How to Store an Inflatable Pontoon Boat

How to Store an Inflatable Pontoon Boat

When it comes to inflatable pontoon boats, proper care and maintenance are crucial for their usefulness and longevity. 

Luckily, it’s easy to take care of an inflatable pontoon boat, whether it has a frame or is built frameless. 

There are two main ways to store an inflatable pontoon boat when you are not using it, and each method has its own benefits and downsides. 

The first method is storing your pontoon boat while fully inflated, and the other is deflating and folding it for winter storage. 

Here, we’ll talk about these two methods of storing inflatable pontoon boats when the winter gets on the horizon. 

While it’s not obvious which method to use, you’ll be able to decide which one is best for your inflatable pontoon boat storage after reading this article. 

So, let’s kick things off with storing a fully inflated pontoon boat

Storing a Fully Inflated Pontoon Boat

If you are the kind of person who always wants to get the job done with ease, you might consider tossing your inflated pontoon boat into the garage or just leave it outside.

Sure, this is effortless, but you need to keep in mind that there is a whole winter season to pass. 

As time goes by, your inflatable boat will deflate, just like the way any other inflatable vessel would lose air when left unpumped for a longer period. 

This means that you need to keep coming back after a few weeks to pump the boat again until full when storing it inflated. 

As you can see, this method isn’t actually a time-saver or as easy as it may seem. If it remains partially inflated, creases and folds will happen, which will be a perfect refuge for pests and critters.

When pests and critters like rodents, mice, rats, and otters get into your boat, they might get their teeth into the material, causing more damage. 

Another thing you need to keep in mind when storing an inflated pontoon boat is that you expose it to damage. 

As the boat deflates, some parts can entrench into the material and result in damage. Your boat could end up with unexpected holes and tears.  

Having said that, this method is not the best way to properly store your inflatable boat when the winter approaches. 

Of course, it’s perfectly doable and effortless in terms of storage preparation, but trust me, you might regret it in the long run. 

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of storing your inflatable pontoon boat while fully inflated:


  • Less storage preparation 
  • You won’t have to inflate the boat for usage after the winter season


  • Requires you to have a huge storage space
  • Requires frequent pumping to remain inflated throughout the cold season
  • May create a habitat for unwanted pests and critters 
  • May damage some crucial parts of the boat

Storing a Deflated Pontoon Boat

Storing a Deflated Pontoon Boat

Leaving your pontoon boat deflated is the best way to store it for the winter.

This method is way more beneficial and less risky than keeping it fully inflated. It saves on space, letting you enjoy the compactness, especially if you don’t have much room to keep it. 

Storing your boat deflated also reduces the risk of damage as the vessel is not exposed to elements like pests and critters during the winter. 

While storing your boat this way requires adequate preparation, the efforts are definitely worth it. 

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of storing your inflatable pontoon boat with no air in it. 


  • It doesn’t require frequent check or pumping
  • It takes way less space
  • Keeps pests and critters off the boat
  • Eliminates the risk of material damage when done properly


  • You’ll need to inflate the boat to use it after the winter
  • Requires adequate storage preparation 

To enjoy the benefits of this storage method, you need to do it right, as you could also end up with a ruined boat if you make a mistake. 

I will show you some tactics I’ve found handy when it comes to storing inflatable pontoon boats to help you ensure that you are doing things right. 

Tips on How to Store Inflatable Boats for the Cold Season

Tips on How to Store Inflatable Boats for the Cold Season

You might already be sold on the idea of deflating your inflatable pontoon boat for winter storage, but that’s not all yet. 

There are several things you need to do to ensure that your boat is still intact when the cold season elapses. You don’t want a nasty surprise when opening it to pump air in it and get back on the water. 

Here are some quick tips on how to store your inflatable pontoon boat for winter storage:

Clean the Boat Thoroughly 

The first thing you need to do is clean the boat properly and dry it well for long-term storage. 

You shouldn’t store it right away from water as this might pose some serious problem.

First, the boat still has all the dirt, contamination, and moisture, which are a good combination for bacteria, mildew, and mold growth. 

I prefer to scrub my inflatable boat until it is completely clean with natural mild soap and warm water. There is also this inflatable boat cleaner called Star Brite I’ve used several times, and it usually does a great job. 

