All posts by rY outside

Colorado-based gal. Photographer. Writer. Adventure seeker. My name is Ryan Michelle and I'm an avid outdoorswoman, passionate photographer, writer & life-long adventure seeker. My words and images share the stories of who I am & the truths of my world. I grew up in the hills of Pennsylvania & spent many years exploring the backwoods of my home state along miles of streams & singletrack. In 2009, I fell in love with the west after a short stint in the Colorado high country & found a home in a southern CO alpine desert by 2014. My life is fueled by adventure & a passion to seek answers to unknown questions - the questions that draw our souls into the wildest of places where we can truly learn what it is to Live. I have had the opportunity to contribute words and images to great projects and publications like Southwest Fly Fishing, Trout Unlimited, Denver Outfitters and more. View more at: ryoutside.com & instagram.com/ryoutside

SUP?

I wrote this review a number of months back (for a group I’d rather not share the name of since they fell silent on me and won’t return emails). But, I really wanted to share it with all of YOU because this year, I’ll have another story on SUPs – BOTE, specifically (which I am in Love with!) and I’m stoked to be able to compare a couple different brands.

So, without further delay, here’s some SUP’ing reviews for your reading pleasure…

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Paddling along Poague Lake on the Rio Grande NF (Photo: Sam Scavo)

SUP: Red Paddle Co. 10’6″ Ride MSL

Where to buy: Use the “Find a Shop” tool on the company website

Perfect for: All levels of riders and types of waters, from flat lakes to flowing rivers.

*Disclaimer: I received the SUP from a company representative to demo test and review. I was not asked to publish a positive review in exchange, and I received no financial compensation for this review.

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Hiking into Poague Lake (Photo: Sam Scavo)

Testing Grounds

As the aspen leaves turned golden yellow and the water temperatures began their steady decline to freezing, I had one thing on my mind last fall while my mom visited us down here in southern CO: searching out places I can still explore before the snow falls.

On a cool autumn day, I took out the Red Paddle 10’6” Ride MSL Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) to enjoy the colors and the water. I decided to bring my six-month-old son, my adventurous mother, and a little bit of courage along to explore one of my favorite high-country sites: Poage Lake on the Rio Grande National Forest, near Del Norte, Colorado.

This was only my second time on a SUP and my first time using an inflatable one.  I was cautious at first, but quickly realized that the inflatable SUP was just as sturdy and dependable as the traditional style. I even took my son out with me, though we didn’t stray far from shore.

In my experience, there are few differences when comparing an inflatable versus a hard SUP. When I stood on the inflatable, it felt very similar to a hard board – only the Red Paddle Co model had a much more comfortable material underfoot, compared to a simple fiberglass hard model I first used.

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Red Paddle is packable! (Photo: Sam Scavo)

As for the ride, for a typical recreational SUPer, inflatable and hard boards perform very similar in speed and maneuverability tests. Where an inflatable board wins the contest is when considering some other factors like transporting the board, the location where it will be used, and storage. An inflatable SUP rolls up easily, can be carried on your back or rolled to your destination, and fits in a trunk when on the move or a closet when in storage.

Construction

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The Red Paddle Co. 10’6” Ride MSL is, like the name suggests, a 10’6” inflatable paddleboard and features MSL (Monocoque Structural Laminate) fusion technology covered in a machine-laminated structural PVC layer. According to the website, the process includes includes “fusing a second layer of hard-wearing polymer to the drop stitch core at the raw material stage, removing hand gluing errors.”  In plain speak, this makes the board cleaner (no wrinkles or cosmetic blemishes), lighter, and stiffer at a lower pressure.

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The 10’6” Ride MSL is 32” wide, 4.7” thick, holds up to 220 pounds, features cargo tie-downs, and is fully packable (with a carrying weight of 29.8 pounds). It also comes with a backpack-style carrying bag, a Titan Pump for portable inflation, a repair kit, and a water-resistant phone case.

Function

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Inflating this SUP takes some time and energy, but the Titan Pump works well. It features a long hose, a psi gauge, footholds, and two air settings.

