Best Inflatable Boat Guide And Reviews For Epic Adventures

best inflatable boat guide
Joe
Written by Joe

Having an inflatable boat is great! The possibilities are endless: camping, fishing, tubing, exploring and more. We review canoes, dinghies, kayaks and ribs

Having an inflatable boat is great! The possibilities are limitless: camping, fishing, tubing, exploring and generally just being on the water is a great way to relax . You can customize your boat to your needs and spend either great quality time with your partner and family or enjoy many amazing weekends alone in the wild.

A good inflatable fishing boat or anytime boat to practice some water-sports on is a lot of fun, but it has to be safe and durable. If you don't know what makes a good inflatable boat, you might make a poor choice. And you don't want to be stuck with the one that can't do what you want it to do, right?

We’ve prepared this guide to inform you about the best boats and it should save you a lot of time and money. You will learn how to pick the best inflatable boat that is both safe and enjoyable. However, there is no single best. By the end of the article you will be able to choose the one that suits your own personal needs.

In this article I am going to break down what different types of inflatable boats there are, some of the best brands, the top rated boats and some inflatable boat reviews.

Let's get started!

Comparison Of The Best Inflatable Boats Available To Buy Today​

Different Types of Inflatable Boats

There are all kinds of inflatable boats now. Depending on your needs, budget and taste you can choose the one that is best for you. But when you are new to this, it is very difficult to sort out all the types they have on the market. To make it easier for you, I made a list.

Generally speaking, there are two categories of inflatable boats:

Fabric bottom inflatable boats and inflatable canoes. They can be deflated, folded, and stored in compact bags. It makes them ideal for those of us who have limited storage. They are also usually cheaper, smaller and slower than the second category. If you need a boat for personal recreational use on a lake, river or ocean, this is probably what you want. These boats are also great for white water rafting and kayaking.

RIBs. It stands for Rigid Inflatable Boats. They have rigid floor and solid hull which helps it easily cut through waves making the ride more comfortable when you travel fast and in rough conditions. These boats are very buoyant, almost unsinkable and have extremely good carrying capacity.

However, if we dig deeper, there are more types of inflatable boats than only these two.

Depending on the size and construction, fabric bottom foldable boats can be divided into sport boats and dinghies.

Sport boats are more durable heavy duty recreational boats, while dinghies are light duty. If you want a sport boat you should look at the fabric weight. It is usually expressed in denier or decitex. You are looking for bigger numbers here. It will mean that the fabric is tougher. The floor of a sport boat is sectional. Judging from inflatable boat reviews, it is more durable than just an inflatable floor. The material of this type of boat is PVC or Hypalon.

Dinghies are lighter, smaller and cheaper than sport boats. They are also called tenders. If you need an inflatable for small fishing trips, this is a great choice. However, this type of boat is not suitable to load a lot of gear or to go on long trips with a lot of people.

best inflatable boat airhead angler inflatable dinghy

Inflatable Rafts have flat bottoms and do not have a transom. Another name for these type of boats is soft tails. Rafts include different size boats from the cheap vinyl to heavy duty whitewater boats. Some of them even have a motor mount.
Inflatable pontoon boats or catamaran rafts. This type is basically a platform suspended between two large floating tubes. The passenger is sitting on the tubes and gets all the waves and splashes. It’s usually the perfect boat for a lazy day on the water fishing on a the best fishing kayak.

hydroforce caspian on the sea

Inflatable kayaks that are easily confused with inflatable canoes. They are very easy to set up, carry and pack. There are also many different models for any kind of water.

Quality Brands of Inflatable Boats

There are more than 100 brands that produce inflatable boats. Choosing a more popular brand name does not necessarily mean choosing better quality. However it does usually mean that you will have to pay more. Sometimes small and new companies can surprise you by offering great quality at a decent price. But if you do not want to risk, go with the brands that have been tried and tested by many other customers.

Here is the list of some popular inflatable boat manufacturers:
Advanced Elements, California.

The company specializes in inflatable kayaks but has also other kinds of products. They emphasize consistent innovation, refinement, and evolution of their designs.

