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July 2022

Gear Review: Red Paddle Co's Voyager 12'6—The Board I Have Been Dreaming About

Guest Author: Todd Avison
Photos By: Geoff Holman

When I first saw the news release announcing the new design to the Red Paddle Co Voyager boards, I knew I needed one in my quiver. Right out of the box we loaded up and went on a 96km river trip down the Columbia River. Loaded down with gear and ready to go I was stoked to see how the new design would perform.

On previous long-distance trips where I have been loaded down, I have felt the extra weight and lower performance on the board. That feeling was completely different on the Voyager 12’6”. With dry bags on the front and back of the board and my 200lb body on board, I was heavily laden. With the Voyager being 32” wide, the RSS batten stringers and the new v-hull design, I barely felt the weight. As a matter of fact, the extra weight seemed to make the board track even better. That could be all in my head, but it is certainly how it felt.

Here is my overview of the design elements of the Red Voyager 12’6” and why I think they make this the ultimate touring set up.

The New V-Hull Nose Profile

What I call the V-Hull design Red calls a Nose Runner Fin. The nose is slightly extended coupled with a dished profile on the top of the board and a long nose fin. The result is a sort of V-Hull profile. This design is what initially caught my attention with this board. I have never seen anything like it in an inflatable SUP. Red uses a proprietary drop stitch process that is different than other brands. They have some sort of special sauce that makes their iSUPs stiffer and perform more like a traditional hardboard.

Regardless of how they have done it, the V-Hull is a game changer in the inflatable touring SUP market. Fully loaded on my other SUPs I can feel the board plowing through the water. With the 12’6” Voyager I can actually feel the V-Hull doing its job. It helps you cut through the water and keep the board more buoyant.

Now with Dual Fins

Most paddleboards come with one standard fin or a 3-fin layout. The new 2022 Voyager 12’6” has a twin fin design. The two 10” fins are slightly canted outwards to assist with tracking. When loaded up and coupled with the extended nose fin, this board tracks straighter than any other board I have paddled. I found that when paddling I could adjust my paddle stroke slightly and keep more strokes on one side of the board. When you think about paddling all day long, the gained efficiency is a welcome benefit.

Getting Tied Down

When travelling by SUP you have very limited space and weight capacity. Packing becomes much more strategic! The next challenge is always how to connect your gear to the board in an even and stable way. Not only connect it but also be able to easily access it. The new tie down straps on the front of the Voyager is a 6-point system that incorporates new, flexible straps. I found these straps simple to adjust with one hand which is helpful when in the middle of a river. On the back of the board there are 4 d-rings without straps that you can use a multitude of tie-down options on. Overall, getting geared up is simple and secure on this board.

Size Matters

The Voyager 12’6” is obviously 12 feet six inches tall and at 32” wide there is plenty of stability with this board. The width may seem wider if you are looking for a streamlined board but don’t let this fool you. The Voyager is an extremely efficient paddler. At 5.9” thick it is slightly thinner than a standard board but has plenty of volume to keep you buoyant when loaded up. The extended nose profile adds to the stability while the RSS batten system gives extra stiffness under the foot where it matters, just don’t forget to put them in before you inflate your board too much! At 24lbs, the Voyager is surprisingly lighter than expected making it easier to maneuver when transporting on and off the water. I am a larger paddler at 6’3” so take my thoughts on this with that information in mind. I need a bigger board and this one certainly fits the mould.

It’s the Little Things that Add Up

Red Paddle Co is known for high quality and it shows with every new model. This season however, I must give it to Red for dialling in the little details. The traction pad on the Voyager is quite large, soft and tastefully imprinted with their logo. They have integrated two action cam mounts on this board so you can capture your adventure from multiple angles and as previously mentioned, the new tie down straps get a big thumbs up from me.

Built for Adventure

Overall, this board is for the Long Haul. As someone who owns several paddleboards, I see this board as easily becoming a one-quiver board. It is smooth enough to ride for an after-work paddle or on the weekend with a kid or dog up front and it has all the features and design elements for longer, multi-day tours. Given Red’s impeccable manufacturing quality and the super tough MSL design construction, you can put the Voyager 12’6” through the paces and have a board that will keep taking you on adventure for many years to come.