- The Best Rigid Inflatable Boat Reviews (Editor’s Picks)
- 1. Inflatable Sport Boats Dolphin 8.8′ – Model SB-270A
- 2. Inflatable Sport Boats Shark 9.8′ – Model SB-300-2021
- 3. Inflatable Sport Boats Killer Whale 10.8′ – Model SB-330-2021
- 4. Inflatable Boat Dinghy Tender Aluminum Segmented Floor 9 feet
- 5. SEAMAX Ocean320 Heavy Duty 10.5 Feet Inflatable Boat
- 6. Classic Accessories Colorado Inflatable Fishing Pontoon Boat With Motor Mount
- 7. Newport Vessels Premium Inflatable Dinghy Sport Tender Boat Air Floor
- Rigid Inflatable Boat Buyers Guide: Making the Best Purchase
- Benefits of Using Rigid Inflatable Boats
- Drawbacks of Using Rigid Inflatable Boats
- How to Decide on the Right Rigid Inflatable Boat
- Maintaining Your Rigid Inflatable Boat
- Best Rigid Inflatable Boat Comparison Chart
- Wrap Up
- Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re looking for a boat with better performance levels, improved sea keeping ability,and unlimited style and size choices, then a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) may be your ideal solution.
RIBs differ from the typical inflatable in that they have solid contoured hulls. This makes them a perfect combination of an inflatable and traditional fiberglass boat. The rigidity adds extra weight to the vessel, allowing superior performance in the water.
RIBs also come with a deep-V hull, which helps them quickly get on the plane and cut through waves easily. Like with traditional inflatable boats, RIBs have tubes at the topside for maximum buoyancy and stability.
Whether you’ll be using your RIB for Coast Guard operations, fishing, or other water excursions, we can help you find the right boat with RIB boat reviews and an in-depth buying guide. In no time, you’ll find the best rigid inflatable boat for your needs.
(If you are in search of an inflatable boat for fishing, please visit: Best Inflatable Fishing Boats )
The Best Rigid Inflatable Boat Reviews (Editor’s Picks)
Below, we’ve compiled a list of the best rigid inflatable boats. We’ve also included some key features as well as pros and cons to help you decide on the right boat for you.
Sports Boats’ Dolphin 8.8’ inflatable boat is U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved and comes with tons of features. Nautical engineers came up with the white contoured design, so you can rest knowing experts crafted this dinghy.
The boat’s durable material protects against the sun’s heat and fading. The seams of the boat are heat-welded, so you don’t have to worry about using problematic glue and nose cones.
This inflatable boat has extended rear pontoons and a transom area, allowing for easy planing. The boat also supports larger motors for increased speed.
Because this boat is more rigid than the typical inflatable, you might be worried that it isn’t very portable. However, you’ll be happy to know that Sport Boat’s Dolphin is highly portable. Plus, you can easily disassemble it in 10 minutes.
- Heat-welded seams for durability in freshwater, saltwater, and extreme humidity
- Easy to assemble
- Thick PVC for a stable boat floor
- UV, oil stain, and puncture-resistant PVC material
- Weak inflation adaptor
- May be prone to leaking from the scupper
- May experience a hump in the air floor
Sport Boats’ Shark 9.8’ inflatable boat is a larger version of the Dolphin 8.8’. Compared with its smaller counterpart, the Shark 9.8’ comes with two aluminum bench seats instead of one.
The Dolphin 8.8’ also comes with a drop-stitch high-pressure air deck floor, while the Shark 9.8’ has an easy-slide aluminum floor that allows for more stability and strength on the water. This vessel can also hold one more person – five instead of four.
If you’ve had difficulty in the past with carrying inflatable boats, then you might appreciate this one as it comes with carrying handles on the inside of the back pontoons.
Sport Boat’s Shark 9.8’ is excellent for fishing as its stable bottom can stand while casting a fishing line in the water. And if you’re looking for a boat that allows you to easily switch seats with other passengers, then this boat may be for you.
- Comes with two aluminum bench seats
- Includes a storage bag
- Aluminum floors for greater stability
- Can hold at least four people
- USCG approved
- May be difficult to assemble for the first time
- May be difficult to find a cover for this particular model
- Water tends to hide under the floorboards
Sport Boats’ Killer Whale 10.8’ inflatable boat is the brand’s largest construction. It comes with a max load of 1,268 pounds and a five-person maximum capacity. The boat’s extended pontoons and reinforced transom allow for greater maximum weight and larger motors.
