How Much Does a Good Paddle Board Cost? As a paddle board manufacturer, Wappa knows all about the costs that go into a paddle board, and why good paddle boards cost more.
To answer the question, the starting price for good paddle boards is about $1200 USD.
While the term “good” is subjective, let me explain what we at Wappa consider to be a good paddle board. This will enable you as a shopper to have greater insight to the qualities of a “good” SUP.
Good paddle boards cost more than cheap ones for several reasons.
The better the materials that go into a paddle board, the stronger and lighter the paddle board will be.
With rigid paddle boards, stringerless cores are stronger and superior to cores that use stringers. Unfortunately, you can’t tell if your board is stringerless by visual inspection.
Carbon fiber is more expensive and stronger than bamboo. Bamboo is more expensive and stronger than simple fiberglass. Stronger and lighter is more expensive. That’s why a carbon fiber paddle board will cost more than a bamboo board, and a real bamboo paddle board will cost more than a pressed composite board.
Quality of workmanship needs to be considered when purchasing a paddle board.
Some paddle board brands build their boards using inexperienced labor. Experience and talented people cost money. This means it costs more to manufacture a board with an experienced craftsperson, and there are also less quality control issues and happier customers. At Wappa, our average builder has 10.5 years experience building paddle boards. Experience costs more, but it’s worth it.
Some companies may also use machines more than people to build their boards. Machines increase manufacturing speed and decrease labor cost. Boards made by machines will cost less, but the brand is limited as to how their products can be manufactured.
Another major factor that determines a paddle boards cost is how it’s made.
One of the reasons why inflatable paddle boards are so cheap is due to how they are made. All inflatable boards are essentially sewn and glued together. An inflatable paddle board takes hours to build.
Rigid paddle boards can be made by a variety of techniques that can affect a paddle board’s cost and quality.
Rotomolded paddle boards have foam injected into a plastic shell. These rigid paddle boards are fairly inexpensive, but they are very heavy.
Foam boards are rigid and cheap, but they probably won’t last more than a couple of seasons.
Rotomolded and foam boards can be produced in an assembly line environment. Both of these boards are cheap paddle boards.
Layered paddle boards are much more expensive and much better quality. Brands like Wappa are made by the layering process. Starting with a foam core, layers of different materials such as bamboo or carbon fiber or fiberglass are applied to make the board stronger, stiffer, and lighter. Layered paddle boards take longer to build and are more labor intensive. For example, it takes 29 days to build a Wappa.
When purchasing a paddle board, it’s difficult to determine visually if a board is high quality and if you’re getting good value with your purchase. When looking at boards in the store or online, they all pretty much look the same. Graphics and color may make them look different, but ask yourself the following questions when making your purchase decision:
Once you have the answers to these questions, you will have a better idea if the sticker price on the board you’re thinking of buying is a good paddle board that’s worth the cost.
You’ve watched people on the beach do it, and maybe you’ve even watched a few YouTube videos about how to stand up paddle board. However, watching something and doing it are two different things. For those of you who would enjoy a little text to assist with your learning curve, here are five tips I’ve used to teach hundreds of beginning paddle boarding students over the years.
BE LIKE SUPERMAN
When you’re getting onto a paddle board in shallow water, create forward momentum for the paddle board by launching yourself onto it like you’re Superman.
Here’s how you do it
MOMENTUM EQUALS BALANCE
Never try to stand on the paddle board if it’s just floating in the water. The key to standing easily on a paddle board is forward momentum. As soon as your paddle board begins to move forward, it becomes more stable. That’s why I like the Superman launch so much. It gives your board enough speed, that you’re able to stand before the board slows down and becomes less stable.
When you fall in deep water, you won’t be able to use the Superman launch technique to create forward momentum. Instead, take several strokes while positioned upright on your knees to create the speed and balance you need.
Moving from laying prone on your paddle board in the Superman position to standing and paddling can often be the most challenging part of the sport for many beginners. However, with the proper technique, it becomes easy.
You’re up on the board and you’ve taken a few strokes. Your feet are getting sore because your toes are clenched trying to grab the SUP for balance. How do other people make it look so easy? Here’s How:
Even on your first day of paddle boarding, you will take dozens if not hundreds of strokes. As you become more proficient in the sport, you may take thousands of strokes in a day. As a result, it’s important to learn a few proper techniques in the beginning. These ideas will set you down the right path for your stroke development.
These five tips will certainly get you going and will provide some good fundamentals on how to stand up paddle board. However, there are several things left out in this article due to space. Topics such as water safety, turning, stopping have not been covered. If you’ve had success with the techniques in this article and want to do more, I suggest that you take a lesson with a qualified paddle board instructor.
