Best Inflatable Boats Reviews in 2018 – Have Fun Rafting

Best Inflatable Boats Reviews in 2018 – Have Fun Rafting

Inflatable boats are by no means underdogs when it comes to recreation, sports, and even work. However, they have proven themselves to be worthy adversaries to their traditional hard-shell counterparts.

Perhaps, you have been looking for the best inflatable boats as you have seen a lot of its benefits already.

They are portable, affordable, versatile, and safe for use. In fact, inflatable boats have performed so impressively that even armed forces, rescue agencies, and law enforcement agencies use them a lot.

To help you determine which inflatable dinghy to go for, we take a look at some of the best inflatable boats you can buy today.

At A Glance: Our Choices for Best Inflatable Boats

Inflatable Sport Boats Shark 9.8' - Model 300 - The Shark Model 300 is easily the best inflatable dinghy we have laid eyes on. It is made of strong, high-grade materials, can be used for nearly any kind of activity or water, and can support a huge amount of power and weight.

Colorado XT Inflatable Pontoon Boat With Transport Wheel & Motor Mount - Already teeming with impressive features, the Colorado XT has a set of unique safety fittings that let it comply with the American Boat and Yacht Council’s (ABYC) safety standards. It can handle calm waters and class 1 rapids.

Sea Eagle 285 Inflatable Frameless Fishing Pontoon Boat - This fishing vessel from Sea Eagle was designed with the lone fisherman in mind. The light and frameless body allow it to get to shallow waters and squeeze into narrow spaces that other boats can’t take on.

Intex Seahawk 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set - The Seahawk 4 may be in the lowest price range, but it packs all you need in a starter inflatable. It is made of super thick PVC vinyl that can withstand damage caused by UV rays, oil, saltwater, gasoline, and more.

Intex Explorer 200, 2-Person Inflatable Boat Set with French Oars and Mini Air Pump - The Explorer 200 is another ideal raft for starter boaters. It is far from fancy but is very affordable and has all you need in an inflatable boat for beginners. It has two air chambers, is highly visible, and floats!

2017’s Reviews of the Best Inflatable Boats

Rankings

Brands

Dimensions

Features

Editor's Raitings

#1

Inflatable Sport Boats

9 ft 8 in x 5 ft 

Easy planing pontoons, easy-slide solid aluminum floor, fresh- and saltwater compatibility

#2

Classic Accessories

108 in x 56 in x 26 in 

Flexible storage options, adjustable seat mount, and footrests, ABYC safety requirements compliance

#3

Sea Eagle

6 ft 2 in x 1 ft 4 in

Large air chambers, universal Scotty Mounts, quick-release seat mount

#4

Intex

133 in x 19.5 in x 50 in 

30-gauge PVC vinyl material, separate air chambers, inflatable floor, rod holders, inner hull chamber

#5

Intex

73 in x 16 in x 37 in

Separate air chambers, inflatable floor, bright graphics for visibility

#1. Inflatable Sport Boats Shark 9.8' - Model 300

Shark 9.8' - Model 300

Shark 9.8' - Model 300

The Shark 9.8 ft Model 300 from U.S. based company, Inflatable Sport Boats, is another heavyweight on this list. It is engineered to perform as excellently on rough open seas as on calm waters.

You can use it for fishing, tendering, and even for servicing during emergency situations and this inflatable dinghy will not have any problem standing out.

The Shark Model 300 is made of 1,100 Dtex (0.9 mm) denier reinforced PVC material that can resist damage posed by the sun’s UV rays, oil, and punctures. It has 24-mm easy-slide solid aluminum floor and seats which are as strong as they are lightweight.

Also, this boat is specifically contoured by nautical engineers to improve rear buoyancy and planing. Although the Shark Model 300 can be propelled manually, it can also be motorized using two or four stroke motors.

For increased strength, all seams are welded instead of glued. This makes the vessel safe for both freshwater and saltwater use.

The Shark Model 300 is 9ft and 8in long and 5ft wide. It has a tube diameter of 16 in and can handle up to a staggering 15 hp of power and five adults or 1,158 lbs.

It comes with a removable seat cushion and seat bag, two aluminum bench seats, two aluminum oars with lock-in holders, a carry bag, a foot pump, and a repair patch kit.

Unlike other manufacturers who make the Manufacturer Certification of Origin downloadable from their website (Some states like NJ do not accept that.), Inflatable Sport Boats encloses theirs in the dinghy’s manual.

