Best inflatable river Rafts

10 Best Rafts for River Floating (+ heavy-duty river rafts)

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Are you ready for a day of fun on the river? Floating down a beautiful river is one of the best ways to spend a hot summer day, and an inflatable recreational-level raft is a perfect way to do it. Versatile, durable, and priced between $300 and $600, we’ll be introducing you to the best rafts for river floating.

However, not all inflatable rafts are created equal, and they may not be the best choice for people seeking the best inflatable river raft, as these rafts have stronger materials and a self-bailing floor design. But heavy duty river rafts from NRS or Wing Inflatables easily break your bank and are over the top if you just want to do some river floating with the one or other current.

In this blog post, we’ll be introducing you to the best affordable inflatable rafts on the market and exploring who they are best suited for. Whether you’re a seasoned river enthusiast or a first-time floater, this guide will help you choose the perfect raft for your needs. So let’s get started and find your perfect river rafting companion!

Best Rafts for River Floating

Best for heavy rapids!
BRIS 1.2mm 13ft Inflatable White Water River Raft Inflatable Boat FloatingTubes
Best Overall!
Sea Eagle SE9 Inflatable Motormount Boat - Fisherman's Dream Package
Best Budget
INTEX 68373EP Mariner 3 Inflatable Boat Set: Includes Deluxe 54in Boat Oars and High-Output Pump – Wear-Resistant Keel – Removable Fishing Rod Holders – 3-Person – 880lb Weight Capacity
BRIS 1.2mm 13ft Inflatable White Water River Raft Inflatable Boat FloatingTubes
Sea Eagle SE9 Inflatable Motormount Boat - Fisherman's Dream Package
INTEX 68373EP Mariner 3 Inflatable Boat Set: Includes Deluxe 54in Boat Oars and High-Output Pump – Wear-Resistant Keel – Removable Fishing Rod Holders – 3-Person – 880lb Weight Capacity
Customer Rating:
-
Price:
$1,399.00
$579.00
$345.45
❤️ What we love about this product:
This craft has it all:

- Commercial-grade outer shell with extra heavy 1.2 mm PVC with 2000 Dtex on top of polyester (88 pounds heavy quality!)

- Self-bailing system

- Can be used until Class 5 Rapids
The Sea Eagle 9 is the best of both worlds:

Good quality with strong PVC shell, yet affordably priced.

It carries up to 1,200 lbs and can float down rivers until class III waters

If you want to have fun for 10 years + with your recreational raft, this is your pick!
If your budget is constrained, the Mariner 3 is a decent raft:

- It's easy to paddle because of the keel and the oar locks

- This is not some low quality boat from walmart: It has a strong 3-ply construction and weighs more than 65 lbs!

You can stand up in the raft, because it has a rigid floor.
Best for heavy rapids!
BRIS 1.2mm 13ft Inflatable White Water River Raft Inflatable Boat FloatingTubes
BRIS 1.2mm 13ft Inflatable White Water River Raft Inflatable Boat FloatingTubes
Customer Rating:
Price:
$1,399.00
❤️ What we love about this product:
This craft has it all:

- Commercial-grade outer shell with extra heavy 1.2 mm PVC with 2000 Dtex on top of polyester (88 pounds heavy quality!)

- Self-bailing system

- Can be used until Class 5 Rapids
Best Overall!
Sea Eagle SE9 Inflatable Motormount Boat - Fisherman's Dream Package
Sea Eagle SE9 Inflatable Motormount Boat - Fisherman's Dream Package
Customer Rating:
Price:
$579.00
❤️ What we love about this product:
The Sea Eagle 9 is the best of both worlds:

Good quality with strong PVC shell, yet affordably priced.

It carries up to 1,200 lbs and can float down rivers until class III waters

If you want to have fun for 10 years + with your recreational raft, this is your pick!
Best Budget
INTEX 68373EP Mariner 3 Inflatable Boat Set: Includes Deluxe 54in Boat Oars and High-Output Pump – Wear-Resistant Keel – Removable Fishing Rod Holders – 3-Person – 880lb Weight Capacity
INTEX 68373EP Mariner 3 Inflatable Boat Set: Includes Deluxe 54in Boat Oars and High-Output Pump – Wear-Resistant Keel – Removable Fishing Rod Holders – 3-Person – 880lb Weight Capacity
Customer Rating:
-
Price:
$345.45
❤️ What we love about this product:
If your budget is constrained, the Mariner 3 is a decent raft:

- It's easy to paddle because of the keel and the oar locks

- This is not some low quality boat from walmart: It has a strong 3-ply construction and weighs more than 65 lbs!

You can stand up in the raft, because it has a rigid floor.

Rafts for River Floating are right for you, if

you see a PVC-based inflatable raft that cost between 300 to 600 Dollars.

want to navigate rivers or lakes. These rafts are ideal for day floats down rivers with Class III whitewater or less.

you seek a stable enough boat for river float fishing, allowing you to reach hard-to-reach fishing spots.

you fancy multi-night float trips. These trips are also possible with these rafts, as they can carry camping gear and other essentials and you can add a motor if necessary.

you want to carry a lot of equipment or do backcountry camping. In this case you might also want to equip your raft with the motor mentioned before

Rafts for River Floating are not for you, if

you seek a heavy duty River raft from the most expensive commercial grade materials such as CSM (also CP or Hypalon) or Polyurethane which cost more than $ 1,500.

want to go down rapids above class III. These rafts are not strong enough to withstand the intense currents and are often not self-bailing, which means you’ll be wasting your time bailing water out of the raft instead of enjoying the ride.

you want to paddle long distances on a flat lake. Inflatable rafts are not optimized for minimal water resistance. In fact, the big front of the boat is more like a snow plough.

An inflatable fishing kayak has much less resistance in the water, and is therefore a better fit for elongated fishing trips on the lake.

Rafts for river floating are therfore a small niche. Experienced paddlers will enjoy white water rafts to go down more exciting rapids, wheras fishermen prefer more streamlined boats such as kayaks. However Rafts for River Floating are general purpose rafts and the best choice if you fancy multi day trips, but also want to go down the one or other rapid.