A green notch on the air pressure gauge indicates when the SUP has reached proper inflation. I counted 100 pumps on the first setting (which uses both air chambers for quick inflation) but gave up counting when we switched to the high setting (which uses one air channel to reach a higher psi).  All told, inflating this SUP to proper pressure took about 10 minutes. I didn’t feel restrained while pumping it, thanks to the longer hose, and I noticed that the footholds helped me put extra power into the pump.

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When I stood on the Red Paddle Co Ride 10’6,” I immediately felt confident. This SUP is stable. It glided beautifully through the water, even when the wind kicked up, and felt great underfoot. Again, even with this being only my second time on a SUP, I still appreciated (and immediately noticed) the smooth and controlled ride. 

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The tie-down cords have nice elasticity and allowed me to strap down the paddle when pausing to soak up some rays in the middle of the lake.

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The three fins on the base of the board help it track well in the water. While there are many fin number options available on the market, the three-fin option is especially useful when maneuvering through waves or choppier water, like on the river. Standup Paddle Boarding Guide says the outer fins do cause some drag on flat water, but I feel the ease of maneuvering outweighs any drag that may occur while paddling on flat water, like lakes.

The fins even come with protective covers for when the board is rolled up and packed in the bag. Though the travel bag is cushioned, I feel the covers increase fin protection when in transport. Whether driving on rocky roads or traveling through airports, having added protection (within minimal added weight) is always a plus.

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For those new to the sport, this board helps build confidence on the water. It maintains its glide and maneuverability while letting you explore flat water, like lakes and ponds, as well as rivers. Its construction is solid, yet the 20-pound board maintains is on the low end of the paddleboard weight spectrum. I bumped into several downed trees with pointed edges, and the board did not falter.

I also appreciated how packable this model is: everything (board, pump, paddle) fits easily inside the Red Paddle Co backpack and hiking with it on my back was easy for the half-mile into Poage Lake. In addition to wheels and side carry handles, the pack has well-padded straps, a waist belt, and enough room to carry both the board and paddle as well as a liter of water, snacks, and an extra layer.

When deflated, the SUP rolls nicely and clips inside the bag. I found the bag convenient for both paved travel (thanks to the wheels) and trail travel (thanks to the straps). Hiking on varied terrain in sandals with the backpack loaded, I felt confident and comfortable enough to jump over stream crossings and logs. The bag didn’t flop around or throw off my center of gravity, but I did notice that I was slightly hunched over under weight. However, that issue may be resolve with the availability of a hip belt in the new models.

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The Nitty Gritty:

Pros:

  • Packable and inflatable, which makes it easy to transport to high country lakes and hike-access rivers
  • User-friendly pump features two airflow settings and easy-to-read gauge
  • Comfortable pack is included and features backpack straps, wheels, and handles
  • Tie downs are included on the nose of the board, allowing you to bring extra gear along

Cons:

  • Paddle must be purchased separately
  • It takes some time to inflate (but it’s worth it to not have to haul a full board into the backcountry)

 

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adventure weddings 

Have I mentioned just how much I enjoy helping document a story? Whether our personal journey in this little family of mine or others’ via wedding and family sessions, having the opportunity to capture a moment that can then be shared with generations to come is an amazing thing.

First – thank you to Beau and Jennifer for giving me the opportunity to work with them on a couple of gorgeous days down here in southern Colorado. I don’t think the days could have been any more beautiful! And the love those two have for each other is down right inspiring!

Next – if those of you reading this are engaged, planning to get engaged, or about to have the wedding of your dreams, consider packing up the party and doing something like this…inviting all your loved ones to experience your joy right along side you for a few days before saying “I Do” – it’s just a thought;)

And If you need a photographer along for the wild ride, give me a shout!

Here’s some inspiration, just in case you need a little push…


memorial

Our Memorial Day Weekend gave us a taste of everything our home has to offer – rain, sunshine & blue skies, snow, wind, and the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises Colorado could offer.

To kick off the summer season – which will be full of festivals, backcountry explorations, overlanding adventures, SUPing,  rafting, fishing and more – we headed into the Rio Grande National Forest.

It was also the weekend I started a new chapter on the YouTube channel – more videos of adventuring!! Until now, I have really focused on gear reviews. But as you’ll see, this new season will bring all of you along for the ride – with gear feature in the mix, of course. So check it out, let me know what you think, and consider subscribing to the channel.