As if these features don’t already have you covered, each boat has a three-year warranty.

What We Like

  • Highly versatile
  • Have features rarely found on many inflatable dinghies
  • Tremendous power and weight capacity

What We Didn't Like

  • Some accessories, like covers and bimini tops, may not be available yet

#2. Colorado XT Inflatable Pontoon Boat

Colorado XT Inflatable Pontoon Boat

Colorado XT Inflatable Pontoon Boat

The Colorado XT will serve you well during trips to lakes, ponds, and class 1 rivers. It is made of an ultra-strong powder-coated steel tube frame and has heavy-duty pontoons with nylon tops and coated PVC bottoms that protect against scratches and punctures.

This inflatable also boasts of cold and heat resistant HD vinyl bladders and comes with a battery platform and a dual-position, weatherproof motor mount.

Comfort is more than accounted for with a deluxe cushioned seat with a seat mount and matching non-slip footrests that are all fully adjustable to suit any leg length.

The Colorado XT is unique in that it fulfills the safety requirements of the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC). It features a higher ride for good visibility, combination valves, tow rings, and a stripping apron with a fish ruler.

It has unique features including removable gear bags with shoulder straps, customizable storage with 20 pockets and two insulated drink holders, and an anchor system with a fillable mesh bag.

The boat has a multi-position rod holder that can be mounted in six different positions, awesome-looking brass oar locks, a wire rear storage, a front boat retention cord, and two removable fly patches.

Also, the Colorado XT has a removable stripping basket and an integrated transport wheel that further improves ease of use.

When inflated, this inflatable pontoon boat measures 108 in x 56 in x 26 in (L x W x H). It weighs 68 lbs and can support up to an astounding 400 lbs in weight.

The Colorado XT is available in gray and sage and comes with two aluminum oars, a two-year warranty, and a free trial membership to Trout Unlimited, a trout, and salmon conservation group.

What We Like

  • Lots of unique features and fittings
  • ABYC-compliant

What We Didn't Like

  • No rudder for the pontoons

#3. Sea Eagle 285 Inflatable Frameless Fishing Pontoon Boat

Sea Eagle 285 Inflatable Frameless Fishing Pontoon Boat

Sea Eagle 285 Inflatable Frameless Fishing Pontoon Boat

The best things about the Frameless Fishing Boat from Sea Eagle are its size and portability. It is so compact that it can be kept and used even in small spaces and nearly any water.

It is made of super durable 1000 denier reinforced PVC with glued seams and fully customizable universal Scotty Mounts.

Precisely because this is a frameless boat, it packs small and light and can navigate through narrow areas and hard-to-reach locations. This feature makes it an effective fishing vessel.

Moreover, it has large air chambers that can hold a lot of weight while drafting little water, making shallow waters easily accessible.

Its other features include a motor mount, a stripping apron, a floorboard for rigidity, a clip on the stowed pouch and the stern bag, and two rod holders.

There is an ergonomically designed swivel seat to ensure maximum comfort even during long hours of fishing.

Measuring 6ft 2in x 1ft 4in and weighing 42 lbs (motor mount and floorboard included), the Frameless Fishing Pontoon Boat can accommodate one person and a total of 450 pounds of load. Meanwhile, the engine can go up to 3 hp or 55 lbs of thrust.

Each boat comes with AB285 oars, a quick-release seat mount, a pedestal, a foot pump, a carry bag, a repair patch kit, and a three-year manufacturer’s warranty.

What We Like

  • Have all features you need for fishing
  • Fully customizable
  • Lightweight and compact

What We Didn't Like

  • Seams are glued, not welded

#4. Intex Seahawk 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set

Seahawk 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat

Seahawk 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat

If you are looking for an inflatable you can take out on a fishing or boating trip on a lake or any calm water; the Seahawk 4 may be a good option.

It is made of incredibly durable 30-gauge PVC vinyl that resists impact and damage due to sunlight and sharp objects. It is also virtually immune to the harmful effects of gasoline, oil, and saltwater.

For comfort, you have inflatable seats (as well as front and rear inflatable cushions) and the inflatable floor, which also helps maintain rigidity. Two separate air chambers are in place for a safe trip.

If you do decide to go boating, you may use the two fishing rod holders attached located at the rear of the boat. Other useful fittings include welded oar locks and oar holders, an all-around grab line, and a grab handle.

