We are reader-supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

The main differences between cheap and expensive paddleboards are their built quality, included gear, available shapes and sizes, weight capacities, board features and warranties.

Cheap paddle boards can be a great entry point for beginners who want to get into the sport. If you’re just learning, practicing and even taking your first few paddling trips out on a cheap board.

However, you have to know that there’s a chance that you’ll need to replace it after your first few times out on the water.

There are some good cheap paddle boards out there and some built with low-quality materials. We’ve been through that. For our blog, we’ve reviewed 50+ paddleboards.

Many of the reviewed paddleboards are very affordable ones. Check out our article about the best cheap paddleboards to find the best models.

If you want to know what are some of the best cheap paddleboards out there, check our article with the top affordable paddleboards on the market.

But let’s get started comparing more expensive with very cheap paddleboards.

7 Major Differences Between Cheap and Expensive Paddleboards

#1 Built Quality

One of the biggest differences between cheap and expensive paddleboards is built quality.

While cheaper boards are usually made with fewer layers, more expensive ones are double-layer or even double-layer fusion boards. Those paddleboards are stiffer, provide more stability and have a better durability.

To make sure you’re getting yourself a high-quality, but affordable paddleboard, check out this article about the best affordable paddleboards on the market.

#2 Included Gear

If you’re looking for a cheap paddleboard, most likely it won’t have much included gear with it. Or, the included gear shipped with the board isn’t very good in terms of quality.

On the other hand, expensive boards come with several pieces of quality gear. Most higher-priced paddleboards come with a comfortable backpack, a leash, a high-quality air pump and extra accessory products (like a dry bag or waterproof phone case).

Interestingly, cheaper paddleboards, often, come with a paddle while more expensive ones don’t. That’s because good paddles are costly. Some great paddles will cost you hundreds of pounds.

The ones included with a cheap paddleboard are, typically, made out of aluminum, very heavy and not very durable.

#3 Shape

Paddleboard shapes are different. However, among cheaper paddleboards, you will only find all-rounders.

With their wider and more round shape, all-round paddleboards are decent models to start with, but not well-built for longer paddle tours.

For doing paddle tours you should check out touring boards which are a bit more narrow and significantly longer. They’ve got better tracking, and it’s easier to build up speed with.

Also, there are yoga, surf, race and two-person paddleboards which you are missing out when just comparing cheaper paddleboards.

We’ve featured all kinds of different paddleboards in our best paddleboards article.

#4 Size

The next difference between cheap and expensive paddleboards is size. Cheaper paddleboards are 9 to 11 feet long, while more expensive ones have a length of up to 14 feet.

As we’ve mentioned above, a longer paddleboard comes with better tracking and speed. If you are quite tall, or you want to do larger tours with your paddleboard, an 9 to 11 foot long option probably won’t be enough for you.

#5 Weight Capacity

The weight capacities of cheap vs expensive models are different as well. Cheaper models will hold up to 200 pounds (90 kilograms). More expensive boards often got a larger size and volume. Some solo paddleboards can load up to 300 or even 350 pounds (136 to 158 kilograms).

That is something you need to keep in mind if you’re weighing a bit more, or you want to bring your kid(s) or dog(s) along.

#6 Features

All paddleboards come with standard features like a deck pad (to provide some grip) and a carry grip. However, expensive boards offer more features.

These include the extra D-rings for accessories and one or two bungee cords (to transport your gear on a paddle tour).

Should You Start With a Cheap or Expensive Paddleboard?

We don’t it’s a smart idea starting out with a very cheap or very expensive paddleboard.

While expensive boards are great, they also come with a price tag. That means that you’ll have to pay more money from the start, and it might take some time before you’ve saved enough for your first board.

On the other hand, cheap paddleboards can be discouraged because of their low quality standards. You just should not start out with a cheap paddleboard.

You can find good, but affordable boards in this article about the best affordable paddleboards on the market.

Final Verdict

Cheaper paddleboards are cheaper for a reason. They lack high-quality standards and don’t offer longer warranties or more features than expensive models.

They might seem like an interesting choice because of their low price, but they will only discourage you from continuing with your passion. That’s why we recommend starting out with a decent, affordable board instead of a cheap one (or expensive one).

That being said, in the long run it’s better to invest some money into a good paddleboard which will last you years without any issues.

You can find such boards here in our article about the best cheap paddleboards.

Hi, my name is Max. In 2016, on my first SUP trip, I was still a bit shaky on the SUP board. But quickly the ambition grabbed me and my passion for SUP was ignited. That’s why I founded stand-up-paddling.org the same year. Our mission is to help beginners discover this sport and bring more transparency into the market with our in-depth product reviews.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments