What are Zodiac Boats Made of and Other Inflatable Boat Questions Answered

What are Zodiac Boats Made of and Other Inflatable Boat Questions Answered

If you are one of those people who love outdoor activities, you probably understand why a lot of individuals are willing to spend for their hobbies. Those who love boating, for example, spend thousands of dollars on a zodiac boat. Now, you might be wondering, “what are Zodiac boats made of and why are they expensive?”

Exploring the outdoors as a form of recreation has started becoming popular just in recent years. Not too long ago, doing outdoor activities was normal.

It was part of people’s lives to go hiking, mountain climbing, and boating, to mention a few. During those times, people do those activities for a living, and to spend quality time with family and friends and be one with nature.

Since people started working in offices and in front of computers, and when the “digital age” started, the concept of going outdoors became unusual. It’s a good thing that humans naturally have no satisfaction. People always tend to feel there’s something missing, and for some, this is experiencing the outdoors.

One of the things that people crave is experiencing boating. A lot of them want to experience sailing even short distances, and going underwater on the side.

This is the reason why the inflatable boat business is growing the past years. People are willing to shell out money just to escape even for a while their hectic digital lives.

Below, the most popular inflatable boat questions will be answered: What is an inflatable boat? What are the kinds of inflatable boats? What are inflatable boats used for? What are Zodiac boats made of?

What Is an Inflatable Boat?

The inflatable boat was used to be called rubber boat. However, most inflatable boats these days are not made of rubber anymore. These boats are also referred to as “Zodiac” and “Gemini,” which are brand names of popular inflatable boats.

An inflatable boat is a kind of boat that is lightweight since it is made of flexible tubes that are filled with pressurized gas to work. Modern inflatable boats have a motor that runs it, so the user doesn’t need to row it to move.

Some inflatable boats can be dismantled and folded to make them smaller for easier transportation or storage. A foldable thwart is what keeps an inflatable boat firm.

Inflatable boats are first used in 1845 when Peter Halkett designed one of the prototypes, which can only accommodate a single passenger. Nevertheless, the history of inflatable boats can be traced back to when Charles Goodyear discovered vulcanization in 1838.

What Are the Kinds of Inflatable Boats?

There are two main types of inflatable boats: rigid inflatable boats, and soft inflatable boats.

Rigid Inflatable Boats or RIBs are the ones that have firm flooring, and a solid hull. 

Some people may say that this type of inflatable boat cannot be considered “inflatable” as it is not collapsible. However, the hull has air chambers, and the air in them helps with the buoyancy of this type of inflatable boat.

The ends of the hull have a pointed shape to allow it to easily get past waves especially when the weather is not that good. This type of inflatable boat is unsinkable and can accommodate heavier loads. It can have either outboard or inboard motor.

Soft Inflatable Boats or SIBs are the “real” inflatable boats.

This type of inflatable boat does not have solid hull and flooring. Its parts are mostly removable, and it can be fully deflated for storage and transport.

These boats can only be used in shallow and safe waters as they are more risky to use than RIBs. They can be used with an outboard motor, or the passengers can simply use paddles.

What Are the Uses of Inflatable Boats?

The uses of inflatable boats range from recreation to national and international safety and security.

Scuba diving

Scuba divers use inflatable boats to go to the deeper areas of the sea. Together with several companions and their heavy diving gears such as oxygen tanks, inflatable boats are able to bring them to their jump-off point. These boats are either rowed or run using a motor.

Whitewater rafting

There are a lot of different inflatable boats that can be used for whitewater rafting, and they are mostly soft inflatable boats. As compared to other boats, such as kayaks and canoes, which can be used for this kind of sport, inflatable boats are preferred because they are more stable.

There is a lesser chance that they will flip over, but they are less maneuverable because of their size.

Inflatable rescue boat racing

There is a specific kind of boat made for this purpose. They are called inflatable rescue boats or IRBs. These are normally color orange for better visibility.

They have an outboard motor that allows for faster response during rescue situations. These boats are required to comply with Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention regulations.

Water skiing

Since this kind of sport requires a faster boat, only RIBs can serve this purpose. RIBs, because of their shape and structure, can definitely pull the player at a speed that allows the water ski to glide smoothly on the water.


Even soft inflatable boats can be used for fishing since it is normally done in rivers and lakes that are not too deep and do not experience turbulent waters often.

In military operations

The purpose of inflatable boats in military operations is when military operations involve landing in beaches.

What Are Zodiac Boats Made Of?

As mentioned earlier, the term “Zodiac,” which is a brand name, is also used to refer to inflatable boats generally. Different types of zodiac boats use different materials. Here are the three most commonly used:

Neoprene/CSM or Hypalon

Hypalon is a combination of Neoprene and CSM. It is chemical and UV resistant; it can also withstand abrasion. Moreover, it can be used for many years as it does not deteriorate over time. However, Neoprene/CSM is more expensive than PVC.


Polyvinyl chloride or PVC is most popular as the material used in sewage pipes. Before it can become an inflatable boat, it needs to be mixed with a lot of other chemicals that are not really environment-friendly.

However, PVC is the most affordable material that can be used to create inflatable boats.


This material is the most environment-friendly, but also the most expensive. It is not common to find an inflatable boat that is made of this material. They can only be found on high-end inflatable boat manufacturing sites and stores.


What are zodiac boats made of? People should be asking, “What would I want to do with a zodiac boat?” instead. Just like the part of the population that has decided to go back to the outdoors, it’s time to stop thinking, and start envisioning a life that is not just about work, but also about play.

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