If you have been interested in buying a boat but can’t afford an expensive hard-side boat, going with one of the best inflatable boats will allow you to get out on the water without spending an arm and a leg.
Whether you are looking for a two-person boat, a four-person boat, a kayak, or another style, we’ve included a little bit of everything on our list to make sure there’s something for everyone. Take a look at our list at the 5 best inflatable boats and our buying guide to make the shopping process easier for you.
In a Hurry? Here Are Our Top 3 PicksInvalid table id.
Reviews of the 5 Best Inflatable Boats
Let’s take a closer look at the best inflatable boats on the market.
1. Intex Challenger K1
- Nimble, durable kayak is made of durable welded material with eye catching graphics for added safety...
- Cockpit is designed for comfort and maximized space, and inflatable I beam floors add stability....
Have you always been interested in kayaking but never been able to bring yourself to spend the money on a kayak in case you decided you don’t like the sport? Check out the Intex Challenger K1! This is a one-person inflatable kayak, perfect for those that want to try out a new hobby without a huge commitment. As our top pick, there are several things you are going to love about this inflatable boat.
The first thing that you will enjoy is the affordability. Boats tend to be expensive but since the world of inflatable boats has exploded with a large number of styles so anyone that’s interested in trying their hand at boating can jump in without a huge investment. If you’ve found yourself sitting in your backyard by your pool and wishing you were out on the lake, this kayak would be great for you.
Included with the Intex Challenger K1 is a repair patch, a hi-output manual hand pump, a cargo net for your gear, a grab line on both ends of the kayak, and an 84-inch aluminum oar. All that’s missing is the open water and you.
One of the best things about this boat is the durability. The rugged vinyl construction is nice and sturdy while still being lightweight. It is made with welded construction and it has graphics on it for added safety and visibility when you are out on the water. This one-person boat measures 30” x 15” x 108” and weighs 27.2 pounds. The maximum capacity allows an adult up to 220 pounds to safely and easily use this boat.
- Made with durable vinyl
- Comes with everything you need to get started on your kayaking journey
- Has an inflatable seat
- Inflatable seat sits a bit high
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2. Intex Seahawk 4
- Perfect for 4 adults to enjoy a fun summer of boating
- Designed with heavy duty, puncture resistant PVC for comfort and durability
One of the most fun things you can do in the summer is head out on the water in a boat with your friends and family. Unfortunately, this is a hobby not many people are able to afford. The good news is, that doesn’t have to be the case. While buying a large, hard-side boat may be expensive, an inflatable boat is a fantastic alternative that will allow you to have summer fun without spending an arm and a leg. As the runner up pick, there are a ton of perks that come along with choosing the Intex Seahawk 4. Let’s take a closer look at all of the great features this boat has to offer.
The first perk to using this boat is that it is large enough to accommodate 4 people. This makes it a great choice for families or for spending the day on the lake with your friends. If you and your spouse are looking for a fun and affordable double date idea for you guys and your best friends, a boat ride and picnic would be an excellent idea.
The Intex Seahawk 4 is extremely durable so you don’t have to worry that it will be easily torn or punctured. Made from heavy-duty 30 gauge PVC for comfort and durability, this boat is a fantastic choice for a summer full of fun. For added safety, this boat contains 3 air chambers, one of which is an internal auxiliary chamber located inside the main hull. This ensures you have a backup air chamber in case something happens to the 2 external chambers. In addition to the boat itself, you will also get inflatable cushions, two oars, oarlocks and holders, an air pump, and a repair patch kit.
If you like to go fishing, this boat would be a great choice for you. It has two built-in fishing rod holders and a gear pouch. Whether you want to go fishing as a family, have a father-son fishing trip, or if you just want a peaceful, relaxing day of fishing by yourself, this boat would be great for you.
- Heavy-duty 30 gauge PVC material
- Comes with everything you need to head out on the water
- Has motor mount fittings
- Floor is too soft to stand up on
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3. Intex Seahawk 2
- Inflating and deflating is a breeze with two quick-fill Boston valves. An Intex Quick Fill Air Pump...
- Includes 2 48in oars that are simple to use with the 2 rotational oar locks
If you want a reliable and durable inflatable boat you can take out on a fishing trip, the Intex Seahawk 2 would be an excellent choice. This 2-person boat is ideal for one or two adults to use one a fishing trip or just a relaxing day on the water. There are several great things you’ll love about this boat.
