If you’re brand new to paddleboarding, looking for a secondary board so that a friend can come out with you, or wanting to not open up your wallet for a more expensive board, you’ll probably be looking for an entry-level affordable SUP. Entry-level paddleboards tend to be less expensive than premium paddleboards, and are typically made with less expensive materials or tend to not have as many features as more expensive paddleboards. However, not all entry-level paddleboards are the same, and looking at the price alone won’t tell you whether you’re truly finding a board that offers a great value or something that might break after just a couple months.
So, we here at SUPBoardGuide.com are here to help you figure out which cheaper, inexpensive paddleboards are among the best on the market! Instead of just going by looks, specs, or price alone like many other websites, we take the time to individually test the performance of the SUPs we recommend. For us, while price is important, we also evaluate cheaper, entry-level SUPs based upon stability, maneuverability, tracking, construction, features, and other major performance factors and add-ons. In order to make the most of your money, you have to consider more than just the price tag, including how long the board will last and how long it will take before you outgrow as you become an advanced paddleboarder.
Below you will find our top 2020 Cheap/entry-level paddleboards! There’s a lot more to paddling than just the equipment you use though, so we also provide tips and feedback that will help you make the best out of any paddleboard you use. Furthermore, we also have a buyer’s guide that will help you better understand our SUP rankings, and will also help you make a better, more informed decision if you find another board on sale. With that in mind, we hope that our guide is helpful to you, and invite you to leave any questions or feedback you may have at the end of our article.
So welcome to our 2020 Best Cheap SUPs Guide!
What Makes A Great Cheap/Entry-Level Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP)?
When it comes down to it, a great entry-level paddleboard is going to be one that has similar performance features to a premium paddleboard, though with some sacrifices to reduce the price. Instead of a fiberglass or carbon blend paddle being included, you might be stuck with an aluminum paddle instead. Whereas expensive SUPs might have US fin boxes that let you fine tune your board performance, a snap-lock or permanent fin system might be used instead. The backpack and paddleboard probably won’t be as resilient, or the deckpad and accessory mounts might not be as accommodating as a premium paddleboard. Finding a trade off between things you can do without in a SUP in order to have a more affordable board with things you must have to enjoy yourself is an important balance. As such, the truly perfect, cheap, entry-level paddleboard is going to depend greatly on what you personally must have when it comes to a SUP.
When it comes to a cheap, entry-level paddleboard, we also recommend starting off with an inflatable. The biggest reason is that unless it’s used, out of date, or is very poorly made, there is no such thing as an inexpensive epoxy hard SUP. Most of the beginner, entry-level epoxy SUPs we would feel comfortable recommending are in the $900+ range, which is often a third more than what you have to pay for an entry-level inflatable SUP.
Most paddlers looking for a cheap paddleboard are purchasing it because they are new to the sport or are looking for a secondary SUP. As such, here are a few other reasons why we suggest going with an entry-level inflatable SUP over an epoxy one.
Reasons to consider a inflatable, entry-level SUP over an :
- Inflatable paddleboards have much greater weight support and stability than a similarly sized hardboard. This allows you to still get something stable, even if it’s a smaller, more cheaply made paddleboard.
- Inflatables are overall more durable and less prone to breaking than hardboards, with greater warranty protection as well. With free shipping for many board purchases, inflatables ensure you’re not spending as much if something does go wrong.
- Inflatables tend to have softer, more cushy deck pads that not only prevent injury but tend to be less expensive to incorporate than hardboard deckpads.
- Inflatable paddleboards are much easier to transport, ensuring that you don’t have to waste additional money upgrading your car with racks or straps compared to epoxy SUPs.
- Most inflatable paddleboards will have everything you need for the water out of the box. Hardboards typically require you to buy your leash and paddle separately.
For those who do want help in considering some cheaper, entry-level epoxy SUPs, we suggest going over our buying guide in order to make the best, most informed decision before buying a SUP. Otherwise, below you will find our top ranked best cheap/entry-level SUPs for 2020. When evaluating these paddleboards, we rank them based upon a combination of a number of factors, including stability, maneuverability, tracking, construction, key features, accessories, overall value. We’re confident that you will find an awesome paddleboard from this list that will help you get a good taste of the sports and activities that stand up paddleboarding has to offer.
