How To Choose

THE ONLY INFLATABLE BOAT GUIDE THAT YOU WILL NEED

How to Choose an Inflatable Boat
It may interest you to know that inflatable boats are the bestselling boats aside from big yachts. In fact, they are so popular that people even use them when going for fishing trips in lakes, and in addition, they are very portable. However, the problem is, inflated boats can be a mixed blessing at most – their best aspect is their buoyancy in water, portability, their combination of the freedom of compact powerboats with the ease of marine multi-tools, and their running costs, which you can compare to those of a pet gerbil. The worst part about them is that they are lumpy, heavy, smelly, and space-occupying things that just sit all day in your garage storage. In this straightforward inflatable boat guide I will tell you what you should be looking for, for your particular needs and try to answer all of your questions.

You can easily become irritated at the space these things occupy, and you can even want to get rid of them – this is completely understandable. However, remember that they make great tools, as long as you choose them wisely. There are plenty of drawbacks, for example trying to figure out where you can stow the boat, getting somewhere to store its fuel tank (which smells bad, by the way), or finding enough space to carry the boat when it is fully puffed up with air. Another concern is the weight bulkiness – and truth be told, inflatable boats can be heavy and more difficult than you think. You also expect the elements to bully your boat once you are in the water, especially when the wind is strong.

Despite these downsides, there are plenty of valid reasons to love the inflatable. In fact, when you look at it critically, you will realize that the issues have less to do with the boat itself, and more to do with the owner’s poor buying decisions. I have put together a review article about the best inflatable boats. These boat will have everything that you want in them but I still recommend reading this article in its entirety before making a purchase.

With everything to consider, it can be a very important question of how to choose an inflatable boat. When choosing this important item, consider the following factors to help you in your choice.

Hypalon versus PVC

All the inflatable boats you will get are composed of two materials – either from Hypalon or from PVC. The main tradeoff, in this case, is the durability versus the price.

PVC boats are very popular because of their lightweight nature and easy portability. You can fold them easily after use, and the recent development in polymer manufacture have resulted in strong quality modern PVC. Some PVC boats come with intricately woven threads, and the manufacturer uses denier to measure these threads. Higher rating means the threads are stronger but do not just look at this aspect – pay attention to the nature of the weave.

Tightly woven threads, such as 6×6 per cm, as opposed to 3×3 per cm, prove to be more resilient in their structure. The drawback to PVC boats is their vulnerability to extended sunlight, humidity, and heat. Hypalon boats, in contrast, are heavy, very strong and costly fabric.

If you want a boat that is heavy-duty, Hypalon boats are a better option than a PVC boat. Therefore, your intended use should inform the choice of boat you go for, not just your budget. If you want a boat that can serve you regularly, then go for Hypalon boats. If you want boats that serve you occasionally while retaining their compact and portable nature, then a PVC boat is the better option.

Rigid stacks versus air decks
One feature you will notice on all inflatable boats is that they come with either rigid floors constructed from interlocking aluminum or plywood, or high pressure, inflatable ‘air decks’. This will ultimately influence the net weight of the boat.

If you want a more forgiving ride experience, an easily portable boat, or a simple assembly process, then a high-pressure air floor is the best. If you want higher operating speed with less flex and higher structure rigidity, and more effective use of power, then go for a hard deck boat. A cautionary measure, however: rigid deck slats tend to trap unwary fingers and injure you more frequently.

RIB choices
RIB is an acronym for Rigid Bottom Inflatables. They provide you with many advantages – they have improved performance levels, they have better sea keeping ability, and they have unlimited size and style choices. The drawback is that they are more costly than simpler inflatables.

Their portability is not so contrasting to fiberglass boats of similar sizes, so this makes them very intriguing. In fact, if you are thinking of purchasing a RIB boat, here are some pointers to help you make a good choice.

