I live in Pinewood, Florida, which is about 12 miles from Miami Beach.
When visiting the beach, I used to tow my rigid hull boat on my Ford F-Series pickup, with the help of my son Jerry.
But once he joined college last year, and we didn’t spend most of the time together, I found it challenging to visit the beach anymore.
I mean, the inconvenience and hassle of towing and lugging the boat to the beach was too much to bear, especially with my age.
But after staying off the radar for a few months, my close fishing buddy, Peter, dropped by, and after learning my predicament, he suggested I go for an inflatable dinghy.
At first, I was against the idea of an inflatable-after all, inflatable boats conjured up images of cheap rubber rafts that kids used to splash around in pools.
Plus, the term “inflatable” doesn’t really inspire trust and confidence.
And having been in the water for long, I also knew that most inflatable snobs didn’t see inflatables as a status symbol, unlike a fancy boat.
But as it turns out, the modern inflatable boats are much more sophisticated than the little blow-up pool toys of your childhood. They’re a wonderful vessel to get you on the water.
For me, at least, they’re far much easier to transport. I can effortlessly deflate and store the dinghy boat without even a helping hand. They compress to a compact bundle, and I don’t even have to remove them from my trunk because they don’t consume much space.
I also found that they were far less expensive than comparable rigid boats or kayaks, so I think they would be a pretty darn option for those getting into boating.
What about performance on the water?
This was also my biggest concern, but once I gave the dingy a go, I was blown off.
In particular, the dinghy was ultra-stable compared to hard-shell kayaks. In fact, it was even challenging to capsize my dinghy intentionally on water.
Of course, I had to put up with several compromises, and the biggest bummer for me was speed.
They can also get punctures, and therefore have an inherent safety concern. But this is nothing to worry about because I’ve been with my inflatable dinghy boat for an year now, and I’ve experienced a serious air leak only once, and that was because of the misuse of the PVC boat.
Now, I know you’re thinking of buying one, but I have to cut through the marketing nonsense. I also remember getting lost through the information when searching for my first dinghy.
But I know better, and today, I’ll share with you some of my favorite inflatable dinghies, which I’m sure you’ll love.
Table of Contents
The Best Inflatable Dinghies For The Money
#1 Newport Vessels Dana - EDITOR'S CHOICE
We’ll kick things off with a dinghy that combines near-perfect performance and portability.
The Dana, from Newport Vessels, is a special 8-feet sports tender dinghy boat that offers all the benefits of a traditional boat, except needing to inflate before use.
It’s the perfect boat for those looking for an inflatable watercraft with remarkable speed, superior stability, and durable construction.
But how good is this inflatable dinghy?
Features and Benefits
The first thing I noticed with the Newport Vessels Dana Inflatable Dinghy was the massive size. It’s larger than any other inflatable boat of this type at this price point.
This special 8-feet inflatable boat comes with large 18 inches extended rear pontoons that resemble twin rockets.
What’s the benefit?
The massive tubes make this unit highly stable and buoyant during times of floating still and at speed.
It makes Dana better for enjoying smoother rides and being less susceptible to wakes of bigger vessels.
For me, at least, the massive tubes allow me to stand up on Newport Vessels Dana and even cast without fear of falling into the water because of the unmatched stability.
And that’s not all!
I had a Sea Eagle dinghy before, and one of the things I hated most was the back pain I got from sitting on the low inflatable seats in the tender boat.
But with Newport Vessels Dana, the larger extended rear pontoons raise the seating position to nearly a normal height.
While the raise might seem trivial, it’s a real advantage over other PVC boats, especially if you’re spending 4 or 5 hours on a dinghy fishing.
When it comes to construction, Newport Vessels Dana doesn’t disappoint.
It utilizes four layers of 1,100 denier Korean PVC- the same material used to construct high-quality whitewater rafts.
The dinghy boat I use has been ground onto rocks, pummeled into tree limbs, and dragged onto the rocky beach, and yet it survived without abrasions and punctures.
It’s highly resistant to abuse and will give you the confidence that no small bump will damage your unit.
Meanwhile, the bottom section utilizes a heavy plastic material, unlike the flimsy plastic used in fenders and floats.
While it doesn’t like the sharp and jagged rocks, it should be okay with the nice and rounded rocks.
Plus, the floorboards are substantial and can’t be perforated by dog claws, so I can always bring my two boxer dogs with me on my fishing trips.