The Best Inflatable River Rafts Reviews

The best inflatable river rafts are durable watercrafts that are comfortable for adults and children. They are affordable, easy to transport, and quick to inflate. 

1. Best Overall: Sea Eagle 9

Sea Eagle SE9 Inflatable Motormount Boat - Fisherman's Dream Package
56 Reviews
Sea Eagle SE9 Inflatable Motormount Boat - Fisherman's Dream Package
  • LIGHTWEIGHT, AFFORDABLE, INFLATABEL FISHING BOAT holds up to 4 people and 1200 Lbs., is super stable and works great with small gas or electric motors!
  • AFFORDABLE, MULTI-PURPOSE INFLATABLE can be used for fishing, yacht tending, mild whitewater rafting, and general motoring or rowing around lakes and bays.
  • CAN BE USED as ship-to-shore rowing dinghies powered with just two oars, or they can be outfitted with removable inflatable seats, and a motormount to accept up to a 3 hp gas (20" shaft minimum, 45 lbs. max weight) or up to 74 lb. thrust electric motor (min 30" shaft) for a day of fishing or recreational boating

The Sea Eagle 9 is a fantastic recreational inflatable raft that has proven its durability and versatility time and time again.

With a weight capacity of an astounding 1,200 pounds, this raft is perfect for a day out on the water with friends and family. The optional floorboards make it ideal for fishing, and the addition of a motormount and trolling/gas motor can transform it into a solid fishing platform. The newly added features, such as a removable high-pressure floor, floor drains, and redesigned seats, make the SE9 even more attractive.

The Sea Eagle 9 has withstands running over hard objects and drifting into tree branches without any punctures. But don’t drag the boat on land. This is the number one reason to puncture it. You need to carry the boat into and out of the water. and Purchasing an electric pump is recommended, as the foot pump that comes with the boat can be a workout.

Its portability is also a huge plus, as it weighs just 35 lbs without the removable floor and can be easily packed away into its own bag. With a base price of around $500-$550, the Sea Eagle 9 is a fantastic investment for any water enthusiast.

The Sea Eagle 11-foot inflatable boat raft has 38mm Polykrylar construction that is puncture-resistant and durable. The raft has five air chambers and an inflatable floor, with the option of adding floorboards. The 11-foot boat has a motor mount that holds up to a 3-hp motor.

The five-person raft holds up to 1,200 pounds, making it the strongest craft on this list. It is a recreational raft for trips on calm water. It comes with two bench seats, a carrying case, and two oars. The raft also has a grab bar that circles the entire craft. It is easy to inflate and deflate, and the craft fits into a carrying case that fits into a trunk. 

Pros:

  • Affordably priced and carries a lot (1,200 lbs!!!)
  • There are many boats on the market which are 10 years and older, which means that this is a robust raft
  • Puncture-proof and abrasion-resistant material: 38 mil Polykrylar (K80 PVC)
  • New in Version 9: Self-bailing system like higher class rafts
  • Two seats
  • Customizable with Sea Eagle accessories
  • Deflates and fits in car trunk

Cons:

Not for white waters above class 3

2. Best for White Water: BRIS 1.2mm 9.8ft Inflatable White Water River Raft Inflatable Boat FloatingTubes

BRIS 1.2mm 9.8ft Inflatable White Water River Raft Inflatable Boat FloatingTubes
14 Reviews
BRIS 1.2mm 9.8ft Inflatable White Water River Raft Inflatable Boat FloatingTubes
  • 30 Days money back guarantee. All of our boats come with 3 year manufacturer warranty. Guarantee begins when product is delivered.
  • Premium Quality Materials : BRIS rafts are made by 2,000 Dtex 1.2mm PVC fabric with polyester support, having excellent resistance to tearing, tension and breaking . It is a much more heavy-duty PVC fabric than 1100 Dtex 0.9mm PVC rafts . Fabric is thick, puncture proof and abrasion resistant.These are commercial grade, exceptional quality and workmanship water crafts . and best of all, they are not expensive, so you can go rafting, without stretching your budget!
  • All seams are HEAT WELDED for perfect seaming and guaranteed to last in fresh water, salt water and extreme humidity. Most seams are quadruple overlap for maximum strength and durability and will not fall apart .

The Bris is a top pick if you fancy a little more as simple river floating. The heavy-duty river rafts that can handle from class up to 5 rapids at 2,500 CFS and more, where it excels with stability. Check this video footage, where the Bris is taken down the Big Bend Dam (Class 4):

Crazy River Ride with the BRIS 1.2 mm 9.8ft down the North Fork of the Feather (Big Bend Dam). (C) Originally Published on Amazon by Eric.

The Bris 1.2mm 9.8 inflatable raft is designed for whitewater trips. The craft has commercial-grade 2,000 Dtex 1.2mm PVC fabric with polyester support, which is puncture-resistant and abrasion-resistant. The heat-welded seals are durable and will not erode in fresh or saltwater. The raft has a self-bailing feature with removable thwarts. 

This two-person raft is for use on lower classes of whitewater and is smooth on calmer water. It comes with a repair kit, carrying bag, and foot pump. The boat is easy to maneuver and designed for novice rafters.
(You can try reading about the other Best Fishing Floating Tubes)

Pros:

  • Three-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Made of 1.2mm PVC with 200 Dtex and polyester support
  • Puncture-proof and abrasion-resistant material
  • Self-bailing system
  • Commercial-grade whitewater raft

Cons: 

  • Two-person raft
  • Weighs 88 pounds
  • Occasional quality-control issues with valves and bailing system

3. Best budget: Intex Mariner 3

Sale
INTEX 68373EP Mariner 3 Inflatable Boat Set: Includes Deluxe 54in Boat Oars and High-Output Pump – Wear-Resistant Keel – Removable Fishing Rod Holders – 3-Person – 880lb Weight Capacity
  • SUPER-TOUGH – 3-ply laminate construction combined with SuperStrong enhanced molecular formulation PVC provides superior structural strength and unmatched resistance to damage from abrasion,impact and sunlight, while allowing more pressure for rigidity
  • TRIPLE AIR CHAMBERS – Three air chambers, including one inner auxillary chamber for added safety to keep you afloat; inflation and deflation is made easy constructed with two quick-fill Boston valves to get you on the water faster
  • ACCESSORIES – Included with (2) 54-inch boat oars for easy paddling, (2) built-in fishing rod holders, a motor mount fitting, welded-on oar holders, grab handles on each side and an all-around grab line for convenience

In comparison to the Bris, The Intex Mariner 3 is still a good river raft. Especially, if you consider it costs a lot less. It’s a robust raft, easy to inflate and install.

