An inflatable boat is an item that should last you a long time, and by choosing the right brand and model is crucial if you are thinking of making an investment in an inflatable boat.
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. This review of the 10 Best Inflatable Boats on the market in 2018 was done by me to help you to choose the best Inflatable Boat for you.
An Inflatable Boat can also be used for fishing, family trips or just enjoying your self on the water, they can very easily replace a normal boat and the Inflatable Boat will offer you a lot of new functions and experiences for years to come.
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. It has taken me a while to narrow down this list to the 10 top choices, but I’m hoping that you’ll agree these are perfect choices for your summer adventure.
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
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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 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 whitewater rafting and kayaking.
- Ribs (it stands for Rigid Inflatable Boats) have a 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 an 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 sports boats and dinghies.
- Sports boats are more durable heavy duty recreational boats, while dinghies are light duty. If you want a sports 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 sports 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 sports 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.
- 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 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 the best fishing kayak.
- Inflatable kayaks 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.
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. They 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 the 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 then, thanks to his hobby, the company has become really successful.
- Saturn: They’re a well-known company with 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 brands of inflatable boats. They use their own high quality trademarked fabrics and produce mostly only high-quality product.
Overview of the Top 10 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 with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
- 3 air chambers including an auxiliary air chamber in hull for extra buoyancy
- Inflatable I-Beam floor for comfort and rigidity
- Motor mount fitting
This one makes the top of the list. It is great for exploring tours and rowing. 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 with 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.
- Very easy boat to set up
- Extremely portable
- Comes with a variety of accessories
- Has plenty of amazing features
- Excellent value for money
- Rowing is not easy in this boat
- Question mark over its durability when compared to more expensive boats on the market
Intex Seahawk 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
- Inflatable boat set designed for recreational boating or fishing on lakes
- Holds up to 4 people; 2 air chambers for safety; front and rear inflatable cushions
- 2 fishing rod holders at the rear; includes welded oarlocks, oar holders, and oars
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.
- A very easy product to set up
- Lightweight product
- Very compact and affordable
- There are separate air chambers
- Very easy to store when not in use
- Comes with incredible accessories
- Has a very soft floor which can make standing a bit tricky
- Not as durable as other expensive models
- The seats have no back rest
Classic Accessories Colorado Inflatable Pontoon Boat With Motor Mount
- Rod holder can be mounted in three different positions on each oar stand
- Sturdy two position Motor mount for trolling
- Anchor System with fillable mesh bag
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 rest and a weatherproof motor mount, you can choose the mode of operation which is 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.
- A very compact inflatable boat
- Has a great storage space
- Very stable boat
- It is fun to paddle in this boat
- The load capacity is good
- Very functional boat
- This boat is slightly heavier than other models
- The oar lock system does cause issues
Newport Vessels 20M1000017
- Sturdy and stable
- Easy to carry around
- Made from top quality materials
This boat from Newport Vessels is very easy to set and it only takes around 20 minutes. Since this boat is 8 feet and 10 inches, loading and unloading your items is much easier than other boats on the market.
When you buy this boat, you will get a wide range of accessories like a bag and a foot pump. The bag makes it easy for you to carry it around and put it in your car if you are going on a fishing trip.
There are two major drawbacks of this boat and one of them is it can only fit 2 people. Many customers wish it had more space for more than 2 people and it is not very strong. In harsh conditions, this boat is known to show signs of tears and wear plus it is not robust.
- Perfect for show people because the sitting position offers more height
- Takes around 20 minutes to set up
- Comes with a wide range of accessories like a bag and foot pump
- Has very strong handles
- Very easy board to load
- Not as robust as most boats on the market
- Can only fit 2 people
- Most customers feel that this boat is not very strong
Outroad Inflatable Dinghy Fishing Boat 10 Feet
- 10-foot boat
- Durable floor
- Fits 4 people
This 10-foot boat from Outroad is a real gem and you can tell that the manufactures put plenty of heart and passion in it. They have made a name for themselves over the year and this boat is up there with some of their best on the market.
The only drawback of this tool according to many customers is it’s not very strong. This is because the materials it is made from are very light. If it was made from durable material, it would be very sturdy however, the positives it brings to the table outweigh this one negative.
One of the positives is, of course, the price. This boat is very affordable and its impressive size is enough to fit between 4-6 people. What is also wonderful about this boat is it has two air chambers and its v-keel design provides control and stability.
- Comes in a variety of colors and two air chambers
- Very affordable products especially for people with limited funds
- Very flexible
- Very good size
- Not a very sturdy boat according to many customers
Intex Mariner 4 Person Inflatable Boat
- Four Boston valves on the main hull chamber for quick-fills and fast-deflations
- The keel is inflatable; this results in improved control and handling
- Strong molecular structure of this plastic makes it highly resistant to damage from abrasion, impact and sunlight
If you are looking to have a very nice relaxed day at the lake, the Intex Excursion 5 person inflatable boat is just what you need. This boat has enough room and space to accomodate 4 people as well as their fishing equipment.