Thanks all!

Adventure on…

Denver Outfitters: OverRoam

 

With Memorial Day right around the corner, the “unofficial” kick off to the summer season is officially upon us – and if you haven’t been thinking about it all winter and spring, now is the time to start planning your overnight fishing trips. From the destination to the food to clothing, there’s so much to consider, especially the accommodations – Will you take a camper? Stay at a local hotel? Or maybe you’re a traditionalist and just love setting up a tent under a clear sky.

Well, as a proud gear head, and lover of all things outdoors, I have spent many years sleeping outside under the stars. From nights spent hanging in hammocks in the forests of Pennsylvania to pitching family-sized tents in Utah’s deserts, tents and sleep systems are some of my favorite things to review and write about.

As such and in thinking outside the traditional tent box, I recently connected with the good folks at Denver Outfitters about their OverRoam Rooftop Tent (RTT). Our family took it for a test drive earlier this spring and I’m excited to share some of the great features Denver Outfitters provides in their rooftop tent.

Check it out…

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Testing Grounds:

Winter in the Rockies is unpredictable! With failed attempts to demo the OverRoam Rooftop Tent at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico and Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, we finally had a chance to test it out in the San Luis Valley’s Penitente Canyon in Southern Colorado – a short drive from a gold metal stretch of the Rio Grande near the towns of South Fork and Del Norte.

Features:

The OverRoam Rooftop Tent comes in two models: the “Rapid” and “Rugged”. Here’s what Denver Outfitters has to say about each:

“The “Rapid” Model – This OverRoam Roof Top Tent auto-raises with the use of four, high-rated nitrogen gas hydraulic pistons. Raising the Rapid model takes an average of 6.53 seconds.

The “Rugged” Model – This OverRoam Roof Top Tent is raised manually by using a crank handle. Raising this version takes an average of 25.51 seconds.

Both our models hold the same amount of weight in transport, and strength in the elements.”

We demoed the “Rugged” model.

First Impression

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First and foremost, I need to let the world know that when I arrived at the Denver Outfitters headquarters, I was immediately blown away by their kindness and hospitality.

Joel, one of their lead guys, gave me the full tour and introduced me to his team. They then promptly installed the RTT on my Subaru – yes, Subaru, and yes installed! Installs don’t usually happen via the strength of the Denver Outfitters team, so thanks again guys!!

Now to the tent – At first glance, the OverRoam RTT is pretty unassuming. If I saw this on another vehicle and didn’t know any better, I would think it was just a low-profile cargo box (50 inches wide x 80 inches long x 12 inches high). But grab the detachable handle and this thing cranks up to a height of 38 inches with a nearly 3 inch full-size, high-density mattress inside – which is just cozy enough for our little family (two adults, one toddler).

Also, the shell seemed very rugged, and though the tent weighs nearly 150 pounds, it did not seem like a massive inconvenience for the ol’ Sooby. Once installed (4 points across 2 crossbars), it actually looked like it belonged there all along!

The Testing Grounds:

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We drove nearly 2000 miles with the OverRoam RTT atop the Subaru and after six weeks of sunshine, snow, several failed camping outings, a couple photo shoots, and finally a successful trip, here’s what we found…

I like it! I really appreciated the low profile of the OverRoam and the fact that my fuel efficiency didn’t completely suffer (it only dropped a couple gallons per mile, which I’ll take for the convenience of a RTT).  I also think this size is a great option for solo or two-person camping trips on smaller vehicles.

We have another RTT for the Jeep (a CVT Mt Rainier) and it’s a 4-person beast with a giant annex, awning, and what I like to refer to as “the works”. The nice thing about the Denver Outfitters OverRoam RTT is that it is compact. It’s small and efficient while being exactly what you need on camping trips: a comfortable place to sleep that provides protection from the elements!

The nitty gritty (Pros & Cons):

 Pros:

Performance (Manual Open/Close) – Though cranking the “Rugged” OverRoam model takes some extra time than its sister model (the Rapid), the mechanisms that lift the tent into place were relatively flawless. I’m not sure just how many times this demo model was used, but something tells me it had been cranked up and down, and up and down, and – you get the picture – many, many times. Needless to say, it worked great for us, but my arms were definitely tired afterwards (which I attribute to the height of my vehicle since I had to be on my tippy toes when rotating the handle upward).

