Best Inflatable Boats in 2017 – Our Review and Guide 1


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When you look out of your window, right now, and look at the weather – all snow, ice, wind and rain – it may be hard to believe, but summer will be with us before we know it! With summer come thoughts of long, warm, balmy days, days out and holidays at the seaside and all the fun and games that can be had when the weather is good.
 
a buyer's guide to the best inflatable boats in 2017
 
When it comes to playing on and in water, inflatable boats are great fun. You could be at the seaside, on a river or on an inland lake. Wherever you are, if you are planning a day out near a large stretch of water or are actually on holiday, you can’t go wrong if you have an inflatable boat with you.

Adults and children alike can have great fun with their inflatable boat and you can fill the days playing with it at surprisingly little initial cost.

Not only that, your inflatable boat can also be used for fishing, as a tender for a larger boat and even as an emergency lifeboat.

Inflatable boats, nowadays, are a far cry from years ago when the kids used an old tire inner tube or, if that wasn’t available, they made up some sort of makeshift raft. These days they are made from tough, durable material which can suit all sorts of water types. They also come with paddles and seats and all sorts of other accessories such as fishing rod holders and even cup holders.

You are really spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing an inflatable boat nowadays. For that reason we have put together a selection of the best inflatable boats available for 2017 so that you can make an informed decision when it comes to buying yours.

We have provided all sorts of information to help you in your choice and to make sure that you buy the boat that is suitable for your needs.
 

Boat NameMeasurementsWeight Limit 
Intex Mariner 4129 x 57 x 19 inches880 pounds Check Price
Intex Excursion 4
Best Value for Money
124 x 65 x 17 inches800-900 pounds Check Price
HydroForce Marine Pro Inflatable Raft115 x 50 x 18 inches594 pounds Check Price
Intex Explorer 20073 x 16 x 37 inches210 pounds Check Price
Intex Seahawk 4
Editor's Choice
133 x 19.5 x 50 inches880 pounds Check Price
Newport Vessels Dana Dinghy Boat 200106.7 x 63.5 x 35.6 cm1067 pounds Check Price
HydroForce Caspian
Professional's Choice
91 x 51 x 13 inches865 pounds Check Price
Intex Challenger 286 x 45 x 13 inches275-375 pounds Check Price
AIRHEAD AHIBF-06 Angler Bay140 x 66 inches900 pounds Check Price
Classic Accessories Colorado
Pontoon Boat
108 x 56 x 30 inches400 pounds Check Price
 

1. The Intex Mariner 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump (Latest Model)


The Intex Mariner 4 is a four-person inflatable boat set and comes complete with a set of aluminum oars and a high output air pump.

This inflatable is made from extra strength PVC material, is US Coastguard approved, NMMA certified and is suitable for use on a lake or a slow-moving river.

The extra tough material that the mariner 4 is made from makes it especially resistant to punctures, abrasions and exposure to strong sunlight.

There are four chambers with Boston valves so that inflation and deflation is fairly rapid. The keel is also inflatable and this gives much better control and handling capabilities. There is a rock guard right around the circumference of the boat along with a nylon grab rope.

There are also three inflatable seat cushions for added comfort, two fishing rod holders, for anyone who fancies a spot of fishing, rotating oar locks and holders, carrying handles for easy transportation, storage pouches and a mount for fitting a motor, if desired.

The Intex Mariner 4 has a weight capacity of 880lbs and the dimensions are 57 inches wide, 19 inches high and 129 inches long, when inflated.

The boat has quite an attractive design and should last for years if cared for properly.

There is a limited thirty day manufacturer’s warranty covering any defects in the materials or craftsmanship. A repair kit is included just in case of any mishaps.

On the whole, The Intex Mariner 4 has good value, it’s very durable and a lot of fun to use. It may be a little expensive in comparison to other inflatable boats of the same standard but still not bad value for money!
 

Pros
Attractive design.
Easily assembled and inflated.
Easy to inflate and deflate.
Made from strong, durable material.
Holds four people comfortably.
Safe and easy to control and handle.
Plenty of accessories.
Cons
The carrying bag may be too small and flimsy.
Slightly expensive compared to similar inflatable boats.

2. The Intex Excursion 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump (Latest Model)


Another inflatable boat from Intex, this time the Intex Excursion 4 which is also at a slightly cheaper price and probably better value for money. This is, yet again, a 4-person inflatable boat set and comes, again, with a pair of aluminum oars and a high output air pump.

