Owning a boat opens whole world for the angler. You can access areas previously out of reach and target new species. Plus, you can bring your friends or family with you too. But a traditional boat is not for everyone.
The additional hassle, not to mention increased cost, of storage and a trailer can be too much for some would-be boaters. Luckily, there is another option—the inflatable dinghy.
The right inflatable dinghy might be just what you are looking for with its perfect combination of easy use, safety and function. Many inflatable dinghies can be transported without a trailer, and some can even in the trunk of your car!
Most are safe for up to six people and allow users to access a wide range of waters. By purchasing an inflatable dinghy, you will also avoid expense fees associated with trailer purchase, dock rental, or storage during the off season.
Of course, you need to select the right inflatable dinghy, and that can be complicated, especially for the first-time boat buyer. This is where we come in.
The following article will provide a review of seven of the top inflatable dinghies on the market, tips for selecting the right one for you, and explain why a dinghy is the right choice to begin with.
The 7 Best Inflatable Dinghies of 2020: Outdoor Empire Reviews
- Newport Vessels 8 Ft. Dana
- Bris Fish Hunter
- Sports Boats Killer Whale Model 330
- Zodiac Cadet Fastroller 360 Acti-V
- Stealth Stalker 10
- Intex Mariner 4
- Seamax Ocean 380
|Length||8’ 10”||12’ 6”||10’ 8”|
|Weight||107 lbs||180 lbs||80 lbs. + 35 lbs. for aluminum floor|
|Number of chambers||4 (3 hull, 1 keel)||3||3|
|Capacity||3 persons / 1067 lbs||6 adults / 1675 lbs||5 adults / 1268 lbs|
|Cost||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
1. Newport Vessels 8 Ft. Dana
The Dana by Newport Vessels offers the perfect combination of portability and performance. At 8 feet 10 inches in length, it can be easily transported by a single user and hold up to three passengers or 1067 lbs.
The rigid floor offers increased stability when boarding or moving about, and the oversized 18-foot tubes and low center of gravity allow for superior stability, even at high speed. Speaking of speed, thanks to the wooden transom, this tiny tender can reach speeds of up to 20 mph (when equipped with the maximum 9.9 hp outboard).
There is no need to worry about whether your Dana can handle a hard day on the water. The hull is constructed of 1100 Denier Korean PVC, and all seams are hot air welded and sealed with high-quality German adhesives.
All Newport inflatables come complete with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 2-year manufacturer warranty, so you can rest assured knowing that you will not be left high and dry should this not be the perfect dinghy for your needs or if it suffers an unexpected failure.
LENGTH: 8’ 10”
WEIGHT: 107 lbs.
NUMBER OF CHAMBERS: 4 (3 hull, 1 keel)
CAPACITY: 3 persons / 1067 lbs.
MAX. HP: 9.9
- Folds flat for storage in convenient carry bag
- Marine wood floor insert and extra large tubes for increased stability
- 30-day money-back guarantee and 2-year manufacturer warranty
- Increased tube size means decreased cockpit room
- Company is new to the market (started in 2008), so there is limited long-term information
- Oar locks are a bit small and may not work with aftermarket equipment
2. Bris Fish Hunter
Ride up to your favorite fishing spot in the Bris Fish Hunter, and you will feel like a commando invading the beach. This boat is built tough and looks it.
The main tube and bottom are constructed of 2000 denier 1.2 mm PVC, a 12.5 mm aluminum floor supports you with comfort, and the marine grade plywood transom will support a maximum 25 hp outboard.
Three individual chambers provide superior floatation and protection, a one-way drain valve allows water to drain, nine interior tie downs keep all your gear in place, and four large D-rings make towing or hosting easy and safe. All seams are heat welded with quadruple overlap.
The Fish Hunter is not the typical inflatable. It is a serious dinghy suitable for both recreational and commercial applications. The heavy-duty construction allows for an astounding six-person capacity and a 25 hp outboard, far greater than many similar models.
