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Isle Touring 12 6 Review
Bottom line: One of our favorite SUPs and the best value for a 12+ foot touring board.
The Isle Touring won our Editors' Choice award in 2016. In 2017, a more all-around Isle Explorer took the top honors. However, this is still the best value in a touring board. If you don't want to shell out the money for higher performing Red Paddle Explorer Plus, this is the board to get. The Red Paddle is awesome, but it's also double the cost. The Isle Touring is stable and glides well. Inflatables, at their worst, feel like standing on a giant piece of Jell-O. The Isle is just the opposite. As long as it is properly inflated, it is almost as stable as a non-inflatable paddle board. It has an 8" fin that keeps it going straight. The fin is also removable, which means you can take it down very shallow rivers or streams. There is a small cargo strap system up front ideal for a PFD or small backpack.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
This product is delightful to paddle because it is tracks excellently even in rough or choppy water and windy conditions, maneuvers easily, and it's delightfully stable. The stability of a board is a huge factor that potentially determines how much fun you have on your paddle. Veteran paddlers and newbies alike all unanimously agreed that this board was one of the most stable and easy to maneuver and just all-around a whole lot of fun. Especially for newer paddlers, not to have to worry about wobbly stability or difficulty steering or sloppy tracking, (especially in rough water) was key. All testers agreed that this Isle board was the clear cut favorite.
Isle website states that the new touring model has: "NEW Airtech Fusion Light Construction — 30 percent lighter than comparable models. Designed to increase glide speed." Well, it works. The new Touring model is a dream to paddle even in choppy water.
While it is heavier and bulkier than the Tower Adventurer 2 or Shubu Raven board, this Isle is still relatively light and maneuverable. It's only rated to 275 pounds, but we had approximately 800 pounds on this board and had no problems. The glide performance was the 2nd best tested behind the Red Paddle. It's no race board, but performed reasonably well in flat water trips from
This product also has a square tail design that makes the tail wide and adds stability and increases its ability to make sharp turns.
The Isle Touring 12 6 glides effortlessly and is easy to maneuver, unlike the Shubu Raven that also glides nicely but doesn't glide straight. Just look at where you want to go, paddle effortlessly and you will get there without expending unnecessary energy.
The slightly rockered nose makes it easier to cut through choppy water than with most of the other models tested. The Jobe also has a rockered nose and cuts through rough water easily but its nose is more narrow, which makes it slightly less stable. The Jobe is the only other board tested that glides almost as nicely as the Touring. The Tower Xplorer also cuts through rough water easily.
Ease of Transport
The Touring is fairly easy to transport. It's slightly heavy to carry when inflated but for a 12'6" board, 21.5 lbs is light. This product does require the center fin to be hand screwed on and off, which was not as easy as the quick release system on the fins of Raven and the Baron 6.
One of the nice things about this model is that the inflation valve is on the tail. This means that if you don't feel like unscrewing the fin on and off, you can roll this board up by the nose and all of the air will come out of the board and you can still leave the fin on while transporting it. The model of the Touring we reviewed we purchased through Amazon and it didn't come with a backpack but it did come with a carrying strap. If you purchase a board directly from the Isle website directly we believe that it does come with a backpack.
Ease of Inflation
The Isle Touring is as easy to inflate as our other top contenders besides the Raven. The only reason the Raven received a higher score in this metric is because it is constructed out of a thinner material and therefore pumps up a little bit faster. The Touring takes just over five minutes on average to inflate with the stock pump that it comes with.
The inflation valve on the Touring is universal and doesn't require a special pump hose. The hand pump that it comes with has universal ends on the inflation hose. One end is notched and goes into the inflation valve and the other screws onto the pump itself. These universal end attachments are great if you plan on inflating the Touring with an electric pump at some point or ever need or want to use a different hand pump besides the one that it came with. Most of the models we tested have universal inflation valves and hose attachment ends similar to the accessories that came with the Touring.
We love that the new Touring model has the inflation valve on the tail vs. the nose where it was on the now discontinued model. (See photo below.) The reason we appreciate this relocation of the inflation valve is because sometimes we just wanted to throw the board in the back of our vehicles and get home and deal with putting it away properly later. The valve located in the tail enabled us to roll the board up tightly almost all the way, getting all the air out of the board without having to take the fin off.
This board is great for paddling on lakes in calm water. It received the highest score in glide performance and fared the easiest to paddle and maneuver in choppy water. The Jobe is just about as easy to paddle in windy conditions as the Touring. This board is also great for river touring. It is comfortable and easy to paddle. You can move your feet all around and it still doesn't feel wobbly.
This is a great product and a great value for $745. It has excellent stability and earned our highest score in glide performance. It's easy to paddle and steer and it's also easy to transport and inflate. It doesn't come with a fancy pump, gauge or backpack but for the excellent price you can still afford all the extras you feel necessary. It does come with an average pump, gauge and paddle. We like that it has a cargo system but it could be bigger and we really wish that it came with handles like the Explorer.
This is a wonderful board. It is the only board that we tested that both a novice and beginner would be not just satisfied, but extremely happy with. We can't think of a reason not to purchase this board. The only thing that would make this board better is if it had straps on the nose and tail and a quick release system fin like the NRS Baron 6 and the Shubu Raven.
We loved both Isles. The Touring on the left glides effortlessly and is easy to maneuver. The Explorer on the right is super stable and we loved it's dual cargo systems (especially the extra large front cargo system) and handles on both the front and the back.
— Chris McNamara
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