Also, I can use the Dana Newport Vessels Dinghy on the sea, but it’s necessary to use common sense if you’re operating in rough waters.
And as with every Newport dinghy, Dana’s quality doesn’t end with the high-grade PVC material.
Newport Vessels Dana uses a combination of hot air welding and German adhesives.
The benefit is that you get a unit that is highly resistant to adhesion breakdowns, chemical corrosion damage, and delamination.
While the process makes the dinghy a bit expensive, it’s exactly what you should expect from an industry-leading product.
Dana stays impact and will assure you of protection against the sun, salt, and other destructive elements.
The Newport Vessels Dana 8’10” is the smallest dinghy boat among Newport Vessel’s entire dinghies lineup.
As for the inside length and width, it measures 69″ and 24″, respectively.
For the dimensions, it’ll comfortably accommodate two adults. But, we also found it could accommodate three people if one or two were kids- provided they don’t exceed the total weight capacity of 1,067 pounds.
Of course, if you like the Dana and feel it doesn’t have the right capacity for your needs, you can go with the higher capacity 9′, 10′,11′, or even 12′ models.
Simply put, there’s a wide range of sizes available for every boater.
And the good thing is what you see on the Newport Vessels Dana 8’10” is what you get- you can utilize it for water fishing with a trolling motor or even inshore saltwater application with a small-sized outboard motor.
Plus, at 107 pounds, many boaters shouldn’t struggle to haul the Newport Vessels inflatable from their truck to the beach.
While remaining stable, Dana will give you confidence in the rough waters.
It comes with four chambers altogether- the main tubes plus the high-pressure inflatable keel.
It’s reassuring to know that in case of an issue with any of Dana’s chambers, there’re still three more that will keep you afloat as you paddle to the shore.
Ease of Use
As I mentioned earlier, I once had a Sea Eagle SE9, and there’s no comparison between these two, especially when it comes to the ease of use.
Sea Eagle took forever to inflate, even with an electric pump. It also didn’t hold up very well either, developing a slow leak throughout the hull.
But Dana is another story!
Newport has opted to use the Haley-Roberts valve system. It’s a simple yet rugged valve system that allows for simple and fast inflation.
The design allows you to quickly feed the inflatable fishing boat with the air without worry about it coming out.
Deflation is a breeze too, and you simply need to push the valve in to turn to free air.
Overall, it’ll only take you 10 to 15 minutes to get the Dana fully assembled and under 10 minutes to pack it.
Dana is a sports boat designed for motorized use, and as with all Newport models, it comes with an inflatable keel.
Once you inflate the keel, the dinghy takes a V profile, and this is critical for better maneuvering the inflatable boat and keeping straight.
I love how the Dana offers great handling on the water and how easy they are to get on the plane. The latter is important if you’re out in the open water and conditions are a bit choppy.
Overall, the Dana is a great purchase, and the only flaw I would point out is the limited organization potential.
Of course, you can always modify some pockets, compartments, or even the shelving with a little elbow grease and creativity.
#2 Inflatable Sport Boats Killer Whale - Best Dinghy for Performance
The Inflatable Sport Boats Killer Whale draws inspiration from one of the deadliest yet graceful marine mammals, the killer whale.
It remains true to its name; it benefits riders with a combination of speed, substance, and style.
The Inflatable Sport Boats Killer is also among the popular and best inflatable boats on our bundle and was designed by expert nautical engineers.
Features and Benefits
You can never miss the Killer Whale Dinghy with its sleek and understated colorway.
The Killer Whale comes in a white pearl with a sleek design and all the hallmarks of a proper maritime dinghy boat.
It also planes out nicely, and with the dinghy’s design, you can tell that the designer put a lot of thought into it.
For example, the quality of the aluminum floor panels, heat-welded seams, and carrying handles all work together to promote the durability, performance, and ease of using the Inflatable Sport Boats Whale.
ISB recognizes the common failing of similar inflatables; cracking transoms, failing adhesive and problematic nose come.
By updating the Inflatable Sport Boats Killer Whale basic design, they’ve created a real monster that will ravage the abuses and rough handling.
The Inflatable Sport Boats Killer Whale Sport dinghy utilizes hard-wearing Korean PVC, the same material used on the whitewater rafts.
The super-high grade 35 mil PVC is tough and really tough. I wouldn’t hesitate to land this boat on a rocky beach.
Punctures and abrasions are simply not an issue with this model and will stand up to whatever abuse you put it through.