This boat will not only get you there and back safely; it will do so for many seasons to come. All Bris boats include a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 3-year manufacturer warranty.
LENGTH: 12’ 6”
WEIGHT: 180 lbs.
NUMBER OF CHAMBERS: 3
CAPACITY: 6 adults / 1675 lbs.
MAXIMUM HP: 25 hp
- Superior capacity and maximum horsepower
- Sleek, black design
- Aluminum floor supports and seats for longer life
- At 180 lbs., it may be a bit heavy for single-user transportation
- Does not include carry bag, which makes it a bit harder to handle deflated
- Black exterior can get hot in summer sun
3. Sports Boats Killer Whale Model 330
Sports Boats picked the perfect name for this inflatable dinghy. At 10 feet 8 inches in length and 5 feet 2 inches wide, the Killer Whale will carry an impressive five passengers and, thanks to the extended rear pontoons, still rush out of the water like a whale breeching the surface.
The sleek, contoured design allows for easy control and will help you cut through the waves. Thanks to a thick 9 mm 1100 denier PVC hull, heat-welded seams, and 24 mm aluminum slide-in floor, you can use this dinghy in both fresh or salt water without worry.
Each boat package includes two aluminum oars (with lock-in holders), carry bag, fast-inflate foot pump, removable seat cushion, and basic repair kit—all the bells, whistles, and then some. This boat is manufactured in the USA and includes a 3-year warranty.
LENGTH: 10’ 8”
WEIGHT: 80 lbs. + 35 lbs. for aluminum floor
NUMBER OF CHAMBERS: 3
CAPACITY: 5 adults / 1268 lbs.
MAXIMUM HP: 15 hp
- Extended rear pontoons for increased planing and outboard support
- Boat package includes many extras
- Suitable for many applications in both fresh and saltwater
- Although it will carry five passengers, overall capacity is a bit light at only 1268 lbs.
- Bulky and harder to transport than others
4. Zodiac Cadet Fastroller 360 Acti-V
Zodiac is a well-established, trusted name when it comes to inflatables known for their long-lasting dependability. The Cadet Fastroller may just be their best small dinghy yet. It provides plenty of room and superior performance while maintaining portability.
Whether you are looking for a primary boat or auxiliary tender, you cannot go wrong with this inflatable.
Zodiac depends on Duotex Fabric and welded seams to provide long-lasting durability. If well taken care of, you could hand this down to your children one day. The high-pressure, integrated keel not only inflates at the same time as the floor but also assumes a real keel shape for added ease of handling.
With a total of four chambers, you will enjoy increased floatation and less worry should something unexpected occur.
Each boat includes two oars with fold-down swivel oarlocks, composite bench seat, compression stowage bag, foot pump, owner’s manual, and repair kit. Zodiac also offers a wide range of additional accessories.
LENGTH: 11’ 10”
WEIGHT: 97 lbs.
NUMBER OF CHAMBERS: 4 (3 main tube, 1 keel & 1 floor)
CAPACITY: 6 adults / 1653 lbs.
MAXIMUM HP: 15 hp
- Trusted manufacturer with long history of producing inflatables
- Integrated, inflatable keel
- Superior capacity with moderate overall boat weight
- Only one seat (forward)
- No floor insert, meaning less stability when boarding
- One of the higher price tags in the class
Learn more about the Zodiac Cadet Fastroller 360 Acti-V here.
5. Stealth Stalker 10
The Stealth Stalker 10 is slightly different than the other dinghies reviewed here in that it utilizes a fully enclosed hull. This means that rather than having two side pontoons separated at the transom, there is a single frameless enclosed hull.
But do not let the looks fool you. The Stealth Stalker 10 is every bit the outdoorsman’s boat.
Let’s look at what makes this the near-perfect inflatable for anglers and hunters, starting with the enclosed hull. The combination of large tubes, enclosed hull, and wide profile results in an extremely stable platform with a high weight capacity and shallow draft (only 4 inches).
