How Much Do Paddle Boards Cost?
Unless you’ve been hiding under a wave then you are probably well aware that paddle boarding is rapidly growing year-on-year and is now the fastest growing water sport globally. If you have not yet tried it then get it on your to do list ASAP.
Often seen as a trendy sport for the older BMW and Audi drivers with a few extra $$ in their pockets, whilst certainly not yet main stream, paddle boarding now appeals to a far broader audience for paddlers of all levels. Whether it’s getting out for a day with the kids for a recreational paddle; doing a bit of board fishing or yoga boarding; or even taking the more extreme path down a whitewater rapid, there are a whole host of different boards to suit a lot of different paddling styles and of course, budgets.
So the big question – how much do paddle boards cost? Well it’s a little like asking how much does a car cost? Or how much does a meal cost? Or even the big one – how long is a piece of string?
The answer however is a little more complicated and depends on a bunch of different variables ranging from their design, manufacture, materials used, size, type of board and more.
Below we will cover off each of these items as well as attaching price brackets as a high level guide which will hopefully give you some assistance when it comes to opening up your wallet.
Rigid / Solid Paddle Boards
Polystyrene – at the very bottom end of the scale we have polystyrene which is a cheap material that has multiple uses including the packaging that you see in boxes if you were say to buy a new TV for instance. It’s the material that cheap kids boards are made out of. It is also not particularly environmentally friendly, will allow for basic paddle board buoyancy only and is not water resistant. Not really suitable unless you are just looking for something basic for the kids to play around on. You can expect to pay less than $100 for a polystyrene board.
Plastic – somewhat similar to other mid-range and up boards, plastic paddle boards can have similar external features i.e. centre carry handle, ankle leash attachment point, a fin or fins and even storage capabilities. Plastic boards are typically made in large quantities and cater for the lower end of the market. They are either rotomoulded where a solid piece of polyethylene is rotated and moulded into shape or made from a hard thermoplastic molded shell which is formed around a hollow core or foam.
Plastic boards are typically the heaviest of all paddle boards making them less manoeuvrable and offering limited performance. They are however quite durable so are not susceptible to denting or puncture making them popular amongst campers or holiday rental outlets as well as young families with children. They are also quite stable given that they have higher edges when compared to a lower profile fibreglass board. Plastic paddle boards normally range in price and will typically cost between $250 – $500.
Epoxy – with paddle boarding origins flowing from surfing, it stands to reason that the most common form of rigid or solid paddle boards resemble a surf board in terms of both look as well as construction. Simply put, these boards are made with an EPS foam core and are then wrapped with fiberglass and epoxy resin. For added strengthening, the better quality boards also have a wooden spine (known as a stringer) that runs through the core of the board. The end result produces a board that is light-weight, rigid and stable that will perform well in varied water conditions. It is also a reason why these boards can be quite expensive ranging in price anywhere from $500 – $3,000+.
At the lower end of the scale are the epoxy paddle boards that use lower quality materials and in lower quantities. Boards priced below $650, will have no real structural integrity (stringer) nor will they likely have more than one layer of fiberglass. They will subsequently lack durability and stiffness and if regularly used will have a very short lifespan.
Moving up a notch to boards priced between $700 – $1,250 is where you will start to see what you’re getting for your money. Well you may not actually ‘see’ it but you will certainly get a far better appreciation for quality and performance.You should definitely be able to find what you are looking for here as this price bracket offers a lot of versatility so will cater well for the recreational flat water paddler through to those that might be keen on yoga boarding, surfing or fishing.
These boards will be made from quality materials including multiple layers of fibreglass or carbon fiber cloth as well as layers of the epoxy resin. Some manufacturers use 4oz cloth to save $$ although 6oz is what the better boards are made with. Carbon fiber cloth in particular is quite expensive but it is highly durable and lightweight.
In this price range you will also be looking at a board that has all of the core accessories that would be expected of a quality product. Durable full length deck padding, single or multiple bungee systems, carry handles, detachable / tool less fins and more. It is in this price range that you will be able to negotiate and adapt an accessories package that will see you in pretty good shape when you hit the water. Boardworks have a nice range of both epoxy as well as inflatable SUPs on offer through Amazon which will definitely cater for recreational paddles of all levels.
