Whether you want to float down the river with a handful of friends or hang out on a lake with the family, you need a boat that won’t let you down. However, boats can be pretty expensive and those who use them only on occasion may not want to store a massive kayak or canoe at their home. That’s why an inflatable boat is a great option for many people who want convenience and easy of use without the expensive price tag.
Inflatable boats offer all sorts of features nowadays and can be used for all sorts of purposes from relaxing on the water to fishing or rushing down rapids on a river. These boats deflate so they can easily be transported in nearly any vehicle. Most can fit into the trunk of even a small car, but when inflated they can transport several people on the water.
However, choosing the inflatable vessel that is right for you can take a lot of time and research. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the 11 best inflatable boats you can find today. We’ll also explain what to consider when choosing the right boat for your needs so you’re happy with what you take out on the lake, river, or ocean.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Best Inflatable Boat
- 1.1 Intex Mariner 4 Inflatable Boat Set
- 1.2 BRIS 10.8-Ft Inflatable Boat
- 1.3 Intex Excursion 5 Inflatable Boat Set
- 1.4 Newport Vessels Dana Inflatable Sport Boat
- 1.5 Classic Accessories Colorado XT Inflatable Pontoon Boat
- 1.6 Sport Boats Shark Premium Inflatable Dinghy
- 1.7 BRIS 10-Ft Inflatable Boat
- 1.8 Airhead Angler Bay Inflatable Boat
- 1.9 HydroForce Voyager 1000 Inflatable Raft
- 1.10 Intex Seahawk 4 Inflatable Boat Set
- 1.11 Intex Explorer 300 Inflatable Boat Set
- 2 Choosing the Right Inflatable Boat for Your Needs
- 3 Type of Inflatable Boat
- 4 Frequency of Boat Use
- 5 Material Used to Construct Boat
- 6 Decking Design and Material
- 7 How to Store an Inflatable Boat
- 8 FAQ
- 9 Wrapping Up
The Best Inflatable Boat
Intex Mariner 4 Inflatable Boat Set
The Intex Mariner 4 is a boat that can do it all. It can be used for floating on a lazy river, fishing on a lake, or even exploring the ocean. It has a heavy-duty construction and rock guard to withstand brushes against rocks on the bottom of the water. The weight capacity of the boat is 880 pounds and it is capable of holding up to four adults. It also works well for two adults and two dogs or two adults and two children. This gives plenty of room for a cooler and any other stuff you need to bring with you.
The assembly with the Mariner 4 is easy, even for those who have never used an inflatable boat. It’s simple to transport without the need of extra storage as it can easily pop in the trunk when deflated. Assembling takes around 10 minutes when using the provided pump. An electric pump can bring that time down easily. There are four Boston valves which really speeds up inflating and deflating. While the solid floor adds weight to the boat, it also makes it extremely sturdy.
This boat has three inflatable seats which are fully removable. There is also a gear pouch for valuables and a battery pouch for those who choose to add a trolling motor. There are two grab handles and a grab lines to make carrying easy. In addition, the plastic flooring is sturdy and makes a great base for gear, coolers, and towels. There are oarlocks to make rowing easy and the kit comes with aluminum oars. Those going out to fish will also appreciate the fishing rod holders that are built in.
- Comes complete with aluminum oars and high-output air pump
- Very portable and easy to inflate and set up
- Affordable with high durability
- Warranty is only 30 days
BRIS 10.8-Ft Inflatable Boat
The BRIS 10.8-Ft inflatable boat is a fantastic option for anyone who wants a high level of durability and stability when out on the water. This boat is designed as a pontoon and is made from 1100 Denier 0.9 mm PVC fabric which adds the extra stability you want. This is emphasized even more through the aluminum platform, with a thickness of 12.5 mm, found on the floor of the inflatable boat.
This boat also has three separate air chambers for extra durability and less worry about deflation when on the water. In addition to the boat itself, this package also comes with seats, oars, a repair kit, carrying bag, and a foot pump. Once you install the seats, there’s plenty of space for everyone. With a capacity of over 1200 pounds, this boat can hold you, friends, pets, and all the gear you could want while enjoying fishing or floating on a river or lake.
