow SUP has a net weight of 9.3 kg, making it quite easy to lift and manoeuvre (certainly compared with other inflatable products used for watersports). Although it’s designed as a single-person board, it has a payload of up to 140 kg, meaning you might be able to fit two people on it at once.
Included in your order are the board itself, one paddle, a detachable fin, a pump, a repair kit, a safety leash for your ankle, and a bag to carry it all in.
To create this paddle board, Goosehill have used super construction enhancement technology to add an enhanced layer of material. This adds strength and durability compared with a single-layer board, while being lighter and thinner than a double-layer board.
On the inside, drop stitching holds the top and bottom of the board together. This enables it to withstand the pressures of repeated inflation/deflation, as well as the concentrated force of a boarder’s feet.
Heat fusion technology is used to melt specific features into the board, such as its handle, inflation valve and the D rings of the bungy straps, to create smooth, reliable joints.
When it comes to adventure gear, so much goes into the design of the main product that the carry bag can often be forgotten. As an example, both straps have come off our kayak bag, making it a real pain to shift, even over short distances.
In contrast, the bag for the Rainbow SUP is really well designed. It can be worn like a backpack or rolled along the ground on wheels. The shoulder straps are padded for comfort, and the main compartment is roomy enough to easily fit the board, paddle, fin and pump. Strong zips hold everything in place, with extra buckles to compress the contents. On the inside, elasticated straps allow you to compartmentalise your gear.
Although it passes every test as a high-end, heavy-duty SUP, we found that the Rainbow SUP doubles as a faster alternative to our kayak. Using the kayak oars, we could both sit and paddle, and the angle was much more comfortable than when sitting deep in the kayak. We also took it in turns to try out a few yoga poses (SUP and yoga definitely complement each other in terms of toning the body and helping with balance). Finally, we enjoyed using it as a sand-free beach lounger, after taking care to remove the main fin and protect the smaller ones with the supplied foam casings. Alternatively, why not encourage your friends to get a board too, and engage in a game of SUPBall?!!
Currently retailing at US$399 (including postage and packaging), the Rainbow SUP could be yours in 5-12 days (depending on where you live in the world). Shipping is international, with a 100% money-back guarantee and 24/7 online support.