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Shark 12’6 Touring iSUP (2022) review: A solid, affordable paddle board

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £599
inc VAT

This mid-level inflatable stand-up paddle board offers improved paddle speed at the compromise of some stability


  • Very well built
  • Packs down into easy-carry bag
  • Great paddling experience


  • Fiddly fin mechanism
  • Overall package is heavy
  • Pump could be sturdier

There are few experiences as serene as gently cruising along a mirror-like body of water while standing atop an inflatable stand-up paddleboard… or iSUP for short.

These clever contraptions boast many of the same features as a solid-body SUP, such as great stability and a smooth paddling experience, with the added benefit of increased portability. The 12ft Touring iSUP from Shark is a great example.

Arriving in a large, robust carry bag (with wheels), the inflatable stand-up paddleboard kit includes everything you need to get on the water. So, you’ll find a high-pressure dual-chamber pump, centre fin, comfortable coiled leash, and even a carbon-shaft paddle all come part and parcel.

With an RRP of £599, the Shark 12’6/30/5 Touring iSUP sits somewhere in the middle of much cheaper rivals from the likes of Hurley, Goosehill and Portofino, and premium models offered by Red Paddle Co. and Fanatic.

This is tangible in its construction, which uses high density drop stitch with a double layer laminated high density material and a triple rail edge to deliver great stability and stiffness. It feels like a sturdy piece of kit as soon as you get it out of its carry case. 

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Shark 12’6/30/5 Touring review: What do you get for the money?

Shark updated its entire iSUP lineup in 2022, revising the previously drab graphics, improving the accessories offered, and streamlining the manufacturing process to reduce the amount of wastage. The decision to move over to a more robust drop-stitch construction and extra lamination meant Shark could also offer most of its boards with two rail sizes: 5 or 6 inches.

In short, rail thickness has a significant impact on the way the board moves and handles for riders of different weights. Heavier paddlers will look towards the thicker rails for increased stability, while a lighter rider on the same board might find it a tad sluggish, hence the slimmer rail offering.

We opted for the 5-inch model (this reviewer weighs in at around 72kg), which measures 12’6ft in length, 30 inches at the widest part of the deck and, of course, a 5-inch rail height.

The board arrives in a toughened nylon carry bag, which can be worn on the back as you would a rucksack. Bear in mind it’s large, and will take up a fair amount of real estate on anyone shorter than 6ft.

The carry case has a reinforced grab handle on the flank, for lifting it in and out of a car, for example, with compression straps to cinch it all down. There’s also a large pocket at the front for stashing extra accessories.

Inside the case you’ll find a coiled leg leash, for safely attaching the board to your leg when you’re on the water, a plastic centre fin, a dual-chamber, high-pressure pump, and a carbon nylon adjustable paddle. That’s everything you need to get going, but Shark also throws in a waterproof case for your smartphone, which can be worn around the neck.

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Shark 12’6/30/5 Touring review: What is it like to transport and inflate?

The entire package weighs 11kg, so it isn’t the sort of thing you’ll really want to be hiking with for extended periods. Nevertheless, we found the rucksack-style carry case and board perfectly comfortable for 20-minutes or so. It’s more the size of it that proved an annoyance. The pack extended above my head and would irritatingly tap the back of my neck as I walked.

Bear in mind that it will take up a fair amount of vehicle boot space, too, as I measured the case at just over 4ft tall when on its wheels. Oh, and those wheels are fairly useless; their positioning is too narrow, which causes the bag to topple over when you’re attempting to roll it. 

Once at the beach, river or lake, it’s merely a case of unzipping the bag and unrolling the paddle board. The dual-chamber, high-pressure pump aims to take some of the legwork (or should that be armwork?) out of inflation, by using two chambers to suck air in and then expel it at the early stages.

Once the pump becomes too tough to use, flick a lever and it reverts to single-chamber operation, allowing you to top up the remainder of the air without too much resistance on the pump handle. 

