This Inflatable Paddle Board Fits in a Backpack, so Bring on Summer 2021

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retrospec weekender review
  • Value: 18/20
  • Quality: 19/20
  • Ease of Use: 20/20
  • Aesthetics: 19/20
  • Sturdiness: 17/20

TOTAL: 93/100

Gigantic pool floats have dominated summers past, but this year, I’m calling it: 2021 should be all about the inflatable paddle board.

I had some reservations about an inflatable board: Would it pop immediately? Would it be too squishy to actually stand on? Would it take half an hour—and all of my willpower—to blow it up? Also, how obnoxious would it be to tote to and from the beach? Thankfully, the Retrospec Weekender Paddle Board erased those concerns—and honestly, exceeded my expectations in such a huge way that I want to tell everybody I know about it, like I’m the founder of an inflatable paddle board MLM scheme (which I am not…and is not a thing, as far as I know).

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retrospec weekender kit

Setup Is Practically Foolproof

Renting a paddle board near me costs $20 an hour, or $35 for four hours, plus tax. So it’s always been an occasional splurge of mine, like a birthday treat. But still, I’d cough up the cash, just because the thought of hauling and storing a 10-foot-long board seemed like too much of a hassle (not to mention the cost of buying a board). That’s what hooked me on the Retrospec Weekender—it weighs 17 pounds and has a handle in the middle of the board, making it easy to carry, and it comes with a rucksack that holds the board and everything that comes with it.

But that’s what’s even better: The things that come with it. There’s a heavy-duty air pump that lets me blow up the paddle board in minutes, three fins that are easy to pop on and off, a repair kit (should a hole occur), an ankle leash, paddle and even a waterproof phone case. You have everything you need, and while it comes with an instruction guide, everything is intuitive enough that you can figure things out without it.

retrospec weekender review davison
Nathan Davison

It’s Lightweight Yet Sturdy

The board is made out of ArmorStrength PVC, so once inflated, it feels more like a classic paddle board than, say, a pool float. As a result, once it’s blown up to the recommended 10 to 12 psi, the Weekender is relatively easy to stand on and can support up to 275 pounds. I will say that on choppy waters, it’s definitely more of a core workout. On an afternoon when Jet Skis were cutting up the Gulf nearby, I found myself paddling on my knees more often than a full standing position, just to avoid flipping into the water.

retrospec weekender backpack
Nathan Davison

It’s A Summertime Investment

At $350, the Weekender is much cheaper than many 10-foot paddle boards on the market (which can range from $400 to $1,200). But you do run the risk of it, well, popping. And while Retrospec provides a patch kit—which, thankfully, I haven’t had to use yet—I’ve failed at patching enough air mattresses and pool floats to worry about how I’ll fare when the time comes. (Thankfully, there are several tutorials online to help with this.) Still, given how thick the material is—and after comparing its overall costs to other summertime splurges, gigantic pool floats and Jet Skis included—I’d say it’s worth the investment. After all, that’s just 19 one-hour rentals until you break even.

The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what’s worth the spend—and what’s total hype. Learn more about our process here.

candace davison bio
Candace Davison

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...
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