There are many different types and models of inflatable boat, from the rubber ring in your swimming pool to the 12 person RIB (rigid inflatable boat). You find your self on a fishing, boating and hunting website so you can guess that we ill likely be missing out the details of the rubber rings.
However what we will be doing is providing the details of inflatable kayaks, fishing pontoons and ribs among others to help you choose which size inflatable boat is suitable for your use.
Inflatable kayaks are between 9 and 12 ft. and weigh about 50lbs, a rowing boat will be a similar length and weight. Inflatable pontoon boats are wider and up to 12ft long, weighing up to 110lbs. A RIB can be from 7 to 40ft weighing from 200 to 3000Lbs. This will increase after loading people and gear.
There are a tremendous amount of variables on size, style and use of boat. You can expect anything over 13ft to require a trailer, either hand if it is designed as a portable craft or a car trailer if it is any sort of powered craft. The weight of outboard engines, even small ones will make it very difficult to transport by hand.
You could consider electric trolling motors, we have a guide to ones suitable for smaller craft here and here. However these will still add significant weight.
We will look at some of the average weights of Inflatable boats and some of the options open to you depending on what you are looking to use your inflatable boat for.
In the table below we offer two examples of each type of Inflatable with the length, weight and capacity as well as an Amazon link to check the price. ( if it is on Amazon) where you can find out some further details. Below the table we will go into more detail on each type.
|Inflatable Boat||Length||Weight||Capacity (people |
|Intex Excursion Pro Kayak||10ft||25lbs||1 person or 190-220lbs||Check Price|
|Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak||10.5ft.||34lbs||2 people or 450 lbs||Check Price|
|Intex Seahawk Inflatable Boat||10.5ft.||62lbs||4 people or 1050 lbs||Check Price|
|Intex Mariner Inflatable Boat||10.5ft.||91lbs||4 people or 880 lbs||Check Price|
|Aquos 12.5ft Inflatable Pontoon|
|12.5ft||117 Lbs||2 people or 970lbs||Check Price|
|Aquos 8.5 Inflatable Pontoon|
|8.5Ft.||62 lbs||1 person or 450lbs||Check Price|
|Soopotay Inflatable SUP Stand Up Paddle Board||10.5ft.||18lbs||1 person or 280 lbs||Check Price|
|ISSYAUTO Stand Up Paddle Board Inflatable||10.5ft.||17lbs||1 person or 300 lbs||Check price|
|Zodiac Pro 6.5||20ft.||1345||15 People or 4500lbs||Check price|
|caribenautica 10ft Rib||10.3ft.||128lbs||4 people or 1272lbs||Check price|
How Does Adding Gear Affect The Weight Of An Inflatable Boat
No matter what size of inflatable boat you choose you are going to increase its weight (not its size). It is important to adhere to the manufacturers guidelines on this as an overloaded boat has assorts of safety implications.
Obviously if you overload a boat, any boat it will eventually sink. However this particular effect is a fairly obvious one to see as you load up. Other impacts can be less obvious but just as impactful.
Inflatable boats are designed to be maneuverable and the more weight you add to them the less maneurerable they will be. Make sure you are under the maximum weight for which ever boat you purchase.
Some will come with rudders, or tracking features on the keel (the bottom) which will help but these are half measures when compared to correct loading. Also overloading will put strain on the boat materials which at best will reduce your inflatables life span and worst see you getting a leak while you are out on the water.
How Construction Materials Affect Inflatable Boat Weight
There is a line to be drawn between portability and construction. However, unless you are having to transport your boat to and from your launch points by hand, or if you are in a kayak and will be doing trips where you need to portage then we suggest getting the most robust boat you can.
This will add to the life span and a boat for most wallets is a big ticket purchase. You want that to last as long a time as possible.
How To Transport An Inflatable Boat?
This will depend on the type of boat you have purchased or are considering purchasing. It would be a slight over kill to put that rubber ring in a trailer for that day at the beach.
Inflatable Fishing Kayaks: These are up to 12ft in length and up to around 80lbs in weight, more with gear. If you keep this inflated it may be that you need a hand trolley to move this around. You can pick these up fairly cheaply. They also don’t weigh too much so you can pack them up and put them into the kayak. We have an article on the best inflatable fishing kayaks on the site.
Inflatable Pontoon boat: For boats of this size, an the fact that they take a little setting up, you might need a slightly larger trailer. Maybe even one that fits on the back of car. These are a half way house, they are a little small to be kept on the water and a little large to be hand carried.
