Red Paddle Co is one of the foremost makers of inflatable paddle boards with several options to suit all types and levels of paddling. After testing the versatile 10’6” last summer, the 12’6” Sport has been in the hopper for water adventures this summer.

Red Paddle Co 12’6″ Sport MSL Paddleboard Features:

  • MSL Fusion hull construction
  • Rocker Stiffening System (RSS) batons add up to 40% more stiffness
  • Inflates to 5.9″ thick
  • Versatile RAM mount for a GoPro, etc.
  • Titan pump included
  • Red Original All Terrain Backpack included
  • Removable FCS fin
  • Crisscross bungee storage
  • 2-year manufacturer warranty
  • Dimensions: 12’6″ x 30″
  • Weight: 24 lbs (board)
  • MSRP: $1599
Red Paddle Co 12'6" Sport

The 12’6″ Sport MSL is long and sleek for all-day adventure.

Easy-to-haul, easy on the water

Inflatable paddle boards are honestly the way to go, and once you see how well Red Paddle Co does it, you’ll agree. The full package comes complete with a rolling bag, that doubles as a backpack, and comes with the amazing Titan double-barrel pump. Everything tucks away Emily inside the bag and slides in the back of the minivan or into a rooftop cargo basket, like the Yakima Load Warrior for easy hauling.

As mentioned, the bag has a place for everything and it’s laid out with ease-of-use in mind. It includes a sleeve for the three-piece paddle and straps to keep everything in place (particularly helpful when hauling on your back). In short, the roller bag decidedly puts all other SUP bags to shame.

Red Paddle Co Storage Bag

A place for everything in the included hauling bag.

Using the included Titan pump, it’s easy to inflate and use the Red Paddle Co 12’6 Sport. I’d plan on about 10 minutes from arrival to water as you progressively inflate this one. Remember to insert the stays once the board has taken its shape as too much air will make that job difficult. Wetting them does make things easier. There are green areas indicating proper inflation. Go as long as you can in dual mode, then remove the plug to polish things off.

Red Paddle Co RSS Batten

The RSS Battens add significant stiffness to the board.

With a 30″ deck and 12’6” length, the 12’6″ Sport is made for longer days on the water where efficiency is paramount. Thankfully, the bow features storage capabilities to keep your belongings secured. Additionally, it features a RAM mount for GoPro’s or other items.

Hauling the board itself around is a breeze — just grab the center handle and tuck it under your arm to go to/from the water. It only weighs 24 lbs., so carrying it is no problem.

Red Paddle Co 12'6" Sport Review

Glassy water and a speedy board.

Testing was done exclusively on lakes with smooth conditions. It’s a breeze to stand up confidently aboard this one and paddle without any instability whatsoever. This is a great example of a great combination of speed and stability for those of us not aiming for paddling supremacy. It is a great board that delivers a quality ride and felt a touch faster than the Red Paddle Co 10’6″ Ride MSL I tested last year.

The grippy deck is easy to walk on and comfortable on my bare feet. It’s easy to maintain the proper positioning for a smooth stroke and optimal power transfer. Hopping aboard and standing up is a breeze with  excellent overall stability — which is a great feature for a touring model.

This board has great get-up and maintains speed just as well. Recreational riders will appreciate how well the 12’6″ Sport glides in the water. But, like anything, you’ll need to build up your paddling muscles for long-distance touring. As mentioned, this one does scoot along and I can easily maintain 4-5 mph for as long as my body can handle it.

Durability of the board has been great, but I wouldn’t recommend rolling the Titan pump into the board as the feet of the pump can put divots into the deck. But, as I experienced, rolling the board up resulted in bending and eventually breaking the plastic on the leading-edge of the fin mount. I’m guessing the fin housing was bent over in the case and dropped or something, causing the crack to occur. This may or may not be covered under warranty from the manufacturer, so be careful. 

Should this happen to your board, Red Paddle Co will take care of you, but perhaps the answer is to avoid rolling it up so tightly or maybe roll the board around the Titan Pump (but the feet of the pump dig into the deck). Not sure the proper solution, but the board is on its way back for warranty. To avoid problems with fins and fin housing, I’d recommend the Red Paddle Co 10’8″ Ride MSL.

Red Paddle Co Fin Housing

I suspect this happened in transit or a hard drop and sadly, may not be covered under warranty.

Keep in mind that on the water, you’ll need a wide berth to maneuver without serious ruddering or back-paddling. Extreme maneuvers are always possible, but smooth turns are best. This is not unique to the 12’6″ Sport, however, as touring boards are not known for nimble handling. I’d expect this board to perform well in choppy water and with the adjustable Glass Glass Paddle, it’s easy to change body positions, as needed with the LeverLock system.

Red Paddle Co FCS Fin

The FCS fin is great, but I’d love extra hardware (just in case).

The removable fin has performed well with little signs of wear (even with kiddos use/abuse). It is a little tricky installing and the hardware is small, so I wished for an extra set of hardware just in case. That said, the only real gripes I’ve had are with the fin or the fin housing.

The Good

  • Smooth on-water performance
  • Maintains speed well
  • Good stability
  • On-deck storage to bring things along
  • The perfect hauling bag
  • Titan pump inflates in a hurry

The Bad

  • Leading edge of fin housing developed a crack (not sure if that’s covered under warranty)
  • Would love to have extra fin hardware just in case
  • Fin sleeve in the backpack should offer more security

The Bottom Line: Red Paddle Co 12’6″ Sport MSL

If you’re looking to step up your game or head out on longer adventures where speed and efficiency are desired, the updated Red Paddle Co 12’6″ Sport MSL offers all-day performance. Its longer length and smooth glide make for a stable yet speedy ride.

Buy Now: Available at RedPaddleCo.com

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

3 Comments

  1. The broken fin box pictured above is not covered by Red Paddle’s warranty. This happened to me and they refused to do anything about it stating that it was my own fault not theirs. I recommend you remove that from your review.

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