Best Rubber Inflatable Boats (Dinghies)

Posted by Author David Lee
Rubber Inflatable Boats (Dinghies)

A rubber dinghy, also known as an inflatable boat, is a versatile and portable watercraft that’s incredibly popular for recreational use. Constructed from durable, flexible materials like PVC or Hypalon, these boats are lightweight, making them easy to transport and store. They come in various sizes, from small one-person dinghies to larger models suitable for several passengers. The inflatable design provides excellent buoyancy and stability, ideal for calm waters, fishing, or leisurely rides. Some rubber dinghies include features like oarlocks, grab lines, and attachment points for outboard motors. Their affordability, easy setup, and compactness make rubber dinghies a favorite for boating enthusiasts, campers, and anyone seeking affordable water-based adventures.

Things to consider before buying Inflatable Dinghies

In the past year we’ve owned three different kinds of inflatable dinghy boats. And through our experience with these three dinghies, we kind of came up with the list of five major things to consider if you’re thinking about getting an inflatable dinghy. Those five are:

  • size and shape,
  • material,
  • weight
  • features.

1. Size and Shape

The first one – size and shape. Size and shape are totally personal preferences. Whatever you’re going to be doing. Are you going to be going long distances or are you just going to use a rubber inflatable dinghy boat to go to shore or do you have a dog you have to bring, are you going to go fishing off of it? We went bigger because we go fishing, spearing, bring the dog everywhere. We have a lot of stuff that we bring, but some people have to do is go from the boat to the dock and that’s all they need.
The bigger you have more carrying capacity, you can go a little bit faster. Smaller, it’s going to be lighter, but you don’t have as much room.
With size, the bigger it is, obviously, it’s going to be more expensive. Smaller, you’re going to be cheaper in the price range.

2. Tube and Hull Materials

And then with that brings us into our next category, which is materials. When we’re talking materials, we’re talking about two things: the tube material, and also the hull material.
When choosing a rubber inflatable dinghy boat, the material from which it is made is certainly very important. There are many different types of soft materials today, but PVC (vinyl) and hypalon are the most popular. PVC is a material that is more expensive and durable. Additionally, there are several additives that create an additional stone and cut protective layer. For example, two layers of PVC can also be combined with the addition of lamination.

Hypalon or PVC tube

Let’s talk about the tube material first: hypalon (a kind of synthetic rubber made of chlorinated and sulfonated polyethylene) and PVC.

Hypalon’s going to be more expensive but way better in the sun. It’s going to hold up to UV a million times better than PVC. PVC is definitely going to be cheaper, but it’s not gonna hold up in the sun very long. If you’re considering cruising the Bahamas, the Caribbean, I would say that hypalon is definitely really the only option if you’re looking long term.

But if you’re in other areas where the sun isn’t as strong as down south, then you can save a couple of bucks and go the PVC route.

Maybe if you’re in the northeast, are you only using dinghy seasonally, it’s only in the sun two, three months out of the year, you’ll get a long life out of PVC still. Especially if you keep it covered and they even make chaps. These like covers the tubes of the dinghy. If you have chaps on you might be able to make that dinghy last from actually pretty long. If it’s PVC and especially if it’s hypalon.

Aluminum, fiberglass and the inflatable hull

The hull material can be the same rubber tube material just laid down in the hull with slats like the floor supports or even a removable floor that’s made out of wood or aluminum. The bottom can also be just an inflated floor, like a high-pressure inflated rubber bottom material where there are not even any slats. It’s just high-pressure kind of keeping it semi-rigid. You can have a solid fiberglass hull or you can have a solid aluminum hull. I’m sure there are other options out there, but those are the major ones.

Inflatable Floor

The floor provides comfort when you are in a boat. There are different floor types: soft, inflatable, rigid collapsible, rigid frame (solid), etc. In most cases, the inflatable dinghy boat is folded in a carrier bag, so it is important that the floor is either soft or hard but composite. Rigid collapsible floors are more comfortable, but they are heavy and require extra installation and reassembly time.
Our boat actually has some thin wood slats to keep it a little more rigid.
Obviously with those first things, whether it’s a high-pressure inflated floor or an inflatable floor with slats or even an inflatable hull with sections, removable sections, those are all going to be semi-rigid and they can range from it feeling like you’re stepping on a waterbed. It’s pretty close to rigid (solid). Pretty rigid.

