Construction of an Inflatable SUP board

Construction JP LE

Inflatable paddle boards are made using Drop Stitch technology, which consists in joining together two PVC layers with thousands of tiny threads. Some brands use more of these nylon threads than others.

The leading drop stitch company is Korean and manufactures drop stitch to all the major inflatable SUP brands (Red Paddle, Fanatic, Naish…) But in 2016, this company chose to distance itself from Chinese manufacturers by offering higher-end drop stitch. It overhauled its whole construction process, invested a lot of money in R&D for 18 months and eventually came up with FUSION technology, a real breakthrough in the construction of inflatable SUPs.

The new Fusion technology is a revolution in the industry. In 2016, Red Paddle SUPs and the Fanatic Premium range were the only boards featuring this technology.

In order to fully grasp the benefits of this technology, let’s take a look back at all the various ways inflatable SUPs can be constructed.

There are various drop stitch constructions:

- Simple layer

- Simple layer + stringer

- Double layer



Drop stitch is used as it is, fresh from the factory. This construction is lighter and cheaper. Chinese companies offer several qualities of drop stitch, from decent drop stitch down to bottom-of-the-range drop stitch, based on what SUP manufacturers ask for.


Pros: These boards are cheaper

Cons: They are sensible to very hot weather and less rigid.


A PVC stringer is glued onto the simple PVC layer. This method is more rigid than a simple layer and cheaper than a double layer or Fusion technology.


Pros: It’s cheaper

Cons: These SUPs are sensible to very hot weather and they’re designed for small and medium paddlers only (200 lbs tops)


This is just like a simple-layer board, except that an additional PVC layer is glued on top of the core layer.


Pros: The boards are more rugged and more rigid than with a simple layer or a simple layer + stringer construction

Cons: They’re heavier. PVC glue doesn’t spread out well, so a second gluing is needed which may cause bubbles or folds to appear on the board.


A second PVC layer is welded onto the first one. The top and bottom layers are joined together by composite drop stitch for extra rigidity.


Pros: You get a nice, even finish, free of bubbles and folds. No glue is used in the process, which makes the board 20% lighter and 30% more rigid than with a double-layer construction.

Cons:  These boards are quite pricy.

That’s stating the obvious but inflatable SUP boards are full of…air. The rest is only PVC, threads and glue. Fusion technology removes the one and only thing that can be removed: glue. Getting a lighter board by reducing the number of threads or the thickness of the PVC would amount to reducing the quality and durability of the board.

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