The included H-bar, side struts, and marine-grade plywood floor insert increases overall stability even more. This allows use on a wide range of waters, both fresh & saltwater, in even extreme conditions.
Major features include two captain-style seats, three carry handles, four built-in scotty mounts for customization, raised oar locks, motor mount, and receiving bracket for optional canopy.
The green hull design makes it much easier to camouflage, while the frameless design makes folding for storage or transport extremely easy. But the most attractive feature is the overall weight of only 37 lbs., perfect for the single user or when it needs to be transported greater distances.
Of course, none of this matters if the boat will not survive the occasional rough and tumble adventure. Do not worry, the Stealth Stalker 10 has you covered there too. The hull features heavy-duty PVC construction and utilizes quadruple overlapped seams.
Three air chambers allow for continued operation should a leak develop, and it is covered by a 3-year warranty and 180-day, risk-free trial period.
WEIGHT: 37 lbs. (77 lbs. with floor and motor mount)
NUMBER OF CHAMBERS: 3 (port, starboard, and bow)
CAPACITY: 2 adults / 1199 lbs.
MAXIMUM HP: 4 hp gas / 74 lb. thrust electric
- Lightweight for easy transport and storage
- Folds smaller than other models
- Extreme stability
- Low maximum horsepower rating
- Designed for fishing, not as suitable for general boating as other models
6. Intex Mariner 4
The Intex Mariner 4 is designed to provide a reliable, high-quality inflatable on a budget. Although the saying is “you get what you paid for,” nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to this boat.
The Mariner 4 is constructed of durable PVC vinyl for protection against a wide range of hazards, including puncture, abrasion, salt, dirt, UV light, and even spilled fuel. The rigid plastic floor is not only more durable than standard inflatable flooring; it also provides a more stable platform for standing.
At 10 feet 9 inches in length, the Mariner 4 is a sizable inflatable, offering a maximum capacity of four people. However, it is still one of the easiest to store or transports. Once deflated, the entire boat simply rolls up and will fit in the truck or cargo area of even a small passenger car.
The included grab lines and multiple handles make carrying it to your favorite spot or around hazards easier than ever.
LENGTH: 10’ 9”
WEIGHT: 77 lbs.
NUMBER OF CHAMBERS: 4
CAPACITY: 4 adults / 880 lbs.
MAXIMUM HP: 3 hp gas / 55 lb. thrust electric
- Inexpensive way to enter the inflatable boat world
- Hard plastic floor and inflatable keel add stability
- Easy to transport and store
- Low maximum horsepower rating
- Although rated for 4 people, 3 people is more realistic
- Low overall capacity leaves little room for gear
7. Seamax Ocean 380
Seamax went all out when designing the Ocean 380, and the result is a high-quality, dependable option for those in search of a new inflatable dinghy.
Thanks to quadruple layers seams, reinforced inner bottom, transom stabilizer, and overall attention to detail, the Ocean 380 is designed to provide many years of service, even in the worst conditions.
This is not only a durable boat; it is built for the serious boater. Features such as the aluminum floor, multiple tie-down points, double lifelines, and increased weight capacity mean you can haul your gear or friends with confidence, even in extreme conditions. Add the optional 25 hp outboard, and you can cruise with ease.
A thick marine-grade PVC fabric is used for hull construction, and all seams are overlapped and reinforced with seam tape, resulting in a quadruple layered seam. The inner keel is reinforced for additional protection, and the birch plywood transom is also PVC coated for longer life.
Finally, there is the overall attention to detail, resulting in a tighter-fitting floor and less opportunities for snagging.
All Seamax boats are covered by a 1-year manufacturer warranty and additional warranties for seams (3 years) and PVC fabrics (5 years)
WEIGHT: 190 lbs.
NUMBER OF CHAMBERS: 6 (5 hull, 1 keel)
CAPACITY: 5 adults / 1211 lbs.
