The paddleboard market has seen rapid changes over the last 3 years. With the 2020 pandemic driving more people to take up outdoor activities, paddle boarding saw big growth. With that came newer companies and price competition. But how do lower priced paddle boards compare to premium brands. Are they worth buying?
Cheap paddleboards can be perfect for some, especially for beginners. Almost all now come in full packages with pump, straps, leash and back pack. Quality has improved across the board. Prices keep dropping for entry level boards. Many established brands have now introduced boards in this price range.
In this article, we’ll cover the pros and cons of riding a low-cost paddleboard.
What Constitutes a Cheap Paddleboard, Anyway?
Before we get deeper into what’s good and what’s not so good about a cheap paddleboard, what does it even mean when we say a SUP board is cheap? Let’s set the bar now.
This is something we’ve talked about on this blog before, but the average price of a paddleboard is about $300 to $500 for the lower-end ones. The cost increases to $1,500-$2,500 for the really high-end paddleboards. Since we’re sticking to the lower end of the spectrum here, we’ll say the average inexpensive paddleboard price is about $250.
Thus, if you’re paying $175-250 for a board, it’s considered cheap. Depending on the quality of the board, this low price may make you raise your eyebrows in suspicion or smile in excitement at your great deal.
The Benefits of a Cheap Paddleboard
Now that you understand a little more about paddleboard pricing, it’s time to jump into the benefits of owning a low-priced board.
Cheap paddle boards are great for beginners
Are you the type of person who swaps from one hobby to another at lightning-fast speed? You might try something and find you don’t like it, or perhaps it bores you. Your latest fad is paddle boarding, but admittedly, you’re not sure if you’ll continue with this, either.
The potential for lower cost of entry is part of what makes paddle boarding so appealing to many.
A less pricy board is also great for beginner SUP riders. At this stage, you don’t really know what you’re doing on your board. You’re working on your balance and strengthening your core, but you take a lot of topples into the water.
You would hate to wreck a costly board due to your inexperience. With a lower-priced paddleboard, you now feel free to make as many mistakes as necessary to learn to ride your board better.
AquaSportsPlanet is an Amazon Associate. As an Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We also maintain affiliate relationships with other companies. Purchases made through affiliate links pay us a commission but do not increase cost to the buyer. For a full list, read our affiliate disclosure statement.
Cheaper paddle boards save you money if you break them
Let’s say you were really trying to learn the ropes of paddle boarding. You made a misstep or hit something and ended up puncturing your inflatable SUP board. Whoops! It hisses and wheezes as you drag it out of the water, the hole quite apparent. Now you need another paddleboard to continue riding.
If you spent upwards of $1,000 or more on your inflatable board, then it would be incredibly unfortunate to have to replace it so soon. Yes, it’s true that higher-quality boards tend to have materials that are of just as high quality. This may reduce the risk of punctures, but hey, accidents can still happen. It’s possible to puncture a more expensive inflatable board as well, even if it’s more difficult to do.
If you only parted with $300 or less on your beginner’s SUP board, getting a new one isn’t such a big deal. You can accept that accidents happen and move on. But you can use our tips for maintaining your board properly to extend its useful life. And small punctures on any board can be repaired, regardless of the initial purchase price.
You Can Try a Range of Styles
If you can get your hands on several paddleboards for the price that someone usually pays for one, this gives you the opportunity to try a wealth of SUP board styles. From inflatable to rigid boards, longer or shorter ones, you can sample each to know which type of paddleboard works best for you.
The Downsides of a Cheap Paddleboard
While we made cheap paddleboards sound really good in the last section, there are some cons. They certainly exist, and abundantly so. Here are a few downsides to keep in mind should you decide to spend less on your paddleboard. Even with these downsides, we point out that you should expect inflatable paddle board to have a decent usable lifetime.