Of course, as with anything in life, common sense is required when using the Killer Whale, and I wouldn’t recommend thrusting it on the sharpies and jagged rocks.
But the Whale’s sturdiness doesn’t end with the PVC construction.
All the seams are heat-welded for added security and durability. For example, the exterior coating will stand up to extended exposure to the sun.
Plus, the construction can tolerate stains, and will generally design to weather the elements.
Meanwhile, the hard-bottom aluminum compares to that of the hard-shelled dinghies. It offers better protection, and provides better stability and comfort.
Now let’s get down to the brass tax..
The Inflatable Sport Boats Killer Whale is 10’8′ and more than 5′ wide. This is probably one area the Whale supersedes our first option, the Dana.
It’s a monster dinghy and can easily accommodate up to five boaters, provided they don’t exceed the 1,268-pound heft weight.
For me, at least, the Killer Whale can accommodate my entire family of four and leave extra space for my cargo or even furry friend.
Plus, I can always customize the layout, adding or removing the seating to cater for smaller or larger parties. For example, when I’m angling, I remove the extra chairs to create room for two anglers and lots of space for my fish and fishing gear.
And as with the Dana, the inflatable pontoons on the Killer Whale family boat are large and “blubbery,” so they keep me on top of the water and dry. They also make my inflatable boat plane out of the water much faster than my last Sea Eagle.
Ease of Use
Killer Whale might be big, but assembly and disassembling are a breeze.
It’s practical to set it up, and once you’re done for the day, you can pack away your inflatable boat in just 10 minutes.
The ease of assembly makes the dinghy a real winner, especially when you need something light and quick to set up when camping.
Meanwhile, it also retains the comfort, with the five sliding aluminum benches providing ample seating.
However, some padding might be welcome on a long day fishing trip.
Killer Whale moves on the water gracefully as its namesake.
Boaters enjoy the thrill of the Whale’s ride in both fresh and saltwater environments.
Whale’s paddling and water performance are an entirely different league from the Sea Eagle and other comparable models.
I wouldn’t hesitate to put the Inflatable Sport Boats Killer Whale into the open ocean, rivers, a sprawling salt marsh, or anywhere else I need to fish.
While it can be rowed with the included and high-quality aluminum oars, that’s not where this boat shines. Instead, if you attach a small outboard motor, you’ll love how the Whale planes easily, racing across the water and turning on a dime,
The dinghy handles the rough water beautifully and will take on the winds like a champ.
#3 Intex Excursion 5 - Best Inflatable Dinghy for Family
Our fourth pick is a good boat for its price.
It’s also definitely one of the best inflatable dinghies for those looking for a boat that can accommodate their entire family.
It’s large and can hold up to five boaters, so a great way to treat your family or friends.
I give the Intex Inflatable Boat an 8 out of 10 because it’s not perfect by any means, but pretty darn good for what you pay for it.
But is it the right option for you?
Features and Benefits
Intex Excursion is from one of the reputable brands in the industry, and as you would expect, it delivers in all departments.
Besides the exceptional price for the quality, Intex’s materials are robust, the interior space is more than enough, and it has great performance.
It’s indeed one of the largest dinghies on our bundle, but this makes it quite stable on the water, so it’s easy to make a head jump into the water from the bow without tipping it over.
The only drawback is that it’s a bit longer, so you need to register it as a pleasure inflatable fishing boat with your tax agent.
Mulling the Intex Inflatable Sports Boat over a brackish river does little, if any, harm to its structure.
Intex Excursion holds up pretty well even when launched over the rocky beaches or dragged over some jagged and sharp rocks.
All that sturdiness is because of the extremely durable PVC vinyl construction.
The choice of material makes it completely puncture and abrasion-resistant.
In full, the Excursion has two layers of PVC vinyl and one layer of polyester, so regardless of how hard you drag it along the beach, it’s more likely to come out undamaged.
Accidental bumps into the rocks or pier also do not harm your dinghy, and you’ll love that it will last for a long time.
The Intex Excursion 5 is indeed a fairly large dinghy boat, but that is because it’s supposed to be a family or friends type of boat.
It has a generous dimension of 144 inches long and 66 inches wide, and this, as the company puts it, should accommodate five people.
However, we’d argue that it can only take four adults and a child comfortably, especially when you account for the food, gear, and other necessities you need while on the water.
