Water Sports

Best Inflatable Boat Reviews: Complete Buyer’s Guide

Are you looking for the best inflatable boat for the money? Read on as we review all the top options with Pros & Cons.

If you’re interested in purchasing an inflatable boat, you’re going to find that there are a lot of options to choose from. So how do you know which one to choose? We’ve taken the liberty of doing the research for you and have compiled the information we found into this handy guide.

After spending hours testing, researching and scouring the internet for customer reviews of dozens of inflatable boats, we found what we believe are the best inflatable boats currently on the market.

Below, you’ll find descriptions of our top picks, as well as a handy buyer’s guide that details the key factors you should take into consideration when you’re shopping for an inflatable boat.

We wrap things up by answering some of the most frequently asked questions that consumers have about inflatable boats. With the information presented in this guide, you should be able to choose the best option for you, so get ready to set sail!

Our Top Picks

We know that your time may be limited and that you might not have a lot of time to read through a long list of detailed reviews, yet you still want to be able to find a reliable inflatable boat. That’s why we included this section in our guide. Here, you’ll find a brief overview of our top picks for the best overall, best premium, and best budget inflatable boats.

Best Pick: Intex Mariner Inflatable Boat Set Series

Intex Mariner 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air-Pump (Latest Model)
  • The strong molecular structure of this plastic makes it highly resistant to damage from abrasion, impact and sunlight.
  • Four Boston valves on main hull chamber for quick-fills and fast-deflations.
  • The keel is inflatable; this results in improved control and handling.
  • A durable rock guard lines the circumference of the hull above which an all-around nylon grab line circles the upper hull.
  • Maximum weight capacity- 1100 pounds. Inflated Dimensions: 129" x 57" x 19" (328 x 145 x 48cm).

The best inflatable boats are durably constructed, reliable, and easy to inflate and deflate. The Intex Mariner Inflatable Boat Set Series checks off all of those boxes. Intex is one of the most trusted names in the inflatable products (mattresses, sofas, etc.), and they’ve proven themselves to be trusted manufacturer of inflatable boats, too. If’s made of a specialized plastic material that has a very high molecular structure that makes it very resistant to damage from abrasions and the harsh UV rays of the sun.

Premium Pick: Newport Vessels Del Mar Inflatable Dinghy Boat

Newport Vessels 9ft 6in Del Mar - Inflatable Dinghy Boat - Transom Sport Tender Boat, 4 Person - 10 Horsepower - USCG Rated
  • USCG rated triple layered 0.9mm/1,100 denier specialty coated PVC, marine wood flooring Inflatable sport boat tender.
  • Includes: Aluminum Framed Marine Wood Flooring, 1 aluminum bench seat, 2 aluminum oars, carrying & storage bag, foot pump, drain plug, towing D-rings, topside D-rings for Bimini and accessories, carrying handles, oar locks and oar holders
  • Materials: Boat: Triple Layered 0.9mm / 1,100 denier Polyester reinforced and anti corrosive coated PVC. Material ensures protection against corrosion, sun, salt, and all destructive elements.
  • Materials: Floor: 24mm thick aluminum framed custom hard marine coated plywood floor.
  • Dimensions and Specificatons: Model: The Del Mar Inflated Length: 9 ft 6 in, Tube Diameter 18 in, Inflatted Width: 5 ft, Chambers: 3, Weight: 115 lbs, Max Power: 10hp, Max Load: 1,248 lbs, Max Persons: 4, High pressue inflatable Keel & V hull.

If you’re on the market for a high-end inflatable boat and you have roam in your budget to spare, the Newport Vessels Del Mar Inflatable Dinghy Boat is sure to impress. It’s made of a triple layer of USCG rated 0.9mm/1,100 denier PVC that’s been treated with a specialty compound to further improve its durability and makes it corrosive-, sun-, salt-, and abrasion-resistant. It comes complete with aluminum framed marine wood flooring, which you can slip in place after it’s inflated to increase the durability of the boat and ensure that you have sure footing.

