Inflatable boats have their own advantages. Apart from the flexibility of taking it anywhere, it is also affordable, easy to maintain and practical for different activities.
You need to know the purpose of your inflatable boat before you invest in it. You also need to consider your budget and the type of water body you are planning to explore.
Is inflatable boat the right option for different activities?
You could be someone who loves to travel around the coast in summer or you could be that person who loves deep sea swimming or someone who loves fishing. The inflatable boat is the best option when you want to travel from one beach to another and explore different oceans on a single trip. These boats can be packed in a haversack if you are planning to go on a trek.
You can also use the inflatable boat for a fishing trip. Specific inflatable fishing boats will have a seating position that is raised, swivel seats and storage pouches. It is best to invest in a specific inflatable fishing boat which has rod handles, inflatable seats and separate air chambers for increased stability. Inflatable boats do not tip over as easily as hard shell boats. This makes them sturdier for fishing.
Is inflatable boat safe and stable?
Inflatable boats are safe because the air chamber tubes in the boat are separate from the craft and even if the boat is punctured, it will not sink.
Many coast guards are using inflatable boats these days simply because they are easy to get on and off the water. Coast guards wouldn’t be using them if they weren’t safe.
Some say that inflatable boats are just as safe as traditional hard shell boats. You want to look at the air chambers and buoyancy of the boat for safety. Having safety lights and torches mounted on your inflatable boat will prepare you for unforeseen circumstances.
You need to know the ocean before taking your inflatable boat on the water. If your favorite oceans are windy and rocky, you might want to invest in an inflatable boat with added layers of PVC which give you guaranteed safety from punctures. You might want to look at the directional fin attachment for improved rowing stability in windy conditions.
Is inflatable boat durable and sturdy?
Inflatable boats can last you anywhere between 8 to 10 years. You can maintain them by using repair kits, heat protection sprays, PVC protection wax and regularly cleaning and drying them properly before packing it away. The durability highly depends on how you maintain it. If you use the inflatable boat for less than four months in a year, you will need to make sure you store it safely where it won’t grow mold or mildew.
Some inflatable boats may never be as sturdy as a hard shell simply due to the air levels in the boat. However, pumping the air at the right level can give you great stability in deep waters. Always follow the manual and make sure you use an electric pump to measure the air pressures. Rod holders will always give you the opportunity to row your inflatable boat with increased sturdiness.
Reviews have shown that Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBS) cut through heavy waters very easily. These are mainly used by the navy, coast guards and professional fishing companies. However, RIBS can also be used for family trips and holidays.
Should I have a motor on the inflatable boat?
Rigid Inflatable Boats are great if you want to invest in a motorized inflatable boat for long excursions and family holidays. RIBS are expensive and cost anywhere from $2000. Inflatable boats priced over $1000 will be great for motor attachments. You can either use a hand-held propeller which will give you a push when you are tired of rowing or you can use a motor which can be mounted over your inflatable boat. It is important to read the manual for your inflatable boat before you decide to attach the motor or handheld propeller.
A motor will give you the ability to steer the boat. You can buy a mountable motor for an extra $250. For example, the Watersnake Venom SX 34lb Thrust Electric Motor (Fresh & Saltwater) is ideal for a lightweight inflatable boat. Watersnake has a variety of motor mount kits. Some brands, their boats generally come with the attachment panels for motors. You need to make sure that mounting kits fit to your inflatable boats. You need to consider the voltage of the motor and also consider how many people the inflatable boat can hold. For step by step instructions, you can watch YouTube videos on how to attach the mounted motor onto your inflatable boat.