Another important thing to note is that Intex’s length to width ratio is similar to that of a standard whitewash Colorado raft.
This means the Excursion is stable and harder to capsize even in strong currents. While I don’t advise using the Excursion on whitewater rapids, it’ll easily win over your average river.
Of course, with such a large dinghy, I’m sure you’re concerned with the portability.
I was too, but once I gave it a try, I realized how easy and simple it was to move the dinghy.
First, I couldn’t believe it weighs a measly 44 pounds. It’s quite an impressive weight given that its weight capacity is 1,320 pounds.
And that’s not all!
The excursion boat features a 360-degree grab-rope and steel tow ring, which allows you to hoist the vessel from the car to the water and vice versa with little hardship.
The grab line also doubles as safety equipment, and boaters can use it to help them get back on the boat easily once they fall off or dive off.
Ease of Use
Setting up the Excursion is a breeze because it only takes a few minutes to inflate and deflate.
And with grab lines in place, you can easily get this inflatable boat on and off the water in the shortest time.
As far as the performance goes, Excursion isn’t competitive.
It’s not a surprise considering it was built with an image of a relaxing family or group of friends in a calm setting.
It may not be the vessel of choice for boaters looking for extreme sports, but the perfect inflatable boat for those in for a laid-back summer holiday, with easy drifting and relaxing.
And because of the wide width, you’ll never have to worry about the Intex capsizing.
Excursion provides real value for your money, and this is because it comes with a host of accessories.
Anglers will love that it comes with two fishing rod holders. And as with most dinghies on our list, it also comes with two oar holders for better paddling, a carry bag, aluminum oars, a repair kit, and a foot pump.
It also comes with a motor mount.
#4 Sea Eagle PackFish 7 - Best Inflatable Boat for Angling
We can only describe the Sea Eagle PackFish as the ultimate fishing dinghy for solo anglers.
It’s a small, grab-n-go, and compact dinghy that comes with all the essentials for a comfortable and relaxed fishing trip.
Sea Eagle is frameless, so it also folds into a very small package and can be stored in just about any small space.
While it’s a step-up from the tier of basic rafts, it is cheaper than some serious inflatable sports boats. For most boaters, it’s of great value.
But is this the best inflatable dinghy for you?
Features and Benefits
First of all, the PackFish is a really nice-looking dingy.
I love the dark, hunter-green exterior looks with the contrasting high-visibility orange accents.
And that’s not all!
You can tell that a lot of craftsmanship has been put in the overall design of the dinghy boat.
For example, the orange pouch pockets on either side are well-thought-out and will give you a convenient and easy-to-access storage area for your accessories.
At the front, you’ll also find built-in fishing rod holders. And unlike other inflatable boats with flimsy hardware, those on the Packfish are sturdy and can hold some serious use.
Sea Eagle Packfish utilizes some seriously tough materials.
The main hull is made from 30mm Polykrylar fabric, and this means you don’t have to worry about the oyster beds, jagged rocks, and shells.
It’ll take on the beating and win over rough handling and usage.
Collisions against other dinghies or rocks don’t do much harm and will allow the dinghy to retain its integrity.
And that’s not even the best part!
The construction of the material is joined together with high-frequency welds for extra durability.
This means that exposing the dinghy to the sun doesn’t harm, while chemical spills, stains, and other elements won’t compromise its integrity.
The Sea Eagle is a one-person fishing inflatable boat and extremely comfortable.
It has a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds, but this should be more than enough for most anglers, plus their fishing gear.
One of the benefits of the low-profile design is that the boat goes with you wherever you go.
If you’re willing to walk to the river or lake, you can easily haul the inflatable boat. No hassle
It’s extremely lightweight and portable, so you can carry it without hurting your back or shoulders.
The problem with most small inflatable sports boats is that they’re not comfortable and restive on your space.
But not the Packfish!
Sure, it’s not as spacious as the Dana, but it is super comfortable.
For me, at least, I can’t get enough of the deluxe inflatable fishing inflatable seats.
I can spend hours sighing and fishing without any discomfort, irritation, or physical strain.
It’s even more beneficial for anglers who sit in the same spot for hours waiting for fish to take the bait. And if you’re uncomfortable, you can’t wait for a long time.
Built for Angling
Packfish is built for angling, and there’re several features and fittings in place to enhance the experience.
In addition to the molded oarlocks and carry handles, Packfish boasts two built-in fishing rod holders and multiple storage areas for your tackle.