Best Inflatable Affordable SUPS
- 1. Bluefin Cruise 10’8’’
- 2. Nautical 10’6’’/11’6’’
- 3. Gili Air 10’6’’
- 4. Thurso Surf 120
- 5. Newport G3 10’6’’
- 6. iROCKER 10’
- 7. Bay Sports BASIX 10’8’’
1. Bluefin Cruise 10’8’’(Read Full Review)
The 2020 Bluefin Cruise 10’8’’ iSUP is our top affordable board for 2020 simply due to the fact that it is a well built board that provides additional accessories that usually don’t come standard such as a kayak conversion kit. This board is fantastic for those who prefer something a little longer without sacrificing too much maneuverability. The extra couple inches compared to other all-around SUPs on this list provides the 10’8’’ variant of the Bluefin Cruise with an edge in overall tracking. At 32’’ wide and 6’’ thick, the Cruise provides plenty of space to spread out on, and is extremely beginner friendly when it comes to stability to help paddlers learn how to SUP.
There are a number of other features that make this SUP not only a worthwhile experience at $550 dollars, but also a great tool for learning how to SUP on. The crocodile skin textured diamond grooved deck pad is among our favorite on this list, as it balances cushy comfort with traction support to improve overall feet grip. Additionally, there is also a raised heel pad that will help you learn how to properly perform a step-back turn, guiding your foot placement and making it more comfortable to push down with your back foot. There are ten D-rings on the Cruise for accessory customization, and an awesome kayak conversion kit thrown in with the SUP! We also enjoy that Bluefin made sure to incorporate an action mount as well, allowing you to install GoPro cameras, speakers, and other electronic devices safely to make your next SUP adventure and even more exciting one.
The Bluefin Cruise 10’8’’ has an 11,200 m2 Dropstitch construction, which provides it with an excellent rigid build that is far above what we expect in cheap, entry level SUPs. However, while built well, this is among the heaviest SUPs on our list for it, though it does have a recommended total weight capacity of about 330 lbs. The 2020 Cruise 10’8’’ has a tri-fin removable snap-lock fin setup, allowing even inexperienced paddlers to install their fins in seconds. Along with the great kayak conversion kit, this SUP kit also has a four piece/dual blade paddle, a single chamber pump, 10’ leash, and a rugged, multi-compartment backpack.
If you want an all-around inflatable SUP but are also interested in trying out kayaking as well, we suggest considering the 2020 Bluefin Cruise 10’8’’ inflatable paddleboard!
2. Nautical 10’6’’/11’6’’(Read Nautical 10’6″ Full Review)(Read Nautical 11’6″ Full Review)
A brand new SUP lineup released just this year by iROCKER, the 2020 Nautical SUPs are stellar paddleboards well worth considering for those on a budget. The 10’6’’ is a true all-around option and the less expensive of the two, but the 11’6’’ is our personal favorite if you are willing to spend the extra money. Whichever of the two you go with, they are both 32’’ wide, 6’’ thick paddleboards with enough stability to help even those going out for the first time to feel comfortable on the water.
We fell in love with the Nautical SUPs earlier this year due to the impressive list of features included with an entry level SUP. The Nautical paddle boards have a great thirteen D-rings setup for accessory customization, along with a large nose bungee cargo area for other containers. The soft deck pad is definitely cozy to stand on, but also sports real grooves that help the deck pad drain water better besides helping you with feet placement without ever looking down. The three neoprene carry handles make it real easy to lift this lightweight SUP around, besides helping you look good on and off the water. While not a SUP feature, iROCKER also offers zero percent financing up to eighteen months on their paddleboards, making it extremely easy to afford the Nautical paddleboards at less than $30 dollars a month.
The two 2020 Nautical SUPs are both very well made, with impressive dual-layer military grade PVC composite protection, more than able to resist most common drops and dings. The 10’6’’ version weighs 20 lbs and has a beginner recommended weight capacity of 240 lbs. Alternatively, the larger 11’6’’ version of the Nautical weighs 22 lbs and has a recommended beginner weight capacity of 265 lbs. All Nautical SUPs have a snap-lock tri-fin setup, with great looking white fins that stand out from more common black fin setups. Additionally, your paddleboard will also come with a single-chamber pump, 10’ coiled leash, fiberglass paddle, and the simple but effective Nautical SUP bag.
For those who are interested in a truly sturdy, well made SUP kit with above average accessories, definitely consider one of the two 2020 Nautical SUPs by iROCKER!