The other thing with that you have to worry about beaching the boat. If you’re ever on, let’s say a beach with rocks or barnacles or whatever, you could pop that extremely easily compared to the hard rigid floor you have more sturdiness.

Talking about solid fiberglass or aluminum hull, you definitely have the ability to give yourself a little bit more leeway if you do run upon a rock or a barnacle. Or some coral or something.

Now our last dinghy was solid fiberglass, this one is solid aluminum, and that’s part of the reason that we kind of changed it up and got an aluminum boat and that’s because of the lightweight that you get with aluminum while still having a lot of strength.

Fiberglass Hull

Fiberglass is definitely going to be a little bit heavier, but it might be a little easier to repair if you ever put a hole in it or something because you probably have fiberglass supplies on your boat. With an aluminum hull you can probably still, you can probably do a makeshift repair with epoxy I’m sure, but for a permanent repair, you probably need someone to weld on something to that aluminum. But it’s going to be harder to puncture an aluminum hull. If you just put a scratch on it, that’s not a big deal. It can be much more durable being pulled up on the beach with rocks or coral or whatever. You’re probably not gonna put a hole in an aluminum hull.

3. Weight

Weight is very important for us specifically because our, our rubber inflatable dinghy boat is completely dependent on weight. The lighter it is, the faster it goes so when we raise the dinghy and put it on the boat, we want it to be as light as possible so it’s easy to get up. But also so we keep the weight down so we go faster.

If you have a whole system, like a crane that lifts the dinghy on the boat and you don’t have to worry about lifting yourself and you’re on a trailer or then it doesn’t matter as much.

4. Features

That kind of brings us into our next category, which is features because the more features you have, generally the more weight you’re going to have.

Features can range from anything from just a seat to some fancy electronics, a center console, a bench seat, and built-in in the back, a little radar arch.

A lot of features that most dinghies have are like handholds all over, these D-rings. Some D-rings under the front of the boat for towing or locks with aluminum oars, which we’re going to have to test out. I actually tested them out on the other dinghy to see if you can actually grow it. Supposedly it’s pretty hard to row an inflatable boat, especially if there’s any sort of breeze, whatever. But those are a lot of features that most dinghies do have.

In our old dinghy, the bench seat was like in the middle and then under the bench seat we kept the gas tank so it was still out of the way, but taking up kind of floor space. Now we have a separate locker for the gas tank as well as a separate locker for the anchor. Because now under the bench seat we have this space for our life jackets.

Now that’s vented and the fuel line actually runs underneath the floor all the way back to the engine so that fuel line’s not in the way ever.

One thing that we didn’t have on our other dinghy that is amazing is just this simple little slot for the line to come out so that when you’re anchored you’ll have your anchor line tied to the boat, but most of your extra line is still in here. It’s nice to have this. The line can come out and you can still close this, without breaking the hinges or anything on that hatch. Another great thing about these two compartments that we were surprised to find out is how easy it is to step the front of the boat, to the back of our catamaran. That was a really nice surprise.

And then one other thing that I love and I dog likes too is that we have this soft kind of non-skid material on the boat so she has something that doesn’t hurt her paws and we don’t slip as much.

One last major feature I want to talk about is having, I don’t know what you call it, a floor. Having a floor over just the bottom of your boat is the bilge. But this is our actual floor and underneath here is just space. You can see if we get water in the boat, the water fills up underneath this floor first because there are holes you know in the corners and in the anchor locker and stuff like that. And that way if you have just a little bit of water in your boat, it’s gonna sit in the bilge in the floor and your feet aren’t going to get wet, all your stuff isn’t gonna get wet and even if you have a little sand it’ll sit right there kind of underneath the floor.