The PSI May Be Lower or Higher Than
Every paddleboard has a recommended air pressure, typically between 10 and 15 PSI. The problem with cheap boards is the optimal PSI may not be what you’d expect. In some cases, it’s lower, which can leave your paddleboard saggy and underinflated. It would not be fun or safe to ride the board in this condition.
Sometimes, the optimal PSI is misrepresented. If it’s a larger inflatable paddleboard we’re talking about, then the recommended air pressure may be 15 PSI. However, since you can keep inflating beyond that, your board is now unstable to ride.
Cheaper paddle boards may be less durable
Even if you got the air pressure at just the right PSI, a cheap paddleboard isn’t necessarily safe to use. Remember the adage we quoted in the beginning of this article? You get what you pay for. If you’ve found a paddleboard for $250 or $300 and it’s not a heavily slashed deal, you have to think about why it costs what it does.
Material is one area in which your paddleboard may be lacking. Cheap inflatable materials are may puncture much more easily than a costlier board with thicker material.
One of our earliest paddle boards tested tore at the seam simply by being in the sun for a few hours. Needless to say, that brand isn’t on any of our recommended lists
Do you think you’re safe because you got a hard (non-inflatable) paddleboard? Not necessarily. Putting too much bodyweight on the board could cause it to snap. Maybe you bring a second passenger on your paddleboard or perhaps you just distributed your weight differently. Either way, the board is broken and you’re stuck with buying a new board.
Comfort or speed may be less with cheap paddle board
Those cheap materials that make your paddleboard such a bargain could also work against you. They’re probably not as comfortable for one, as plusher, softer materials typically come with a higher price tag. This can impact your usage, cutting your rides short because your board doesn’t feel great. Considering most boards are designed for all-day use, or at least over multiple hours, this is a huge downside.
While speed might not be something that matters much to you unless you’re embarking on a paddleboard race, do know that your speed could be an issue with a cheaper board. The materials in this SUP board may be less aerodynamic. As you ride, you’ll get more drag that slows you down.
What should a Cheap Paddleboard Include
You’ve carefully reviewed the pros and cons we presented above, and you’ve realized that you still don’t want to spend a lot of money on your paddleboard.
If this is the route you choose to take, you must be especially careful. Your search for a cheap paddleboard may find you beginning online. You can browse your favourite SUP board retailers for sales and deals, but these discounts may not be enough for you.
Once you have a cheap board in your sights, you’re going to want to eagerly pull the trigger. Before you do that, we caution you to make sure your purchase includes the following elements.
While you’re not spending a lot of money, you don’t want to get ripped off
anyway, right? Of course not.
You can get your paddleboard on the cheap, but you still want to have access to customer support. This way, should you have any questions or need help, you’d have a hotline or email address to reach out to. Do keep in mind that if you go the third-party seller route such as eBay or Craigslist, you will very likely not get customer support.
Some Form of Warranty
The warranty costs are sometimes bundled into the price of the paddleboard. Since you didn’t pay an arm and a leg for your board, you may get a shorter warranty or return period Luckily market competition and lead companies to put at least 1 or 2 years in their warranties.
However, third-party sellers may not have a warranty to offer you when you buy your SUP board through them. Some warranties are transferrable, but that’s only if they’re still active. Make sure you ask the seller about any warranty but don’t expect one.
If you have to go without a warranty, this isn’t necessarily the end of the world. Yes, you’d feel better riding with some protection, but it is what it is. Now it’s on you to take the best care you can of your paddleboard so you can get a few good years out of it.
Paddleboards, like all things, can be stolen. When going the third-person seller route especially, it’s critical you get some documentation of ownership. This way, you know you’re not riding a stolen paddleboard.
Also, having this documentation clues you in on useful information pertaining to your board, such as its materials, volume, weight capacity, and recommended PSI. Without knowing any of this, it’s just a guessing game for you, and that’s not very smart or safe.
Before buying, you may want or read our full guide to getting started with paddle boarding. This may help you with your decisions.
