A so-called ‘Costco paddle board’ might be a cheap way to get on the water, but you’ll quickly realize there are better options to choose from. Sure some of the SUPs you find at big box retailers like Costco, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Amazon might cost a bit less but there are typically reasons for that. As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.”

Instead of simply settling for what’s cheapest, look for the features that matter and the brand’s quality of design and construction. Check if the seams are reinforced, the rails are rigid, the material is durable, and if there’s any other added technology that helps improve the board’s overall performance, such as woven drop-stitching. Also look at the total package on offer and make sure all of the necessary equipment is included and the accessories are worthwhile. It doesn’t do you any good to get an uncomfortable board bag that falls apart quickly, a pump that doesn’t work well, and a weak flimsy paddle. There’s obviously a lot to look out for, but in this article we break down all the factors to consider when purchasing a stand up paddle board to ensure you get a quality product that’s built to last.

Key Factors to Look for in a High Quality Paddleboard Package:

man and woman with nice colorful SUPs

A better paddle board means a better time on the water!

Reasons to Avoid Cheap Paddle Boards

First and foremost this isn’t an argument about where you like to shop or about trying to buy the most expensive thing out there. Finding good deals is a great idea (tips on this below) and affordable SUP packages are what we’re all about! However, as with most items, buying the cheapest paddle board you can find will likely turn out to be a bad investment. Even at the low end of the spectrum, cheap stand-up paddle boards still cost hundreds of dollars. That means it’s important to consider what you’re buying carefully. To understand how well it will perform safely, and how long it will last, you’ll want to look into the board’s construction, what comes with the package, and what safety and comfort features if any, the company’s designers have engineered into the SUP. These differences are typically what sets a cheap stand up paddle board apart from a smart and affordable choice. Ignoring these details may seem like an easy way to save some money, but in the long run, it will most likely end up costing you.

What’s the Longevity of so-called ‘Costco Paddle Boards’?

If you’ve decided to buy a SUP, it’s because you recognize one simple thing that all stand-up paddle boarders agree on… it’s an awesome sport that’s great for everyone! You can take your paddling to the extreme level of long-distance adventure racing or simply cruise the local waters to relax under the sun. You can surf, fish, practice yoga, teach your dog new tricks… the list goes on and on. Simply put, there’s a SUP style for everyone regardless of skill level and interests. There are so many activities to try and places to paddle that you’ll want a board that lasts. Unfortunately, cheap stand-up paddle boards won’t stand up to the test of time like others. Keep an eye out for missing or short guarantees or warranties that could indicate an inferior product. While some cheaper boards will have a warranty that will last through one-season, the accessories like the paddle, fins, and pump might not be protected at all. Yikes! When you’re looking at stand up paddle board options be sure to check for a warranty. A long-lasting warranty that covers all of your gear is peace of mind for you as the rider, but also a good signal that the company cares and stands behind about its products.

Avoid paddle boards that won’t last and try to find upgraded accessories like a carbon shaft paddle.

Are so-called ‘Costco Paddle Boards’ Durable?

Obviously playing into the longevity of a SUP is its durability. So-called ‘Costco paddle boards’ may have a lower price because they skipped these design decisions. And although that may save you money at the outset, there’s a good chance you’ll actually end up spending much more because you’ll have to buy a replacement SUP. The better paddle boards out there pay attention to these details and have techniques that improve their overall construction.

SUP Technology to Look for:

  • Double Layer Construction – two layers to provide increased protection from damage guaranteeing long-term durability.
  • Woven Drop-stitching – this new technology gives SUPs a rigidity with hardboard-like performance that you can’t yet find on most inflatable stand up paddle boards.
  • Carbon Rails – The sides (also known as the ‘rail’) of a SUP tend to take a beating over a lifetime. Carbon rails not only protect against repetitive bumps, but also enhance the boards overall rigidity further improving it’s overall rigidity and responsiveness.
  • Reinforcement Seams – seams are vulnerable and prone to failure. Reinforcing this area offers increased durability where an inflatable stand up paddle board needs it most.
Man inflates SUP with Thurso Surf air pump

A quality air pump makes all the difference with an inflatable SUP.