MAXIMUM HP: 25 hp
- Very roomy, perfect for plenty of cargo or passengers
- Extremely durable
- One of the best warranties available
- Very heavy, almost twice that of competitors
- Not as easy to transport or store due to size and weight
Why You Should Buy an Inflatable Dinghy for Fishing?
Adding an inflatable to your fishing arsenal is a big decision for many anglers. After all, even with a modest price tag, it is unlikely you will be purchasing multiple boats, so whatever you do buy will need to be the best fit you can afford. With that in mind, let’s review some of the best reasons for buying an inflatable dinghy.
Inflatables offer far more stability versus other options in the same class, such as kayaks, canoes, or jon boats. With an inflatable, the user can also safely stand and maneuver at higher speeds. Larger models can easily and safely be used offshore or through smaller surf.
Although sceptics question the durability of inflatables, today’s construction materials and methods make this worry a thing of the past. PVC materials and heat-welded or quadruple-sealed seams combine to produce inflatables that will not only resist a wide range of normal hazards but also last for many seasons to come.
Inflatables offer users a chance to access a wide range of waterways in various conditions, whereas many other boat designs are usually best suited for only specific applications. Many manufacturers also offer optional accessories, including canopies, seating, storage and even fishing rod holders.
Plus, most inflatables can be used in both fresh and saltwater, with larger models being suitable for offshore use as well.
The biggest reason for selecting an inflatable is the portability. Most can be folded and stored or transported in the trunk of a car. No need for trailers, slip rentals, or winter storage fees.
Although some of the larger, heavier designs can be difficult for a single user to lug from point A to point B, it is still far easier than traditional boats and does not rely on a costly trailer.
How to Choose an Inflatable Dinghy
As you can see from the above review, there are wide range of inflatable dinghy designs and options available. The key to purchasing one that will provide you with years of faithful service is not the price tag or brand name. It is about selecting one with the options and features ideal for your intended use.
In other words, the only perfect inflatable dinghy is the one that meets your needs.
Here are some of the features you need to consider:
There are five major inflatable designs, each offering advantages and disadvantages.
– Roll-up inflatables lack a rigid floor and allows the user to deflate, roll, or fold the dinghy and stow it in small spaces with ease.
– Sport boats include removable, rigid floors for added stability while moving about and operating in chopping conditions. High-pressure floor designs use an inflatable floor for added stability without the added weight of the common in sport boats.
– Rigid hull inflatables (RHIs) utilize inflatable tubes attached to a solid hull, resulting in a boat that is much more stable and versatile but weighs a great deal more, making it less portable than other options.
– Compact rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) also utilize a rigid hull but are much shallower than RHIs, and the transom folds flat. Although not as portable, they can still be carried on a roof rack.
The standard options are PVC-coated cloth or Hypalon, which is a neoprene-coated nylon. Both offer durability and resistance to multiple hazards, but Hypalon is considered better for tropical locations as it is more resistant to UV damage.
None of the average inflatables differ by more than a few feet in overall length, but even a few feet can make a big difference when it comes to performance.
Consider how you will be using the boat, your expected number of passengers, your preferred motor size, the amount of gear you normally carry, and the conditions you will encounter.
Boats greater than 10 feet long tend to offer the most control, are easier to plane, and less prone to be influenced by currents or wind.
Although today’s inflatable boats are more dependable and durable than ever, they are still subject to accidental damage, including puncture. You will want to select a manufacturer that offers a solid long-term warranty and quality customer service.
Finally, there is the matter of accessories. No matter how perfect your boat is when you first buy it, there will come a time when you want to upgrade—add a canopy, better seating, additional storage, etc.
This is when you will be glad you selected a model with a wide range of aftermarket or OEM accessories available, letting you upgrade without buying a new boat.
You will also want to consider what accessories are included at the time of purchase as you will likely need oars, a carry bag, seat cushions and similar items before getting on the water the first time.
If dinghy is not your thing, but you still would like to get an inflatable boat then check out our reviews on: