Best Inflatable Paddle Boards Under $400

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Below are our picks for the best inflatable paddle boards under $400. In this list, we choose boards that are under this mark but also roughly in the same ballpark to show you what you can get when you go slightly over this budget range. 

One of the biggest constraints for inflatable paddle boards is the budget. Sure you see all of these review sites pretend that budget is not an actual thing and recommend you a $1000 paddle board. Like money just grows on trees. 

At Inflatable SUP Authority we realize that not everyone has $1000 plus just lying around on the counter. So we decided to make this list to help cut through the nonsense and help you pick a board that can fit your level of Budget. 

Should You Get a $400 and Under Paddle Board?

There are two trains of thought here. So I’m going to be very specific as I want YOU to get a board that fits in line with YOUR paddling goals

You Should Get a $400 and Under Paddle Board If..

  • You just want a board to paddle around recreationally that will hold up
  • You want a paddle board for the family cabin to use every once and a while
  • You are strictly limited to $400 and under budget
  • Paddle Boarding is mostly for fun and not a serious hobby

You Should Spend Over a $400 Paddle Board if..

  • You plan on spending more time learning the ropes of the sport
  • You want to increase your skill set (taking paddling classes, learning new skills)
  • You want to paddle for longer distances and get into light touring or overnight paddling excursions
  • You want a board made of better quality materials that has a good warranty against manufacturing defects

There is no right or wrong answer to this as some people just want to paddle around the local lake a few times during the summer. And that’s awesome! But for those who can potentially see this as a hobby that they can deep dive into I would recommend spending a bit more. 

Click here to see out list of the Best Inflatable SUPs Under $800

The Best Inflatable Paddle Boards Under $400

Below are our picks for the best inflatable paddle boards under $400. You will notice some paddle boards float above the $400 price point. We do this for the paddler who can see this as a potential future passion hobby. 

(Durability Pick)
Atoll 11'

Atoll 11'

  • Dimensions: 11” x 32” x 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 550 Lbs
  • Materials Used: dual layer fusion PVC
  • Best For: Paddler who want to go above budget to get a rock solid SUP. 
(Travel Pick)
BOTE Breeze Aero

BOTE Breeze Aero

  • Dimensions: 10’8” x 33” x 6”
  • Weight: 20 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 250 Lbs
  • Materials Used: Inflatable AeroULTRA Technology
  • Best For: Paddlers who want a lightweight SUP at just above the $400 mark. 
(Premium Pick)
Bluefin Cruise  10'8

Bluefin Cruise 10'8"

  • Dimensions: 10’8” x 32” x 6”
  • Weight: 24 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 330 Lbs
  • Materials Used: Monocoque Structural Laminate
  • Best For: Beginners who have a bigger budget and want a high quality SUP. 
(Best $400 Pick)
iRocker Nautical 10'6

iRocker Nautical 10'6"

  • Dimensions: 10’6" x 32” x 6”
  • Weight: 20 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 240 Lbs
  • Materials Used: Drop-stitch core covered by two layers of PVC material
  • Best For: 80 % of paddlers who want a moderatly prices SUP under $400
(Budget Pick)
Gili Air 11'6

Gili Air 11'6"

  • Dimensions: 11’6” x 32” x 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 295 Lbs
  • Materials Used: Single Layer PVC
  • Best For: Bigger/ taller paddlers on a budget.
(Recreational Pick)
Serenelife Free Flow

Serenelife Free Flow

  • Dimensions: 10’5 X 30” x 6”
  • Weight: 19.6 Lbs
  • Max Capacity: 275 Lbs
  • Materials: Military Grade Single Layer PVC
  • Best For: Paddlers who want a stable budget paddle board. 
(Design Pick)
Aqua Marina Fusion

Aqua Marina Fusion

  • Dimensions: 10’10 x 32” x 6”
  • Weight: 19 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 330 Lbs
  • Materials: Dual Layer PVC
  • Best For: Paddlers who want an entry level SUP at a decent price
(Simplistic Pick)
Tower S- Class

