Like most things in life, you get what you pay for, and quality normally comes at a price. Spending a few extra pounds on any item can mean the difference between it lasting six months and lasting several years. This same train of thought should be applied when purchasing a paddleboard.
A simple search for paddleboards on the internet will throw up an array of results with boards costing anything from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand. So, how much does a paddleboard cost, and are cheap paddleboards any good?
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How expensive is a paddleboard?
To put it simply, a paddleboard will cost anything from £400 to £1,700+. As with anything, the more you pay the better quality board you’ll get. Generally, boards with a higher price will be built with quality materials, have a refined shape, last longer and offer better warranties.
There are some pricing differences between inflatable and hard boards, which we outline below.
How much do inflatable paddleboards cost?
You can expect to pay anything between £380 and £1,000 for a higher quality inflatable board, with £600 being the average price.
You know the saying, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. So if you see an inflatable SUP on sale for £150 then don’t expect it to last long. Anything from this low-end price up to £300 would be considered a low-quality board, and best avoided. These types of boards are widely available in the Amazon marketplace.
These low-cost boards are less durable with only a single layer of PVC, meaning you are more likely to experience blown seams, especially if you’re on the heavy side. If it’s performance and longevity you’re after, you’ll need to dig a little deeper into your pockets, but it will save you money long term.
Low cost inflatable paddleboard – £380 – £500
This is right at the low end of how much an inflatable paddleboard should cost. At this price range you’ll get a board that will be fine to use for sunny, flat water days in the summer, but I probably wouldn’t trust it in any other weather conditions.
Coming in at £395, the Two Bare Feet ‘Sport Air’ is for both experienced paddlers and those who are confident in their ability to balance and want to progress quickly. Made with heavier riders in mind, the board is constructed using premium DWF material, making it both rigid and durable. Its medium to narrow shape affords users the agility, speed and a platform on which you can develop paddleboarding skills.
Mid-range inflatable paddleboards – £500 – £750
Spending that little extra can make all the difference, and the Hatha paddleboards are a prime example of a mid-range quality inflatable paddleboard that is priced at between £575 and £740. These all-round boards are made using Thermo Fusion Construction. Lightweight and durable, the extra strong construction helps preserve the boards’ shape and contours.
On top of this, this mid-range paddleboard comes with the added benefit of all the PVC being of a double-layered military-grade 850g 1000 denier, and a long-lasting drop stitch core construction.
High-end inflatable paddleboards – £750 – £1,300
At the top end of the price bracket and costing a penny short of £1,300, the inflatable paddleboards from Red Paddle Co offer incredible durability as well as high end performance.
Their All-Rounder board for beginners or experienced paddlers is constructed using MSL Fusion Technology, which is exclusive to Red Paddle and is recognised as the prime construction process in the industry. This technology offers unbeatable stiffness, weight-saving stability and a superior cosmetic finish.
This top of the range SUP weighs just 7.4kg. Making it lightweight yet stable. It has a multiple coating giving it extra strength and durability, and its torsion stiffness effect means the board is more rigid than other cheaper models even at lower pressures.
How much do composite (hard) paddleboards cost?
Expect to pay anything between £500 and upwards of £2,000 or more. These types of boards generally cost more than their inflatable counterparts due to them being more costly to manufacture and more expensive to ship. Because of their solid structure, these board types are the most rigid meaning you’re able to use them in all water conditions without compromising performance.
Depending on the price of hard paddleboards, they can be made of a number of materials. At the cheaper end of the market, boards could well be constructed from plastic or epoxy with a foam.
As you begin to look into purchasing a board in the middle price bracket, you would expect the SUP to be made of fibreglass and epoxy resin which would be layered over wood or foam cores.
At the top end of the market, you might find that boards again have layers of fibreglass over a foam core or at the very top end, a carbon cover over the board’s shell would be more likely.
The disadvantage of having a rigid board is, of course, the fact that it will be more difficult to transport due to their weight and inability to fold away like inflatables.
This won’t be a problem if you have a roof rack on your vehicle, and besides, their solid structure should give you more years of use.
Value for money hard paddleboards – £500 – £800
Starting at the bottom end of the price range, the fibre construction of the Bic ‘Performer Tough’ offers an entry-level paddleboard. Starting at £550 for a nine-foot two model and going up to £650 for the bigger 11’6 version which weighs 15.9kg. Although the weight is an issue for some people, BIC paddleboards offer incredible durability and these board will probably outlast any other on the market.
