Why Are Paddle Boards So Expensive?

More and more people are taking up paddle boarding. You have decided that you don’t want to be left out. 

So you start looking around for a good paddle board and you can’t believe the price tags. Why are paddle boards so expensive? It’s not like they are huge or have a complex design. Even some kayaks don’t cost that much.

So why is that? 

Here, we will discuss what makes paddleboards so expensive. I’ll also share with you how you can get quality boards for lower prices. 

How Much Do Paddle Boards Cost: Are They Really Expensive?

There’s no straightforward answer to this question because it depends on the board you are looking at. 

The truth is that you can get a SUP with whatever amount you have. 

Stand up paddle boards cost anywhere from $200 to $3000. The super cheap ones are mainly inflatable paddle boards. 

However, if you pay $200, you can’t expect much from the stand up paddle board. You have to understand that cheap is expensive. 

For a good paddle board, you will need more money. So it is safe to say that good stand up paddle boards are expensive. 

This brings us back to the main question…

Why Are Stand Up Paddle Boards So Expensive?

Here are the reasons.

1. Supply and Demand: The Popularity of the Sport

Stand up paddle boarding has been growing steadily in popularity over the past few years. Everyone seems to be doing it, including a number of A-list celebrities. 

Social platforms are filled with photos and videos of people enjoying the sport.

Add to this the claims about the health benefits of paddle boarding. And they are not empty claims anymore because there are scientific studies to back them up. 

Google searches relating to SUP have been increasing too. This can’t be said for kayaking and other watersports.

How does this affect the price of paddle boards?

Nobody wants to be left out and it seems that everyone is buying a paddle board.

Beginners want SUP boards to get started, avid paddlers want to upgrade, families want multiple SUPs. The demand is high. 

Reliable paddle board brands aren’t that many. People don’t mind paying good money if it means getting a durable product. So why would the manufacturers want to drop prices?

2. Paddle Board Construction, Materials, and Technology

It is easy to think that SUPs are simple and not that hard to make. 

But you would be surprised to learn how much it takes to bring you one quality paddle board. All the involved steps and materials cost money.

So, how are paddle boards made?

a. Inflatable Paddle Boards Construction

All inflatable paddle boards start with a Dropstitch core. These are two sheets, one at the top and another at the bottom, joined together by thousands of small threads. These threads give the paddle board its shape when inflated.

Without them, the inflatable paddle board would bulge like a balloon. The threads are super thin. When you deflate the SUP, the two sheets will collapse together, making it easy to roll up your inflatable board.

Since the Dropstitch fabric is not airtight, a layer of PVC is applied. 

If the process ends there, that is a single-layer construction. Inflatable paddle boards made like this have the advantage of being lightweight. 

However, they are not very rigid. They are prone to flexing and, in some cases, bursting. Cheap inflatable paddle boards usually feature this construction. 

For more rigid boards, reputable manufacturers add an extra layer or two of PVC. The paddleboards may be heavier but they are more rigid and durable.

Some companies like iRocker SUPs use special construction. It allows them to use three layers without making the boards too heavy.

Other than extra PVC layers, high-quality inflatable paddle boards feature reinforced rails. Blackfin SUPs, for instance, have carbon rails. Bluefin boards have heat-welded double side rails. 

As you can see, quality requires more materials and advanced technology. The production cost ends up affecting the price of the board. 

b. Solid Paddle Boards Construction

Solid paddle boards differ a bit in their construction. 

i. Fiberglass Paddle Boards

First, you have fiberglass paddle boards. 

These have an EPS (expanded polystyrene) core wrapped in layers of fiberglass, resin, and wood veneer. These layers add strength, making the SUP rigid and durable. 

Fiberglass paddle boards are lightweight and perform well. 

ii. Plastic Paddle Boards

Next, there are plastic paddleboards. These are either made with a single rotomolded piece of plastic or a foam core with a plastic shell. 

Plastic is easily accessible. Boards made with plastic are, thus, affordable. They are also super durable because they can handle impact well. The downside is that they are heavy and their paddling performance is not impressive.

iii. Wood Paddle Boards

Wood stand up paddle boards usually feature a hollow wooden frame with top layers of epoxy resin and fiberglass to make the SUP waterproof. 

Most wood paddle boards are expensive. They are an unlikely choice for beginners. 

The paddle boards are stylish and most shops allow you to request custom designs. 

These boards have outstanding performance. 

iv. Carbon Fiber Paddle Boards

These boards have a foam core and carbon fiber layers. 

Carbon fiber hard paddle boards are mostly high-end models because the material is expensive. However, they are super lightweight and their paddling performance is exceptional.

The cheapest solid paddleboards are those made of plastic. But you will have to struggle with their weight and they don’t perform that well.

Most people love rigid boards because of performance. So you will have to opt for fiberglass. And if you want unmatched gliding and style, you will have to go for wood or carbon fiber. 

Many carbon fiber boards cost a lot, starting from around $2000. For a racing SUP, you may even pay $3000.

The same goes for wood paddle boards. Racing wooden boards are sold for $1800+. 

Real Quality Always Adds Cost

Looking at the construction methods and materials, you can tell that quality will cost you.