If our phone fell on the ground, it’s not sitting in water or the cameras or whatever.

But it’s definitely a little bit of extra weight, it’s definitely a little bit of extra money, but it’s a feature that I really like and it’s definitely worth it for us. Something to think about.

Well as I mentioned before, some other features you’re going to have is as a whole console here to steer with a steering wheel and a steering system and everything besides just the tiller. It’ll have a throttle. You can have bow lights, stern lights, you could have bilge pumps, batteries, radio, everything.

With all those extra features comes, weight, which is the most important thing that we’re trying to limit.

Some more features:

Availability of motor mounts

The choice of a rubber inflatable dinghy boat is always based on certain objectives. And additional equipment is selected depending on the purpose. Fishermen need a motor, so a boat for them should have motor or transom mounts. If a boat is intended for family holidays, the motor is not required, but paddles and paddle crutches are important.


To improve maneuverability and handling, a keel is needed in any boat. Depending on where and under what circumstances the boat will operate, a boat with or without a keel is selected. If it’s a family holiday, you don’t need a keel, but a keel is very important if it’s a sporting interest or professional activity. A keel may be soft or rigid (inflatable). A rigid keel offers better handling, of course, but it is installed on heavy boats only. It is more common to have a soft keel.


Wherever and how the boat is used, crutches are important. Comfort depends on them when using paddles. Crutches should be as powerful as possible and hinges should be as mobile as possible. At the same time, it is necessary to secure the paddles in them firmly but without losing free movement. Paddles themselves can be made of wood or composite materials. Weight is important here: the lighter the paddle, the better.

Number of seats

Each boat has its own weight and seat capacity limitations. Therefore, when choosing a boat, it is always worth considering how many people would be there at the same time. For family holidays, light boats with a large interior space and a large seat capacity are better suited.

Components package

Components package, i.e. items that come complete, such as paddles, pump, seats, optional accessories, is very important. These components are critical for boat sailing and they should be attentively checked out when choosing a rubber inflatable dinghy boat.

Find out also how to inflate an inflatable boat and set up the aluminum floorboards inside correctly.

Rubber inflatable dinghy boats are usually professional sports models with a reinforced floor and bottom of inflatable tubes. This provides reliable protection against sharp stones. The boat has a folding aluminum bottom. The materials used for boat production are robust – PVC 1200 D and the PVC layer thickness reaches 2.4 mm in the lower part. BSA380 Black has a transom for a motor with a maximum power of up to 25 hp. A V-shaped deep keel is provided for stability.

How do I benefit from an inflatable dinghy boat?

There are several benefits to owning an inflatable dinghy boat, including:

  • Portability: Inflatable dinghy boats are lightweight and can be easily deflated and packed away for transport or storage in a small space.
  • Durability: Many inflatable dinghy boats are made of high-quality PVC or Hypalon material, which makes them resistant to punctures and abrasions.
  • Versatility: Inflatable dinghy boats can be used for a variety of activities, such as fishing, recreational boating, and water sports.
  • Affordability: Inflatable dinghy boats are generally less expensive than traditional hard-shell boats, making them a great option for those on a budget.
  • Easy to Inflate: Most inflatable dinghy boats can be easily inflated with a hand pump or electric pump in just a few minutes.
  • Safety: Inflatable dinghy boats are designed to be stable and buoyant, reducing the risk of capsizing or sinking, and they can provide a safe and secure platform for water activities.

Overall, an inflatable dinghy boat can offer a convenient, affordable, and versatile option for those who enjoy boating or spending time on the water.

What are the drawbacks of inflatable dinghy boats?

