First developed by Good Year Tires in the USA, with the backing of the US Military, the idea for inflatable drop stitch material was to consider the creation of inflatable bridges and even an inflatable plane. That was back in the 1950s and the technology has advanced in leaps and bounds since this time, whereby such material is used in all manner of ways, though inflatable stand up paddle boards, have served to accelerate and challenge the makers of this fabric.
Historically, Mistral were the first SUP company to use super lightweight, woven PVC drop stitch fabric, manufactured in Germany – and this was long before the mystical introduction of MSL (Monocoque Structural Laminate) developed by a factory in China and not indeed by a brand who would like to lay claim to it.
Mistral’s adoption of Germany’s revolutionary internal construction technology, consisted of multi PVC layers with a three-dimensional woven structure; in simple terms, the top and bottom layers were connected by multiple threads that are cross-woven rather than straight, creating 50% more durable warp and weft tensile strength than existing drop stitch technology. This resulted in a much lighter, stiffer and durable board. These we used on our Equipe range. These super light boards were made in Europe, using the German material, with components imported from Asia. Regrettably and despite winning awards for construction in the USA, the process was costly, making the boards a premium product which ticked all the boxes of being the lightest and stiffest on the market, ideal for travel.
In 2016, with all the fuss made of MSL, which certainly had advantages over conventional HDDS (High Density Drop Stitch) which relied upon separate multi-layers of PVC, Mistral responded and adopted essentially the same material, accepting we needed a new name and so FLT (Fusion Layer Technology) was born. Ironically, this name is now used in Asia to define this material as the universal name for this drop stitch material, which remains in essence the same as MSL.
FLT in its basic, original form, is fabricated using knitted technology, whereas our original material out of Germany, was fabricated using woven technology, making it way ahead of its time. The upside of a woven fabric, is that its tensile strength is substantially more than that of knitted material of the same thickness. This means it’s possible to manufacture a lighter board of equal dimensions and achieve a significant weight saving together with a more rigid board. For 2019 Mistral, are pleased to announce we’re introducing once again our award winning woven fabric technology combined with the advantages of FLT (Fusion Layer Technology) which will once again, make us leaders in the use of this technology.
To give but one example of the weight saving, if we take one of largest and most advanced dual chamber boards, the Trekkers, which uses conventional HDDS material (old tech multiple layer PVC sheets) our 12’6 weighed in at 16.9kg; for 2019 expect 11.3kg and for the 14’ at 18.1kg, expect a weight reduction to 12.6kg and across the existing range of our boards using FLT, expect an average weight reduction in the region of 20%, with an increase in board rigidity. Best of all it will not affect your back pocket, as the costings remain super competitive, if not even cheaper for some models.
We’re working hard to make a difference, to rise above cheap knock-offs and offer you a quality product with excellent performance, durability and resale value.