Tower S- Class

  • Dimensions: 10’4” x 32” x 6”
  • Weight: 20 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 275 Lbs
  • Materials: Fusion 6” thick construction
  • Best for: Paddlers who want a clean deck 
(Budget Alternative Pick)
ROC Scout

ROC Scout

  • Dimensions: 10’ X 32” X
  • Weight: 19.95 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 240 Lbs
  • Material: Military-grade PVC and Advanced DuraWeld Technology
  • Best For: Paddlers who want a starter board thats manueverable
(Budget All Around Pick)
Dama Fresh Life

Dama Fresh Life

  • Dimensions: 11’ x 33” x 6”
  • Weight: 22. 5 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 352 Lbs
  • Materials: Military Grade PVC
  • Best For: Beginner paddlers who want to paddle longer distances. 

Many of these more expensive picks have sales on them throughout the year that often bring them below the $400 price point


1. Atoll 11 (Durability Pick) 

me paddling Atoll
  • Dimensions: 11’ x 32” x 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 350 Lbs
  • Materials: Machine Laminated Dual Layer PVC

Total Score 8.2/10 (Average of Below)

  • On-Water Performance: 8.5
    • Stability: 9
    • Tracking: 8
    • Speed: 8
    • Maneuverability: 8
  • SUP Construction: 9
  • Board Features: 8
    • Deck Pad: 8.5
    • D Rings: 9
    • Deck Bungees: 7.5
    • Handles: 7
  • Accessories: 7.5
    • Backpack: 7
    • Paddle: 7
    • Pump: 7
    • Fins: 8
  • Set-Up/ Take Down: 8

While the Atoll 11 does go over the $400 mark we do feel that it is well worth the upgrade for someone who wants a seriously sturdy SUP that can grow with you. This board offers some of the best stability I have ever had from a 32” wide paddle board and has a good maximum weight capacity that can hold a good amount of gear. 

To illustrate this in a real-life situation, my friend had been used to paddling $400 and under inflatable paddle boards (Best Way Hydro-Force). He did yoga so he has good balance but he could never do too much more than stand and balance on it and often lagged behind us because of the boards’ shorter dimensions.

This all changed when he started borrowing my Atoll 11 paddle board. Not only did he mention that there was a noticeable difference in stability but he could easily keep up with us and even do yoga on his paddle board with relative ease in the middle of the lake!

Editors Notes

Aside from my friend testing the Atoll 11 I also found that this SUP has really good on-water metrics. The board glided well in the water as well as had above-average tracking performance and was able to turn fairly easily when doing those pivot turns and reverse sweep strokes. 

The Atoll 11 also will have better accessories as the bag is made of good quality materials while the paddle is made of fiberglass which is more lightweight compared to boards that have the aluminum paddles that come with the boards in the sub $400 category. 

What We Liked

  • One of my favorite boards for stability
  • Very well built and may be worth the upgrade for you despite it being over $400
  • The quality of accessories will be better compared to most sub- $400 paddle boards
  • Has a good 2-year warranty
  • One of the most recommended paddle boards on Reddit

What Could Be Improved

  • Above $400 price range unless on sale or clearance at the end of the year to make way for new boards
  • Pump is nothing to write home about

2. BOTE Breeze 10’8 (Beginner Pick)

  • Dimensions: 10’8” x 33” x 6”
  • Weight: 20 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 250 Lbs
  • Materials: AeroULTRA Technology (double layer PVC heat pressed together)

While the BOTE Breeze is marked up a bit higher compared to the $400 price tag it is well worth the extra $40 or $50. The BOTE Breeze offers good construction and some well-thought-out accessories that will help aid your paddle adventures.

The BOTE Breeze offers 2 sizes for paddlers. The 10’8” and the 11’6” varieties. We recommend the 11’6” for paddlers that are considered to be a bit taller/ larger while the 10’8” will be good for about 70 – 80% of beginner paddlers wanting to grab a hold of their first board.