There is a grab line along the perimeter which means that even in rough ocean waters, you can ride through comfortably. This inflatable boat has many different uses and can handle them all with ease. It can be used a portable dinghy or a primary boat in lakes and rivers. It can also be used as a life-saving raft if the occasion requires it. There is a built-in oarlock with a deep V-keep for protection. The boat can hold four to five people and is a dream to use on the water.
- Includes seats, oars, foot pump, carrying bag, and repair kit
- Comes with a durable aluminum floor
- Easy to assemble, inflate, and use
- One of the more expensive inflatable boats
Intex Excursion 5 Inflatable Boat Set
The Intex Excursion 5 is a great family inflatable boat that also does well for fishing purposes. The boat can hold up to five people and the design assures there is room for everyone. The seats are placed in a strategic manner and come with back rests for comfort. There are also paddles that come with the boat or it can have a motor installed if you purchase one separately. There are paddle locks to hold your paddles when not in use, along with four fishing rod holders. While the floor is soft and doesn’t allow standing, you will likely find you don’t have a need to do so.
This boat has a capacity of 1000 pounds and features a three-chambered design. Each of them holds air independently so if one pops, you won’t be tossed out into the water to fend for yourself. As far as inflation goes, it’s quick and easy. The boat comes with a high-pressure manual pump or an electric pump can be used. The boat is ideal for heading out on the water to relax and fish with lots of room for gear, snacks, and drinks so you can enjoy the water in comfort.
Anglers who want an affordable boat that works well will find this option a steal. It has comfortable seats with rubber handles on the paddles for comfort. The rod holders are also placed in a comfortable position so you can easily operate them without trouble. It is a bit heavier than some boats but can easily deflate and store in a small space.
- Features four built-in fishing rod holders
- Comes with aluminum oars and high-output air pump
- Safe and buoyant with three air chambers
- Heavier than many other options
Newport Vessels Dana Inflatable Sport Boat
The Newport Vessels Dana is a fantastic inflatable boat to go on all your favorite water excursions. Whether you want to fish, race, or just hang out in the water, the boat will make it completely possible. It’s one of the smaller boats in the Newport Vessels lineup at 106 inches long and 69 inches wide. It weighs 107 pounds, which is a bit heavier than some other boats. However, this allows it to have a capacity of over 1000 pounds which can easily hold up to three adults.
This inflatable boat has four air chambers unlike many boats with only three. There are three main chambers and one for the keel of the boat. The tubes are large and measure 18 inches in diameter. That makes the boat super buoyant and stable even when going at high speeds. The marine wood flooring with an aluminum frame also adds to the stability of the boat, making it easy to move around the deck without worrying much about balance.
The boat is constructed from 1100 Denier PVC which is known to be resistant to punctures and abrasions. That means you don’t have to stress about bumps in the water damaging the boat. Inflating the boat may take a few minutes for a first time used but after a couple of tries, you’ll be able to do so quickly. Deflation only takes around five minutes and the boat can be transported easily since the PVC construction is flexible.
- Features an aluminum framed marine wood flooring
- Comes with floor panels, bench seat, repair kit, aluminum oars, foot pump, and carrying bag
- Large weight capacity of 1067 pounds
- Floor may be hard to install for some
Classic Accessories Colorado XT Inflatable Pontoon Boat
This inflatable boat is a pontoon design and is rated for weight of up to 400 pounds. The boat is best for a single adult or an adult with a small dog. Solo anglers and adventurers will appreciate all the extras that come with this boat. It has tons of storage so you can bring along everything you need for a day on the water. There are side storage pockets which can be removed to turn into a gear bag. This lets you easily carry all your belongings with you going to and from the inflatable boat.
