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Retrospec Weekender Plus SUP/Kayak Hybrid Review

Inflatable SUPs (standup paddleboards) already have pretty lofty goals – offer much of the look, feel and performance of a rigid foam-core board but with the advantage of greater portability, user-friendliness and typically lower cost. Retrospec’s Weekender Plus adds a third challenge to the mix, offering a degree of kayak functionality by adding a removable kayak seat and convertible paddle.

We gave the board a shakedown cruise, as well as shared it with both an avid kayaker and relative novice, to see how well it accomplished its goal.

The Total Package

Like a savvy weekend traveler, the Weekender Plus packs everything needed for a day on the water into a convenient backpack. First observation? It’s roomier than many, eliminating worries about repacking the contents. It also adds a waist strap for better weight distribution. Contents include board, dual-action inflation pump with pressure gauge and adjustable aluminum-handle paddle. You’ll also find the inflatable kayak seat and backrest, additional paddle blade to convert SUP paddle into kayak paddle, leash, trio of fins and repair kit. A few additional extras stand out. Both a shoulder-carry strap and waterproof smartphone case are also included, an indication that Retrospec designers are familiar with not just the sale but also the use of the product.

The Weekender measures in at 10’6” long, 33” wide and 6” in depth. Construction details include a dual-layer, reinforced PVC outer skin, double-sealed rail, and drop-stitch core. Not familiar with drop-stitch construction? Picture tens of thousands of low-stretch polyester fibers fused by heat to the layers of PVC above and below. They ensure the board takes its intended shape and has the necessary rigidity once inflated.

Sizable bungee sections fore and aft are ready to rein in extra gear. A grippy, brushed EVA deck pad is comfortable under bare feet and extends to the back of the board, great when you want to let a child tag along or just move fore and aft without fear of slipping. Grab handles at tip, center and tail make for easy carrying to the water or pulling onto shore. Paddle holders on the starboard side are ready to secure your paddle when taking a rest or dip in the water. Multiple D-rings allow for attachment of the shoulder-carry strap, accessories, or the Kayak Conversion Kit.

Cool extra? An action camera mount is included at the front of the board. It’s a great way to relive your adventures.

Pump Up The Volume

Like most inflatables, manual inflation is a bit of a workout to get the board to Retrospec’s recommended 12 PSI. Our trio of users were all able to accomplish the task in well under 10 minutes, but for frequent use I’d recommend an electric inflator. Retrospec actually makes a pretty sweet 12-volt, two-stage electric pump. You can even set the digital gauge to the desired pressure and it will shut off when done. To think I could have saved my feeble arm strength for actual paddling.

On-water stability is impressive, no surprise given the size, rigidity and quality feel of the construction. Our initial strokes revealed the Weekender’s square tail and trio of fins allowed the board to track straight and true, as well as handle the occasional boat wake. We also noted less wander than some inflatables. The practical benefit is you can take more strokes on each side before switching. Yes, like most inflatables the Retrospec Weekender Plus was susceptible to wind on a breezy test day. Adjusting position forward or back, or weighting the port or starboard rail helped compensate. And while a dedicated SUP paddle will always prove superior to an adjustable model, Retrospec’s paddle worked well and easily adjusted to fit the variety of riders trying the board. The blade is also marked with front and back, eliminating a common newcomer mistake.

Rather than just a tethered backrest, the Weekender adds an inflatable seat when transitioning into kayak mode. It’s topped with EVA foam and adds welcome elevation. It also smartly adds a drink holder on the front edge. One advantage of an inflatable seat is that it can be filled to personal preference. The backrest felt tall to our expert kayaker, but the back support was appreciated by our novice. Dial in the level of recline by adjusting the retaining straps. The Weekender’s stability made it easy to stash the seat under the front bungee, then clip the seat into place out on the water when needed. Retrospec added a touch of color below the D-ring anchored the forward bungee to suggest moving the leash forward for a more comfortable experience. Move the leash to the forward-bungee D-ring for comfort.

Wondering about that paddle in kayak mode? The handle removes to attach the included second blade. Our hardcore kayaker wished it was a tad longer to offer a little more leverage, but it’s fine for most recreational use. Those that think they’ll be doing extensive paddling in the kayak setup may wish to invest in Retrospec’s 230cm XL paddle.

Final Impression

Retrospec prides itself on offering products that are “accessible.” The Weekender Plus didn’t intimidate the rookie and still proved fun for our advanced riders. At $379.99, it’s also one of the more affordable inflatable SUPs on the market. The value is more impressive given the kayak conversion kit and multiple extras.

Quality also impressed. While a season on the water will be the best judge, our initial impressions from multiple paddles are that the Weekender seems well designed, nicely constructed and durable, a key for boards that often scrape against beach, dock or pavement. Drawbacks were few. At 23 pounds, the Weekender veers slightly toward the heavier side of the inflatable market. Inflatable backpacks can also be a tad heavy and the Weekender’s is no exception.

Ultimately, however, the Retrospec Weekender Plus hits the mark. It’s surprisingly affordable given its features, and has the stability and performance to suit most recreational riders. In short, it’s a heck of a lot of fun.

Which, in the end, is why we buy these things, right?

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