There are a lot 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 think about 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 choose 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 decide on several several types of materials used to create the tubes upon an inflatable boat, we are going to focus on the two most durable fabrics: Inflatable Floating Platform. These two fabric types are used by every major inflatable boat brand name and are a proven, time-tested – and battle-tested – way to build an inflatable.
Fabric types – Hypalon was actually a proprietary synthetic rubber coating from DuPont, placed on the exterior of the material. Whilst the Hypalon brand has stopped being made by DuPont, the idea lives on from other manufacturers. This coating – called CSM – provides surprising strength, and the neoprene coating on the interior assists with sealing. Hypalon/CSM boats are hand-glued. Because building these boats is fairly labor-intensive, and because they are more durable, they are more expensive than boats produced from PVC. Hypalon/CSM inflatable boats are immune to many different things, like oil, abrasion, harsh temperatures, gasoline, as well as other chemicals. Because of being so hardy, they’re considered perfect for boating in extreme conditions or boaters who won’t be deflating their boats repeatedly. These boats are normally guaranteed for at least five years or longer with ten years being the customary warranty for Hypalon/CSM boats.
PVC is a kind of plastic coating laminate around a nylon fiber core. They could be assembled manually, but are more often carried out by machine, so they’re not as labor intensive. Therefore, boats made using PVC are often less expensive than Hypalon inflatable boats. PVC is quite tough and it is very easy to repair. It is far from as durable as Hypalon, however, and selecting a PVC boat for hot climates is going to take extra effort to maintain. Utilization of a boat cover is recommended, in addition to liberal utilization of 303, a UV ray protectant. PVC provides great value for anyone using their inflatable in cooler climates such as in Seattle and 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 features a removable floor system, composed of Drop Stitch Fabric and secured in the boat using aluminum rails called “stringers”. The stringers serve as the backbone of the boat. There were inflatables that use a hinged floor system that rolls with the boat, and these are seldom seen. Roll-up boats are generally lighter compared to the rigid hull boats, but heavier compared to air floors. Assembly can be tough, particularly for people that are on their own. An inflatable keel for planing and tracking is typical.
The environment floor boats use an inflatable bladder as the floor, typically with drop-stitch construction. This implies there are millions of small strands of fibers within the bladder that prevent ballooning. When properly inflated, air floors can feel as rigid as wood, and simply supports the weight of various adults along with their gear! The environment floor remains in the boat for storage, and rolls with the tubeset. Preparing the boat to use is simple, as all you need to do is get air in to the floor and tubes; no other installation is necessary. Air floors will also be very lightweight and will be inflated on deck, even over hatches or other obstructions that could make assembling a roll-up inflatable difficult or impossible. Air floor boats are typically higher priced 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 since 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 get on step and can be used for a number of purposes, including pulling a water skier. Virtually each of the name brand luxury inflatables are RIBs. Hull construction can be created from Inflatable Drop Stitch, having a keel guard suggested for durable defense against rocks and beaching. Investing in a RIB almost guarantees the requirement for a trailer for transport, so keep that added expense in your mind when you shop. There are several smaller RIB’s (around the 10′ size) offering a folding transom for easier storage; just deflate the tubes and fold the transom down for any low profile.