You have decided you want to buy a new stand up paddle board, and have started shopping around to see how much they cost. Sounds simple, but you quickly realize that the range of pricing is massive.
Boards for as low as $149, and has high as $3000 or more. Is a $149 board a good value? Do I need to spend over $2000 to get a quality stand up paddle board? Lets take a look at what a few price ranges will get you both for rigid non-inflatable stand up paddle boards, as well as inflatable stand up paddle boards.
Rigid Stand Up Paddle Board Pricing
The range of pricing can be pretty large on hard stand up paddle boards (also called hard, regular, rigid, or epoxy), and of course your new paddle board purchase should be something that fits into your budget. However, we want to make sure that the budget you have is adequate to get a quality board. We hear time and time again from customers that they bought a “cheap board at a big box store” only to find out that it was much too small for their weight, or terrible quality, with no warranty and didn’t last a paddling season. That actually turns out to be more expensive, as not only have you wasted your money on the cheap board, you then have to spend money on a quality board.
From our 25 years in rigid surf and SUP board market, we advise customers, that if you spend a bit more money when you start the sport, you will spend much less money in the long run - and get much more enjoyment from the sport.
Rigid Stand Up Paddle Boards Under $700
Sometimes, you can snag a great end of season or clear out deal on a really high quality board at a real great deal. However, if you are looking to buy a stand up paddle board that is under $700 we suggest you pass and keep looking. How come you ask? Here is why:
It will be incredibly heavy plastic board - This is common in big box stores with boards in the $250 to $400 range. They will be a low price, but the weight will be in excess of 50 pounds. A board that heavy will be nearly impossible to carry around, and be extremely sluggish in the water.
It will be a soft top board - Some soft top boards in the $400 to $695 range are nothing more than a foam core with a deck pad applied over top. Without structural elements like stringers or multi-layer fiberglass, these boards are flimsy and nearly disposable in terms of durability. You will be lucky if a soft top lasts a single season under regular use. As a result, they have a 60 - 180 day warranty, compared to Cruiser SUP brand paddle board two year warranty.
It will be very cheap fiberglass construction - Quality, durability, and performance in a fiberglass construction come from the layers and specific materials like wood, bamboo, Innegra or carbon being used in the construction. A SUP in the $400 to $600 range simply can’t have these materials in them due to the cost of production. A thin single layer fiberglass board won’t have any durability and will be something you will look to replace sooner than later.
It won’t have free shipping - Rigid boards are big, and they are costly to ship. They can only be shipped by freight carrier as they are too large for courier service. If you are looking at great deal of a board that is $500 and doesn’t have free shipping, you had better factor in a couple of hundred dollars for shipping.
It wont’ have a warranty, or have a very short warranty - Cheap soft top and thin fiberglass boards are not designed well enough to stand up to regular use. Therefore, the manufacturers do not put any warranty, or if they have warranty, it is very short. All of our Cruiser SUP boards carry a 2 year warranty, and we are one of a few very number of brands to do so. Anything less than a 1 year warranty may not even see you use the board before the warranty expires.
Buy a board with a 6 month (or less) warranty on Black Friday and don’t use it until June and the warranty will be expired before the board has even been wet! Do not overlook the importance of warranty! Length of warranty reflects a company's belief in the long term durability and quality of their paddle boards.
Stand up paddle boards under $700 may sound like a great deal, but you really want to set you budget higher to make sure you get a board that is going to last!
Rigid Paddle Boards Between $700 and $1500
This price range is where you want to set your budget. You can get an awesome looking, light, versatile board with great performance and 2 year warranty (or even 2 boards) in this price range. But what separates all the boards in this price range?
Warranty - We mentioned it above, and we will mention it again. Warranty is huge. It really shows how confident the brand is in their construction. We offer a 2 year warranty, which means that we are really confident in boards like the Bliss, Yoga Mat and Fusion Feather-Lite, Escape, as well as the All Terrain and Blend Ultra-Lite constructions. If you compare that to a 180 day warranty, that is 4 times the warranty. Or 400% longer. If two boards are roughly the same price, logic says get the one with the 400% longer warranty!
Construction - In the mid price range there are a lot of differences in pricing based on the materials used. A basic fiberglass construction will get you by, but a super durable board with a polycarbonate shell, like the Dura-Maxx, or full wood / innegra carbon construction like the Fusion or Bliss Feather-Lite will be so much nicer to paddle, and last a lot longer.
Sizing - One size does not fit all! Quality board models should have several size options to chose from. This way you can get a board that is optimally sized for you. The Blend series comes in 4 sizes, the All Terrain in 6! A board that is 175L will not support the weight of a 220lb rider comfortably, regardless of what the spec chart might say. Neutral buoyancy is when the displacement volume of the board equals your body weight. If you are just starting out, you want to look for a board that has a volume roughly equal to, or higher than, your body weight.
We have equipped hundreds of thousands of stand up paddlers and windsurfers over the past 25 years. That is why we are the name stand up paddlers trust. Get straight answers on buoyancy from our pros. A board that does not offer enough buoyancy will cause frustration when paddling and the board won't be used as much as it should.
Features – Things like multiple bungee cord attachments, full length deck pads, removable side fins, EZ Grab™ lockable carry handles, tool less fins and highly refined hull shapes, all make your paddling experience better. Compare the features of similar priced boards in additional to construction, warranty, and sizing to see why boards like the Bliss, Fusion, and Blend are such great values and all under $995!