The Intex Mariner Series is the lowest-priced Raft with a decent quality. The Intex Mariner 3 is a durable inflatable raft, but heavy in comparison to the Sea-Eagle (twice the weight). Despite the heavy weight of the Intex, it can carry only 3 persons (880 lbs) and not 4 as the Sea Eagle (1200 lbs). But there’s also an Intex Mariner 4, to carry four persons).

The Mariner Raft is equipped with smaller air bladders as the Sea Eagle, and the material is heavier. Therfore it has less buoyancy and can carry less weight. But heavy material means also good quality and the price of the Intex speaks for itself anyways. Therefore the Mariner Series from Intex can be recommended for a beginner raft.

You can also upgrade the the Mariner 3 with a motor to take you back after an exhausting trip. Another nice benefit is, the rafts inflatable keel—which eases paddling. But don’t be fooled by Intex’ marketing, it’s not a kayak and paddling on a flat lake is tiresome!

Awesome Features: (1)Rotational Oar locks, make paddling a breeze, (2) The Inflatable Keel eases paddling on smooth waters further, (3)The material is a 3 ply design that make the raft withstand sand or small rocks (albeit 3 layers are also heavy!) and (4) the Plastic flooring let you stand up in smooth waters.
Awesome Features: (1) Rotational Oar locks, make paddling a little easier, (2) The Inflatable Keel eases paddling on smooth waters further, (3) The material is a 3-ply design that makes the raft withstand sand or small rocks (albeit 3 layers are also heavy!) and (4) the Plastic flooring let you stand up in smooth waters 😉

But like the Sea eagle, this is not a white water raft like from Bris or NRS. I would not advise using this raft in rapids above Class III. The Mariner 3 has a small pontoon and does not self-bail, so it will quickly be full of water.

That being said, this guy on Youtube just puts some holes in the floor of his Intex boat and made himself a self-bailing river raft for cheap. He even rides at Rapids with 3700 cfs, which is easily class III+.

DIY Self Bailing holes on a cheap Intex Raft
DIY Self Bailing holes to make a cheap Intex Raft Class III+ Ready. Source: See Youtube Link Above
grafik 5
The Intex Raft in Action. Source: See Youtube Link Above

Overall, if your budget on purchasing a river raft is somewhat constrained, the Mariner 3 from Intex is a decent fit. If you take care of the raft, don’t drag it over the ground and store it in a dry place out of the sun, the Mariner 3 can be enjoyed for years to come. Intex offers several accessories to upgrade the boat and it comes with a carrying case, so you don’t need to put it in a walmart bag, when you go for a rafting trip. 

Note on Intex rafts: Intex rafts are very affordably priced and there are a few options that are even cheaper as the Mariner Series, which is the high-end series of this brand. Don’t buy the cheaper priced rafts from Intex for rafting. They were not made for this and will fail on the water. The mariner series has a strong 3-ply material, that the cheaper rafts don’t have. Intex is known for Pool Loungers and the like and they use similar materials on their cheaper rafts. But unlike for Pool chairs a puncture on the raft can ruin a whole weekend for the entire family and it’s simply not worth risking it, to save a few bucks.

This is a perfect budget option.

Pros:

  • Easier to paddle because of the keel and the oar locks
  • Strong Material makes the boat last long (albeit the 3-ply construction is heavy)
  • You can stand up in the raft, because it has a rigid floor
  • Two fishing-rod holders
  • Safety and gear pouches
  • The maximum capacity is 800 pounds

Cons: 

  • It’s heavier than the Sea Eagle and carries less weight
  • No holes for self-bailing
  • Quality-control issues with the oars

4. AIRHEAD Angler Bay Inflatable Boat

Sale
Angler Bay Inflatable 6 Person Boat | Lightweight & Portable for a Safe Adventure | Includes Rod Holders, Drink Holders, Drain Plugs, Battery Storage Bag, and Ditty Bag
149 Reviews
Angler Bay Inflatable 6 Person Boat | Lightweight & Portable for a Safe Adventure | Includes Rod Holders, Drink Holders, Drain Plugs, Battery Storage Bag, and Ditty Bag
  • Compact Design: Perfect for a group of six, offering ample space without compromising portability, and equipped with 2 rod holders and 4 drain plugs for enhanced stability.
  • Convenient Storage: Features a battery storage bag and a ditty bag for organized storage of essentials, ensuring a hassle-free fishing experience.
  • Comfortable Seating: Inflatable floor and cushioned, movable seat ensure comfort during long fishing trips for up to six individuals.

The AIRHEAD inflatable raft claims to hold six people, but it does not do it comfortably. The craft is made of heavy-duty vinyl, making it a recreational river raft rather than one meant for whitewater trips. 

The raft comes with an inflatable floor and one seat. The grab lines wrap around, and the vessel has two fishing rod holders. It also has several beverage holders for a relaxing float on your favorite smooth river. The boat measures 140” x 66.5”. 

