10 Questions to Consider Before Buying An Inflatable Boat Or Dinghy
So, you want to buy an inflatable boat or dinghy... Congratulations! You’re buying a product that is versatile, durable and guaranteed to entertain friends and family for years to come.
Inflatable boats can be used for everything from fishing and tubing, to racing and search and rescue missions. They are also highly adaptable and can be used in any type of water. Some models can run in shallow depths of as little as six inches!
Set-up is easy. Break down is easy. After a day on the water, you can dock, or simply deflate, roll up and store in your trunk. No matter how you use them, inflatable boats are easy to use, easy to transport, and easy to store.
Want to know something else that’s cool? An inflatable dinghy is wonderful to fish, hunt or float in areas that may be hard to maneuver.
Prior to making your purchase, there are some things you will want to consider!
Buying an inflatable boat can be a big investment, but it doesn’t have to be an uncertain one. After reading this article, you’ll feel empowered to buy your inflatable boat or dinghy with confidence!
Here are 10 Questions to Consider Before Buying an Inflatable Boat or Dinghy:
- What kind of boater are you?
Before buying an inflatable boat, the first question you should be asking yourself is, “How am I going to use it?” Everyone knows the biggest reason they want to buy a boat. But, think long term and a little out of the box.
Once you have an inflatable boat, you are going to find that lots of folks might want to join you.
If you’re a family man looking to relax, a speedy racing boat probably isn’t for you. Maybe get something with some rod holders so you and the boys can take it out fishing. Or, get something a little bigger to tow a tube full of kids.
Above all else, you need to select an inflatable boat that fits your lifestyle! And, will handle all the new friends you’re going to make!
Where are you going to use your inflatable boat?
Saltwater? Freshwater? Brackish water? It doesn’t matter. Inflatable boats can be easily launched in any type of water and at fluctuating depths.
Here’s a helpful tip. Keep an eye out for inflatable boats with protective hulls. They shield the bottom of your boat, making it possible to fish in shallow waters or beaches safely at high speeds.
Heading up to the lake, or taking a trip to your town’s marina? Inflatable boats are allowed almost anywhere and can be docked or moored to almost anything!
How many passengers will be coming aboard?
This question goes right along with deciding what kind of boater you are. While space on the water may be limitless, space in an inflatable boat is not. On any given day, how many people can you expect to pilot?
The biggest inflatable boat we’ve seen can fit up to 14 people. A big dinghy is a great choice for large fishing expeditions or tourist rides. However, if socializing isn’t your thing, you can get a tender or dinghy that comfortably fits one or two people.
More space means more money, so keep that in mind when selecting a model. If you don’t anticipate entertaining more than a handful of friends, go with something smaller!
How fast do you want to go?
An inflatable boat’s weight, size, and the motor will directly impact how fast you can go. If you want to race, you need a lightweight option that can handle a motor with heavy horsepower. Some of these speedy models can even be beached in shallow waters at high speeds.
Even the flooring or design of the hull can uniquely affect your boat’s max speed. However, if you’re more into relaxing and floating, maybe speed doesn’t matter as much. Pick a simpler model with horsepower in the single digits.
What material is an inflatable boat made out of?
Most inflatables are made from two different types of materials (PVC or Hypalon). Each material has its own advantages, disadvantages, and price point.
Generally, boats made with Hypalon will be more expensive but have a lifespan longer than those made with PVC.
Hypalon is a durable synthetic rubber that is more resistant to extreme temperatures, ultraviolet light, abrasions, and chemical spills.
PVC is a synthetic plastic polymer. It’s a more economical choice than Hypalon but isn’t nearly as resistant to extreme weather conditions.
PVC can be Thermo welded. That means the seams are heat-sealed instead of glued. This takes the durability of a PVC boat to a whole other level.
If you want an inflatable boat that is long-lasting and withstands the weather, find out what it is made of.
How easy is it to inflate, or use an inflatable boat or dinghy?
Don’t be intimidated by assembling an inflatable boat. It’s quick and easy!
Most come shipped already in their carrying bags and can be put-together in an hour or two. All you need to do is take out the bottom and inflatable tubes and get to work! Usually, you don’t even need tools to get the job done and everything can be done on land.
Then, it comes down to simply inflating the different air chambers using the air pump provided, and voila, you’ve assembled your inflatable boat!
Using it is easy, too! It’s simple to carry, can be tied anywhere you’re docking and it’s easily launchable. Don’t be nervous about repairs either, most inflatable boats come with a repair kit to fix patches and abrasions.
When Winter comes, storing your inflatable boat is super simple. Simply deflate, roll it up, put it in your carrying bag, and tuck it away! Make sure your boat is stored in a well-ventilated area to prevent humidity and moisture from creeping in.
What kind of storage on your boat do you need?
As already mentioned, space on your inflatable boat is limited. Think about the essentials you absolutely need to bring aboard.
If you want to ski or tube, can you put everything on the deck, or do you need to tow? If you have oars or fishing poles, are there built-in mounts and holders? If you want to bring food and drinks for lunch, can a cooler fit?
You need to select an inflatable boat that holds gear as well as all of your passengers.
- Will you need to transport your boat?
If you’re still using a boat trailer, you’re living in the past! Gone are the days of nervously driving while you tow a massive boat around town.
With inflatables, all you need to do is deflate, roll up and go! Most inflatables can be easily collapsed, placed in their carrying bag, and fits perfectly in the backseat of your car.