3. GILI Air 10’6’’(Read Full Review)
The Gili Air 10’6’’ is one of our favorite cheap/entry-level paddleboards for 2020. The 10’6’’ long SUP offers a great balance of beginner friendly tracking along with easy maneuverability. With a 31’’ wide deck and 6’’ thickness, this is a SUP that stays nimble in the water while also offering a solid, firm base so that even larger, heavier adult paddlers can feel comfortable on it. GILI SUPs are known for being lightweight as well, and at just 19 lbs this the 2020 Gili Air 10’6’’ one of the lightest, easiest to carry SUPs on our list.
There are a number of other features that make this sub $500 dollar SUP an even better value. Fifteen D-rings are located on the deck of the board, offering a wide range of accessory and add-on compatibility, including with the GILI kayak conversion kit for the truly adventurous. The center neoprene carry handle is very cushy and makes it extremely easy to lift the board, and you can use the nose handle as a tugging point too once it’s in the water. We love how soft and fuzzy the deck pad is, including how well it matches the design of each of the four unique color options. Best of all, GILI is committed to helping various ocean charities like Save our Turtles, Coral Reef Alliance, Project Aware, Oceana, and other ocean preservation organizations. With the purchase of every AIR, you not only get the awesome turtle logo on the belly of the SUP, but will help GILI in making a $12 to $15 dollar contribution to ocean preservation efforts. Save our oceans and have a blast paddling at the same time!
The GILI Air 10’6’’ is built with a high quality single layer of military grade PVC composite protecting a tight drop-stitch core. We love how lightweight the SUP is at just 19 lbs, the 10’6’’ Air featuring a 275 lbs beginner recommended weight capacity. The Air has a single snap-lock center fin and two permanent molded side fins. Everything you need for the water is included with the GILI Air 10’6’’ kit, including a single-chamber pump, a 34 ounce aluminum paddle, a 10’ coiled leash, and a nifty travel bag that has more than enough space to fit everything in.
If you’re interested in buying a very solid entry-level SUP while also supporting efforts to improve and protect our oceans, definitely consider going with the 2020 GILI Air 10’6’’ SUP!
4. Thurso Surf 120 Waterwalker(Read Full Review)
At $700 dollars, the Thurso Surf 120 Waterwalker barely makes the cut off of being a so-called ‘cheap’ paddleboard. However, for the money you’re paying, you are getting a paddleboard that is of tremendous value. At 10’ long, this is on the shorter end for all-around boards, making it very easy to maneuver with as you navigate the water. The 30’’ wide deck though keeps it lean, helping you paddle faster combined with Thurso Surf’s unique design that focuses on reducing drag. Lastly, the 6’’ thickness combined with the impressive triple/quad PVC coatings provide great weight capacity, with the 260 beginner recommended weight limit easily exceeded with just a couple sessions of practice.
So what other cool features make this a great paddleboard to consider? To start with, it is one of the few SUPs on our cheap/entry-level paddleboard list to have carbon fiber reinforced rails. Carbon fiber rails help a paddleboard feel more rigid like a epoxy SUP, improving overall feel and performance, without significantly increasing the weight of the inflatable paddleboard. The fifteen D-rings is an impressive setup, along with the dual bungee cargo areas for those who want to bring even more gear out with them, and an action mount. The textured EVA foam deck pad offers a good balance between protecting your feet while providing the traction support you need to stay on top of your board. A neat paddle holder system is also located on the Waterwalker 120’s deckpad, giving you a place to put your paddle down without having to take up the middle of your SUP. Lastly, can we highlight how awesome the wood grain design is, which truly helps you stand out when you’re paddling in the water?
While using a so-called ‘dual-layer’ construction, Thurso Surf actually has a thoughtful construction that has triple/quad PVC coatings to protect the deck and seams of the SUP respectively. The 2020 Thurso Surf 120 weighs 25 lbs, one of the heavier SUPs on this list, but has a beginner recommended weight capacity of 260 lbs that we’ve greatly exceeded during testing. The 120 Waterwalker relies on a tri-fin snap-lock setup that are built to last. You will also receive a 33 ounce carbon fiber shaft paddle, a great dual-chamber pump, a 10’ coiled leash, and an impressive roller backpack with your SUP as well.
It is one of the more expensive paddleboards on our list, but you are still getting a fantastic valued package by going with the 2020 Thurso Surf 120 Waterwalker.