Pros:

  • Weighs less than 12 pounds
  • Grab lines surround the craft
  • Movable seat
  • Several beverage holders

Cons: 

  • Does not fit six adults comfortably
  • Not intended for rough water
  • Does not come with oars or pump

5. Classic Accessories Colorado Inflatable Fishing Pontoon Boat With Motor Mount

Sale
Classic Accessories Colorado Pontoon Boat
  • Assembled size 108"L x 56"W x 26"H (to top of seat), weight, 71.5lbs. 400 lbs. Max Weight Capacity
  • Heavy-duty pontoon boat with abrasion-resistant PVC bottom, tough nylon top, powder-coated steel tube frame, bronze oar locks, cold and heat-resistant bladders, and two-piece aluminum oars
  • High storage capacity includes 10 mesh pockets, 12 zippered pockets, and 2 insulated drink holders

This pontoon raft is a unique craft for anglers who love to fish on rivers. The inflatable pontoon boat is a catamaran with the characteristic two inflatable pontoons and a padded seat. It is a one-person craft with plenty of spaces for gear and fishing rod holders. It has three oarlock positions, a fillable mesh bag, and pulleys, too. 

The craft is nine feet long. The lightweight powder-coated steel frame holds the seat and keeps the pontoons together. It is easy to assemble at the launch site. 

Pros:

  • Two-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • 400-pound weight limit
  • Designed for fishing
  • Comes with two oars

Cons: 

  • Weighs 71 pounds
  • The frame takes up significant trunk space
  • Doesn’t come with a pu

6 Best Inflatable River Rafts: BRIS 1.2mm 13ft Inflatable White Water River Raft Inflatable Boat FloatingTubes

BRIS 1.2mm 13ft Inflatable White Water River Raft Inflatable Boat FloatingTubes
50 Reviews
BRIS 1.2mm 13ft Inflatable White Water River Raft Inflatable Boat FloatingTubes
  • 30 Days money back guarantee. All of our boats come with 3 year manufacturer warranty. Guarantee begins when product is delivered.
  • Premium Quality Materials : BRIS rafts are made by 2,000 Dtex 1.2mm PVC fabric with polyester support, having excellent resistance to tearing, tension and breaking . It is a much more heavy-duty PVC fabric than 1100 Dtex 0.9mm PVC rafts . Fabric is thick, puncture proof and abrasion resistant.These are commercial grade, exceptional quality and workmanship water crafts . and best of all, they are not expensive, so you can go rafting, without stretching your budget!
  • All seams are HEAT WELDED for perfect seaming and guaranteed to last in fresh water, salt water and extreme humidity. Most seams are quadruple overlap for maximum strength and durability and will not fall apart .

The Bris 1.2mm 13-foot inflatable raft has 2,000 Dtex 1.2mm PVC fabric with polyester support for safe boating on tough whitewater trips. The commercial-grade raft is one of the biggest on the market and has a stable, removable self-bailing system. It has safety valves so you cannot over-inflate it. It also has two inflatable thwarts, 10 D-rings, a carrying bag, a foot pump, and repair kit. 

The heat-welded seams don’t split, and the floor has footholds, so you have extra support on rough rapids. It holds up to eight people and weighs 128 pounds. 

Pros:

  • Three-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Made of 1.2mm PVC with 200 Dtex and polyester support
  • Puncture-proof and abrasion-resistant material
  • Self-bailing system
  • Commercial-grade whitewater raft

Cons: 

  • Two-person raft
  • Weighs 128 pounds
  • Occasional quality-control issues with valves and bailing system

7. Best Inflatable River Rafts: Star Outlaw 140 Self-Bailing Raft-Gray

Star Outlaw 140 Self-Bailing Raft-Lime
  • Combines classic raft designs with modern materials & construction for premium performance
  • Advanced-formula PVC material using state-of-the-art seam welding technology
  • Heavy-duty tube and floor material shrugs off encounters with rocks

The Star Outlaw is a bare-bones river raft. The self-bailing raft comes with two seats and frame-wear patches. The bottom has extra material for added durability. This raft is made for whitewater rafting. 

It has a batten attachment thwart system so you can add thwarts or a frame for paddling. The raft comes with a five-year manufacturer’s warranty. The craft is stable, even when loaded with rafters and gear.

Pros:

  • Five-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Self-bailing system
  • Thwart system 
  • Six air chambers
  • Stable craft

Cons: 

  • Two-person raft
  • Weighs 143 pounds
  • Does not come with any accessories

8. Best Inflatable River Rafts: Outcast Osg Striker Raft (200-F00340)

The Outcast OSG Striker is a river raft meant for anglers. It includes the raft and a frame for two people. It has a self-bailing system and a mount for a small motor. The raft fits in the back of a pickup truck and inflates quickly. 

The unique lean bar in the front lets you look down over the water before casting your rod. The rear seat has an oarlock. It has an integrated gear system so you can adjust where you want your rods. It comes with the frame, raft, two oars, and two seats. 

Pros:

  • Five-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Adjustable seats
  • Two oarlocks
  • Frame and lean bar
  • 800-pound weight capacity

Cons: 

  • It does not come with rod holders
  • Weighs 102 pounds
  • Expensive

Compare the Best Inflatable River Rafts

Are you ready to hit the rapids and have an adventure on the river? Finding the perfect inflatable raft is crucial to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience. With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to navigate through the sea of features and pricing. But fear not! Whether you’re looking for a basic recreational raft or a high-end model for extreme conditions, there are several important factors to consider.

