Inflatable boats are lighter and more maneuverable than the average fiberglass boat, making them safer and easier to use. Choosing an inflatable boat that fits both your needs and your budget takes some careful consideration, and many people don’t know that there are two distinct types of inflatable boats to choose from.
Both boat types are generally made from the same materials, except that Rigid Inflatable Boats have a hard hull, and Soft Inflatable Boats do not. To help you choose, here are the pros and cons of each type.
Pros and cons for Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats
Pros of Rigid Inflatable Boats
- More stable in adverse conditions
- Can carry a heavier engine and therefore more powerful
- Secure seating and storage space
Cons of Rigid Inflatable Boats
- More fuel usage
- Needs a larger engine
- More difficult to launch and load
- Requires a trailer to transport
- Much more expensive
Pros and cons for Soft Inflatable Boats
Pros of Soft Inflatable Boats
- Compact, foldable or collapsible
- Trailer optional
- Easier to load
- Less fuel consumption
- Smaller engine required
- Cheaper to buy
- Multiple flooring options
- Suitable for beaching
Cons of Soft Inflatable Boats
- Smaller engine size – slower and less powerful
- Sits lower in the water – wetter ride
- Less comfortable seating
- Less on-board storage options
Rigid Inflatable Boats versus Soft Inflatable Boats. Which choice is best for you?
Choosing whether you should buy a rigid hull inflatable boat or a soft inflatable boat will depend on a number of things, such as what you will be using the boat for, what passengers you might need to transport, and what your budget is like. A soft inflatable boat will fit a smaller budget, and because they are completely foldable or collapsible, no trailer needs to be bought and no off-season storage paid for. However, soft inflatable boats are not suitable or safe for joyriding on choppy waters, speed boating or water skiing. They are the best choice for short to medium range transport on smooth, quiet waters, fishing, and jobs that require beaching.
If you are looking for a speedboat that’s safe, powerful, comfortable and versatile, a rigid hull inflatable boat will be the right choice for you. Rigid inflatable boats may be more expensive than soft hulls, but they can be used for anything a fiberglass boat can do, and for a much lower price. You will need a trailer and off-season storage but that is about where the limitations end. The rigid hull cuts through the water better, allowing for a smoother, safer ride, and the heavier weight of the boat allows for a larger, more powerful engine. Whether you want to go fishing alone or in a group, take your family out for an evening cruise or take your friend’s water skiing, the right sized rigid hull boat will have you covered.