5. NIXY Newport G3 10’6’’(Read Full Review)
The NIXY Newport G3 all-around SUP is another paddleboard that is pricier overall, but is not only worth the money spent but is also very light despite its premium contents. At 10’6’’ long, this is the optimal length for a true balance between tracking and maneuverability, with its overall performance well suited for trying out all sorts of SUP activities. This is one of the larger SUPs at 33’’ wide and 6’’’ thick, yet its lower 23 lbs weight keeps it competitive with other SUPs on our list as well. Lake, river, ocean, and other forms of paddling are all fun with the 2020 Newport G3 10’6’’ SUP!
With that higher price, you are getting a number of other great features as well. We love that NIXY made sure to include carbon fiber reinforced rails, providing rigid performance despite its lower weight. Fourteen D-rings and dual bungee cargo areas make it real easy to attach and store stuff on the Newport G3 as well. The stamped logo pattern traction pad improves the overall traction, while also keeping it plush so that it’s softer to sit and fall on. While we normally don’t highlight inflation valves, we love how NIXY put it on the nose so that it’s easier to deflate the SUP. With triple carry handles, you won’t have any problem lugging around the Newport G3 10’6’’ either.
The 2020 NIXY Newport G3 10’6’’ is built with dual-layer fusion tech, helping it have excellent durability while maintaining a lower than expected SUP weight. The Newport G3 features a unique screw-in tri-fin setup, which tightens the fins more than snap-lock fins without having to rely on a screw and plate like US standard fin boxes. Weighing 23 lbs, the Newport G3 has a recommended beginner weight capacity of 350 lbs. Outside of the fins, you will also receive a 33 ounce fiberglass shaft paddle, a dual-chamber pump, a 10’ coiled leash, and a three wheeled roller backpack.
If you are willing to spend a bit more money but want to stick with a lightweight paddleboard, it’s definitely worth checking out the 2020 NIXY Newport G3 10’6’’ SUP!
6. iROCKER 10’(Read Full Review)
One of our favorite all-around SUPs for 2020, the iROCKER 10’ is another fun, versatile, and impressive SUP if you are willing to spend a bit more for your paddleboard. This is one you’ll want to use for years though, with the 10’ long SUP offering great maneuverability and tracking along despite its shorter total length. The paddleboard is complimented by its 32’’ wide deck and 6’’ board thickness, which help it be among the most stable paddleboards on our list. With a 370 lbs beginner recommended weight capacity, this is truly a paddleboard worth considering if you want to save a bit of money but get something that will help you learn how to paddle quickly.
When it comes to features, the iROCKER 10’ is among the most feature heavy SUPs on our best 2020 list as well. There are an overwhelming seventen D-rings which you can attach accessories like dry bags and other cases to, or you can fit your stuff beneath one of the two bungee cargo areas. Four action mounts are also thrown in for GoPro cameras, speakers, cell phone mounts, and other popular electronic devices you want to bring with you out on the water. The logo stamped deck pad feels great to stand on, while also helping you maintain a great grip as the SUP gets wet or when you hit a bit of chop. There are also three great color options to choose from, letting you stand out from your friends even if you all buy the same SUP!
iROCKER offers such great stability and weight capacity with their triple-layered PVC composite build, making this one of the most resilient paddleboards on our list. Even with the well crafted shell though, the iROCKER 10’ weighs just 24 lbs, and those who practice with it will definitely be able to exceed the 370 lbs recommended weight capacity. iROCKER has chosen to use snap-lock fins in this year’s model, keeping it simple while improving SUP performance. Outside of the fins, you will also have an excellent carbon blend paddle, dual-chamber pump, 10’ coiled leash, and very comfortable, adjustable travel backpack as well.
Backed by one of our favorite paddleboard manufacturers on the market, the 2020 iROCKER 10’ all-around SUP is definitely worth keeping an eye on if you want a SUP that will last you for years!
7. Bay Sports BASIX 10’8’’(Read Full Review)
For those who truly need a stable, wide platform without having to spend more than $500 dollars, there is the Bay Sports Seek BASIX SUP. This paddleboard is 10’8’’ long, but is the largest SUP on our list with a 34’’ wide deck and 6’’ thick build. The beginner recommended weight capacity for the BASIX 10’8’’ is 400 lbs, making it a great SUP not just for solo paddlers but those wanting to go out with their kids, pet, or another adult as well. So, if stability is your number one priority in a paddleboard, the BASIX 10’8’’ is the paddleboard for you.