The first thing that you will notice is that it is a breeze to inflate and deflate, thanks to the two quick-fill Boston valves. It comes with a manual air pump to allow you to fill it with air easily. With 3 air chambers, you have added security because if one gets punctured, you have two backups, including an inner auxiliary chamber located inside of the hull.
If you want to use this with an outboard motor, you can definitely do so! The Intex Seahawk 2 comes with motor mount fittings so you can add a motor bracket and trolling motor if you choose to. In addition to this, you also get a grab handle on the bow, grab line all around, welded oarlocks, oar holders, 2 48” oars, and a patch kit.
One of the best things about using this boat is that if you don’t have storage space for a boat, you can still own one! When fully deflated, the Intex Seahawk 2 can be rolled up to the size of a sleeping bag, making it super easy to store. You can keep it in your car, garage, or apartment without having to sacrifice too much space.
Finally, the Intex Seahawk 2 is made out of thick and durable puncture-resistant PVC. You don’t have to worry about your boat sinking when you’re out on the water. This is great for use in a lake or other murky bodies of water since you don’t have to be concerned that hidden rocks will damage your boat. It’s always recommended that you use a life jacket in case of emergency, even when you’re in a boat that is unlikely to sink.
- Durable construction
- Easily inflated and deflated
- Comes with oars, a pump, and everything else you need to spend a day out on the water
- Wears out over time
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4. Intex Excursion 4
- Rugged vinyl construction with inflatable I-Beam floor for comfort and durability
- All around grab line and handle on bow
The Intex Excursion 4 is a fantastic choice for anyone that wants to be able to spend the day relaxing on the water with some friends or fishing with family. This rugged vinyl boat is an excellent choice for people that want a boat but don’t have the storage or funds to get a large boat. If you have ever caught yourself daydreaming about boating on the open water while you were gazing across the pool in your backyard, this would be an excellent choice for you.
The Intex Excursion 4 is a great choice for those that are interested in boated but are limited when it comes to cost, storage, or docking. This 4-person boat has a maximum weight capacity of 725 pounds. It has motor mount fittings so you can add a motor, allowing you to move around on the water without having to strain your arms by rowing constantly.
If you love fishing but don’t want to be limited to boat rentals or using a friend or relatives boat, going with an inflatable boat gives you the freedom to take fishing trips by yourself anytime you want to. This boat has 2 fishing rod holders, a gear pouch, and inflatable seat cushions with backrests to make your next fishing trip a super comfortable experience.
Finally, you get several things with your boat. As previously mentioned, it has motor mounts, 2 fishing rod holders, a gear pouch, and inflatable seat cushions with backrests. It also comes with a pump and two oars.
- Holds up to 4 adults
- Comes with everything you need for your next boating trip
- Made with durable vinyl
- Floor is too soft to walk on
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5. Intex Explorer 200
- 2-person inflatable boat set designed for pools or calm waters
- 2 air chambers for safety; Grab rope on the bow. Inflated size: 6 feet 1 inches X 3 feet 1 inch X 1...
If you want a high-quality 2-person inflatable boat, then you are in the right place. The Intex Explorer 200 is a fantastic choice for anyone that is looking for a reliable boat that they can stow away easily when not in use. As our budget pick, there are several things you are going to love about this boat.
The first benefit of using this boat is that it is super affordable. You don’t have to worry about spending a ton of money on a boat when you can just go ahead and choose this option. This is great if you are planning a last-minute trip to the lake with some friends or family or you want something fun for your kids to have in the pool in your backyard.
This boat is super durable, made from 13-gauge PVC plastic, and has two air chambers for additional safety. There is a grab rope located on the bow, welded oarlocks, inflatable floor, and a U.S. Coast Guard ID. It also comes with 2 oars, making it super easy to steer.
Whether you just want to relax on the water or spend a day fishing, the Intex Explorer 200 would be an excellent choice for you.
- Super affordable
- Durable construction
- Comes with oars
- A bit on the small side
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Before you jump in and choose one of the best inflatable boats, there are some important things to think about when you are shopping around.
All inflatable boats currently available in the consumer marketplace are constructed from either PVC or a material called Hypalon. Both are designed to be strong enough to make safe crafts, but there are trade-offs in price and durability.
PVC inflatables are super lightweight, and a more budget-friendly choice. Modern PVC is formulated to be extremely strong. Some formulations even feature reinforcing threads that strengthen it even further. The downside to PVC is that despite modern advances it remains sensitive to long-term UV exposure and heat damage.
