It’s a personal thing, but for me, the core essence of paddleboarding is all about exploring new parts of the UK that you’ll never get to by land. Exploring and touring is what makes paddleboarding so enjoyable, and you’ll need a board to match.
Touring paddleboards can come in a few different sizes, but generally, 12’6 is the standard length for these boards. The whole point of a touring board is to glide through the water, not be uncomfortably unstable and have enough space for storage for those extra-long adventures.
It is also the tiny details of a touring paddleboard that can make or break how much fun you have during your session. Carry handles can be overlooked, but having a handle in the wrong position and trying to carry your board around a weir or over a canal lock can be impossible. So, there are a lot of factors that are involved in designing a decent touring board, and you know what, Bluefin has got it spot on.
The Bluefin Rouge 12’6 is a great example of an inflatable touring paddleboard that has all the features needed for you to have a great time on the water. The construction is up there with more premium brands, the cargo area is big, yet the board feels fast and nimble, plus I love the camo look.
At £799 this board sits in the midrange price bracket, but like everything we review price doesn’t really matter, it’s the value for money we’re always looking at. With a quality complete package and a 5-year warranty, the Bluefin Rouge 12’6 certainly fits in the value-for-money category.
Bluefin Rogue 12’6 specs
Dimensions: 12’6 x 30” x 6”
What’s included in the package:
Board – Pump – Leash – Bag – Fin – Repair patches
Warranty: 5 years
Table of Contents
Who is the board for?
If you’re reading this thinking a touring paddleboard must be for the Ellen MacArthur or Ranulph Fiennes adventure-seeking types among us, think again. I think touring paddleboards make the perfect choice for a first-time paddleboard purchase. This is because they have all the characteristics to make paddleboarding much more enjoyable than the standard 10’8 boards suggested for beginners.
If you’ve never been paddleboarding before, then this board isn’t for you. Being 12’6 long it is slightly harder to learn how to do a basic sweep and step-back turns The 30” width also makes the board slightly more wobbly than the 32’ beginner boards, which offer a more stable platform.
But if you’ve been a few times, and are confident standing and turning, then this board will see you through many paddleboarding sessions.
Similarly, if you’ve been paddleboarding for a while and want an inflatable for those day or weekend trips, the Rogue will make a great choice where you’ll feel comfortable cruising around at pace.
As we’ve just alluded to, the Bluefin Rouge 12’6 isn’t the most stable board and potentially not for XL riders. So anyone above 6’3ish and/or 95-100 kgs may feel more at home on a 14’0 longboard, or a board 32” wide.
Bluefin are fast becoming synonymous with inflatable paddleboarding here in the UK. They are based in West Yorkshire and are a direct-to-consumer brand. This means they sell their products directly through their website and places like Amazon, but you won’t find them in paddleboard retailers. Generally, this business model allows brands to sell at very competitive prices, because essentially they are cutting out the middleman.
From the Cruise to the Rogue, we’ve always found Bluefin to be great value for money.
What’s great about Bluefin is they are always looking to improve and innovate on what they’ve currently got. Their very popular Cruise is on its 5th or 6th version, and they’ve released a few more boards into their range to try to get more people having fun on the water.
Bluefin Rogue 12’6 Touring Board Review
The Rogue was tested on a warm August day in Chichester harbour. With around 8 knots of wind coming the east, there was enough to test the boards tracking in cross-shore winds.
Glide is probably the most important factor to whether we think a touring board is worth its salt. Covering distance on a board that feels sticky or cumbersome really makes the miles drag, especially as you watch your friends glide effortlessly past you, whilst you’re putting in 100% effort just to keep up.
Bluefin have designed some key features in the Rogue that aim to help release the board from the water to ensure a smooth and enjoyable ride.
To start with, the nose (front of the board) comes to a sharp point that will pierce through the water, which is the perfect touring board shape. So when faced with a bit of chop, the board doesn’t try to ride over it, which can unbalance the rider, instead, it tries to break through the wave.
For this to work effectively, the nose must also have little rocker. Rocker is the term given to the shape (or lack of) of the board from the nose to the tail. If there is no rocker, the board will be flat like a plank of wood, but if there is a lot of rocker its shape will more resemble a banana. The Bluefin Rogue has very little rocker, which also means there is more board touching the water, to help with tracking and overall glide performance.
This type of nose can only happen when the manufacturer has enough confidence the board can be rigid enough to hold its shape when facing choppy conditions.
The tail (back of the board) also has some interesting features to help with glide. For starters, the tail is rather narrow. I think the idea of this narrow tail is to reduce surface area, so less board touching the water should mean less resistance and more glide.
Another feature at the tail is what Bluefin call the Water Release Rail. Starboard also have this feature, they call it Rail Edge Technology, which is essentially a thin, solid and sharp bit of plastic that runs along the width of the tail of the board. A very sharp rail can only be achieved on a hard board, so I think this is a pretty good innovation to get more performance out of an inflatable board. The theory goes that a sharp rail releases the water, and a soft rail grips it, so if you want a board that glides well and doesn’t feel sticky, build it with a sharper rail. We’ve tried to demonstrate this in a video we posted on Instagram this summer.