In terms of overall features, the BASIX is a bit more basic, if you can pardon the pun. Still, there are definitely great things about the SUP, including the ultra-grippy diamond grooved textured paddleboard. This paddleboard is a bit cleaner as well, for those who don’t care too much about accessories, with just a single cargo area and five D-rings across the whole SUP. There are two carry handles, but given how light the SUP only the youngest paddlers out there will need help carrying it. Finally, we quite enjoy the rigidity enhancements that come with the triple taped reinforced rails, though it’s not quite as great of an improvement as carbon fiber rails.
Bay Sports has incorporated their stellar Fusion-Tec design into the BASIX 10’8’’, making it among the lighter boards on our list while providing durability comparable to other dual-layer SUPs. The BASIX weighs 20 lbs, yet manages to stably support a 400 lbs recommended paddler weight capacity. The fin setup consists of two permanent side fins, along with a US standard center fin box and a FCS II Connect fin, which is one of our favorite fins on the market. Additionally, the BASIX also comes with a 30 ounce fiberglass paddle shaft, single chamber pump, 10’ coiled leash, and the roomy, multi-pouch Bay Sports backpack.
For those who are on a budget and want some great accessories with an ultra-stable SUP, check out the 2020 Bay Sports BASIX 10’8’’ SUP!
These are our top seven favorite cheap entry-level SUPs for 2020. However, we also want to share our thoughts on a few other popular paddleboards as well. For us personally, we believe that the above seven SUPs are better than the inflatable paddleboards we are about to list above. However, these SUPs have either been on our top list in times past or are some of the most popular paddleboards on the market, so they are good boards to keep in mind if you get a special deal on them. You may even see these paddleboards on our top 2020 cheap SUP list again with certain improvements or price cuts in the future!
Other Cheap SUPs to Consider:
The Peak Expedition is a longer SUP, making it a good but somewhat pricey all-around board given its overall performance and construction. This is a 11’ long SUP, with a 32’’ wide deck and 6’’ overall board thickness, being largely stable and a good beginner friendly SUP option. We would recommend this SUP when it goes on sale, but at its current price of $700 dollars it’s hard to justify spending so much given you’ll get more for less with other paddleboards.
There are a few features that do make it worth considering there. There are eleven D-rings on the 2020 Peak Expedition, spaced out rather well for accessory compatibility without every tripping you up. The soft textured deck pad is very comfy to sit and stand on, while also drying very quickly as to prevent slipping while pedaling or moving around the paddleboard. There are three carry handles to help lift and transport the SUP, with the center handle having a boxed casing to guard against fraying and water damage. The SUP is also available in two distinct colors, so you do have a couple options when it comes to finding a paddleboard that looks and feels good to paddle.
The Peak Expedition relies on military grade PVC construction, which helps keep the larger SUP very light while still also protecting it against dings and scratches. The 2020 Expedition 11’ weighs a very light 19.5 lbs while having a 275 lbs beginner recommended weight capacity. The expedition uses a tri-fin setup, with a removable center snap-lock fin and two permanent side fins. Also included as part of the SUP kit is a three piece aluminum paddle, a 10’ coiled leash, a single-chamber pump, a waterproof phone case, and a roomy, thick, and well made travel backpack.
If you do need something longer that is still very light and easy to transport, it is worth taking a look at the 2020 Peak Expedition 11’ inflatable SUP.
2. SereneLife Inflatable SUP(Read Full Review)
The SereneLife inflatable SUP is one of the most popular paddleboards on the market, being a best selling SUP at Amazon, Costco, and many other online and brick and mortar retailers. This paddleboard is a shorter all-around, with a 10’ length, 30’’ wide deck, and 6’’ thickness. Available for less than $400 dollars, it is a cheaper option for those interested in paddleboards, though due to its light feature list and lesser performance, we recommend other SUPs.
While having less features than other paddleboards, there are a few noteworthy things to point out about the SereneLife 10’ SUP. There are nine D-rings for accessories, and a nose bungee cargo area if you want to bring a cooler or lunch box along. The deck pad is very well made, with a diamond grooved pattern that offers great traction support. The only other feature to point out though is the single center handle, though you won’t really need extra handles due to how light the board is.