We recommend the 11’6” for the bigger guys and gals because of the board’s larger volume which can support a higher weight capacity and help those larger framed folks feel more comfortable standing on the board. 

The materials on this board will also be better than most $400 boards because of BOTE’s patented AeroUltra Technology which utilizes heatpressed seams which uses less glue (which is a big reason for ISUP failures). The board utilizes a single layer composite fusion composite which is 2 layers of PVC fused together to make a more rigid surface compared to a single layer which a lot of sub $400 boards are. 

It also utilizes stronger strands of composite drop stitch which also plays a big part in the BOTE Breeze’s rigidity. The more bend the board has the less rigid it will be which will greatly affect the board’s stability. 

The Breeze Aero offers everything you need to get out on that blue sheet of water and even includes a few helpful add-ons. Things like the Magnepod magnetic plate help keep drinks onboard while 4 extra D rings allow you to clip on a kayak conversion seat to help give your legs a break after a long paddle. 

What We Liked

  • Made of good materials 
  • Has onboard accessories such as Magnepod and extra D rings for add-ons found on more expensive boards
  • Has rigid and fairly well thought out construction for its price point
  • The board glides and tracks well for a SUP in its price range

What Could Be Improved

  • I’m not a fan of the BOTE bags but they are better than most sub $400 boards
  • Has a slide-in fin system which could get damaged more easily
  • The paddle is fairly basic that comes with it and is a bit heavier than I would like

3. Bluefin Cruise (Premium Pick)

  • Dimensions: 10’8” x 32” x 6”
  • Weight: 24 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 330 Lbs
  • Materials: Exo Surface Laminate Technology (double layer PVC heat pressed together)

Total Score 8.3 (Averages of Below Scores)

  • On-Water Performance – 8.1
    • Stability: 8
    • Tracking: 8.5
    • Speed: 8
    • Maneuverability: 8 
  • SUP Construction – 9
  • Board Features  – 8
    • Deck Pad: 9
    • D Rings: 7.5
    • Deck Bungees: 7
    • Action Mounts: 8
    • Handles: 8.5
  • Accessories – 8.1
    • Backpack: 8
    • Paddle: 8
    • Pump: 7.5
    • Fins: 9
  • Set-Up/ Take Down – 8

Ok, ok this one may be a bit of a stretch for the over $400 mark but it is a very well-made board that has some of the best materials in the business. On top of that this board has a remarkable 5-year warranty against manufacturing defects that only a handful of the top ISUP companies have

In my testing with the Bluefin Cruise, we found the board to be a great addition for those learning the art of stand-up paddle boarding. More importantly, this is a board that you can grow with if you feel that Stand Up Paddle Boarding will be a new favorite hobby of yours. 

The Bluefin Cruise is one of the boards that we tested the most under a variety of different circumstances. This board has been in waves to calm ocean conditions, and lakes, it’s been paddled with 1 fin and 3 fins, and the board has been impressive through many of them. 

Although I would not recommend a beginner use this board on one of the first goes in wavey conditions. While the Cruise is stable in many calm water conditions I did feel a bit more on edge when encountering waves. 

One of the biggest bonuses with this board is the fact that if you get the Bluefin Cruise package in Royal Blue you will receive a kayak conversion kit with it! These conversion kits usually cost over $100 and can be extremely handy on those longer paddles when you are tired of standing. 

The kit that comes with the Bluefin Cruise is pretty good as well although I have almost lost the crew a few times on the paddle adjuster. The bag has ample pockets and can fit everything that comes in the package pretty easily. My only complaint would be that you need to use the inside straps to secure the board across the back of the bag to avoid the board from falling to the opposite side of your back while carrying it. 

