Best Cheap Paddle Boards – 2021

Best Cheap Paddle Boards – 2021

With so many manufacturers jumping in on the paddle boarding boom that we have experienced over recent years, to suggest that we are spoilt for choice is definitely an understatement.

If you are new to paddle boarding and looking to buy your first board, cost will no doubt be front of mind. But where do you start and what do you need to consider? Are cheap paddle boards even worth it?

Below we will cover off some of the key buying considerations with a view to pointing you in the right direction. We’ve also listed a handful of cheaper albeit quality entry-level paddle boards that are definitely worth taking a look at.

Best Cheap Paddle Boards

How Much Does a Cheap Paddle Board Cost?

While you will see different suggested price ranges on similar articles on the net, we would categorise cheap as a board that is under $400. All round boards with better design features, materials and build quality that offer greater versatility, will be priced up to $800. Beyond this you are getting into the serious boards with higher specs which include specific purpose boards i.e. racing, off-shore paddling etc. If you have deep pockets, you can spend in excess of $2,500 if you really want to splash the cash and aim for the top end of town.

Price is of course only one factor that comes into play when you think cheap. You do get what you pay for after all.

<< Did you know there is a right way and a wrong way to Fall Off Your Paddle Board? >>

Same Same but Different

They might have appealing graphics and similar dimensions, but there are vast differences between a high end paddle board and their cheaper entry-level cousins. While you will clearly want to work within some form of budget, before you make that final decision, give consideration too the following:

Design & Construction

If we take inflatable paddle boards in the first instance, lower quality boards use inferior materials and in lower quantities that will not stand the test of time. While most will use an internal core referred to as ‘drop-stitch’ construction which is a woven thread that connects the top and bottom outer skins of the board together, many of the cheaper boards only have a single layer of PVC outer skin. When inflated, these paddle boards can lack the stiffness and rigidity required to maintain their shape and structural integrity which will impact buoyancy particularly as you reach the boards maximum capacity. The quality of the construction and glues used at the seams and side rails of the boards can cause air leaks so you will likely be plagued with problems from the outset.

It is always recommended that you pay attention to the design and build quality of any board that you are interested in. As you start to move up the quality scale, many manufacturers use their own proprietary design and construction methodologies that greater enhance their boards durability, rigidity and stability, weight carrying capacity and general all-round performance.

While certainly not ‘cheap’, examples like the Red Paddle Co. 11’3 Sport iSUP or the THURSO Surf 11’ Waterwalker iSUP are but two examples of where these manufacturers bring into play higher quality design features and materials quality which culminate in a far superior end product.

Versatility

While cheaper boards in the first instance will be a bit of fun that will hopefully help you find your feet, they will typically only suit general recreational paddling in flat calm waters. Having said that, they’re great for kids where maintaining high inflation pressures or weight carrying capacity aren’t key considerations. Beyond this however, given their lack of design features, durability, rigidity and stability, paddling over longer distances, fishing, racing, tackling a few waves or doing SUP yoga, will likely be outside the realms of what a cheaper paddle board can handle.

Angler on SUP with a Big Catch

Performance

When we think performance, the 3 key metrics to bear in mind are, stability, manoeuvrability and tracking.

Paddle Boarder Falling Off

A stable board that offers a secure, rigid and comfortable paddling platform will always be front of mind for newbie SUPers. It can be challenging to find your feet and develop a sound paddling technique in the first instance. The size of the board is the most important factor when it comes to stability so as a rule of thumb, longer, wider and thicker boards, while being more cumbersome, will offer the most stability. Provided of course that they have been built to a reasonable standard and have sufficient weight carrying capacity.

Shorter lighter weight paddle boards are easier to turn and manoeuvre through the water in that they have less bulk. Somewhat akin to surfboards, paddle boards that have 3-fins (referred to as tri-fin or a thruster configuration), also manoeuvre better through the water given the fins ability to more acutely bite into the water and channel it in different directions. Cheaper boards might well only have a single centre fin or less robust non-detachable shorter rubber fins which can make the board more challenging to manoeuvre.

