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.
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.
Besides dimensions, board volume needs to be considered when selecting the right size SUP for your experience level.
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.
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:
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.
2. Middle level board: BlackFin XL, an American company that manufactures overseas. You order directly from company.
3. Top level board: Red Paddle Co Voyager, a European company that manufactures in-house. Cost $1,485 - $1,700
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 wetsuit), sun protection, sunglasses, and a hat.