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iSUP Construction; the inside story

Board construction can vary from very poor to exceptionally good. However, you need a trained eye to identify which is which.

Things to consider are:

  • Stitch rate
  • Stitch pattern
  • Deck layers
  • Stringers
  • Rail layers
  • Fin box
  • Valve style
  • Deck pad
  • Leash anchor point
  • Carry handle

What's inside your board is what matters...

Brian Johncey has been involved in water sports since 1965 and looking inside boards since 1970, we know boards inside out...

They all look very similar from the outside but you could be purchasing an expensive Lillo.
We have been using and supplying inflatable SUP boards longer than any other store in the UK, so we know the difference between poor construction and excellent construction

All can seem very confusing but help is on hand. We have taken the risk out of buying an inflatable SUP board by testing hundreds of boards ourselves:

Brian Johncey AKA "Blue Chip Repairs" is the acknowledged iSUP repair specialist; Brian knows what's inside inflatable SUPs.
Blue Chip Board Store is constantly asked to stock board brands and we have tested hundreds of models and after Brian casting an experienced eye on them in store, then checking them on the water we end up rejecting the majority of them. You can be as confident as we are that the boards we supply give the best quality, performance and longevity.

If you pop into our store, we can show you many examples of actual board constructions and how they feel under-foot.

If you can't get down to see us, the following will give you some insight into what to look for

Single layer low density drop stitch

Single layer low density drop stitch

This is a slice from a single layer low density drop stitch board. Single layer Drop-Stitch construction can look great on the outside and have an attractive price point, but it is still a low tech, budget structure, only suitable for very light use.

You won’t find any single layer low density Drop-Stitch boards at Blue Chip Board Store (apart from the ones sent to us for repair)  


A full cross section of a single layer low density board

You can see the low density of the drop stitch and the lack of affect it has on the single layer construction. the top is only being held a little straighter by the EVA deck material which gives a slight support. the lower material receives no support from the low density drop stitch and just curls upwards as a natural consequence of its construction and offers little in the way of rigidity.

There are very little signs on the outside of a board as to the quality of the construction.

Would you want your board constructed like this?

Single layer rail

This is an example of a single skin rail which gives little or no pressure support and will not give much impact or abrasion resistance.

This type of single layer rail will not hold up against pressures of more that about 15 psi

Well constructed boards should easily take 20 psi

Seam splits on single seam overlap boards

Single layer seam construction

There are surprisingly many boards around with only about 1cm of single seam overlap, these single layer seam constructed boards will only take a small amount of pressure to burst the seams. Most seam splits are a result of leaving your board in the sun or over inflation. Check the construction of the rail layers and seam overlaps on your boards to reduce the chances of a seam split.

You won’t find any single layer seam constructed boards at Blue Chip Board Store (apart from the ones sent to us for repair)  

We can repair seam splits on most boards.

Light Drop Stitch Technology

High density fused drop stitch layer

This is an exploded view of the latest high density drop stitch technology fused into a light single skin with dual rail bands and dual compression bands for extra durability and stiffness without adding unnecessary weight or costly material expenditure.

Although this construction has been on the market for a little while now, unfortunately, (or fortunately) we have not had the occasion to repair one of these and so do not have an actual image to publish

Dual layer high density construction

High density dual layer construction

Here is a cross section of a high density drop stitch with dual layer skin construction.

Note how uniform the section remains without any air pressure to hold it in place. The high density of the Space Yarn used in the drop stitch is clearly visible.

This type of construction can withstand high pressures of say 25 psi and will result in a very stiff board with good abrasion and impact resistance.

Tell-Tail signs

Look for the way the fittings are secured to the board, this is often a sign of how the rest of the board is constructed

Notice how well the left handle is secured to the deck

Quality construction examples


See through construction pucks can give an insight as to how good quality boards are put together,

Here are some
examples of good