Stand up paddle boarding has exploded in popularity in recent years, becoming the fastest growing watersport in the world. It’s a great way to keep fit, get outdoors, and meet like-minded people. Budget paddle boards are a great option if you are just dipping your toes into the sport, or looking for a secondary board.
However, Finding the best budget stand up paddle board can be confusing, with so many dodgy manufacturers occupying the lower end of the market, often operating under many different brands. It can be hard to filter the good from the bad. Here we recommend our top picks of the best budget stand up paddle boards.
What Is A Budget Stand Up Paddle Board?
For the purposes of this comparison, we consider a budget stand up paddle board to be in the range of $400 – $600.
Yes, you can get a paddle board for less than $400, but as we explain in the article Why Are Paddle Boards So Expensive, cheap SUPs are usually a false economy and are best avoided. All the boards we feature are from reputable manufacturers and not just rebranded generic boards from AliExpress.
Budget paddle boards are a great option if you are new to stand up paddle boarding, and aren’t quite ready to commit to paying for a high-end board. They also make great secondary boards so you can paddle with a friend or family member, or if you just want one for occasional use.
Inflatable Board Or Hard Board?
All of the boards included in this list are inflatable. Hard boards are more expensive to manufacture, ship, and store, making it difficult to produce a good one for under $600.
In recent years inflatable paddle boards have advanced to the point of almost matching hard board in performance, while being much more convenient to store and transport.
At A Glance
For those of you who like to skim read, our top pick for the best budget stand up paddle board is the Bluefin Cruise.
How We Chose The Best Budget Stand Up Paddle Board
Size And Shape Of The Boards
Paddle boards come in an array of shapes and sizes. As a rule of thumb, the more specialised the board, the more it will cost.
All of the boards on our comparison are all-around or all-around-hybrid boards. That means they can be used for various activities, including flatwater paddling, short to medium distance touring, paddle yoga, and even be taken in small surf. It is the versatility of all-around boards that makes them so popular, that popularity allows for cheaper manufacturing costs due to producing at scale.
Some of the boards come in a range of sizes, from 10 – 15 feet. Obviously, selecting a larger board will cost you more as there will be more material used in production. We have chosen to compare the smallest boards in the range, but they are all between 10-11 feet long.
One of the things that make these budget stand up paddle boards such a great deal is that they come as a complete pack. No extra purchases are necessary! Of course, if you want to upgrade and buy a super-light carbon paddle you can but all of these boards come with at least a travel paddle, leash, pump, and a carry bag. The quality of the accessories varies between boards and manufacturers, so this is one of the areas we paid special attention to.
Most of the pumps included as standard are single chamber dual-action pumps. If you don’t fancy spending 10-15 minutes sweating away inflating your board, we have also listed the best electric pump for inflatable paddle boards.
Having a reliable manufacturer warranty is without a doubt one of the main reasons you should choose a budget board from a reputable brand. The warranty’s of these budget paddle boards range from a very respectable 1 year to an unbelievable 5 years! It is important that you check what is and isn’t covered by the warranty, user error and accidental damage is not likely to be accepted.
Our Top Pick – Bluefin Cruise 10’8
- TOUGH AND RIDGID – Inflates up to an impressive 28 PSI (recommended 15-18).
- 5-YEAR WARRANTY – An industry-leading guarantee on defects.
- CONVERTABLE KAYAK SEAT – Use the D-rings and turn your SUP into a kayak in seconds.
- BUILT-IN GOPRO MOUNT – Front situated mount allows you to easily record your paddle sessions.
Even though the Bluefin Cruise is towards the higher end of the budget paddle board bracket, it’s extra features still make it a fantastic deal. As well as the free kayak conversion kit, the Bluefin Cruise comes with a lightweight travel paddle, durable carry backpack, double-action pump, and coiled leash.
Warranty: The 5-year warranty is almost unheard of, even in the higher end premium stand up paddle boards. Bluefin are betting on the quality of their products.
Paddle: The paddle included with the Bluefin Cruise 10’8 is a four-piece, fiberglass shaft, with polyurethane composite blades. To work with the kayak conversion kit, the SUP paddle handle pops off and a second blade is fitted.
Fin Setup: The Bluefin Cruise has a 2 + 1 “Smart Fin” snap-lock system, meaning there are no loose metal parts to get lost. The center fin is 8″ that provides great tracking, and the two side stability fins are 2.5″
Carry Bag: It comes with a durable backpack, fitted with extra-wide padded straps, reinforced zipper, enough space for the SUP and accessories, and is hold baggage friendly.
Pump: The bluefin Cruise comes with a lightweight single chamber dual-action pump.
- A huge 5-year warranty on manufacturer defects.
- Free kayak conversion kit, something you would need to purchase separately even with premium boards.
- Fiberglass paddle included. Most budget options only have an aluminum paddle shaft.
- Can take higher pressure, which makes the board stiffer and more stable.
