Paddleboarding is an activity which has grown hugely in popularity over recent years, and we're not surprised by this at all - it's a fun activity which is easy to learn and allows you to explore water areas in a relaxing, unmotorised way.
The only real issue that we have with paddleboarding is that it can be quite an expensive activity to take part in. Even after you've bought the board, you've got to consider the price of all the other equipment like the paddle itself and the safety equipment.
Interestingly though, as paddleboarding has become more popular, we've started to see more cheap paddleboards coming onto the market. But are these cheap paddleboards worth buying? We feel well-placed to talk about this topic as we've tried a good mix of expensive paddleboards and cheaper paddleboards as we'll show in this guide. Let's get into it:
Firstly, how much is a cheap paddleboard?
We should start by saying that when we describe certain paddleboards as cheap, we mean that relatively speaking. A cheap paddleboard will still set you back a few hundred pounds, with the cheapest paddleboards that we've seen on Amazon sitting between £200 and £300. But this is still well below the price of most paddleboards which are considered to be the best on the market, and we'd say that any paddle board you can buy for less than £500 could be considered cheap. We'll be comparing the cheaper paddleboards mentioned in this guide to the paddleboards that we usually use, which are a Thurso Waterwalker All Around SUP and an iRocker Ultra All Around. The Waterwalker with the carbon hybrid paddle blade cost us more than £700, and the iRocker cost more than £1000.
The cheap paddleboards that we've tried
For the purpose of this guide, we thought it would be useful to try a very cheap paddleboard (less than £300) and a cheaper paddleboard (less than £600). For our very cheap paddleboard, we tried the Lamlingo (pictured), which is one of the cheapest paddleboards you can find on Amazon at the moment. This paddleboard can be bought for just over £200, and that includes all of the equipment like the pump and the paddle, so it's very cheap. You can learn more about it here - amazon.co.uk
As for the slightly pricier yet still cheap paddleboard, we tried the AquaPlanet Wilderness paddleboard. This can currently be bought for around £550, and that includes all the equipment such as the pump and the paddle. You can learn more about it here (and use the code YOU-WELL20 for £20 off anything you buy) - aquaplanetsports.com
How do these cheap paddleboards compare to our more expensive paddleboards?
As we mentioned earlier, the paddleboards that we usually use are a Thurso Waterwalker All Around SUP and an iRocker Ultra All Around, both of which are featured in our guide to the best inflatable SUP paddleboards you can buy. We'll start by comparing the Lamlingo paddleboard to these boards. Let's get into it:
Lamlingo vs expensive paddleboards
The first thing to note is that we actually really like the look and design of the Lamlingo, and we definitely don't feel like it looks like a much cheaper alternative to our expensive paddleboards at all. In fact, we'd actually say that we like the look of the Lamlingo better than the iRocker, plus we like the name much more. To us, an iRocker sounds like a sort of cheap iPhone speaker or something like that. We'd say that we prefer the look of the Waterwalker though.
In terms of dimensions, the Lamlingo paddleboard is 10 and a half feet long. This is only half a foot shorter than the iRocker, and actually half a foot longer than the Thurso Waterwalker. This makes the Lamlingo a perfect board for learning on as it is quite long.
One thing which really stood out between the Lamlingo and the more expensive paddleboards was the weight - when inflated, the Lamlingo weighs just 8.6 kg. Compare this to the iRocker which weighs just under 10kg and the Waterwalker which weighs exactly 10kg, and you'll see that the Lamlingo weighs around 1kg less than the more expensive paddleboards. This definitely makes a difference to how stable you feel when you're on the board, which isn't ideal for beginners, but we'd still say that the Lamlingo feels pretty stable. We'd also say that despite being lighter, the Lamlingo didn't quite feel as nimble as the expensive paddleboards, especially the iRocker which is a very quick board.
The Lamlingo claims to have a weight capacity of 200kg, which is actually a lot more than what both the iRocker and the Waterwalker claim - 130kg and 120kg respectively. We actually think this is plain wrong, and we don't think that the Lamlingo would hold up to 200kg. We only had a maximum of 140kg on the paddleboard and we felt that it was struggling under that weight, so we're not sure it would hold up to another 60kg on there.
