Compared to a standard kayak, the inflatable boat is more suited for cruising around in the ocean or fishing. Many differ by their floor construction with the option of rigid aluminum slats or an air deck, which both offer separate benefits.
The best inflatable boat is the Newport Vessel Dinghy, which features a 1,100D UV coated PVC construction and aluminum rigid floor slats for a solid ride.
Inflatable boats come in a range of sizes that are suitable to those wanting a cheap boat to cruise around in or others that desire something special. You can even mount a fairly powerful outboard or trolling motor to the transom of some boats too.
Table of Contents
- Best Inflatable Boat
- Inflatable Boat Buying Guide
Best Inflatable Boat
|Inflatable Boat||Floor Type||Weight Capacity|
|Newport Vessels 8 Foot Dinghy||Rigid Aluminum Slats||1,067 LBS|
|BRIS PVC 12.5 Foot||Rigid Aluminum Slats||1,675 LBS|
|Killer Whale 330 10.8 Foot||Rigid Aluminum Slats||1,268 LBS|
|Intex Excursion 5||Air Deck||1,300 LBS|
|Bestway HydroForce Voyager||Air Deck||594 LBS|
|Intex Explorer 200||Air Deck||210 LBS|
The materials used in many modern inflatable boats have improved greatly in terms of durability. Inflatable boats for the ocean are great for paddling along without the need of an outboard motor or strong rowers to get the boat moving.
One of the top reasons for owning an inflatable dinghy is that they can deflate in size. This means they can be stored in a small location without getting in the way. If you own a fiberglass boat, they have to be stored safely, which costs extra money.
Below is a list of the best inflatable boats that are great for using in the ocean whilst cruising or fishing. Minimal maintenance is required for inflatable boats and they can be bought for a very reasonable price these days too.
Newport Vessels Dana Inflatable Dinghy
Newport Vessels are known for their impressive ribs and tenders that are used for many large boats/yachts. This Newport Vessels boat in particular is a rigid inflatable boat, which you could add a small outboard to and it offers excellent value for money.
With this inflatable boat you will be able to accommodate at least 3 passengers with a maximum load capacity of 1,067 LBS. It is able to stay fully afloat upon the water thanks to the 18 inch tube diameter.
This Newport Vessel is a premium rigid inflatable boat and would work great as transportation to and from a large boat/yacht or to be used as fishing boat. In terms of the features of the Newport Vessels inflatable boat, they include:
- Aluminum framed marine wood flooring set
- Aluminum bench seat
- 2 Aluminum oars
- Carrying & storage bag
- Foot pump
- Pre packed repair kit
- One way drain plug
- Towing D-rings
- 2 Mounted carrying handles
- Oar locks and oar holders
Components that display the quality of this inflatable dinghy can be seen within its construction. It has a triple layered (0.9mm) 1,100 denier polyester that is reinforced with an anti corrosive PVC. It has also been treated with a UV resistant coating to protect it against the sun when left for long periods.
For those who want a solid floor, the Newport Vessel Dana Model has a 24mm thick aluminum framed plywood floor. In terms of flooring for inflatable boats, it does not get much better than this for a small inflatable boat.
Overall, it is the best inflatable boat for the ocean with a solid floor and a tough PVC construction. Unlike many of the other rigid inflatable boats, the Newport Vessels boat is less than $1,000.Check it Out
BRIS PVC Rigid Inflatable Boat
The 12.5 Foot inflatable boat by BRIS is made from a heavy duty 2,000 denier PVC material and has a 12.5 mm aluminum floor. The transom uses a marine plywood, which is suitable for a small outboard motor of up to 25 HP or alternatively a trolling motor. Features of the BRIS inflatable boat include:
- Double layer of fabric at the bottom of the tubes
- Aluminum side joiners with rubber ends
- Three individual chambers
- One way drain valve with plug
- Deep V-Keel
- Built-in oarlock
- 9 tie down stainless steel D-rings
- Two stainless steel D-rings on the bow and rear tubes
In terms of the maximum capacity of this inflatable boat, its recommended that you don’t exceed 1,675 LBS, which should be fine for up to 6 people. The boat itself weighs 180 LBS and is built to be heavy duty compared with the Newport Vessel alternative.