What We Liked

  • The most value-packed package on this list
  • Has a 5-year warranty against manufacturing defects
  • The board’s construction is one of the best in the business
  • A great board for 80% of paddlers
  • Comes with a kayak kit! (Royal Blue Package)

What Could Be Improved

  • The paddle needs more quality control and height notches so you know what length to adjust it to
  • Not the most stable board on the list, especially in wavey conditions
  • Could use more deck bungees

4. iRocker Nautical 10’6” (Best Under $400 Option)

  • Dimensions: 10’6” x 32” x 6”
  • Weight: 20 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 240 Lbs
  • Materials: Dual Layer Military Grade PVC

Total Score 7.7 (Average of Below Scores)

  • On-Water Performance – 7.5
    • Stability 8
    • Tracking 7
    • Speed 7
    • Maneuverability 8
  • SUP Construction – 7.5
  • Board Features  – 7.9
    • Deck Pad 7.5
    • D Rings 8.5
    • Deck Bungees 8.5
    • Action Mounts: 6
    • Handles 9 
  • Accessories – 7.4
    • Backpack 7.5
    • Paddle 8
    • Pump 6
    • Fins 8
  • Set-Up/ Take Down – 8

The iRocker Nautical is the introductory, more affordable line in the iRocker lineup. The Nautical when it’s on sale (which is a lot of the time) scoots under the $400 and price criteria and has many features that its more expensive kin have. 

The Nautical 10’6” features action mounts that you can use to attach extra add-ons such as rod holders, cups (for drinks) and Go Pros/phone holders. This clears up some valuable deck space for you. 

Speaking of deck space, the Nautical has an astonishing 6 rows of bungee deck webbing which can hold a good amount of gear! Ideal for those longer paddler trips where you need to hold dry bags, backpacks, and the like. While it’s not our first choice for an excursion board, its 6 rows of deck bungees are very handy for those who would like to bring more on their on-water adventures. 

Being the introductory line the Nautical does use a dual layer PVC which is one layer less than the thicker iRocker and Blackfin spec boards. However, it will be better manufactured than many ISUPs of its price range that you would find in such places like Amazon which are typically single-layer PVC

The Nautical line also has a 2-year warranty attached to all models from 2021 and onwards. You also get a 45-day return policy with this brand as well. 

Based on my experience with the Nautical they do have more bend on them compared to a few SUPs on this list like the Cruise, and Atoll 11 paddle boards above. 

What We Liked

  • Solid board for its price point
  • Has a good warranty and return policy 
  • Has things like extra D rings and action mounts to add more items to the board
  • The 11’6” is a good pick for taller paddlers on a budget

What Could Be Improved

  • The board has some flex to it compared to higher-priced iRocker models
  • May be too big for smaller paddlers
  • The pump is pretty basic 

5. Gili Air 11’6” (Large Paddler Pick)

  • Dimensions: 11’6” x 32” x 6”
  • Weight: 21 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 295 Lbs
  • Materials: Single Layer PVC 

Total Score: 7.5 (Average of Below Scores)

  • On-Water Performance – 7.6
    • Stability 7.5
    • Tracking  7.5
    • Speed 8
    • Maneuverability 7.5
  • SUP Construction – 7
  • Board Features  – 7.7
    • Deck Pad 8
    • D Rings 8
    • Deck Bungees 8
    • Action Mounts: 7.5
    • Handles 7
  • Accessories – 7
    • Backpack 7.5
    • Paddle 6.5
    • Pump 6.5
    • Fins 7.5
  • Set-Up/ Take Down – 8

The Gili Air 11’6” is very comparable with the iRocker Nautical 11’6”. But the Nautical got the nod over the Air because the Nautical has a dual-layer construction that makes it more of a rigid paddle board. 

I stood on the Air 11’6” and while it does have a lot of cool onboard capabilities, when I bounced on the board I could feel the extra spring which equals less rigidity. Especially when compared to more stiffer boards from the same company like the Komod, and Adventure series. 

Its On-water performance scores were fair and it is a good starter board for those bigger folks that are starting. The primary stability (stability based on the board floating on top of the water) of the board is fairly sufficient. 

In terms of tracking ability and speed the board produced fair results with a 7.5 and an 8 rating respectfully. The board has decent acceleration due to the Air’s lighter weight board construction. 

Much like the Nautical, the Gili Air offers a good accessory package that comes with the board. 

