With summer just a few months away, it’s time to get equipped for the outdoor activities that lie ahead. And if aquatic activities are your thing, an inflatable boat is a fun item to own.
Inflatable boats offer many advantages, especially when it comes to convenience and price. Since they’re easy to store and not too heavy to lug around, they’re convenient for apartment dwellers or camping enthusiasts. They’re also much more affordable to buy than a hard shell boat.
Our Top Picks:
- Best Inflatable Boat For Families: Intex Excursion 5
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- Best 3-Seater Inflatable Boat: Intex Mariner 3
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- Best 2-Seater Inflatable Boat: Intex Seahawk 2
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- Best Inflatable Boat For Fishing: Classic Accessories Inflatable Pontoon
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- Best Inflatable Dinghy: Raft Dinghy Inflatable Pontoon
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Keep reading to learn more about the ins and outs of inflatable boats. We’ll also review the best inflatable boats you can buy in Canada this year.
Why Get An Inflatable Boat?
As opposed to rigid boats, there are many reasons why you might opt for an inflatable boat instead. Not only are they extremely versatile, but they are also more affordable and easy to transport and store. Indeed, an inflatable boat weighs much less than a rigid boat, and can be folded up and stored compactly when not in use.
Despite the fact that they’re inflatable, inflatable boats can actually be more durable than rigid boats. This is because they tend to be made of millitary-grade materials that absorb impact much better than aluminum or fibreglass. This means that instead of cracking on impact, the boat will bounce off. If you’re still not convinced, learn more about the Benefits of Inflatable Boats below.
The 5 Best Inflatable Boats in Canada in 2024
Based on user reviews and specs, we’ve carefully curated the 5 best inflatable boats available in Canada this year. Here they are:
The Intex Excursion 5 is one of the few inflatable boats that can fit up to 5 people at a time. Despite being a 5-seater, the boat weighs only about 55 pounds. It has 3 air chambers, 2 of which have Boston valves to allow for rapid filling and deflation.
Its inflatable I-Beam floor is comfortable yet solid enough to move around on. Four of the inflatable seats have backrests.
The boat comes with high-quality aluminum oars. The oars can easily be locked into each side of the boat. Convenient for fishing enthusiasts, the boat features 4 fishing rod holders.
Bottom line, the Intex Excursion 5 is the perfect inflatable boat for families or small groups. It’s also a budget-friendly choice considering its size and quality.
The Intex Mariner 3 is an excellent 3-seater inflatable boat. Unlike most inflatable boats, its welded-on oar locks are rotational. It also has two fishing rod holders, making it a great inflatable boat for a fishing trip.
Despite its size, the boat weighs 75 pounds which is on the heavy side for a 3-seater. It has 2 Boston valves on the main hull that allow for quick filling and deflation of the boat
The boat has 3 separate layers and heavy-duty extruded plastic flooring, making it a very solid and durable inflatable boat.
Among the comfort options, two seats are located at each end. There is also a pocket for your equipment and a battery pocket. The boat is available as a 3-seater or a 4-seater.
Costing under $100, Intex’s Seahawk is the most budget-friendly inflatable boat on this list. Since it’s made of vinyl instead of PVC, it’s certainly not as durable as other boats on this list. However, for casual, infrequent usage, the Seahawk 2 is a pretty good choice.
The boat has a stable I-Beam floor and 3 separate air chambers to help ensure your safety. It weighs about 19 pounds, making it very easy to transport. Since it’s small, it can be stored away quite easily as well.
It comes with a set of plastic oars as well as a pump. There are convenient fishing rod holders on each side as well as a handle for easy transport. A downside is that the oars are made of plastic instead of more solid material, such as aluminum.
Bottom line, if you’re looking for an affordable inflatable boat and don’t mind compromising quality a little bit, Intex’s Seahawk 2 is a good option.
Classic Accessories’ Inflatable Pontoon Boat is the perfect single-seater boat for fishing. It’s compact yet offers decent storage space, including 10 mesh pockets, 12 zippered pockets, two insulated cup holders, and a rear luggage rack. It also has a sturdy trolling motor mount.
In terms of material, the Colorado pontoon has a PVC bottom that is resistant to abrasion and a nylon top. Its frame consists of a powder-coated steel tube. It comes with a set of 214 cm aluminum oars that can be locked in three different positions. Compared to other boats on this list, this pontoon has the most comfortable and sturdy seat.
Bottom line, if you want a durable, single-seater fishing boat with a good amount of storage, the Colorado Inflatable Pontoon is an excellent choice.
Boatify’s 7.5-foot Raft Dinghy’s Inflatable Pontoon is the most durable on this list. Instead of the common I-Beam floor, it features solid aluminum flooring. Its seat is also made of solid aluminum. Despite its advertised capacity, the boat is ideal for a maximum of 1 or 2 people.
In addition to its solid aluminum components, the boat features 5 layers of PVC, making it ultra-resistant to abrasion, UV rays, and chemicals. The keel is also protected by thick rubber. All of its seams are heat welded, so leakage is highly unlikely.
The boat is available in gray (pictured above) or black and red. Boatify offers a 3-year warranty.
All in all, if you want an extra durable inflatable boat for solo adventures on the lake, this pontoon is an excellent choice.