Rigid Paddle Boards Over $1,500
Once you start to head past $1,500, you are into pretty specialized boards for racing or surf specific use. These boards are super high performance machines that are worth every penny if you need that level of performance (ie you race competitively). If you know you are looking for a super premium and very specific style of board for specific conditions, then these boards can be something to consider. However, at these higher price ranges make sure you aren’t simply paying for a brands bloated supply chain, team riders and marketing that is driving up pricing!
For all around use, generally these super specific boards will lack versatility for a wide range of conditions. As well, in the case of race boards, though extremely light, they will be exceptionally fragile and very technically hard to paddle. If you are a racer, then yes you need a race board, however, for all other paddling uses, best to steer clear of super premium boards in the super high price range.
Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board Pricing
If you follow our blog, you would have read some of our opinions on inflatable vs rigid boards. However, when we see some of the offerings of inflatable boards on the market, we truly cringe at the quality, performance, and overall value.
Inflatable boards Under $700
Again, like rigid boards, there can be some great deals out there on high end boards that are just on season end, or model end sale. For the most part through, cheap inflatables are only going to set you up for disappointment. But, they are so cheap, I can’t pass up that deal? Sure you can, and here is why you should:
Air Pressure – inflatables boards need a lot of air pressure to obtain the stiffness needed to perform as a SUP board. iSUP boards that don’t inflate to at least 17psi simply don’t have that stiffness. They will feel soft, flex in the middle, and it will feel like you are standing on an air mattress. Their shape will have excessive rocker, with a "banana" shape. As a result, the inflatable boards will plow through the water and not glide or track well.
A quick scan of some of the ultra cheap inflatables available on the market and you will see that some only go to 10psi, or maybe 12psi. That is no where near enough air pressure to offer any performance at all. Instead of thinking of these not only as cheap paddle boards, but also very expensive air mattresses or pool toys.
Finally, many cheap inflatable iSUP sold online are shipped to customers directly from factories in China and don't have a warranty or customer support. Avoid!
Sizing – one way to bring down the cost of manufacturing is to use less materials. If you make a board super short, and super thin, its costs less to make. A super short board won’t have the ability to go in a straight line, and a very thin board will not support even the lightest of riders. We have seen 8’ inflatables available claiming to support 300lbs. That is just not possible, and the result will be a board that you can’t even really use. Just ask the customers who routinely start a product consultation with the statement “I bought a cheap inflatable board online, but it was way to small and I can’t stand on it.”
Warranty - The market place is flooded right now with cheap inflatables that are poorly made. If you see no mention of a warranty assume it has none. If the iSUP you are looking at doesn’t have a 2 year warranty, keep shopping for one that does.
The fastest way to have a bad experience with your new SUP is to buy a cheap inflatable. Take our advice on that. Even if you don’t buy a board from us, we want you to at least know enough to avoid the glut of super cheap boards out there. It will only cost you more in the long run as you will need to replace it much sooner than later.
Inflatable boards Between $700 and $1100
If you truly decide to get an inflatable board, this is where you want to be price wise. However, make sure you know you really want an inflatable. The only time we really see an inflatable being the right choice is if you truly do not have the storage space for a non-inflatable board. Inflatables are miserably difficult and time consuming to inflate, not to mention lower performance in all aspects.
We see companies marketing inflatables with women smiling and laughing, while they are pumping air into the board. They don't show the women (and many men), that aren't smiling, after spending 15 minutes or more of valuable time at the beach, and still not able to inflate the board properly.
Speaking of inflatable marketing, they are shown in beautiful locations - like exotic vacation spots. Great marketing, however, rigid paddle boards are real paddle boards for real world conditions. They are the best boards for your local conditions and easy to transport on the roof of your car. We shake our head when we see paddlers with an inflatable sup on the roof rack of their car. We then shock them when they paddle a Cruiser SUP rigid paddle board. A night and day difference in the paddling experience, due to construction and refined shape of Cruiser SUP rigid paddle boards.
If you are sure you have to go the inflatable route, then you want to be sure you are buying from a recognized brand. One very easy way to determine that is if the brand has its own website. Many iSUP’s appear only in the selection of online marketplaces, and those are the brands you want to avoid. They are very likely board factories in China, either re-selling other brands shapes and designs, or liquidating factory defects and rejects. A brand that has a truly vested interest in making quality iSUP boards will have a dedicated website for their brand, with 2 year warranty.
Why You Don’t Want a Cheap Paddle Board
Regardless of if you get a rigid board, or inflatable board, do yourself a favor and avoid the super cheap boards on the market. As tempting as the cheap pricing may be, they will be a colossal disappointment in performance, durability, and longevity. Quality can not be cheap, and cheap can not be quality. We would love it if you talked to us about our awesome selection of high quality boards after reading this. However, if you decide on a different brand, but take away from this article the things to avoid and get a quality board, we are happy with that. We are dedicated to seeing the sport of SUP continue to grow and helping people get suitable boards for their needs so they have fun on the water is one way to keep it growing. New paddle boarders that get a cheap board that falls apart, or is so tiny that they can’t even paddle will leave the sport in frustration.Don't let that happen to you!
Did we miss something? Have questions about board pricing we didn’t cover? Just comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author
Glenn Morton is Customer Experience Manager at Cruiser SUP, as well as chief content creator. Glenn has been stand up paddle boarding and windsurfing over 20 years, and has been with Cruiser SUP for over 15 years. When not on the water, Glenn can be found on his road bike, a ski hill, or raising his 12 year old daughter Nora. Glenn is an expert in all things paddle boarding including paddle board technique, SUP safety, and all paddle board products. Customers rely on Glenn's expertise to help guide them in their purchase of the best stand up paddle boards for their needs. Glenn helps equip thousands of paddle boarders each year, and is ready and waiting to help you.