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How Long Will An Inflatable Boat Last?

Many people wonder if inflatable boats will last. They may want to make sure they are investing in a boat they’ll be able to use for many years, or they may just be interested in learning more about watercraft.

No matter the reason for your curiosity, here’s what you need to know about how long inflatables will last and how to get the maximum number of years out of an inflatable boat.

How Long Will An Inflatable Boat Last?
Air up an inflatable boat using a foot pump and an electric pump

Factors Affecting Inflatable Boat Lifespan

Most inflatable boats will last 10-15 years, though some don’t make it that long and others last 20 years or more.

Several important factors affect how long an inflatable boat will last. Understanding these will help you choose an inflatable boat, get the most out of a boat you already have, or add to your general boating knowledge.

Material

Inflatable boats are made out of one of two materials: PVC or Hypalon.

GEUNTECH Kayak Patches Raft Patch PVC Inflatable Repair Rafts Waterproof Boat Repair Patches for Inflatable Raft Boat Canoe Kayak
Click the image for more info

PVC is a synthetic plastic polymer. It is relatively low cost, but it is very sensitive to ultraviolet rays (like those that come from the sun). Thus, PVC boats will not last as long as others, especially if they are left outside in sunny areas.

Most PVC boats last between 2 and 10 years.

Roll, Hypalon, 1/8 in. Thick, 5 ft, 60A
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Hypalon is a synthetic rubber. It is actually no longer made under that name but may be called CSM, Nitrillion, or Orca. It is not nearly as affected by ultraviolet rays, and so boats made from this material will last 7-15+ years.

Note that Hypalon is significantly more expensive than PVC.

Seams

Seamax Commercial Grade 2 Part Marine Adhesive for All PVC and Hypalon Inflatable Boats, Sealed in Aluminum Bottles for Long Term Storage (Hypalon 250ml 2 Part Glue, Glue Only)
Click the image for more info

Seams on inflatable boats can either be glued or welded together. If they are glued, the glue will be different based on the material that the boat is made out of. Each glue is formulated to work specifically with one material.

Like PVC, the glue used on PVC boats is sensitive to UV rays. If you leave a PVC boat out in the sun very long, the glue becomes less flexible and will not be able to hold the boat together.

Glued PVC boats have the shortest lifespan among inflatable craft.

PVC can also be welded together by special machines. This creates a strong seam without glue that weakens in sunlight. Welded PVC will last longer than glued PVC.

This video shows the difference between glue and welding when it comes to PVC boats. If you want to learn more about the differences between the two, watch it now.

Welded Seam v Glued Seam for Inflatable Boats - Workshop Test to Failure

Glue for Hypalon boats is more sensitive to UV rays than the Hypalon itself but less sensitive than PVC. These boats will last longer than glued PVC options. Their lifespan may be slightly longer than that of welded PVC seams under certain circumstances.

Storage

Storing inflatable boats

How you store your boat can affect its lifespan, too. The more ideal the storage environment, the longer your boat can last.

The most important thing to know about storing inflatable boats is to keep them out of direct sunlight. You can’t avoid exposure to the sun when you are out on the water, but you can keep your boat protected at other times.

Do not expose your boat to excessively humid, hot air during storage. Make sure it is in a dry, cool place whenever you’re not using it.

You should also make sure to store your boat safely. You can choose to inflate it or deflate it. Either way, keep it away from sharp or pointed objects and don’t stack heavy things on top of it.

Maintenance and Care

303 Marine Aerospace Protectant - Ultimate UV Protection - Keeps vinyl, rubber, and plastic looking new, longer, 16 fl. oz. (30340CSR)

Gently wash your boat off every time you use it. As you do so, check to make sure that it has not been damaged during use.

Clean your boat regularly with a spray like the one above. It not only gets gunk off the surface of your boat but will provide some protection against ultraviolet rays. If you have a PVC boat, it’s worth the time it takes to give it a little protection.

Doing these things will help extend the lifespan of your inflatable boat.

Are Inflatable Boats Durable?

Inflatable boat durability

Inflatable boats are relatively durable, though often not as durable as a traditional craft.

However, they are also significantly cheaper than traditional boats are. Thus, you may face a situation where you pay less for a boat that will not last as long.

Many boaters choose inflatable boats regardless of their price. They are easier to store, simpler to maintain, and don’t require a trailer or a boat launch to get them in the water.

Note that the United States Navy and Coast Guard rely on inflatable boats to fulfill many functions. This indicates that inflatables can be taken seriously when it comes to boats and maybe your best option even if you can afford a hard-hulled craft.

If they are durable enough for ocean maneuvers and rescues, they are probably durable enough for your needs!

How Long Do Sea Eagle Boats Last?

Sea Eagle New SE9 Inflatable Motormount Boat Start Up Package

Sea Eagle boats are made out of PVC. Some of them have glued seams, while some of them are welded.

Thus, a Sea Eagle inflatable boat should last between 2 and 10 years. Many anglers report getting a long life out of their Sea Eagle boat.

Good care will help your Sea Eagle boat last longer. Follow the tips above to make sure you get the most out of a Sea Eagle inflatable craft.

How Long Will a Hypalon Boat Last?

Hypalon inflatable boat

Most Hypalon boats last between 7 and 15 years, though some boaters tell stories about boats that have lasted much longer than that. We know of Hypalon watercraft that are 25+ years old and still going strong!

Take good care of your Hypalon boat to help extend its lifespan. Make sure you know how to fold it and store it before you decide to deflate it. That way, you can always store it safely.

Conclusion

While the lifespan of an inflatable boat can vary based on the factors listed above, it doesn’t take much to maximize that value. Take good care of your boat and treat it well, and it should last for many years.


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