It is quite similar in design and build to the Intex Mariner 4. The Excursion 4 is made from the same tough and durable PVC material which is resistant to punctures, abrasions and strong sunlight.

Suitable for use on lakes and slow moving rivers, it is ideal for fishing trips or just a bit of pleasure cruising.

Four adults can comfortably fit in the Excursion 4 and there are two inflatable seats, along with backrests, for extra comfort and stability.

The floor is an inflatable I-beam type which helps to make the boat more rigid. There are three air chambers in total and this includes an inner auxiliary chamber, situated inside the main hull, which gives added buoyancy and safety.

When it comes to inflating and deflating the Excursion 4, it couldn’t be easier. There is a Boston valve fitted onto the two main hull chambers, making for fast inflation and deflation.

There is plenty of storage space in the gear pouches, two built-in fishing rod holders and welded oar locks and holders. If you want to add a trolling motor, then there are motor mount fittings included for this purpose.

There is also an all round grab line and two grab handles fitted to each of the bows to make for ease in carrying the boat. The Intex Excursion 4 is, once again, NMMA certified and US Coastguard approved. It does also come with a repair kit, just in case of any problems, and a carrying bag.

The size of the Excursion 4 is 124 inches long, 65 inches wide and 17 inches deep.
 

Pros
Quite a cheap price.
Made from strong, durable material.
Attractive design.
Easy to inflate and deflate.
Holds four people comfortably.
Safe and easy to control and handle.
Easily portable.
Plenty of accessories.
Cons
Hard to find one.

3. The HydroForce Marine Pro Inflatable Raft


The HydroForce Marine Pro Inflatable Raft is another small inflatable boat in the same sort of style, suitable for lakes and slow moving rivers.

It is ideal for fishing or just pleasure boating and relaxing on the water.

Some customers are using it as a tender for their larger boats. It offers very good value for money and will give years of pleasure if used ‘fit for purpose’ and looked after properly. It is a fun inflatable boat at a very reasonable price.

It is made from extra strong, 3-ply reinforced vinyl to give it that extra strength and durability and protection from punctures, abrasions and sunlight. It also gives protection against petroleum products.

It is 115 inches long, 50 inches wide and 18 inches deep and has a weight capacity of just less than 600lbs. The Marine Pro will comfortably hold three adults and a child.

There is a high pressure, inflatable floor and although the boat has no electric pump with it, customers say that it is easy enough to inflate the three air chambers manually, in very little time. It also doesn’t take too long to deflate either, apparently.

A grab rope goes all the way round the circumference of the boat, for extra safety. There is a 14.5 inch manual pump included in the package.

Also included are two 60-inch oars and there are oar holders and locks on the boat along with fishing rod holders. There is a mounting for a motor, if so desired and a carrying bag.

The HydroForce Marine Pro Inflatable Raft can be not the ideal boat in case of strong wind.
 

Pros
Very good value for money at a very reasonable price.
Very easy to inflate and deflate, especially if you invest in an electric pump to make inflation even faster.
Easy to control and handle.
Easy to transport.
Cons
Slightly small.
Some concern over the workmanship and not recommend using it as a life raft.
The floor could be a little sturdier.
Can be slightly unstable on windy days.

4. The Intex Explorer 200


The Intex Explorer 200 is a very attractive and fun-looking little boat from the Intex range of inflatable boats and it is a lot of fun too.

The children will love this one and it really is made especially for children.

It is a two-person inflatable boat, specifically designed for pools and very calm waters. Not suitable at all for rivers or anything that could be a bit rough going.

There are two air chambers and the Explorer 200 is very easily inflated with the supplied mini air pump.

It is suitable for two people and the size is 73 inches long, 37 inches wide and 16 inches deep. It has a weight capacity of 210lbs. There is an inflatable floor to give the boat that extra bit of rigidity and comfort and there are welded oar locks and holders for the two supplied oars.

There is a grab rope on the bow and also two carrying handles to make transportation easy, although the boat is very light in itself.

The Explorer 200 comes in some very bright colors and is very attractively designed which makes it really stand out. The boat is made from 13 gauge PVC plastic and has the United States Coastguard ID. The material is not that strong but as long as the boat is not used beyond its limitations, then it should be fine.

The supplied oars are 48 inches long and there is also a puncture repair kit supplied in case of any slight damage.