Quick Answer: Best Inflatable Boat
Best Inflatable Boat: No.1 – Sea Eagle – FSK16
Best Value Inflatable Fishing Boat: No.2 – Sea Eagle – STS10
Best Single Inflatable Fishing Boat: No. 3 – Sea Eagle – 285fpb
Best Stability Pontoon Style Fishing Boat: No.4 – Sea Eagle – 375fc
Best Inflatable Boat under $500: No. 5 – Sea Eagle – SE9
Top 10 Inflatable Boat Reviews (2019 Review)
No. 1 Sea Eagle – FSK16
FSK16 is highly recommended if you want to enjoy fishing, snorkeling, and/or scuba diving. With low gunwale design, it is easy and quick to catch-land-release fish, and re-entry when snorkeling or scuba diving.
It is designed for 1-2 people with plenty of room and 1760 lb of load capacity. So, you are good to have heavy gears on the boat for your activities.
Three completely independent air chambers make the boat safer and great stability. Each chamber is made of double layered, tough as crocodile hide hull material. So, there is no problem with rough seas. This model is good for anywhere from skinny water to deep water.
With unique design of low gunwale and high air pressure capacity (15 psi), it can travel up to 17 mph with 6 hp gas motor. Because you need to fill air to 15 psi, it is recommended to have an electric pump. For inflatable boats, it is very important that you are following the instruction manual on filling air up to appropriate level.
For FSK16, you can choose to use gas or electric motor or both. When you are on the water, it is good to have gas motor when you are moving spots one place to another especially when it has some distance. And if you are fishing, most of the times you need to approach to the prime position very quietly by using a electric motor or paddle.
From one of the buyers’ review, one said, “I weigh 185. I sat on the side of it and shifted my weight up & down trying to tip it over. Nope!”
The only downside of this boat is the 100 lb of hull weight. You may need to have EZ Cart if you are going alone.
Other than that, FSK16 is well-rounded boat. It is worth every penny!
Average Review Score: 5.0/5.0 (Total 6 Reviews)
No. 2 Sea Eagle – STS10
STS10 is the BEST VALUE inflatable fishing boat.
On the specifications, it says that it can carry up to 4 people. But really it is good for 1-2 people especially when fishing.
Because you have swivel seats to install and gears to load. Also you need some room for stand-up fishing. Swivel seats are not included in the boat price. Two swiver seats are $158. We highly recommend you to gets swivel seats if you want to enjoy fishing comfortably for long hours.
The hull weight of STS10 is only 44 lb which is less than half of No.1 FSK16. It can easily fit into the trunk of any car. If you often go out to the water alone, this would be best option for you. Because No.1 FSK16 is a bit tough to handle alone.
For anglers who desire a truly safe and stable boat that can be used in rough or calm waters, this boat is an ideal solution. STS10 works great for any type of water: rivers, lakes, bays, pond, rough water.
One of the comments from STS10 buyers was:
“My big reason for leaving 5 stars (and the reason why I think everyone who is curious about an inflatable boat should buy from Sea Eagle) is for their return policy. I tried it out and within a couple months I decided it wasn’t for me. I called them up, mailed it back, and had a full refund within 1 week, no issues. Try them out, they stand by their products!”.
Yes, this is true. You can’t see this risk free 180 day trial policy with 3 years of warranty from other brands. Only sellers who have complete confidence on their products can offer you this benefits. If this is your first time with Sea Eagle, I highly recommend you to try.
There are many other brands making inflatable boat, but most of them have very poor customer service. If you see the buyers’ review of Sea Eagle products, people talk about more about how they were impressed from the customer service.
Average Review Score: 4.6/5.0 (Total 53 Reviews)
Are you looking for a single inflatable fishing boat?
If you are a person who goes fishing alone all the time, there is no reason to buy a bigger boat by paying extra hundreds of dollars. Single size is much portable and easily handled by 1 person. Sea Eagle 285fpb is 13 lb lighter and $400-$500 cheaper than No.2 Sea Eagle – STS10. It also saves your time when you are setting up the boat because the inflation time is only 5 MINS. It takes about 15-20 MINS to set up everything (fishing gears, mounts, motor, swiver seat).
285fpb pack into a relatively small bag which allows you to carry them to the location where you want to launch without using a trailer. This model is good for any type of water from skinny water to deep water: lakes, rivers, bays, creeks, etc.
