Cheap Paddleboards Buying Guide

Here is everything you need to know when buying cheap paddle boards. People also look for more affordable stand up paddle boards, but I always suggest you don’t take your eye off the most important factor, QUALITY!

How Cheap Is Cheap?

Here in the UK, we’ve been swamped with brands that are simply copy cats of each other, with different graphics, some selling for £200.00 and other selling for over £500.00, so how do you what cheap and affordable really is.

The definition of cheap varies from one person to another. In this case, cheap is any inflatable paddle board under £500.

The boards we outline here are not the cheapest, but they’re the most balanced, between cheap and affordable to quality and performance, which is so important if you are going to really enjoy this sport.

Another easy mistake to make is being drawn to pretty online pictures and fancy wording, as that is there to lure you in, but does it tell the truth.

There is a brand in the UK that has made it their mission to hammer others, by publicly slamming their quality etc, but let’s be honest, how would they know.   Most boards come from China and the materials being used have evolved over the years and factories sharing designs with no lockdown of IP or designs.

The paddle boards I am going to discuss are boards that I myself have used, are built well enough to handle openwater and have shown their quality in different ways.

Why Choose A Budget Inflatable SUP Over an Epoxy/Traditional SUP?

Inflatable paddle boards are generally cheaper when compared to hard boards, so if budget is a key consideration then this is an important feature.

There are many quality inflatable SUPs under £500.00, whilst getting a decent hard board in that price range will be hard, but that said, the performance and purpose varies massively, so you cannot simply judge it on price when looking at the difference.

Another key factor is that isups are easy to transport in most size cars compared to travelling a hard board, which would require a roof rack or van.

And let’s not forget storage: isups fold down into a bag so can be stored in small spaces, but don’t just leave them all winter in sheds as the mice and rats may just enjoy a nibble.

Inflatable paddle boards generally come as a package, including a bag, pump, leash, fin and paddle.  Paddles vary in quality, with most kit paddles being made from aluminium or glass fibre with a fibre plastic blade.

And lastly, isups are durable so f you go places where there are rocks or concrete pavements etc you’ll find a hard board will be vulnerable to chipping, whereas an isup is sort of risk free.

Are Cheap Paddle Boards Any Good?

This is a big question and has so many factors associated to it.

Being coastal based, we see a lot of cheap isups during the summer and a very large number look terrible.  They bend, are too thin and provide a terrible user experience for the paddler. But don’t think for a minute that this is linked purely to price.

Within the price range we’re considering, you get good and bad boards, so we’ll list out some key considerations:

Poorly made – you will see some board that have issues with the seams e.g the cut lines of the material are very uneven and bubbly.  Whilst you may consider this a purely aesthetic thing, it is worth imaging how the inners of the board look if the brand couldn’t be bothered to make the outside look good.

Lifespan is a big thing for me, and I refuse to sell kit that is cheap, just for the sake of selling. If it only has a short life span, this means landfill, here we come, and that is not helping anyone. Whilst isups are not the key plastic waste problem, every little counts.   Some companies claim to be sustainable and eco-friendly, yet they have no control over their boards’ production, so much of this is lip service. Unless that company has bought carbon credits, I personally feel this is more a marketing technique.

1. Build Quality

Just because you’re buying a cheap paddleboard, you still need it to be durable.

In fact more than most, if you’re a beginner you’re going to let the kids jump all over it, drop it and give it more abuse than someone who has spent more ££s on the board so is a bit more protective.

All isups are made from a pvc outer skin with a drop stitch inner core. This material varies in quality and ultimately aids in board stiffness.

Most boards have multiple layers of skin and rail to strengthen the board, but some reduce the layering to cut costs and weight, but this can have a detrimental effect on the performance.

Quality control seems to vary with a lot of boards as they’re churning out so many, but it is more so with cheaper boards. That said, a decent retailer will put their name to a level of quality product they believe in and stand by that within reason.

You will also have contact information in case you have a problem with your paddle board.

You should check what other paddlers are saying too. All the inflatable SUPs reviewed here are highly rated by users on different platforms. Some have had their paddle boards for years and they are still strong.

Another thing, never ignore the warranty information. A one- to two-year warranty is great for cheap paddle boards. A SUP with no warranty is a huge red flag.

2. Stability

This is a complex subject as so many factors come into play when considering how stable  board is.

  1. Width: 32 wide is a good general width for a beginner unless you’re much heavier, e.g 11kgs or more. That said, very light people of 70kg or less can easily use narrow 30 wide boards.
  2. Board shape plays a part and a broader nose and tail will add stability, compared to a more pin shape nose or tail.
  3. Lengthways stiffness adds to sideways stability and if you simply don’t inflate your board enough you’ll feel that for yourself.
  4. If you want to do yoga or carry kids or dogs, then a bit wider really helps.
  5. Board thickness can aid in stability, because it holds more volume in the rails, so you dip the edges less.

3. Accessories

Pretty much all isups come with an accessory pack, but not everything is worth having.

Things like a phone case or kayak seat are just a deviation and trick to make you think you’re getting more, whereas in fact you may find the board is inferior for its main purpose.

If you’re saving money on buying more affordable packages, it may be worth keeping some money aside for upgrades like a decent paddle.

A good quality pump must be considered as this can vastly reduce effort to inflate your board.

The pump should be able to inflate the board properly, so you don’t spend all your time and energy before you get to the water.

4. Design

A good design can make a big difference, but on isups this is sometimes hard to see.

A quality and grippy deckpad can really reduce leg and foot cramps.

Well positioned d-rings can add extra tie down placement if you plan to carry luggage.

Go Pro mounts are often found on isups.

Fin systems vary and some boards use their own method of fin attachment, so you’d need to buy more fins from them if you broke anything.

Check the fin system to make sure it is right for you. Some people love the idea of

5. Performance

Obviously, performance varies depending on the board you have chosen and its intended purpose, but there are some general all round traits worth noting.

The board should feel comfortable on the water and solid underfoot. All isups have a bit of softness to them, but you need to consider this as a super important factor.

A board that can track well, is affected by its length but also fin placement and outline shape.

The wider a board is the slow it will be and super wide boards are no use to light people as they really hold you back, whereas narrower boards can increase speed, but you lose stability.

Longer boards can be more dominated by wind, so a smaller person may struggle to control the board.

Final Thoughts

Stand up paddle boarding doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. The boards discussed here are some of the best cheap paddle boards you can come across.

The Aqua Marina Fusion 10’10 is seriously good value for the money. It is stiff enough even for bigger people and has a nice accessory package with it.

Deckpad is grippy enough without being too coarse it could rub your wetsuit.

The Jobe Duna is more expensive, but for a touring board it is head and shoulders above many. Super stiff and beautifully made, this board feels much more like a hard board.


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