Classic Accessories Colorado Pontoon Boat
BRIS 1.2mm 13ft Inflatable White Water River Raft Inflatable Boat FloatingTubes
Outcast Osg Striker Raft (200-F00340)
Customer Rating:
-
-
Price:
$489.97
$1,399.00
$3,699.00
Size in Ft (LxW):
11.6'x5.5'
9.8'x5'
11'x5'
Weight capacity (Pounds):
400 pounds (180 kg)
400 pounds (180 kg)
1200 pounds (544 kg)
Unique Features:
The catamaran has two inflatable pontoons and a padded seat
Has two inflatable thwarts, 10 D-rings, a carrying bag, a foot pump, and repair kit
Has five air chambers & inflatable floor with the option of adding floorboards
❤️ What we love about this product:
  • Two-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • 400-pound weight limit
  • Designed for fishing
  • Comes with two oars
  • Three-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Made of 1.2mm PVC with 200 Dtex and polyester support
  • Puncture-proof and abrasion-resistant material
  • Self-bailing system
  • Commercial-grade whitewater raft
  • Five-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Adjustable seats
  • Two oarlocks
  • Frame and lean bar
  • 800-pound weight capacity
Classic Accessories Colorado Pontoon Boat
Customer Rating:
-
Price:
$489.97
Size in Ft (LxW):
11.6'x5.5'
Weight capacity (Pounds):
400 pounds (180 kg)
Unique Features:
The catamaran has two inflatable pontoons and a padded seat
❤️ What we love about this product:
  • Two-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • 400-pound weight limit
  • Designed for fishing
  • Comes with two oars
BRIS 1.2mm 13ft Inflatable White Water River Raft Inflatable Boat FloatingTubes
Customer Rating:
Price:
$1,399.00
Size in Ft (LxW):
9.8'x5'
Weight capacity (Pounds):
400 pounds (180 kg)
Unique Features:
Has two inflatable thwarts, 10 D-rings, a carrying bag, a foot pump, and repair kit
❤️ What we love about this product:
  • Three-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Made of 1.2mm PVC with 200 Dtex and polyester support
  • Puncture-proof and abrasion-resistant material
  • Self-bailing system
  • Commercial-grade whitewater raft
Outcast Osg Striker Raft (200-F00340)
Customer Rating:
-
Price:
$3,699.00
Size in Ft (LxW):
11'x5'
Weight capacity (Pounds):
1200 pounds (544 kg)
Unique Features:
Has five air chambers & inflatable floor with the option of adding floorboards
❤️ What we love about this product:
  • Five-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Adjustable seats
  • Two oarlocks
  • Frame and lean bar
  • 800-pound weight capacity
BRIS 1.2mm 9.8ft Inflatable White Water River Raft Inflatable Boat FloatingTubes
INTEX 68373EP Mariner 3 Inflatable Boat Set: Includes Deluxe 54in Boat Oars and High-Output Pump – Wear-Resistant Keel – Removable Fishing Rod Holders – 3-Person – 880lb Weight Capacity
Intex Seahawk 3 Person Heavy Duty Inflatable Rafting and Fishing Boat Set with 2 Aluminum Oars, High Output Air Pump, and Carry Bag, Green/Yellow
INTEX 68325EP Excursion 5 Inflatable Boat Set: includes Deluxe 54in Boat Oars and High-Output Pump – Adjustable Seats with Backrest – Fishing Rod Holders – 5-Person – 1320lb Weight Capacity
Angler Bay Inflatable 6 Person Boat | Lightweight & Portable for a Safe Adventure | Includes Rod Holders, Drink Holders, Drain Plugs, Battery Storage Bag, and Ditty Bag
Customer Rating:
-
-
Price:
$1,099.00
$345.45
$233.00
Price not available
$319.99
Size in Ft (LxW):
9.8'x6'
11.5'x4.75'
7.75'x3.75'
12'x5.5'
11.6'x5.5'
Weight capacity (Pounds):
550 pounds (250 kg)
800 pounds (363 kg)
790 pounds (355 kg)
1300 pounds (590 kg)
700 pounds (318 kg)
Unique Features:
Puncture-proof and abrasion-resistant material and has self bailing system
Has two Boston valves for quick inflating and deflating and 2 layers of heavy duty PVC
Has 4 oarlocks, fishing rod holders and fittings for motor mount
Has manual hand pump, two oars, and a patching kit
Has several beverage holders for a relaxing float on your favorite smooth river
❤️ What we love about this product:
  • Three-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Made of 1.2mm PVC with 200 Dtex and polyester support
  • Puncture-proof and abrasion-resistant material
  • Self-bailing system
  • Commercial-grade whitewater raft
  • Quick to inflate and deflate
  • Two fishing-rod holders
  • Safety and gear pouches
  • Oar mounts
  • The maximum capacity is 800 pounds
  • Four oarlocks
  • All-around grab bar
  • Thick vinyl
  • Tough to tip
  • Weighs 31.4 pounds
  • Four oarlocks
  • Three seats
  • Four fishing rod holders
  • Quick to inflate and deflate
  • Weighs less than 12 pounds
  • Grab lines surround the craft
  • Movable seat
  • Several beverage holders
BRIS 1.2mm 9.8ft Inflatable White Water River Raft Inflatable Boat FloatingTubes
Customer Rating:
Price:
$1,099.00
Size in Ft (LxW):
9.8'x6'
Weight capacity (Pounds):
550 pounds (250 kg)
Unique Features:
Puncture-proof and abrasion-resistant material and has self bailing system
❤️ What we love about this product:
  • Three-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Made of 1.2mm PVC with 200 Dtex and polyester support
  • Puncture-proof and abrasion-resistant material
  • Self-bailing system
  • Commercial-grade whitewater raft
INTEX 68373EP Mariner 3 Inflatable Boat Set: Includes Deluxe 54in Boat Oars and High-Output Pump – Wear-Resistant Keel – Removable Fishing Rod Holders – 3-Person – 880lb Weight Capacity
Customer Rating:
-
Price:
$345.45
Size in Ft (LxW):
11.5'x4.75'
Weight capacity (Pounds):
800 pounds (363 kg)
Unique Features:
Has two Boston valves for quick inflating and deflating and 2 layers of heavy duty PVC
❤️ What we love about this product:
  • Quick to inflate and deflate
  • Two fishing-rod holders
  • Safety and gear pouches
  • Oar mounts
  • The maximum capacity is 800 pounds
Intex Seahawk 3 Person Heavy Duty Inflatable Rafting and Fishing Boat Set with 2 Aluminum Oars, High Output Air Pump, and Carry Bag, Green/Yellow
Customer Rating:
Price:
$233.00
Size in Ft (LxW):
7.75'x3.75'
Weight capacity (Pounds):
790 pounds (355 kg)
Unique Features:
Has 4 oarlocks, fishing rod holders and fittings for motor mount
❤️ What we love about this product:
  • Four oarlocks
  • All-around grab bar
  • Thick vinyl
  • Tough to tip
  • Weighs 31.4 pounds
INTEX 68325EP Excursion 5 Inflatable Boat Set: includes Deluxe 54in Boat Oars and High-Output Pump – Adjustable Seats with Backrest – Fishing Rod Holders – 5-Person – 1320lb Weight Capacity
Customer Rating:
-
Price:
Price not available
Size in Ft (LxW):
12'x5.5'
Weight capacity (Pounds):
1300 pounds (590 kg)
Unique Features:
Has manual hand pump, two oars, and a patching kit
❤️ What we love about this product:
  • Four oarlocks
  • Three seats
  • Four fishing rod holders
  • Quick to inflate and deflate
Angler Bay Inflatable 6 Person Boat | Lightweight & Portable for a Safe Adventure | Includes Rod Holders, Drink Holders, Drain Plugs, Battery Storage Bag, and Ditty Bag
Customer Rating:
Price:
$319.99
Size in Ft (LxW):
11.6'x5.5'
Weight capacity (Pounds):
700 pounds (318 kg)
Unique Features:
Has several beverage holders for a relaxing float on your favorite smooth river
❤️ What we love about this product:
  • Weighs less than 12 pounds
  • Grab lines surround the craft
  • Movable seat
  • Several beverage holders