Measuring 133 in x 19.5 in x 50 in (W x H x D), the Seahawk 4 can accommodate up to four people or a total weight of 814 lbs.

It comes with a pump, two 48-in aluminum oars, a gear pouch, a U.S. Coast Guard ID, and a patch kit.

What We Like

  • Durable material

What We Didn't Like

  • Oars have plastic connectors that can easily break

#5. Intex Explorer 200, 2-Person Inflatable Boat

Intex Explorer 200, 2-Person Inflatable Boat

Intex Explorer 200, 2-Person Inflatable Boat

The Explorer 200 is best described as a pool raft perfect for lakes, and mild waters. It is a cheap inflatable boat, but it still manages to do what it is supposed to do.

Its 13-gauge PVC material is sturdy enough for moderate use but may not hold up well against sharp objects, so you have to keep it away from shallow waters.

This raft has two separate air chambers (in the hull and the floor), so you have some backup in case you puncture it. However, the air chamber on the floor protrudes and can be a nuisance.

In addition, the valves are not Boston valves, so you have to be quick in filling it up. But then again, it will not be fair to look for a lot of features in a product targeted to a different market.

The other nice thing about this boat is the bright design which makes it highly visible even from far off.

The inflatable I-beam floor provides added support and helps keep the rider comfy. It has a grab rope on the bow and strong, welded oar locks for convenience.

Measuring 73 in x 16 in x 37 in (W x H x D), it can support a total weight of 210 lbs.

The Explorer 200 comes with two 48-in French oars, a small air pump which conveniently and quickly inflates on both strokes, a repair patch kit, and a U.S. Coast Guard ID.

What We Like

  • Affordable
  • Highly visible

What We Didn't Like

  • Protruding floor air chamber
  • Valve design
  • Susceptible to punctures

#6. Newport Vessels Dana Inflatable Sport Tender Dinghy Boat

Newport Vessels Dana Inflatable Sport Tender Dinghy Boat

Newport Vessels Dana Inflatable Sport Tender Dinghy Boat

The Dana Inflatable Sport Tender Dinghy is an ideal companion both for saltwater and freshwater paddling. It is compliant with U.S. Coast Guard requirements and built with some of the best materials available in the industry.

It is made of reinforced 1,100 Dtex (0.9 mm) denier specialty coated PVC that is anti-corrosion and sun and saltwater resistant.

Its flooring is fitted with a 24mm aluminum-framed coated marine plywood for increased rigidity. It also has a high-pressure inflatable keel for added stability and a V-hull for going further offshore or paddling on rough waters.

You can use either a two-stroke or a four-stroke motor to fit your preference. For maximum performance, Newport Vessels recommends a 15 in short shaft outboard motor.

When inflated, the Dana measures 8 ft 10 in x 5 ft (L x W) with a tube diameter of 18 in and a weight of 101 lbs. It can handle up to 10 hp of power and can support the weight of up to three persons or a total load of 1,067 pounds.

For its price range, this inflatable surely delivers what is expected. The only seemingly minor issue is the length of the pontoons, which may be too short to keep the bow from rising when you try to plane the boat.

It comes with an aluminum bench seat, two aluminum oars, a carry bag, a one-way drain plug, towing D-rings, mounted carry handles, oar locks and holders, a foot pump, and a repair kit.

Each boat has a unique hull ID number, registration documents, and a two-year manufacturer’s warranty.

What We Like

  • Versatility
  • Reinforced flooring
  • Resists corrosion, sun, and saltwater

What We Didn't Like

  • Can be hard to plane due to pontoon size

#7. Classic Accessories Colorado Inflatable Pontoon Boat

Classic Accessories Colorado Inflatable Pontoon Boat

Colorado Inflatable Pontoon Boat

The Colorado inflatable boat with motor mount is an excellent option for exploring rivers, lakes, and any area with shallow waters. It has a sturdy, powder-coated steel tube frame and pontoons made from high-quality PVC that holds up well against abrasions.

With its padded plastic seat, you can enjoy some quiet paddling with minimal discomfort. Meanwhile, the non-slip footrests show that safety has been well-thought out to the smallest detail.

For flexibility in trolling, the Colorado pontoon boat comes fitted with a sturdy and weatherproof two-position motor mount. There are also three oarlock positions you can use to suit your preferred mode of operation.

