How to buy an inflatable boat
An inflatable boat buying guide
Inflatable boats are a fun and durable piece of sports and outdoors equipment that many people use for fishing and marine activities. There are many advantages to owning an inflatable boat, and if you are an outdoors enthusiast, you will want to consider purchasing one of these flexible boats. You'll need to navigate many different options when buying an inflatable boat. How do you figure out how to buy an inflatable boat? Consider a few simple points to help you navigate these fun and interesting products.
>> Consider the uses of the inflatable boat
The best inflatable boats can add many different dimensions to your experiences on the water. These boats are usually lighter and more portable than hard shelled boats. You can often get off of your inflatable boat at your favorite sightseeing spot on the river or lake, deflate your boat, hike around the area and then reflate your boat when you want to leave. Also, these boats are good at fitting into tight corners and crevices on rivers and lakes, unlike pontoon boats or other boats. This makes it easy for you to get to your favorite fishing spot in your boat. That being said, many inflatable boats are better suited for certain tasks than others. Some inflatable boats are good for fishing, offering ample room for you and a partner plus your angling gear. Others are smaller and are best for playing in the water or going down rapids. Find the inflatable boat that is designed for the activities you enjoy most.
>> How many people do you want your boat to accommodate?
Generally speaking, you will have to pick a boat with between a one and six person capacity when you think about how to buy an inflatable boat. You should pick a design with room for more than one person if you would like to bring friends along. An inflatable boat design with room for many people will naturally be a little heavier and less nimble than one designed for fewer passengers.
>> What size boat do you want?
Different types of inflatable boats generally range from 6' to 10' long with widths from 4' to 6'. If you foresee wanting to get off of your boat often to explore the surroundings, it would be a good idea to choose a smaller inflatable boat design because it will be easier to carry or deflate. Large inflatable boat designs, however, are generally better able to handle rough water conditions and have more room for you to store gear, food and drinks.
>> How much weight do you need to carry?
You will need to decide the maximum weight capacity of the boat you will use. Typical inflatable boats can carry about 300 lbs to 950 lbs. Keep this in mind when you think about how to buy an inflatable boat. If you plan on using your inflatable boat on camping trips, it will probably be a good idea to choose a boat with a higher maximum weight capacity because then it will be able to accommodate your equipment well. Being able to carry more weight will generally make the boat itself heavier and therefore reduce portability.
>> Consider the construction of the inflatable boat
Choose between a semi-flexible or fully rigid boat construction to find the best inflatable boat to buy. A more rigid inflatable lake boat will be heavier, but also sturdier and better able to handle rougher waters. Less rigid construction is often lighter and easier to deflate.
You will also have to choose between wood, aluminum or rubber for the floor of the boat when you think about how to buy an inflatable boat. Wood and aluminum floors are good for rough waters and the materials' stiffness makes the boat easier to row.
>> Check for NMMA Certification
The best inflatable boats will have a National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) certification. To achieve this certification, an inflatable boat manufacturer must submit its design in a lengthy application and undergo a detailed inspection of its manufacturing processes. When you see an NMMA certification, you can be more confident that the inflatable boat brand has made a design that meets US boating standards. Check the product description for the NMMA certification.
>> Consider accessories and other options
The inflatable boat design that you choose may have the capacity to have a motor installed into the boat. Many inflatable boats will come with an air pump that can be used with it. Some boats will have either a bag or backpack to store the boat while deflated. Also, oars are a common part of an inflatable boat package. Oars will come in different weights and often have design features that make them easier to use. You should check the product description of the inflatable boat that interests you to make sure these features are included.
Make sure that you have appropriate safety equipment, including life jackets for all potential boat passengers, as you do your inflatable boat comparison. Some good pieces of safety equipment to have are whistles, flags, flares and first aid kits. As with kayaks, canoes, pedal boats or other boats, you should look up any state regulations regarding what equipment you need for boating before you take your inflatable boat onto the water for the first time.