I specifically like the design of the backpack and the amount of smartly placed pockets that come with the bag. The clear labeling is also a good win as it subconsciously tells you to put the fins in the “fin pocket” rather than stuffing it in the main with the potential for them to get lost. 

What We Liked

  • Offered at Amazon level price point
  • Comes with some well-made accessories like a bag
  • A good amount of on-board capabilities included
  • A good amount of surface area for larger paddlers

What Could Be Improved

  • The board is only a single-layer PVC
  • The board is more bouncy than other Gili models tested
  • The board’s tracking could be better for the size of the board

6. SereneLife Free Flow (Recreational Pick)

Serenelife Paddle Board
  • Dimensions: 10’5” x 30” x 6”
  • Weight: 19.6 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 285 Lbs
  • Materials: Single Layer PVC

Total Score: 6.5/10 (Average of Below Scores)

  • On-Water Performance: 7
    • Stability: 8
    • Tracking: 7
    • Speed: 6
    • Maneuverability: 8
  • SUP Construction: 6
  • Board Features: 6
    • Deck Pad: 6
    • D Ring Placements: 6.5
    • Deck Bungees: 7
    • Handle: 5
  • Accessories: 6
    • Backpack: 5
    • Paddle: 6
    • Pump: 6
    • Fins: 6
  • Set-Up/ Take Down: 7

The SereneLife Free Flow is one of the mainstays of the Amazon boards and is one of the more stable models. Infact its stability shocked me when I first tried it as I truly was not expecting much based on first impressions. 

The paddle board’s maneuverability also stood out thanks to its shorter length dimensions. However, this did affect the tracking of the board as it does fishtail more with each paddling stroke compared to other boards on this list that have more prominent side fins. 

We also found this to be one of the slower boards on the list as the Freeflow has a rounded nose which causes wanted to aquaplane rather than cut through. This makes the board less hydrodynamic and limits how far you can go with this board compared to all-around SUPs that have a slightly more pointed nose and sleeker profile. 

The FreeFlow is a great basic board for those who want something stable to do some recreational paddling on. Unfortunately, the Free Flow does not offer much else outside of the stable platform as the board and package is fairly basic. 

I also am not a huge fan of the bag as they have skimped out on the backpack padding. Don’t be surprised when a fin digs into your shoulder blade! I don’t recommend carrying this paddle board for longer distances. 

What We Liked

  • The board’s stability surprised me
  • Comes in lots of different colors and varieties
  • Good maneuverability
  • Good board for smaller paddlers who want to go out for an hour or two

What Could Be Improved

  • Heavier for what the board is
  • The board’s speed is lacking due to its rounded nose
  • The accessories are pretty cheap such as a paddle and backpack
  • The bag has little padding on it

7. Aqua Marina Fusion

  • Dimensions: 10’10 x 32” x 6”
  • Weight: 19 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 330 Lbs
  • Materials: See Below

The Aqua Marine Fusion features a stable base to stand on at the under $400 price point. Making it a good pick for recreational paddlers who don’t want to break the bank for a board that has been in the game for a good amount of years.

When push comes to shove, and I have to choose a budget board I make sure that it has had a name for at least 5 years. As the board manufacturer evolves through those years they make the board stiffer and make them of better materials which is what they have done for the newest version of the Aqua Marina Fusion. 

The Aqua Marina Construction consists of the following:

  1. Double Wall Fabric drop stitch core
  2. Light and printed tarpaulin layer
  3. First PVC rail layer
  4. Second PVC rail layer
  5. Machine Pressed EVA footpad

The board offers a few on-board accessories such as 4 D rings on the outdoor edges of the deck pad and 3 rows of deck bungees that follow the same style that Red Paddle uses for their SUPs. 

What We Liked

  • Shows what the materials are
  • Good amount of stability for a budget board
  • The price point is good
  • Has a brand name

What Could Be Improved

  • Will be one of the slower SUPs on this list
  • The front plants when getting up to speed
  • Slide-in fin is less than ideal as they can get biggered up easier. 

