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What is an Inflatable Boat?

By Ken Black
Updated Feb 13, 2024
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An inflatable boat is a boat that gains form and function only once it is inflated with a gas, usually air. An inflatable boat can have a number of different purposes, the most common of which is fishing. Inflatable boats, in some cases, can even be equipped with motors, even some very powerful ones.

While many remember the first generation of inflatable boats, which truly were not much more than rafts or pool toys, the type has come a long way. Many inflatable boats currently on the market have seating for more than two people and are capable of even going to the ocean in some instances. Thus, the inflatable boat has become a new option for those looking to take to the water.

The activities that can be enjoyed on an inflatable boat run the gambit. Most are used for fishing or just general joyriding on the water. However, with the higher-end models, it may even be possible to two a skier, under the proper conditions. However, those who use inflatable boats often just desire to enjoy simpler activities on the water.

The benefits of an inflatable boat are mainly weight and space issues. Most inflatable boats can be deflated and packed into a very small area. Thus, they are popular for fisherman who want to get into tight spaces or do not want the hassle of having to haul a boat with a trailer. Further, they can also be used as a runner from larger ocean-going vessels to shore. This gives them an additional dimension.

Most modern inflatable boats are made out of PVC plastic or a material known as Strongan. These make the boats highly versatile and very durable. While punctures can happen, these new materials make it much harder than it would be with older generations of inflatable boats.

Another benefit of an inflatable boat is its stability. An inflatable boat, especially those made with two main nacelles running down each side, make it very difficult to destabilize. This makes the possibility of capsizing extremely unlikely. However, as with any boat, its safety depends on a number of conditions including the roughness of the water, its load and weight distribution.

For those looking at an inflatable boat, there may be no better value. The boats are generally inexpensive and it may be possible to find an inflatable boat package that comes complete with a motor. In general, an inflatable boat is a way for the budget-conscious consumer to get on the water.

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