The other main difference that we noticed between the Lamlingo was the quality of the grip on the board. The Lamlingo that we tried had been used a few times but only for a few months, and the grip on the board had worn away quite a bit. Whereas both the iRocker and the Waterwalker have been used for much longer and show no signs of wear. Obviously having good grip on your paddleboard is essential, so this is definitely something to consider when comparing the cheaper paddleboard to the more expensive varieties. We also liked that the Lamlingo came with a repair kit, and we actually think it's the same repair kit that came with the Waterwalker, a paddleboard which costs almost £500 more.
AquaPlanet Wilderness vs expensive paddleboards
The AquaPlanet Wilderness paddleboard is cheap but it's still more than double the price of the Lamlingo, so we expected it to be better than the Lamlingo in a number of ways. And we'd definitely start by saying that we much preferred the look of the AquaPlanet Wilderness, and we'd go as far as to say that the AquaPlanet Wilderness looks even better than our expensive paddleboards too. The black, orange, and grey combination looks really cool and reminded us of tiger stripes.
In terms of dimensions, the AquaPlanet Wilderness is 10 feet and 8 inches long, making it between the Waterwalker and the iRocker in length. This is actually a great length for beginners and more advanced paddleboarders too. This is actually the heaviest out of the 4 boards that we looked at for this guide, weighing in at just over 11kg when fully inflated. This makes it quite a bit slower than the other paddleboards we've looked at, but also makes it great for touring and for just cruising around on. It also gives it a weight capacity of 160kg, and unlike with the Lamlingo, we actually believe that the AquaPlanet Wilderness can hold this much weight.
We were very impressed by some of the features of the AquaPlanet Wilderness which neither the iRocker nor the Waterwalker offered - for example, the AquaPlanet Wilderness comes with 4 different fins, whereas the 2 more expensive boards only have 3 fins each. This additional fin gives the AquaPlanet Wilderness a balance and agility that the 2 more expensive boards simply can't compete with. The AquaPlanet Wilderness also has a slight tail kicker which neither of the expensive boards. This slight kick on the tail gives you additional control and makes turning the board much easier. However, it's not all 5 stars for the AquaPlanet Wilderness - we can definitely see some advantages to buying the more expensive paddleboards over the AquaPlanet Wilderness. For example, the team at AquaPlanet recommends a PSI of 15-17 to use the Wilderness board properly, whereas the iRocker board we used only needs 14-16 PSI and the Waterwalker only needs 10 - 12 PSI. It might not seem like a huge difference, but trust us when we say that getting that extra little bit of air into your SUP paddleboard can take a lot of effort and means more time pumping and less time on the water.
We thought it would be useful to look at the third-party reviews for each of these paddleboards to see which is best rated by other customers, and how the reviews vary between the cheap paddleboards and the more expensive paddleboards.
The Lamlingo is currently sitting with a rating of 4.6 out of 5 from 170 reviews on Amazon, which is very impressive. Reviewers seem very happy with the board, which is great to see. We couldn't find third-party reviews specifically for the Aquaplanet Wilderness, but the brand has an 'Excellent' rating on Trustpilot from more than 500 reviews, which is really impressive.
The iRocker is also on Amazon and has a rating of 4.7 out of 5 from over 400 reviews, which is very impressive, but only slightly higher than the rating that the Lamlingo has.
So, do we think it's worth buying a cheap paddleboard?
Overall, we'd say that yes, it's worth buying a cheap paddleboard if you're new to the sport and just looking to try it out. But we'd also say that you should be prepared to fall in love with this water sport and very quickly find yourself wanting to spend more on a better paddleboard. However, the good news there is that you won't need to spend much more to get a really excellent paddleboard, because as we've demonstrated in this guide, you can definitely get a top-of-the-range paddleboard with all of the required equipment for less than £600.
Please let us know what you think of our guide and if you have any other suggestions for paddleboards that we should try!