The deck must be able to shed water efficiently
The boat must have proper support and protection on its helm
It should have an area for dry storage
The grabbing points need to be well-0positioned and strong
The boat should have non-slip surfaces, both on its tube tops and underfoot
The seating space should be sufficient for its intended use
Decent reserves of power for watersports need to be available
The build quality must be high and has a standard finish
Payload needs to be sufficient for both equipment and passengers
It should equal or surpass your expectations on the water

Extra assets
You may not have all the money in the world to splash on an inflatable boat. However, even with an entry-level budget, there are accessories that every boat should have. A set of oars, pump, carry bag, seats, repair kit and lifting points are essential and must be part of your buying price. I have purchased most of my accessories on Amazon and they can be found here.

Aside from these, features you should look out for include multiple air chambers – these will serve you well in emergencies, and inflatable thwart for added strength. Inflatable keels enhance directional stability, while optional tabs and fins improve the boat handling.

When you need to move the boat up and down beaches and docks, you will require a set of wheels. If you want a small outboard, think about purchasing electric power – it is more efficient in transport and storage, not to mention, it is cleaner than using fuel. Regardless of the outboard type you choose, extended tillers help in shifting your weight forward to enable easier rides.

Our pick for the best inflatable boat brand: Intex Recreation Corp. The brand has some impressive Hypalon and PVC boats, all renowned for their durability and function. They also make other inflatable items like pools, beds, toys and many more. They have ten varieties of boat types, and regardless of the one you ultimately pick, they will all serve you well for a long time.

Inflatable Boat Versus Regular Boat (rigid boats)

On the surface, a boat is just a boat. However, these two types differ from each other in many ways, and we will explain these differences in various aspects.

Coastguard certificates: Normally, inflatable boats do not have certifications from the Coastguard. This is because they lack specific testing protocol, so their ratings are arbitrarily determined and set by the manufacturer. Regular boats, however, require extensive testing and certification from the Coastguard. They are subject to very strict standards, such as weight capacity tests to five times the rated capacity level, and then loaded and tested for weight stability.

Weight: inflatable boats are surprisingly heavy, considering their size. For example, a simple looking 10” inflatable can weigh up to 450 lbs. when you add an item like a 30hp motor, as well as a few options like seats, it can approach close to 700lbs. regular boats, however, have weight limits. A normal boat, for example, can weigh a little over 355lbs. if you add a 30hp motor and a few other options, the boat can weigh close to 600lbs.

Build: all inflatable boats excluding RIBs are deflectable for storage. Regular boats, however, use a fiberglass construction process with no wood. They can use yacht quality hardware and hull to stabilize the construction, in addition to high-quality marine sealants to further make the boat waterproof.

Stability rating: the boat becomes slippery when it gets wet, so inflate walk-around boats fully for maximum safety. Regular boats have non-skid floors. They also have safety stands on their gunwale to add egress and ingress.

Floating: For inflatables, their ribs often have many air chambers, but these can let you down when one of them punctures and deflates. For regular boats, they instead have standard, closed-cell chambers that the coast guard approves. These allow for floatation even when loaded with items or people.

Ride: Inflatable boats need a larger horsepower motor, and the tubes need proper inflation to ride on the water smoothly and track adequately. Regular boats are easier to plane and have a straight track line with smoother rides.

Storage: inflatables lack storage facilities, though they can offer you a bow locker. Regular boats come with a lot of storage, including both a bow locker and tubes. For example, the boat can have more than 12 cubic feet of storages space.

Dryness: inflatable boats get wet easily, so it is part of the experience. Regular boats do not get wet easily.

Maintenance levels: To take care of inflatable boats, keep the pump close by, and the tubes need protection from the sun. Any leaks should be quickly fixed, and watch out for sharp objects and organisms like barnacles. Regular boats are very easy to maintain, only needing some waxing and washing.