While inflatable dinghy boats offer many benefits, there are also some drawbacks to consider. Here are some potential disadvantages of owning an inflatable boat:

  1. Vulnerability to Punctures: While many inflatable dinghy boats are made of durable materials, they can still be vulnerable to punctures or tears from sharp objects such as rocks, branches, or fishing hooks.
  2. Limited Load Capacity: Inflatable dinghy boats typically have a lower load capacity than hard-shell boats, which means that they may not be suitable for larger groups or heavy equipment.
  3. Exposure to Sunlight and UV Rays: Over time, exposure to sunlight and UV rays can cause the materials of inflatable dinghy boats to break down and degrade, reducing their lifespan.
  4. Maintenance: Inflatable dinghy boats require regular maintenance to ensure that they remain in good condition and function properly. This can include cleaning, drying, and storing the boat properly after each use, as well as checking for leaks and repairing any damage.
  5. Performance: Inflatable dinghy boats may not perform as well as hard-shell boats in rough water conditions or at high speeds, and they can be more difficult to control in windy conditions.
  6. Comfort: Inflatable dinghy boats may not be as comfortable as traditional hard-shell boats, as they can be more prone to bouncing and rocking on the water.

Overall, while inflatable dinghy boats offer many benefits, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks and determine whether they are the right choice for your specific needs and intended use.


How much does an inflatable dinghy cost?

The average cost of an inflatable dinghy is around $100. However, the price can vary depending on the size and quality of the dinghy. Some high-end dinghies can cost up to $1,500.

You offer fairly interesting options, but I can’t decide. I need an inflatable dinghy for river rafting, which one’s the best?

For river rafting, boats with elongated pontoons are best suited, as they are more stable in rough flows. In addition, attention should be paid to protecting the bottom from cuts, as there are usually sharp stones on the bottom of banks. Plus, such models usually have a place to secure a transom under the motor.

How to repair an inflatable dinghy

You can do some simple steps: find the puncture, warm it up with a heat gun, cut the bristles in half, and apply the glue to both surfaces.

See Also Best Blow Up Kayaks/Canoes or Pontoon Fishing Boats or iSUP Standing Boats Review is a source where the post Rubber Inflatable Boats (Dinghies) appeared first.

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Comments to Review

  1. Our Newport Vessel boat has served us so well for the past few years. It is super easy to store and fun to take our kids out in on the little late in our backyard.

  2. Ivan Roberts says:

    My choice is HydroForce Marine Pro is the perfect small family inflatable boat. It is for 2 adults and 1 child (it can carry 3 adults or 2 adults or 2-3 children simultaneously). The boat is made of durable material of three layers and has a load capacity of more than 590lbs and boat is folded into a small bag for transportation. It has a rigid inflatable bottom. A security cable holder and motor mounting fittings are also available. Inflatable cushions and a storage bag are included. Good product.

  3. Rosa Ballard says:

    Intex Seahawk inflatable boat is lightweight and easy to transport, making it perfect for camping trips or day trips to the lake. It was also incredibly easy to inflate with the included pump and I had the boat ready to use in just a few minutes.

    While the load capacity is limited, it was perfect for me and my partner to take out on the water for some fishing and relaxation. We felt safe and secure in the boat, which was stable and buoyant even in choppy water conditions. The durable PVC material has held up well against rocks and branches, and I haven’t had any issues with punctures or tears.

    Overall, I would highly recommend this Inflatable Dinghy Boat to anyone looking for an affordable and versatile option for recreational boating activities. It has exceeded my expectations and I look forward to using it for many more adventures to come.

  4. As someone who lives near a lake and loves fishing, INTEX 68376EP Mariner 4 Inflatable Boat has been a game-changer for me. The convenience of being able to inflate and deflate it quickly and store it easily is a major plus. The boat is sturdy and well-made, with a durable bottom that can handle some rough surfaces. I especially appreciate the option to add a motor for a more enjoyable outing. Despite some initial hesitations due to a few negative reviews, I took the plunge and couldn’t be happier with my purchase. It’s perfect for family trips, with enough space for four people, and the inflatable thwart seats provide added comfort. I even went the extra mile and made some modifications based on a website I found, adding a wood floor, chairs, and lights for nighttime adventures. Registering the boat with the state was a bit of a process, but it was well worth it. Overall, this boat offers incredible value for the price, and the fact that I can easily transport it in the trunk of my car makes it even more appealing.

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