This boat comes with a transport wheel, which makes getting the boat to the water easy even if you aren’t capable of carrying a heavy weight. Those who want faster movement in the water will appreciate the motor mount that comes standard with this inflatable. It has footrests and adjustable seats for comfort in the water. There is a rod holder which can be place din different positions and locked in place. The boat also comes with two-piece oars with an anchoring system in the boat.
Since there are lots of features with this boat, it can take a bit longer to setup, but it isn’t overly difficult. You will need to use an air pump but once it is fully inflated, the wheel makes it simple to get into the water. For a single-person inflatable boat, you get a lot of features for a reasonable price.
- Offers a rod holder and cup holders for convenience
- Removable gear bags for additional storage
- Easy to use anchor system included
- May be less stable than other options
Sport Boats Shark Premium Inflatable Dinghy
The Sport Boats Shark inflatable boat was created by nautical engineers and a lot of consideration went into the design to offer the ultimate boat. The tubes are industry-leading in terms of size and the pontoons in the rear let you push through water with nearly no effort at all. It also offers heat-welded seams that keep the seams together in any kind of environment. There is next to no chance that they will come apart after even years of use in rough waters and adverse conditions.
This dinghy measures 9’8” long and is 5’ wide. It can carry up to five people with a weight capacity of 1158 pounds. The way the seating is set up ensures everyone has plenty of room and bringing a pet or two along is also an option with this inflatable boat. The material the boat is constructed from is 9 mm, 1100 Denier PVC for a high level of durability. There are also aluminum floors which can be installed and removable seats to use as you like depending on how many people are aboard.
This boat can handle a motor of up to 15 horsepower and comes with two aluminum oars and lock-in holders to keep them secure while you fish or float on the water. There is plenty of storage when the boat isn’t full, but it can be a bit tight with five people on board. The seats on the boat are made of aluminum and give a traditional feel compared to most inflatable vessels.
- Features an aluminum floor of stability
- Created by nautical engineers
- Offers heat-welded seams for durability
- Instructions may be confusing to some
BRIS 10-Ft Inflatable Boat
The Bris 10-Ft inflatable boat is a beauty to look at with bright red material and black accents. The boat is constructed from tough materials and can handle a load of 1100 pounds. This is a reasonably priced option that features 1100 Denier PVC, aluminum decking and floor, and aluminum seats. Both beginners to boating and those who are professional will find that there are features they will enjoy using on the water.
The inflatable tubes feature extra protection in the form of an extra 2.4 mm of heavy-duty PVC on the bottom. This ensures that even if the boat knocks against rocks or other abrasive materials, it will be able to easily withstand that. There is little to worry about in terms of tears, scratches, rips, or punctures with the Bris inflatable boat. Up to four people can fit on this boat without a problem.
The floor is made of aluminum which helps the boat move faster in water than an inflatable floor is capable of. There is also run and space to add a motor mount and motor if you want to ratchet up your speed exponentially. The boat has oarlocks to keep your oars safe while fishing or relaxing in the boat. It also comes with a foot pump, repair kit, seat, oars, and a carrying bag.
- Double layer material on bottom of tubes for durability
- Aluminum floor for added stability
- Includes seat, oars, carrying bag, foot pump, and repair kit
- Weighs quite a bit and may be difficult to transport
Airhead Angler Bay Inflatable Boat
One of the first things to note about the Airhead Angler Bay is that it offers a movable seat so you can set your boat up in the manner that works best for you. While the boat doesn’t come with oars like some boats do, it does come with a mount for a trolling motor. It has drink holders, rod holders, and grab lines. It also has much taller sidewalls than many other inflatable boats out there today. The boat can hold up to six people but works better with four adults and 2 kids or a dog or two.
The boat itself is quite sturdy for a PVC inflatable boat. While even the floor is inflatable, this is a stable vessel on the water. While it can handle rocks, it does best in slower rivers and lakes. It has a strong two rope, paddle locks on the side, and rod holders in the back of the boat. The boat can easily be stored in a trunk and takes little time to inflate and set up.
