Boats

The 7 Best Inflatable Boat Selections For Your Above Water Adventures

Last updated on August 23, 2022 by Ben Snatler

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EDITOR'S PICKS

Recommended
Best Overall    
Inflatable Sports Boats Killer Whale Model thumbnail

4.7/5

  • Excellent quality and performance
  • Easy to assemble, deflate, and transport
  • Guaranteed to last in fresh water, salt water and extreme humidity
  • Best for boating, fishing, kayaking, and rafting
Recommended
Best Inflatable Kayak
Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak Set thumbnail

4.4/5

  • Excellent quality and sturdiness
  • It's fits in the bag when deflated and folded
  • Super easy to assemble and inflate
  • Tracks well with the included skeg
Recommended
Best on a Budget
Intex Seahawk 4 Inflatable Boat thumbnail

4.5/5

  • Outstanding durability and comfort
  • Easy storage
  • Motor mount fittings are included
  • Best for boating and fishing

MORE PICKS TO CHOOSE FROM

These days, inflatable boats aren't just for transporting passengers from a larger boat to shore. Thanks to technological advances and innovative designs, the right inflatable boats can be used for a number of different activities, including fishing, white water rafting, kayaking, and family boating trips. With technological improvements, inflatable boats are on par with fiberglass boats.

In this guide to inflatable boats, we'll offer helpful shopping tips and highlight the best models on the market today. If you're shopping on a budget, you're in luck! Most products come complete with oars, storage bags, manual or electric pumps, life jackets, and other useful accessories.

How to Select an Inflatable Boat

Intimidated by the idea of shopping for a new inflatable boat? Here are a few tips that should help you find the right inflatable boat:

  • Stick with United States Coast Guard-Approved Inflatable Boats — The safest way to narrow down your search is to stick with boats labeled USCG-approved. These watercraft have undergone rigorous testing to ensure they meet the strict standards of the US Coast Guard.

  • Consider Your Inflatable Boat's Intended Use — Are you planning to use your inflatable boat for fishing, rafting, or general boating? Will you be using it in a freshwater lake or river, or will you need to shop for something that can withstand the ocean? Deciding on your boat's primary end use will help you navigate your way through the dinghies, kayaks, rafts, and other different types of inflatable boats.

  • Determine Your Maximum Number of Passengers — For safety reasons, you'll need to strictly adhere to the weight limit and the number of passengers dictated in the product manual. Most rigid inflatable boats can carry between one to four people, depending on the boat length and type. While a larger vessel can carry more passengers, it'll likely be more expensive and take up more space when deflated.

  • Set a Price Limit — Traditional boats come with a high price tag. While there are plenty of splurge-worthy options out there, you don't need to spend a fortune to find an inflatable boat that's durable, reliable, and easy to transport. Most boats are sold as a set with oars, inflatable seat cushions, storage bags, and other practical accessories.

  • Finalize the Floor Material — While some inflatable boats come fitted with a lightweight aluminum floor, others have an aluminum-wrapped marine plywood or air floor. Different materials will offer a different balance of portability, stability, and overall performance.

  • Boat Material — It may be a surprise to you that most inflatable boats are not made from rubber material but coated with a rubber material. The two common inflatable boat materials are PVC and Hypalon. PVC boats are cheaper than Hypalon boats, but Hypalon material is stronger and more durable than PVC.

  • Skim the Product Reviews — Seemingly, every inflatable boat company boasts that its PVC is the most durable and puncture-resistant, so be sure to skim through the product reviews to get a better idea of how the watercraft will truly perform.

The 7 Best Inflatable Boats

Inflatable Sports Boats Killer Whale Model

Best Overall

overall 

4.7/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Inflatable Sports Boats Killer Whale Model

Features:

  • Heavy duty PVC
  • UV, oil stain, and puncture restraint
  • All seams are heat welded

As the US-based manufacturing company's name suggests, Inflatable Sports Boats makes some of the finest inflatable vessels around. This 10.8-foot-long Killer Whale Model features a contoured design developed by nautical engineers for better rear buoyancy and faster planning at takeoff. It's crafted from heavy-duty, UV-, stain-, and puncture-resistant PVC with heat-welded seams that are guaranteed to last in fresh water, salt water, and extreme humidity. The 24mm aluminum floor and seats are stronger, lighter, and far easier to clean than marine plywood.

The USCG-approved inflatable boat comes complete with an aluminum bench seat, removable seat cushion, two aluminum oars, a foot pump, two repair patches, and a storage bag to keep your kit organized between boating seasons. Towing D-rings, heavy-duty carrying handles, and a one-way drain plug ensure it's lightweight, portable, and practical to use. If you're looking for something smaller, the company offers several smaller inflatable models made with the same top-grade materials and trusted construction.