The third consideration is tracking which refers to how a board is able to maintain a course in a desired direction. Straight line tracking or maintaining a direct narrow path when paddling is typically a good measure of how well a paddle board tracks. A longer board with a long centre fin will track better than a shorter board. While most cheap boards are normally shorter in length and can therefore be easier to learn on, maintaining course can be a challenge until such time as you develop a sound paddling technique.

Features

Entry-level paddle boards are very much that. They can be great for first timers but may lack the features that many of the higher end boards have. Board add-ons or features can include: forward and rear multi-point bungee cord cargo areas, front, rear and centre grab handles, multiple D-rings for attaching accessories, side paddle holders, action and accessory mounting points for fishing rods or GoPro cameras, traction deck padding, kayak seat mounts as well as an array of fin configurations.

The graphics package and colour scheme is another obvious one of course so before you make your decision, consider the type of paddling that you’re planning on doing and what you’d like to get out of your board from a features perspective.

Accessories

The vast majority of inflatable stand up paddle boards will come with a core set of all-inclusive accessories including a carry bag, pump, adjustable paddle, paddle board leash and fins. These accessories will vary greatly in quality mind you so whilst you’ll be able to take to the water with ease, it won’t be long before you’re looking to upgrade.

The cheaper iSUP packages will normally include a base carry bag that is made from a light-weight nylon that will typically rip after a few uses. Single chamber low pressure pumps can be notoriously frustrating which can hamper inflating the board particularly as you are nearing maximum inflation.

South Bay Board Co. 11’6” Hippocamp iSUP Package
<< Once you get the hang of it, you will definitely be able to Lose Weight on the Water >>

The biggie though will be the paddle. Yes the paddle will be adjustable, but it will likely be made from aluminium and have a heavy plastic or nylon blade. The pop-in pins or adjustment clips where the sections connect together can also wear quickly so opting for a quality paddle will definitely be money well spent. There are a bunch to choose from but we would recommend considering a carbon fibre or carbon hybrid paddle. Far lighter in weight and with better quality blades and a more rigid shaft, the difference in quality and performance will be very apparent particularly if you are paddling over longer distances.

Inflatable or Hard Board?

Owing to their versatility, ease of storage and portability, we always suggest that going for an inflatable entry-level paddle board makes the most sense. There are of course quality entry-level epoxy paddle boards, but the cost of something anywhere reasonable will always be more pricey than an inflatable equivalent. Believe it or not, epoxy paddle boards can damage easily whereas inflatable boards are quite durable and can comfortably handle impacts with floating debris, submerged items or if accidentally dropped.

Value for money aside, inflatables also offer a number of other benefits making them more attractive again for first timers. Beyond being versatile and portable, iSUPs have a greater weight carrying capacity which creates a far more buoyant and stable paddling surface. Their cushioned deck and traction padding is softer under foot which helps prevent injuries when you take a spill. iSUPs also come with a complete accessories package whereas if you opt for a hard board, the leash and paddle are normally sold separately which will again increase your overall spend.

Outdoor Master Shark Electric SUP Pump

Warranty

At the lower end of the scale, some paddle boards will only come with a 30-60 day warranty, while the higher quality boards can have a full manufacturers warranty that extends to as much as 5 years. Like most products, the costs of these warranties are built into the final purchase price of your SUP so this will not appear as a separate item.

1 Year Manufacturers Warranty

As a minimum, we would recommend that you only consider boards that offer at least a 12 month warranty. If a manufacturer is not prepared to stand by their product and support it with at least 12 months protection, then that pretty much says it all. If you do opt for a cheap board that has no warranty, you may get a couple of seasons out of it so don’t set your expectations too high. If nothing else, put your safety first and always wear your Paddle Board Leash as well as a quality Personal Flotation Device (PFD).