The SereneLife inflatable SUP relies on military grade PVC construction, and will be able to resist most drops, crashes, and other SUP accidents on and off the water. The 10’ paddleboard weighs 19.6 lbs, and has a beginner recommended weight capacity of 275 lbs. The SereneLife iSUP features two permanent side fins, and a single clip-in center fin. Also included with the SereneLife kit is a three piece aluminum paddle, a single chamber pump, a 10’ coiled leash, and a multi-compartment travel backpack.
If money is the most important factor for you and you don’t mind using beginner only gear, the 2020 Serenelife Inflatable 10’ SUP is available now for less than $400 dollars.
3. ROC Inflatable SUP(Read Full Review)
The ROC inflatable SUP is another extremely popular paddleboard, and also among the lightest on our list for those interested in something their kids could also use. This paddleboard is also 10’ long, with a 32’’ wide deck and 6’’ overall thickness, but thanks to its overall build actually supports a bit more weight than other entry level SUPs. In the past, the ROC inflatable SUP has been available for $400 dollars, but at its current price of $600 is much harder to recommend due to the low average quality of both the board and accessories.
If you are still interested in the ROC Inflatable 10’ SUP, there are a number of features that you should be aware of. The deck pad is built with grip and traction support in mind, having a diamond groove pattern for a soft but firm deck feel. There are just seven D-rings and a single bungee cargo area, which is ideal for those who don’t want add-on support and prefer a clean board. That also extends to the single carry handle in the center of the deck, the lack of other handles keeping the price lower while also further keeping the deck litter free.
ROC relies on military grade PVC constructed with DuraWeld technology for a tougher, more resilient, and stable SUP despite its extremely low SUP weight. Weighing just 17.5 lbs but having a recommended weight capacity of 300 lbs, the board does have what it takes to support most adult paddlers despite how light it is. The paddleboard includes a clip-in center fin and permanent side fins for its tri-fin setup. With this board, you will also receive a 10’ coiled leash, a three-piece aluminum paddle, a single-chamber pump, and a bulky travel backpack.
If you want a very light SUP, especially one your younger kids would feel more comfortable paddling, the 2020 ROC 10’ inflatable SUP is another paddleboard option to consider.
Lastly, we have a few more paddleboard options that we have reviewed in the past, but would not make our top ten list for cheap paddle boards in 2020. If you would like to know more about these SUPs, we welcome you to click on our links below to read our full reviews on these cheap, entry-level SUPs.
Past Recommended Cheap/Entry-Level SUP Reviews:
Beginner SUP Buying Guide
While our above recommended paddleboards are some of our favorites for 2020, there might be other cheap paddleboards you’ll want to consider as well. Your favorite retailer might have a sale going on, or you have a friend that might be making you a special offer. You might be really into epoxy paddleboards and are hoping to avoid inflatables, or maybe you just want to try something new and unique that we haven’t reviewed yet. No matter the reason, here are the factors that we used when developing our top 2020 SUP list, factors that you should consider as well when looking for a solid, cheap entry-level paddleboard.
- Stability. Stability is going to be among the most important factors to consider when looking at a paddleboard. The more stable you feel on a paddleboard, the less likely you are to fall in, which is important if you are a beginner trying to learn how to SUP. Furthermore, more stable paddleboards typically equates to a more comfortable and satisfying paddling feel, improving your overall paddling experience. Size matters most when it comes to stability, but construction and other key features will impact it as well. We recommend sticking with inflatables for a cheap, entry-level SUP as they provide greater stability even when cheaper materials and thinner designs are used.
- Maneuverability. Maneuverability refers to the overall handling of a SUP, including how easy it is to turn it in the water. Because cheaper, entry-level paddleboards tend to be shorter and not as bulky as premium paddleboards, they already tend to offer superior maneuverability. However, for those interested in learning how to become a more advanced paddleboarder, having a SUP that assists in performing a step-back turn is important as well. We specifically like paddleboards that have any sort of maneuverability enhancements incorporated into their design.
- Tracking. Tracking typically refers to how narrow of a path a SUP can keep in the water, which is measured in part by how often you have to switch which side you paddle on. Longer SUPs tend to have better tracking, so there aren’t many SUPs with great tracking on a cheap/entry-level SUP list. However, a board with less than ideal tracking will help you improve your form more quickly, making shorter SUPs a good option for those new to paddleboarding.