The Shark 12’6/30/5 Touring’s high-pressure valve can withstand up to 50psi, but Shark recommends a maximum of 25psi. This is at the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to iSUPS; I’ve tested some that require a mere 15psi. While this might not sound like a huge difference, it has a significant impact on how solid the board feels, greatly reducing flex in use, but also the effort it takes to inflate it.

Filling the final 5-8psi on this board seems to take forever, and it’s quite the workout to get it up to 20psi. A fantastic warm-up for some, but perhaps a cardio session too far for others.

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Shark 12’6/30/5 Touring review: Any other features worth noting?

The Touring in the title of Shark’s board refers to the fact that its silhouette is more tapered than its all-round models. This sacrifices a little stability on the water, but improves the power transfer of every stroke, allowing it to glide further and faster with less physical exertion.

Of course, the downside is that you have to be a slightly more accomplished rider, since that 30-inch deck can feel a little slim to the uninitiated.

What’s more, Shark has implemented some neat touches, including the deck’s shark skin traction pad that improves grip, even when the deck becomes wet. Further back there’s Shark’s Kick Tail (SKT), which offers a stable platform to perform kick-turns. This is where the rider shuffles rearwards on the deck and wedges the trailing foot against the SKT, unweighting the nose of the paddle board and allowing it to rotate on its rear axis.

Shark has also added carry handles to the mid and rear of the board, for easier transportation when fully inflated; a D-ring on the nose enables towing. There are further D-rings on the nose of the board, which allow for all manner of items to be attached.

This comes as standard with some light bungee cord threaded through the rings, creating some netting under which you can slide and bags. Unfortunately the cord isn’t particularly tough; we found it didn’t really keep anything in place. It would be a much better idea to strap it down properly or risk losing it.

Finally, Shark provides its own centre fin that slots in place using the brand’s proprietary quick-release technology, which has its benefits and drawbacks. 

On the upside, you can either choose to stick with Shark’s fairly basic plastic fin or add anything that uses a standard US fin box connection. Unfortunately, the quick-release system is hard work, especially when removing the fin with cold hands. I found I had to constantly hit it with the butt of my hand to encourage it to come loose, which actually became quite painful after a while.  

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Shark 12’6/30/5 Touring review: What is it like on the water?

Despite the fact this board is designed for those who want to travel further and faster, we found the overall paddling experience stable, predictable and very easy to manoeuvre.

The choice of 5-inch rails was spot on. We didn’t experience much in the way of a compromise in stability, instead gaining on the ease at which we could spin the board around on calm waters.

Shark’s paddle feels more premium in the hand than many we’ve tried at this price point, purely because it features a carbon fibre shaft that not only keeps the weight down, but looks more stylish than plastic counterparts.

It’s really easy to adjust thanks to dual quick-release levers; and these are sturdy enough to keep everything in place when paddling hard. The blade is made from nylon, which is great for longevity, but there’s a little tangible flex. It’s easy enough to upgrade a paddle, though.

With an incredible 280 litres of volume, there’s plenty of float to transport heavier and more proficient riders, while loading up the nose with heavy backpacks and adventure gear also doesn’t appear to affect stability. It makes progress slightly slower, but that’s unavoidable.

We also found that pumping it up slightly beyond the recommended 20psi negated any flex in the rails. Naturally, it isn’t as solid as its hard-bodied brethren, but it’s impressively close.

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Shark 12’6/30/5 Touring review: Should you buy one?

If you’re a more proficient paddler, looking for a vessel that will happily transport you on longer, all-day adventures, the Shark 12’6/30/5 Touring is a fantastic option. The board itself feels really well made, and we were impressed with the leash, paddle and – on the whole – the dual-chamber pump.

Arguably, the plastic fin is a bit basic and the provided bungee at the nose isn’t worthy of securing precious cargo, but these are both items that can be easily swapped out.

Most important of all is that the board paddles efficiently and tracks well, making it easy to travel far without expending too much energy. It’s also durable, so shouldn’t let you down when the going gets tough.

If the budget doesn’t allow for Red’s accomplished 12ft Voyager MSL touring board, for example, which is just better built in every respect, then the Shark 12’6/30/5 Touring review is a superb, affordable alternative.

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