The board is ideal for beginners and families and for anyone looking for a board that is both durable and value for money. The ‘Bic Performer’ is ideal for both flat water use and moderate surf, and the great benefit of the cheaper rigid boards are, they normally come with wider decks that allow for better stability.
You can even do a spot of fishing on them or maybe try your hand at some relaxing yoga.
Mid-range hard paddleboards – £800 – £1200
An extra £200 would buy you the FatStick ‘Wave Fish SUP’, which is suitable for both intermediate and more advanced users. Weighing only 10kg this hard composite paddleboard can be used for all-round cruising and is perfect for those attempting waves for the first time.
It has an EVA deck pad and reinforced rails meaning no rail tape is required. The Fat Stick Wave Fish is smaller in length than the cheaper, ‘Bic Performer’ at 9’6 with its thickness and width being virtually the same, at 4′.3″ and 32″ respectively.
The lightness of the board is achieved by applying a triple layer of epoxy glass over a foam core. Boards made of this material are less likely to encounter scratches and dents and most other cosmetic damage.
As well as boards made from epoxy glass being more agile, they also allow for additional glide making them the ideal companion if you wish to experience a long-distance paddling adventure on the water.
High-end hard paddleboards – £1200+
As mentioned previously, quality comes at a price and the Starboard ‘All-Star Wood Carbon’ board is just that, quality. It will cost around £2,600 to purchase a board of this calibre.
World-class athletes design these boards and they may be a little expensive if you’re just starting out.
The race paddleboard design is reinforced with Australian pine, which runs the full length of the standing area of the board, which offers extra strength against bumps and dents. The standing areas provide extra durability and rigidness reinforced carbon, which also covers the tail making for a stronger board and faster recoil.
A narrower tail outline allows for quicker acceleration and overall glide per stroke. The extended and lower standing area supports users to lower their centre of gravity, allowing for better stability and balance.
This is just one example of a higher priced paddleboard. There are surf or race shapes that are perfect for those who are really committed, get on the water a lot and want to progress to a high level.
These boards built with carbon, wood or any other new technology, are extremely lightweight and designed for performance. But be warned, these boards are rather delicate and damage easily.
As you can see, composite boards are more expensive due to the materials used by manufacturers. There are many paddleboards out there, to meet any individual needs and fit most people’s budgets.
Whether you choose an inflatable SUP for its versatility and transporting benefits or you choose a solid composite SUP because you feel it will last you longer and supports your ability better, don’t make the mistake of penny-pinching or else you could well end up paying out more money than you would have if you’d have gone for a better quality board in the first place.
Keep an eye out for the warranties offered, especially with inflatable paddle boards. This often tells me how much confidence the manufacturer has with their build quality and how long they expect the paddleboard to last.
Red Paddle Co offer a remarkable five-year warranty on their boards, with the Two Bare Feet and Hatha boards having a one year and three-year warranty respectively.
Are cheap paddleboards worth it?
With the poor build quality, lack of warranty and customer support from these brands, cheap paddleboards are not worth it. Their short life span means you’ll have to fork out for a new one next summer and the old one will probably just end up going to the tip, contributing to the already growing problem of plastic waste disposal.
Purchasing a cheap SUP is a false economy. You will not only save money buying a more expensive board in the long run, but you will also have a paddleboard that has a better resale value when you decide to upgrade.
Remember, you get what you pay for. It’s likely the only attractive thing about a cheap paddleboard is the price, and little else. The way the cheaper boards are constructed and the materials used means they are going to be a lot less durable than the more expensive models.
The material that forms the top and bottom skin of a paddleboard, to give it its shape and structure, is connected by threads. On budget boards, a single or double-layer dropstitch would be used.
A single layer dropstitch may well give you a lighter board that is easier to handle, the problem is, you’ll end up with a somewhat frail paddleboard on your hands which is anything but rigid. You’re also unlikely to be able to inflate it to higher pressures.
A cheap paddleboard may not only be less durable and likely to have a shorter lifespan, but it could also prove extremely dangerous, especially if the inflatable chamber fails while you’re out on the water.
Budget boards make very little economic sense, and although it may seem a little excessive splashing out on a more expensive model, it will benefit you in the long run.
It’s not difficult to find paddleboards on Amazon for just over £200. What will be difficult is the pain you’ll feel when you have to fork out more money for another board six months down the line.
You get what you pay for.
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.