Are inflatable paddle boards any good for beginners? As a hard board brand, our gut reaction is to say that inflatable paddle boards are terrible. However, that would be dishonest. A better answer would be “it depends”.
Like every product, inflatable paddle boards can be of poor or high quality. Inflatable boards have a wide price range. You can purchase an inflatable for as little as $250 or as much as $2500. The boards at the lower end of the price spectrum should be avoided.
STIFFNESS IS IMPORTANT
When inflatable paddle boards are designed, a key objective of the builder is to make the inflatable as stiff and rigid as a hard board.
A paddle board’s rigidity is its key to success. A hard, rigid board glides through the water with ease, and is easy to paddle. For beginners, stability is more important than glide, and rigid paddle boards offer better stability than a soft paddle board.
As a beginner, you should look for a paddle board that is very rigid and stiff. You will be able to stand easier, and you will be able to move forward and gain speed more efficiently.
DO INFLATABLES PROVIDE GOOD RIGIDITY?
All inflatables try to be as rigid as a hard board like a Wappa. Unfortunately, unless you are spending more than $1500, it’s unlikely that you will experience stiffness similar to a hard board. Cheaper inflatables are less expensive because they don’t have the same number of channels and baffles that give the board the stiffness it needs to be beneficial for a beginner paddler.
Inexpensive inflatables can lead to a frustrating afternoon on the water. Without stiffness, the board may start to bend a little under the paddler. This creates board instability and all but eliminates glide. A beginner on such a board, can quickly become frustrated. Balance is difficult to obtain, and the paddling experience is suboptimal.
If you are learning to paddle board, try to learn on a hard paddle board. Hard paddle boards have the rigidity required for excellent beginner stability, and they glide easier through the water. Better stability and better glide equate to a better experience, and more fun on the water.
So, to answer the original question, “Are inflatable paddle boards any good for beginners?” Yes, they can be. Just make sure you spend the money and get the stiffest inflatable available. If you cheapen out and get an inexpensive brand, you’ll likely experience much more frustration than you would on a better-quality inflatable or hard board. If you can’t afford the best inflatables, it’s best to stay away, and purchase a hard paddle board instead. It’s just a better experience.
“What size paddle board do I need for my height?” That is a question that should never be asked when shopping for a paddle board. A better question would be “what size paddle board do I need for my weight and experience level?”
Stand up paddle boards should never be sold based on a person’s height. Your height is irrelevant to paddle board performance. Your weight is what matters.
While paddle boards vary in shape, width, length and thickness, the most important measurement when purchasing your first paddle board is volume. A paddle board’s volume which is measured in liters is the best variable in determining what size board is best for you. A board’s volume tells you how much water the board displaces when it’s placed in the water. The higher the volume, the more weight a board can handle before performance diminishes.
Below are some examples of different Wappa paddle boards, their volume, and maximum weight the boards can handle.
As a general rule, the larger a paddle board’s volume, the more stability it will be. A common mistake many first-time buyers make is purchasing a larger board than they need because they want something that’s very stable. While getting a larger board then you need will be very stable, you may quickly become frustrated with your new toy as you gain experience. After a few sessions, your balance will improve and by the end of your first summer paddling, you will feel very comfortable on your board.
Now that you’re comfortable and have good balance, the extra stability a large board initially provides can start to feel like an anchor. With every paddle stroke you make, you will be pushing now needless volume through the water. The big, stable board you initially loved may start feeling like an aircraft carrier as you paddle longer distances, or try to take some waves.
The key to selecting the right paddle board is getting one with the proper volume to give you the stability that is needed at the beginning without it being too big that your skills advance past it in a few months. A good measuring stick for a first-time buyer is to compare your weight to the board’s volume. If you weigh 25 lbs. less than the boards volume, you will not be getting a board that is too big for you. In fact, you will be pretty much in its sweet spot.
If your weight is close to the volume of the board, it will be nice and stable. If your weight is over the volume of the board, but below the maximum weight, it will still be a great board for the long term, but it will be a little less stable for you as a beginner.
As the above chart illustrates, longer paddle boards have more volume and can carry more weight. That doesn’t mean that if you’re 250 lbs. you should be getting a Wappa Scout just because you “fit it”. That board is big and long because it’s deigned to easily cut through water. It’s also 2”- 4” narrower than the other Wappa boards. When shopping, you will need to pay attention to the board’s function as well.
As you shop for stand-up paddle boards, don’t use your height as a measuring stick. Instead, use your weight. Select a SUP that will put you in the “body weight/board volume” sweet spot. Once you do that, you’ll be on the right track to selecting the properly sized paddle board.