Beyond the mid-range price point, north of $1,500 are the specialised boards that are typically used for single disciplines – racing, surfing, fishing. While they will perform to the highest of standards, they will lack versatility so will only really cater for the experienced paddler within that one discipline. You would only really consider these boards if you were a serious paddler that does not want the versatility offered by one of the mid-range priced boards.
Bamboo & Wood Veneer – also at the higher end of the market are the bamboo and wooden veneer paddle boards which in my view are the most aesthetically attractive of all boards given their usage of natural materials. Appearance aside, these boards are very lightweight, sleek in design and offer a good level of buoyancy, stability and performance. Used in construction for 100’s of years, bamboo is one of the lightest natural materials with a very high weight to strength ratio.
These boards are not for the novice as you can expect to pay upwards of $1,000 for wooden boards although when we get to boards that are made with a wooden veneer that also encompasses fibreglass and carbon products and technology then these boards can exceed $1,500. Three Brothers Boards are a manufacturer of a great range of wooden boards so definitely worth a look. You can actually pay more than $2,500 for some boards when they are primarily constructed out of carbon fibre and a higher quality wood. If you have the $$ though don’t be shy!!
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Inflatable Paddle Boards or iSUPs
iSUPs have exploded in popularity over recent years given their portability in terms of transport and storage. They are generally more affordable than the higher quality rigid boards and for the higher quality iSUPs they rival their hard board cousins in terms of rigidity, stability, manoeuvrability and overall performance. They range in price from as little as $250 for a cheaper single layer board through to $2,000 for a precision made multi-layer dropstitch core military-grade PVC board – that was a mouthful.
At the lower end of the inflatable spectrum are the cheaper quality boards priced at $400 – $600. These boards will offer a limited level of performance when compared to higher quality boards. Made from a lower quality single layer only PVC material and typically less than 6″ thick, these boards are not particularly rigid meaning that they will be less stable, more susceptible to leakage (at the seams and valves) and punctures, and will have a lower weight carrying capability.
Unless you are looking at a cheap ‘get into the market’ type board for the kids that will not last too long, you would be best advised to move up to the next pricing bracket. Do your research of course as you may find some well priced older model deals or boards that are not popular sizes that offer some higher quality features.
As we move into the mid-range iSUP’s which range between $600 – $1,000 you will start to see a lot more technology come into play in terms of the boards design, construction and materials used.
All inflatable boards use dropstitching which is what connects the outer top and bottom layers of material together and enables the paddle board to maintain its shape. Dropstitch is a form of knitting that connects thousands of intertwined polyester threads together to create a core which is then fixed to outer PVC layers of the board. The quality and construction of the dropstitch will impact the boards performance, durability and subsequently price to which many manufacturers adopt their own construction practices and methodology. The better quality the product the greater level of buoyancy, stability and manoeuvrability the board will have. It is this manufacturing process that allows the boards to remain inflated and bear weight and in some instances as much as 450+lbs whilst still being rigid and stable.
Somewhat similar to the rigid boards, the mid-range bracket is where you will find the boards that add a lot of versatility to your paddling experience. If you are looking at general flat water recreational paddling, some light SUP surfing, yoga or even fishing, then this is where you should be focusing.
To be more specific if we take for example the Goosehill 10’6″ Sailor iSUP which sits at the lower end of this price bracket, they use their own unique construction method that uses SCE (Super Construction Enhancement) technology. This construction process laminates and blends a traditional single layer PVC with a new layer to create an enhanced material that envelopes the internal dropstitch core of the board. This new single layer lowers the boards weight making it ultra-lightweight but yet still highly durable.
Slightly higher up in this range is the Bluefin 12′ Allrounder SUP which uses pro weave dropstitch wrapped in their Denier Exo Surface Laminate PVC. Bestway’s Hydro Force 10′ Oceana also employs similar dropstitch construction with their proprietary TriTech PVC as the outer layer.
