A guide to inflatable canoes

Picking an inflatable canoe is an exciting proposition. Choosing the right canoe for your needs guarantees many hours of boating pleasure and years of low-maintenance, cost-saving outdoor adventures.
The advantages of owning an inflatable canoe over an aluminum, Kevlar or plastic canoe are many.

One of the first things the new owner of an inflatable canoe discovers is the ease of transporting it. Inflatable canoes can be folded up, tucked into a carry bag, and tossed into the trunk or back seat and taken anywhere your vehicle can go. Once you arrive, if you’re interested in going even further, you can put the canoe on your shoulder and start walking. Portaging is the age-old adversary of many canoeists and has stopped a lot of adventurers in their tracks. The daunting task of hauling a heavy canoe along with your gear around a rapids often means the end of the trip and starting out for home.

Another advantage of inflatable canoes is the price. Most are several hundred dollars less than their hard-shelled counterparts of the same size. Canoeists need to watch their financial expenditures like everyone else these days and saving money on a boat is a great place to start.
There are a lot of inflatable canoes on the market. Which is the best for you? Here’s how to decide.

Decide what kind of canoeing you’ll be doing and go from there. Some inflatables are designed for fishing quiet inland waters. These canoes are inexpensive but sturdy and can take most of the warm-weather hazards that come their way. Light watercraft are best used on ponds and small lakes with an occasional foray out into a larger lake on a calm day. Most are constructed of PVC with I-beam support, several independent chambers, and inflated seats.

If you’re looking for river action there are canoes constructed of heavier material that will do the job. River craft need to handle hitting rocks, submerged logs, and scrape along a stony river bottom without being punctured. No hull material in the world is impervious to the severe treatment some waters dish out but under normal conditions, the heavier construction of rip-stock fabric and an inner woven rubber lining make the vessel puncture-resistant and able to glide over most of the submerged structure without a problem.

Some specialty inflatable canoes are made to be big-water worthy and are at home in near-shore as well as off-shore journeys. They’re large and loaded with safety features like multiple compartments and heavy-duty construction. They’ll be on the long end of the available models from any of the companies manufacturing inflatable canoes.

The type of canoeing you’ll be enjoying is another important consideration when it’s time to select your inflatable canoe. Touring canoes have a lot of room and are designed to hold camping gear and other equipment while still providing a comfortable amount of leg room. Inflatables aren’t normally the preference of long-distance paddlers but can be just what you’re looking for if you aren’t going far or staying out in the wilds for a long period.

Hunters and fishermen appreciate the tie-downs and pockets afforded on canoe models especially designed to meet their needs. Paddling with a gun or fishing rod can be a feat of coordination. Sportsmen can choose among many styles to meet their own needs for interior room and gear-securing pockets, clasps, and ties. If you need that extra long space in your vessel you can pick a two-person canoe if you fish alone or a three-seater if you’re taking a hunting partner with you.

A lot of canoeists simply enjoy paddling down a lazy stream and passing the time of day. If you’re adept at avoiding pointed branches and sharp rocks, any inflatable canoe will handle this type of travel.

Another consideration when choosing an inflatable canoe is the price. For just over a hundred dollars you can buy a canoe of reasonable quality for easy paddling that will have a good life expectancy. As the demands on your watercraft go up the price will rise. Safety and strength are features you can’t afford to overlook.

Picking the right inflatable canoe will give you many years of paddling enjoyment.