The dog days of summer are here, and whether you are a desert dweller like me, or are lucky enough live on the coast, the best way to fight the heat is to get out on the water. Fly fishing, lake swimming, maybe even a little bit of whitewater. What do they have in common? Every one of these excellent summer activities are better with a stand-up paddle board. I got my first taste of paddle boarding in 2013 when my friends at the Vail Valley Foundation convinced me to enter the SUP whitewater sprint race at the GoPro Mountain Games. After a few dips in the frigid water over the three-mile course, I was hooked. Since then, we’ve hauled inflatable boards around the Utah and Colorado in search of pristine trout fishing and the occasional sunrise SUP yoga session (I guess you could say I’m MOTUS’s resident dirtbag hippie).
Paddle boarding is not just for the granola eating, tree hugging outdoorsman though. A good multipurpose board can handle everything from cruising through heavy surf at the beach to providing lightweight transport for your gear to a lakeside camp. For anyone serious about getting out on the water, the paddle board is the most versatile option for all-season adventure.
Earlier this year, Sevylor gave us the chance to preview the all new Alamosa paddle board ($,1400) before it hit retailers. We feverishly planned out a few weekends of high altitude lake paddling and fly fishing and waited impatiently. The board showed up nicely packaged in a backpack with an included high pressure pump. A short check over the packing list to make sure everything was in order, and we were on the road.
It should be noted that although inflatable boards are “portable”, when you’ve got an 11’6″ long board, full weight is just shy of thirty pounds. After hiking with a full weekend’s worth of backpacking gear, plus the Alamosa, a mile and half into Wall Lake in the Uinta Range, it quickly became apparent why more people don’t bring boards or kayaks to less accessible areas. Stupidity on our part aside, we pumped up the board and took off for an afternoon on the water.
First impressions were how incredibly stable the board is. Nearly twelve feet long and three feet wide, it has a very flat profile. A dedicated riverboard usually has almost a foot or more of “rocker” (curving up at the tip and tail like a pair of powder skis). The Alamosa has only three inches. Having so much more of the board in contact with the water is advantageous both for beginners and more experienced paddlers looking for move quickly. That stability was especially welcome when moving up and down the board gingerly while trying to catch the attention of a few monster Rainbow Trout with my arsenal of Wolly Buggers and White Wulff flies.
For gear, the Alamosa comes equipped with two bungee nets that we used to keep a dry bag with extras tied down with. It also has sets of D-Rings so you can mount a small cooler (our Yeti Hopper fit perfectly). Just forward of the footpad is a unique design touch. A body cutout and clear viewing window double as small gear storage. It was indispensable to have my fly box and a few odds and ends handy. A velcro closure quickly covers it up if you need to.
As a dedicated fishing platform, it is ideal for shallow shore fishing or high mountain lakes. Even though it is six inches deep, when fully inflated it sat just a couple of inches in the water. Detaching the center fin allows for even better handling in shallows, although you do give up a little tracking and stability. It can haul up to 350 pounds of gear (and in our case neurotic dogs who couldn’t stand being left on the shore). As boards go, it won’t win any races and is probably a foot too long for any serious river running, but for all-around performance the Alamosa has anything else on the market beat.
Photo Credit: Kenzie Parker/Green Goat Collective