Price

The price is mainly determined by the brand of the raft. You should not reach too high if you only want to use the raft in smooth waters occasionally. However, investing in a reliable boat is a smart decision, if you want to go on rafts in whiter water of class 3+.

While some brands, such as Intex and Sevylor, offer more budget-friendly options, brands like Bris and NRS offer more high-end models for those seeking top-of-the-line features and construction.

Intex offers affordable inflatable rafts for recreational use. Their rafts can cost around $100-$400. We recommend to only go with the higher end mariner series and don’t take a cheap Intex Polyproylen raft. It will get flattened at the river and your day is ruined!

Aire offers more high-end options with better-quality materials and construction. Aire rafts start at $1,000 .

Bris rafts can cost between $700 to over $1,000, depending on the model and size.

NRS offers high-quality rafts designed for more challenging river conditions. NRS Inflatable Rafts rafts can cost between $2,000-$3,000.

Material

PVC is the standard material, which is not perfectly UV resistant and is a little softer and lighter. PVC is used by most manufacturers as the joints can be rapidly welded using thermal or high-frequency welding. PVC can also easily be glued, making repairs quick and simple. PVC is prone to cracks when the raft is stored in very cold surroundings. The Average PVC raft lasts 5 – 10 years.

CSM (aka Hypalon, Pennel Orca or CP) is used by high-end brands and promises higher UV and Abrasion Resistance, CSM has excellent resistance against chemicals and UV-rays. Furthermore the martial expands and flexes with heat, shock and impact. This leads to a longer life span of CSM rafts which is approximately 15-20 yrs. CSM rafts are much more expensive than PVC Rafts. They cost a minimum of 2-4 times more. They are also heavier, because of the stronger material.

When choosing between PVC, CSM (Hypalon), and Polyurethane, consider the type of environment in which you will be using the boat. If your rafting or fishing spots have sufficient shades, then PVC will likely suffice. But, if you like to test harsher waters while being under heavy sunlight exposure, then CSM (Hypalon) or even Polyurethane will be worth the bigger investment. A higher Dtex value means stronger fibers and therefore a more stable raft.

Polyurethane and Urethane are the most expensive materials. They are extremely strong and almost completely UV resistant. But they are also the heaviest and the boat will become more difficult to handle because of this. Therefore consider also the environment and use-case of your inflatable raft to neither shoot too low nor go over the top material-wise.

The brands: Star, Tributary, Saturn, and Maxxon use PVC in their raft constructions. CSM (Hypalon or Pennel Orca) is used by Avon, NRS, and Hyside. Polyurethane and Urethane are used by: Wing Inflatables, Streamtech and Maravia.

Hypalon was discontinued by its manufacturer DuPont in 2009. It is since then sold under slightly different formulas and new names. NRS uses Pennel Orca as Hypalon substitute. Both materials are “CSM” or Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene Rubber, sometimes also abbreviated as CP (therefore no difference). However, the name Hypalon is still common in everyday language.

PVC and CSM (Hypalon) are two of the most common materials used for manufacturing inflatable boats, while polyurethane and urethane are other available options.

While PVC is generally effective in enduring punctures and abrasions, it is not as great in withstanding UV rays and corrosive chemicals as compared to CSM (Hypalon).

CSM (Hypalon) on the other hand, is almost completely resistant to UV degradation, corrosive substances, and extreme temperatures.

NRS claims that its product is built using a material called Pennel Orca, which possesses the same properties as Hypalon. In fact, Hypalon and Pennel Orca are both chlorosulfonated polyethylene (CP).

On the flip side CSM-constructed crafts tend to be heavier, less flexible, and pricier than PVC-made ones,

Polyurethane and Urethane are the ULTIMATE material used for inflatable rafts. Synthetic polymers are known for strength, durability, and resistance to abrasion. They are also resistant to UV rays, chemicals, and extreme temperatures, which makes them an ideal material for inflatable boats that are meant to be used in harsh environments.

Compared to PVC and CSM (Hypalon), both polyurethane and urethane are more expensive, but they offer superior durability, longevity, and performance. However, they are also heavier and less flexible than PVC and Hypalon, which may make them less suitable for certain applications.

puncture and abrasion resistance of pvc hypalon and pur
Puncture and abrasion resistance of PVC, hypalon and Polyurethane (Source: Tornado-Boats)

PVC PROS & CONS

Pros:

Less expensive

Cons:

UV resistance limited
Less resistance against chemicals, gas, oil, and abrasion
Prone to cracking in extremely cold temperatures
Shorter life span: Average PVC raft lasts 5 – 10 years

CSM (HYPALON) PROS & CONS

Pros:

Excellent resistance against chemicals and UV-rays
Expands and flexes with heat, shock and impact
Longer life span of 15-20 yrs.