A SUP Package That’s Worth It

Another key factor to consider when deciding if you really want to risk buying a cheap paddle board is to look at what comes in the SUP package. Most SUP packages come with a paddle, air pump, fins, leash, and bag. Sure a Costco paddle board might come with the same pieces of equipment, but are they of the same quality? Similar to the design features and board tech mentioned earlier, it’s these differences that make all the difference. Think about it this way. It’s not just that it has a paddle, bag, pump, etc., BUT what kind of paddle, bag, pump, etc. does it come with. Just like the paddle board itself, accessories aren’t are all the same and come built to varying levels of quality. Here’s a few things to look out for when considering what’s in the SUP package.
series of photos highlighting different features included in Thurso Surf SUP package, paddle, leash, fins, air pump, and roller backpack

Good board design runs thorough a brand, from the boards to the accessories.

Avoid Cheap Paddle Board Accessories

  • What is the paddle made of (plastic, aluminum, or carbon fiber)?
  • How much does the paddle weigh?
  • How packable is the paddle?
  • Can the paddle be modified? Some paddle allow you to adapt your paddle into a dual-bladed kayak paddle.
  • Can the material the bag’s made of withstand sunlight, sea water, and sand?
  • Are the straps easily adjustable and comfortable?
  • Is the back padded? Easily overlooked for someone not familiar with carrying a SUP, but it makes all the difference for a walk down to the waters edge.
  • Does the bag have wheels? Some SUP bags have wheels making it even easier to roll it down to your vehicle and the water.
  • Are there any additional storage areas in the bag for things you might want to leave behind or keep dry?
Air Pump
  • How efficient is the air pump? Some air pumps have multiple chambers allowing you to inflate your SUP faster and easier on the up and down stroke.
  • Is there an air pressure gauge so you know what PSI you’re inflating your SUP too?
  • Can you control the amount of pressure from your air pump? Some pumps allow you to adjust how much pressure is coming out so you can precisely inflate your board.
  • Is the air pump durable? Make sure it looks and feels sturdy. You want a solid handle that moves up and down seamlessly with little lateral movement.
  • How many fins does the package come with?
  • Are the fins fixed? Can you modify the setup? Depending on your activity and the conditions, being able to switch between one, two, and three fins can improve your board’s performance on the water.
  • Are they durable? Bumping your fins on obstacles is best avoided but accidents happen. Make sure they’re not flimsy or brittle.
  • What’s the locking mechanism like? A well-designed iSUP will have a clever locking mechanism that makes it quick and easy to switch them in and out and to roll your board for easy storage without fin abrasion points.
  • Is it strong and durable? A leash is a safety feature that shouldn’t be overlooked. It can save you and your SUP. Make sure it’s not something that will easily break or fall apart after a few uses.
  • Is it comfortable? You should always wear it when you’re out, so make sure it’s padded.
costco paddle boards don't come with kayak seats like these SUPs

Be sure to check out what additional features the SUP package offers like comfortable handles front and rear, deck rigging, go pro mounts, d-rings to attach gear such as adaptable kayak seats, coolers, deck bags, etc.

Skip the So-called ‘Costco Paddle Board’ and Buy Yourself Something You’ll Love That Lasts

Now that you know what to look for in a SUP, you’ll be able to see what brands are offering something you won’t need to replace after a few uses. And since you’re already here, Thurso Surf is a great place to start your search. As a design-lead brand focused on quality construction and feature rich boards Thurso Surf is consistently receiving awards from the within industry and recognition from stand up paddle boarders around the world. There’s a full line-up of SUPs to choose from, each of which comes with an unbeatable package of top quality accessories. Check out what’s on offer and you’ll see not only how Thurso Surf hits all the marks, but exceeds all expectations.

Happy hunting and remember a SUP is a piece of sports equipment not just an inner tube. A well-designed board and package will definitely provide you with a better time on the water, but could also end up saving you money. The longevity, durability, board technology and upgraded accessories save you from any frustrations and costly replacements.

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About the Author: Matt G.

Matt Gelgota is a traveler and all around digital marketing guy. His greatest adventure to date was the Mongol Rally, a 10,000 mile unsupported on and off-road saga from Sweden to Mongolia. He has visited more than 50 countries and has been paddling a Thurso Surf Expedition since 2018. Since then he’s had a chance to paddle board in Nepal, Thailand, Japan, and the US. When he’s not on the road he divides his time between Tokyo and Atlanta, Georgia.


