Hands-on Gear Review

Red Paddle Co Voyager+ MSL Review

The Red Paddle Co Voyager packs a serious performance punch for longer missions.
Voyager+ MSL
By: Shey Kiester ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 11, 2017
Price:  $1,649 List  |  $1,459.00 at Amazon - 12% Off
Pros:  Glides nicely, dual cargo system, stable for such a long narrow board, dual chamber pump
Cons:  Can feel unstable to beginners
Manufacturer:   Red Paddle Co
79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 12
  • Stability - 30% 7
  • Glide Performance - 25% 10
  • Maneuverability - 25% 6
  • Ease of Transport - 10% 8
  • Ease of inflation - 10% 10
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Top Pick Award

Our Verdict

At first test, the Red Paddle Co Voyager+ MSL seemed to be among the least stable boards in the review, but as the test went on, the Voyager's many talents proved to be invaluable for longer missions and performance days. This sleek boat is designed with glide in mind, and it achieves an incredible level of performance for an inflatable board, thanks in part to a unique RSS stiffening system. With premium components and thoughtful design, this board is built to last and presents an exceptional level of quality. Front and back straps, dual cargo systems, a well-built and rollable backpack, and the highest performing pump in the test all come together to make this our Top Pick for Touring.

2018 Name Change - Now the Voyager
We tested the 2017 version of this board, which was called the Explorer. In 2018 Red Paddle changed the name to the Voyager. The boards are identical except for the top sheet graphics.

For an all-around model that offers admirable performance in a wider variety of paddling situations, check out the Hala Carbon Straight Up, our Editors' Choice. If you're worried about your pocketbook and not as focused on performance quite as much, check out the PEAK Inflatable.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

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The Red Paddle Co 13'2 Voyager+ MSL was not a favorite among first-time users, but among intermediate SUPers and those who value quality and thoughtful design, this board was a winner. Of course, these premium components come with the price tag to prove it.

Performance Comparison


The Red Paddle model scored extremely well in overall performance, despite a relatively low score in stability and maneuverability. The board's high performance in glide was able to make up for this dip particularly for riders interested in covering long distances.

The Voyager was a top scorer in the gliding and maneuverability metric and was easy to navigate around obstacles.
The Voyager was a top scorer in the gliding and maneuverability metric and was easy to navigate around obstacles.

Stability


With dimensions of 13'2" x 30" x 5.9", this model is significantly narrower than sturdier contestants, and a bit thinner as well. In addition, its fin configuration, which consists of one large FCS Connect Fin and two much smaller hard fins was a little bit less stable than boards like the Hala Carbon Straight Up, whose two smaller fins were much more significant than the Voyager's.

That said, intermediate testers were more than happy with this board's stability, and even our beginner testers warmed up to the board once they adjusted to the narrower width. If you are looking for a more stable board, hoping not to break the bank, and still interested in performance, we recommend the Isle Explorer.


Unique to the Red Paddle, this board has an RSS stiffening system, which allows users to customize how stiff they want their board. You can insert two stiffening battens into individual pockets on the sides of the raft. Testers found that when added, these battens did increase the stability of the board.

The stiffening system and FCS connect fin are high-quality components that up the ante for the Red Paddle's performance
The stiffening system and FCS connect fin are high-quality components that up the ante for the Red Paddle's performance

Glide Performance


This model performed particularly well in the glide metric, earning the highest score in the test. Although it is tough for an inflatable SUP to match up to the performance offered by a classic SUP, this model came close. With a performance-focused profile and top-of-the-line components, including an FCS Connect Fin and an RSS stiffening system, the Voyager sliced easily through the water and made longer missions easier.


Testers felt that the Voyager succeeded in some areas, but failed as an all-around performer, which made it far less versatile. When faced with the option of taking this or a more stable board down a tricky creek, testers always chose the more stable board. If you're looking for a board that is both versatile and high-performing, we recommend either the Isle Explorer or the Hala Carbon Straight Up.

With high-quality components and a dual-chamber pump  the Red Paddle was a favorite for performance
With high-quality components and a dual-chamber pump, the Red Paddle was a favorite for performance

Maneuverability


This model is fantastic at quickly covering long distance when the course is straight. While its tracking skills make it great for touring, they are a downside when it comes to maneuverability. Its long narrow shape makes it exceptionally difficult to turn.


This board is not designed as an all-around board. It is specifically meant for touring. If you are psyched on an inflatable with exceptional glide and don't care about navigating tricky terrain, this is a great board. If maneuverability and easy turning is an essential factor for you, look to any of the all-around models for better performance in this metric.

Ease of Transport


This model scored well in this category, sitting among some of the top competitors. Dual front and back handles and a burly middle handle make portages with one or two people easy, and the board's relatively low weight allowed it to be easily transported.


The Voyager also comes with a unique backpack that is well designed and comfortably accommodates the board and any extras. Unique to this model is that the backpack rolls, which allows for a leisurely stroll down to the lake on paved trails. However, if you're planning more remote lake experiences, the wheels seem like a bit much. For a more minimalist bag experience, check out the Xterra Touring or even the NRS Mayra.

Ease of Inflation


Scoring at the top of the charts for ease of inflation, the Voyager's pump system simply blew the others out of the water.


The dual-chamber pump was both faster and easier to use than all of the other pumps in the review, which earned it a special place in our tester's hearts. This pump, which comes with a universal fitting as well as several other nozzles, was the de facto pump used with almost every other board. It was just that much better. The other boards whose pumps performed well without entirely knocking it out of the park were the Isle Explorer, Hala Daze and Hala Carbon Straight Up.

The dural chamber pump of the Red Paddle model on the right  compared with the single chamber pump common for most boards in this review on the left.
The dural chamber pump of the Red Paddle model on the right, compared with the single chamber pump common for most boards in this review on the left.

Durability


The Red Paddle model was a high-scorer in durability, with premium materials and a thoughtful construction that will help you avoid board abuse.

This model has durable straps, low-profile seams, and top-of-the-line materials. Although we didn't run it down the river to test it against sharp rocks and along portages, we still feel that it will hold up to standard abuse over several seasons. For other similarly durable boards, we recommend the Isle Explorer or Hala Carbon Straight Up.

Best Applications


The Voyager is at home in open water when you're paddling for glory in glassy conditions. This model is built for speed, and its premium components only add to the entire package. We recommend this craft for relatively serious paddlers who are primarily interested in a touring specific design. When faced with the option between this board and a sturdier model on creek and river missions, testers always went with a sturdier model. But when the water is glassy, and there are miles to be paddled, it is tough to beat the glide of this model.

Even though the Red is a very specific board  it plays nice with others.
Even though the Red is a very specific board, it plays nice with others.

Value


At $1649, this model is one of the more expensive in our review. However, when you factor in the durability of the materials used, the high-quality components, and the overall performance, we feel that if you're in the market for this kind of board, then it is well worth the price. Plus, it comes with a free phone case! Bonus!

Conclusion


The Red Paddle Co offering was slow to win our testers over, but once it weaseled into their hearts, it was tough to get it out. This board is nothing if not durable and fast, which makes it our Top Pick for Touring. If you want to sacrifice a bit of versatility for a speedier ride, this is the board for you.

Shey Kiester

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Most recent review: July 11, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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