Ten years ago inflatable boats were life rafts, pool toys or odd curiosities at trade shows. Not so today. Modern inflatables are not only capable of being used as “real boats” they are also offered in a wide range of design configurations including canoes, kayaks, float tubes and even stand up paddle boards. Chances are what ever your needs may be there is an inflatable for you. The key is making sure you select the right design for your specific needs and budget.
Reviewed: Top 10 Best Inflatable Boats 2017 – 2018
Picking a design
As I said earlier, inflatable are available in a wide range of designs & sizes. But like most boats each design is better suited for specific circumstances than others. If you are looking to spend a lazy afternoon catching bass on a farm pond or drift fishing a small stream almost any design will work just fine. However, if you will be floating rapids or hitting bigger water you will need to upgrade to a catamaran kayak, pontoon boat or other similarly designed with a multiple chamber/ double hull design. For extended trips or big lakes you may want to consider a model capable of being outfitted with a small outboard motor.
Inflatables are an excellent introduction to small boat fishing or as a means of getting a boat to many back water areas. But this is not to say they are meant for every situation or every boater. Here are some additional issues to consider.
- Some states do not consider inflatables “boats”, something which may interfere with your ability to use them on public waters. Be sure to check the local regulation prior to make a purchase or traveling with your new boat.
- Although most inflatables cost much less than a comparable traditional boat this is not always the case. Some models are so high tech that they could end up cost as much or more than a traditional boat, especially after you add available options. Keep this in mind if saving money is your goal.
- All inflatables are capable of being cut, torn or slashed so every owner should consider purchasing a repair kit. I would also suggest purchasing a model which includes several air chambers for additional safety. So not forget to carry all the normal safety equipment, including a PFD – an inflatable may appear safer than a traditional boat but once you are in the water the danger of drowning is all the same.
- Be sure to dry your inflatable completely prior to storage, especially if folded and stored in a cool dry location. Excessive moisture, heat or direct sunlight can all result in extensive including dry rot. You should also inspect your boat each season prior to launching.
With a little research and proper preparation an inflatable watercraft can provide access never available before and years of joy. Hopefully this information allows you to avoid those little bumps in the road that can leave you flat.
Good luck, good boating!