  1. Donna April 29, 2021 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    I love my Thurso waterwalker 132 and had ordered a second one (a couple of weeks ago (the tangerine ) however I decided this was slightly too small so I cancelled now they have all gone up by £100 each this is scandalous

    • Jordan-na April 30, 2021 at 2:23 pm - Reply

      Hi Donna! Thanks for your feedback. We are glad to hear that you love your Waterwalker 132. Note that the price of our 2020 boards, which you had ordered, have not changed. You might be referring to our brand new 2021 models which come with some great new features! Among these upgrades is a Carbon Hybrid Paddle which is lighter than the Carbon Shaft Paddle that came with our 2020 boards. We’ve also switched over to a woven drop-stitch core that makes the 2021 boards lighter and delivers greater rigidity than our 2020 models. The 2021 models should be available to our UK customers by the summer! Stay tuned!

      All the best,

  2. Carole Bertrand May 10, 2021 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    Are you planning on selling river fin , Shorter center fin for when we go on shallow water.

    • Jordan-na May 11, 2021 at 10:55 am - Reply

      Hi Carole!

      Great question. We don’t currently offer river fins, but you can find compatible ones from other brands. Our boards use the Quick Lock fin system, so it’s compatible with any Quick Lock fins (sometimes referred to as Flip Lock). River fins are definitely something that is on our radar for next year, so stay tuned!


  3. Paul Gibian July 4, 2021 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    All good stuff, but my new 2021 138 MAX Multi-Purpose SUP just arrived with fins that don’t match the manual and the center fin cannot be installed at all. Despite the good stuff, the buyer doesn’t always get what they paid for and the customer experience turns sour.

    • Jordan-na July 5, 2021 at 11:03 am - Reply

      Hi Paul,

      Glad to hear you received your new board but sorry to hear there was an issue with the fins. The 2021 Max boards have upgraded fin boxes, so that might be why they don’t match the manual. Sorry about that! Our customer service team is always here to help. We typically reply to messages within one business day. Someone from our team has reached out to you directly to resolve the issue.

      Kind regards,

  4. Sol August 15, 2021 at 8:35 am - Reply

    Not sure if you know what boards Costco sells but the body glove performer 11, the model they sell meets and exceeds all the points you mentioned in your article. It retails on the BG site for$999 and it’s discounted for$399 at Costco. The board has received A reviews from many sites. Maybe you should check it out, it’s a great board!

    • Jordan-na August 16, 2021 at 11:03 am - Reply

      Hi Sol,

      Thanks for your comment. For sure, there can be the occasional good deal to be found at Costco and other big box retailers, but not all boards offered are of long-lasting quality. We recommend making sure that any purchase made is covered under the company’s warranty.


  5. Bill October 18, 2021 at 12:56 am - Reply


    • Jordan-na October 18, 2021 at 12:07 pm - Reply

      Thanks Bill!

  6. Jon October 25, 2021 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    can you explain for me some of the functional differences of the thursosurf boards vs the body glove performer ? I tried and loved the thursosurf and loved it. It’s an amazing board. I have also recently used a body glove a bunch of times and it served me well. I know the body glove also comes with a 2 year warranty. I know the body glove has fixed fins but really interested for tangible differences in how the board rides. appreciate any insights. thanks.

    • Jordan-na October 26, 2021 at 2:53 pm - Reply

      Hi Jon,

      I took a look at the Body Glove Performer 11′. It has the shape and similar dimensions to our touring board, the Expedition, so it is best to compare those boards. Body Glove doesn’t list all the dimensions/specs of the board, so it’s not easy to compare. Based on the photos, the Expedition is sleek and narrower, allowing for better glide and a faster ride. As you noted, the Performer has a fixed fin thruster setup which is not ideal for a touring board, as it won’t go as fast as a single, deeper touring fin like the one on the Expedition. Fixed fins tend to be rubber and while they are durable, the quality isn’t as good as a removable fin as fixed fins can easily warp. Plus the Expedition has a US fin box, allowing you to change your fin, with lots of options on the market. The Expedition has bungees on both the nose and tail, allowing for plenty of cargo. Also note that the Expedition has D-rings on the rails, which are great if you’d like to attach a kayak seat or carrier strap. Finally, the Expedition comes with quality accessories, such as a light yet durable Carbon Hybrid Paddle and a double-chamber, triple-action pump for efficient inflation.

      We also offer 30 Day Satisfactions Guarantee and a Two-Year Warranty on our boards. I looked on Body Glove’s website for the full terms of their warranty and could not find it, so I can’t compare warranty terms.

      Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.


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