There’re also 36-inch fish rulers for quick and easy measurement of your catch.
Packfish may not have much room to write home about, but there’s enough of it for slotting in a few bits and bobs.
My favorite storage location is the two orange side pockets, which are within easy reach, even when seated.
They provide the perfect room for storing your tackle, foot pump, carry bag, and other accessories. Other storage options can be found close to your room, though there’s not much of it.
Ease of Use
Packfish doesn’t require much time to set it up.
The one-way valve for inflating makes it incredibly easy to inflate the boat. I can do it in under 5 minutes.
Packfish’s performance doesn’t disappoint.
First, it’s frameless and small, so it’ll easily fit into the small and tight spaces other inflatable boats can’t. It means anglers can now access the untapped water gaps with plenty of fish.
Secondly, the frameless design means the Packfish will work for almost any water body. You can take it from the bays, creeks, lakes to the rivers.
Sea Eagle’s stability is also unmatched, thanks to the four tracking strips. They not only help to keep the boat stable while fishing or drifting but will prevent you from getting blown during the windy sessions.
The only thing I wish is that the dinghy came with a solid marine plywood transom and a motor mount.
#5 Bris Hunter Boat - Premium Dinghy
The Bris Hunter Inflatable Boat is a serious, heavy-duty dinghy, and is the closest as you’ll get to the durability of a conventional rigid boat, with all the benefits of an inflatable.
While it’s at the more expensive end of the spectrum, it’s a high-performance fishing inflatable boat made out of premium materials.
If the budget allows you, get the Bris for unparalleled durability, performance, and premium safety.
Features and Benefits
Bris comes out modern and aggressive from the looks and gives you a feeling that it has been designed to perform and speed through the water.
The tubular design, which makes Bris fairly different from the competition, promotes stability and will let you reach maximum speeds without the risk of falling or toppling,
The only concern I had with Bris’s design was the choice of color.
While black makes it look cool and aggressive, the color heats up and absorbs heat more than other colors.
Bris becomes hot to the touch, especially when exposed to the sun for an extended period. Of course, the extra heat will definitely dissipate into the water, but it sometimes expands more than you would expect, and I wouldn’t recommend leaving this boat out in the sun for long.
Bris is constructed from 1.2mm, 2,000 Dtext PVC.
The fabric is sturdy and will allow you to dock on a rocky beach without worrying about punctures.
I’ve also dragged the Bris on a rocky beach and paddled through the shallow creeks, scraping the underside of the river, and yet the Bris holds strong.
If that isn’t enough, the bat is held together with a heat-welded seam instead of the glued seams we see on many cheap inflatable boats.
The benefit of this unique design is that the Bris has serious strength and durability and will resist the effects of salt water, humidity, UV rays, corrosions, chemical elements, and so much more.
Bris doesn’t fade even when exposed to the sun and won’t rust or corrode even when improperly stored in a humid attic or garage.
Bris is one of the largest inflatable boats on our list.
It’s so large that it can accommodate up to six people. For me, this is overkill and more than enough for my friends.
But hey, I can always do with some extra space.
The only downside to the monster size is the weight.
Bris Inflatable boat weighs around 180 pounds. The hull itself weighs 120 pounds, while the aluminum floor panels are 60 pounds.
At 180 pounds, it would be impractical even for two people to haul this monster.
The good news, you can attach wheels at the back of the Bris, and this makes it easier to pull than to carry.
And when you’re done with the Bris, you can fold it nicely, and it is compact, small enough to fit in the trunk of a Suburban or Tahoe. Ensure you get all the air out of it and pull the air floor.
Safety isn’t compromised on the Bris.
First, it comes with a durable marine plywood outboard motor transom, along with two layers of fabric underneath the tube.
It will protect your inflatable boat from the abrasive sands and sharp rocks, while the grab lines and towing rings make you feel secure in the boat.
Another awesome pro-safety feature is the three separate air chambers that ensure you get to the beach safely if one chamber gets punctured.
Meanwhile, the single-path drain valve with a self-bailing drain plug helps with hands-free bailing of water.
Ease of Use
Bris is pretty straightforward to assemble and shouldn’t take 15 minutes of your time if you follow instructions.
Once you do it a few times, it becomes faster and easier.
However, it’s a big boat, so be sure to use an electric pump instead of the provided foot pump.
Getting the Bris Inflatable boat on and off the water is also easy; thanks to the grab line.
