When I want to paddle and take my dog (plus my cooler, throwbag and camera) and be out all day, there’s one board I’m going to grab—the NRS Quiver standup paddleboard.
My happy place is out on the creek and the Quiver is the vehicle that takes me to my sanctuary. My local run is Elkhorn Creek in Kentucky. With a number of fun play waves, palisades, red-tailed hawks, otters and some great camping sites, this stretch of river has everything you need for a day on the water or a short overnighter. I paddle this creek weekly. Five miles if I only have the evening, ten when the weekend allows time for a solid paddle and I’ve even embarked on a 20 miler. The Quiver and the Class II+ whitewater on the Elkhorn easily keep me entertained.
The NRS Quiver comes in three sizes: 10’4”, 9’8” and the 8’8”. The size range is great for someone who wants to really get a custom feel from their board. Let me tell you, the right size board is very important. Too heavy on your board and it will swamp easier and get caught in eddy lines. Too light on your board and it will be difficult for you to control.
I hit in the middle on the size chart and find the Quiver 9’8” to be the most stable for me and allows me full control—this board turns on a dime. The versatility of the Quiver makes it a fun board for quick laps down a favorite run, but it also has the capabilities to carry all the gear you need for a full day on the water without hindering your surfing potential. It’s also a board that paddles well for very large or smaller paddlers alike.
For my home run on Elkhorn Creek, the put in is just upstream from the Jim Beam distillery, the smell of sour mash wafts through the air as you paddle. It’s a short paddle down stream to a low head dam that has to be portaged. In full discloser, the Quiver could use a few more grab handles. The center handle is perfect for parking lot to put-in situations, and if the wind isn’t going off the two handles toward the nose of the board work for portaging. But a handle directly on the nose and tail would help in less-than-ideal portaging conditions.
The best surf spot on Elkhorn Creek is Dam rapid, a unique feature that hasn’t changed much over the years. Having the dam in place during heavy flooding seems to have slowed down the moving of the rocks downstream. I’m not complaining—quite the contrary—the dam is a sweet party wave!
Quiver boards come with a twin fin set up. Some people frown on this thinking it affects the boards handling and surfability. It doesn’t. If I want to carve waves, I use the five inch fins; if I want to spin and slide, I use the two inch fins. Unlike surf fins that require a key, all NRS paddleboards have a tool-free, slot-style fin plate. Changing out your fins couldn’t be easier, simply unclip, slide out and slide the next size in.
I grab my dog Pepe from shore and head downstream, the palisades are incredible today with a few red tailed hawks circling. Honeysuckle is in bloom and the water is cool and clear. These are the times when I realize what paddling has given me over the years. I use my SUP on the easier runs because it makes things so much spicier and fun. It allows me to keep learning and progressing my river skills. Having this board underfoot just feels right.
Inflatable standup paddleboards are growing in popularity and I’m completely on board with the bandwagon. NRS, being one of the leaders in inflatables, is ahead of the game. The dropstitch construction process starts by joining two pieces of polyester woven support fabric with thousands of fine polyester thread lengths. This base material is made in strips from five to ten feet in width, and up to 400 needle heads may be used in the setup. Each needle sews a continuous, evenly spaced thread, back and forth between the two pieces of woven fabric, locking them together into an incredibly strong unit. This type of construction lets the board inflate to maximum rigidity. At 20 psi (the maximum pressure per square inch that new NRS boards can inflate to), people unfamiliar with SUP or surfboards would have a hard time feeling the difference. They’re rock hard.
But the real advantage of the inflatable SUP is how easily you can take it with you. Chuck it in the back of your rig and head off on a roadtrip. Or check it as normal luggage (read: no excess or oversized baggage fee) and fly it across the world. This past year my girlfriend and I took a little reprieve to Sri Lanka and you better believe we had a few NRS SUPs in the bottom of that plane. And to top it off, taking an overnight trip with an inflatable board automatically gives you a comfy bed. Deflate the board a few psi, string a mosquito net overhead and you’re set. I love that I have the option to sleep out under the stars and use the board as my mattress. I can paddle hard and try to get in another 10 miles, or just relax and surf and take out in a few more miles!
For me, like many others, the river is my church, the SUP board is my pew, the podium and the chapel. There’s never a bad day on the river.