We like to consider us self to masters of inflatable boats, we’ve tried many and plenty through the years. With our expertise it’s no wonder people ask us a variety of different questions each day. Here’s our collection of the most frequently asked questions about inflatable boats.
If there’s any question you feel we left unanswered, feel free to email us or use the comment section below.
No doubt the most common question we get. There’s really no universal answer to it either, people buy inflatable boats for different reasons. For some it might be a matter cost, while others may lean towards inflatables due to their portability. It usually comes down to their price, portability and easy storage.
But they’re not as durable as real boats!
That is most certainly true, “real” boats are way tougher than most inflatable boats. But that doesn’t mean that inflatables aren’t durable. The truth is that durability varies a lot between models, but generally speaking an inflatable boat is not as vulnerable as a pool toy. Take a look at the popular action sport rafting, what kind of boats do they use?
Just because something is made out of fabric doesn’t mean it can take a beating, especially when looking at higher end models. We’ve been testing inflatable boats for years, we’ve tried inflatable kayaks, dinghies, rafts, pontoon boats and we’ve yet to see one of them get a puncture from abuse.
The secret is to know the limits of your craft and durability won’t be a problem. You wouldn’t take a small sailing dinghy into a class 3 river, so why would you take $80 inflatable into the ocean?
Okay, they’re more durable than I thought but they perform worse than regular boats!
Also somewhat true, once again it depends on how much you’re willing to spend. If you buy something cheap, you cannot expect to get the same quality as a boat made from solid materials.
You get better performance as the price goes up (in most cases). Take a look at inflatable kayaks for example, the cheap inflatable kayaks are slow and have poor tracking. Find a higher end kayak and you’ll almost feel no difference between it and a hard shell. With that said, inflatable boats will always be somewhat slower than regular solid ones, but sometimes it’s only by a few increments.
How stable are they?
Inflatables are usually much wider than their solid counterparts, making them a lot more stable. This goes for all types, fishing kayaks, dinghies, rafts and the like. We feel confident doing jacks in a 12 feet inflatable dinghy, not so sure we would feel as confident doing the same thing in a wooden one.
Can they be used for fishing?
Yes, in fact a lot of fishermen tend to go for inflatable boats because of their portability. We’ve written a huge article on choosing the best inflatable fishing boat, if you’ve even thought about it before, you should definitely give it a read.
What materials do they use?
See our article called “What are inflatable boats made of?” There we’ve covered the three most commonly used materials. To sum it up, they’re either made from PVC, Hypalon or Polyurethane.
What If I need to buy new parts?
Extra parts can be bought either directly from the manufacturer or the store you bought your boat from. You can also find spare parts on online stores like Amazon.
What if I want to clean my boat, is it even possible?
Of course it is! Just make sure to use mild household products. Usually cleaning products that are “green” (environment friendly) will do just fine. If you happen to need something tougher, we recommend that you go and buy a bottle of inflatable boat cleaner to get rid of them.
Just make sure to avoid any cleaning product that is strong and corrosive as these will eat away the fabric, leaving you with a big gaping hole.
How can I protect my boat from punctures and other wear & tear?
To guarantee a puncture free boat, you need to know its limits. Taking a cheap and small inflatable dinghy into a class 3 river will only have one outcome. IF you know the limits, you’ve reduced the chance of a puncture by almost 80%.
Another important thing to keep in mind is inflation, make sure not to have any creases when inflating. Inflating your boat to the maximum PSI can put a tremendous amount of stress on these creases, which will sooner or later cause a puncture.
Make sure to never leave it extreme weather conditions. If it’s 100 F outside, it’d be stupid to let your inflatable sit on your drive way. Same thing with cold weather, leaving it out during the winter is just begging trouble.
Make sure to check around your valves once in a while for leaks or small tears, as these areas are known to be problematic.
But what happens if I get a leak? Can I repair it by myself?
In most cases you’ll be able to repair the boat by yourself. If it’s a tiny pin hole it’s a matter of applying some water proof glue over the hole.
If it’s a slightly bigger tear, you’ll need to completely dry the area and apply water proof glue and apply a patch over the hole. This can be quite a tricky process if you’ve never done it before; this video on YouTube tells you how to do it.
If it’s a large tear, you’re better off contacting the manufacturer or taking it to an inflatables dealer which will repair it for you.
I know I have leak, but I can’t find it
Inflate your kayak as much as possible. Mix some soap and water together and put this mixture into a spray bottle (you don’t have to do this step, but it makes things easier). Apply the mixture to the area you suspect has a leak. If you hear any hissing or see any bubbles form in the soap, you’ve found the leak.
What’s the best pump for an inflatable boat?
There are three types of pumps used for inflatables. Hand pumps, foot pumps and electric pumps.
If you want warm yourself up before getting into the water with your boat, use a hand pump. These work wonders but will work up the sweat, they’re also not that good for people with bad backs.
If you suffer from a bad back, opt for a foot pump. These take slightly longer but aren’t as exhausting as hand pumps.
And if you want to save yourself from any physical labor, just go for an electric pump. They’ll inflate your boat in seconds. We recommend topping off your boat with a hand or foot pump, as some electric pumps will be able to inflate it all the way.
How long can I expect my inflatable boat to last?
That will depend entirely on how you treat it. If you’re sloppy with taking care of your inflatable, you can be sure it won’t last you more than a year. If you however do take proper care of it, you can expect to have it for years and years to come (unless you get a faulty model from the factory, in that case contact the manufacturer).
Where and how should I store it?
You should store your boat in a dry place, preferably away from any heat or cold, room temperature is ideal. It should be completely deflated and rolled up into its carry bag, just make sure there’s not water in the bag or the boat. You can read our article on how to properly dry your boat to find out more.
I want to put a motor on my inflatable, do I need to register it?
Most likely, it tends to vary from state to state, but generally you will need to register it with your DMV. Check with your local DMV to see what they have to say.
Can these be taken onto airplanes?
Yep, unless you’ve gotten yourself something really huge. Depending on how large your inflatable is, you might be able to store it in your suitcase. Some of the carry bags that come with inflatables are pretty durable, we recommend taping all the loose ends up though, since we know how some airport workers handle luggage.
If you have an inflatable that weighs less than 50 pounds you might be able to check it on your flight without any extra charge, this varies between companies.
You have your questions answered, are you ready for the water?
Hope this answered all of your questions, don’t forget that you can always email us or ask directly in the comment section below. If you don’t have any more questions you can take a look at our inflatable boat reviews, or take another look at our article section.