The payoff for a board that glides well and flies through the water is the compromise of width and stability. Compared to other touring boards, like the Red Voyager that is 32” wide, the Bluefin Rogue is 30” wide. The widest point is near the front of the board and not where you’ll likely stand, which I think is under 30”.
In our touring paddleboard test, we found the Bluefin to be one of the most unstable. So if you’re a larger rider or a beginner, I don’t think this board will be for you…yet. If you’re a nervous beginner, get yourself a few lessons and I’m sure you’ll be ready for a board like the Rogue. The step up onto a board like this is noticeable, but you’ll have far more fun on a board like this over a 10’8 beginner board.
There is a reason why Bluefin designed the board to have a width and volume nearer the front. It’s clear to see the widest point is also where the cargo area is, which is an interesting yet logical design feature. If you’re touring, you’re likely to take a bag with a coat, mobile phone, sandwiches and water, that will fit nicely in the cargo area at the front of the board.
For the construction, we can go with what we visually see, and what Bluefin say on their website.
Inspecting the board, the quality of construction looks more akin to a Red Paddle Co or Starboard. The way the board is put together looks and feels high quality.
One of the first noticeable features is the thick carbon-looking tape that runs along the top and bottom of the rail, which hides the seams from the reinforced Flex Reduction System (FRS). Bluefin does go a bit over the top with acronyms for their construction, from FSR to MSL and ESL, I’m not sure any consumers really care what they are called. All you need to know is that the board is built really well, using robust materials that look like they’ll last a long time.
One criticism of Bluefin has been about their heavy boards. Using high-grade, thick materials will just mean the boards are heavier than others, but Bluefin has made a concerted effort to address this.
Instead of having double-layered PVC, Bluefin now uses a construction method called Monocoque Structural Laminate (MSL), which is the same as Red Paddle Co. This is a reinforced PVC coating that’s laminated under high pressure…or basically, you get the stiffness and durability of a double layer, but reduced weighted with less material being used.
All of Bluefin’s new range of boards, including the Rogue are much lighter and far easier to carry, well done Bluefin.
During our Touring paddleboard test day, all riders loved the camo look of the Bluefin Rogue. The graphics are really well thought out and different to what we’ve seen before. The colour scheme works!
It’s not just the graphics that are well thought out, the Rogue probably has the most amount of D-Rings we’ve ever seen on a board. For a touring board, this is exactly what we want to see, a decent amount of options to store our cargo, especially if we are planning a long day or weekend trips.
Finally, the multiple carry-handle positions ensure the board can be taken wherever you want to explore. There are front and back handles, a centre handle and two handles on each rail. All are in the perfect balanced position that really helps when trying to carry your board.
The make or break part of any inflatable paddleboard package – the accessories. You could have the best board ever made but if it came with a wobbly aluminium paddle, your experience would be totally underwhelming. Thankfully Bluefin know this… so let’s see what we thought of their accessories.
This is a proper paddle, that unlike many inflatable packages you won’t need to upgrade anytime soon. The paddle is a 3 piece, with a carbon shaft and nylon blade which feels lightweight, rigid and fits together really well.
Bluefin has gone with a high cadence blade profile, giving it a smaller surface area which will put less pressure through your arms and body. If I was being picky, my personal preference and size meant the blade felt a little small for me, but I understand why Bluefin has gone for a blade this size which makes sense for long distances and for the average-sized rider.
It’s the type of paddle that you’ll feel happy paddling with for hours on end.
The pump is a tidy little accessory that has quite a few interesting features.
This is the first dual-chamber mini pump I’ve come across. With the Rouge being an inflatable tourer, having an extremely portable pump makes total sense, especially if you’re tour is over multiple days. The feet and handle are also detachable, so you can easily fit this pump into the bag without it taking up to much space.
The pump has single, dual and quad pump action. You start with the quad action for high inflation, then once the board get to higher pressures, change to the dual or single action to make it easier to pump.
Love it. A proper single US box fin!
This is the type of fin system I’d love to see on all paddle boards. The US fin box system is a slot with a nut and bolt type fixing, which gives me 100% confidence the fin is securely in place and will never fall out. It’s also probably the most widely used fin system, so you’ll probably be able to use a whole number of fins with this board if you wanted to.
The fin itself is decent, with a shape perfect for touring.
The bag has a decent amount of pockets and is plenty big enough to fit everything inside.
There are handy inside straps to help keep the board neat and tightly rolled.
The ankle leash is very comfortable with nice thick padding. I would like to see Bluefin offer a quick-release waist belt as standard on their touring board, hopefully that is something we’ll see in the future.
Is the Rogue worth it? Given the high-quality construction, accessories and performance on the water, the Bluefin Rogue is a perfect touring paddleboard for those wanting adventure and exploring what the UK waters have to offer.
The price matches perfectly with what you’d expect and offered good value for money. With the incredible 5 year warranty on the Bluefin Rogue, you can’t really go wrong with this purchase.
We know paddleboards aren’t a sustainable product, but it’s nice to know Bluefin plants a tree for every board they sell.
Where to buy
About the author
Watersports Pro is managed by Ollie, who has been in the industry since 2007. A paddleboard and advanced windsurfing instructor, Ollie has travelled the world teaching these sports.
Now based on the South Coast of England, he shares his experience and knowledge on watersportspro.co.uk.