It has to be said that the Intex Explorer 200 might carry two children and one supervising adult. It is very safe as long as it was used fit for purpose. A great, colorful, fun inflatable boat, indeed!
 

Pros
The children will love it.
Very inexpensive.
Attractive, bright and colorful design.
Great for pools and very calm waters.
Apparently also good for jumping out of an airplane with, we assume, a parachute!
Cons
Not really big enough for two adults…..maybe at a squeeze.
Not very strong material.

5. The Intex Seahawk 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump (Latest Model)


Yet another great inflatable boat from the Intex range, the Seahawk 4 is an attractively designed and nice looking boat and also is available at a very reasonable price.

It is designed to hold up to four people and is suitable for use on lakes and slow moving rivers.

It is made from 30-guage PVC vinyl which is extra tough to give that added protection from punctures, abrasions and strong sunlight.

The material is also resistant to gasoline, oil and seawater so if you in an area where there is a saltwater inlet or there are motor boats around, no special precautions are needed.

This makes it a very durable boat which should last for many years if looked after properly. It is also United States Coastguard approved, with ID.

The Intex Seahawk 4 has two air chambers for some added safety, an inflatable floor for extra rigidity and comfort and an inner hull chamber. There are also seats with inflatable cushions, welded oarlocks and two fishing rod holders at the back, one on either side, for those that fancy a spot of fishing.

There is a grab line around the whole circumference of the boat, a grab handle on the bow for maneuverability and easy transportation and storage pouches for all your gear. The boat comes with 48 inch aluminum oars and an inflation pump.

The dimensions are 133 inches long, 50 inches wide and 19.5 inches deep. The Seahawk 4 can take up to 814lbs in weight.

Overall, the Intex Seahawk 4 is a very slick inflatable boat, yet again from Intex. Great value for money and well worth the price!
 

Pros
Large enough for four adults.
Made from strong durable material.
Nice storage pouch.
Easy to control and maneuver.
Very reasonable price.
Nice attractive design.
Easily transportable.
Cons
Soft floor could make it difficult to stand up.
A bit uncomfortable seats with no back support.
May not be that good in high winds.

6. Newport Vessels 8-Feet 10-Inch Dana Inflatable Sport Tender Dinghy Boat – USCG Rated


Moving slightly away from the purely recreational inflatable boats, we have this offering from Newport Vessels. It is their 8 feet 10 inch, Dana Inflatable Sport Tender Dinghy Boat.

It is definitely one for those that take their boating a bit more seriously than a day out on the lake!

It is a heavy duty salt & freshwater inflatable sport dinghy tender boat and is made from United States Coastguard triple layered 0.9mm/1,100 denier specially coated, reinforced and anti corrosive coated PVC.

This special material gives maximum protection against corrosion, sun, salt, and all other destructive elements. There is also 24mm thick aluminum framed custom hard marine coated plywood precision flooring.

It is a very impressive inflatable boat and comes with an aluminum framed marine wood flooring set, an aluminum bench seat, two aluminum oars, a carrying & storage bag, a foot pump, repair kit, a one way drain plug, towing D-rings, two mounted carrying handles, oar locks and oar holders.

The Dana Inflatable is 8 feet 10 inches long, 5 feet wide and 18 inches in depth. The maximum payload is 1067lbs and the boat is designed for three people.

The boat has also been tested and designed for 15 inch short shaft and 20 inch long shaft outboard motors. Newport Vessels recommend a 15 inch short shaft outboard for the best performance. This inflatable will take either 2 or 4 stroke motors.

If you wish to register your boat then you are supplied with all the original documents to make registration simple. There are also unique and original hull ID/HIN numbers and every boat comes with the Newport Vessels two year warranty.

The Dana Inflatable doesn’t come cheap but then again this is not an inflatable boat for amateurs!

 

Pros
Tough and durable, impressive inflatable boat.
Great design.
Easy enough to put together after some practice.
Inflates rapidly.
Easy to control and handles well.

Cons
Expensive but you get what you pay for.
Serious sailors only!

7. The HydroForce Caspian 7′ 7” Inflatable Boat


Another one from HydroForce which can probably be described as middle of the range when it comes to inflatable boats in that it is suitable for using just for fun or for the more serious stuff!

It is ideal for pleasure cruising or fishing on lakes and rivers and also for use as a dinghy or tender.