Plus, it planes out easily. With the boat’s design, you can tell the designers put a lot of thought into it. For example, the placement of the carrying handles, the quality of the aluminum floor, and the heat-welded seams all work together to ensure the durability and stability of the vessel.
The size and speed of this boat are both great for rough and high seas. It’s also stable and easy to handle.
And if you’ve had inflatables in the past that require you to constantly inflate them before each use, then you’ll be happy with the Killer Whale 10.8’. You’ll find that after inflating for the first time, it will still be fully inflated, which means you almost never have to add more air.
- Heat-welded seams
- Can hold up to five people
- 15HP max power
- Durable material
- Inflatable keep and V hull
- Razor-sharp aluminum floor connectors may cause PVC perforations
- aluminum floor installation may be difficult for the first time
- Instructions aren’t very detailed
The Brine 9’ inflatable boat is durable and can hold up to four people. It comes with longitudinal stringers that help reinforce segmented aluminum floors.
This solid construction makes this boat a sound choice for divers and coastal fisherman who need a sturdy floor and a boat with a high performance. The boat’s added rigidity also keeps the aluminum from absorbing water.
The boat can get on plane easily, thanks to the inflatable keel under the solid floor. Plus, its thermo-bonded seams help reduce leaks and increase air-holding ability.
While this boat doesn’t come with a motor, it can handle up to a 10HP motor. And if you’re a stickler for quality, then you’ll be pleased to know the manufacturers are highly meticulous about quality control. Therefore, you’ll know you’re getting a high-quality boat that’s set to last you for years to come.
- Comes with inflation pump, oars, repair kit, and storage bag
- UV-treated fabric
- Segmented aluminum floor design
- Meets international EN ISO 6185-1 standards
- USCG approved
- Drain cord and attachment plug need improvement
- Installing the aluminum floor may be challenging for some
- Repair kit doesn’t come with glue
The SEAMAX Ocean320 Heavy Duty 10.5’ inflatable boat is made of marine-grade PVC coating fabric. Plus, the seams on the boat are double heat-welded.
It’s also 3-layer overlapped. This significantly decreases the chances of leaks and other issues with the seams. The strong seams ensure the boat lasts for a long time.
This RIB comes with two bench seats, which can hold up to four people. The SEAMAX Ocean320 is different than the previous version. The manufacturer moved the transom back about six inches. This new configuration allows for a larger inner space, even without increasing the length of the boat. As a result, you and your passengers will be more comfortable.
If you’ve struggled with registering your boats in the past, then you’ll get peace of mind with the SEAMAX Ocean320. The boat comes with important documents from the DMV office, including the Bill of Sale and the Certificate of Origin.
- 4-layer, overlapped seam for maximum strength
- Heavy-duty lifeline around the entire boat
- D-ring kits installed on the pontoons
- Stable for standing
- Comes with a repair kit
- May be expensive to some
- Only comes in two colors
- Full coverage warranty only one year
Classic Accessories’ Colorado Inflatable Boat comes with a motor mount for trolling. If you love fishing, then this boat is likely the best choice. It’s especially useful for fishermen because it has a rod holder, which you can mount in three different positions on each oar stand.
This boat has superior performance on the water. Plus, it’s highly stable, easy to maneuver and control, and easy to assemble and deflate
If you’re looking for a cheap rib boat that’s easy to transport, then this one may be for you. It can fit perfectly in the bed of a full-sized pickup.
The padded seat is comfortable to sit in, even for hours on the water. Plus, rowing this boat takes minimal effort, even in mild winds. The storage that comes with the vessel can hold a lot of things, such as a small cooler, fishing gear, and more.
Classic Accessories’ inflatable boat is made of durable material, which means it can hold up well against scratching and scraping from rocks, gravel, and other rough terrains.
- Padded seat
- Weather-proof motor mount
- Three-oar lock positions
- Large storage capacity
- Anchor system with fillable mesh bag
- Can only seat one person
- Can be heavy when transporting unassembled
- Doesn’t come with a swivel seat
The Newport Vessels boat can hold about one to two people, so it’s a small rib boat. However, if you plan to be solo on your water excursions, this small capacity won’t be a problem.
The boat’s drop-stitch air mat floor is so sturdy and firm, you can walk on it. Yet, it will still offer comfort for your knees and feet. Plus, its inflatable keel makes for excellent handling, stability, and smoothness.
Some rigid inflatable boats can be difficult to store. But that’s not something you’ll have to worry about with this boat. You’ll be able to inflate and deflate it with ease.