8. Tower S Class (Simple Pick)

  • Dimensions: 10’4” x 32” x 6”
  • Weight: 20 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 275 Lbs
  • Materials: Fusion 6” thick construction

Total Ranking 7.5/ 10 (Averages of Below Scores)

  • On-Water Performance – 7.5
    • Stability 7
    • Tracking  7
    • Speed 7.5
    • Maneuverability 8.5
  • SUP Construction – 7.5
  • Board Features  – 7.25
    • Deck Pad 7.5
    • D Rings 7
    • Deck Bungees 7
    • Handles 7.5
  • Accessories – 7.2
    • Paddle 7.5
    • Pump 7
    • Fins 7
  • Set-Up/ Take Down – 8

The Tower S-Class is one of Tower’s introductory boards made of fusion technology. As a result, it comes at a price that fits below the $500 price point. 

One of the reasons why put this board on the list is that we found in our on-Water tests in Deep Cove that the Tower S-Class performed better in many performance-related factors than the Tower Yachtsman which is marketed as the more expensive SUP. 

I will say though, that if you are a taller passenger you may want to pass on this board as it won’t be as stable as some others on the list like the Aqua Marina Fusion and the Atoll 11 paddle boards. 

This board is one of the lighter picks on our list making it ideal for those shorter paddlers who are going solo. 

The S-Class has a relatively bare frame with few on-board accessories which is part of the reason it is rated lower on the list. It should also be noted that the S-Class does not come with a bag. So while the board may be more convenient to get to the shore if its within a short distance away. You have to purchase an extra bag to store it in when not in use. 

What We Liked

  • The board is lightweight
  • A decent pick for smaller paddlers
  • The construction process is well-detailed

What Could Be Improved

  • The board is not very stable for taller folks
  • Relatively bare deck
  • No free D rings for add-ons

9. ROC Scout Paddle Board (Small Paddler Pick)

  • Dimensions: 10’ x 33” x 6”
  • Weight: 17.6 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 350 Lbs
  • Materials: PVC

The ROC paddle board is one of the mainstays from the Amazon boards that have been on that platform for one of the longest times. With 23 years of experience, ROC has learned a thing or two about inflatable paddle boards over time. 

The ROC Scout is a wider, more rounded board to help those less experienced paddlers get into the water. This particular board is 10’ long which makes it ideal for small paddlers or adolescents to learn on. 

This board will have some limits on it though, The 10 feet length and rounded design limit the board to strictly the recreational category. And while it does come with a kayak paddle kit Boards like the Bluefin Cruise are better suited to the kayak formation due to their more streamlined shape. 

Still, the ROC comes with a good amount of accessories for its very budget-friendly price point with a pump, SUP paddle, kayak paddle, bag, leash, fin, and drybag that comes with the kit. 

This is a solid kit for those who are testing the waters of stand-up paddle boarding but not for those who want a board that can evolve with them and go for longer-distance paddles. I would also limit this SUP to calm lakes and bays due to its more rounded, “stubby” shape. 

What We Liked

  • A great starter board for those smaller paddlers
  • Has a good amount of accessories
  • Ideal for those who want a cheap board 

What Could Be Improved

  • Not ideal for taller paddlers
  • The board has a relatively simple deck
  • Tracking and speed will not be as good as others on this list

10. Dama Fresh Life Inflatable Paddle Board (Budget All Around Pick)

  • Dimensions: 11’ x 33” x 6”
  • Weight: 22. 5 Lbs
  • Maximum Capacity: 352 Lbs
  • Materials: Military Grade PVC

The Dama is another mainstay Amazon board that offers a price below the $400 price point. It is shaped to be more hydrodynamic compared to the Serenelife and ROC paddle boards. This may be something of interest to those who want a cheap paddle board that will carry less drag compared to the aforementioned ROC and Serenelife SUPs. 

This board does come with a few accessories onboard though. There are 4 free D rings in the middle of the board and an action camera mount in the front that allows you to document your journey.