Recommendations

If you’ve taken anything from the about points, its quite apparent that aiming for the bargain-basement boards is probably not the greatest starting point. Sure they‘ll get you up and running and can be great fun particularly if you are new to paddle boarding, but you will quickly grow out of it or otherwise need to replace the board (and accessories) altogether. That’s not to say that you need to spend a fortune though.

The following entry-level boards represent great quality and value for money so if you’re in the market for your first board or looking to get the kids out on the water, then there is no better place to start than here.

Affiliate Disclose Statement
As an Amazon Affiliate, I may earn from Qualifying Purchases
ROC 10’ Explorer iSUP
  • Length: 10’
  • Width: 32”
  • Thickness: 6”
  • Weight: 17.5 lbs
  • Material: PVC with DuraWeld Technology
  • Inflation: 12-15 psi
  • Capacity: Rated to 300 lbs
  • Paddle: 3-Piece Adjustable Aluminium
  • Leash: Coiled Ankle
  • Warranty: 12 Months
ROC 10’ Explorer iSUP

The Explorer is one of the best-selling entry level paddle boards on the market with in excess of 4,000 5 star ratings on Amazon alone. While it isn’t a feature packed SUP, it is available in no less than 11 colour schemes and comes with a full accessories package including: backpack for the deflated board and all accessories, detachable centre fin, 3-piece adjustable aluminium paddle, ankle leash, single cylinder dual action pump and a handy durable dry bag for small personal items.

It specs put it squarely within the all round category making for a nice stable paddling surface. Its slight front rocker assists the board to glide through the water and with a weight carrying capacity of 300 lbs, it can comfortably accommodate the vast majority of adult riders with additional kit if desired.

For a detailed review on this board click HERE.


Bestway 10’ Hydro Force iSUP
  • Length: 10’
  • Width: 33”
  • Thickness: 6”
  • Weight: 30 lbs
  • Material: TriTech PVC / Drop-stitch
  • Inflation: 15 psi
  • Capacity: Rated to 286 lbs
  • Paddle: 4-Piece Adjustable Aluminium
  • Leash: Coiled Ankle
  • Warranty: 12 Months
Bestway 10’ Hydro Force iSUP

The Hydro Force is another classic all round entry level SUP that is best suited for flat water recreational paddling for riders of all levels. While it too has limited board features from an accessorising standpoint, at 33” wide, it is well suited to SUP yoga or other stationary board activities.

The SUP package comes with all of the necessary inclusions and can also accommodate a kayak conversion kit (detachable seat and footrest) so you can mix it up a little. Its deck traction pad makes for a comfortable paddling surface that will enable better grip to aid stability. As an all round board, the Explorer offers a nice balance between stability, buoyancy, manoeuvrability and overall paddling performance.

For a detailed review on this board click HERE.


iROCKER 10’6” Nautical iSUP
  • Length: 10’6”
  • Width: 32”
  • Thickness: 6”
  • Weight: 20 lbs
  • Material: Dual Layer Military Grade / Drop-stitch
  • Inflation: 15 psi
  • Capacity: Rated to 240 lbs
  • Paddle: 3-Piece Adjustable Fibreglass
  • Leash: 10’ Coiled Ankle
  • Warranty: 12 Months
iROCKER 10’6” Nautical iSUP

iROCKER are a well reputed paddle board manufacturer that offer the entry level Nautical as well as their premium branded Blackfin SUP. At only 20 lbs, the Nautical is one of the lightest all round inflatable boards on the market making it easier to manager on the water as well as being easy to carry and transport. The 10’6” board best suits beginner to intermediate paddlers in flat water paddling conditions. The Nautical is also available as a 11’6” board which enhances straight line paddling and glide through the water.

The SUP package includes: a 3-piece adjustable fibreglass paddle, 3 detachable fins, single chamber dual action manual hand pump, 10’ coiled ankle leash, durable storage backpack as well as a standard SUP repair kit.

For a detailed review on this board click HERE.