This inflatable is available in black and sage and comes with a broad range of extras: a rod holder which can be locked in three different areas on each stand, an Anchor System with a mesh bag, and space for cleat and pulley controls.

Its wire rear storage and 20 pockets enable the Colorado to handle a lot of loads while the two insulated drink holders and the battery platform ensure convenience.

Finally, it comes with a stripping apron, a detachable fly patch, and two 7-ft aluminum oars.

What We Like

  • Add-ons
  • Highly versatile
  • Well-made

What We Didn't Like

  • May be too big and heavy if you are setting or breaking it up alone

#8. Intex Mariner 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set

Intex Mariner 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set

Intex Mariner 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set

Intex’s Mariner 4 is an NMMA-approved inflatable best suited for paddling on lakes and mild rivers. It is constructed out of sturdy and durable laminated vinyl that can handle abrasion, impact, and sunlight well.

In addition, the floor is made of strong extruded plastic that makes for a fairly rigid and comfortable vessel. It has an inflatable keel for better rider control and boat stability.

The Mariner 4 has a motor mount and rotating oar locks and holders for ease of use and versatility. There are also two rod holders in case you want to use it for fishing.

The hull chamber has four Boston valves for a no-fuss inflation and deflation while the hull itself is lined with a strong rock guard and with a nylon grab line. Moreover, it has four separate air chambers, so you have plenty of back-ups in case you run into some jagged rocks.

It comes with three inflatable seat cushions that you may use to make long hours of paddling less stressful on the body.

Measuring 129 in x 57 in x 19 in when inflated, the Mariner 4 can support up to four people or a total weight of 880 lbs.

Each boat comes with battery and gear pouches, a U.S. Coast Guard ID, a repair patch kit, two 54-inch deluxe aluminum oars, a manual hand pump, and a 30-day manufacturer’s warranty.

What We Like

  • Multiple air chambers
  • Has seat cushions

What We Didn't Like

  • Oars have plastic connectors that can break easily

#9. Intex Excursion 5, 5-Person Inflatable Boat Set

Excursion 5, 5-Person Inflatable Boat Set

Excursion 5, 5-Person Inflatable Boat Set

The Excursion 5 offers a lot for an inflatable with such a good price tag. It is made of tough PVC vinyl that can handle abrasions and sharp objects well.

It also has the same inflatable I-beam floor found on other Intex inflatables. The purpose of this is to improve both rigidity and user comfort at the same time.

Speaking of comfort, the Excursion 5 can fit five people comfortably into two inflatable seats with backrests and a middle seat (no backrest).

It is also quite easy to haul and pull with its all-around grab line. Furthermore, the two hull chambers have Boston valves which should make filling up and deflation quick and easy.

The oar locks are securely welded on so you do not have to worry about accidentally losing a paddle while rowing. Also, it has four built-in rod holders and a gear pouch for your convenience.

Three air chambers (including one in the hull) are there to give you some peace of mind while the motor mount fittings allow for some flexibility. However, there is no battery platform.

The Excursion 5 comes with two 54-inch aluminum oars and a high-output pump.

What We Like

  • Affordable
  • Has multiple air chambers

What We Didn't Like

  • Oars have easily breakable plastic connectors
  • No battery platform

#10. HydroForce Caspian 7'7" Inflatable Boat

HydroForce Caspian 7'7

HydroForce Caspian 7'7" Inflatable Boat

The HydroForce Caspian delivers just what it promises on calm waters. Its does not have high-end features but is well-made using good materials.

It is made of high-grade PVC that can withstand the damage caused by the sun, abrasion, and various pollutants. Its flooring is reinforced with marine-grade plywood. This makes the boat more rigid but still light enough.

The two high-density PVC chambers supported by nylon material offers good buoyancy while the integrated drain valve makes usage very easy.

Other features worth mentioning are the steel tow ring, the rotating oar locks, the safety grab ropes, and a strake to protect against friction and impact. It can also handle an outboard motor of up to 3hp.

This boat measures 91 in x 51 in x 13 in and can accommodate a load weighing 568 lbs at most. It can seat two adults but not with a lot of leg room.

