Drop-Stitch Technology: What It Is, and Why It's Worth It on Your Inflatables

The technology of inflatables — SUPs, kayaks, and other water sports gear — has come a long way since its first inception. The allure of the inflatable boat is obvious. It’s an easy-to-transport vessel, that’s light in weight, suitable for little storage space, and now, thanks to drop-stitch technology, can be inflated to rock-hard rigidity creating an effortless glide on the water.

Aquaglide is a firm believer in drop-stitch technology, using it in all of our SUPS, as well as several kayaks, and aquapark pieces. So, what makes this type of construction so much better than your typical, “old-school” inflatable construction? Let’s get into the nitty gritty. 

What is a drop-stitch floor, exactly?

Compared to traditional inflatable beam construction where all surfaces are essentially rounded, drop-stitch technology uses low-stretch aramid fibers to hold the top and bottom surfaces equidistant from each other. Imagine thousands of fine strands (or stitches) per square inch, intentionally placed to distribute load and to create an exceptionally rigid “slab” when inflated. Once the drop-stitch core is made, heat fusion is then used to secure the tough woven core fibers to durable layers of reinforced PVC, which add excellent airholding characteristics. The finished product results in a far stiffer, more efficient structure; exactly what you’d want for a floating inflatable!

FSL Drop Stitch Animation

Sounds like it’s durable. What makes drop-stitch better than standard PVC construction?

For starters, drop-stitch construction allows you to utilize higher air pressure inside, offering a more rigid feel. This higher air pressure and rigidity translates into being more efficient on the water, improving your energy transfer with every paddle stroke. With a drop-stitch kayak floor, the working pressure is 6.0 - 10.0psi, with a theoretical maximum of around 20psi, whereas a traditional floor allows only 1.0 or 2.0psi. Drop-stitch SUP’s are extra-reinforced to use 14.0 - 18.0psi. That’s up to ten times the pressure of a regular inflatable! Again, the higher the air pressure, the stiffer the structure, the more efficient it is on any water terrain. From novice to advanced users, drop-stitch accommodates all skill-levels, actually making your time on the water more about the fun, and less about the struggle of getting those paddle strokes in.

Are there any cons to drop-stitch technology?

As it may sound, manufacturing drop-stitch takes lots of time, effort, and skill. Each Aquaglide drop-stitch board or kayak is individually welded using heat fusion, rather than the traditional glue that most companies use. It’s better for the environment, but requires expensive equipment and skilled craftspeople. The process of creating a board or boat of this quality is extremely labor intensive as you can imagine, and that comes at a higher manufacturing cost. Depending on how you use your kayak, the amount of fun you have because of drop-stitch technology may easily make up for the extra cost for the durable product and latest technology of inflatable paddle sports.

If I get a drop-stitch board or kayak, will it still be inflatable?

Yes! Our SUPs and kayaks made with drop-stitch floors actually weigh the same and take up the same amount of space as a traditional inflatable. That’s the true benefit of drop-stitch technology — you get the same great inflatable product that’s easy to transport and store, with the feel of a rigid bottom and higher air pressure.

Bottom line: drop-stitch technology is where it’s at when it comes to your inflatable water sports gear. Our product development team here at Aquaglide is not only always up on the latest trends, but they care most about quality products and what works best. As always, it’s our goal to provide our customers with the latest and greatest technology, increasing accessibility, usability, and upping the fun on the water. For a look at all of Aquaglide’s drop-stitch products, check out our kayak and SUP lines.

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