- Construction. While inflatable paddleboards are typically hard to damage in general, some SUPs are more difficult to damage than others. The less expensive a SUP is, the less durable it tends to be, though there are some exceptions to the rule with premium-level SUP protection in an otherwise entry-level board. Better construction doesn’t just make a paddleboard more durable though, but also tends to help it perform better when the wind and waves pick up as well. Saving money, but also buying a well-made paddleboard that will last for years to come, is another important balance to consider.
- Key Features. Is the paddleboard available in multiple colors? What kind of D-ring setup does it have, and does it come with an action mount? Are there one or two bungee cord cargo areas? Does the paddleboard have a rail performance enhancement system? Looking at the key features is another great way to evaluate the overall performance and viability of the SUP you are considering, so don’t just rely on specs alone before making a purchase.
- Accessories. The included fins, paddle, pump, leash, and backpack are just a few ways that some companies will either further cut down on the price of a SUP kit or make it stand out. US standard fins are better than snap-lock fins in terms of performance and overall customization, but cost more. Fiberglass and carbon blend paddles are lighter and superior to aluminum paddles, but cost more. Dual-chamber pumps are quicker than single-chamber pumps, but cost more. So, be sure to keep an eye out on less expensive SUP kits that have a above-average accessory inclusion, as those will save you more money down the road as you won’t have to upgrade your gear.
- Overall value. There is no simple formula for calculating the overall value of your kit, as whether something is worth the price tag is dependent on your needs. What we suggest is starting off with your budget cap, and then prioritizing the various factors that matter to you the most from our list. Do you need a SUP that is very stable, or do you prefer focusing on overall tracking? Is having a bunch of accessory attachment points important to you, or do you just care about the extra gear that comes in a SUP kit? Does the paddleboard come with a finance option, allowing you to pay it off over time? With your budget in mind, we’re sure you’ll be able to make an informed decision based upon the specs and contents of a SUP. However, if you would like additional help, be sure to leave a comment below or send us an email with any questions you may have about a particular SUP you’re looking at.
Why we recommend starting with cheap all-around shaped SUPs.
If you’ve looked at our top recommended list of cheap, entry-level SUPs, you may have noticed we’ve largely recommended only all-around paddle boards. There are several reasons for this, reasons that will help you better understand what kind of SUP you need as you shop around for yourself.
- All-arounds have solid performance in every major factor. All-around SUPs are jack of all trade paddleboards, meaning that they do nearly everything well without excelling in anything. As such, buying an all-around allows you to get solid stability, tracking, maneuverability, and overall performance without having to spend too much money on a dedicated or performance SUP. Having an all-around is especially great for those who are new or inexperienced water sports, as it can help newcomers figure out their favorite paddlers and prepare them to buy a dedicated SUP down the line.
- All-arounds aren’t as difficult or expensive to make as dedicated SUPs. When you start looking at the truly dedicated, performance SUPs, they are made with more peculiar and precise designs in mind. Dedicated paddleboards might not have the same volume as all-arounds, but their longer, more strenuous construction and reliance on advanced parts make them most expensive. If you’re trying to save money, you will have a very hard time trying to buy a cheap touring, racing, yoga, surfing, or other type of dedicated paddleboard.
- All-arounds typically have full gear kits. Due to the precise performance focus of dedicated paddleboards, their kits often include the most expensive accessories required for optimal performance, or no extra gear at all. There are dedicated SUPs out there that cost over $800 dollars that sometimes lack paddles, pumps, leashes, and other major accessories. By going with an all-around SUP, you will almost always receive a kit that has everything you need for the water out of the box, helping you save even more money compared to some paddleboard kits out there.
A note on the performance/functional lifespan of cheap paddle boards.
If you are trying to get the most value out of your paddleboard, buying a premium SUP may in some ways be the better option depending on how interested you are in the sport. While well-made entry-level SUPs, like those on our list, will have a similar functional lifespan as a premium SUP, they won’t have the same overall performance lifespan. Premium paddleboards are typically SUPs that you grow into and can continue to enjoy using at an advanced and even expert level. Entry-level and cheap SUPs, conversely, tend to be more enjoyable for beginners but feel lackluster once an intermediate to advanced level is achieved. However, entry-level boards are cheaper so that, if you do try it for a while and find yourself not having as much fun or going out as often as you intended, a cheaper SUP feels more appropriate than an expensive, premium SUP.
