What is an Inflatable Boat?

Do you want to go fishing? Find new beaches or go on a water adventure with family and friends? Then, getting an inflatable boat is a good idea.

An inflatable boat is a lightweight boat constructed using flexible tubes containing pressurized gas. Some inflatable boats can be disassembled and packed into small volumes so that it is easy to store and transport. Other terms for inflatable boats are tenderraftblow-up boat, or simply inflatables.

The boat, when inflated, is kept rigid cross-ways by a foldable removable thwart. This feature makes these boats suitable for travel or recreation purposes. 

Nowadays, numerous upgrades are leading to the development of modern inflatable boats. Inflatables are more versatile and have endurance during extreme weather and rough currents.

Types of Inflatables

chilko river british columbia/river rafting

Rigid Inflatable Boat

A rigid inflatable boat (RIB), also a rigid hull-inflatable boat or (RHIB), is lightweight with high-performance and high-capacity boats. The design is stable, light, fast, and seaworthy. It is constructed with a rigid hull bottom joined to side-forming air tubes inflated with air to high pressure.

Outdoor lovers wanting to enjoy the lake, river, or ocean should consider a rigid inflatable boat. It is more attractive than the traditional Bangka and nowhere near as expensive as a conventional speedboat or yacht. It brings the best since the inflatable tubes provide excellent buoyancy even if the vessel gets filled with water under harsh sea conditions.

A rigid inflatable boat can be used as a rescue craft, safety boat for sailing, dive boat, or tender for larger boats and ships. It is advantageous because of its shallow draught, high maneuverability, speed, and relative immunity to damage in low-speed collisions. 

Soft Inflatable Boat

The Soft Inflatable Boat (SIB) has a low draft and lacks the structural rigidity of the RIB. A soft inflatable boat is foldable, collapsible, and compact and will fit a smaller budget.

However, soft inflatable boats are not suitable or safe for joyriding on choppy waters, speed boating, or water skiing. They are the best choice for short to medium-range transport on smooth, quiet waters, fishing, and jobs that require beaching. 

Inflatable Pontoon Boat

If you are into fishing, consider having inflatable pontoon boats or catamarans. An inflatable pontoon boat is a type of watercraft that floats using two inflatable pontoons containing airtight bladders, supported by a metal frame that holds the pontoons together and acts as a deck that’s capable of supporting a passenger. The seat is directly in the middle of the boat, providing a stable and high vantage point for the fisherman.

A pontoon has the flexibility to face any direction, even rearranging things while entertaining friends or family on the lake. It is ideal for those who want to experience the thrills and excitement of traveling over water but don’t want the hassle or expense of a full-size boat. Inflatable pontoon boats can be inflated and deflated easily, and the frames can usually be assembled and deconstructed in minutes. 

Pontoon boats have different types, these are single-seater pontoon boats, two-man pontoon boats, and highly portable pontoon boats. They vary in the maximum load and the level of stability and durability.

Many inflatable pontoon boats include features with fishermen in mind, like rod holders and other accessories to make fishing easier. These features vary among different manufacturers. It won’t come as a surprise that the more expensive the boat, the more features it will have.

Inflatable Kayak

Kayak fishing at lake. Fisherman caught pike fish on inflatable boat with fishing tackle.

Inflatable kayaks are fun on the water, lightweight & compact, maneuverable, safe, and versatile. You can rock up to your favorite watery location, unroll your kayak, inflate, and hit the water. 

An inflatable kayak is a multi-layered PVC boat with air chambers carefully designed to provide buoyancy to float on water. Designs are similar to hard shell kayaks, from bow and stern to the seat and paddle, with the difference of being inflatable. Modern inflatable kayaks perform just as well as their hard-shell counterparts.

Specialized inflatable kayaks have three branches of kayaking:

  • Lake kayaking is a calm experience on the water. Lake inflatable kayaks are lightweight, low profile, and easy to paddle on lakes. The V hull makes maneuverability easy, even for beginners. Kayaks with a directional skeg allow the boat to track almost perfectly straight.
  • Ocean kayaking allows you to experience a complete range of paddling styles depending on the weather for the day. Mild and gentle days are perfect for beginners, whereas catching and riding waves provides a similar thrill to white water rapids paddling.
  • River kayaking offers a mix of styles, depending on the river and the amount of water flowing. Some rivers are slow-moving, which is good for beginners to practice paddling moving water for the first time. Other rivers with a faster flow can offer a good challenge for more experienced paddlers with potential water rapids to play.

In addition, inflatable kayaks are the type of inflatable boats that will appeal to most people because of their portability, ease of setting up, durability, ease of use, especially for beginners, and safe.

Inflatable Dinghy 

An inflatable dinghy is a small boat carried or towed by a larger vessel for use as a tender. Dinghies are rowboats or have an outboard motor. Some are for sailing, but they differ from sailing dinghies, which are for sailing. A dinghy is for transfers from a larger boat if it cannot dock at a port or marina.

The flooring of inflatable dinghies varies. You will find models with roll-up floors, hard floors made of 3-4 pieces, and high-pressure air floors. Their keels make them easier to row in a straight line. Many inflatable dinghies can be controlled by one person but can carry up to eight people. 

Uses of Inflatable Boats

Inflatable boats are used in military, law enforcement, short-distance travel, and rescue operations. They have been increasingly used for scuba diving excursions, kayaking, and other recreational purposes. 

Inflatable boats are convenient to use and have an important role to play in rescue operations. Hence, the inflatable boat must be of the utmost quality and durability, to efficiently carry out tasks. 

Modern luxury dinghy on turquoise sea with clear blue water in tropical island - People snorkeling in exclusive exotic travel destination - Vacation concept with friends having fun together

Moreover, for inflatable boats to last longer and for safety, here are some measures to follow.

  • Keep the boat away from fire.
  • Do not drag the boat even when it is deflated.
  • Be careful boating in shallow places. Any sharp thing in the water or shore can tear the boat.
  • Do not leave the boat for a long time under the sun’s rays.
  • Remove the sand and salt from the boat’s surface, wait until it is dry and then fold it.
  • When the boat is stored, it is advisable to refold it once in three or four months so the places of bend change.
  • Store the folded boat in a dry place and with relative humidity. Do not expose the inflatable boats to oil, gasoline, kerosene, alkalis, and other chemically active substances, which can damage the outer surface.

Finally, water enthusiasts have ways to leave the land behind. Boaters love inflatable boats for their convenience, utility, and speed and because they are budget-friendly and easy to transport.

If boating is your thing, you can get on the water faster, and with much less of an investment, with these inflatable boats. They provide an affordable and versatile way to enjoy the outdoors.