It helps in removing dirt and debris from the boat and repels stains as long as you rinse it off with fresh water. 

You should stay away from products like bleach, ammonia, and abrasive steel wool when cleaning the boat to avoid damaging it. 

Once the boat is clean, use a towel to dry it off to prevent mold and mildew growth. If you don’t ensure that your boat is completely dry, you’ll regret it when unpacking it after the cold season. 

Fold Your Clean and Dry Inflatable Boat

When you are done cleaning and drying your boat, it’s time to fold it carefully and neatly to get a nice roll. 

Try not to pull the vinyl or PVC away from the frame or any hardware fixed on the boat to avoid tearing it down. 

You want to keep the folds loose as trying to achieve a tiny roll will add tension to the material, causing unnecessary damages. You also want to protect the tubing material from sharp objects. 

Then place your nicely folded boat into a storage bag to help maintain the roll and keep pests away. 

If you don’t have a heavy-duty storage bag that can fit the boat, you can buy these Jalousie extra-large bags, which are relatively affordable yet very functional. 

Store Your Inflatable Boat in a Safe Place Indoors 

While you might have several places to keep your folded boat outdoors, it’s not always a good idea to leave it in such direct exposure to outdoor elements. 

The best way to store your inflatable boat is by keeping it in the garage or any other enclosed place but raised from the cold floor. 

Storing your boat in a safe place and off the floor will not only protect it from cold and moisture but will also make it hard for rodents, mice, and rats to feel cozy in it. 

If there is no room for your boat in the garage or you really have to store it outside, it should be under a shed or a tarp to protect it from harsh conditions. But I’d rather keep it in a closet in my house or hang it somewhere indoors. 



Q: Can I Leave My Inflatable Boat Inflated?

A: Yes, of course, you can leave your inflatable boat inflated. However, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, the best way to store an inflatable boat is by deflating it. 

I’ve heard of boat owners who leave their inflated kayaks and pontoons during the winter, but most of them use a great UV protective cover to protect them from the harsh weather. 

So, if you don’t have proper safety equipment to store your air-filled PVC vessels properly, I recommend indoor storage as the outdoor elements can completely destroy your inflated boat or kayak. 

Leaving your inflatable boat or kayak inflated may seem like a good way to streamline storage preparation, it may turn out to be a costly undertaking overall.

Remember that you’ll need to arrange for a routine check-up to pump since the air pressure decreases as time passes by. And if you forget to add air, different parts of the boat may crease and or embed, causing holes.

An inflated boat is also prone to damages caused by pests and requires too much space. You may even be forced to rent a storage space. So, why don’t you get rid of the air and keep the pest and critters off? 

If you are new to inflatable boats and are wondering how to store them, just remove all the air and fold it neatly, just as you’d do with an inflatable kayak.

Q: Can You Store An Inflatable Boat Outside? 

A: Yes, you can store an inflatable boat outside. But you need to ensure that it has good cover on it before leaving it there as rubber and plastic don’t do well when left in direct sunlight for a long period. 

Nonetheless, I prefer storing inflatable kayaks and pontoon boats indoors in a dry and cool place to be sure of their safety throughout the winter months. 

Storing an inflatable boat or kayak outside for long periods is simply exposing them to harsh elements like the sun, moisture, high winds, and extreme cold. This doesn’t end well, especially for the pontoons. 

You need to protect your inflatable pontoon boat or kayak by putting it in a safe place in the house or garage. 

At the same time, keeping an inflated pontoon boat or kayak indoors means that you’ll need lots of space. 

If you don’t have a protected outdoor area for your vessels and prefer to keep them inflated during the winter, you’ll need to rent a storage unit. 



Your pontoon boat serves you well when you need to have fun on the water, and you should take care of it to enhance functionality and extend its life span. 

When the cold season comes, be sure to prepare your boat for storage in a dry place and protect it from the harsh weather elements. 

If you are confused between inflated or deflated, sometimes you may fall for the idea of half-deflated or leaving some little air. 

However, this won’t be a great strategy as your vessel is the strongest when it has enough air pressure. 

If you don’t have much space for indoor storage of an air-filled boat, it’s best to deflate it and fold it neatly as explained above.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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