What kind of paddle board do I need? Now that is a loaded question. Answers will vary depending on the questioner’s paddling skill level, the paddling environment and whether or not you are buying or renting. For purposes of this article, the assumption will be that the questioner is a first-time buyer.
Several different styles of paddle boards are available in the marketplace. Most styles are designed to perform a specific function. There are touring paddle boards which are long and narrow. They are designed to cut easily through water and to be paddled for several miles. Wave style paddle boards were created to maximize the surf experience. Race paddle boards, even more narrow than touring boards are designed for racing.
If you’re a first-time buyer and you’re asking the question “What kind of paddle board do I need?”, the answer is an All-Around style paddle board.
Stable and maneuverable, All Around paddle board shapes are a great first board. All Around boards are designed to be versatile. They function well in most water conditions including small waves.
You will use an All-Around paddle board for years. Even as your skills progress and you purchase more specialized boards, you will still paddle your All Around. Plus, it’s the perfect board for family or friends. When people close to you want to try the sport, they will be able to use your stable All Around, while you use one of your specialized boards.
INFLATABLE OR HARD BOARD
Now that you know what style of paddle board you need; they next decision is determining if you need an inflatable or rigid paddle board. As long as you don’t live in a high-rise or have limited storage capability, you’ll want to get a hard board.
Without going into details, hard paddle boards are simply better than inflatables. Their rigidity makes it easier for the board to glide, and rigid boards also enable more power transfer from the body through the stroke. If you would like to learn more about the difference between hard and inflatable paddle boards, check out this article.
If you have to take an elevator to get to your apartment or condo, or if you don’t have a vehicle, then you should be getting an inflatable paddle board. It will just make your paddling life easier.
To sum everything up, a first-time buyer needs to purchase an All-Around style of paddle board. Whether you get an inflatable or rigid paddle board is up to you. If you have the storage space and ability to transport a hard board, get it.
Are cheap paddle boards any good? No, cheap paddle boards are not any good.
QUALITY ISN’T CHEAP
Simply put, a quality product can’t be built cheaply. A product’s retail price is based upon all the costs involved into getting it to the consumer. Everything from research and development, to manufacturing, marketing, distribution and profit are included in any product’s MSRP. Often, the largest aspect that affects MSRP is the manufacturing cost.
Considering that the cheapest paddle boards sell for approximately $300, how good were the materials and craftsmanship that went into that board? As a manufacturer, I know that to make a profit at that sales price, not much money was spent on building a quality product.
BETTER QUALITY MATERIALS COST MORE
The simple fact is more expensive brands charge more because they have spent more to produce their products.
Components such as cores and epoxies for hard boards or stitching levels and number of baffles for inflatables will affect a paddle board’s cost. As will the technology that is involved in making the board. Cheaper paddle boards don’t use the superior sandwich technology or vacuum bagging. While the cheaper boards may look similar, they will not be as strong or as light as the more expensive board made with advanced technology.
Wappa could reduce it’s manufacturing costs by almost 50% if we followed some of the manufacturing practices and used the same materials to build our boards that cheaper brands use. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t be able to maintain 100% customer satisfaction and have our owners repeatedly tell us how great their board looks, and how much they love it.
YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
While the previous paragraph sounds like a marketing spiel, it isn’t. At Wappa, we’ve realized, that you get what you pay for. We’ve tried the cheaper materials and production methods. They just don’t look as good or perform as well over time. After building cheap prototypes, and letting our testers use them day in and out for two years, it was clear that over time, the cheaper boards didn’t perform as well as the better quality Wappas.
At the end of the day, any paddle board is better than no paddle board. If all you can afford is a cheap paddle board, do it! However, if you can save a little longer spend the money and get a quality board. It will be worth the wait.
Is paddle boarding dangerous? The short answer is NO, paddle boarding is not dangerous. However, being a watersport, some safety precautions should be taken to prevent trouble on the water.
Before we get into the precautions people should take to keep paddle boarding safe, let’s examine why stand up paddle boarding is not dangerous.
PADDLE BOARDS FLOAT
Unlike surf boards which needs the water’s power to create lift, a paddle board will fully support a rider’s weight while simply floating on the water. You can lay on the board above the waterline for a long time if you become tired or fatigued.
PADDLE BOARDS ARE BIG
The typical paddle board is at least ten 10’6” long and 32” wide. For the vast majority of people, they can lay or sit on the board without touching the water. Unlike smaller surf boards, paddle boards are so large that they will not get mistaken as seals by sharks and it’s unlikely a shark will take a chomp out of a SUP and its rider in error.