AIRE

AIRE, Meridian, Idaho. The company has been making inflatables for 20 years. It is the leading provider of boats of all kinds to rental boat companies. Their boats are used by the U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Defense. I think the fact speaks for itself.

Aire is well known because of their high quality construction, good customer service, and a ten-year no-fault warranty.

Aqualine

These guys have been in business for some time. It offers lightweight, well-built dinghies with quite a lot of room, harbor runabouts and whitewater rafts. The company is known for its “boat in a bag” approach. It means your boat is almost ready to go as soon as you approach water.

Creek Company, Colorado.

They have been designing innovative fishing gear for more than 25 years. The range of their products includes inflatable pontoon boats, float tubes, inflatable canoes, stand up paddleboards and fly fishing accessories.

Intex.

It is a company with more than 40 years of history. It produces all kinds of inflatable products including airbeds, pools, spas, toys and furniture. Even though they don't specialize exclusively in boats, they make very good and affordable ones.

Maxxon

Based in Washington, Maxon makes good quality inflatable dinghies, tenders, river rafts, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, pontoons and more.

Newport Vessels

This company provides good quality affordable inflatable boats and marine accessories. It was founded in 2008 in San Francisco and has already gained some respect on the market.

Northwest River Supply

They were founded in 1972 by a business professor named Bill Parks to prove that the principles he taught to his students could work in the real world. Since than, thanks to his hobby, the company has become really successful.

Saturn

They're  a well known company for a great care of products. You may be surprised, but they also make inflatable boats with good quality-cost balance.

Sea Eagle

This is one of the world's premier source for Inflatable SUPs, inflatable boats, inflatable kayaks and canoes. Their pricing starts at $199. They also do great work in making the best kayak paddles at an affordable price.

Zodiac

Zodiac is probably one of the most recognizable brand of inflatable boats. They use their own high quality trademarked fabrics and produce mostly only high quality product.

Overview of the Top 5 Inflatable Boats

If you don't know where to start on the road to your perfect inflatable boat, here is a list of top ones available on the market right now. They present the best compromise between quality and price and include the newest developments.

Intex Excursion 5, 5-Person Inflatable Boat Set

Intex Excursion 5

This one makes the top of the list. It is great for exploring tours and rowing. It It is a good reliable boat for people who like spending time on water either paddling, fishing, or floating down the river.

It is a heavy-duty boat made from tough puncture-resistant PVC vinyl that is thicker than an air mattress. I-beam floor, 2 inflatable seats with backrests, and a cozy middle seat ensure that the time you spend exploring with this boat will be comfortable and enjoyable.

The boat comes in a set which includes 2, 54-inch aluminum oars, welded on locks and oar holders, and a high-output pump for easy inflation and deflation. So, you won’t have to buy all those things separately.

You definitely will not regret buying this boat. You can even install a trolling motor on it (just don't forget to register it if you do) to make your ride even more exciting.

Intex Seahawk 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set

Intex Seahawk 4

This our second choice is almost as good as number one. The boat is ideal for recreational boating or fishing on lakes and calm rivers. Like the first boat in the list, it also comes with a set of everything you need to immediately hit the water. It fits up to four people, so you can go on a ride with all your family. The kids will love it. The material is 30-gauge PVC vinyl that resists damage from abrasion, impacts, and sunlight. This thing won't pop unless it hits a very sharp rock. You shouldn't be afraid to go near logs and other such things. It’s perfectly fine to mount a motor because the PVC fabric is not affected by gasoline, oil, or saltwater. Intex Seahawk 4 is great for you if you like fishing, it has two fishing rod holders at the rear on both sides.

Classic Accessories Colorado XT Inflatable Pontoon Boat With Transport Wheel & Motor Mount.