The boat can hold up to 900 pounds but when six people are aboard, it can get a bit cramped. If fewer people are on board, you’ll have enough space for all the passengers as well as whatever gear you want to bring along on your journey. This is a great boat at a reasonable price for those who want something that is easy to move, set up, and use.
- Comes equipped with drink holders
- Tall sidewalls to prevent water coming in
- Mobile seat can be adjusted as you like
- May be crowded when filled with people
HydroForce Voyager 1000 Inflatable Raft
This is a well-equipped fishing boat that is appropriate for one or two adults. The HydroForce Voyager 1000 has everything you need to enjoy some time in the sun out on the nearest lake. It comes with 2 seats, but you can install one if you are heading out alone. This also gives you the option of bringing along more gear. It comes with paddles that are a bit longer than usual which makes for easy gliding through the water.
The boat has a durable PVC construction to withstand rocks along with aluminum paddles and a high-quality storage bag. The floor can’t be used for standing since it’s soft, but it is sturdy and you have plenty of room for supplies. The boat also offers the chance to add a motor of up to 1.4 horsepower. While the boat can be used by 2 adults, it is more comfortable with one adult or an adult and child or a dog.
The storage bag allows you to easily stow away the boat when not in use and when you want to use it, inflation takes around ten minutes. Carrying the boat from a vehicle to the water is a cinch by virtue of the grab handles that are attached to it. The boat also comes with an air pump so there’s no need to purchase one separately unless you prefer an electric model.
- Comes with longer paddles than most inflatable boats
- Features seats that can be removed at will
- Value option for recreation or fishing
- Floor is not appropriate for standing
Intex Seahawk 4 Inflatable Boat Set
The Intex Seahawk 4 is an excellent boat for families. It has plenty of room for two adults and two kids while leaving space for a cooler. This is a nice entry level inflatable boat for exploring and enjoying the water. The boat also works nicely for an angler or two and all of their gear. The rod holders make it ideal for anglers and you can add a trolling motor if you want to add extra speed to the boat.
The boat can hold four people and up to 880 pounds. It also includes two inflatable seat cushions for extra comfort. Moving and handling the boat is also simple because of the two grab handles and a grab line that goes around the entire boat. There are also two welded oar locks that make rowing nearly effortless. The boat comes with a gear pouch, repair kit, and hand pump for inflating.
The 30-gauge PVC vinyl used in the Seahawk 4 is heavy-duty and offers strength and resistance to damage. If something happens and a hole occurs, there are separate air chambers for added safety in those situations. While the boat isn’t appropriate for rafting, it can handle calmer waters like lakes, rivers, and streams. Those who want to bring a dog along will find it tricky due to the soft bottom, but plywood can be used to add sturdiness.
- Comes with hand pump, aluminum oars, seat cushions, and gear pouch
- Two rod holders included at rear of boat
- Made by one the of the top inflatable boat companies
- Looses air over the course of a few hours
Intex Explorer 300 Inflatable Boat Set
If you are looking for an extremely inexpensive inflatable, you can’t do much better than the Intex Explorer. The price is low, and you get not only a boat, but also oars, hand pump, and repair patches in case you spring a leak. It also comes with Coast Guard ID tag. The boat can hold three people but has a weight capacity of 410 so it may be better for one adult and two kids or a dog rather than three adults.
The boat features welded on oar locks for easy paddling and it can be used for fishing, relaxing, or just enjoying time with the family. The hand pump that comes with it will inflate the boat in a few minutes and deflation is just as simple. There are two air chambers on the Explorer 300 and double valves for easy of use. Moving the boat to and from the water is also a cinch as it comes with a grab rope on the bow.
This is a nice value boat for a beginner, but it is best used on calm water like lakes or slow-moving streams. If the hand pump takes too long, you can easily purchase an electric pump to speed things up a little bit. While the boat is expected to carry three adults, it’s better to leave it at two unless everyone on the vessel is quite small.
- Comes with oars, repair patch, and a small hand pump
- Welded oar locks and grab rope for convenience
- Tracking is difficult compared to other inflatable boats
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.