Thanks to the huge rise in the popularity of stand up paddle boarding, if you’re looking to buy an inflatable paddle board you now face what seems to be an almost endless choice of boards on the market. And what’s more, a huge range of prices.
At first glance the market can seem a bit bewildering. How can the prices vary so much? Surely a 10’6” foot inflatable paddleboard is a 10’6” foot inflatable paddleboard, right? Wrong!
Whilst it can be very tempting to opt for a cheaper board at the lower end of the market, in this piece we’re going to look at exactly why not all inflatable paddle boards are made equal.
So before you opt for that attractively priced (if not attractively looking) paddleboard here are some reasons it’s worth spending the extra on a quality SUP.
The majority of paddle boards at the lower end of the market use either single or double layer “dropstitch”, which refers to how the material that forms the top and bottom skin of the board is connected by threads, giving the board it’s shape and structure. Whilst light and easy to handle, single layer dropstitch construction produces a flimsy board with very little stiffness that is unable to be inflated to higher pressures. Double layer dropstitch is more durable and stiffer but with the disadvantage of being much heavier, harder to roll up when deflated and prone to cosmetic blemishes.
In contrast, a construction such as MSL as developed by Red Paddle Co, combines a super-reinforced dropstitch core with a hard-wearing polymer layer and heat-treated seams that produces a stronger, stiffer board that is up to 2kg lighter. As well as the construction itself, innovations such as the Rocker Stiffening System and Tec Air Process combine to provide unrivalled stiffness and performance, for a truly authentic paddling experience. And it’s also incredibly tough, not many inflatable paddle boards could have a 22 tonne digger drive over them and survive:
No matter how much you’re spending on a paddle board, you want it to last. It’s no good if it starts falling apart after just a season or two. Not only does this not look great, it could also be dangerous – what if the inflatable chamber was to fail when you’re out on the water? Also, once a cheap inflatable paddle board does start to fall apart it generally isn’t just a case of a simple repair job – it either doesn’t make economic sense to do it or it simply isn’t possible if the structure of the board has been compromised. You’re therefore left with no other option than to buy another one – as the saying goes, “buy cheap, buy twice”.
Splashing out on a more expensive inflatable paddle board might seem extravagant, but over time (and assuming you look after it) you’ll find it will maintain its value far better than a cheaper alternative. With their poor quality construction and lower levels of durability, cheap paddleboards will not only devalue at a faster rate but will also be harder to sell, as and when you decide it’s time for an upgrade.
Whilst you might initially buy a paddle board for a bit of fun down the beach or at your local lake, it’s inevitable that you’ll end up wanting to do more with your board. Whether that’s a longer trip, a spot of Yoga, a little bit of racing with friends or maybe trying it out in the waves, you’ll need a board that is up to the task. And sadly, that’s where a lot of cheap alternatives come a cropper. Without the required strength, stiffness and durability many of them just simpler can’t be used for anything other than some basic paddling on flat water. Buying a higher quality board will enable you to “grow into” all the other things paddleboarding has to offer – as and when you’re ready.
If you’re looking to buy a cheap, low quality paddle board, it’s likely you’ll also find that it’s not just the board that falls into this bracket. To keep the price point as low as possible the manufacturer will probably have also opted for the low quality option when it comes to everything else, such as the bag you put it in, the paddle and the pump. And that’s assuming that the board comes with all those things anyway – if it doesn’t, remember you’re going to find yourself forking out for these essential items separately.
As with the boards themselves, items such as a low quality bag or pump won’t withstand the test of time and, sooner or later, you’ll find yourself in need of a replacement. Again, buy cheap, buy twice. Take the bag for example, whether it’s in the garage, being loaded in and out of the car, on a flight or being left on the beach while you paddle, these bags go through a lot and endure all sorts of conditions. If it’s not up to scratch you could soon find it falling apart, not only looking poor but also not fit for purpose. When it comes to the pump, a lot of cheap boards will provide a pump with one single, wide chamber. Whilst easy to use, these do not allow boards to be inflated to high pressure (assuming the board’s construction could take this anyway).
A high quality, dual chamber pump such as the Titan Inflatable SUP Pump is not only made of high quality materials but is also designed to allow you to reach high pressures, cutting the amount of time and effort required in half.
Whilst cheap paddle boards may appear attractive at first, the low quality materials and construction mean that not only is their performance far inferior to their more expensive counterparts but they are also far less durable.
Ever since Red Paddle Co started making inflatable paddle boards in 2008, we’ve focused on using the very best materials and innovative technology to ensure we’ve maintained our position at the forefront of development. We’re passionate about creating an authentic paddling experience for everyone who uses a Red Paddle Co board, and are proud to produce the most popular inflatable paddle boards in the world. But don’t just take our word for it, start your adventure today using the board selector, below.
There’s a Red Paddle Co board and paddle for every rider and every adventure. Select your preferences with the dropdown boxes below to find your perfect inflatable SUP See all our boards >