There are tons of choices out there with regards to inflatable boats, and it could be a bit overwhelming. If you are thinking about buying an inflatable boat, there are a few things you need to consider before diving head-first into a purchase. PVC or Hypalon? Roll-up, air floor, or rigid hull? These are the questions that you have to answer, and we’ll help you select the one that’s right for you once you’ve explored the options. Now, let’s go over what distinguishes one inflatable boat from another, because they’re not all made the same.
While manufacturers can choose from several various kinds of materials utilized to make the tubes on an inflatable boat, we are going to focus on the two most durable fabrics: Inflatable Floating Platform. Both of these fabric types are used by every major inflatable boat brand and certainly are a proven, time-tested – and battle-tested – approach to build an inflatable.
Fabric types – Hypalon was a proprietary synthetic rubber coating from DuPont, put on the outside of the fabric. As the Hypalon brand has stopped being produced by DuPont, the idea lives on from other manufacturers. This coating – called CSM – provides surprising strength, and the neoprene coating on the interior helps with sealing. Hypalon/CSM boats are hand-glued. Because building these boats is fairly labor-intensive, and because they are stronger, they are more expensive than boats produced from PVC. Hypalon/CSM inflatable boats are immune to many different things, such as oil, abrasion, harsh temperatures, gasoline, along with other chemicals. As a result of being so hardy, they’re considered perfect for boating in extreme conditions or for boaters who won’t be deflating their boats repeatedly. These boats are usually guaranteed for about five-years or longer with 10 years being the customary warranty for Hypalon/CSM boats.
PVC is a type of plastic coating laminate around a nylon fiber core. They may be assembled by hand, but they are more often done by machine, so they’re not as labor intensive. Therefore, boats made using PVC are often less than Hypalon inflatable boats. PVC is quite tough and it is simple to repair. It is far from quite as durable as Hypalon, however, and choosing a PVC boat for hot climates is going to take extra effort to keep. Utilization of a boat cover is recommended, along with liberal utilization of 303, a UV ray protectant. PVC provides great value for anyone making use of their inflatable in cooler climates like in Seattle and also the Pacific Northwest, and are perfect for recreational use.
You can find three different hull types available: roll-up, air floor, and rigid hull. A roll-up boat typically includes a removable floor system, made up of Drop Stitch Fabric and secured within the boat using aluminum rails called “stringers”. The stringers serve as the backbone from the boat. There have been inflatables that use a hinged floor system that rolls on top of the boat, which are seldom seen. Roll-up boats are usually lighter compared to the rigid hull boats, but heavier compared to the air floors. Assembly can be tough, particularly for folks who are independently. An inflatable keel for planing and tracking is common.
The environment floor boats use an inflatable bladder as the floor, typically with drop-stitch construction. This implies there are thousands of small strands of fibers within the bladder that prevent ballooning. When properly inflated, air floors can seem to be as rigid as wood, and simply supports the weight of countless adults as well as their gear! Air floor remains within the boat for storage, and rolls with the tubeset. Preparing the boat to be used is simple, as all one needs to do is get air in to the floor and tubes; no other installation is needed. Air floors will also be very light weight and will be inflated right on deck, even over hatches or some other obstructions that would make assembling a roll-up inflatable difficult or impossible. Air floor boats are generally more expensive than roll-ups but under gbpman hulls. Air floors could be replaced if damaged or worn. Inflatable keels are typical, with inflation sometimes plumbed in to the floor making for extremely easy setup.
Rigid hull inflatables (commonly called RIB’s) provide the best performance, and not simply as they are usually rated for higher horsepower outboards than comparable length roll-ups or air floors. The RIB has planing characteristics comparable to traditional hulled boats; quick to have on step and can be used many different purposes, including pulling a water skier. Virtually all the name brand luxury inflatables are RIBs. Hull construction can be created from Inflatable Drop Stitch, with a keel guard suggested for durable defense against rocks and beaching. Buying a RIB almost guarantees the necessity for a trailer for transport, so keep that added expense in your mind when you shop. There are some smaller RIB’s (across the 10′ size) that offer a folding transom for easier storage; just deflate the tubes and fold the transom down to get a low profile.