Motorized Ribs: These, although inflatable, are certainly not easily portable. If you have a small one you may be able to transport it in the truck or roof of a car. However for the larger ribs you will need to store on the water or at a boat yard. If this is not possible then a proper boat trailer will be needed.
What Is An Inflatable Boat?
Generally, inflatable boats are a lightweight boat that are constructed with its sides, and bottom made of flexible tubes containing pressurized air.
The hull and floor are commonly flexible in smaller boats under 12ft. in larger or tender type boats the floor consists of three to five rigid plywood and aluminum sheets that are fixed between the tubes but are not connected rigidly together. The transom is rigid which provides location and structure for mounting an outboard be it electric or motorized.
However, some inflatable boats can be disassembled and packed to be easily stored and transported. When inflated, the boat is kept rigid cross-ways through a foldable removable thwart. This amazing feature makes these boats the best for life rafts for bigger boats or aircraft and for recreational and travel purposes.
The Two Types of Inflatable Boats
There are two types of inflatable boats that have a different purpose, uses, and structures. Let’s now dig into it!
Rigid Inflatable Boats
This rigid inflatable boat or RIB has a rigid floor and a solid hull. The hull’s external shape and fixed keel helps the boat cut through waves and gives a more comfortable ride when traveling fast even in rough conditions. The design and structure of the hull can support a more powerful mounted outboard engine or even an inboard engine in high end models. .
Soft Inflatable Boat
This soft inflatable boat (SIB) lacks a solid hull, unlike the RIB. It may have a removable slatted floor that allows the boat to be deflated and can be easily (ish) transported in a car or other vehicle. This boat has a low draft and is useful for traveling across the shallow water like beaching in places without landing facilities. It is not suitable for long trips over larger water.
Some soft inflatable boats have a rigid transom meaning they can support an outboard engine. Some Inflatable boats that have transoms also have an inflatable keel that creates a slight V-bottom along the line of the hull. It improves the tracking and directional stability.
Rowing boats, boat tender and both recreational and fishing kayaks can all be found in inflatable options as well.
What Size Motors for Inflatable Boats?
Although i am sure we all know putting a 150 Hp on a kayak would not be the best of ideas. So here we offer some tips to help guide you on what size inflatable boat you need and what motors would be suitable.
2hp-4hp Outboard Motors
These outboard motors usually weigh less than 19 kilograms and can include electric versions ( check out are articles here for these) . Small outboards are common for portable boats like folding boats, canoes, dinghy’s, small sailboats, small pontoon boats, inflatable boats and other lightweight boats.
They are unlikely to have have gears though some may have a speed setting and reverse. The whole outboard commonly rotates 360˚ which is good for short maneuvers in reverse. The small outboards are relatively lightweight and have a carrying handle.
These small outboards can push small boats up to 3 to 10 kilometer per hour depending on power, boat design, weight, and current.
5hp-6hp Outboard Motors
This hp range of outboard motors is great for inflatable boats up to 3.5 meters in length, larger canoes, portable folding boats and 2.5-3.5 meters dinghies and inflatables. With these small motors, heavy laden boats will not perform well.
In this range, the engines will propel most hulls at approximately 10 to 15 kilometers per hour depending on load and draft. these engines are reasonably lightweight, easily transported, compact and many have forward-neutral-reverse gears.
8hp-9.8hp Outboard Motors
This hp is small yet powerful and is popular with inflatable boats of 3-4.5 meters, larger portable folding boats, aluminum boats of about 3.5 to 5 meters in length and lighter fiberglass boats upwards of 4.5 meters.
Engines in this range will drive most hulls at 15-20kmh with 1 to 2 persons or light to moderate load. They are a great choice for trolling motors, auxiliary outboards, and yacht motors on medium boats
15hp-25hp Outboard Motors
These motors are heavier to handle though they are considered to be a small outboard motor. This hp range is popular for use with inflatable boats which are 10-14 feet, flat bottom boats 12-16 feet in length, aluminum fishing boats 12-16 and fiberglass boats which are 12-16 feet in length.
In this range, engines will propel hulls upwards of 20 kph with moderate to heavy load.
We have hopefully given you an idea of the size of some of the more common inflatable boat options out there. If you are transporting these craft physically we strongly advise you go and check them out first however. If you are buying a craft you know will be trailered or moored then that is lesson of an issue, although length may still be an issue.
If you are picking up a kayak or rowing boat you can be reasonably secure that these are designed for manual handling and with a little bicep power you should be ok to move them about , especially of there is more than one of you.
we still wouldn’t recommend take one on a hike though!