Each HydroForce Caspian includes a pair of aluminum oars, an Air Hammer hand pump, a 33-in tow rope, and a pressure gauge

What We Like

  • Can accommodate a heavy load
  • Nice add-ons

What We Didn't Like

  • Not roomy for two adults

Rankings

Best Overall

2nd choice

3rd choice

4th choice

5th choice

Top-Rated Inflatable Boats

Inflatable Sport Boats Shark 9.8' - Model 300
Classic Accessories Colorado XT Inflatable Pontoon Boat
Sea Eagle 285 Inflatable Frameless Fishing Pontoon Boat
Seahawk 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set
Intex Explorer 200, 2-Person Inflatable Boat

Brand

Inflatable Sport Boats

Classic Accessories

Sea Eagle

Intex

Intex

Color

White

Pumpkin, Sage/Gray

Green

Sage/Gray

Red/Yellow

Max Capacity - lbs

1158

400

450

814

210

Get Started

Why Should You Buy an Inflatable Boat?

Inflatable boats have become immensely popular among fishers, vacationers, and the military for several good reasons:

  • Affordability

Although the top of the line inflatable boats can be expensive, they are still generally a lot cheaper than hard-shell boats. Maintenance costs and other expenses related to running them are also kept at a minimum primarily since they do not consume as much power.

  • Convenience

Since they are so light and compact, inflatable boats can be easily stored and transported. When you want to move a hard-shell boat, you need to rent a truck or a boat trailer, and they can be costly.

With an inflatable boat, you simply have to deflate it, fold it up, and stuff it in the trunk of your car and you are ready to go. You can even keep it in a backpack and travel using public transport with it.

Setting them up is also a breeze. A moderately sized inflatable should take no more than 30 minutes to inflate using a foot pump and more or less 15 minutes if you are using an electric pump.

  • Stability and Safety

We are not saying that traditional hard-shell boats are not stable or safe. However, some people tend to have the wrong idea that inflatable boats are unsafe and that has to be cleared up.

Inflatable boats are designed to have a low center of gravity to make them sit flat on the water and to prevent them from tipping over.

With an inflatable, you can stand to fish or sit and flip backward to dive the same way you would in a hard-shell boat.

  • Durability

Over the years, manufacturers have used different materials and developed their technology to produce durable and long-lasting inflatable boats.

You may frequently hear about PVC, neoprene, Hypalon, Nitrylon, polyester, etc. These are just some of the materials that are commonly used in inflatable boats due to their strength and durability.

Most of these are further reinforced to make them puncture-resistant while some are UV- and saltwater-resistant, for example.

Also, since inflatable boats are so reliable, it is not surprising at all to find ones that can support loads that are several times their weight.

  • Lightness

The other advantage inflatable boats have over traditional boats is their lightweight nature. Despite being able to support heavy loads, inflatables remain very light due to many technological and design innovations that go into their construction.

What Inflatable Boat To Buy?

Here are some inflatable boat types you should be familiar with:

  • Roll-Ups

Roll-up boats are compact and durable. They usually have an inflatable collar and a synthetic rubber floor, which is sometimes reinforced with wood slats that provide rigidity.

They are usually used for fishing in shallow waters and for hanging out in backwaters and creeks.

  • Dinghies

Dinghies are used as tenders for larger boats and ships. A boat like this can mount a small trolling motor and can be used for various purposes: fishing, leisurely paddling, rowing, and more.

  • Airdecks

Also called inflatable hulls, air decks have inflatable floors for added comfort and rigidity. They usually have traditional hull shapes and may have sharper entries and longer hull flaps.

  • Racing Boats

Inflatable Racing boats are extra firm and run on water the way a sports car zips through a highway. Because of this, racing inflatables are not the average recreational boater’s cup of tea and appeal to a much smaller niche.

  • Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIB)

A RIB is an inflatable boat with a rigid, deep-V hull for hydroplaning. RIBs are commonly used during rescue operations and similar activities.

  • Others

The other kinds of inflatables are canoes, kayaks, catamarans, and pontoon boats.

Conclusion

We are in the last section of our inflatable boats reviews – the summary. It’s time to pick the best product in this category.

Looking at our list of the best inflatable boats, it was hard to pick just one as the absolute winner. However, we have to hand it to Inflatable Sport Boats Shark 9.8' - Model 300 - Aluminum Floor Dinghy with Seat Bag for being durable, versatile, and incredibly powerful.

It can be used on any type of water for nearly any purpose and can support up to 15 hp of power and up to 1,158 lbs of weight. Sure, it is pricey, but you get exactly what you pay for.

What is more, it fulfills all requirements that we mentioned in the value section above.

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