how much does a paddle board cost? (2019)

Paddle boarding is a combination of kayaking and surfing. It is normally done using a paddle while standing on boards that are wider, longer, and more buoyant than surfboards are. In recent years, stand up paddle boarding (SUP) has become very popular, particularly with both the locals and the tourists in Hawaii. Just about anyone can learn to master paddle boarding within a short amount of time.

However, the quality of the board one uses can make the difference between enjoying the great outdoors and enduring embarrassing, disastrous outings. Choosing the right paddle board for your budget can be a bit overwhelming for a beginner, but it doesn’t need to be. This article gives you price tips and covers the basics of paddle boarding, the many desirable features that are available, and which features one can expect at various price points. 

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Pricing Tips

best price

Quality is often tied to cost, although an adequate paddle board can be had at a medium price. Board costs typically range from under $300 to nearly $2,000. Even $600 would still just get you a budget board. On the high end, custom boards can cost up to $3,500.

The cheapest paddle boards may give you some bad experiences and waste your time and money in the long run. Customer reviews of the cheapest boards often 

describe the horrors of losing the paddles because they did not float, fins falling off, seals busting at a low psi, air leaks occurring throughout the board, pumps breaking, and pretty designs easily peeling off.

Imagine taking your best friends out to the lake for a good time and to show off your new paddle board, only to be embarrassed by your purchase.

Of course, pricey, top-of-the-line paddle boards would give you both quality and every feature you could ever want a paddle board to have. Understandably, if you just want a board that gives you the most bang for your buck, you would likely find it in a medium-priced board.

What Types of SUPs Exist?

The first step in your board purchasing journey is to learn which type of paddle board would suit your lifestyle and your boarding purpose, as well as your budget. The main SUP board types are surf, allround, flatwater, and race, though whitewater and windsurf boards also exist.

  • Surf – The traditional surf board is a type of paddle board, though you paddle with your hands. It is the shortest board and it is used for maneuvering on waves.
  • Allround – A board that is a little thicker, wider, longer, and much more versatile in purpose than a surf board is the round-nosed allround. It is a great board for beginners.
  • Flatwater – The next size up is the flatwater. They usually have a pointed nose and are designed for speed. Their wide bodies make them stable enough for beginners.
  • Race – The largest board is the race board. It is in the same family as the flatwater board, but it is built very narrow and long for great speed. This one is for experienced riders only.

Besides dimensions, board volume needs to be considered when selecting the right size SUP for your experience level.

  • Beginners – Your weight in kg x 2
  • Intermediates – Your weight in kg x 1.7
  • Advanced – Your weight in kg x 1.3

What Desirable Features Exist for Inflatable SUPs?

Now that you have the kind of board you need in mind, you need to determine how many extra features you want, need, and can afford your board to have. Keep in mind that there are solid and inflatable SUPs. The solid ones are made from some combination of wood, plastic, Kevlar, fiberglass, epoxy fiberglass, and foam. 

features

Inflatable ones are transported easier than solid ones are, but certain features would be needed for stability and reliability. The pricier the board, the better quality and number of features it will have. Here are features you will want to look for. Most of them apply to the inflatable boards:

  • Psi – The higher the pounds per square inch, the more rigid the board will be.
  • Speed – Long length and narrow width bring a faster speed.
  • Multiple bungies – Use these to strap down gear.
  • Multiple handles – Handles are good for carrying the boat to the water, tying the boat up, dropping an anchor, and holding onto while in the water.
  • Structural batten – This sleeve that runs along the side of high-end inflatable boards strengthens them and increases speed.
  • U.S. fin box with sturdy detachable fin – These hold sturdy race, surf, touring, river, or other type of fins that track well and can be sourced and replaced. Cheap boards will have unreliable standard fin boxes with flimsy fins that fall out of the box or break and are hard to replace.
  • Floating paddle – You want a paddle that floats and has a sturdy blade and a large, securely attached comfortable handle. The length should be your height plus 6” – 8” for surf boards, 8” – 10” for flatwater boards, and 10” – 12” for racing boards
  • Multi-speed pumps – You will want a pump that has a slower speed option you can use at the end of pumping, especially if you have a high-psi board.
  • Storage bags/backpacks – Storage compartments are needed. Wheels would be handy.
  • Repair kits – These come with all inflatable boards, but the needed glue would be nice.
  • Warranty, returns, distribution, and customer service – This is better on the medium and high-end boards from companies located in the United States or in the United Kingdom.

What Features Can I Expect to Find at Various Price Points?

To demonstrate what you will find on the market in the way of features, here are sample inflatable stand up paddle boards from each of three price ranges:

1. Budget board: Leader Accessories, made and manufactured in China, distributed through Amazon, etc.

  • 11’ 2” L x 33” W, 31 lbs, weight capacity 300 lbs, max psi 12
  • Lacks sufficient bungies, handles, stability, fins, storage bag/backpack, repair kit, and customer service.

2. Middle level board: BlackFin XL, an American company that manufactures overseas. You order directly from company.

  • 11’ 6” L x ng, 34” W, 32 lbs, weight capacity 485 lbs, max psi 18
  • Has no glue in repair kit.
  • Has sufficient bungies (plus several D rings), handles, stability, fin box, repair kit, and customer service.
  • Has superior pump (dual cyl/three-speed) and storage bag/backpack (has storage compartment, tie-down straps, and wheels).

3. Top level board: Red Paddleco Voyager, a European company that manufactures in-house. Cost $1,485 - $1,700

  • 13’ 2” L x 30” W, 25 lbs, max psi 25.
  • Has adequate pump.
  • Has superior bungies, handles, structure and stability (has batten), fin box, storage bag/backpack, repair kit and customer service.
  • Offers the fastest speed.
  • Has places to mount a camera, fishing rod, or GoPro.

Closing Thoughts

Now that you know what features to look for and what prices to expect, it won’t be hard to find the board you want. Keep in mind that you will also want to buy a personal flotation device (life vest), a leash, proper clothing (perhaps a wet suit), sun protection, sunglasses, and a hat.

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