Any paddle board brand of reasonable quality will have a leash attachment installed at the back of the board. Attach yourself to the board by the leash, and no matter the water conditions, you will always be next to your board and the safety it brings.
PADDLE BOARDING BEST PRACTICES
As a paddle boarder with more than 15 years experience, I am very comfortable on the water. However, I know that not all people feel the same as me. So, I will tell you what I’ve told hundreds of paddle boarding students that I have taught over the years. Respect the water, follow these best practices and you will be fine.
Coming from Mexico, I’ve paddle in many different environments. I have paddled just off shore like a typical tourist. I paddle surf, and I also paddle board on the open ocean. Many times, I’ve left the beach in front of tourists only to return three hours later to hear from the tourists that they thought I was dead after I disappeared over the horizon. Nope. I wasn’t dead. Rather, I was enjoying the peace and quiet of the open ocean. Nothing but me, the dolphins and sea turtles. I have never felt in danger paddle boarding. Just respect the water and have fun!
How much does a SUP board cost? The short answer is, it varies. Generally, paddle boards range in price from $250 - $5000. This answer won’t help you to make a purchase decision. So, lets dive a little deeper and understand why there is such a variation in costs.
Like almost all products with large price variations, you get what you pay for. More expensive paddle boards are constructed better, and use superior materials and manufacturing technology. All of these things cost money which directly affects the sales price.
Materials are the biggest factor that determines a paddle board’s cost. This is why inflatable boards are much less expensive then rigid paddle boards. Inflatables are built mainly from polypropylene and are filled with air. Rigid paddle boards are built from more expensive materials.
Because most inflatables are built with the same basic material, I will focus on rigid boards in this section. Rigid boards can vary greatly in price depending on materials used.
As a general rule, the lighter a rigid board is, the more expensive it will be. Paddle boards made from carbon fiber are extremely light and extremely expensive. Plastic shelled boards are a lot cheaper, but they may weigh up to 300% more than a carbon fiber board of the same size.
Composite boards made from several different materials will vary in price depending on the quality of materials used and manufacturing technology.
The technology used to manufacture a paddle board also contributes a large portion to a SUP board’s cost.
Inflatable paddle board costs vary depending on how the board is built. More expensive inflatables will have more air channels, and internal structures to help increase stiffness. The amount and type of stitching will also affect how much a SUP board costs.
Technology also plays a large role in the cost of rigid paddle boards. More expensive quality paddle boards will use sandwich construction and vacuum bagging techniques to make their boards stronger and lighter. Fin boxes and SUP handles may have high density inserts placed into the core. When you look at a paddle board at the store or online, you can’t tell that these technologies have been used. Visually, cheaper boards might look just as good. However, in the long run, they won’t perform as well.
Another aspect that is often overlooked when learning how much a SUP board coasts is the level of craftsmanship that went into its construction.
Inflatable paddle boards are simply sewn together like a piece of clothing. It doesn’t take long to build an inflatable, which helps explain the lower prices.
Hard boards on the other hand take much more time to make. For example, a Wappa paddle board takes 29-34 days to produce from start to finish. After our cores are machine shaped, our shapers fine tune every core by hand to seek perfection. After that, we start hand building every layer.
Not all rigid paddle boards take as long as a Wappa to manufacture. Depending on the type of technology and materials used, some boards may take as little as 3-7 days for manufacture. Simply put, the less craftmanship in a paddle board, the cheaper it is.
Another factor that affects the cost of a SUP board is the type of board you’re buying.
You will always be able to purchase an inflatable paddle board for less money than a rigid one. An unbranded inflatable can be purchased for as little as $250. However, there are a few inflatable brands that sell for as much as $1800 which is comparable in price to quality hard boards.
Board type affects a SUP boards cost another way; by size. Touring boards are often 12’-14’ long. This is 20-40% longer than the average All Around type of paddle board. Increased size means increased production cost. Increased production costs mean a greater retail sales price.
While you’re trying to figure out how much a SUP board costs, remember that you get what you pay for. Don’t expect a $250 inflatable to perform as well as a $1500 inflatable, and don’t expect it to perform anywhere close to a rigid board. Whether you get an inflatable or a rigid SUP, you need to spend some money. Quality inflatable paddle boards are available starting at $1000. Quality rigid paddle boards start at around $1200. You don’t buy a cheap car and expect it to perform like a Ferrari. Don’t expect different from your paddle board.
“What size of paddle board do I need?” This is a standard first-time buyer question.
Answering these questions will help find your answer.
HOW MUCH DO I WEIGH?
This is the first question to ask. Once a person’s weight is known some board sizes can be easily selected.