Plus, you get handles you can grab and move the boat around on land.
Bris Inflatable Boat has a standard V-shaped keel that all premium inflatable boats seem to possess.
Performance of the water is awesome, as the keel doesn’t have much drag,
Stability is also on point, and you can even stand on the boat without worrying about flipping.
Unlike other similar inflatable boats, the Bris pack a punch.
Not to mention it comes with two more boxes filled with accessories.
These include a foot pump, carry bag, inflatable floor panel, carry bag, repair kit and bench seats, and so much more.
Best Inflatable Dinghies Buying Guide
With so many inflatable fishing boats, it’s challenging to know which product to choose and why.
But the good news is, we’ve created an all-encompassing buying guide to help you choose the best inflatable boat for your lifestyle.
But first, let’s look at why you need a dinghy.
Benefits of Using an Inflatable Dinghy
Compared to the traditional, hard-shelled boats, inflatable sports boats have plenty of advantages.
Some of the pros of the inflatables are:
One of the best things about inflatables is how incredibly versatile they are.
While dinghies are common with recreational boaters, they’re also heavily used in other marine sectors.
For example, they’re the vessel of choice for the U.S. Coast Guard Army and Navy. They often use inflatable sports boats for their tactile or rescue missions.
First responders and law enforcement also use dinghies.
Finally, the dinghies also double up as commercial passenger inflatable boats and workboats.
And the good thing is, they’re perfect for use in different water conditions, from exploring the lakes, on the sea or even the ocean.
Inflatable fishing boats are made to be light, which is probably their greatest selling point over other inflatable boats.
A dinghies’ lightness is beneficial in several ways, and one of them is that it’s easy to pack and store.
Secondly, you can load it to full capacity without having to worry about the inflatable capsizing or being too heavy.
Finally, being light increases the boat’s carrying capacity and fuel efficiency.
Dinghies are pretty efficient when it comes to fuel efficiency.
They’re light and don’t take much power to increase speed, so you’re getting more work done with the same amount of fuel.
This can be quite helpful, especially if you’ve a business or use your inflatable for commercial purposes like water tours and dolphin watching.
While not as manoeuvrable as the rigid inflatable boats, an inflatable dinghy with a hard V-hull can move easily.
Generally, the stability of boats comes down to the width of the air deck floor.
And as it turns out, inflatable boats have wider bases, so they’re more stable and less likely to sink in the water.
Their speed is also limited, so you won’t need to worry about stability.
A dinghy’s stability makes it a great option for beginners who don’t have the confidence to use water vessels.
Dinghies are also known for their safety capabilities.
Of course, there’s always the concern of leaks and punctures, but it hardly occurs. In most cases, it happens if you abuse your dinghy boat.
But for the most part, these vessels are safe, and because they’re easy to maneuver, they’re often easier to control than traditional vessels.
They’re also sturdy and virtually unsinkable. This is the very reason they’re often used for rescue missions.
Drawbacks of Inflatable Dinghies
Like anything else, inflatable water vessels have their drawbacks.
But these are more general drawbacks and can be avoided.
The biggest issue with the dinghies is storage and maintenance. You should know how to properly store and take care of your dinghy to fend off wear and tear.
How to Care for Your Inflatable Dinghy
To keep your inflatable dinghy in shape, you need to learn how to take care of it properly.
Fortunately, it’s not too complicated.
Here’re some of the essential things to keep in mind.
Never store your dinghy while still wet.
Water encourages mold growth and mildew, which eventually rots the fabric and weakens your dinghy overall.
Secondly, folding and putting your dinghy away in a storage bag always ensure there’s no detectable moisture that could cause mold and mildew issues.
In a similar vein, keep in mind that extended exposure to the sun’s UV rays can destroy even the most quality inflatable dinghy. Long-term exposure dries out the fabric making it brittle and more prone to tears.
If you’re really committed to your dinghy’s protection, consider using a UV protectant.
Of course, you also want your dinghy clean.
Over time, grime and dirt can stain the fabric and may even encourage wear and tear damage.
So, it’s important to clean your inflatable with clean water. You can also use marine cleaner, especially if your boat has boat stains, bird poop, scuff marks, or blood.
Factors to Consider when Selecting the Best Inflatable Dinghies
Now that we know the benefits of dinghies and how to properly take care of them, let’s look at the critical factors to consider in your next purchase.
The factors will determine whether your choice of dinghy will address your boating needs or not.