It has a very comfortable seat and the keel ensures you are in control everytime you take to the water. Made from strong vinyl, this boat is able to hold it own even when you are travelling in shallow water or rocky areas. The sun’s rays are very harmful and it is great for customers to know that this boat is UV resistance thanks to the vinyl material
- Super lightweight
- Easy to store
- UV resistant
- Very comfortable sits
- Has storage pouches
- Very durable
- Easy to inflate
- Not idea when conditions are harsh
- The oars are not very strong
- Does not come with a motor
Intex Excursion 5 Person Inflatable Boat
If you have a party of 5 and need a boat that can accomodate everyone, the Intex Excursion 5 person inflatable boat. This beautifully designed boat was designed for 5 people however, one of its major downsides is the storage space. If there are 5 people on board, there won’t be enough room for everyone to fit their gear.
While this is not a big issue, there is no denying that the Intex Excursion 5 person inflatable boat is a very durable boat. When compared to others on the market, it comes with some nice accessories, it’s affordable, easy to set up and most importantly, it is portable.
- Comes with a variety of accessories
- Extremely portable and has so many features
- Very easy boat to set up
- Good quality boat
- Its design makes it difficult to row
- Limited storage space
- The oars that are on this boat are very basic
Inflatable Sport Boats Killer Whale 10.8′
- Sleek white color
- Floor and seats are strong
- Environmentaly friendly
- Lighter and easy to assemble
Eighth on the list is the Killer Whale 10.8 boat from Inflatable Sport Boats Killer. If you are looking for a boat that is very versatile and able to hold its own in harsh conditions, this is worth buying.
It takes around 10 minutes to inflate this boat however, you will need to buy an electric pump as it doesn’t come with one. This boat is very cleverly designed with floors that are made from aluminum meaning there is no existence of poky edges plus durable.
It also has storage compartments in case you want to take extra items with you on your fishing trip. Traveling with this boat is very easy because it comes with its storage bag. When not in use, just simply deflate it and put it in its storage bag.
- This boat is very easy to travel with and comes with a storage bag
- Very easy boat to store
- There is no presence of poky edges which are common in the floors of other inflatable boats
- Very well made and incredibly stable
- Can be inflated in less than 10 minutes
- Plenty of compartment to safely store your items
- Able to withstand harsh conditions
- Most people find the floor very difficult to put together
- Has only one sit
- Would have been better if it came with an electric pump to inflate faster
- Instructions are very hard to follow
Sea Eagle Stealth Stalker STS10
- Weighs 45 pounds
- Fits two people
- Can be assembled in 15 minutes
- Durable and sturdy
The Stealth Stalker STS10 Frameless Fishing Boat from Sea Eagle is a very to handle and provides you with a great fishing experience. There is plenty of room on this boat and you don’t have to worry about leaving any accessories or essentials behind. The two seats are very comfortable and this boat is stable enough for you to stand in it.
It comes with a leg pump making it very easy to inflate in 15 to 20 minutes. With a repair kit and storage bag, you can easily store this boat in your car however, it does a few drawbacks which put customers off buying it.
Even though it can fit in your car, it is a very hard boat to transport because it is very heavy. Most of the weight comes from the chairs meaning you need to own a car that can carry the extra weight. Aside from these negatives, this is a very durable boat that is perfect for a fishing trip.
- Easy to inflate and only takes a few minutes
- Very durable boat
- Comes with a repair kit, foot pump, and storage bag
- Has two very comfortable seats
- Very stable and you can stand in it
- The chairs on the boat make it very bulky
- Hard to transport
- Not easy to carry because the chairs add extra weight
HydroForce Caspian Pro 9’3″ Inflatable Boat
- Perfect for 3 adults and a child
Ever wanted to own an inflatable boat that allows you to go for a water adventure with your pets and friends, the HydroForce Caspian Pro 9’3″ Inflatable Boat from Bestway is a must-have.
Its amazing compact size makes it sturdy and stable when conditions are harsh. It is a wonderful boat for beginners because it comes with a repair kit, seats and oars. All you need is 20 minutes and it is ready to be used plus it is very affordable.
The downside of this boat is the seats are not very strong and it is a very heavy boat to move around especially if you are on your own.
- Strong enough to withstand harsh conditions
- Comes with a repair kit, seats and oars
- Comes with an air hammer pump which allows you to inflate it faster
- Is ready in 20 minutes
- Doesn’t require you to break the bank to afford
- The seats on this boat are not very strong
- Moving it alone can be very tricky
- Very heavy
You have already seen 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.
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: 6×6 per cm is more resilient than 3×3 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 aluminum 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 a 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.
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!
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