If you’re looking for a lightweight RIB with a V-hull that handles well with or without a motor, then the Newport Vessels inflatable boat may be right for you.
Furthermore, the boat comes with a repair kit. So if you’re in a pinch and you’re stuck offshore, you can fix it quickly. No need to go purchase or order a repair kit online.
- PVC hull
- Drop-stitch high-pressure air mat floor
- Comes with carrying and storage bag
- Easy to inflate and deflate
- Triple-layered PVC for protection against the sun, corrosion, salt, etc.
- Not the fastest
- Not the most durable option
- Included air pump is low pressure
Rigid Inflatable Boat Buyers Guide: Making the Best Purchase
A rigid inflatable boat can be an excellent investment and can make your boating excursions more enjoyable.
However, depending on the type of water activity you’ll be participating in, it’s best to do some research before shelling out the cash. Here, we highlight a few best practices for choosing the best rigid-hulled boat for your needs.
How Rigid Inflatable Boats Are Different From Traditional Inflatable Boats
If you’re looking to purchase a RIB from Zodiac, West Marine, or another major brand, you should know a bit about them and what makes them different (or better) than a traditional boat.
A rigid inflatable boat or rigid-hulled inflatable boat is a hybrid between an inflatable boat and a traditional boat. This gives you the best of both worlds on your water adventures. If you’re looking for more stability, a better performance, and excellent buoyancy, then a RIB would be an excellent option.
However, those benefits won’t sacrifice the portability and the lightweight design of your boat. Because RIBs are inflatable, you can inflate them and deflate them whenever you need to, making them easier to transport around.
Yet RIBs aren’t as portable as traditional inflatable boats. You won’t be able to take the rigid hull apart. It’ll only break down into large pieces.
Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Rigid Inflatable Boat
There’s no point in buying a rigid inflatable boat if it’s not going to meet your needs. There are various things to consider before buying a rigid inflatable boat. such as:
- How you’ll be using the boat: If you just want a boat for beach fun or for general recreation, investing so much in a RIB wouldn’t be the smartest decision. But if you’re looking to use your boat as a tender, as a utility boat, or for speed, then a RIB would be ideal.
- The water and weather conditions you’ll be using the boat in: If you’re going to be boating in harsh sea and weather conditions, a RIB should best serve your needs. The buoyancy and performance you’ll get with this type of vessel will ensure you won’t sink or fall overboard. A regular inflatable boat usually doesn’t offer the same security and safety.
- The number of people who will be riding in it: Depending on the size of the RIB, it can hold up to 20 passengers. So a RIB is a great family boat.
- How you’ll transport the boat: Do you have a pickup truck? Will you be using a trailer? If you don’t have a whole lot of space to store your RIB, you may consider going with a more compact option like a traditional inflatable boat.
- Where you’ll store the boat: Will you be storing your boat in your garage, backyard, shed, etc.? Make sure you have ample space to store your RIB before you decide to buy one.
Benefits of Using Rigid Inflatable Boats
There are quite a few advantages of owning a rigid inflatable boat. If you’re okay with making the extra investment, you’ll find that it was worth it for a number of reasons.
Traditional inflatable boats can be challenging to manuever because they don’t have a hard v-hull. Rigid inflatable boats have a hard v-hull, which allows you to track just as well as a traditional boat.
Because RIBs are more lightweight than traditional vessels, they’re more responsive and easy to manuever. This feature is especially helpful when moving in tight spaces and around other boats. The responsiveness and maneuverability are also great for side-tying to other boats and make docking simpler and safer.
Speed and Power
RIBs are highly compatible with powerful motors. Plus, their lightweight construction makes them extremely fast. Their incredible speed and power make RIBs excellent for rescue missions in intense ocean conditions. That’s why military, law enforcement, and towing companies find RIBs useful in emergency situations.
RIBs are more fuel-efficient than other types of boats. That’s because of their lightweight design. As a result, you don’t need a lot of power to start the boat and get up on the plane. In other words, you can travel a long distance without using tons of gas.
This benefit will be especially valuable to you if you’ll be using your RIB for business purposes such as whale watching and touring. You’ll be able to save a significant amount of money on fuel.
Another benefit to owning a rigid inflatable boat is you can use it for a variety of purposes, including:
- Recreation: Whether you like watersports, diving, or exploring, you can’t go wrong with a RIB. These boats are also suitable for families as you can seat more people.