How to Choose an Inflatable Dinghy Based on Design
The two common ways to choose an inflatable dinghy is based on their design- those with keels and those without keels.
A keel is a lengthwise metal structure on the inflatable base and is used for stability and supporting its framework.
Inflatables with Keels
Dinghies with keel have better performance and make it easy for the vessel to get on the water.
Plus, an inflatable dinghy with a keel cuts through the water effortlessly and ensures compactness.
Inflatables without Keels
The absence of a keel is also beneficial.
Inflatables without a keel are more compact, portable, easy to inflate and store.
They also don’t require much time to inflate or deflate, so it makes it easier to use these inflatable boats in the process of going from the land to water.
But they also have a few flaws.
The biggest setback of inflatables without a keel is that they’re difficult to board on a plane, limiting the user’s range and speed.
How to Choose a Dinghy Based on Fabric/Material
The fabric used to make an inflatable dinghy plays a huge role in determining the quality and durability of the vessel.
Here’re two of the common and reliable fabrics used on the air dinghies.
Hypalon is a synthetic rubber owned by DuPont and is the more durable fabric of the two.
Some of the benefits of Hypalon is:
- It doesn’t deteriorate over time
- Highly resistant to V rays, abrasions, mechanical abuse, and chemical spillage
- Can withstand the temperature extremes
But the downside of using Hypalon is that it’s more expensive.
This is because it’s labor-intensive, as there’s no other way of putting it together except gluing by hand.
Generally, dinghies utilizing Hypalon are 2x more expensive than the PVC inflatables.
The second material used on the dinghies is PVC.
It’s the most common material and is compatible with any adhesive.
Unfortunately, glue in PVC deteriorates when exposed to high temperatures.
PVC in itself also deteriorates faster and only has a maximum life span of 8 to 10 years. Plus, it is sensitive to heat and gets worn out easily when exposed to the sun.
But the good news is, the modern PVC has come a pretty long way with the help of technology.
For example, modern PVC fabrics don’t use glue but are rather welded. Manufacturers have also devised new ways to stop deterioration by adding layers from other materials like polyester.
Between these two, I would consider my budget and location.
Hypalon dinghies are super expensive but worth every penny, especially if you live in the tropical climate and need to use your inflatable frequently.
On the other hand, PVC boats are inexpensive and can still do the job.
Try to keep the PVC dinghies from the sun to avoid accelerating the deterioration of the fabric.
How to Choose an Inflatable Dinghy Based on the Hull Type
Air dinghies come in different hull shapes, and each different shape is designed with a different purpose, function, and mind.
Here are some of the popular hull shapes:
The best inflatable boats with flat hulls don’t have a keel and are usually made with PVC or CSM.
Flat hull’s performance is underwhelming because they lack stability.
They’re hard to manoeuvre and direct. Plus, they lack the ability to port through planes and reach high speeds.
The flat hulls are generally used for travelling short distances or on fishing trips at lower speeds.
The V hull dinghies have an inflatable keel.
Most of them have a high-pressure inflatable floor or hardwood floor to make it easier for the keel to cut through the water.
The V hull dinghies can get on planes faster than the flat hulls and are also exceptionally stable.
However, they’re a bit expensive.
The deep V-hulls are commonly found on RIBS and are quite expensive.
However, they extend further into the water, thus offering enhanced stability, control, and speed on waves.
But because of their design, the deep V-hull dinghies sail higher on water and tilt ad rock with the wind, decreasing the stability.
How to Choose an Inflatable Dinghy Based on Floor Type
Inflatable dinghies come with different floor options, which result in a difference in ease of storage, mobility, and compactness.
Here are a few types of flooring options available for the inflatable dinghies;
Roll Up Floor
The roll-up floor is the most basic and is often made of aluminium or wood slats.
Inflatable dinghies with roll-up floors come in different lengths, sizes, and qualities.
They’re less expensive than other floors with different materials as they lack durability and rigidness.
However, they excel in ease of use and portability.
Most of these vessels are used for short trips.
Hard Floor Boats
Rigid inflatable boats or hard floor boats with hard flooring are the most popular choice, thanks to their increased performance.
This floor type provides much stability and creates a hull shape for increased speed.
Dinghies with a hard floor can also handle rough currents and big waves and are better than air floor boats.
But they don’t come cheap.
Air Floor Boats
Dinghies with air floors have seen an increase in popularity and are loved because of their versatile applications.