Performance: Inflatables usually lumbers onto a plane, while they have uneven motion at high speeds. Their movements are somehow predictable because they bounce like balls in bumpy water. Regular boats are easier to navigate, even in bumpy water. They have a nimble motion and take bumps in stride.

Safety levels: For inflatables, they are very good at promoting safety – that is until the air chambers puncture and deflate then start leaking. This means that you have to wait until you get help because the boat cannot move. For regular boats, they are Coastguard certified and go through numerous stability tests before they approve. This means you do not need to worry about your safety, and as long as the motor is functional, you can head home.

Comfort: the seating in inflatable boats is adequate, and the ride is comfortable, though it is wet. Regular boats have comfortable, well-designed seating, and the ride is dry.

Quality of design: Many inflatable boats have a good quality of construction, and are highly good and durable quality. The major issue though, is that the product has various flaws. Their life expectancy is usually around ten years. As for regular boats, the design is of yacht quality, with no sparing of expenses – and the life expectancy lasts for about forty years.

Customized colors: a majority of manufacturers of inflatable boats only offer you one boat color, so there is not much variety in this area. They also provide you with cushions, fuel tanks and lights, though the basic structure does not allow you to do much. Regular boats, however, tend to have varieties in customization, and you can purchase them in any color you want.

Gel coating: RIB inflatables use a gel coat on their fiberglass portion of their rigid hulls, while regular boats use superior, durable and UV-resistant fiberglass finish.

Hardware: The tubes and the hardware of inflatable boats are together. Regular boats use yacht quality stainless steel throughout the boat structure, secured further by using backing plates.

The interior: inflatable boats are somewhat narrow because of the narrow shape of their tubes. These intrude on the floor width and the floor space ends up cluttered with unnecessary gear due to lack of enough storage. Regular boats, on the contrary, have big interior storages, thanks to their flat vertical interior gunwales that increase the interior width by 4 to 6 inches.

Warranty: inflatables have warranties usually lasting between 2 to 10 years, while regular boats have warranties of up to 5 years, which are typically no-hassle.

There are several pump options that you can use to inflate the boat, which includes:

Hand pumps – this is a cylindrical-shaped pump that blows air into the boat. It comes in two varieties – single action pumps and double action pumps.
If you go with double action pumps, these push the air in on the up and down stroke. Single action pumps on the other hand, only push air during down strokes. The pumps come with inflate and deflate function on their handles.
Foot pumps – these are smaller than hand pumps, making it favorable for both storage and transport purposes. It works in a similar way to single-action hand pumps, which only push air in during down strokes. They also come with inflating and deflating functions. They are good for people with back issues because they do not require you to bend over while using them.
12-Volt electric pumps – these are mostly used when the power point of your car provides the power. They are the easiest and quickest solution because there is no effort required on your part. The only thing to them is that you need to put in a small amount of effort, as they cannot fully inflate the boat on their own. Use them in conjunction with hand or foot pumps to inflate the boat to recommended levels. I use this electric pump from Amazon because I got sick of the hand pump that my boat came with.

Note that it is very easy to overinflate and damage your boat when using an electric pump. If you are using it for inflation, you must stop before the boat gets full inflation, then use your mouth or the hand or foot pump to finish the job.

Before you start on the boating adventure, make sure the boat is in top shape. You do not want incidences of being stuck in your journey before you begin, just because something went wrong with the boat.

Are Inflatable Boats Safe?
This question is a frequently asked one, and this is understandable since many people are concerned about the safety of these boats mainly because they easily puncture on sharp items. The good thing is, inflatable boats are similar to traditional boats in terms of safety, and you do not have to worry too much about them. In some instances, they may be safer than traditional boats. Here are some reasons why.

They are unsinkable

Inflatable boats have separate tubes, which are actually separate air chambers. If one of them accidentally punctures and deflates, the craft is still buoyant because of the air in the other tubes. However, do not use this as a reason not to take safety precautions. Here is a great guide on picking the right life vest which is something that everybody should have.