Weight

80 Pounds

Boat Length

10.8 ft

Maximum Passengers

5

Maximum Load

1268 pounds

Pros:

  • Excellent quality and performance
  • Easy to assemble, deflate, and transport
  • Guaranteed to last in fresh water, salt water and extreme humidity
  • Best for boating, fishing, kayaking, and rafting

Cons:

  • The ends of the aluminum floor connectors are razor-sharp so don't inflate it too much prior to installing the aluminum floor

Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak Set

Best Inflatable Kayak

overall 

4.4/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak Set

Features:

  • Durable welded material with eye catching graphics
  • Removable skeg provides exceptional directional movement
  • Cargo net to store extra gear
  • Inflatable seat with backrest

This reasonably-priced Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak Set is constructed from heavy-duty, puncture-resistant vinyl with welded seams for better durability, Boston valves for speedy inflation, and two separate air chambers for added safety. Its cockpit is designed for maximum comfort and space. An inflatable I-beam floor increases rigidity, while a fully removable and adjustable seat ensures a comfortable seat. The removable skeg on the bottom of the boat provides excellent directional movement in mild waters.

Depending on which option you select, your kayak comes complete with a life jacket, an 84-inch aluminum paddle, an electric pump, and a repair patch. A cargo net on the front offers a convenient place to stash your extra gear while you're out on the water. There's a grab line on both ends that acts as a reliable handhold during emergencies.

Weight

25 pounds

Boat Length

9 ft

Maximum Passengers

1

Maximum Load

220 pounds

Pros:

  • Excellent quality and sturdiness
  • It's fits in the bag when deflated and folded
  • Super easy to assemble and inflate
  • Tracks well with the included skeg

Cons:

  • Storage bag is not of great quality
  • Folding the kayak is a bit confusing

Intex Seahawk 4 Inflatable Boat

Best on a Budget

overall 

4.5/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Intex Seahawk 4 Inflatable Boat

Features:

  • Heavy duty, puncture resistant PVC
  • 3 air chambers including an inner auxiliary chamber inside the main hull for extra safety
  • Inflatable cushions
  • 2 built-in fishing rod holders and gear pouch

Looking to enjoy a little summer boating fun with family or friends? This affordable Seahawk 4 Inflatable Boat from Intex features a spacious four-person design that's US Coast Guard-approved and NMMA-certified. It's constructed from heavy-duty, puncture-resistant vinyl with three separate air chambers, including an inner auxiliary chamber inside the main hull for added safety. An inflatable floor and seat cushions increase comfort and stability, while a gear pouch on the side keeps you well organized during your time on the water.

The reasonably-priced set comes with a repair patch, manual pump, and two aluminum oars. Should you not want to paddle manually, the motor mount fitting on the stern accommodates up to a 1.5 HP motor. Practical design features include four oar holders, four welded oar locks, two fishing rod holders, a grab handle on the bow, and an all-around grab line allows for easy boarding, handling, and general use.

Weight

‎37.5 Pounds

Boat Length

11.5 ft

Maximum Passengers

4

Maximum Load

1058 pounds

Pros:

  • Outstanding durability and comfort
  • Easy storage
  • Motor mount fittings are included
  • Best for boating and fishing

Cons:

  • Others don't find quality control to be very effective

Sea Eagle FoldCat Inflatable Fishing Boat Pro Angler Guide Package

Best for Fishing

overall 

4.6/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Sea Eagle FoldCat Inflatable Fishing Boat Pro Angler Guide Package

Features:

  • Removable casting bar
  • Two 360 degrees swivel eats
  • Motor mount that can take up to 3 hp gas
  • Patented folding frame

The angler-approved Sea Eagle FoldCat features a patented folding system that assembles in minutes and packs easily into a car. When inflated, its lightweight aluminum cross boards and under bars lock together to create a rigid deck for users to stand stably and cast comfortably in any direction— especially thanks to padded 360° swivel seats and a casting bar on the bow.

The Pro Angler Guide Package includes a repair kit, pump, and two oars. Its durable, dark green vinyl exterior blends in with your surrounding environment, helping you remain undetectable while you're on the hunt. A full fabric floor keeps lures, tackle, electric batteries, and dropped phones from falling into the water. Thanks to raised oarlocks and a motor mount, passengers can row manually or attach up to a 3 HP motor to the motor mount on the stern.

