Inflatable boats have sides and bows made of sealed air chambers. Small inflatables may have inflatable floors, but larger inflatables typically have rigid floors and transoms. Many inflatable boats are designed to be deflated and inflated easily in order to ease transport and storage. Inflatables differ in size, materials, and number of air chambers. Some are engineered to accept motors, some have oarlocks, and some have keels.
We have taken a close look at all the major brands in order to find the highest levels of quality, performance, and value. Our search took us to websites such as Bass Pro Shops, Amazon, Cabela’s, All Inflatable Boats & Kayaks, and Meijer for expert and customer reviews. Here are our picks:
Sevylor Fish Hunter 6 Person Boat ($193)
- Bass Pro Shops: 4.4/5.0 (25+ reviews)
- Meijer: 4.5/5.0 (10+ reviews)
- Amazon: 3.5/5.0 (15+ reviews)
The Sevylor Fish Hunter 6 Person Boat is the largest in the company’s Fish Hunter inflatable boat series. 3 Person ($97) and 4 Person ($135) Fish Hunters are also available. The Fish Hunter 6 Person gets high marks for its stability and its light weight. Reviewers have had success installing electric or small gas motors. The biggest complaint in reviews concerns the six-person advertised capacity; most who comment claim the Fish Hunter 6 Person Boat will comfortably hold only three or four adults. The 32-gauge PVC skin does a good job of resisting punctures and tears. This inflatable can accommodate up to a three-horsepower motor; it includes bow and stern fittings as well as a battery pouch. Fishing-specific extras include two inflatable seats, two rod holders, a gear bag, and chafing pads. Additional features: two tunnel chambers, four swiveling oarlocks, four drain plugs, and two carry handles. This boat comes with a 90-day warranty. Its weight capacity is 1,200 pounds.
Intex Mariner ($350)
Top Review Sources:
- All Inflatable Boats & Kayaks: “We think you’ll find that the Intex Mariner inflatable boat offers awesome durability and comfort, and should live up to your expectations as a leisure craft”
- Cabela’s: 4.6/5.0 (25+ reviews)
- Amazon: 4.5/5.0 (20+ reviews)
The Intex Mariner resides at the top in of the company’s line of inflatable boats. This four-person craft has an inflatable keel, extruded plastic floor, and motormount fittings. Its skin is 26-gauge PVC vinyl with strategically-placed rock guards for extra puncture protection. Complaints about the Mariner, though sparse, center on the unrealistic claim of four-person capacity (three adults seems to be the max) and the poor quality of the included oars. Most feedback is positive; reviewers like the build quality, ease of transport, and quick setup/teardown times. The Mariner has four air chambers, two oarlocks, three seat cushions, two fishing rod holders, two grab handles, a gear bag, and a battery pouch. Customers report no problems installing a small motor. The Mariner’s weight capacity is 704 pounds.
Sea Eagle 9 ($329)
Top Review Sources:
- TheCampingLifestyle.com: “A great value for the weekend rafter”
- All Inflatable Boats & Kayaks: “A hull so firm and hard you can pound on it with a hammer without fear of it ripping or tearing”
- Cabela’s: 4.2/5.0 (5+ reviews)
Sea Eagle is widely known for its high-quality inflatable boats and kayaks. The Sea Eagle 9 is an 11-foot boat built with fishermen in mind. Reviewers repeatedly comment on the remarkable low weight/high stability balance this boat provides. The Sea Eagle 9 comes with a set of oars, foot pump, rowing seat, and high seat. Though capacity is listed at four to five persons, two or three is a more realistic (and comfortable) estimate according to customers. Maximum weight is 1,200 pounds. The five-chamber hull weighs only 38 pounds when collapsed. The Sea Eagle 9 will accommodate gas motors of up to 3 horsepower and electric motors with up to 74 pounds of thrust. Additional features include a carry handle and four oarlocks. Like the other boats reviewed here, the Sea Eagle 9 comes with a repair kit. Other compliments the Sea Eagle 9 receives involve its easy inflation/deflation and resilient, 38 mil PVC skin. This boat comes with a three-year warranty.