More bounce

The valve tubes are oversize, so the boat becomes quite buoyant on water and floats very easily. It is therefore difficult to capsize it, thanks to its low center of gravity. Some modern boats do not have the buoyancy that inflatable boats have, and tend to sink when they hit obstacles such as rocks.

Inflatable boats are easier to enter the water

The problem with some traditional boats is that they capsize easily when you try to board from the water. Inflatable boats do not have the same problem, so swimmers can board them from the side.

The US Coastguard uses inflatable boats

The US Coast Guard is the ultimate organization that knows inflatable boat safety. The military and emergency personnel also use them to move around, as do rescue craft operators.

All kinds of water activities are fun because they allow you to experience nature and the outdoor form a new perspective. The element has a refreshing effect to our senses, and thanks to more affordable boats, water sports such as white water rafting and canoeing.

Choosing the Perfect Inflatable Boat
Looking for an inflatable tender? Read this, before making any decisions.

By Alex SmithAugust 15, 2018
For all but the biggest yachts, inflatable boats make the best tenders. But inflatables are a mixed blessing; at their best, they combine the convenience of a marine multi-tool with the freedoms of a compact powerboat—with running costs akin to those of a pet gerbil. At their worst, however, inflatables are a heavy, lumpy, odorous, space-greedy aggravation of a thing that squats in your garage or stowage compartment.

I’ve found myself in the latter camp on more than one occasion, so I know just how hateful inflatable tenders can be. Certainly, they enjoy some strong advantages: easy portability, generous buoyancy, innate dynamic stability, and low power requirements all come to mind.

But there are plenty of downsides, too. What about finding somewhere accessible to stow the boat? Then finding somewhere for its fumy fuel tank and lubricant-filled, leak-happy outboard engine? If you don’t have sufficient space to carry the inflatable fully puffed-up with air, then there’s the sheer bulk and weight of the packed down inflatable to deal with—and it’s always much more difficult to carry than you think.

Once you actually get an inflatable tender on the water, you can expect it to flex when you hit the throttle, rear up when you’re singlehanded, and get bullied by the elements when the wind is blowing.

Clearly, there are plenty of reasons both to love and to hate the inflatable. But if you understand their up-sides and down-sides, when the matter is viewed from a cool and dispassionate perspective it seems that most of the issues have less to do with the boat itself, and more to do with poor buying decisions on the part of the owner. So, how will you make your decision the right one? Consider all of the following factors.

PVC VERSUS HYPALON

Inflatable boats are constructed from either PVC or Hypalon, and the trade-off here is between price and durability. PVC is extremely popular because it’s lightweight and affordable. It’s easily folded, and recent developments in polymers mean that modern PVC can also be remarkably strong. Some come with threads woven into the material, and these threads are measured in denier. A higher rating denotes a stronger thread, but you should also pay attention to the nature of the weave, as a more tightly-woven thread (for instance, 6×6 per cm rather than 3×3) is likely to prove more resilient. On the downside, PVC remains susceptible to extended exposure to sunlight, heat, and humidity.

Hypalon, on the other hand, is a weighty, expensive, and extremely robust fabric. That’s why it’s commonly used in the construction of heavy-duty RIBs. Plainly then, your buying decision should be based partly on budget but also on your intended usage. If you want to keep your tender ready-built and routinely exposed for frequent use, then Hypalon is the answer. However, if you want a more compact and portable boat for less regular use and for stowing away between outings, a modern, lightweight PVC craft is likely to prove the better compromise.

AIR DECK VERSUS RIGID SLATS

Inflatables tend to come with either an inflatable ‘air deck’ or a rigid floor built from interlocking aluminium or plywood slats. For low weight, forgiving ride comfort, softness under your knees and a simplified assembly process, a high-pressure air floor is ideal. For higher speed operation with less flex, greater structural rigidity, and a more efficient use of power, a hard deck is the better bet. Be aware, however, that rigid deck slats do have a habit of trapping unwary fingers with merciless regularity.