- It has a rear kickpad for easy sharp back-fin turns.
- Higher price – towards the upper end of the budget bracket.
- At 28 lbs ,the Bluefin Cruise is heavier than most others for its size, which can be a problem for carrying.
Best Price – Nautical by iROCKER
- DUEL-LAYERED MILITARY GRADE MATERIALS – The Nautical is much tougher than other boards at a similar price.
- 1-YEAR WARRANTY – A respectable warranty from a company with great customer service.
- ADJUSTABLE FLIP-LOCK FINS – All 3 fins are configurable for any conditions.
- OUTSTANDING VALUE – One of the lowest price all-around SUPs from a well-respected manufacturer.
The Nautical is iROCKER’s budget friendly range of inflatable paddle boards, available in two sizes, the 10’6 and 11’6. It is without a doubt one of the most affordable full paddle board kits on the market today. However, the Nautical still retains the same workmanship and high-quality materials used in IROCKERs more premium models and comes with all of the expected accessories as standard.
Warranty: The iROCKER Nautical comes with a perfectly respectable 1-year warranty. Although not as long as others included on this list, it is still much better than other less reputable brands in the same price bracket, often only offering 30-60 days. iROCKER is also known for its great customer service on the odd occasion things aren’t up to expectation.
Paddle: The 3 piece adjustable travel paddle has a lightweight fiberglass shaft and polyurethane plastic blade. An optional extra, it can be converted into a kayak paddle with the kayak conversion kit.
Fin Setup: The 2 + 1 removable fin system means you can adjust your configuration and allows the board to be more compact when rolled away.
Carry Bag: The board and kit come with a versatile and comfortable backpack with padded back and waist support. The backpack has more than enough room for everything plus some.
Pump: The Nautical comes with a single chamber dual-action pump.
- Very affordably priced.
- Lightweight adjustable fiberglass paddle included. A great deal at this price point.
- Tough, dual-layer military grade drop stitch material makes this board resistant to most dings and drops.
- Available in two sizes, 10’6 and 11’6. Both sizes are still well within the budget stand up paddle board range.
- 13 D-rings and a large cargo net allow you to haul plenty of gear around when paddling.
- The kayak conversion kit is an optional extra and not included unlike with the Bluefin Cruise, although for its price its not a major complaint.
- Unlike the boards in iROCKER’s more premium range, the Nautical has no built in mounts for cameras or ancillary gear.
The All-Around Hybrid – Peak Expedition 11′
- HYBRID NOSE DESIGN – A pointed nose allows for faster and longer flatwater touring
- LIGHTWEIGHT BOARD – Weighing in at only 19.5 lb.
- 1-YEAR WARRANTY – From a well-established manufacturer.
- STURDY CONSTRUCTION – With a puncture-resistant outer shell.
Peak is a relatively new stand up paddle board brand focusing on budget boards, from the long time manufacturer and retailer ISLE Surf and SUP. The Peak Expedition is at 11′ the longest board on the list, and with a hybrid nose is designed to help cover more distance than an all-around board. It’s list price is towards the top end of the budget price bracket, but check for sales as it may have several hundred dollars of the list price.
Warranty: At 12-months, the warranty is respectable enough, its parent company ISLE has been producing paddle boards since 2004 so should have the quality control sorted by now.
Paddle: The Peak Expedition comes with a 3-piece, floating aluminum travel paddle with nylon blade, matching the color of the board you choose – Coral or Moss.
Fin Setup: It comes with one removable central fin and two smaller fixed thruster fins. The center fin is an easy clip in travel fin and doesn’t require any tools.
Carry Bag: The carry bag is high quality and in a backpack style. It has more than enough room for everything included in the pack, plus some extras.
Pump: A dual-action single chamber pump is included with the Peak Expedition.
- Lightweight construction makes it easy to carry, even for smaller paddlers.
- A slightly longer board is good for paddling longer distances.
- Attractive color schemes will make you stand out.
- A forward and rear deck bungee for carrying more gear.
- The paddle is only aluminum and nylon, cheaper boards on this list have higher-end paddles.
- The two smaller fins are fixed, this makes folding the board more of a hassle.
- At its list price, it is right at the upper end of the budget range, for this you would expect more than a 1-year warranty.
Saving The Oceans – Gili Air 10’6
- OCEAN FRIENDLY – Marine environment charities benefit with every board purchased.
- ULTRALIGHT AND PORTABLE – The board weighs only 19 lbs!
- 2-YEAR MANUFACTURER WARRANTY
- 9″ SNAP-IN FIN – Larger fin allows greater tracking ability.
The Gili Air is the most affordable board in Gili’s range, and comes in at around the middle of our $400-600 price bracket for budget paddle boards. The board has one layer of military strength PVC, which allows it to be ultralight while still withstanding normal bumps and scrapes. Gili have a commitment to support marine charities that they fund with part of each sale, so you can help save the turtles buy buying a board.