- Law enforcement and military: First responders, police, marine patrol, and military officials (i.e. Coast Guard, Navy, and Army) need boats with precision and high performance to navigate through any ocean or weather conditions.
- Commercial use: Whether you’ll be using your RIB for tours or watching for whales in the open ocean, you’ll enjoy the stability your boat has to offer.
Safety is perhaps the number one concern when purchasing a boat because weather and water conditions can be unpredictable. Plus, accidents happen. Therefore, you want to be sure you’ll be completely safe while out on the water, especially if you’ll be bringing kids along for a ride.
In 2017, 449 of 658 deaths that occurred on a boat (68 percent) were caused by drowning. To put that into perspective, the majority of boating incidents that resulted in death were caused by drowning. Thus, safety is vital. For more information on safety during water excursions, visit our interactive resource for U.S. and worldwide drowning statistics.
RIBs are incredibly safe because they have an inflatable collar surrounding them. The inflatable collar can come in handy in a serious collision as it reduces the impact of the crash. RIBs are also safe because they’re made of strong material and are pretty much unsinkable.
The protective, cushioned siding of RIBs provides increased stability when compared to their traditional hard-hulled counterparts. Because of their superior buoyancy, it’s extremely hard to sink RIBs, making them highly stable. Even if you’re going at high speeds, stability won’t be an issue.
Drawbacks of Using Rigid Inflatable Boats
Like any other boat, RIBs come with their disadvantages. Be sure to consider the pros and cons. This way, you can determine whether the good outweighs the bad, or vice versa.
Because of their increased performance and size, rigid inflatable boats tend to cost more than traditional inflatable boats. They’re also heavier to launch and bring ashore, so if portability is important to you, then buying a RIB may not be your best bet.
Transporting RIBs is also more difficult. They usually require a trailer if you’re bringing your boat on the road.
Because of their larger size and unique construction, RIBs aren’t easy to store. If you don’t have a ton of storage at home, then you’ll likely have put your boat in a storage facility during the winter.
Despite these shortcomings, RIBs are excellent for numerous applications.
How to Decide on the Right Rigid Inflatable Boat
There are a few things to look for in a RIB. When deciding on the right RIB, consider the design and material of each boat you look at.
There are usually two options you can choose from when it comes to the hull layout: single-skin and double-skin. With a single-skin RIB, you walk on the inside of the hull bottom. But if you have a double-skin RIB, you walk on a flat floor inside the boat.
The most lightweight option is the single-skin RIB as they won’t have a storage locker in the bow. The problem with single-skin RIBs is that they tend to accumulate water in the V bottom. But if you’re going to be riding your RIB in the islands, this won’t be an issue.
On the other hand, double-skin RIBs have a flat interior floor and an area that accumulates spray and water so that your feet and cargo won’t get wet. The downside to having more storage is a heavier construction. So if you’re looking for the most lightweight design, a single-skin RIB may be the best option.
The hulls of RIBs are usually made of polypropylene, fiberglass, and aluminum. While polypropylene is a tough material that can protect against major damage, most manufacturers use aluminum and fiberglass to build RIB hulls.
aluminum RIBs are lighter than their fiberglass counterparts. However, aluminum-hulled RIBs tend to be noisier and even too light for rough waters. Many boaters enjoy the fact that aluminum is quite resistant against abrasions, making it a better choice over fiberglass. While aluminum RIBs are tough, they’re often pricier than fiberglass dinghies.
If you’ve been boating for a long time, then you likely have experience with wear and tear caused by certain elements such as the sun, rain, and saltwater.
Most RIB tubes are made of PVC or Hypalon. Both materials are strong and long-lasting. However, Hypalon is a tougher fabric, making it more resistant to IV radiation and to fuel. Plus, the seams have to be glued. Together, these factors make hypalon boats a bit heavier and pricer than PVC RIBs.
Even though Hypalon is more resistant to UV, PVC tubes are usually the more attractive option because they’re heat-welded, which helps prevent air leaks. Therefore, if you’re going to be storing your boat in the winter, PVC fabric may be the better choice. And if you’re worried about protection against UV rays, abrasions, cuts, and scrapes, you can always place a chap over your boat.
Maintaining Your Rigid Inflatable Boat
If you want to keep your rigid inflatable boat in tip-top shape, then taking care of it is crucial. This is especially true if you’re going to be using your RIB in saltwater. But even if you’re not, it’s still good practice to maintain it to prolong its life. Here we list a few tips for maintaining your RIB.