However, something else we would recommend considering are finance options. Many of the major paddleboard manufacturers, including almost every company on our 2020 list, comes with finance options that make even expensive, premium SUPs far more affordable. With plans that typically range in three, nine, twelve, eighteen, and twenty four month options, you can turn a premium $1000 dollar plus SUP into something you’re paying off for as little as $50 dollars a month. As such, if price is your biggest constraint but you want something that offers higher performance, we definitely recommend checking out the finance options offered by the SUP company.
Important Tips for Cheap/Entry-Level SUPs:
When it comes to a cheap/entry-level SUP, there are a few other major factors or tips to consider that will help you make the most out of your paddleboard. Whether you go with one of the SUPs on our list or buy one on your own, consider the following factors:
- Good accessories go a long way. Some paddlers make the mistake of focusing only on their paddleboard, to the point that they will settle for subpar accessories to save money. This can be a mistake, as good accessories can do a lot in turning an average paddleboarding experience into a great one. A lighter paddle will save you energy, besides helping you maintain your balance better out on the water. A good backpack, especially with wheels, will help your gear stay organized and last longer as it protects it against the elements. A dual-chamber pump will often cut down the inflation time between 33% to 50% compared to a single-chamber pump. So, if you are looking to upgrade but want to save money, sometimes just upgrading a few accessories is more important than having to completely replace the paddleboard itself.
- Experience leads to better performance. The more experienced you are, the more you’ll be able to do with a paddleboard. For example, recommended weight capacities are typically listed for beginners, and can be exceeded with the proper skill and familiarity. A board that doesn’t offer good tracking inherently can still maintain a straight and steady course with the proper paddling technique. Whereas a wider, larger SUP might be maneuverable to some, those who can perform a step-back turn properly can make even long touring boards maneuverable. While expert paddlers prefer premium boards due to the performance help they provide, getting practice on a SUP and getting used to the water will help minimize the performance differences between boards.
- Check the weather and know your environment. The biggest difference between cheap, entry-level SUPs and premium paddleboards is going to be how they perform in rougher waters. In still, calm waters like your typical lake, bay, or marina, the performance between a cheap and premium SUP is going to be closer than you might expect. However, when the wind picks up and the water gets choppy, a premium SUP will typically perform much better than a cheap, entry-level SUP. For the most part, we suggest just sticking to calm, flat water if you are going to be relying on an entry-level SUP. Get to know your favorite watering spot and check your local weather report out before going paddling in order to have the best performance and SUPing experience.
- Wear the leash, and bring a PFD too. Nearly every SUP we’ve recommended comes with a leash, and we highly recommend wearing it, especially for entry-level SUPs. Cheap, entry-level SUPs tend to be a bit more squirrely and can float several feet away in seconds in fast moving waters, making them tricky to climb on if you fall off. In order to keep them from floating out of reach, make sure to put on the leash before heading out into the water. Always remember to bring a PFD out when you’re paddling as well! Wearing the leash will keep your SUP close, but it won’t help you float any better if you fall off. In order to stay safe, always bring a PFD with you, even in slow and shallow water.
- Get wet and have fun! Eventually, you’re going to fall off your paddleboard, especially as cheap SUPs tend not to be as stable as larger, premium SUPs. That’s fine; in fact, that’s part of the paddleboarding experience! Remember to have fun when you are going out, and enjoy the times where you make a mistake and fall off, or just decide to cool down by taking a swim. Cheap paddleboards are great as it gives more people the opportunity to enjoy nature and discover the thrills of SUPing, so be sure to make the most of it everytime you go out!
Conclusion: Buy what you can afford, or consider waiting for a sale.
One of the final pieces of advice is that as new models of paddleboards are released, old inventory is often heavily discounted in order to make room for the new variants. If you want a higher performance paddleboard, but are hoping to save money, you could wait and buy last year’s model if any remain in inventory. For this reason, we here at SUPBoardGuide.com make sure to not only write up new reviews as stand up paddleboards are released, but also leave reviews up of previous models in order for you to get a good sense of their performance. Whatever you go with though, remember to stay safe, have fun, and enjoy paddleboarding!
Thank you so much for reading our guide! If you have any lingering questions or would like our advice on a SUP you are looking at purchasing, be sure to leave a comment or send us an email with your thoughts! We try to keep our guides up to date as well, so be sure to check on our guide again as new models come out or if other special deals are available for these paddleboards. We also update our reviews and guides based upon the experiences that paddlers have with the boards we test, so send us an email to help our reviews be even more accurate.
Enjoy the sun, enjoy the water, and enjoy SUPing!