Waranty: Gili stand by the Gili Air with an impressive 2-year warranty for manufacturer defects. 2-years is something you would expect from a more expensive premium paddle board.
Paddle: The travel paddle included with the Gili Air is an adjustable 3-piece aluminum shaft with a nylon blade. The paddle also floats, wich is handy.
Fin Setup: The Gili Air has 2 fixed thruster fins and comes with an extra long 9″ snap-in center fin, which helps improve tracking.
Carry Bag: With padded waist and shoulder straps, you can easily carry your Gili board and all the accessories long distances. The carry bag also comes with mesh side pockets which is great for storing wet gear.
Pump: The Gili Air comes with a double action, single chamber pump.
- Being ultralight it is easy for anyone to carry or paddle.
- Part of the cost goes towards saving the oceans.
- A fantastic 2-year warranty, so you can have confidence with your board.
- Only having one layer of PVC makes it light, but makes it slightly less hardwearing than boards with two or three layers.
- Having fixed side fins makes rolling the board up tight more difficult.
A Step Up – Thurso Waterwalker 120
- TOUGH AND HARDWEARING – Featuring double layer military-grade PVC construction, with triple and quad layers on top and sides.
- SUPER STIFF – Thurso uses carbon rails to save weight and make the Wateralker almost as stiff as a hardboard.
- UPGRADED ACCESSORIES – Carbon shaft paddle, double chamber pump, and a roller backpack.
- FIXED GOPRO MOUNT – Nose mount allows you to record your sessions easily.
- FULLY REMOVABLE FINS – All 3 fins are removable allowing you to customize your setup.
At 10′, the Thurso Waterwalker 120 is the shortest and most expensive board on the list, coming in with a list price slightly over the budget category. However, you can see how this extra cost is justified, with significant improvements in the ancillary gear and the additional and premium materials used in the board’s construction. The Thurso Waterwalker does come in larger sizes, the 126 and 132 (10’6 x 31 and 11′ x 32″ respectively), but they are slightly more expensive. If you are looking for an affordable paddle board with premium gear and construction, you may want to consider spending slightly more and opt for this board.
Warranty: The Waterwalker comes with a 2-year warranty on manufacturer defects. This is good, although something that you would expect from a board at this price.
Paddle: The paddle included is a carbon shaft and is super light, weighing only 33 oz / 940g. The blade is nylon but carbon blades are available from Thurso if you wish to upgrade.
Fin Setup: All three fins are removable and use quick lock fittings so you can easily change your setup without any tools.
Carry Bag: A big improvement on the other boards featured on this list. The backpack has roller wheels that make moving the board around a breeze. It is also a more ridged and rugged bag than some of the others.
Pump: Unlike the other lower priced boards, the Thurso Walterwalker has a dual-chamber, triple action pump that inflates 100% faster than single chamber pumps.
- Using double, triple, and quad layered PVC it is super hardwearing, you can be confident that it won’t be easily damaged.
- Carbon rails make the board much stiffer while keeping the weight down.
- Superior accessories with a better pump, paddle, and bag.
- Two deck bungees, one forward and one at the back means you can carry extra gear when paddling.
- Built-in GoPro mount on the nose to record your sessions.
- The 120 is smaller so if you are a larger paddler, you will need to pay more for a larger board.
- It is heavier, at 25 lbs, but this is a result of the extra PVC layers.
What Else Do I Need To Start Paddle Boarding?
Before you go out paddling on your new board, remember that your full kit doesn’t contain absolutely everything needed. In most cases, you will be required by law to have a PFD or life jacket. Depending on the time of year and the temperature you will need to make sure you are wearing the correct clothing.
If you are completely new to stand up paddle boarding, you may want to take some lessons. Whatever you do it is important that you are aware of the potential hazards of the sport.
- Consider paddling with a friend or in a group. It’s fun, but more importantly, it means that you have someone there to watch each other’s backs if something was to go wrong. If you do go paddling by yourself, not a problem, just let someone know where you are going and what time you expect to get back.
- Check the weather forecast before you head out, make sure you know what the wind is doing and if there are any storms expected.
- Only stay in water that you are comfortable paddling in, there is no shame in sticking close to shore. My advice would be to always paddle out into the wind to start, so when you come back it will be behind you and make it easier.
Conclusion: What Is The Best Budget Stand Up Paddle Board?
The best budget stand up paddle board will depend on each individuals circumstances and requirements, and this will differ for each person. However, if you are just starting out in the world of paddle boarding, we strongly recommend that you get an all-around board. The reason being is that they are the jack of all trades and can be used for pretty much all types of paddling.
From yoga to surfing, or flatwater touring, you may find a specialty niche in paddle boarding that you enjoy and want to take further. Buying a budget all-around board as your first one allows you to explore your options, while not blowing your whole budget on a specialty board.
Any of the boards featured on the list are great first time or secondary backup paddle boards. You may find others that suit your needs better, but hopefully this will have been a help in choosing the right one for you.