As a beginner or intermediate paddle-boarder you will be looking for the best cheap paddle board that you can use on calmer seas, lakes and easy-going rivers.
As a first step we will look at what you will want in a paddle board as a beginner or as a medium-level experienced paddle boarder.
Buying guide for a cheap paddle board
So, what do you need to be aware of when buying the best cheap paddle board for a newbie or medium-experienced rider?
You need a decent volume that will hold your weight, a suitable width for balance, and a good length for your use of the board. Let’s look at these three important factors now.
Volume is measured in length, width and thickness. This dictates the amount of air that is inside and therefore how much buoyancy the paddle board will have.
The greater the volume the more weight the paddle board will hold. If you are a larger person then you will need a higher volume so you can more easily manoeuvre the paddle board.
If you are a lighter person the volume also dictates how much cargo you can carry – perhaps you can bring your child or pet SUPing with you, or even camping and food supplies for a longer adventure.
For longer trips – perhaps a day or more, then a higher volume paddle board will be suitable as you can carry the gear you need for the trip.
If you are just happy getting about the local bay or lake for an afternoon then consider a lower volume paddle board that will still take your full body weight so it won’t be too buoyant and therefore harder to handle as the wind gets up for example.
All newbies fall off! The best way to manage this issue is to have a wider SUP board. These are more forgiving and will take your knee-wobbles or poor stance without flipping and sending you in the drink.
Think about this another way – if you knew someone was about to try to push you over while you were standing on the ground, what stance would you adopt? Feet apart, level with the shoulders and knees slightly bent to maximize your balance.
If your knees were tightly together and legs straight you’d go straight over when they hit you! When SUPing this is exactly the same, only with the water trying to knock you over.
The wider the board the more stable it is in choppy conditions too. If the wind gets up or there are a few waves about then the board will ‘try harder’ to stay upright by virtue of its width.
If you are broad-shouldered (or are just wider than average!) then a wider board may well be suitable for you as you can adopt a better stance and won’t need to reach so far out to reach the water on either side of the paddle board.
The flipside to this is that if you are a smaller person – average to petite – a board that is too wide may leave you over-reaching and compromising your balance to paddle more comfortably.
A longer board will have greater volume and stability. A shorter paddle board will have more manoeuvrability and perhaps less volume than the longer one.
If you want to go SUP-surfing a shorter board will help you carve and turn better. If you want to go on a long day out and don’t want a board that’s too responsive then a longer board will suit.
Beginners will go well with a longer board as it’s more stable, but don’t go nuts over a huge long board as it won’t be responsive enough for you to get used to the skills and techniques of SUPing!
In a nutshell
Let’s now look at some examples of the sort of paddle board you will need for your different uses:
- Beginners will need a longer, wider board with bigger volume for stability and gentle manoeuvring
- SUP yoga users will want a wider, higher volume paddle board for greater stability as you exercise
- Those doing a longer run will want a longer board for less responsiveness and faster, more comfortable trips. Greater volume for carrying your gear too
- Those in rougher water such as rapids or windy conditions will want more volume for stability
- SUP surfers will want a shorter board for better turning and more fun
What is the best paddle board to buy?
Now we’ve given you an idea as to what you might want in a paddle board let’s now show you what we think is the best cheap paddle board for your needs.
**Best Cheap Inflatable Paddle Board**
At 9′ 9″ (just over 2.97 metres) this is the shortest paddle board we look at here.
It is 5″ (12.7cm) thick when fully inflated, giving some nice buoyancy.
At 30″ (76.2cm) wide, this is an average-width SUP board and as such is one for an intermediate SUPer who will be able to enjoy its better manoeuvrability and can paddle the Pathfinder inflatable SUP board in more difficult conditions too.
The paddle board folds away easily and comes with a carrying bag for getting it about.
Once out the included high pressure pump can inflate it to 15 psi for a solid, comfortable fully inflated paddle board.
Even though it is a smaller board it will still carry a load of up to 240lbs (roughly 109kg) so for those looking to carry some gear (or carry a little weight anyway) this will get you where you want to go quite comfortably.
The tracking fin clicks on securely for directional stability. The Pathfinder SUP bundle also comes with bungee straps fixed to the board for you to carry your gear.
Do consider getting a leash (sold separately) so should you go off the board won’t leave you behind!
Longer, wider and thicker than the Pathfinder, the GILI All Around Inflatable SUP package is a comfortable, sturdy platform for you to experience SUPing for the first time – or even as a board for a longer run up the bay or lake with some gear aboard.
The payload of this big boy is good too – carrying up to 280 pounds (127 kg) comfortably that means you can take your lunch or even some overnight gear on board for an evening on a far-off beach.
You could fit a few beers on it too – with some fishing gear you could have a nice little barbie on your trip!
For carrying that load it comes with a six-point bungee system to securely hold it while you paddle off to your favourite spot.
Being long and wide, the GILI will be forgiving for a wobbly-legged newbie to SUPing and that makes for a great platform for someone who firstly wants to see what the sport is about and then to stretch off into whatever discipline that you want to get into, from SUP yoga to just paddling off up the coast to see the sights.
At just over three metres long the Streakboard inflatable SUP board has a good volume and width for stability in all conditions.
With its removable centre fin and two permanent side-bites this paddle board has excellent directional stability too, though is forgiving should you want to make a quick turn.
As an all-rounder you can take the Streakboard onto lakes, rivers and the sea and it will be stable even in lumpier, more fun conditions.
This forgiving nature also makes for a great beginner’s board – though everyone goes in the drink at first, you’ll soon find your feet on this paddle board thanks to its comfortable volume and width.
Thanks to its payload of up to 230 pounds (104 kilos) the paddle board will carry someone who likes their pies, but also a lighter rider who wants to carry a bit of gear with them on a longer run.
It packs away neatly too in the included bag, meaning you can carry to your launching point with ease.
The high-pressure pump allows you to get the SUP board up to pressure in just a few minutes too.
#4 Uenjoy Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
At 10 foot (3.35 metres) the Uenjoy inflatable SUP board is the biggest of the four paddle boards we look at here.
With its 6 inches (15.24 cm) thickness and 30 inches (76.2 cm) width this is a board that has a great volume and that means it is rock-solid stable.
Its stability means that the paddle board is great for SUP yoga or even as a fishing platform. For beginners this is a platform that will help you move from the wobbly-legged stage to having the competence of a pro with just a few days out.
The payload of the Uenjoy SUP board is a whopping 120kg – not the greatest here, but more than enough for the average-weight person to carry their lunch or a few beers for an afternoon away from the crowds!
For added security this paddle board has a three metre leash so even if you go over in a bit of wind it’ll never leave you behind. For the beginner in particular this is a very useful addition to the package as losing your board when you’re a few hundred metres out on a windy day is not fun at all!
So what is the best cheap paddle board here?
As we said in the buying guide, a longer and wider one is good for stability while the shorter, narrower paddle board is more suitable for more advanced riders.
Ultimately in looking for the best cheap paddle board, the choice is yours!