Budget Pick: Intex Seahawk Inflatable Boat Series

Intex Seahawk 3, 3-Person Inflatable Boat Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air -Pump (Latest Model)
  • Whether you're fishing, relaxing, or rowing on the Lake, the Seahawk 3 inflatable boat is great for making your boating experience exciting and entertaining
  • Designed with heavy duty, puncture resistant PVC for comfort and durability, and an inflatable I-beam floor for rigidity, the boat contains 3 air chambers
  • Seahawk 3 boat set provides added accessories including: two 48 inch aluminum oars and an Intex high-output pump for easy inflation and deflation with the 2 quick-fill, fast-deflate Boston valves
  • Inflated dimension: 9'8" x 4'6" x 1'5". maximum weight capacity: 790 lbs.

For shoppers who are looking for a durable, reliable, and easy to use inflatable boat but don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Intex Seahawk Inflatable Boat Series is definitely a model that we recommend. Like our pick for the best overall inflatable boat, our budget pick is also made by Intex, a highly reputable manufacturer of all types of inflatable products. It’s constructed of heavy-duty, puncture-resistant PVC, which is not only incredibly durable, but it’s also quite comfortable to sit in on those long fishing trips.

Inflatable Boat Reviews

Now that we’ve provided you with a quick look at our top three picks for the best inflatable boats, let’s explore a little more. In this part of our guide, we offer more detailed reviews of our picks for the best overall, best premium, and best budget inflatable boats. We’ve also included a handful of other high-quality and reliable options that are definitely great contenders.

Intex Mariner Inflatable Boat Series

Our pick for the best overall inflatable boat is the Intex Mariner Inflatable Boat Series, and for good reason: it’s super durable, highly reliable, and very easy to inflate and deflate.

Made of three layers of high-gauge PVC that’s laminated to an inner layer of polyester mesh, which provides extra reinforcement, it’s abrasion- and UV-resistant, so you’ll have confidence knowing that you’ll be safe and secure when you’re out on the water. It also boasts added reinforcements, such as a keel rock guard and a heavy-duty extruded plastic that provides increased rigidity and stability.

With two Boston valves, inflating and deflating the vessel is a breeze; just use the included high-out pump to blow it up and you’ll be ready to set sail in no time. Three built-in seats will keep you comfortable for those long excursions.

Additional features include two built-in fishing rod holders, a built-in gear pouch, two grab handles on each bow, oar holders and welded-on rotational oar locks, as well as a grab line that surrounds the entire hull. With enough space to accommodate four people and a 1,100 pound weight capacity, you’ll be able to take your buddies along on your water adventures, too.

What We Liked
  • Made of a triple layer of super tough PVC
  • Features an inner layer of polyester mesh
  • Keel rock and extruded plastic flooring provides further reinforcement and added stability and rigidity
  • Four Boston valves allow for fast inflation and deflation
  • Motor mount fittings and a batter pouch
  • Features two grab handles and an all-around grab line
  • Built-in fish rod holders, oar holders, and a gear pocket
  • Comes with two aluminum oars and a high-output pump
  • Four person occupancy and a 1,100 pound max weight capacity

View Details

Newport Vessels Del Mar Inflatable Dinghy Boat

For sailors who are on the market for a premium-quality inflatable boat, the Newport vessels Del Mar Inflatable Dinghy Boat is an excellent choice. Featuring 18 inch oversized tubes, it’s one of the most stable inflatable boats on the market.

Thanks to the wide footprint, you’ll have a solid foundation to easily board, load, and de-board the boat. Thanks to the solid foundation and lower center of gravity, you’ll be able to enjoy a stable ride when you’re traveling at high speeds and turning. It can accommodate an 8 to 10 horsepower motor with ease and comes complete with two durable oars.

Made of top-quality Korean PVC material and featuring hot-air welded seals, you can have peace of mind knowing that this boat is abrasion-resistant, corrosion-resistant, and won’t let go of its air until you’re ready to deflate it. Newport Vessels adheres to stringent quality control tests, including UV, pressure, and stretch tests, to ensure a highly durable and reliable product.