Board sizes are measured in two ways. First, there are physical dimensions that include height, width and thickness. An example of this would be 10’6” x 32” x4.5”. The second measurement is by the boards volume or displacement which is measured in Liters (L). An example of this would be 190L. While a board’s dimensions will give you an idea of proper size, its displacement actually provides more information.
The greater the volume/displacement a paddle board has, the more weight it can carry without sinking. In regards to stability versus volume for beginner paddlers, a ratio of 1L Displacement/1lb of rider weight (D/W) is a good guideline.
Using this ratio, a novice paddler considering a 190L paddle board can weigh as much as 190 lbs and still feel very stable on the board.
Experienced riders will be able to enjoy a smaller D/W ratio.
Don’t get a board that has a D/W ratio of 2/1 or greater. While the board will be very stable, you will soon have too much board, and will be pushing needless mass through the water.
WHAT IS MY EXPERIENCE LEVEL?
As paddle boarders gain experience, their ability to maintain balance and handle adverse water conditions improves. An experienced paddler can maintain balance and control on a smaller board more easily then a less experienced paddler.
WHAT IS MY EXPERIENCE LEVEL?
As paddle boarders gain experience, their ability to maintain balance and handle adverse water conditions improves. An experienced paddler can maintain balance and control on a smaller board more easily then a less experienced paddler.
ANY OTHER USERS?
Will there be other members of the family using the paddle board? Apply the previous two questions to the other riders and take that into your consideration.
WHAT ARE MY GOALS/PLAN?
Paddle boards come in different sizes and shapes because they are designed to do different things. Part of picking the right size paddle board is knowing what you want to do with it.
You shouldn’t buy a 14’ long 300L racing board just because you’re 250 lbs and it fits your Displacement/Rider Weight ratio. Buy this board if you want to take up racing or going on long paddles.
For most people, an All-Around style paddle board is the ideal shape for your first paddle board. This style is good at just about everything, but it isn’t a specialist at any one function. The 1/1 ratio works very well with All-Around styles.
Picking the correct paddle board shouldn’t be based on data from a chart or table. You’re going to have this piece of equipment for years, so more consideration should be taken. To properly determine the size of paddle board you need, ask yourself the four questions, and pay attention to your weight and the board’s displacement/volume. Consider your experience level and use a baseline displacement/rider weight ratio of roughly 1/1. Match the paddle board’s style to meet your goals and you will have a selection that you’ll be happy with for many years.
As a paddle board manufacturer, I love it when people ask “What is the best paddle board for beginners?” It tells me that the person is being smart and making an informed purchase decision.
Like any activity, having the proper equipment helps the participant learn faster, perform better and have more fun. Stand up paddle boarding is no different.
The best paddle board for a beginner is a rigid/hard board with an All Around shape. Let me explain why.
ALL AROUND STYLE
There are several different styles of paddle boards available in the marketplace. Some, like surf style boards look wicked and are eye catching in the store. Others are long, narrow and sleek looking like they will slice through water. While these paddle boards perform as awesome as they look, these styles aren’t the board for you as a beginner.
Beginners need an All Around shaped paddle board because this style of board is good at just about everything, but not great at any one thing. This style tends to be very stable which is what beginners need. To help with stability, look for boards that are at least 32” wide. The wider the board, the more stable it tends to be.
Because All Around boards are good at most things, you will get several years of use out of it before feeling the need to purchase something more specialized. As you gain experience, you may start to paddle surfing or long paddle sessions. Once you know what you love doing, then you can purchase your second, more specialized SUP.
RIGID IS BETTER
Despite the popularity of inflatable paddle boards, most inflatables are simply inferior to rigid paddle boards. The simple fact is that every inflatable paddle board strives to have the rigidity of a hard paddle board, but almost none come close to matching stiffness.
A rigid SUP offers better stability and balance. When standing on most inflatables, there is a slight bend in the board where the paddler stands making it more difficult to stand and maintain balance.
Rigid paddle boards tend to have better glide through the water. Once you’re up and going, do you really want to make it harder on yourself by using a less efficient SUP?
I have steered away from suggesting any particular brands as being “the best paddle board for beginners”. I will leave that to the various “Best of…” sites that direct readers to Amazon products.
Instead of suggesting any one brand of rigid All Around paddle board, I will simply say that quality boards start at $1000 USD. If you spend more than that, there are many quality brands that will meet a beginner’s needs. Have fun shopping!
The Wappa Blog
Written by Wappa's founder Layne Pennell, the blog's aim is to educate and share his love of stand up paddle boarding with anyone interested in SUP.
board performance explained
SUP for women
want a deal?