As their name suggests, air floor boats are filled with air, so they tend to be lightweight and have increased speed.
However, air floor boats are susceptible to punctures and don’t do well on rough waters.
Regular dinghies have a non-bailing feature as their floor utilizes sealed tubes.
This means if water is splashed inside a fishing boat during activity, it stays unless you scoop it manually.
But with self-bailing floors, water exits through the carefully placed holes.
The self-bailing dinghies prove helpful, especially in whitewater activities, where a lot of water enters the dinghy.
Portability, Weight, and Storage
This is one of the areas inflatable dinghies really shine.
Because they can be aired-up for use and deflated after use, most boaters find them ridiculously easy to transport than the solid-hulled alternatives.
And even if you inflate them at the comfort of your home, you’ll still find them to be much easier to transport on the roof of your car, trailer, or bed of your truck.
They take up very little space when deflated and can easily fit at the corner of your garage or in an outbuilding.
Handling and Safety
Generally, inflatables are durable and portable. That’s what they excel best at.
But for many models, handling isn’t their strongest suit. Safety is, however, excellent.
When it comes to performance, some of the high-end models come close to handling a solid hull, and in some instances, exceed it in rough water.
Generally, handling comes down to the specific design.
The issues you can expect in inflatable usually result from two design choices:
High Gunnels/ Lots of rocker
The overall design of dinghies demands that they’ve high sides and lots of rockers.
So, with high bows, sterns, and gunnels, they tend to catch wind easily and track poorly. This means they don’t hold a straight line well.
But the benefit of this design is they’re theoretically unsinkable and will remain afloat, even with a compromised tube.
While the lightness is great for portability, it can also be a liability on the water.
This is because it makes your dinghy more susceptible to getting pushed by the winds and lifted by the waves.
Safety Tips of Using Inflatable Dinghies
Whether you’re a professional or new to recreational boating, it’s always a good idea to put safe inflatable boat habits into practice.
Disembarking on a dinghy can be challenging for both the novices and experienced boaters.
Always ensure you’ve a safe place to board your dinghy.
While dinghies can be used as a life raft, it’s a good idea to keep a life jacket in your inflatable boat too.
We also recommend having backup life jackets, and it’s even a better idea to always wear a life jacket when on a dinghy.
It’s also a good idea to keep aluminium oars in your inflatable dinghy, even with a trolling motor mounted.
You never know when you might need them.
Other safety items you shouldn’t lack in your inflatable dinghy are:
- A bailing Bucket
- First aid kit
Best Inflatable Dinghies Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: How fast do inflatable dinghies inflate?
A: The rate of inflation will generally depend on what you’re using to inflate your dinghy.
If you’re using a hand pump, then it’s definitely going to take longer. A foot pump is quicker than a hand pump, but an electric pump is the fastest.
The other thing affecting the inflation time is the size of the dinghy. Generally, bigger dinghies take longer to inflate.
Also, dinghies with single chambers inflate quicker than those with multiple chambers.
Q: How do inflatable dinghies last?
A: Again, this depends on how you care for your dinghy.
While nothing lasts forever, the cheapest dinghy will last for a long time if you take good care of it.
Even top-rated dinghies with decent quality will start breaking down if you don’t take care of them well.
Q: What are inflatable dinghies used for?
A: As we mentioned earlier, inflatable dinghies are versatile and have many uses.
They can do what many regular boats can do, with the added benefit of getting to places which regular boats can’t.
You can use your inflatable dinghy for different purposes, starting from recreational to professional use.
Q: Can I mount a trolling motor on an inflatable dinghy?
A: Yes. If your dinghy has a motor mount, you can attach a moto or even electric trolling motor for greater efficiency.
Q: Will inflatable dinghies never sink?
A: Dinghies are stable, but their stability can go so far.
Like all boats, inflatable dinghies can sink at some point, especially with numerous leaks and punctures.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
We’re through our review of the best inflatable dinghies, and our winner for the list is Newport Vessels Dana Inflatable.
The Dana is my favourite inflatable sport boat too, and I love this dinghy because it seems to hit on all the right spots for the best inflatable boats.
First, it’s sturdy, as it utilizes a sturdy Korean PVC, so it can handle the rough usage and take on the elements.
It’s comfortable too, and functional too.
I love that it’ll take on the different water bodies and keep you dry through your entire journey.
While not a speed star, it has decent performance on the water and will suit the needs of most boaters.