An aluminum-framed marine plywood floor rounds out the key feature that make this inflatable boat such a high-quality and reliable option.

What We Liked
  • Made of top-quality Korean PVC
  • Features hot air-welded seams
  • 18 inch tubes provide exceptional stability
  • Features an aluminum framed marine plywood floor
  • Can accommodate an 8 to 10 horsepower motor
  • Four person passenger capacity
  • Maximum weight capacity of 1,124 pounds
  • Inflates and deflates quickly
  • Comes with oars

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Intex Seahawk Inflatable Boat Series

If you’re looking for a durable, reliable, feature-rich inflatable boat that won’t break the bank, the Intex Seahawk Inflatable Boat Series will be sure to please. It’s made of heavy-duty puncture-resistant PVC and features an I-beam floor that provides exceptional rigidity.

With three air chambers and Boston valves, the boat inflates and deflates quickly and holds onto its air for a prolonged period of time. The boat features two comfortable seat cushions and comes complete with two aluminum oars and a high-output pump.

Backed with features, including a built-in gear pouch, four rotational oarlocks, two fishing rod holders, a grab handle on the bow, and mount fittings for a motor with a max horsepower of 1.5. This inflatable boat also offers an all-around grab line for easy entry, exit, and handle.

The Intex Seahawk Inflatable Boat Series comes complete with a high-output pump and a repair patch, too. With all of these features, you might think that this inflatable boat would be expensive, but it’s actually quite budget-friendly.

What We Liked
  • Made of puncture-resistant PVC
  • Features an inflatable I-beam floor for increased rigidity and stability
  • Three chamber design with two Boston valves for fast inflation and deflation
  • Feature a tow handle on the front of the boat
  • A grab line around the hull
  • Features a built-in gear pocket, fishing rod holders, oar locks, and two inflatable seat cushions
  • Comes with two aluminum oars and a high-output pump
  • Affordably priced

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Intex Excursion Inflatable Boat Series

Next on our list of the best inflatable boats is another option from Intex (we told you that they’re one of the most trusted manufacturers of inflatable products and we weren’t kidding!).

Their Excursion Inflatable Boat Series features three air chambers with an auxiliary air chamber in the hull that provides extra buoyancy. Boston valves on the two main hull chambers allow for fast inflation and deflation. An inflatable I Beam floor provides added comfort, stability, and rigidity, which, combined with the all-around grab line, boarding, exiting, and handling is a breeze.

Made of high-grade vinyl material, this inflatable boat is abrasion-, UV-, and impact-resistant. Two inflatable seats with backrest provide great comfort and support. Motor mount fittings can accommodate a 1.5 horsepower motor. Built-in oar locks, fishing rod holders, and a gear pouch round out the features that this Intex inflatable boat offers.

It also comes complete with two aluminum oars, a high-output pump, a repair kit, and a storage pouch, too. With space to accommodate up to five passengers and a 1,320 pound weight capacity, you and your friends or family will be able to enjoy plenty of fun out on the water.

What We Liked
  • Made of durable PVC material
  • Features three air chambers
  • Boston valves for fast inflation and deflation
  • Two spacious inflatable seats with backrests
  • Built-in oar and fish holders, as well as a gear pocket
  • All-around grab line
  • I-Beam floor
  • Comes with a high-output pump, two oars, and a storage pouch
  • Motor mount fittings
  • 1,320 pound capacity and room for five passengers

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Emaxusa Inflatable Boat

The Emaxusa Inflatable Boat is a highly durable, high-grade inflatable boat that is designed for heavy-duty use. It’s constructed of three layers of US Coast Guard Rated .9.mm/1100D diner coated PVC material, so you know it’s super durable.

It also boasts durable aluminum floors with aluminum framing for an outboard motor, and the bottoms of the tubes are lined with double layers of fabric. The seams are heat-welded to ensure that the boat retains its air.