Cons:

More expensive than PVC (Rafts costs 2-4 times more)

Best Inflatable River Rafts Buyers Guide – Your Guide to Selecting the Best Product

When you are in the market for an inflatable river raft, you have plenty of options. Manufacturers make them for specific boating activities, and they do not cross over into other ones. They have a wide range of price points based on their construction and purpose. Some rafts hold several people, and others less than 4-people, like the ones we’ve featured.

Types of Inflatable River Rafts

There are several types of inflatable river rafts. Manufacturers make them for different levels of white water and different river activities. 

White Water River Rafts

If you enjoy hitting the rapids, the white water river craft is for you. This type of inflatable raft is similar to the 6-person rafts in another article. The white water raft is a heavy-duty expedition-level craft that can withstand the currents and power of whitewater. They can hold several people and their gear. 

These are heavy boats and take time to inflate. When transporting them, owners often pull them on a trailer. These are not ideal for calm water, as their shape is suited to bouncing around speedy rivers and maneuvering around rocks and other obstacles. 

Fishing River Rafts

An inflatable river raft designed for fishing might be the right choice for you if you enjoy angling on rivers and calm lakes. These are not meant for whitewater rafting, because manufacturers outfit them with fishing rod holders and swiveling seats. They usually have a spot for a trolling motor. You won’t see that on a whitewater raft. 

The flat hull of fishing rafts makes it possible for anglers to stand up in them and cast their rods, especially if the raft comes with a floorboard. Like white water rafts, owners tend to tow them on trailers because they are complicated to inflate and build on the spot. 

Recreational River Rafts

A recreational river raft is better suited for gentle floats and light white water. These are not as heavy or durable as white water rafts, and you should use them in anything more than Class II white water. They are easy to inflate and deflate, so owners can roll them up and transport them in the trunk of their vehicles. 

These usually come with oars and inflatable seats. You shouldn’t use them on long expeditions, but for river floats on a sunny day. They are less expensive than white water rafts and fishing rafts. Because manufacturers make them for occasional use, boaters find them less likely to capsize than other inflatable rafts. 

Advantages of Using Inflatable River Rafts

River rafts are popular watercraft on rivers because their design makes them less likely to be damaged by rocks, trees, or other obstacles. River rafts are maneuverable, durable, and lightweight. They are easy to transport to and from river launch sites. Many are large and have room for coolers, seats, and other types of gear. 

When you use a hard-hull boat on a river, you have to worry about

  • Avoiding rocks and trees
  • Using a large trailer
  • Paying for insurance
  • Filling it fuel
  • Paying for repairs
  • Registering it with the state

The inflatable portions of the river rafts act like bumpers. When you hit a rock or other obstacle, river rafts bounce off and continue down the river. Hard-hull boats do not do this. Inflatable boats usually have oars because they are easy to maneuver and row down the river. 

Inflatable river rafts are less expensive than hard-hull boats. You do not need to fill them with expensive boat fuel, register them with the state, or insure them. You simply bring your craft to the launch and go. 

Disadvantages of Using Inflatable River Rafts

If you plan to use a river raft on white water, you cannot use a thin raft designed for floating down a calm river. Class III and IV white water can be tough on any craft, and the less expensive rafts will not withstand the beating. So, you have to buy a heavy-duty raft if you plan to use it in a heavy-duty way. Furthermore, even the best inflatable river rafts don’t keep track as well as rafts with a rigid floor. If you want a little more track you probably prefer one of the Best Rigid Inflatable Boats instead.

Inflating River Rafts

Inflatable river rafts need to be inflated, and eventually, they need to be deflated. These processes take time. If you inflate your raft at the launch, you might not have access to electricity to fill it quickly. Blowing them up with foot pumps or hand pumps can be time-consuming and exhausting. 

Deflating River Rafts

When you deflate the river raft, you can’t just push the air out and leave the raft alone. They need to be cleaned and rinsed; you would be surprised how dirty rafts get on the river and at the launch site. Then, they need time to dry before you store them for the next time. 

Watching for Pointed Objects

Depending on the denier (thickness) of the material, you must watch for pointy objects while floating down the river. Local or DNR groups maintain some rivers, so they remove trees and other potentially damaging objects regularly. But, waterways that aren’t maintained have objects that could poke through your raft. 

Because sharp, pointed objects can puncture an inflatable river raft, you have to be vigilant in your quest to avoid them. It is also essential to bring a repair kit with you on your floats. 

Weather Issues

If you plan to use your raft when the weather reaches below freezing, think twice about using an inflatable raft. The heavy-duty whitewater rafts might be able to withstand frigid temperatures because they have durable PVC. The material is flexible, but at low temperatures, the flexibility decreases. 

In cold temperatures, your chances of puncturing your raft increase. If you have a recreation raft made with lesser materials, you should definitely follow the manufacturer’s temperature recommendations. 

Tough to Row

An inflatable river raft is not your best choice if you are planning on rowing around a lake. These are fat boats that do not cut through the water like a boat with a pointed bow. They are clunky, and you will tire quickly, trying to row it through waters without a current.  

Using Your Inflatable River Raft the Right Way

The different types of crafts should be used in the ways they are intended. For example, an inflatable river raft designed for fishing should not be used on white water. You should not use a recreation river raft for fishing. And, the white water raft is not a good choice for gentle floating down a river. 

Features

Despite being made for specific purposes, inflatable river rafts of all types have similar features. Let’s break down these features:

  • Durability
  • Capacity
  • Materials
  • Self-Bailing
  • Oars

Durability

River rafts come with different levels of durability. If you are using your raft for whitewater rafting or for fishing, the raft will need to withstand the possibility of being punctured. Whitewater rafts often have several chambers to prevent catastrophes while floating. 

Inflatable fishing rafts also have several chambers to prevent accidents with fishing rods and hooks. On the flip side, the recreational river raft is often made of the same materials used for inflatable mattresses. They are not designed to be puncture-resistant, because they are not designed to be on rough water or near fishing hooks.  

Capacity

Large white water rafts need to hold several people and their gear. Some people take whitewater river rafts on overnight trips. If gear doesn’t fit, the raft guides will tow it behind in another craft. Some of the large floats hold six or more passengers and a guide. 