Recommended Cheap Paddleboards with good reviews
Considering all of the above, it is possible to stick to a budget and still get a pretty good paddleboard with some examples.
Top cheap paddle board picks
The boards in the SereneLife line come in at the middle of this price range on Amazon. It had been a popular board in the inexpensive category for over a year now. Other color options and features are available at slightly higher price levels. The SereneLife model range overall gets great ratings from riders. They have several models and color schemes that appeal to a wide variety of riders.
At 10’ 6” long and 32” wide, this board is in the midrange of sizes available. It accommodates a wide range of rider sizes and weights due to its 6” thick design. The anti-slip surface and triple bottom fins very likely contribute to its popularity and top ranking on Amazon.
It is available at times in different color schemes other than the blue shown here. The fact that it is an All-in-One kit with aluminum paddle, patch kit, leash, pump and cover doesn’t hurt it’s top ranking either. Due to its feature-packed nature and low price, it’s our #1 choice for anyone looking for an inexpensive board.
This board comes complete with everything you need at a really aggressive price point that will appeal to anyone looking for a bargain. It is a bare-bones board, but at this price you can’t expect the performance and features of a $1,500 board. Available in the blue text design above or serene tropical image, you can buy it in 9’, 10’, and 11’ lengths. All are 32” wide for stability and performance compromise. Remember narrower boards are faster, while 34” boards provide a more stable surface.
Add in the 6.5” thickness for durability and the non-slip surface for better grip, and this is one great board for the price. Rated for a maximum weight of 280 lbs, it’s perfect for average to above average single riders or an adult and child combo. Or taking your dog out for a ride. Beginners will not be disappointed.
The Funwater SUP board is rated for a maximum of 330 lbs, allowing for 2 people to easily ride together. It ships with safety leash, three fins, backpack, adjustable aluminum paddle, and a patch kit. The manual inflation pump reviews indicate a 15 minute inflation time. That’s one negative for this board, but you can overcome that with the SereneLife rechargeable electric pump (from Amazon) or the feature-rich pricier Outdoor Master we recommended in our Can You Inflate a Paddle Board with an Electric Pump?
At 10’ length (no options) and 30” width, it is somewhat small compared to other boards on this list. If you are a taller person or plan on carrying two adults frequently, you may want to look at the Radar Cadence Blem listing below. But for the average single rider or slightly smaller couples, this is a good bargain for the money.
This 10’ x 30” board is available in numerous color schemes to suit anyone’s tastes. It is sold as a full kit with everything needed to transport, inflate, ride and then pack away at the end of the day. Built with 2 smaller outer fins, it ships with a larger removable center fin for more stability when inserted and maneuverability when removed.
Murtisol has jumped to the top of Amazon’s popular inexpensive paddle board list due to the wide variety of available color schemes along with the complete nature of the kit included in the price. Rated for up to 280 pounds, this board should work for almost any single rider.
While the above color scheme is my favorite of the options, it also comes in green, black/white and pale blue/white patterns. A recent price drop moved this complete package under $300. It’s hard to beat.
How long should a cheap paddleboard
You just bought your first SUP board. Now you’re curious how long you’ll have it. Given that costlier inflatable paddleboards have a lifespan of 3 to 5 years, if yours is inflatable but a bargain, expect maybe 2-3 years. Maintaining and storing it properly will increase its lifespan.
Rigid paddleboards can last longer, but that may not be the case if you didn’t spend a lot of money on yours.
Can you patch a punctured inflatable
Oh no, your inflatable SUP board punctured and popped. You figured this would happen, but you’d like to fix the board if possible. Can you? By shopping online or at your sports supply store for an
inflatable patch kit, it’s possible to seal over the puncture. The patch may not last though, especially if your board is made of cheap, flimsy materials.
Whether you buy a top of the line board or start with an inexpensive model, properly learn how to use it. We have several good resources on this site as linked in the above section.