Paddle Boards with a Lineage of Toughness
How did an accident on the river birth a SUP manufacturer that makes the most durable hard and inflatable paddle boards on the planet?
Forged on the River Like our Founder
Glide SUP has been the first name in ultra-durable paddle boards since 2010. Why would Glide stake out this unusual claim to fame you ask? Well sit back friends and let me tell you a story.
Our founder, Ken Driscoll, was a world class sponsored white water kayak back in his younger years. He was paid to talk trips to rivers around the globe where most humans that had any kind of survival skills wouldn’t dare to tread. On one such excursion, he took an incredibly hard landing coming off a 50-foot drop from a water fall which broke his back.
After a long recovery, he found that he could no longer sit comfortably in the cock pit of a kayak. He missed the river and the violence of the whitewater, however, so he had to come up with a new means to transport himself.
He had played around with stand up paddle boards or SUPs as they are known today on vacation, and he had always been a surfer. And, thus, the lightbulb went off for him. Why not stand on a long board and point it down a powerful, churning river?
Need a Better Hard Board Technology
There was only one problem with this hypothesis - other than it was insane – the epoxy SUPs that dominated the market at the time would make it down the river until the point where they collided with a rock and would break in two. He tried plastic, roto molded paddle boards which ended up being much more durable but weighed about as much as a high school football player.
There had to be a better way. So, after much experimenting with various plastics and polymers, he stumbled across the formula for “Glide Surface Shield” or GSS as we call it internally. GSS was formulated by the US Dept of Defense for use on their submarines to make them break through the water’s surface tension which made the subs ten percent more efficient in the water.
GSS turned out to be the perfect solution. It added only a pound or so to the weight of the SUPs and yet helped them cut through the water which gave them more glide. And, just like that, Glide SUP was born.
Will it Break?
The boards were incredibly durable. So durable that we launched a “Will it Break Wednesday” campaign on YouTube in which our employees would come up with all kinds of diabolical plans to try and break the boards.
A board was launched from pickup trucks going fifty plus mph, dropped from cliffs, towed around a parking lot while an employee stood on it, snow and skateboarded over, pitched at in a batting cage and had large metal drums dropped on them from one story up at the factory.
The Glide board would still be completely intact after these antics while the epoxy board never made it out in one piece.
Early on, we realized that there was one flaw in our plan to be a whitewater SUP manufacturer. That being that there weren’t enough potential customers crazy enough to want to barrel down rivers while trying to stand on a paddle board.
So, instead we found the second most abusive class of SUP enthusiasts we could find: paddle board renters!
We had heard plenty of horror stories from our SUP dealers about renters who would drop boards in parking lots, forget to tie the boards down to their car roof and run the boards over rocks in the shallows.
The dealers would have to take those boards out of service for several days while the water drained out of them and then they would patch have to patch the holes. A week or two out of service per boards multiplied by the number of boards in their livery turned out to be a significant loss of revenue for the dealer.
Once they replaced their epoxy fleet with Glide SUPs which had been forged on some of the most punishing rivers out there, they rarely needed to take boards out of service. Within a few years Glide became the dominant rental SUP nationwide.
Inflatables Have a Reputation to Live up to
As the market embraced inflatable stand up paddle boards (iSUPs) six or seven years ago, we knew that these single layered boards with a core that utilized “knitted drop stitch” technology was not going to meet our standards.
We noticed that the inflatables that used that technology tended to “taco” when a user stood on them – meaning the nose and tail both lifted above the surface of the water. At that point in time, we had a reputation for manufacturing the most durable hard boards on the market and our iSUPs needed to meet the same exacting standards as our hard boards.
Our engineers in R&D went into overdrive and after several prototypes that didn’t pass muster, they created what we affectionately know now as our Quad Fusion Weave Tech.
With QFW, we took 4 layers of military grade PVC and fused, rather than glued, them together. Removing glue from the process makes the boards cleaner and lighter than legacy technologies.
For the core, we use a state-of-the-art woven drop stitch as opposed to the spongier knitted drop stitch. As the names imply, a weave makes for a tighter core whereas the knitted version makes for a bouncier, springier board which is the last thing you want then you are paddling your SUP.
Our woven drop stitch core means that you can inflate our boards to a lower PSI and still have a stiffer board. But if a low PSI isn’t your thing, you also can inflate them to an eye popping 25 PSI!
We also created a 3300g per square meter specification with the quantities of thread being 144 pcs/per square decimeter. A Glide iSUP is twice as durable as most iSUPs on the market due to our high-pressure, heat-pressed seam that is covered by one more layer of impermeable military grade PVC.
From what very well could have been a tragedy on the river was born a SUP brand that can withstand the best that Mother Nature and the most abusive humans can throw at it.
You can order your own Glide inflatable paddle board today with a 30-day guarantee. If you're interested in learning more about us compared to our competitors then make sure to check out our article Are Glide Inflatables the Best Inflatable Paddle Board?