The HydroForce Caspian Pro is a very nicely designed and attractive inflatable boat and it is made from heavy duty PVC, which makes it extremely durable and able to withstand damage from most sharp objects, abrasion, oil and other pollutants and direct sunlight.

The actual design of the boat is made up of two very high density, nylon supported PVC chambers with an integrated drain valve. The floor is made from boards of marine-grade plywood. This gives extra stability and strength but it is also light and simple to roll up.

There are also two aluminum oars and omni-directional oarlocks, a really tough strake for extra protection against bumps and scrapes, grab ropes for extra safety and a steel towing ring.

Also included in the package are an Air Hammer manual inflation pump, a 33 feet tow rope and a pressure gauge.

Sizewise, the HydroForce Caspian is 91 inches long, 51 inches wide and 13 inches deep. It has a maximum load capacity of 568lbs and is designed to carry two adults. In fact HydroForce recommend users be a minimum 15/16 years of age.

The boat can take an outboard motor up to 15hp. All in all, a top choice!
 

Pros
Sturdy and attractive design.
Good value for money.
Tough and durable.
Easy to control and handles well.
Easy enough to assemble and inflate and deflate.
Lightweight and easily transportable.

Cons
Slightly on the expensive side but again, you get what you pay for.
Not for children unless accompanied by a responsible adult.
Apparently does not handle well in waves.

8. The Intex Challenger 2


From one extreme to the other, back to another inflatable boat that is great for the kids. Again, this comes from Intex but that’s not to say that adults won’t have great fun with this boat as well.

The Intex Challenger 2 is another colourful, attractive and fun inflatable boat that is designed for two people, preferably one adult and one child.

It is specifically made for having fun in pools or on lakes. It is also fine for a spot of fishing if you so wish.

The Challenger 2 is perfectly simple to inflate and deflate. There are a total of three air chambers and this includes the inner auxiliary chamber inside the hull. There are two quick fill and fast deflate Boston valves which help carry out the process with the minimum of fuss or bother.

An Intex high output pump is supplied to inflate and deflate. The floor is also inflatable to give the boat extra strength, comfort and stability.

Also supplied with the Challenger 2 are two 48-inch French oars and for these there are welded on oar locks and oar holders. There is a grab line right round the circumference of the boat and a grab handle on the bow to help with moving and carrying the boat on land.

The Challenger 2 is made from tough 20-gauge PVC vinyl and this can prevent damage from abrasions, bumps, scrapes and direct sunlight. It also helps protect against pollutants such as oil, gasoline and also against salt water if you happen to be near a salt water inlet.

This particular inflatable boat measures 86 inches long, 45 inches wide and 13 inches deep. It can take a payload of up to 253lbs. The Challenger 2 carries a United States Coastguard ID.

As mentioned, it is ideal for light usage and as long as you don’t try and force the issue, then this inflatable boat should not let you down.

 

Pros
Great for children.
Very inexpensive.
Attractive, bright and colorful design.
Great for pools and very calm waters.

Cons
Not really big enough for two adults.
Not very strong material.

9. AIRHEAD-AHIBF-06 Angler Bay 6 Person Inflatable Boat


The AIRHEAD-AHIBF-06 from Angler Bay is exactly the inflatable boat you need if you and the guys, and the girls, want to go on a fishing party and this is not least because of the many molded drink holders!

You literally have everything that you need here to have a great day out on the water, fishing or not.

To start with some of the features, there are two rod holders, side-mounted oar holders with swiveling oar locks, trolling motor transom mounts and grab ropes around the full circumference of the boat.

There are also plenty of storage bags and four drain plugs. There are locations for motor mounts on the boat.

The Angler Bay AIRHEAD-AHIBF-06 is extremely light for ease of transportation and is ideally meant for use on lakes and slow moving rivers.

This inflatable is (or should be) made for six people so it is quite a size. The dimensions are 140 inches long, by 66.5 inches wide and 32 gauge 17 inches in depth. There is a 900lb payload limit. It handles quite well for an inflatable boat of this size although, apparently, is not that good in the wind.

It is made from really heavy duty vinyl with electronically welded seams. All these inflatable boats are factory tested for quality control.

For that added bit of comfort there is an inflatable floor and a movable seat. The boat is fitted with patented Speed Safety Valves which allows for fast inflation and deflation.