Clean Your RIB Regularly
After your water excursions, get in the habit of rising your boat with fresh water to get rid of any debris.This will keep salt crystals from forming and will keep oils and other chemicals from seeping into the deck.
Use a brush to spot clean your boat. Avoid using certain cleaning products like bleach, acetone, and ammonia as they can damage your boat.
Don’t forget to clean your upholstery as saltwater and other debris can get on it too. If you’re going to be leaving your boat outside for a while, make sure you use seat coverings to protect your seats from UV radiation. You can also spray it with a protective UV coating that protects it from sun damage.
Store Your RIB Properly
To properly store your RIB, be sure to:
- Keep it inflated
- Cover it
- Put it away dry
- Don’t store it with fuel
- Flush your engine
- Disconnect the battery
If you plan on storing your RIB on a trailer, make sure you release the handbrake to prevent it from seizing into an engaged position. Also, wash down the brakes as corrosion from saltwater can cause them to seize
Wax Your Hull
Clean your hull to keep bugs and dirt from getting into your hull. Then wax the bottom of the hull. As a result, it’ll be easier to clean your hull in the future.
Maintain Your Inflatable Siding
Keep oily substances away from your inflatable siding. This will prevent chemicals from interacting with the tubing material, making it sticky. You should also do the same for fuel. Ensure you clean up spills as soon as possible.
To protect your inflatable siding, you can use a water-based protectant. This will protect against UV radiation.
Protect Your Engine
While you’ll likely be purchasing your engine separately, it’s still a part of your RIB. So take care of it accordingly. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintaining your engine. Make sure you’re doing basic maintenance like oil changes and replacing fuel filters.
Best Rigid Inflatable Boat Comparison Chart
|Product Name||Price||Size in Inches (LxW)||Weight capacity (Pounds)||Distinct Features|
|Inflatable Sport Boats Dolphin 8.8' – Model SB-270A||$$$||105x60||1070||US Coast Guard approved, Thick PVC for stable boat floor|
|Inflatable Sport Boats Shark 9.8' – Model SB-300-2020||$$$||105.6x60||1158||US Coast Guard approved, Aluminum floors for greater stability|
|Inflatable Sport Boats Killer Whale 10.8' – Model SB-330-2020||$$$||129x63||1268||US Coast Guard approved, Inflatable keep and V hull|
|Inflatable Boat Dinghy Tender Aluminum Segmented Floor 9 feet||$$$||130x62||1111||US Coast Guard approved, UV-treated fabric|
|SEAMAX Ocean320 Heavy Duty 10.5 Feet Inflatable Boat||$$$||126x60||660||4-layer, overlapped seam for maximum strength, repair kit|
|Classic Accessories Colorado Inflatable Fishing Pontoon Boat With Motor Mount||$$$||108x56||650||Anchor system with fillable mesh bag, Padded seat|
|Newport Vessels Premium Inflatable Dinghy Sport Tender Boat Air Floor||$$$||120x63||650||PVC hull, Drop-stitch high-pressure air mat floor|
If you’re in the market for a rigid inflatable boat, hopefully, our recommendations will help point you in the right direction. But it’s important to make sure you understand the features of a boat and how well (or not so well) it aligns with your needs.
For example, the speediest boat may be a lot of fun on the water, but if it’s not made of the strongest material, then it may not be for you, especially if you’re going to be out in the sun a lot. So make sure you’re thinking about every aspect before purchasing a RIB.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you still find yourself a bit lost when it comes to rigid inflatable boats, take a look at the following questions that many people like you frequently ask.
How Fast Can RIB Boats Go?
The answer to this question depends on the RIB’s brand, size, weight capacity, and supported horsepower. However, a typical RIB with six passengers and 110 horsepower can likely go up to 56 km/h. High-performance RIBs, on the other hand, can operate at a speed between 74 and 130 km/h.
Are RIBs Coast Guard Approved?
Yes and no. While not all RIBs are Coast Guard approved, some manufacturers do go through the extra steps and testing to certify their RIBs.
Keep in mind that some manufacturers may claim their RIB is USCG approved, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it is. That’s because there’s no testing protocol and advertised ratings can be determined arbitrarily by each manufacturer.
How Many Passengers Can RIBs Seat?
In general, RIBs can seat between 1 to 20 passengers. The exact number will depend on the weight capacity of the boat as well as its size.
How Big Are RIBs?
The size range for RIBs is very broad. While many rigid inflatable boats are 13 to 28 feet long, their length can range between 7.5 and 55 feet.