GUIDE TO BUYING INFLATABLE BOATS
Inflatable boats, as the name suggests, take their shape because of air. Air is pumped into the flexible tubes that form the front and sides. These are usually made of durable rubberised, synthetic fabrics like Hypalon, PVC or polyurethane to prevent punctures. Often, a rigid transom is included on the inflatable boat to handle a small outboard motor. Inflatable boats are quickly becoming very popular these days and for very good reason. Inflatable boats can be used for a relaxing time on a calm lake or an adventurous one in the raging rapids.
TWO TYPES OF INFLATABLE BOATS
But, how exactly do you choose an inflatable boat? When choosing inflatable boats, you have two options: the dry-only and the wet-only boats.
The dry-only boats are designed to keep only a part of your body dry. They are only suited for calm waters where you don’t expect water to get in your boat. Dry-only inflatables don’t automatically drain water that stays inside; you’ll have to scoop them up yourself. On the other hand, wet-only inflatables have drains and are the best choice for adventures in the rapids or gushing torrents. That’s because it doesn’t hold up water.
ACTIVITY AND SIZE
When choosing an inflatable boat, the primary factor should be the activity you’re planning to use it for. If kayaking on calm to moderate waters is your choice, you can go for a fully inflatable type without rigid frames. This is a good choice because it is compact and easy to store.
Now if you want to use the boat for fishing, go for rigid inflatables with wooden floors. This type of inflatable boat allows you to stand while casting and offers more stability, too.
The size of the inflatable boat also matters. So, if you’re frequently going on trips with friends or family, your best option is a multi-seater watercraft. But if you’re a lone wolf, get a one-seater inflatable instead.
THE BEST INFLATABLE BOAT FOR YOU
There is no single “best inflatable boat” to buy, but there’s a “best inflatable boat for you”. And to find that boat, you need to ask yourself these questions:
• What are the inflatable types available?
• What is it made of?
• Which material is better for the activity that I’m using the boat for?
• How do you identify a good brand?
• If you want to buy a used inflatable boat, what do you need to look out for?
• Will you accessorise it? And if you will, what accessories do you need?
• How will you haul your inflatable boat?
Here are a few things that can help you answer the questions above.
PVC OR HYPALON
The trade-off between the two are price and durability. PVC is very popular because it’s affordable and lightweight. But, PVC is prone to wear and tear because of extended exposure to sunlight, heat and humidity. Hypalon, on the other hand, is a heavy, expensive, but extremely durable fabric.
AIR DECKS OR RIGID FLATS
For low weight, ride comfort and a simplified assembly process, a high-pressure air deck is your best choice. If you’re looking to use the boat for higher speed operation, and need better structural rigidity and more efficient use of power, go for rigid flats.
When shopping around for an inflatable boat, it’s not just always getting your money’s worth. You must also think about how safe it is when you and other passengers ride the boat. You cannot skimp on safety as lives will depend on it every time you go out to the lake or the raging rapids. So, consider every aspect mentioned above and find the right one inflatable for you.
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