In summary, this is a nice boat but it is not extremely comfortable and does not really hold six adults easily. If you can live with that, then this inflatable is fine for messing about on calm waters.

 

Pros
Reasonable price.
Good construction and design.
Durable, stable and safe.
Easy to set up, inflate and deflate.

Cons
Hard to hold six adults comfortably.
The transom and the oars are sold separately.
Not very comfortable.

10. Classic Accessories Colorado Boat


This is a great looking inflatable boat for one person made in a pontoon or catamaran style.

Designed for use on rivers and lakes, it is great for going out on your own and getting away from it all for a while and also for fishing if you have that in mind.

The Colorado pontoon boat is built round a powder-coated steel tube frame with really heavy duty pontoons which are made from tough abrasion proof PVC which lets really explore some shallow waters.

The added features include a dual-side stripping apron, two insulated drink holders, over twenty storage pouches, a detachable fly patch, double hull pontoon bladders, a fishing rod holder with six positions, a foal down padded plastic seat, nonslip footrests and an integrated anchor system.

There are two 7 foot aluminum oars supplied and the oar holders and rests have three locking positions so that you can choose which position suits you the best. There is also a weatherproof motor mount.

The storage capacity on the Colorado is phenomenal. These comprise of 10 mesh pockets and 12 zippered pockets. There is also a wide space for more storage on the stern and a battery platform. The anchor system has a fill able mesh bag and cleat and pulley controls which can fit on the right or left hand side of the boat.

The bladders are cold and heat resistant and the boat deliberately rides high in the water so that you have added visibility. There are also combination quick inflation and deflation valves. The unique dual-side stripping apron, with fish ruler, allows entry and exit without unclipping anything.

Size wise, the Colorado is 108 inches long, 56 inches wide and 26 inches in height. It has a maximum payload capacity of 400lbs.

This is a very nice boat if you want to go out on the water on your own and, although a little bit pricey, it has to be said that it is well worth that bit of extra money.

 

Pros
Very attractive design.
Available in several colors.
Plenty of storage space.
Easily portable.
Good customer service from Classic Accessories.

Cons
Open water can be rough going.
Rather expensive but good value for money.
One man operation can be a bit difficult until you get used to it, then it’s easy.

Inflatable Boats Quick Buyer’s Guide

father and son having fun on an inflatable boatSo, there it is! Our reviews of, possibly the ten best inflatable boats on the market today! There are, of course, many others out there but we hope that this selection will help you to at least narrow down your search somewhat.

It was not that long ago those inflatable boats such as these didn’t exist and it wasn’t within the realms of the average family to be able to purchase such a thing. Nowadays we are really spoilt for choice.

Please remember, when you are choosing an inflatable boat that safety must be of the utmost importance, especially if children are going to be using it. Remember that if you have the three elements of water, young children and inflatable boats, there is possibly a disaster waiting to happen.

Most manufacturers of inflatable boats have safety as a major consideration but it is up to us that we stick to any guidelines and don’t cause unnecessary risks to anyone, children or adults. Not only young children, but older children and teenagers should never be left unsupervised on an inflatable boat.

You know yourself what you will be using your inflatable boat for, and we hope that we have covered nearly all the different angles for you when it comes to choosing one, whether it is for fun in the pool or a small lake, going fishing or actually going a little bit further in your adventures with an inflatable boat. If not, there is bound to be what you are looking for somewhere, if you broaden your search a little.

You should also check that you have warranties for your inflatable boat and check to see what is covered and what is not. You don’t want any annoying little issues to spoil your fun before you even get started.

Last, but definitely not least, make sure that, when you purchase your inflatable boat, that all the parts are there and that they are as they should be. This goes for whether you purchase online or from a store.

So, we really do hope that our review guide has been of some help to you. There are still a few months left until summer but they will soon pass. Don’t rush into anything just yet but, if you are looking for inflatable boats, it might be an idea to start thinking about it now and having a look at the various options.

Enjoy yourself looking around and remember that the end result should be, and, we are sure, will be, lots of fun for everyone! Good luck!


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One thought on “Best Inflatable Boats in 2017 – Our Review and Guide

  • jay foley

    the Hydroforce models look suspiciously like the Chinese factory that used to make the Intex Mariner 3’s….(also formerly known as “Seahawk” 3s and 4s)…just changed the logo and name labeling. THESE thick skineed boats….regardless of the name applied…ARE the best value in inflatable boats. Hands down.