Did you know there are a variety of alternatives to inflatable boats? It’s true!
Depending on your needs and your purpose for being on the water, an inflatable boat might not be the best choice for you. If you’re not sure or you’re wondering what the options are, keep reading. Here are the five best alternatives to inflatable boats.
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Things to Consider Before You Choose an Alternative to an Inflatable Boat
There are a few things to consider before you buy any watercraft.
Decide what you’re planning to do out on the water. Do you want to go fishing? Touring? Are you trying to get back and forth from a larger boat or a yacht? Maybe you want to go water skiing.
You will want a different type of watercraft for each of these uses. Thus, it’s important to know how you plan to use any boat before you buy something so you don’t get out there and realize you bought the wrong watercraft for your needs.
Watercraft can be purchased for a variety of prices. Some of them are very affordable, while others are quite expensive.
Make sure you know what your budget is for a boat before you buy one. That way, you won’t end up spending more money than you have. You also won’t end up disappointed because you can’t get the boat you want.
Your Method of Propulsion
Before you buy a watercraft, consider whether you want to paddle it or whether you’re looking to put a motor on it. Since some craft cannot be motorized, it’s important to know this before you buy.
You may also want to consider your physical fitness in this equation. If you aren’t in shape enough to paddle a boat, make sure you get one that will support a motor.
1. The Concept Marine Indeflatable Dinghy
The Indeflatable Dinghy is a small, rigid boat that is designed to look and act like a rigid inflatable boat (or a RIB). Concept Marine did this by replacing the inflatable tubes with fiberglass so that the entire boat, except for the seats, is made of fiberglass.
As a result of replacing the tubes with fiberglass, the boat comes with a significant amount of storage. In fact, there are over 12 feet of storage in the side tanks and under the foredeck!
The boat can be used with either a 7 hp or a 10 hp engine, depending on how many people you have on board. It goes up to 15 knots or more, though it can be difficult to get the boat to plane under less than opportune circumstances.
The Indeflatable rides well and is easy to maneuver out on the water. If you don’t want to care for a RIB, this could be the alternative you’ve been looking for.
If you worry about an inflatable boat but you still want a traditional-style watercraft, then the Concept Marine Indeflatable might be right for you. Keep in mind that they only made these boats for a couple of years, so finding one in your area might be harder than you think.
2. The Porta-Bote Folding Boat
A Porta-Bote is a folding boat. Pieces made of semi-flexible polypropylene are connected by molded-in hinges. When you’re done with the boat, you can fold it up to approximately the size of a surfboard and store it on the deck of a larger boat or on a wall, like a kayak or a paddleboard.
The Porta-Bote is made of durable material and only takes a few minutes to unfold and set up. People report taking it from flat to seaworthy in under six minutes!
The boat planes easily with lighter weights inside of it, like a single person, and can reach speeds over 15 knots. With more people in it, the boat will not plane at all and it may struggle to go even 5 knots.
The ride in a Porta-Bote is a little unusual. Because of the flex in the polypropylene, it feels unstable in the beginning. Once you are used to its softer ride, though, it is nimble and much easier to steer than most people think it will be.
The Porta-Bote is less expensive than similarly-sized inflatable and hardhulled boats. However, it has an unusual appearance that may not appeal to some people. Also, it does not fold up as small as a deflated inflatable boat.
You can use the Porta-Bote as you would use a RIB or a hardhulled dingy. There’s nothing that you could do with these that you cannot do with the Porta-Bote.
3. A Nesting Dinghy
A nesting dinghy is a boat that is designed in two parts. You can take these apart, then stack them together (nest them) to store the boat in approximately half the space of a normal boat.
If you’re interested in building your own boat, some nesting dinghies are available as a kit boat. That means that you order the kit. It comes with pieces and instructions and you get to put your boat together.
However, some companies will also build nesting dinghies for you. These boats are usually small, approximately 8 feet in length, and don’t usually carry more than three people at a time. You can usually get the boat fitted for a sail, a small motor, or both.
If you want to put a motor on a nesting dinghy, you won’t need a big one. They can have motors up to 3.5 hp. Keep in mind that the boat does not come with a planning hull, so you may not achieve high speeds.
You can usually store these boats effectively on the back of a yacht or even in some vehicles. However, they do not fold as small as inflatable boats or even the Porta-Bote.
You can do nearly everything that you would do with a RIB with a nesting dinghy. However, the nesting dinghy might do it slower or less elegantly than these other crafts. Since the boat is also less expensive, the tradeoff may be worth it for you.
4. Stand-Up Paddleboards
If you’re looking for something a little different, consider an inflatable stand-up paddleboard (SUP) in place of a portable boat. Depending on your needs, one of these might be the perfect way for you to get out on the water.
Paddleboards are not motorized and, unless you plan to train and race, they are not fast. However, they give you a very close connection to the water and you can often modify them to fit your needs.
Inflatable paddleboards are easy to pump up and easy to deflate. They fold up very small so you never have to worry about storage. Most of them come with everything you need to get out on the water except for a life jacket, which you will need to purchase separately so it fits you.
You can modify a paddleboard so that it has all the storage or seating that you need. You can even attach a floating cooler to the back so that you can bring along food and drink to enjoy while you’re out on the lake. You can even attach D-rings wherever you need them.
If you want to go fishing or get close to nature and you don’t mind being human-powered, an inflatable stand-up paddleboard could be the solution you’ve been looking for.
5. A Rigid Kayak
If you’re not comfortable with a paddleboard or you worry about having to stand up all day, you might be able to find a kayak that would be right for you instead. These are human-powered, like paddleboards, but some people find them more comfortable and easier to use than a SUP.
You can get kayaks in many different styles. You can buy one that is designed to let you sit on top, find one designed specifically for fishing, or get a straightforward recreational kayak in the traditional style.
Kayaks are easy to paddle because they are lightweight and designed to move smoothly through the water. They may not go very fast, but you can get into all the little nooks and crannies of a lake or a bay better than you can with a boat.
Kayaks are extremely trustworthy little boats. Unless they are made for river racing, they tend to be wide-bottomed, which gives them extra stability. Many of them can tackle wind, waves, and more.
You can fish from a kayak, or use it for exercise and exploration. Unless you are looking for a tender for a larger boat or you crave the extra speed, a kayak might be the best alternative to an inflatable boat for you.
The best alternative to an inflatable boat for your needs will depend on what you’re doing with it.
If you want a traditional boat, we recommend the Porta-bote folding boat.
If you’re looking for a way to fish or to enjoy quiet water all day long, we recommend a rigid-hulled kayak.
As soon as you get the watercraft you need, take it out and enjoy it on the water. After all, that’s what you bought it for!