There are plenty of choices out there with regards to inflatable boats, and it could be a bit overwhelming. If you’re planning on 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 must answer, and we’ll help you pick 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 select from several several types of materials employed to create the tubes on an inflatable boat, we will focus on the two most durable fabrics: Inflatable Floating Platform. These two 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 actually a proprietary synthetic rubber coating from DuPont, placed on the outside of the material. Whilst the Hypalon brand is not produced by DuPont, the concept lives on using their company manufacturers. This coating – called CSM – provides surprising strength, and also the neoprene coating on the interior assists with sealing. Hypalon/CSM boats are hand-glued. Because building these boats is fairly labor-intensive, and as they are stronger, they cost more than boats made from PVC. Hypalon/CSM inflatable boats are immune to a number of different things, such as oil, abrasion, harsh temperatures, gasoline, along with other chemicals. As a result of being so hardy, they’re considered suitable for boating in extreme conditions or for boaters who won’t be deflating their boats repeatedly. These boats are usually guaranteed for around 5 years or longer with a decade being the customary warranty for Hypalon/CSM boats.
PVC is a kind of plastic coating laminate around a nylon fiber core. They can be assembled manually, but they are more frequently performed by machine, so they’re not nearly as labor intensive. Therefore, boats made using PVC are usually cheaper than Hypalon inflatable boats. PVC is quite tough and is also easy to repair. It is really not quite as durable as Hypalon, however, and choosing a PVC boat for hot climates will require extra effort to keep up. Utilization of a boat cover is usually recommended, along with liberal utilization of 303, a UV ray protectant. PVC provides great value for all those using their inflatable in cooler climates like in Seattle as well as the Pacific Northwest, and are best for recreational use.
You will find three different hull types available: roll-up, air floor, and rigid hull. A roll-up boat typically has a removable floor system, made up of Drop Stitch Fabric and secured inside the boat using aluminum rails called “stringers”. The stringers serve as the backbone of the boat. There were inflatables which use a hinged floor system that rolls with the boat, which are seldom seen. Roll-up boats are typically lighter compared to rigid hull boats, but heavier compared to the air floors. Assembly can be challenging, particularly for folks who are on their own. An inflatable keel for planing and tracking is normal.
The environment floor boats work with an inflatable bladder because the floor, typically with drop-stitch construction. This means there are many small strands of fibers inside the bladder that prevent ballooning. When properly inflated, air floors can seem to be as rigid as wood, and easily supports the load of countless adults along with their gear! The air floor remains inside the boat for storage, and rolls up with the tubeset. Preparing the boat for use is very easy, as all one needs to do is get air into the floor and tubes; hardly any other installation is necessary. Air floors will also be very light weight and may be inflated directly on deck, even over hatches or some other obstructions that would make assembling a roll-up inflatable difficult or impossible. Air floor boats are typically more expensive than roll-ups but less than gbpman hulls. Air floors may be replaced if damaged or worn. Inflatable keels are typical, with inflation sometimes plumbed into the floor making for extremely easy setup.
Rigid hull inflatables (commonly called RIB’s) supply 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 as many different purposes, including pulling a water skier. Virtually all of the name brand luxury inflatables are RIBs. Hull construction can be created from Inflatable Drop Stitch, using a keel guard suggested for durable protection from rocks and beaching. Investing in a RIB almost guarantees the need for a trailer for transport, so keep that added expense in your mind when shopping. There are a few smaller RIB’s (across the 10′ size) offering a folding transom for easier storage; just deflate the tubes and fold the transom down for a low profile.