Weight

‎157 Pounds

Boat Length

12.4 ft

Maximum Passengers

2

Maximum Load

650 pounds

Pros:

  • Very sturdy and stable
  • Extremely comfortable seats
  • Easy to set up and store
  • Best for fishing and kayaking

Cons:

  • The boat's storage space is limited

BRIS Inflatable White-Water River Raft Boat

Best Inflatable Raft

overall 

4.5/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

BRIS Inflatable White-Water River Raft Boat

Features:

  • Premium quality materials
  • Removable high-pressure drop stitch floor is very stable
  • 3 inflatable thwarts are completely detachable and removable
  • 8 D-rings outside for optional frame attachment

This reliable BRIS Inflatable White-Water River Raft Boat is our pick for the best inflatable raft. Designed with whitewater rafting in mind, it's built with quadruple reinforced seams, heavy-duty D-rings, six carrying handles, and a unique self-bailing system for optimum performance. Inflatable rafts can also be used as a tender for larger boats anchored offshore.

You'll feel confident taking on any rapids thanks to the added rubber strake at the bottom of the four individual inflation tubes. The drop-stitch floor is made with extra-thick, commercial-grade fabric for excellent stability on the water. BRIS includes two thwarts, one set of oars, a foot pump, a carrying case, and a handy repair kit in case of a small puncture.

Weight

100 Pounds

Boat Length

12 ft

Maximum Passengers

6

Maximum Load

1200 pounds

Pros:

  • Fabric is thick, puncture proof, and abrasion resistant.
  • Exceptional quality and workmanship water crafts at affordable price
  • Ensured to endure in freshwater, saltwater, and high humidity
  • Can withstand challenging water adventures

Cons:

  • It would take around 1 1/2 to 2 hours to fill the raft with air using just the foot pump, therefore a battery- or 12V-powered pump is recommended.

Newport Vessels Dana Inflatable Sport Dinghy Boat

Best Inflatable Dinghy Boat

overall 

4.5/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Newport Vessels Dana Inflatable Sport Dinghy Boat

Features:

  • High quality crisp white PVC fabric w/ UV treatment
  • 3x Stainless steel bow D-rings for towing
  • Sturdy carrying handles
  • Electric trolling motor compatible

Newport Vessels' Dana Inflatable Sport Dinghy Boat is an excellent choice for any sailor shopping for an inflatable dinghy. The three-person dinghy is crafted from high-quality vinyl with welded seams and a lightweight design. Each includes an aluminum bench seat, two aluminum floors, a storage bag, a foot pump, repair patches, and a valve wrench.

Compatible with most electric trolling motors between 3-20 HP, it can safely travel at speeds up to 20 mph. Inflatable tail tubes and an aluminum-framed marine plywood floor provide excellent stability, a self-bailing transom drain valve, and a splash guard around the edge limit water inside the boat. Each United States Coast Guard-approved vessel is put through pressure, leak, and inflation tests to ensure satisfactory safety and performance.

Weight

107 pounds

Boat Length

8.8 ft

Maximum Passengers

3

Maximum Load

1067 pounds

Pros:

  • High quality and durability
  • Very portable and easy to assemble or disassemble
  • Floor is made from aluminum framed marine grade coated plywood to provide a solid and stable surface
  • Seams are heat welded using the latest technology

Cons:

  • Installing the parts can be a bit complicated
  • The holes in the bailer are too small to allow water push open and bypass the rubber diaphragm

Seangles USCG-Approved Inflatable Dinghy Boat with Aluminum Floor

Suitable for Fresh and Saltwater Use

overall 

4/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Seangles USCG-Approved Inflatable Dinghy Boat with Aluminium Floor

Features:

  • Durable marine aluminum floors with aluminum framing for outboard motor
  • Safety valve to prevent over inflation
  • Extremely compact for easy storage
  • One way drain valve with plug

Seangles' Inflatable Dinghy Boat is durable, versatile, and reliable enough for use in any water condition. The USCG-Approved PVC boat can be used for fishing on a placid lake or bay, paddling down a calm river, or awaiting rescue on rough ocean waters during an emergency situation. It's crafted in the USA with reinforced seams and marine-grade aluminum flooring and framing.

Thanks to sturdy carrying handles and an all-around grab line, it's surprisingly lightweight and easy to transport when inflated. The safety-driven air compartments are double-layered on the bottom for added abrasion resistance and fitted with valves that prevent over-inflation. A one-way drain valve makes it easy to remove any water that's found its way onboard.

Weight

112 pounds

Boat Length

10.8 ft

Maximum Passengers

4

Maximum Load

1058 pounds

Pros:

  • Incredibly portable and easy to assemble or dissemble
  • Super compact for easy storage
  • Ideal for rough ocean water, emergency situations, tendering, fishing, or on a calm rivers, lakes and bay.

Cons:

  • The air pump is not efficient so it is recommended to have a powered pump

About the Author

Ben Snatler

Ben is a veteran boat captain, scuba instructor and sailing instructor. He grew up on boats and spent nearly the past 20 years working on all types of boats, yachts and even cruises doing all sorts of jobs, from maintenance to safety. He is fully certified with the american sailing association.