Sturdy carrying handles and an all-around rope grab line allows for easy entry, exit, and handling. Separate internal air chambers and a one way drain valve with plug, as well as a safety valve that prevents over inflation, this boat is so thoughtfully designed and well made.

It can be fully inflated and deflated in just 10 minutes and folds down into a super-compact size for easy transport and storage. Backed by a 30 day guarantee, if you have any issues within 30 days of receiving the boat, the manufacturer will offer you a replacement.

What We Liked
  • Made of 3 layers of US Coast Guard rated .9mm/1100D diner coated PVC material
  • Durable marine floors with aluminum framing for outboard motors with double layers of fabric on the bottom of the tubes
  • Head-welded seams
  • Sturdy carrying handles and an all-around grab line
  • Separate internal air champers and one-way drain valve with plug
  • Can be set up and taken down in under 10 minutes
  • Folds into a compact size for easy storage and transport
  • Backed by a 30 day warranty

View Details

Other Best Selling Options

Bestseller No. 1
Intex Seahawk 3, 3-Person Inflatable Boat Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air -Pump (Latest Model)
  • Whether you're fishing, relaxing, or rowing on the Lake, the Seahawk 3 inflatable boat is great for making your boating experience exciting and entertaining
  • Designed with heavy duty, puncture resistant PVC for comfort and durability, and an inflatable I-beam floor for rigidity, the boat contains 3 air chambers
  • Seahawk 3 boat set provides added accessories including: two 48 inch aluminum oars and an Intex high-output pump for easy inflation and deflation with the 2 quick-fill, fast-deflate Boston valves
  • Inflated dimension: 9'8" x 4'6" x 1'5". maximum weight capacity: 790 lbs.
SaleBestseller No. 2
Intex Explorer 200, 2-Person Inflatable Boat
  • The Intex Explorer is perfect for the pool or lake
  • Inflatable floor for comfort and rigidity
  • Grab rope on bow ; Welded oar locks; U.S. Coast Guard I.D.
  • 2 air chambers with double valves; Repair patch included
  • Measures 73" x 37" x 16"; Weight capacity 210 lb. Age Grading:6+
Bestseller No. 3
Intex Excursion 5, 5-Person Inflatable Boat Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air-Pump (Latest Model)
  • 3 air chambers including an auxiliary air chamber in hull for extra buoyancy
  • Boston valve on two main hull chambers for quick-fill & fast-deflate. All around grab line
  • Inflatable I Beam floor for comfort and rigidity. Has 2 welded oar locks on each side
  • Motor Mount Fitting. Hi Output Manual Hand Pump. 54 inch deluxe aluminum oars. Item is 144.09 long x 66.14 wide in inches
  • Boston valve on two main hull chambers for quick fill & fast deflate.Do not inflate in 30 minutes after patching
SaleBestseller No. 4
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
  • Comfortable for Anyone: Kayak Includes an Adjustable Inflatable Seat With Backrest; Cockpit Designed for Comfort and Space
  • Dimensions: Inflated Size 10 Feet 3 X 3 Feet X 1 Feet 8 Inch; Maximum Weight Capacity: 400 Pounds
  • Directional Stability: Removable SKEG for Directional Stability
  • Increased Visibility: In Case of Emergency, Bright Yellow Color Helps Visibility
  • Made for Smaller Bodies of Water: Explorer k2 is Made for Smaller Bodies of Water Including Lakes and Mild Rivers
Bestseller No. 5
Intex Excursion 5 Person Inflatable Boat Set
  • 5-person inflatable water craft for lakes and mild rivers
  • Includes boat, 2 54-inch oars, pump, carry bag, and repair patch
  • Dimension: 144 x 66 x 17 inches
  • Inflatable I-beam floor for comfort and rigidity
  • High-capacity/ output hand pump with 1 quick-fill, fast-deflate Boston valve on main hull chamber
Bestseller No. 6
Intex 68370EP Challenger 3 Inflatable Raft Boat Set with Pump and Oars, Yellow
  • Sporty, fun, and durable, this Intex Challenger 3 is ready to get out there and explore the tides
  • Room for 3 paddlers
  • 3 air chambers including inner auxiliary chamber inside main hull for extra buoyancy
  • 2, quick-fill, fast-deflate Boston valves
  • Rugged vinyl construction with SUPERTOUGH PVC durable plastic

