best inflatable raft
Inflatable rafts are user-friendly, flexible and enjoyable to use for those interested in floating downstream and whitewater rafting. There is a wide variety of rafts available in the market that are designed to fit into different lifestyles and needs. It is very necessary to do a background check to avoid ending up with a raft that does not serve your purpose. Most of the rafts are paddled using a single-bladed paddle. There are three main categories of rafts available in the market namely, inflatable fishing rafts, whitewater rafts and pool rafts. These different types of rafts work well as per their purpose. As such, an inflatable fishing boat will not work well if used in a swimming pool since it will be too heavy.
Toy rafts are especially made for children to float with in a swimming pool or a controlled environment. They are not designed for long distance trips downstream since they are too light and cannot withstand the waves. On the other hand, fishing rafts are heavy designed to withstand the waves downstream and for long distance trips be it in the rivers or lakes. Additionally, the toy rafts are made from thin PVC plastic with two air chambers. The fishing rafts are made from thick PVC, stronger, sturdier and heavy duty materials. They also have many tubes for retaining buoyancy in the event one of the tube loses air or gets damaged.
Raft materials and construction
The kind of raft materials to use in constructing your inflatable is highly dictated by your geographic location and budget.
The materials mostly used include;PVC materials are less expensive but do not last for long due to cracking issues if rolled during cold temperatures. PVC is not tough enough hence cannot be used in the construction of commercial rafts.
Urethane sheets are welded together in the construction of rafts that do well in rocky rivers. It is lightweight, and the fabric is durable with the best resistance to tear and punctures.
Rafts made from urethane are fairly expensive, difficult to repair and tough to roll and transport.
Hypalon material is durable and east to repair with more abrasion and puncture resistant compared to PVC.Inflatable rafts are good for fishing and they can go far into the ocean or river.
This all depends on their build quality and use of a motor. As such, your movement is not restricted to the shoreline only.
Types of Rafts
They are classified into two namely descriptive classes and international standard rafts. The descriptive classes have some features meant for the higher categories.
They include;Rescue rafts which are mainly used to keep survivors floating in water for short periods and increase their time of survival by reducing hypothermia.
They do not have any gear and a ballast system.Coast guard approved rafts are equipped with insulated canopies for colder climates.Near shore or coastal rafts come with only one buoyancy tube, an automatic or manual canopy, and a ballast system.
Ocean or offshore rafts come with one or two buoyancy tubes, a modern ballast system and a self-erecting canopy. They also have an insulated floor and more gear which is necessary for monitoring while the canopy is closed. Some of them come with strong features, which essentially depends on your budget and the weight you are ready to handle
Storage of Rafts
Inflated rafts are more prone to damage. As a result, most of the manufacturers agree that there is need to partially inflate them and cover them with a tarp. It is also essential to keep the raft out of sunlight and ensure that it is dry before storing.
Proper storage of rafts could see them last as long as 20 years before you go back to the store to purchase another one. As such, most of the manufacturers give a warranty ranging between 10 to 12 years.
It is important to repack the raft regularly to increase its lifespan.
The Intex mariner 4 and the Intex Exercusion 5 are some of the commonly used inflatable rafts that have all it takes to have a fulfilling and enjoyable ride in the waters. Here are some of their features that make them stand out from the crowd.
Intex Mariner 4
Features & Pros
- The PVC has a strong molecular structure making it damage resistant from abrasion and sunlight.
- Inflatable keel hence easy to handle and control
- Rotating oar locks
- Fishing rod holders
- Very stable on the water
- Relatively cheap
- Comes with a motor mount making it ideal for serious journeys.
- Leaking issues
- Fairly heavy
Intex Excursion 5
Features & Pros
- 360-degree grab line
- Motor mount for trolling motor
- Two oar locks and holders
- Four fishing rod holders
- Super-tough vinyl for durability
- Sturdy design
- Grab handles for easy carrying
- Competitive price
- Can hold up to 5 people
- Comes with four fishing rod holders
- Comfortable inflatable floor
Not ideal for professional fishing
Inflatable rafts come in different sizes and qualities. It is therefore important to take your time researching on them in order to end up with a raft that suits your needs. They make marine excursion and fishing an enjoyable experience. They should therefore be taken good care of in order to extend their lifespan and get the value for your money.