The Claim: Tahoe SUP is known for innovative lake paddling and touring boards with pointed displacement hulls for slicing through water—as opposed to sluggish surf-style SUPs. Now the brand is innovating in the inflatable category dominated by generic blow-up barges. It calls the new Alpine Explorer the most advanced inflatable touring SUP ever.
The Trial: I hiked the Alpine Explorer (it comes with a backpack and pump) into difficult shorelines on Lake Tahoe and up to alpine lakes where schlepping a hard board would be nearly impossible. Sweaty hikers watched jealously as I pushed off onto Eagle Lake to explore shoreline scree fields and watch trout jump all around. Small wonders made possible by this new adventurer tool. I was likely the first person to ever paddle Eagle Lake.
The Verdict: The Alpine Explorer is designed for paddlers who prize portability and efficiency. No inflatable can match a hard board’s performance, but the Alpine Explorer comes closest. Unlike single-chamber inflatables that pump up like a saggy air mattress, the Alpine Explorer’s second lengthwise rigid air chamber reduces taco-itis and drag. Deflated and stuffed, the kit weighs 26 pounds. $1,399, tahoesup.com —Paul Tolme