Overall, it is the best rigid inflatable boat that can easily fit 6 people on board and handle a powerful outboard motor. It is more expensive than the Newport Vessel alternative but you get a tougher PVC construction and a higher weight capacity.Check it Out
Inflatable Sport Boats Killer Whale
The Killer Whale model by Inflatable Sport Boats is designed for additional rear buoyancy, which means you are able to begin planning in the water far easier. This also means you can install a larger outboard motor to the transom, which the brand recommends a 15 HP motor.
Features of the Killer Whale Inflatable Boat include:
- 10.8 feet in length
- Max load of 1,268 LBS
- 24 mm easy slide aluminum floor
- Fully inflates in just 10 minutes
- Includes a seat bag
- USCG approved
- Made in the USA
Unlike many cheap alternatives, the seams have been heat welded for an extended life span. The PVC is 0.9 mm in thickness and uses a 1,100 denier reinforced PVC material that is resistant to UV, oil and punctures.
Overall, it is a great all round rigid inflatable boat that comes with everything that you need to cruise around on the water. For peace of mind, the brand offers an impressive 3 year manufacturer limited warranty against defects.Check it Out
Intex Excursion 5 Inflatable Boat
The Intex Excursion is a 5 person inflatable boat with an excellent cockpit layout and is one of the most popular in the US. The popularity is due to the high quality construction that provides a large weight capacity and even the option to mount a motor to the transom with the mounting kit.
In terms of the features of the Intex Excursion 5, they include:
- 1,300 LBS weight capacity
- Inflatable I-Beam floor for comfort and rigidity
- 2 welded oar locks on each side
- 3 air chambers
- Approved by the US Coast Guard guidelines
- Includes pump and oars
- Construction uses heavy duty vinyl
The weight capacity of this inflatable boat is 1,300 pounds, which is highly impressive considering it does not have an aluminum floor. The stability at this weight is made possible through 3 air chambers including an auxiliary air chamber in the hull for the extra buoyancy.
With adequate room for at least 5 people on board, this makes the Intex Ecursion one of the best inflatable boat to buy for the money.Check it Out
HydroForce Voyager 1000 Inflatable Dinghy
The HyrdoForce Voyager 1000 is a popular choice for many people mainly due to the high quality materials used in the construction. The main material is an extra strength, 3-ply reinforced vinyl PVC which acts as a great barrier whilst out on the water.
Other features of the HyrdoForce Voyager 1000 include:
- Integrated fishing rod holders
- Removable cushion seats
- Weight capacity of 594 LBS
- 115 x 50 x 18 inch capacity
- Gross weight of 33 LBS
- Includes oars, storage bag and air pump
- Option to add a small outboard
- UV resistant vinyl PVC construction
For those looking for the best inflatable boat for fishing, the HydroForce Voyager 1000 is a great option. With integrated fishing rod holders, removable cushion for additional space and being lightweight for transportation makes it an ideal boat.Check it Out
Intex Explorer 200 Small Inflatable Boat
If you are looking for a small and cheap inflatable boat to float around in the sea or in a pool, the Intex Explorer 200 is a great option. You could possibly squeeze in two people (although 2 adult may be tight) but its more fun just on your own.
Features of the Intex Explorer 200 inflatable dinghy include:
- Weight capacity of 210 LBS
- 2 air chambers for buyonacy
- Includes 2 oars, mini air pump and repair batch
- 73 x 16 x 37 inches in size
- Welded oar lock to make rowing easier
Overall, it is the best cheap inflatable boat that is ideal for calm waters. Clearly you are not going to travel around the world on this boat but it is a great inflatable for fun and enjoyment.Check it Out
Inflatable Boat Buying Guide
Choosing the best inflatable boat can be a tricky decision because it all comes down to the usage. There is not one “best” boat as there are many that are better at certain things. Of course, there is then the issue with of how much money you are willing to spend on the inflatable dinghy in the first place.