What Are the Benefits of Inflatable Boats?
There are many advantages to owning an inflatable boat. When compared to rigid boats, inflatable boats are more affordable, convenient, and safe to operate. Keep reading to learn the full range of benefits provided by an inflatable boat.
More affordable than a rigid boat
A big advantage of an inflatable boat is its price. Recreational inflatable boats generally start at around $100 for a 2-seater, and rarely exceed $1000. Of course, more luxury inflatable boats can be much more expensive to buy. A rigid rowboat, on the other hand, will cost a minimum of $1000. Inflatable boats are a budget-friendly alternative.
Perfect for small fishing trips
Whether you’re a professional or recreational fisherman, a boat can take you further out on the water, allowing you to catch bigger fish. Inflatable boats are especially convenient if you tend to fish solo. Getting a rigid boat in and out of the water on your own isn’t always easy. An inflatable boat is much easier to manage on your own. When not using a motor, inflatable boats are also very silent to operate.
More stable than a rigid boat
As surprising as it may seem, inflatable boats are actually more stable than rigid ones. It’s very unlikely that an inflatable boat would tip over, contrary to a rigid boat. This is especially true if the boat has rigid flooring The enhanced stability offered by an inflatable boat is one of the main reasons why rescue boats are commonly inflatable.
Portable and convenient
An inflatable boat is much easier and lighter to transport. When deflated and folded up, it can easily fit into your trunk. Many inflatable boats on the market come with a carrying bag, which makes them even easier to transport. For these reasons, inflatable boats are a convenient option for people with limited space or no backyard. When the boat is not in use, it can be easily deflated, folded, and stored away. A rigid boat, on the other hand, requires either a backyard, shed, or large storage space.
Can support bigger motors
Another surprising detail is that inflatable boats support larger motors than their rigid counterparts. A larger motor, combined with their lightness, results in a very powerful and fast boat. This also explains why emergency rescue boats are often inflatable.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Inflatable Boat
The Boat’s Size
Inflatable boats can carry between 1 and 5 people. In addition to its advertised seat count, it’s important to look at the dimensions of the boat. The last thing you want is to be crammed in a 5-seater. Oftentimes, manufacturers exaggerate seat count. For example, a 3-seater inflatable boat would likely be more comfortable for 2 adults and 1 child, or 2 adults with a good amount of belongings. That said, if you plan on taking boat trips with a lot of equipment, such as camping gear, opt for a more spacious boat.
The Boat’s Weight Capacity
Inflatable boats can carry anywhere from 200 to 1000 pounds. You’re always better off getting an inflatable boat that exceeds your total weight. Also, when looking at a boat’s weight capacity, it’s important to take into account the weight of your belongings or equipment. For example, if you tend to bring a cooler with beverages on your boating excursions, that can easily add an extra 20 pounds to the boat. To ensure stability while boating, it’s also important to evenly distribute the weight on each side of the inflatable boat.
The Boat’s Durability
Inflatable boats are generally made from PVC fabric or Hypalon fabric. While Hypalon fabric is undoubtedly the most durable material, inflatable boats made from Hypalon are much more expensive to buy. For that reason, inflatable boats made from PVC are the most common. PVC is durable and resistant to extreme temperatures and chemical damage. It’s also easily repairable with patches when punctured. Opt for an inflatable boat with several layers of fabric.
The Boat’s Accessories
At the very least, an inflatable boat will come with a set of oars. Make sure they are made from a durable and floatable material, such as aluminum. If you will be using the boat with a motor, oar quality is even more important.
In addition to oars, there are other perks that are convenient to have on an inflatable boat. Fishing rod holders and cup holders are two of them. If you’re opting for a multi-seater, make sure there are a proportionate amount of rod holders and cupholders. Waterproof storage pockets can be very convenient for storing fragile items, such as your phone or wallet.
Lastly, water accumulation on the floor of your boat is inevitable. Valves are a convenient alternative to having to flip your boat upside down to empty it. You can simply open the valve and allow the water to drain out.
How to Maintain an Inflatable Boat
Often made of PVC plastic, inflatable boats require some degree of maintenance in order to complete their full lifespan of about 10 years.
Rinse after every use
Lakes contain certain chemicals that can damage your boat in the long run. Your boat can also accumulate grime or sand from normal usage. For that reason, it’s highly recommended to rinse your boat off with clean water after every use.
Clean every 3 to 4 uses
Inflatable boats should be cleaned every now and then. The frequency really depends on how dirty it is. It’s recommended to use a cleaner that is designed for the material of your boat. Ideally, the cleaner should additionally offer some level of protection, such as UV protection or a stain repeller. Some cleaners are suitable for both Hypalon and PVC such as Star Brite’s Inflatable Boat Cleaner & Protector. When in doubt, test the cleaner on a small area of your boat before getting into a major cleaning.
Dry boat completely before storing
To avoid mold from weakening your boat’s fabric, it’s highly recommended that you store your boat when it’s completely dry. This is especially important if you live in a humid climate. After you’re done rinsing your boat clean, pat it dry with a towel and then allow it to airdry until it’s completely dry. A towel on its own will not do the trick.
If you’re curious about other inflatable water toys for adults, do not hesitate to read our articles on the best inflatable paddle boards or the best inflatable kayaks.