High Society Living: Local standup paddle board company has it dialed
Special to The Aspen Times
You’d have to have had your head in the clouds to not have noticed the local obsession with High Society Freeride company over the past many years. With the extreme uptick in paddle boarding as a summer activity, you’d be hard pressed to drive through Aspen without seeing one or four strapped to the top of a vehicle.
Headquartered in the Aspen Airport Business Center, HS has been around for nearly two decades. Started primarily as a ski and snowboard manufacturer, HS ventured into paddle boards, and Roaring Fork Valley locals have eaten them up. My group of adventure gals have multiples, and, after borrowing one of theirs for many summers, I decided to finally get one of my own.
After chatting with a couple of extremely helpful people at the HS office, I decided to go with the best-selling USS HS 3 Inflatable SUP Package. My main criteria for choosing it was that I was a relative beginner, I have a 65-pound dog I’d like to have with me at times and I wanted the board to be able to venture into whitewater when my chops were up to it.
High Society touts the USS as its most stable and versatile board. It’s great for beginners but can venture into more advanced territory with ease. In fact, HS found inspiration from the iconic dependability and stability of commissioned military vessels for the United States Military. USS stands for United States Ships.
Made with HS fusion technology, the USS is surprisingly light for its size. I especially appreciate this for when I have to walk my board around the beaver dams in North Star Preserve. The board weight comes in at 23.5 pounds and can hold up to 300 pounds.
At 35 inches wide in the middle, it’s a great width to paddle with Finch, my German shorthaired pointer. He’d much rather be swimming than on the board, so there’s a lot of jumping on and off. Those extra few inches of width help keep me from falling in when he unexpectedly leaps off to chase a squirrel off shore. The no-slip, cushy traction pad also helps with this.
At 6 inches thick, HS claims the USS will handle whitewater with ease. I still fall off my board when I swat at a biting fly, so I haven’t ventured into whitewater yet. But I’m excited to give it a try down the road. I hear that putting in at 133 in Carbondale and paddling downstream to around Ironbridge is a great place to try out your whitewater chops.
The USS comes in a package along with a manual pump, a removable center fin, a backpack carry bag, paddle, repair kit and leash. Other features include a prow handle for pulling the board to shore, D-rings scattered throughout for attachment options (I recommend the kayak seat!), a centered balance handle, a D-ring bungee system on the front, a commercial grade valve for quick inflate and deflate and a rocker profile.
One complaint was when I first tried to remove the fin after paddling, the fused rubber seam created a small lip that kept the fin from sliding. I had to bust out my multi-tool to slide it out, but I dinged up my fingers in the process.
There’s plenty of paddling left in the summer and fall. The great news is that as of press time, the USS HS package was on sale for $479 (down from $1,239). One of the reasons locals love HS so much is that the company frequently has sales and deals going on. You can see the selection in person at the showroom in the AABC (#314) or visit highsocietyfreeride.com.
Meg Simon is an Aspen-based freelance writer, graphic designer and founder of Simon Finch Creative. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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