A huge number of vessels of various types are presented in the modern market. All of them have their own peculiarities and are intended for various applications. You can find models with a low- or high-pressure deck, a flexible Air Deck or Roll Up bottom, with hard or slated flooring - the options are countless. What is better when selecting rigid or soft inflatable boat? Let's discuss what characteristics and features popular models have.
An important factor in choosing and comparing inflatable vessels is the material of their manufacture. The basis of almost any boat is a synthetic woven fabric (most often polyester or nylon). It is covered with layers of protective polymeric coatings, which protect the surface from a variety of external factors. There are three main types of materials for manufacturing; fabrics are covered with:
- polyvinylchloride (PVC);
- hypalon (often together with neoprene);
PVC is well resistant to ultraviolet radiation and has good resistance to abrasion. Also, it is quite suitable for repair by own strength using special glue.
Hypalon (and neoprene) is more resistant to ultraviolet, chemical effect and abrasion. The basis made of synthetic linen is covered with a layer of neoprene for better adhesion, and then a layer of hypalon is applied. Selecting a PVC or hypalon inflatable boat, remember that a relatively new hypalon is expensive, but has better quality.
Plastic polyurethane is easy to glue and connects to the fabric base due to its porosity. It adds strength to the product and keeps the surface appearance longer.
The simplest type is a slatted deck. It is an unconnected sheet of special plywood or aluminum strips filled in special pockets. Their fixation is achieved due to the pressure in the tubes. Most often, this type of coating is used on small flat-bottomed boats, as it is not very convenient to stand on it.
Hard flooring (rigid full deck) is a surface that can be solid or composed of several parts. It is made of marine plywood or aluminum profile, which has greater wear resistance. This type completely covers the bottom, so it provides greater reliability and stability.
Some owners selecting inflatable boat with rigid floor or removable slatted floor are interested in what model is better. In order to choose the best option for you, it is worth remembering the purpose of the vessel. Slatted deck has a low price, but doesn't provide the necessary hardness of the structure. Therefore, this option is suitable for quiet boating, for example, when fishing. The hard floor provides a high speed and gives an opportunity to confidently stand and move inside.
Inflatable deck (also known as Air Deck) is made of two layers of synthetic linen, which are inflated with air. Due to the high pressure, it becomes more durable and can be compared with a sheet of multilayer plywood. Having the same weight compared to a rigid one, such flooring is more compact.
When selecting inflatable boat with Air Deck or rigid slats it is worth remembering that the first provides excellent buoyancy and more comfort and protection to passengers. Even if a tube is punctured, the high-pressure floor will not allow the vessel to sink. It can be deflated and quickly rolled; it also takes up less space during transportation. One of the disadvantages is that Air Deck has a higher price. Also, there are cases when the permissible engine power is reduced.
Low or high pressure inflatable boat. Thanks to its light weight, ease of assembly and transportation, such type of bottom is a very successful invention. There are two main types:
- low pressure floor, which can be compared to a conventional swimming mattress;
- high pressure inflatable floor, which is also called Air Deck.
Perhaps the main advantage of the first type is the ability to soften the impacts of small waves. It reduces the vibration of the entire hull on small short waves. The disadvantage is the loss of navigability due to the breach of the bottom.
When discussing about the comparison of inflatable boat types, do not forget about such an important parameter as the keel. It is one of the main parts, performing the role of ballast.
The rigid keel has an ordinary V-shape made of wood. It is sturdy and reliable, but has large dimensions.
Inflatable keel is a ledge on the bottom filled with air. It is resilient and gives good characteristics, but is less reliable. However, it folds up with the boat and takes up less space.
If you choose between rigid or soft inflatable boat, you should know that the rigid keel provides stability to the ship. It allows you to easily operate the vessel at high speeds. Inflatable one is more compact and convenient for transportation.
Today RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Boats) also known as RHIBs (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats) are rapidly gaining popularity. They are a special kind of vessels that combine the strength of traditional vessels and the floatability of inflatables.
Advantages and disadvantages of RIB or RHIB.
Their benefits are obvious:
- unsurpassed navigability;
- excellent speed characteristics;
- rigid hull construction;
- excellent carrying capacity.
Among the shortcomings are:
- high price;
- difficulties with storage and transportation.
Despite such shortcomings, RIB is considered an excellent solution for numerous applications. Because it has a rather small weight, it is characterized by excellent maneuverability and floatability.