Inflatable Boat Buyer’s Guide

There’s nothing better than setting sail on the open sea (or a small, calm body of water, like a lake) in your own boat. While you might love the idea of having your own vessel, a boat is a big investment; not just monetarily, but time-wise, too.

Sure, you could rent a boat or make friends with someone who owns one and hope that they let you borrow it (if you’re lucky, that might just happen), but that can be a big hassle, too. Renting a boat can be a pricey endeavor, especially if you plan on doing so frequently; that’s if there is a boat rental company near you.

Borrowing one from someone you know could certainly be an option, but what if you don’t know anyone who owns a boat? Or what if someone you know does own a boat, but they aren’t willing to let you borrow it?

Fortunately, there’s a way that you can solve the boat ownership dilemma without spending a lot of money and without having to become buddy-buddy a skipper. What’s the solution? – An inflatable boat!

An inflatable boat, as the name suggests, is a small vessel (think a dinghy or a raft) that is designed to be inflated and deflated. These boats are made of specialized materials, and when they’re blown up , the – of course – float on the water.

The main benefit of an inflatable boat is that they’re much more affordable than a standard hard-shelled boat, which is definitely a good thing if you don’t want to spend a lot. Another benefit is that they don’t require a dock or even a lot of space to store them; just deflate it when you’re finished using it, fold it up, and stow the boat away. In other words, an inflatable boat is the easiest and least expensive way to get sea legs wet.

Despite all of the benefits that inflatable boats offer, the mere word “inflatable” might not be the most confidence-inspiring word. The last thing you want to do is end up out on the water and having your vessel pop, deflate, and end up leaving you stranded in the water.

While it’s true that at one time, inflatable boats may not have been the really durable or reliable, the good news is that today’s models are a lot more impressive. They’re made of superior-quality materials and are outfitted with advanced features.

Now that you’ve read through the review of our top picks for the best inflatable boats, you’re probably wondering which one to choose. While each of the options offered on our list are certainly high-quality, they offer different features and some are more suitable for certain purpose than other.

So, how do you determine which inflatable boat will best meet your needs? By taking the following key factors into consideration before you start shopping.

Your Purpose for Use

First things first: you should consider how you intend on using the inflatable boat. Are you going to be using it to enjoy leisurely floats on calm water, or will you be using to head out on rough salty waters to cast for big fish?

If the latter is your purpose, look for a boat that offers a good bit of space and boast features that allow for easy operation, such as a full-sized inflatable boat with built-in oar locks and an all-around handle.

If, however, you’re going to be doing the latter, you’ll want something that’s made of super-high-grade materials that can withstand salt water and abrasion really well, and that can support a higher horsepower motor. As a general rule of thumb, a boat that has a rigid floor is better for rougher settings, while full-sized boats are more comfortable for leisurely sailing.

Best Inflatable Kayak
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The Load Capacity

Once you determine how you’re going to be using the boat, the next factor that you should take into consideration is the load capacity. Obviously, you’re going to want to choose a boat that can support enough weight to accommodate the amount of passengers you’ll be bringing along, as well as any gear you plan on packing.

In addition to the load capacity, you should consider how much space it offers; for instance, if you want space for a few passengers, look for something that can accommodate four to five passengers; however, if you’re planning on going out solo or with just one mate, you’ll only need enough space for two.

The Construction

It’s also imperative to consider the construction of the boat. The type of materials the inflatable boat is made of are extremely important, as you want to be sure that it will be able to withstand the conditions that the boat is going to be exposed to.