Goosehill 10’6” Sailor iSUP
  • Length: 10’6”
  • Width: 32”
  • Thickness: 6”
  • Weight: 20.5 lbs
  • Material: SCE Technology / Drop-stitch
  • Inflation: 12 – 15 psi
  • Capacity: Rated to 440 lbs
  • Paddle: 3-Piece Adjustable Aluminium
  • Leash: 10’ Coiled Ankle
  • Warranty: 36 Months
Goosehill 10’6” Sailor iSUP

While only offering a limited range, Goosehill are an established inflatable SUP manufacturer that focus on premium entry level paddle boards. Their proprietary SCE material strength enhancing technology manufacturing process enables them to produce the Sailor which has a very impressive weight carrying capacity of 440 lbs which is more than enough to cater for adult riders with the kids, or dog and other accessories. They can in fact produce custom order boards which is not a common offering amongst the entry level board manufacturers.

The Sailor is a classic all round stable paddle board that performs nicely in flat waters or mild swell conditions. It comes with the full accessories package and has an impressive 3-year warranty (uncommon for entry level SUPs) which speaks to Goosehills confidence in their products.

For a detailed review on this board click HERE.


GILI 10’6” AIR iSUP
  • Length: 10′6”
  • Width: 31″
  • Thickness: 6″
  • Weight: 19 lbs
  • Material: Single Layer PVC / Drop-stitch
  • Inflation: 12-15 psi
  • Capacity: 280 lbs
  • Paddle: 3-Piece Adjustable Aluminium Shaft
  • Leash: 8′ Dual-Swivel Coiled Ankle Leash
  • Warranty: 24 Months
GILI 10’6” AIR iSUP

The 10’6” AIR is GILI’s best selling paddle board. Like the other above recommendations, it too is a well rounded entry level recreational inflatable SUP that comes with an all-inclusive accessories package. While the board is made from just the single layer of military-grade PVC making it one of the lightest SUPs on the market, it is still backed by a 2 year manufacturers warranty to which GILI stand by the boards build quality, durability and longevity.

Well suited for lighter and less experienced paddlers, the boards rounded nose helps create greater forward stability making it ideal if you are paddling with your dog or additional accessories. While the AIR is not particularly fast, the slight front rocker (upward turned nose) helps the board glide across the water while the detachable tri-fin configuration aids straight line tracking and general manoeuvrability. A nicely rounded package that ticks all of the key entry level SUP boxes.

For a detailed review on this board click HERE.


There are certainly benefits to buying a cheap paddle board if you’re just looking to get your feet wet or aren’t exactly sure if stand up paddle boarding is for you. As can be seen however, the draw backs are also significant as we do ultimately get what we pay for as the saying goes.

If you are happy to take it up a notch and look at some of the better quality entry-level boards, then it will be money well spent. The longevity of a quality product backed by the warranty of a reputable manufacturer will give you that piece of mind that you’re in safe hands as you tackle the best of what Mother Nature has on offer.

We hope you found this article of interest and as always would love to start a conversation. Please feel free to leave your comments below and we will get back to you.

Until then, stay safe and get wet.

6 thoughts on “Best Cheap Paddle Boards – 2021”

  1. Hi Jason,

    I’ve not yet tried paddle boarding so still learning. I am older so I would be considering a board for some yoga exercises. Do you have any that you would consider the best choice overall for someone like me? I would only be using it a few weeks out of the year on vacation, so it wouldn’t be used too hard.

    Thanks – Chas

    Reply
  2. Hi Jason,

    Thank you for sharing this review. I have been thinking of buying a paddle board for a while,
    a few time ago I saw a multiple person paddle board. Do you have any suggestion about an affordable model of this type?
    It looks like a great way to have fun with friends and family.

    Cheers

    Reply
    • Hi Arnaud,

      Quality multi-person paddle boards cost a little more but are definitely a ton of fun with the family and friends. Perhaps take a look at the PEAK Titan Multi-Person SUP or one of the larger standard inflatable boards like the South Bay Hippocamp which has a huge weight carrying capacity and a load of accessories.

      Happy to assist further so feel free to drop me an email via the contacts page.

      All the best – Jason.

      Reply

Leave a Comment