Unlike other Amazon boards, the Dama offers 3 slide fins which help the board track much better, especially compared to Serenlife and ROC SUPs. The package also comes with a shoulder strap, leash, 5 L dry bag pump, cellphone case, repair kit and carry bag which is a good amount of accessories for a budget SUP. 

The board is 11’ which is an ideal budget board for those taller paddlers and is 33” wide which gives it more stability compared to the previous Amazon boards mentioned. 

What We Liked

  • A solid budget board for taller paddlers
  • A decent weight capacity 
  • Comes with a good amount of accessories

What Could Be Improved

  • Ratings are not as high on Amazon as Serenlife or ROC SUPs
  • Paddle is aluminum which is heavier compared to SUPs on list with fiberglass paddles

Things to Look for in a $400 and Under Paddle Board

Below are some criteria that we have when looking at the above boards in and around the under $400 price point.

Stability Is Key

The vast majority of the time people looking at $400 and under inflatable paddle boards are folks who are beginners and want a more portable solution to the sport of stand-up paddle boarding. And the number 1 on-water factor that beginners look for is stability in a paddle board. What good is a paddle board if you can’t stand on it? There are a few main considerations that determine a paddle board’s stability. 

  • The Length: 10 – 11’6” boards are ideal depending on how tall the paddler is. The taller/ bigger the paddler the longer the length of the board is.
  • The Width: We like to start at 32” width and up. While an inch doesn’t sound like a lot (insert bad joke here) it can be a huge defining factor in how stable a SUP is. Just like length. The bigger/ Taller the paddler is the wider you should go. 
  • The Board’s Shape: This is often not considered to be as much of a factor but it should be! How aggressively does the paddle board taper on the nose and tail? Boards that have a more pointed profile typically are less stable than rounder boards that have a wider tail/ nose.
  • The Construction: Rigidity also plays a big role in how stable the board will be. Important things to look at are how the PVC is layered, the drop stitch materials as well as the construction of the rails. We will get to this more below. 

Construction is King

Photo by Tower Paddle Boards

The board’s construction will be a big indicator as to how long the board will last. Things like rinsing the board after each use and making sure dirt and grime do not build up are also key to the board’s longevity

Construction is also one of the factors that make certain paddle boards more expensive and have a better manufacturing warranty against defects. Unfortunately, this part is not always crystal clear as brands like to use phrases like “fusion” or “military grade” like it’s a catchline to a commercial

The way to look for clues for good construction is by looking into how the board is made and how many years the manufacturer has made stand-up paddle boards. If the manufacturer details the exact construction process on a different page then this is a good sign. The more information on the boards construction status the better!

Customer ratings are also a crucial factor on 3rd party websites like Amazon, Trust Advisor, or the board’s Facebook page. 

I like to see boards with fusion layering as this is some of the strongest and lightweight material that requires less gluing which is often the fault point to seams and rails becoming undone. I also look for at least 2-3 layers of PVC on the rails as those are the sensitive points of the paddle board that can get bumped. 

Feel free to email the manufacturer’s questions or check out Reddit if you have any queries about certain stand-up paddle boards. 

What Size is Right for You? 

paddle board extensive testing

Another you need to ask is what size SUP is best suited for you. We go into a lot more detail with this in our What Size Paddle Board Should I Choose article. 

To summarize, a 10’6” length and up is usually the sweet spot for 80% of paddle boarders. When looking for a stability-focused SUP look for 32” and wider. For those who are taller/ bigger paddlers or you want something for more stability-focused tasks like fishing and SUP Yoga look for boards that are around 11’6” and 34” wide plus to truly feel comfortable on the board. 

As you gain more experience you may want to start getting a narrower board that gets you more speed. This is why I often recommend mid-range all-round boards that have a more tapered nose and tail as they can evolve with you as you gain valuable paddling experience. 

Accessories

Something that $400 and under inflatable paddle boards tend to cheapen out on is accessories. Yes, we realize you didn’t buy an inflatable paddle board for the fancy-looking bag but all of these things do make a difference when you are transporting your board and setting it up!

