Are Glide Inflatables the best inflatable paddle board?
Most of our competitors aren't avid or even experienced paddle boarders.
Our founder Ken Driscoll who was a professional kayak turned paddler after his spine broke through an accident (read more about him here), and he is here to walk you through myths and facts of inflatable board construction and how to tell the cheap inflatables from the ones that will actually last and perform for your money.
Are Glide Inflatables the best Inflatable Paddle Board?
The short answer is yes they are! Take our word for it, and you will be happy you did! When it arrives on your doorstep the UPS driver might give you a high five and a wink knowing that you are apart of the cool kid club, your neighbors will be jealous, and everyone on the water will ask you about your board.
So if that’s not enough for you to buy one right now then let’s get into the reasons why a Glide inflatable will be the best choice for you, and the reason why a Glide inflatable costs more than boards you see on Amazon or on other websites for half the price.
Currently there are 3 ways to produce an inflatable board; they are single layer, double layer and fusion. All boards fall in these three different construction types, anything else someone claims is marketing hype, don’t fall for it, and I am a going to teach you to see through it.
Ok lets get into the nerdy details, feel free to grab some glasses and a lab coat, I will wait.
Single layer is basically what sounds like a single layer of PVC over the drop stich fabric. Wait what, drop stich fabric? Yep, this is the cuts of the board, this is what allows the board to get to high pressure and maintain the shape of the board, let’s not get too hung up on drop stich right now as we are going to dive into that soon.
The way a single layer board is made is the pour molten PVC over the drop stich cloth which makes the board air and water tight. Single layer is the cheapest and easiest way to build a board, and with that they are prone to the most issues of any of the types of construction.
Single layer boards are prone to having the seams fail, twisting so that the board will not lay flat, and they often delaminate and fail. These boards are not worth the money you spend on them to use a term the kids here at the office love to throw around, these boards are hot garbage. Is this the construction that Glide uses for its inflatable paddle boards? No, be serious.
Double layer builds on the single layer but adding an additional layer of PVC on top of the single layer board. This is done by gluing the two layers together. This makes the board more durable, less prone to twisting, stiffer and heavier.
Double layer boards for many years were considered the best of the best; this was the type of construction you wanted if you were looking to buy an inflatable paddle board. Most double layer boards not only have double layers on the top and bottom of the board they also reinforce the rails with a second layer of PVC.
This makes the board much less likely to have a seam failure and these types of boards can last a lifetime (lifetime when we are talking about inflatable boards is much more like a Golden Retriever 10-12 years vs the Aldabra giant tortoise at 80-120 years).
A double layer board is a good board. The main downsides to a double layer board are they are heavy for an inflatable, and since they are glued together they are much more prone to the glue delaminating and giving you issues in the future.
Double layer boards use twice the PVC material as a single layer board and they are much more labor intensive to build, so you guessed it they cost about twice as much as single layer board. They are worth it; it is a quality product that should last you a very long time with little to no issues.
This has to be what Glide uses to achieve its legendary status of the best inflatable paddle boards on the market right! Nope! Wrong again, but getting warmer.
I saved the best for last. Fusion construction, the pinnacle of inflatable construction, and the best of the best, I would go as far to say it may even be given to us by aliens.
Fusion is a double layer board that eliminates the gluing of the two layers of material. What, wait, no glue between the layers, what kind of sorcery is this? It’s Fusion my friend, not sorcery, science not magic.
The bond between the two layers is fused together by an ultra-sonic welder which makes the bond permanent and very strong. Again I am not saying this technology was given to us by aliens, but I am also not saying it wasn’t…
Fusion is stronger, stiffer, more durable and lighter than a double layer board.
If all factors were the same, the same PVC outer shell of a double layer board, and the same dropstich used in both a fusion and the double layer board the fusion inflatable SUP would be roughly 20% lighter and 25% stiffer than its double layer little brother or sister.
A fusion board will not delaminate between the layers on top or bottom of the board, its lighter and stiffer, this is the best way you can build a board currently.
Fusion material is considerably more expensive than double layer and single layer, and the labor needed to work with the material is more skilled than in the other types of construction so the main downside is the cost. What you gain is worth it, a lifetime board that will outperform any of the other types of inflatables paddle boards on the market.
The performance will be as close to a hard board that you can achieve in an inflatable paddle board. And yes this is how all Glide Inflatable Paddle Boards are constructed.
This is just the start to how a board is created, so take a quick break, grab a snack and let’s keep going.
Drop Stitch Fabrics
You know what they say “You can’t judge a inflatable paddle board by its looks, its what’s on the inside that matters” This brings us to the exciting world of drop stich fabrics! It is very hard for me to contain my excitement to share my love of drop stitch with you. Said no one ever. So let’s just keep this sweet and to the point.
There are two types of dropstich fabric knitted and woven. The quick and dirty on knitted fabrics vs woven is that a knitted fabric is made up of a single yarn, looped continuously to produce a braided pattern. And woven fabric multiple yarns comprise a woven fabric, crossing each other at right angles to form the grain.
Knitted fabric looks like this Woven looks like this
A knitted fabric is less expensive to produce and it is very stretchy. Woven material is cost more to weave and does not stretch.
98.2% of all inflatable paddle boards regardless of construction use knitted drop stitch fabric for the core of the board.
The main downside to using knitted dropstich is that knitted fabrics stretch in both width and length. A woven fabric will not stretch in width and extremely little in length.
This stretch effects the stiffness of the board, the drop stitch fabric will continue to stretch until the outer shell of the board physically stops the stretch and then the board will start to gain pressure and stiffness.
Obviously this is not ideal as the boards seams which are the weakest part of any board are being forced to contain the pressure inside the board, and it takes PSI to get the board to feel as stiff as a board made with woven material.
Because woven drop stitch material does not stretch the fabric is doing the heavy lifting on keeping the board together and making the board extremely stiff.
A woven board will feel at 5 PSI almost as stiff as a knitted board at 10 PSI.
All Glide inflatable boards are built with premium woven drop stitch fabric. You will feel the difference.
So with all these different ways to build a inflatable paddle board and prices points from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars how can you tell what you are getting? Also everyone’s has marketing language like military grade, triple layer, ultra-durable, blah blah blah, it’s so hard to know what is real and what is hype. Help!
The easiest way to cut through the entire marketing BS is to look for the boards rated maximum PSI.
1-12 PSI is a single layer board.
12-20 PSI is a double layer board.
20+ PSI is a fusion board. Glide inflatable paddle boards are rated to 25PSI max.
It’s really that simple.
Tl;drThere are three main ways to build a board, single layer, double layer and fusion with a knitted or woven drop stich core. Don’t fall for the marketing hype and look for the max PSI to know what you are getting.