Classic Accessories Colorado XT Inflatable Pontoon Boat

All reviews of this inflatable pontoon boat prove that at this price there is no other pontoon that will compare. It is very easy and pleasant to navigate on a river or lake. Thanks to the 3 oar-lock positions with built in oar rests and a weatherproof motor mount, you can choose the mode of operation which right for your trip. You can explore very shallow waters with this thing because of the powder-coated steel tube frame and heavy-duty pontoons that are made from abrasion-resistant PVC. It also takes less than 10 minutes to assemble and disassemble.

HydroForce Voyager 1000 Inflatable Raft

HydroForce Voyager 1000 Inflatable Raft

This one is a great buy for the money. It is very sturdy and can stand some rock abrasion because of 3-ply reinforced vinyl that gives some extra strength. The boat easily fits two adults and one kid and it is still comfortable. It is easy to maneuver when paddling. And the seats are very good. It is a great raft to recommend to anyone.

Sea Eagle SE9 Inflatable Motormount Boat

Sea Eagle SE9 Inflatable Motormount Boat

This is a great fishing boat. It offers huge storage capacity for all the needed gear and the caught fish. Just imagine, it includes over 20 pockets and 2 insulated drink holders for your bear. It has a weatherproof motor mount, wire rear storage and battery platform. You can mount the fishing rod holder in 6 different positions. There is an integrated anchor system with fillable mesh bag, and the cord and pulley can be mounted from either side or back. You will be very comfortable sitting in a padded plastic seat waiting for your biggest fish with your feet stretched in the adjustable foot rests. The pontoon rides high improving the visibility. It will be a great choice.

Other Top Inflatable Boats

Intex Mariner 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set

Intex Mariner 4

Intex Excursion 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set

intex excursion 4

HydroForce Marine Pro Inflatable Raft

HydroForce Marine Pro Inflatable Raft

AIRHEAD AHIBF-06 Angler Bay 6 Person Inflatable Boat

AIRHEAD AHIBF-06 Angler Bay

HydroForce Caspian 7'7" Inflatable Boat

Buying Guide


You have already saw that there is a huge variety of inflatable boats. Depending on your particular situation, there are different factors to consider when choosing your best boat.

The first and for some people the most important factor is the price. You don't want to break the bank if you need a boat only a few times a year, right? So, if you don't have a lot of money to spare, I would advise you to buy a budget model. It will be smaller and less durable, but if the cost is more important for you than those characteristics, you will still be able to get a decent boat for your small fishing trips.

Material

Inflatables are made from PVC or Hypalon. PVC is very popular because it is lighter and cheaper. It folds easily and with new development it is claimed to be pretty strong. When you choose a boat made from PVC, pay attention to the denier of the threads of the material: the higher - the stronger. Also look how tightly-woven the thread is: 6x6 per cm is more resilient than 3x3 per cm. PVC may be damaged by sunlight, heat, and humidity. Hypalon is heavier, more expensive and very robust. It is often used for RIBs.

Inflatable boats, as you've read before, have either an inflatable ‘air deck’ or a rigid floor made from aluminium or plywood. Choose the first one if you need lightweight, softness for the knees and an easy assembly process. The advantages of the second are high speed, higher structural rigidity, plus more efficient use of power.
If you want a boat with hard floor, here is a video on how to assemble it: 

Additional assets. Besides the boat itself you will need some other basic accessories such as oars, seats, a pump, a repair kit, lifting points, and a carry bag. If you want more than basics, you can check if the boat has multiple air chambers for safety or an inflatable thwart for extra strength. Inflatable keel can also improve directional stability. And you might need wheels for transportation.

Conclusion

So, having read this article, have you decided what inflatable boat is the best for you? If you are still thinking, I hope now you have at least a general idea of what types and models of boats are available, so that you can make a reasonable decision. You should also read as many inflatable boat reviews as you can because real boat owners can tell you a lot more details than this article could ever cover.

Have fun with your new boat!

About the author

Joe

Joe

I'm Joe, I run Nature Rated. I love spending time in the outdoors. Whenever daily life gets me down I head to the nearest lake or river with my kayak and my camera and I spend time recharging my batteries. I hope you'll love my no fluff to the point reviews and that they'll help you choose the right gear for your next adventure!

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