ADDITIONAL ASSETS

Even on an entry-level budget, basic accessories (oars, seats, a pump, a repair kit, lifting points, and a carry bag) should be included in the price. But you should also look for multiple air chambers for safety, plus an inflatable thwart for extra strength. Those with a pronounced inflatable keel have improve directional stability, and optional fins and tabs can help tweak the handling. Think also about investing in some wheels for transporting your tender up and down docks and beaches. And if you intend to buy a small outboard, you should consider electric power for cleaner, simpler stowage and transport. Whatever type of outboard you use, an extended tiller can help you shift your weight forward, for easier planing and a flatter ride.
THE RIB OPTION

RIBs, properly called rigid bottom inflatables, are an option that bring a lot of pluses to the table: vastly improved performance, far better seakeeping abilities, and almost unlimited options for size and style. Naturally, however, they cost far more than simple inflatables. And, their portability is not much different than fiberglass boats of a similar size. These factors make RIB boats an entirely different kind of choice, worthy of a full-blown investigation.

More info:

Decide if you want a boat that can plane (do you want to go fast?)
Floor Construction and Boat Category
An inflatable’s floor construction is the key to the trade-off between portability—ease of assembly and compact storage—and the rigidity needed for best performance. A rigid deep-V hull made from composite plastic, fiberglass or aluminum—a Rigid Inflatable Boat—is an efficient high-performance planing hull, but RIBs often must be stored on a trailer or set of hanging davits. Boats with more flexible fabric floors fold to a light, compact shape, but their flexibility exacts a performance penalty. If you want your boat to plane, allowing you to exceed five miles per hour, a semi-rigid floor is required.

Which matters more to you, performance or portability?

Roll-up (RU) Boats
Like dinghies, these boats have floors you don’t have to remove when stowing the boat. Roll-ups like our PRU-3 can be unrolled, inflated and launched in minutes. Floors use wooden slats enclosed in fabric pockets, and you don’t need to remove them for storage. Roll-up boats have a transom, so you can use a small outboard motor. Roll-ups excel as tenders. Their flat bottoms and small engines make their performance non-planing, limiting their range to in-harbor, relatively flat-water travel.

Sportboats (SB)
Sport boats are inflatables with a removable rigid floor system made from plywood, composite plastic or aluminum. The floor assembly is made stiffer with the addition of stringers, which run fore and aft to hold the floorboards in alignment, and aluminum extrusions to hold the edges in position. With the floorboards assembled and the port and starboard hull chambers and small tapered keel tube inflated, the boat’s floor fabric is stretched taut and takes on a shallow V-shape. This enables the boat to ride through chop and track in turns better than a flat-bottomed boat. The floor also makes sport boats heavier than dinghies, but these boats are fast and lively with outboards from 6–25hp and offer a great performance for the price.

High Pressure (HP) Inflatable Floor Boats
Take a sportboat, such as the PSB-275, and trade the wood floor for a high-pressure inflatable floor, and you have an HP Inflatable Floor boat (sometimes called an Airfloor boat), combining the performance of a sport boat with the light weight and compact stowage of a soft stern dinghy. Its special high-pressure inflatable floor (pumped up to 11psi) is substantially lighter than floorboards and, when deflated, can be rolled up right inside the boat. Inflatable floor boats jump on plane quickly and achieve fine performance using only a small outboard, thanks to their low weight. Our 73lb. PHP-310 will plane with one person using only a 5hp outboard. The boats flex just enough to absorb wakes and waves that would threaten to throw you out of a hard-bottomed boat. HP floor boats are a brilliant combination of benefits, not a compromise. And the setup time is very short!

Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) or Rigid Hull Inflatables
RIBs offer the “real boat” performance and strength of a rigid moderate- or deep-vee hull. Their fiberglass hulls carve turns and cut through chop like conventional boats and shrug off abrasion from cruising gear, sand and gravel, dive tanks, etc. But unlike conventional boats, the addition of inflatable tubes to the topsides makes them more stable, more buoyant and less likely to scar the topsides of other vessels when used as a tender.

Their lack of portability is the price you pay for a RIB’s performance. The hulls cannot be disassembled, and therefore you can’t stow your RIB in a bag in the lazarette. You can deflate the tubes and stow the boat on deck in far less room than the inflated boat, but it still takes up space. Therefore, we generally recommend RIBs for owners who either intend to stow their dinghies inflated on deck, on davits, or deflated and lashed on a weather deck. Their light weight also makes them a cinch to trailer on a light-duty boat trailer.

Compact CR or Folding RIBs
Compact RIBs have a hinged folding transom, which allows the boat to be stored in much less space, and are super portable – we’re talking roof rack to water in just 10 minutes! The hull is made from fiberglass and has a shallow V-shape. The transom is a plywood sandwich that is firmly bonded to the inflation tubes. A flexible fabric hinge connects the floor to the transom, allowing the transom to fold flat when stored. A large zippered bag is included for storage, and the stowed boat looks like a giant surfboard in a travel bag. While still large, the Compact RIB will fit on a foredeck or under a boom much more compactly than a normal RIB. It also fits nicely on vehicle roof racks or in the back of a station wagon.

Decide if you want a boat that can plane (do you want to go fast?)
Floor Construction and Boat Category
An inflatable’s floor construction is the key to the trade-off between portability—ease of assembly and compact storage—and the rigidity needed for best performance. A rigid deep-V hull made from composite plastic, fiberglass or aluminum—a Rigid Inflatable Boat—is an efficient high-performance planing hull, but RIBs often must be stored on a trailer or set of hanging davits. Boats with more flexible fabric floors fold to a light, compact shape, but their flexibility exacts a performance penalty. If you want your boat to plane, allowing you to exceed five miles per hour, a semi-rigid floor is required.

Which matters more to you, performance or portability?

Roll-up (RU) Boats
Like dinghies, these boats have floors you don’t have to remove when stowing the boat. Roll-ups can be unrolled, inflated and launched in minutes. Floors use wooden slats enclosed in fabric pockets, and you don’t need to remove them for storage. Roll-up boats have a transom, so you can use a small outboard motor. Roll-ups excel as tenders. Their flat bottoms and small engines make their performance non-planing, limiting their range to in-harbor, relatively flat-water travel.

Sportboats (SB)
Sport boats are inflatables with a removable rigid floor system made from plywood, composite plastic or aluminum. The floor assembly is made stiffer with the addition of stringers, which run fore and aft to hold the floorboards in alignment, and aluminum extrusions to hold the edges in position. With the floorboards assembled and the port and starboard hull chambers and small tapered keel tube inflated, the boat’s floor fabric is stretched taut and takes on a shallow V-shape. This enables the boat to ride through chop and track in turns better than a flat-bottomed boat. The floor also makes sport boats heavier than dinghies, but these boats are fast and lively with outboards from 6–25hp and offer a great performance for the price.

High Pressure (HP) Inflatable Floor Boats
Trade the wood floor for a high-pressure inflatable floor, and you have an HP Inflatable Floor boat (sometimes called an Airfloor boat), combining the performance of a sport boat with the light weight and compact stowage of a soft stern dinghy. Its special high-pressure inflatable floor (pumped up to 11psi) is substantially lighter than floorboards and, when deflated, can be rolled up right inside the boat. Inflatable floor boats jump on plane quickly and achieve fine performance using only a small outboard, thanks to their low weight. Our 73lb. PHP-310 will plane with one person using only a 5hp outboard. The boats flex just enough to absorb wakes and waves that would threaten to throw you out of a hard-bottomed boat. HP floor boats are a brilliant combination of benefits, not a compromise. And the setup time is very short!

Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) or Rigid Hull Inflatables
RIBs offer the “real boat” performance and strength of a rigid moderate- or deep-vee hull. Their fiberglass hulls carve turns and cut through chop like conventional boats and shrug off abrasion from cruising gear, sand and gravel, dive tanks, etc. But unlike conventional boats, the addition of inflatable tubes to the topsides makes them more stable, more buoyant and less likely to scar the topsides of other vessels when used as a tender.

Their lack of portability is the price you pay for a RIB’s performance. The hulls cannot be disassembled, and therefore you can’t stow your RIB in a bag in the lazarette. You can deflate the tubes and stow the boat on deck in far less room than the inflated boat, but it still takes up space. Therefore, we generally recommend RIBs for owners who either intend to stow their dinghies inflated on deck, on davits, or deflated and lashed on a weather deck. Their light weight also makes them a cinch to trailer on a light-duty boat trailer.

Cruisers who are headed for the tropics may be interested in our new aluminum hull RIB. It has the most rugged hull available, so it’s perfect for hauling up onto a rocky beach, and it has Hypalon fabric, for UV protection. See our video below.

Compact CR or Folding RIBs
Compact RIBs have a hinged folding transom, which allows the boat to be stored in much less space, and are super portable – we’re talking roof rack to water in just 10 minutes! The hull is made from fiberglass and has a shallow V-shape. The transom is a plywood sandwich that is firmly bonded to the inflation tubes. A flexible fabric hinge connects the floor to the transom, allowing the transom to fold flat when stored. A large zippered bag is included for storage, and the stowed boat looks like a giant surfboard in a travel bag. While still large, the Compact RIB will fit on a foredeck or under a boom much more compactly than a normal RIB. It also fits nicely on vehicle roof racks or in the back of a station wagon.

Hypalon or PVC Fabric
The location where you intend to use your boat is the key factor in deciding which hull fabric, PVC-coated polyurethane cloth or Hypalon (neoprene-coated nylon). Both fabrics are rugged and dependable, but if you will do most of your boating in tropical conditions, a Hypalon boat will last longer because of its better resistance to UV degradation.

Keeping your new inflatable in great shape
Talk to most experts and they’ll agree; the most common cause of premature inflatable boat failure is exposure to the sun. Fading, discoloration, fabric breakdown and damage to painted and varnished components can all be attributed to UV exposure. There are several strategies for keeping your inflatable looking new:

OK, this is obvious, but put your boat away when it’s not in use. We see dozens of inflatables rotting in the sun in our local harbor, and it isn’t because they’re being used every day. Deflate the boat, clean it and store it.

When inflated, the best protection against damaging exposure is a quality fitted cover. In addition to blocking UV radiation, covers such as our marine polyester Inflatable Boat Covers also protect your boat from accumulated dirt, bird droppings and standing water. Their modest cost is rapidly repaid by extending the life and the increased resale value of your boat.

Specially-formulated inflatable boat cleaners and protectants, like our Two-Part Inflatable Boat Cleaner & Protectant, and comparable products from MDR and Star brite, make it much easier to maintain your boat in “like new” condition by removing dirt and salt and leaving a gloss on the fabric.

Buy a Reasonably Sized Boat!
There is a good reason we make this recommendation, which may seem self-serving. Bigger inflatables handle dramatically better than smaller ones. The differences between an 8’6″ sport boat and a 10′ sport boat in handling, carrying capacity and ride, due to the small surface area of the small boat hulls, are greater than you can imagine until you actually try them side-by-side. A sport boat less than 9′ long is capable of planing, but tends to be squirrelly on the water, and will fall off a plane easily. 10′ boats (and especially 11′ boats) have less bow rise when they accelerate and will stay on plane at lower speeds. They are less sensitive to steering inputs so you can relax more while driving them and their larger tubes with slightly greater freeboard will give you a drier ride. Longer boats also have more usable interior volume.

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