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I bought a cheap ($600 CAD) inflatable paddleboard at a big box, non-specialized store. I like paddle-boarding and am thinking of getting another one. A local outdoor store has $1500 one discounted to $1100 for sale. It's not substantially different in features, but I expect it to be better quality in some ways.

Now, if this was a road bike, I know what doubling the price would mean: less weight, most likely. If it was a mountain bike, I'd expect more durability, i.e. going from a budget mountain bike that will fall apart on tough trails to one that can take the punishment. A higher end backpack would be more durable, better layout, more waterproof, etc... If a kayak, I know that plastic is heavier, scratches more easily and will drag more than fiberglass.

But what should I expect from a paddleboard? Faster, stabler, more durable? What are the likely advantages of getting a better board rather than just buying another discount one? I am not unhappy with my budget one as such but it was a bit of an entry-level model.

(I do know one likely advantage already, the cheap one's paddle broke and I had to replace it with a new one).

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Things you should get

Thinner: This is a big one with the better iSUPs, the cheaper boards can be nearly twice the thickness and more. Being closer to the water will improve your stability and control and generally improve the experience.

Better edges: This is a side effect of being thinner, and will give you better control. Hard boards of course have the best edges, but I'm assuming we're still talking inflatable here as most people will never encounter hard SUPs until they go surfing.

More resilience: I hear stories of the cheaper boards losing the internal structures that give the board its shape, the welded structure of the best iSUPs will last a lot better than the glued structure of the cheaper ones.

Things that are design dependent and you won't necessarily get

Speed: This is primarily a matter of length, not build quality. Longer boards will usually be faster.

Higher weight limit: In fact for a board of the same area it might have a lower weight limit due to being thinner and lacking the displacement volume.

Lighter: It may be lighter, it may be heavier. If it's made out of thicker material and has stringers it could well be heavier than the cheaper board.

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