Several layers of high-grade PVC materials are ideal. If you’re going to be hitting rough, salty waters, you should also consider a boat that has heat-sealed seams, as they’re more likely to retain its air. The higher the quality of the materials, the more durable and reliable the boat is going to be.

Inflation and Deflation

It goes without saying that you’re going to want to choose a boat that is easy to set up and take apart. Boats that feature Boston valves allow for fast and easy inflation and deflation and can be set up in just a matter of minutes.

Several of the models featured on our list offer those special Boston valves, and they also come complete with high-output pumps. The faster you can set your boat up and take it down, the easier it will be to use, and the more likely it is that you’re going to use it more frequently.

Design and Material of the Decking

Typically, the decking underfoot in inflatable boats is usually designed with high-pressure inflatable floors or a solid aluminum plank that can be snapped into place.

The former option usually features high-pressure tubes that offer structure and rigidity to the boat, which gives the floors more give, while the latter makes the boat sturdier and more rigid and will perform more like a standard boat; they also tend to make users feel safer, as the floor is sturdier.

Where It Will Be Stored

Unfortunately, many consumers forget to think about where they will be storing their inflatable boat when it isn’t in use. One of the top benefits of this type of boat is easy storage, so you really should consider where you’ll be storing it before you decide on a model.

You’ll want to be sure that you have a location that it can be kept out of the sun and in a cool, dry location, as the harsh UV rays of the sun can weaken the material, and storage in warm, humid locations can increase the risk of corrosion and mold growth.

Portability

In addition to considering where you’re going to store the boat when it isn’t in use, you’ll also want to consider how portable it is; after all, you’re going to be moving it about, so you want to be sure that it is easy to transport. The best inflatable boats are collapsible and can be deflated, rolled up, and folded down into a small carrying case for easy transport.

Additional Features

As you can see from our list of inflatable boats, most models are equipped with additional features. These features are designed to make use easier and more enjoyable. Examples of some of the features that inflatable boats can offer include:

  • Built-in oarlocks
  • Built-in storage pockets
  • Fishing rod holders
  • All-around grab lines
  • Motor mount fittings (important if you intend on using a motor with the boat)
  • Towlines
  • Oars
  • High-output pumps
  • Storage bags
  • Repair patches

It’s important to note that usually, the more features an inflatable boat comes with, the more expensive it is going to be. Therefore, it’s a good idea to consider the specific features that would best suit your needs so that you can find a boat that offers features that increase the convenience of use, while offer meeting your budget needs.

The Price

Lastly, you’re going to want to consider the price of the inflatable boat. These boats vary widely in price, with some models costing under $100 and some costing upwards of $1,000 or more. Be sure that you set your budget before you start shopping so that you can avoid spending more than you can comfortable afford to spend.

Inflatable Boat FAQs

In this part of our guide, we provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that consumers have about inflatable boats.

What are inflatable boats good for?

Inflatable boats are ideal for fishing, leisure paddling, and leisure touring. Some models are even designed for use in choppy salt water.

Why should I consider buying an inflatable boat?

There are several reasons to consider purchasing an inflatable boat. For one thing, they’re less expensive than standard boats. They’re also more portable and easier to transport. For these reasons, if you’re interested in a purchasing a boat but you don’t want to commit to the investment that a standard boat requires, an inflatable boat is a great choice.

Where should I store an inflatable boat?

An inflatable boat should be stored in a dry, cool location where it won’t be in direct sunlight.

Conclusion

Inflatable boats are a great option for individuals who want to enjoy being on the open water but don’t want to invest a lot of money or time that a standard boat demands. With the information presented in this guide, you should be able to find the perfect inflatable boat to suit your specific needs and that you’ll be able to enjoy for years to come. Make sure you consider the above-mentioned factors before you start shopping and you’ll be on your way to enjoying lots of happy sailing adventures.

Jake is an explorer, he loves all types of outdoor pursuits such as hunting, fishing & hiking. Jake has been a full-time writer & blogger for many years now and he's here to share his passions with the BeActiveOutdoors readers. Contact Jake@beactiveoutdoors.com

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