Often this is the difference between mid-tier boards in the $500 – $800 range compared to the under $400 paddle boards. 

The Under $400 SUPs simply cheap out on their accessories. They come with alumunum paddles which are heavier and more bulky and the bags often have little padding which makes the board more difficult to carry as you go longer distances.

I like to see a bag with a lot of back padding and some pockets to fit everything you need to go paddling. In terms of the paddle, I do feel that a fiberglass paddle is worth it due to it being lightweight and less clunky which translates to longer in the water!

On Board Features

While this is not as important as the above factors it is something to keep in mind. Onboard features allow your life as a paddler to be much easier. These onboard features can be anything from action mounts for fishing rods or cell phones/ cameras, extra deck bungees for more gear, extra D rings for a kayak seat or hard cooler or even paddle holders that keep the boards paddle out of the way. 

You won’t find too many of these all together with sub $400 boards but you will find them in the next price range tier for $500 – $800 SUPs. 

FAQ’s

Below are some FAQs about inflatable paddle boards under $400. 

What Is The Ideal Amount to Spend on a Paddle Board?

The Ideal amount will be different from person to person so I’ll give you some insight. 

If you just want something to casually paddle during the summer months or you want something for the kids to play on for the family cabin then it is more than okay to buy an inflatable paddle board under $400.

However, if you wanted a board that you can grow with as your paddling improves I would recommend a board within the $600 to $700 range. 

Is It Worth Buying a Cheap Paddle Board?

My first “No Name” Paddle Board

It is worth buying a cheap paddle board if you are only using it for purely recreational purposes. Situations like an hour floating on the lake with friends or having a watercraft to paddle with your family by the beach are situations where a cheap paddle board would be applicable. 

Situations I would not use a cheap paddle board for would be longer distance paddling or excursions in tougher environments like coastal waterways and rivers. 

What Is the Difference Between Cheap and Expensive Paddle Boards? 

The main difference between cheap and expensive paddle boards is the materials put into the paddle board. 

Cheaper paddle boards will have thinner layers of PVC that are glued together with standard single drop stitch threading. More Expensive inflatable SUPs will have at least 2 layers of PVC heat bonded together with stronger strands of drop stitch and plenty of materials to protect the rails of the paddle board. 

Why Are Inflatable Paddle Boards So Expensive?

Inflatable Paddle Boards are expensive because of the materials that are put into them. It’s like comparing a zodiac boat to a pool toy. Inflatable Paddle Boards have layers of PVC and thousands of strands of drop stitch material to hold the board together followed by the cost of the deck pad and any other on-board accessories. 

A lot of this takes a good amount of manual labor as well, with some paddle board manufacturers putting 18 hours plus into each paddle board! You can learn more in our How Much Does an Inflatable Paddle Boards Cost? Article.

Are All Inflatable Paddle Boards Made in China?

Not all inflatable paddle boards are MADE in China but the vast majority of them are made overseas in Asia to cut down on costs. Not all factories are the same though. Some will put more time and care into each inflatable paddle board compared to others that make cheap generic single layer PVC SUPs. 

What Have We Learned About the Best Inflatable Paddle Boards Under $400? 

In our opinion, it is best to spend over the $400 mark IF you want a quality paddle board that will last you a long time. We found the Atoll 11 to be one of the most durable paddle boards on our list, with a high degree of stability and overall usefulness for beginner to intermediate paddlers. 

We would like to end this by saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying an inflatable paddle board that is under $400. For a casual paddle around the lake a few times during the year these boards are great for that! However, if you want to progress in the world of stand-up paddle boarding we suggest you buy something at a higher price point that can evolve with you and last you a long time. 

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Author:
Hey, My name is Derek Lenze and I'm the owner of Inflatable SUP Authority. I've had over 20 years experience with watersports and over 10 years of various paddle boarding experience. My new-found passion is bringing my stand up paddle boaring knowledge in an explainable and actionable way all the while giving you my unbiased takes.