High-performance and well-made solid boards require expensive materials. So you don’t expect the resulting paddleboard to be cheap.

The same goes for blow-up paddleboards. Real quality requires more layers and advanced construction. 

So more often than not, an expensive paddle board is evidence that the company did not cut corners in the manufacturing process. 

3. Design

Other than the construction, there are cosmetic designs.

People love gorgeous boards and they are willing to pay for them. 

For instance, if you want a real wood veneer finish, you should be willing to pay the extra money.

Otherwise, you might have to settle on cheap wood graphic paper. 

4. Size of Paddle Board

Paddleboards are big. Racing SUPs can be as long as 14 feet and all-around ones as wide as 36 inches. 

They require more materials and more work, meaning a higher production cost.

5. Special Purpose SUPs

Paddleboarding is diverse and there are different SUP activities. 

Some paddleboards are designed specifically for these activities and they are more expensive.

Racing paddle boards, for example, are specially engineered to offer remarkable tracking and speed. They are mainly made using carbon fiber, which is really costly. These boards cost anywhere from $1500 to $3000. 

Fishing paddle boards have to be bigger for better stability. In addition to that, they come with accessories and attachment points so you don’t have to do any DIY rigging. These features, again, come at a cost. 

SUP boards designed for fishing may cost anywhere from $1000.

6. Extra Accessories

You may have noticed that paddle boards come with accessories. They include a paddle, bag, pump, leash, and repair kit.

The accessories are not free (although getting a SUP bundle is cheaper than buying everything separately). 

The more expensive boards come with higher quality accessories like carbon-fiber paddles. You won’t have to upgrade. 

7. Marketing and Distribution

On top of the costs we have discussed, add marketing and distribution costs. 

Even the best board has to be marketed to let people know it exists, which translates to more costs. 

Like many other products, SUPs go from manufacturer to wholesaler to retailer. These middlemen have to increase the price to make a profit and cover other costs. So if you buy a paddle board from a local retailer, you will pay more.

5 Reasons Why Cheap Paddle Boards Aren’t Worth the Money

Why buy expensive paddle boards when there are cheap brands that look durable? 

1. Construction and Technology

You can be sure that a paddleboard priced at $300 is not made using multiple quality layers and advanced technology. 

Everyone wants to make a profit. If someone is selling at that price, they used inexpensive materials to cut the production cost.

Cheap inflatable paddle boards are made using single-layer construction. They can’t handle a lot of weight and they don’t last long.

2. No Versatility

Most cheap paddleboards are entry-level SUPs. They are mainly good for leisure paddleboarding on flat water. 

If you ever want to specialize in touring, racing, fishing, or any other SUP activity, you will need a board that can deliver. 

An inexpensive paddle board won’t allow you to grow. 

3. Cheap Accessories

You can’t expect much from the accessories that come with cheap paddleboards. The materials used to make them are not high-quality and they won’t last.

The paddles are usually made using aluminum. They are heavy and not suitable for paddling for many hours.

The bag, leash, and pump will be low-quality too. They cannot stand the test of time.

4. Low Resale Value

A well-made, high-end paddle board has outstanding durability. Even after countless stand up paddle boarding sessions, it will not come apart. If you take care of it, you can easily sell it at a good price and upgrade.

You can’t say the same for a poorly-made paddle board. A cheap hard paddle board will most likely get dents. An inflatable paddle board will probably be flexing too much after many uses. 

You may not even be able to get a buyer.

5. Short Warranty Period

Manufacturers have no problem standing behind their quality products. 

That is why Bluefin SUP Boards don’t mind offering a five-year warranty. Other well-known companies offer a two- or one-year warranty.

You won’t get this benefit with a cheap SUP. If it gets damaged after a few uses, you will be on your own.

How to Get Quality Paddle Boards At Cheaper Prices

We have established that a quality paddle board will cost you. But there are ways around that.

Check them out.

Look for a reputable brand: respected brands like iRocker SUPs usually have cheap entry-level models. The iRocker Nautical inflatable paddle board is a good example. The cheaper models usually cost $500 or less. 

While they don’t have all the fancy features found in their premium boards, you know you can trust the quality. Their customer service is amazing and the boards come with a warranty of one year or longer. 

Buy from the manufacturer: cut out the middleman and deal with the manufacturer directly. Buying from the company is cheaper than getting your paddle board from the local retailer. Most manufacturers have websites where you can order a board online in a few clicks. 

Take advantage of sales: summer is the worst time to buy a paddle board because that is when everyone else is buying. Wait for the crazy sales at the end of the season. 

Be on the lookout for Black Friday sales and other holiday sales. Keep checking manufacturers’ websites.

Buy Well, Buy Once

At the end of the day, you get what you pay for. Trying to save money by buying the cheapest option will cost you in the long run.

Buy a good paddle board and you will not regret it. A well-made SUP is reliable and it may last a lifetime.  

Final Thoughts: Why Are Paddle Boards So Expensive?

Production, marketing, and distribution–all these processes cost money and the involved parties have to make a profit. Paddleboards may look simple but the materials used to manufacture them are expensive.

Paddleboarding is very popular right now and there is a high demand for boards. Other things like fancy cosmetic designs, accessories, and the size of the SUP also add to the cost.