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It Has All the Right Features

  • The tent fabric is abrasive-resistant and downright tough – think lightweight canvas.
  • High-density mattress is included so you (or your partner) don’t have to faint/hyperventilate while trying to blow up an air mattress.
  • An included telescoping aluminum ladder is light, fully adjustable and stores perfectly inside the tent (when locked down).
  • Storage & lighting come stock including collapsible storage pouches on the tent “walls”, a storage net on the ceiling, and a removable LED light.
  • Maximized views and airflow thanks to two large doors and two windows – this thing can be wide open or zipped tight.

Fit & Finish

DSC_2919-01DSC_2908-01DSC_2925-01The Fit – I have seen the OverRoam RTT fit on a wide range of vehicles – from my Subaru Outback to a variety of Toyotas, Jeep Wranglers, and other Ford & Chevy trucks. It’s slim and looks just right. Whether I was doing slower speeds on back roads or cruising at 65 down the highway, this thing didn’t budge. Once locked down on the roof rack/cross bars, you can be confident that it will remain secure.

The Finish – When collapsed, the low profile of the OverRoam is second to none. Other boxier RTTs mean your vehicle is less aerodynamic and more wind noise.

Cons:

DSC_2860-01I have one complaint and one suggestion when it comes to the Denver Outfitters OverRoam RTT.

First, RUNOFF! Spring in the Rockies means snow followed by blazing sunshine. While the tent did not seem effected by the melting snow, it was just wide enough that when making a left or right turn, any snowmelt accumulated on the top of the tent would flow freely down and into my driver and passenger side windows. I’m not sure how to resolve this, other than make sure you are prepared (roll the windows up) and/or don’t have your tent on the vehicle during the snowy months.

Second, the locking/closing mechanisms to ensure the tent stays closed remind me of a ski boot, only they’re missing the ratcheting mechanism. By adding ratchets to each of the closing mechanisms, locking the tent down would be much easier.

But are these deal breakers? Not necessarily. And here’s why:

For someone who has used ground tents, hammock tents, and other RTTs, the OverRoam is a very strong contender. If you’re looking for a low profile, capable tent for your next fishing adventure, this could very well be the perfect option for you! And in case you have any doubts, here are 4 questions to ask yourself before making the plunge:

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Q1: Is my vehicle RTT-ready/RTT-compatible?

A: YES! Well, better yet, more likely than not. Unless you have an incredibly small, compact vehicle, most modern cars, trucks, SUVs, etc. are capable of carrying the weight of a rooftop tent. The real factor is the crossbar/roof rack system. Make sure you know the manufacturer’s weight restrictions for the rack/cross bars on your vehicle.

Q2: Is the OverRoam big enough for me?

A: Only you know this answer. How many people are you camping with? Do you want your adventure dog/cat/lizard to come along, too? Is having some kind of annex important to you? The Denver Outfitters OverRoam fits 2 people very comfortably, and 2 and a half make it a little cozier. The mattress is equivalent to a full-size bed, so if that’s enough for you and your sweetheart/best bud and small dog and/or human, go for it. But if Fido is coming along with you and your three best friends, you might want to consider a larger RTT from another company.

Q3: How much of an investment do I want to make?

A: As of May 2017, the OverRoam RTT is priced at $2,600. For that price, you get access/mobility (goes everywhere your vehicle can go), a comfy mattress, rugged weather resistant digs (the wind/snow/rain won’t make for a soggy night in the field), and one heck of a cool piece of gear that will last for quite some time. Additionally, the guys and gals at Denver Outfitters went an extra step to ensure you still have a usable roof rack with the built-in cross bars on top of the tent (strong enough to even hold bikes!) so you can take your adventure accoutrements along, too!

Q4: Are you ready to convert your vehicle into a real “adventure rig”?

A: If the answer is yes, a RTT is the way to go!

To learn more or buy your own, visit the Denver Outfitters website!

This blog post will also be posted on Bass Fishing Media – for more fishing adventures and gear reviews, check out their website!