All construction methods start with dropstitch; thousands of internal threads between the two dropstitch layers which, when filled with air, allow the board to expand before pulling tight, forming the rigid SUP shape.
- Single – The dropstitch is covered by a single layer of liquid PVC which is airtight when dry. This construction method is lightweight and very affordable but, the boards may have a lower max user weight and some excess flex. Boards that use single-layer constructions aren’t necessarily poor quality but, they will be less durable and cheaper.
- Stringer – Some boards will have a single layer construction, with a stringer for added rigidity. This concept comes from traditional surfboard manufacturing, where a thin stringer runs down the centre of the board from nose to tail. The extra bit of material creates a more solid platform, that in turn makes for a better paddling experience.
- Glued Double Layer – A glued double layer construction starts with the single layer board (dropstitch covered in an initial PVC layer) and a second layer of PVC is glued to the board (not laminated). This is an older construction method or only preferred for boards that need to be very strong (river, white water/rapids or hire).
- Fusion Technology – Although some brands may have their exclusive Fusion technology, like Red’s MSL, Jobe’s Heat Bonded Technology or Legacy’s LPL, the premise is very similar. Starting with the dropstitch of a single skin board, a 2nd layer of liquid PVC is laminated directly to it, creating a shell that is very strong, stiff and far lighter than other methods. This method has also eliminated the manual gluing process, removing the excess weight of glue and potential for human error. SUPs with this technology are usually 20-25% lighter and 25-30% stiffer than the old, glued method but the cost is generally higher.
- Heat Welded Rails – Starboard have pioneered a Welded Rail Technology, which works by heating two PVC layers to a certain temperature and, as the two surfaces of PVC are melted together and cool down, the two layers will bond into one.
- Double Chamber – To paddle more than 300 metres from the shore, it is a good idea to be equipped with a double chamber iSUP. The added inner chamber construction offers extra stiffness and added safety when paddling in open water. A good quality, appropriate buoyancy aid or life jacket is highly recommended for all paddling, but especially when venturing further away from the land.