For example, some people require an inflatable boat for fishing whereas some simply want something to jump on and cruise around on the sea. Some inflatable boats come with an aluminum floor whereas others are just inflatable beams. Budget also plays a big part because if you are looking for something to use on a regular basis, you are going to want to choose a rigid inflatable boat.
To those that are new to the world of inflatable boats, we have produced a detailed buying guide to help you make a more informed buying decision.
Inflatable Boats For Fishing
Many people that want to begin fishing on the ocean, river or lake will be looking to buy a fishing inflatable boat. Luckily, there are many choices with some designed primarily for fishers with features such as rod holders and much more.
When fishing, you are more than likely going to bring a range of equipment such as tackle boxes, fishing rods, bait and much more. This means you are going to need enough room on board to store it all on, so the Intex Explorer 200 is not ideal.
However, the rest of the inflatable boats are ideal for fishing and with the rigid inflatable boats, you can even add an outboard motor or trolling motor to make fishing more pleasurable.
Adding an Outboard or Trolling Motor
For those that want to add some power, you may want to add an outboard motor on the transom of the inflatable boat. This is fairly standard for RIB’s but Intex also offer an inflatable transom mount, which allows you to add a small outboard motor onto the back on the boat. Of course, this will be a small motor but nevertheless, it better than rowing everywhere.
Before purchasing an outboard motor, you should read the manufacturers max horsepower rating. Choosing an outboard motor that is too large will make getting on the plane much harder.
The maximum weight capacity that an inflatable boat can hold is very much dependent upon the type of construction. A larger PVC boat with wider tube diameters will be able to hold much more weight and therefore accommodate more passengers on board.
In terms of sitting passengers on your boat, you will want to strategically arrange them so that you can get up on the plane quickly. Even if you are below the maximum weight, if you are all sitting at the back of the boat, you will struggle to gain speed on the water.
PVC vs Hypalon
PVC is most common material used in the construction of inflatable boats due to the lightness and affordability. On top of this, it can be easily folded, which is great for those that roll up the boat for storage. The strength has also improved over the years too with threads woven into the material and an increase in denier ratings.
Hypalon on the other hand is the material more commonly found on heavy duty RIB’s. It is not one that can be rolled up and you will need a good boat cover for outdoor storage. Compared with PVC, it is much heavier and more expensive.
Within this article, all the inflatable boats use various thickness of PVC material rather than hypalon.
Air Deck vs Rigid Aluminum Slats
Within this article, we have recommend three inflatable boats of each type of flooring. Many people prefer the comfort of a high pressured air deck and they are often much cheaper. However, they are only suited to low speed and low weight capacity boating.
When it comes to rigid inflatable boats (RIB for short), they provide less flex and are much better for high speed operation. For rough seas, RIB’s are a far better alternative as you feel safer on a sturdy aluminum floor compared to an air deck.
Unlike a fiberglass boat, RIB’s are portable as the floor splits into several slats and installation can take less than 30 minutes. Plus, they are far lighter too, which means with a second person you are able to lift it on top of your car for movement around the boat park as shown in the below image.
As mentioned earlier, many inflatable boats come with special features such as fishing rod holders, gear bags, transom bracket mounts, seats, covers, oars, instructions, straps and much more. Depending on how you intend to use the boat will give you an idea of what you should be looking for.
Not all the inflatable boats will come with an air pump and this is something that will be required to get it up and running. If its not included, you can purchase a more powerful air pump for inflatables that can blow them up via an electric pump or manually.
Inflatable boats provide an efficient way of travelling on the water but its not the only inflatable form of transport. For example, there are inflatable kayaks that are great for white water rafting and also one man fishing boat alternatives for those that do not intend on taking on extra passengers.
Within this article, we have only focused on small RIB’s and cheap inflatable boats, which can be used for a range of activities.