The other choice for the material is Hypalon. A Hypalon craft will be heavier than a PVC boat of the same size, but it will also certainly be more expensive. Boats made from Hypalon are more rigid and are more suitable for staying inflated and exposed for longer periods of time. If you will not need to store your craft very much, and your budget permits, Hypalon may be the choice for you. However, if you need a craft that is much more easily portable, and easier to put in and get out of storage, then PVC would be a much better fit.
Most inflatable boats are suited to carrying between four and eight passengers, with some high-end RIB boats able to carry up to fifteen people. When considering what type of boat you need, the number of passengers you plan on carrying routinely should factor into what type of material and deck style. The more people in your craft, the more stable and rigid you will want the boat to be, for ride comfort and fuel efficiency. Fewer passengers on average means a boat with an air deck may be a more comfortable and economical choice.
Storage and Launching
Inflatable boats offer many options for storage and launching. Options will vary by material and deck style. Boats with an inflatable deck called an “air deck”, can be stored in smaller areas, as they have less rigid components, and can be set up and launched in less time. Boats with a rigid bottom of aluminum or plywood slats will need more consideration as the floor components can only be broken down so far, and will need a larger storage footprint. Boats with a rigid deck will also need a little more time to launch because once inflated the floor and other rigid components will need to be installed or set up.
Style of Boat
Inflatable boats can be either a simple inflatable boat, or a RIB, often called a “rigid bottom inflatable”. Simple inflatable boats encompass the PVC and Hypalon constructions we have discussed. A RIB offers more qualities that you would see in traditional boats, along with nearly endless options for size and style, but they also cost significantly more than simple inflatable boats. While simple inflatable boats can be stored and transported fairly easily and with little extra equipment, RIBs need transportation accommodations similar to traditional aluminum or fiberglass hulled boats.
For even the most basic models, operational items like seats and oars, and items related to usage and maintenance, like a pump, patch or repair kit, and lifting points, should all be included in the purchase price of the boat. Other features like a dolly for transporting your boat safely on docks, beaches, and launches, are smart investments that will extend the life of your boat, but they may not be included by default, or may only be included on higher-end boats.
Here are some frequently asked questions about inflatable boats.
Are inflatable boats durable?
Surprisingly, yes they are. There are different materials your inflatable boat could be made out of, including PVC and Hypalon. PVC is a more budget-friendly option, but still fairly durable. Hypalon is more expensive but that price comes with the benefit of being tough and durable. Either material would be a great choice for your boating needs.
Can you buy an inflatable kayak?
One of the best things about going with an inflatable boat is that they come in a wide variety of styles, kayaks included. You can get a single person kayak or a two-person model, depending on your wants and needs. Most inflatable boats even come with oars, which is great because you don’t have to purchase them separately.
Can I use my outboard motor with an inflatable boat?
In the majority of cases, absolutely! Most inflatable boats are equipped with a rigid stern to facilitate outboard motor usage. Depending on the style and size of the boat you are looking at, there may be a maximum horsepower rating for outboard attachment, but those limits will generally increase commensurate with the size and capacity of the boat. To simplify, smaller boats can use smaller motors, while larger inflatable vessels can handle larger motors, and they should state the horsepower and weight limits in the model specifications.
Are inflatable boats safe?
A boat is only as safe as the operator and the conditions it is used in. That being said, inflatable boats are extremely safe in a general sense, as they are quite stable and very resistant to capsizing. Even in the event of damage to an air chamber, the other independently sealed buoyancy chambers prevent swamping or sinking.
When it comes to finding the best inflatable boat, there are a lot of options to choose from. There are multiple boat styles, materials, and added benefits. Luckily for you, we’ve put together a list and buying guide to make the choice easier for you.
Our top pick is the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak. This single-person kayak is a great choice for people that want to learn how to kayak but don’t have a large budget to work with. If that isn’t the style that you’re looking for, check out the Intex Seahawk 4. This 4 passenger boat is an excellent choice for people that want to spend a day on the water with friends or family. If you want something more affordable, our budget pick is the Intex Explorer 200. This is a very affordable 2-person boat that you can take out on the water if you want to go fishing or just to relax on the lake.
No matter which boat you choose, you can take comfort knowing it will be high-quality and allow you to have a summer of fun. The next step is up to you! Try out one of the best inflatable boats for yourself!