With unique pontoon design, this boat gets great stability which allows you to do stand-up fishing. One of the 285fpb users says that, this boat is stable enough to use when there was 25 miles of wind and 3-4ft of waves.
Even though you are on a boat with great stability, always be careful when you are on the water. Things happen very quick on water and weather changes quickly.
Average Review Score: 4.6/5.0 (Total 93 Reviews)
Old style of pontoon boat takes more than a hour to set up and get on the water.
However, this 375fc frameless pontoon boat takes only about 5 mins to set up after it is inflated. Watch the video below, you will see a man gets so mad while setting up the old style of pontoon boat.
By just looking at the image, it looks like you need to attach the footholds every time you set up the boat.
But it’s NOT!
You just simply unroll it and inflate it. That’s it. Best of all deflation and take down is equally fast and simple. Release the one-way air valves, pull out the underbar and roll it up! It’s just that simple!
Also, it is super stable with the wide stance of the pontoons combined with the structural strength of the platform. Even when an angler is standing on one side of a pontoon the FoldCat™ 375fc is still stable enough for the angler to stand and cast.
Average Review Score: 4.7/5.0 (Total 32 Reviews)
No. 5 Sea Eagle – SE9
SE9 is the most affordable Sea Eagle inflatable boat.
The boat can have up to 4 people or 1200 lb, but it is good for 2 people when fishing. SE9 is only 35 lb and it is stable enough for stand-up fishing. You can also have an electric motor or a small gas motor for this boat.
People use this model for fishing, yacht tending, mild whitewater rafting and general motoring or rowing around lakes and bays.
If you are looking for an inflatable boat under $500, this would be your best choice.
Here is one of the reviews from the buyer :
“The SE 9 is a great boat, easy to maneuver, set up and get out onto the lake to do some great fishing. But I have changed my mind and am no going to write about the boat because I wouldn’t be adding much to all of the other positive reviews. I am going to write a review on the company instead.
I purchased my SE 9 in April of this year and used it several times with no problem and really enjoyed my time out on the water with this boat. After using boat last week, I noticed a problem with one of the tubes losing air. I called Sea Eagle and spoke with Jerry in customer service and explained the problem to him. Jerry asked if I was willing to perform some test to help them determine exactly what the problem was, to which I agreed. I performed tests and reported back to Jerry with the results.Jerry determined that the boat should be replaced and told me they would be sending out a replacement boat.
All I can say is SEA EAGLE GREAT COMPANY that stands behind their product . Why buy a boat anywhere else.”
To see more reviews, click “Reviews” below.
Average Review Score: 4.7/5.0 (Total 54 Reviews)
Rigid Inflatable Boat 11′ (RIB) is different from the other boats introduced above.
The hull weight is much heavier than others. It is almost 137 lb, so it is tough to handle by yourself. But, of course you get better quality.
The superior strength FRP (fiber reinforced plastic) double layer floor provides unsurpassed durability and longevity. Great when beaching, providing added protection against rock and debris.
The main difference between this RIB 11′ and other boats above is speed. You can have a gas engine motor up to 20 hp with 150kg maximum weight and 38cm minimum Shaft.
If you are looking for an inflatable boat mainly for fishing, we wouldn’t recommend this one because it is too pricey and you wouldn’t need 20 hp speed. When you get to near fishing spots, you need to stop using gas motor and use either paddle or electric motor. Otherwise, you won’t get a bite because all the fishes are gone already.
This boat is perfect for you if you want to enjoy the speed. But, you have to think about the price for the motor as well. Gas Motor with 20hp is around $3000-$5000 depends on the brand and model.
Average Review Score: 4.5/5.0 (Total 127 Reviews)
No. 8 Intex – Mariner 4
Average Review Score: 4.0/5.0 (Total 542 Reviews)
Average Review Score: 4.2/5.0 (Total 44 Reviews)
Average Review Score: 4.8/5.0 (Total 11 Reviews)