River rafts designed for fishing usually hold between two and four people. Recreational rafts generally have the same capacity as fishing rafts. If your raft can hold four people, you might find that when four people are in the craft, it feels cramped. 

Materials

Floating down the river might sound like a safe, gentle activity. But even the calmest rivers can have areas that have quick-moving water or twists and turns filled with obstacles. Inflatable river rafts have durable reinforced PVC outer shells. Many have fabric that enhances the PVC. 

The recreational rafts have vinyl shells that are not reinforced but often have strong seams. Fishing river rafts have shells made of heavier duty vinyl. The whitewater river raft needs to be puncture- and abrasion-resistant. 

Inflatable river rafts of all types need to be reliable valves. They need to take the pressure of continual pumping and remain sealed in a variety of high-pressure situations. Some river rafts, especially the high-quality whitewater versions, have self-bailing features that use pumps, so the valves must be able to work under pressure. 

Self-Bailing

Whitewater rafts designed for use on Class III and higher sometimes have self-bailing features. These are useful choices for rafters who run their boats on rapids on the Arkansas River or Colorado River, to name a few. 

Self-bailing whitewater rafts have drain holes that let water move out of the boat and into the river. This takes away the need to bail your boat with a pail or your hands. 

Assembly

Inflatable river rafts get their name because they have air chambers that you must fill before going asea. Most inflatable rafts have several air chambers. So if you have more than one person around and a handful of pumps, your work speeds up.

If you are close to an electricity source, you should use an electric air pump to fill your raft rapidly. Otherwise, a foot pump is a good option. These have flexible bellows with a rigid plastic shell on the top and bottom. As you step on the pump, the air exits through a hose into your raft. When you take your foot off of the pump, the pump refills for the next step. 

For the best results on the water, fill your raft as directed by the owner’s manual. Most manufacturers recommend filling it to capacity to maximize the weight limit and the buoyancy. 

Maintaining Your Inflatable River Raft

Inflatable boats are relatively easy to maintain. The most important part is never to store it while it is wet. If you have a large inflatable whitewater river raft, you will most likely keep it on the trailer throughout the season. The other types of river rafts are easier to deflate and pack away when not in use. 

No matter what type of river raft you have, when you finish your float, you should clean it. You can clean the rafts when they are inflated or deflated. 

Cleaning is usually as simple as spraying it off with a hose. Remember that river rafts have nooks and crannies that you can easily miss. So, don’t forget to get into those crevices where the chambers meet. Flip the raft over, and spray the bottom, too. After you have cleaned it, you can spray it with a protectant. 

After you have sprayed off the raft, deflate it. Then, let it dry, but don’t leave it out in the sun for too long. Once the boat is dry, put it away. Some river rafts roll up and fit into handy carrying sacks. When you store your boat, keep it in an enclosed area, so the PVC does not get sun damage. 

Safety Tips

Inflatable river rafts provide plenty of fun for adults and for kids. When you follow safety rules, your day on the rapids, out fishing, or on a float can be memorable for the right reasons. There are several important safety tips to consider. 

Follow the Manufacturer’s Recommendations

Always fill the boat to the recommended capacity. Be sure to close the valves when you have finished inflating the boat. Then, inspect the boat for leaks. Look for holes and listen for hissing sounds. It is better to catch them on dry land than out on the water. 

Bring a Safety Kit

You never know what will happen on the water. Having a small, waterproof safety kit with a small patch kit, waterproof bandages, a few matches, and anything else you can fit inside is wise. If you have one that large enough, include a small hand pump and flashlight, too. 

Take Care of Your Raft on Dry Land

If you have to inflate your raft at the launch, look for a spot that is relatively clear of rocks, twigs, and other objects that could puncture it. No matter what type of raft you have, never drag it on the land. 

Use Life Jackets

It doesn’t matter what type of swimmer you are; you should always wear a life jacket while on an inflatable river raft. If you bring children with you, give them life jackets for kids, so they fit correctly. Check out our interactive resource for the US Drowning Statistics, Worldwide Drowning Statistics, and Drowning Prevention.

Follow Local Laws

When you are in public waters, you should follow local laws. Most states have rules about drinking and boating, fishing with a license, wearing life jackets, and more. Be aware of them, so you stay safe. Nothing ruins a trip like being arrested while on the water. 

Accessories 

Inflatable rafts are great little boats on their own, but a few accessories will significantly improve your floats. These are a few must-haves:

Oars 

Many rafts come with a set of oars. If yours doesn’t come with them, a set of telescoping oars are easy to put in the craft for the moments when the river slows. 

Inflatable seats

Recreational rafts and fishing rafts usually have inflatable seats, cushions, or thwarts. They come with differing degrees of rigidity and back support.

Dry bag

If you are bringing your smartphone, dry clothes, and other items on your raft, you will want a dry bag. These are made of flexible PVC and roll closed to keep water out. Always attach it to your river raft with a carabiner, so you do not lose it if your raft flips or you hit intense rapids. 

Carabiners

These little clips let you attach essential items to the raft. It is better to have too many carabiners than not enough. 

Ropes

Having a few waterproof ropes allows you to attach your raft to other boats. They also let you tie up your gear, like dry bags, coolers, and inflatable seats. If you want to keep things while rafting, you must attach them to the craft. 

Clothing

The clothing you wear can make or break your rafting excursion. Most people get wet while rafting and river water can be chilly. Many people like to wear water shoes or sandals that attach over the ankle with velcro. They also put a strap on their eyeglasses to keep them from falling off. Many people wear large-brimmed hats to prevent sunburns. 

Wrap Up of the best inflatable river rafts

There is an inflatable river raft for all types of activities. They come in several sizes, and many can be deflated and rolled tightly enough to fit into a car trunk. They come in several price points, but the commercial-grade rafts tend to be the most expensive. 

Inflatable river rafts are excellent choices for people who do not want to invest in a solid-hull boat. When buying a river raft, be sure to choose one that is designed for your favorite activity. Most are highly specific crafts meant for whitewater rafting, gentle floats, or river fishing

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Last update on 2024-07-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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