The consistent theme with boards within this bracket is the quality of materials and attention to detail within the construction process. Whilst manufacturers adopt their own methods and will put their own marketing spins on their products, if you focus on a board that comes from a reputable manufacturer, has a recommended inflation range of 18-20 PSI and up as well as offering a 2 year or more warranty then you are likely looking at a reasonable product.
Like the epoxy or wooden boards, when you’re getting into the $1,200 and up bracket then you are looking at the higher end products or specialist boards. Red Paddle Co. for instance are one of the more reputable higher end iSUP manufacturers that stand by their boards offering an industry leading 5 year warranty. They too adopt their own construction methodology using their proprietary MSL Fusion (Monocoque Structural Laminate) which is a high-definition drop stitch which uses a unique pressure application and reinforced laminate. This too produces boards that are both lighter and stiffer than the majority of their peers. The Red Paddle 11’3″ Sport is a good example and one of the more profile boards within their range.
< < Ever wondered what the Top 10 Benefits of Paddle Boarding are > >
All of the mid-range and up boards typically come as an all-inclusive package which will include an adjustable paddle, tri-fin (normally detachable) configuration, ankle leash, pump, carry bag and colour coded repair kit. These boards will also have high quality deckpads, bungee systems, multiple D-rings, grab handles and more. The accessories package can vary greatly in terms of quality so something to be mindful of. Again, do your research and shop around.
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Other Cost Considerations
** Paddle – this is a big one and can have quite a significant impact on the price of a paddle board package. While cheaper aluminium shaft / plastic blade paddles are not too costly, higher end paddles made from glassfibre or even full carbon with higher aspect blades can cost as much as $400. They offer a far better paddling experience given their lighter weight and stiffer shaft which allows for a more energy efficient paddling stroke. If you have the $$ then definitely money well spent.
** Specialised Boards – we have touched on this above but specialist boards can also add in some instances a significant cost. If you are predominately looking at a recreational all-round paddle board then this should not have a real bearing on your purchase.
** Size – in this case size does matter. As would be expected the larger the board then the more material that is needed and the longer the manufacturing process takes. This is more evident again for any of the non-automated manufacturing processes given the increased labour costs. Having the right size board that suits both you as a paddler as well as your intended paddling style (recreational, surf, yoga etc.) is really important so should be one of your first considerations when buying your board.
** Warranty – whilst not necessarily evident, the cost of extended warranty periods out to in some instances 4 & 5 years can also be built into the final sales price. If a board has a short warranty period (less than 12 months) then it’s likely to be at the lower end of the quality spectrum as well.
**Distribution Costs – unless you are buying direct from the manufacturer then you will be paying all of the costs in the distribution channel – manufacturer > shipping > wholesaler > retailer > consumer. As most consumers are buying through outlet stores they are wearing an approx. 50% markup over the manufacturers cost. As buying online increases in popularity so too will the cost savings as this is more of a ‘factory direct’ purchase.
A lot will come down to how often you intend to use your board, the type of paddling you will be doing and of course how willing you are to put your hand in your pocket.
With so many manufacturers in the market, you will certainly not be spoilt for choice. As new models come out older models will be discounted so there will definitely be savings out there.
If you’re a recreational paddler that will do a bit of weekend paddling, then you should be able to get a basic entry level board and a standard accessories package for $450 – $600. Remember though that you will be getting what you pay for so keep your expectations realistic. If you are looking for a little more quality with a board that will offer a greater level of rigidity, manoeuvrability and performance amongst other things then spending $750 – $1,000 will certainly put you right in the mix.
Boards from $1,000 and up are really getting into the higher end products where there is a lot more focus on the quality of materials, the design and construction process and methods which all come together to produce a high quality board that offers a supreme level of rigidity and overall performance. Above $1,500 are the specialist or custom boards or boards that are otherwise made to exacting standards where expense comes secondary to design, manufacturing and materials quality.
Hopefully the above provided some insight into the overall process and considerations that you should factor in when looking to make that spend.
As always we would love to hear from you so please feel free to leave your comments below and we will get back to you.
Stay safe and get wet.