Choosing the Right Inflatable Boat for Your Needs
Inflatable boats haven’t been around for very long and their new proliferation on the market offers an alternative to canoes and kayaks. It’s no longer needed to choose a hard-bodied boat that takes up a lot of space and can be troublesome to transport to the water. When choosing an inflatable vessel, you want to be sure it’s resilient, sturdy, and puncture-proof. With many great boats out there today, this isn’t as hard as it used to be.
If this is your first time purchasing an inflatable boat or you want to be a savvy buyer, there are a few things to think about when choosing the right boat for yourself.
You may be interested in our complete Intex Explorer K2 Kayak review.
Type of Inflatable Boat
Just like any other type of boat, inflatable boats come in many shapes and sizes. You can choose a canoe-type, kayak-type, single, tandem, or other boat. Here are the basics about each so you can decide which will best fit your needs.
- Canoe – Inflatable canoe-type boats are often a good choice for one to two people who have some gear to stash. These boats have room for your gear and are comfortable enough for fishing trips or even multiple-day camping trips. These boats are less agile and small but offer a higher level of flexibility when you need it.
- Kayak – Kayak-type inflatable boats are usually smaller and can zip around at a good pace. They are often the most lightweight and can fit in any vehicle without any trouble. Some are even small enough to fit into a backpack.
- Rafts – Inflatable boats that are made as rafts are best for those who want to hang out on the water with a handful of other people. Some of them can hold six or more people and are used as party boats.
Regardless of the type of boat that fits your needs, most of them made for recreational use will include features like cup holders, mounted oars, and extra storage.
Frequency of Boat Use
The amount you will be using the boat should also be a factor in choosing the one right for you. If you only use it on occasion, you may be okay with a lower-quality boat that comes at a great price. However, anyone who plans to get regular use out of their boat should consider quality. You want a durable boat that will last on multiple trips out on the water. This might mean increasing your budget to ensure you get the quality you need. On the other hand, a simple inexpensive kayak will work fine for the kids to use on a trip to the lake.
Material Used to Construct Boat
Most of the inflatable boats on the market are made of PVC but there are a handful made of Hypalon. This makes it easy to decide which is right for you. Those who are on a budget often choose a PVC boat, some of which are extremely durable and high-quality. The boats made of PVC actually use a fabric coated with PVC. These are durable and dependable materials that work well for most people. Hypalon is believed by some to offer better performance but it also makes the boat heavier. Most people go with PVC but there are options if you want the best quality for regular use and don’t mind a heavier inflatable boat.
Decking Design and Material
In many cases, the decking underneath of an inflatable boat is either made of a high-quality PVC material or is made of aluminum planks that you fit together to create a sturdier floor. Aluminum is more rigid, which allows you to stand on the boat to fish or enjoy the sun. These boat bottoms are closer to what you would expect with a regular flat-bottom boat. The aluminum pieces form a solid bottom that can be safer and more secure.
With an inflatable bottom, you get one or more high-pressure tubes for rigidity and structure. However, the floor is still going to be softer than a normal boat and some people may feel less secure using it. In most cases, the bottom of this type of floor is protected with additional material so it is hard to puncture from below. It’s still important to be careful and avoid sharp objects as rips and tears can still happen.
How to Store an Inflatable Boat
If you’re spending your hard-earned money on a boat, you want to make sure it lasts long enough to give you pleasure. That means taking care of the boat and ensuring it’s in good shape. This is easier than you might think, and the first step is to store the boat away from sunlight, which can damage inflatables over a long period of time. The best storage option for inflatable boats is an area that is dry and cool. The boat should be cleaned and dried before storage but only with cleaners intended for PVC use.
Check out our round on the best boat grill.
Many people who are interested in buying inflatable boats have questions they want answered before they commit to buying. Below are some of the most common questions regarding inflatable boats, along with answers to those questions.
Why Should You Choose an Inflatable?
With such a wide range of boat options available today, some wonder what makes an inflatable boat a good choice. There are actually quite a few reasons to consider these types of boats and reasons that they might be the best option for your needs. One of the biggest benefits is that they tend to be very portable. Because they are lightweight when compared with other types of boats, it will be easier for you to carry them or move them to the lake or river, for example.
In addition, because they can be deflated, it means you do not have to worry about having a large space for storage. Consider many of the other types of boats that are often used for fishing or recreational boating – they take up space in the driveway or the backyard. The inflatable boat can be stored away quickly and easily, even if you don’t have a garage.
One of the other reasons that inflatable boats are such a popular choice is because they are lower in price than what you will find with most other types of boats. This makes them more affordable to a greater number of people. If you’ve always wanted to have a boat, but you weren’t sure you could afford one, an inflatable might be the answer.
Will Inflatable Boats Sink?
When some people today think about inflatable boats, they worry that they are going to pop a hole in it when they are in the middle of a lake or when they are rafting down a river. However, that’s not something that you will generally have to worry about. The boats tend to be made from high-quality materials that are designed to withstand impacts with rocks and sticks.
They are meant to last and to be durable – within reason. You will not have many problems with your inflatable boat, but there is a possibility that there could be a puncture. Most of the boats feature multiple chambers of air, which means you should not have to worry about the entire boat losing air if there is a puncture. If there is a puncture, it is possible to make repairs to the boat once you get back to land. Most boats will come with a repair kit. If yours doesn’t, you can buy a repair kit separately and keep it with you when you are out on the water.
How Can I Transport the Inflatable Boat?
Because it is an inflatable, you will find that transporting the boat with your vehicle is nice and easy. You don’t have to worry about towing a large boat around and having a vehicle that’s powerful enough. All you need to have is a vehicle that has enough space to hold the boat when it is deflated. Truck, SUVs, and even many sedans and compact cars will have enough space to store the boat when you are transporting it.
Now that you know the basics of choosing an inflatable boat and have a list of some of the best options out there, you can easily find one that fits your needs. These boats are great budget-friendly option to enjoy the water. They tend to be lightweight and inexpensive so anyone can purchase one. Take a look at the boats above as any of them would make a great choice for your inflatable vessel of choice.