Bigger inflatable boats benefit from a trailer and/or launching wheels. They can get pretty heavy. A large inflatable boat can weigh over 200 pounds. If you do want to tow, dock or moor, that’s a piece of cake, too.
Inflatables are highly adaptable and an ideal option for an impulsive summer excursion!
Are you looking for any extra features?
Some inflatable boats come with added accessories like air pumps, oars, and repair kits. Others come with customizable options to suit your needs.
Whether it be launching wheels, covers, storage hatches, or an open/closed transom, there are plenty of extra features to consider.
How much are you willing to spend?
We’re finally full circle. By now, you may have an idea of what you’re looking for in an inflatable boat. At the end of the day, we know it comes down to one thing: your budget.
A bigger boat is going to cost bigger dollars. A bigger boat that is souped-up with accessories and extra features is going to cost even more.
A two-person tender can start at $500, while a huge fishing inflatable may go up to $10,0000.
Take every question we have asked so far into consideration and ask yourself, “How much do I want to spend?”
You’re now ready to buy an inflatable boat or dinghy! Let’s learn more about models and find one that fits with your lifestyle!
If you want an inflatable boat that is big, safe and perfect for the family, try the Stryker PRO 500!
The largest roll up boat in the Stryker catalog, the PRO 500 is a massive 16 feet. This big boy is the perfect option for entertaining family and friends! The heavy-duty interlocking aluminum floor system can carry up to 14 people!
It also has 7 pre-installed Scotty® bases and a welded towing eye for skiing and tubing.
The PRO 500 is constructed with high-grade German Mehler PVC, creating an inflatable boat that is strong and durable. Seams are Thermo welded not glued. The 20” heavy-duty transom allows you to add a JET outboard for use in water that is extremely shallow.
Stryker Shield® hull protection under the entire bottom means you’re investing in an inflatable boat that is reliable. With a 5 year warranty, you have a boat that is going to last for years to come!
30-50 HP long shaft (prop) outboard or a 35-40 HP JET.
Launching wheels, bravo turbo pump, bait caster rod holder with mount
Foot pump, bow, seat, boat & floor bags, (3) aluminum bench seats, (2) aluminum oars
To learn more about the Stryker PRO 500, click here.
If you’re looking for an inflatable boat that is long on performance and won’t break the bank, try the North Atlantic 10’8” Inflatable Keel Boat!
The North Atlantic Inflatable 10'8" Keel Boat is often referred to as the “backbone” of the inflatable word. It’s less expensive but doesn’t sacrifice quality. This tender is constructed from Heytex PVC imported from Germany and can fit up to five people.
Depending on your needs, it comes in two different categories: air deck or aluminum panel floor. The North Atlantic Inflatable 10'8" Keel Boat is also lightweight and rugged. Oh, and I did I mention – Thermo welded seams!
With a 5-year warranty on the fabric and hull, the North Atlantic 8’2” Inflatable Keel Boat is the best overall bang for your buck!
15 HP maximum
Panel deck or aluminum floor
(2) aluminum oars, aluminum bench seats, foot pump, carry bag, and repair kit
To learn more about the North Atlantic 10’8” Inflatable Keel Boat, click here.
If you’re searching for something with a little extra speed this Summer, look no further than the Hammerhead by Dux Boats!
If you want the most economical all-around catamaran that is fast and fun, consider Aqua Marina’s Aircat
Built with heavy-duty marine-grade reinforced PVC, the Aqua Marina Aircat is a great catamaran and carries 2-5 passengers. It comes in two different sizes and has an open bow design, making it a favorite for fishers and divers.
With an ultra-stable tunnel hull, the Aircat can brave winds at high-speeds while still remaining safe and stable. It has an oar-lock system for easy rowing & mounted carrying handles. The high quality anti-collision rubber strake will help protect the boat upon any impact.
No boat trailer is necessary, either. When you’re done enjoying Aqua Marina’s Aircat, simply deflate and put it back in its carrying bag -- it can fit in the backseat of most cars!
5 - 9.9 HP
9’4” or 11’
Carry bag, double-action pump, oar set
To learn more about the Aqua Marina Aircat, click here.
If you want a dinghy built for two, learn more about the North Atlantic 7’6” Keel Boat
Finally, let’s take a look at the perfect tender for two people! A perfect complement to small or mid-sized vessels, the North Atlantic 7’6” Keel Boat is a compact tough dinghy! This rugged boat is made from thermo-welded PVC. The 7’6” Keel is lightweight, and its hydrodynamic design allows for high-speed performance and maneuvering.
3.3 HP maximum
Miniflex or Miniflex-S
Two aluminum paddles, small foot pump, repair kit
To learn more about the Flexboat Miniflex Hypalon Tender, click here.
There are SO many things you need to consider before buying an inflatable boat or dinghy. From selecting a style based on your lifestyle, to size, to speed, there are plenty of things to think about. As you now begin the buying process, we hope you feel confident to invest in the inflatable boat of your dreams! Interested in learning more? Here at Light as Air Boats, we’re committed to providing the best inflatable products to empower our customers' thrill of being on the water! We’ll work with you each step of the way to help you select the perfect inflatable boat or dinghy for your lifestyle. Life is best lived on the water!
For more information on our selection of inflatable boats and dinghies, check out our collection, or call our Boat Specialist Dave at 864.367.6161