We get asked often “Which kind of floor should I get for my inflatable boat?” or “What floor is better for me, an inflatable floor or aluminum floor?” When it comes to an inflatable boats floor, you can usually choose between having Aluminum Floors or Inflatable Floors. The two are very different from one another; however, each one has its own advantages. Depending on how you intend to use your inflatable will help you decide which floor is better suited for you.
Aluminum floors take more time to set up in your boat, but they’re tough and stable.
Aluminum floors are great to have on your inflatable boat, a few common examples are leisure boating, fishing, placing equipment on the deck, and having pets on board. There are no limits as to what you can do or have on your deck when you use an aluminum floor. The only drawbacks compared to having an aluminum floor versus an inflatable floor is the setup and breakdown time which takes longer than an inflatable floor, and the weight of the aluminum floors, as far as lifting goes. The slated aluminum flooring is a separate part of the boat, which means you can stack them or store them however you see fit. Aluminum floorboards are very durable; they are lighter than marine grade plywood floors, you can put whatever gear you have with you right on the deck and not worry about damaging it, things like fish hooks and other sharp, pointy objects. Anodized aluminum floors, such as the one the RibRave DurAquos Inflatable Boat™ comes with, will not rust when exposed to either fresh or salt water. Also, when standing in the boat while it’s on the water with aluminum floorboards inside, it feels very stable, much like standing inside a boat with a fiberglass hull. The aluminum floorboards have no ‘give‘, or in other words, does not bend at all, despite how much weight the floor might be withstanding. Additionally, the aluminum floorboards are locked in place by the side rails that hold slated floor together, and once you inflate the keel tube which sits underneath the floorboards, the tube pushes up against the aluminum floor. With that combination, the aluminum floor on a RibRave DurAquos will not budge at all, hence the great stability it offers. As far as stowing away your boat with the aluminum floor, we recommend removing the slated floor and rails, then deflating and folding your boat. Removing the floor from your inflatable boat is easy and can be done in very little time, but keep a spot in mind to place the aluminum floor. It usually takes a little more time to assemble and disassemble an inflatable boat with slated flooring compared to using an inflatable floor, but if you’re willing to put in that little extra time, you’ll feel like you’re in a hard bottom boat when riding it. If you have the means to transport your inflatable boat once it’s assembled, you can just keep it inflated so that you don’t have to dismantle it when you’re finished boating.
Pros and Cons of aluminum floors for your inflatable boat:
- Great for handling sharp and rugged material
- Can have pets on board with no risk of damage to floor
- Low cost compared to an air mat floor
- Stable to stand on
- Heavier than air mat floors
- requires a larger space to stow away
- Takes longer to set up and take apart compared to air mat floors
The inflatable floor takes only moments to set up in your boat, but it isn’t as rugged as the aluminum floor is.
One of the greatest perks of having an inflatable floor is the convenience it offers. Simply unroll it onto your dinghy’s hull, and inflate! A RibRave DurAquos Inflatable Boat™ with an inflatable floor is typically used for ease of moving the boat due to how light it is, having a soft boat deck to sit on, quick assembly, and the capability of being easily stowed away because the entire boat rolls up. The inflatable floor is made with drop stitch construction, the same technology used to make our incredibly rigid inflatable stand up paddle boards, which deflate small and compact just the same. Underneath the inflatable floorboards are two marine-grade plywood boards that cross the inflatable floor horizontally, across the width of the inflatable floor and long enough to reach the bottom of each tube on your port and starboard sides. The purpose of the marine-grade plywood boards is that when the boat, floor, and keel are fully inflated, the boards keep the inflatable floor in place to prevent it from budging and supports the inflatable boats maximum weight capacity—which is rated for over 1,000 pounds for all different sizes of the DurAquos Inflatable Boats. One of the greatest advantages of having an inflatable floor for your inflatable boat is how easy and quickly it can be set up. In a matter of minutes of inflating the boat and the floor, you can put your boat into the water and be on your way! A DurAquos Inflatable boat can be very light, some boats weighing as little as 70 pounds when used with an air mat floor. When stowing away your boat, it really doesn’t get easier than having an inflatable floor, especially because you do not have to remove the inflatable floor from the boat at all. You can actually keep the floor in the boat and roll them up together by opening all of the air valves on the boat tubes, keel, and floor for the quickest breakdown ever.
Something to think about when using an air mat floor for your inflatable is whether you plan to keep your boat in cold waters for long periods of time. Due to the cold temperature, the air molecules inside of the air mat floor will shrink, thus making the floor lose its rigidity after a while. You might be asking “But won’t the tubes lose air as well if it’s in cold water?”, and the answer to that is yes; however, since the air mat floor holds less air in it than the tubes do, you will notice the air floors decrease in rigidity much sooner than you would for the tubes of your inflatable. So your boats tubes might still feel firm after about an hour in freezing water, but your air mat floor will not be as firm as when you first inflated it.
Pros and Cons of inflatable floors for your inflatable boat:
- Easy to setup inside of boat
- Light weight, making lifting or moving the boat outside of water easy
- Simple breakdown, just open all valves on boat and floor, then fold boat
- Not as good as aluminum floors when handling sharp and rugged materials
- Costs more than having an aluminum floor
- Not as stable to stand on compared to aluminum floors
- Can feel ‘squishy’ to stand on after being in cold water due to air condensing
So you see, there isn’t really a ‘better’ kind of floor that you can get for your inflatable boat when choosing between an air mat floor or aluminum. What would help you decide which is better for you depends on what you intend to use your boat for, and your own personal preference. For example, if you want to be able to quickly set up your inflatable boat and drag it down into the water and just go, the air mat floor would probably be better for you, just as long as no one plans on wearing stiletto heels into the boat! Granted, the air mat floors we provide are made of PVC material and can withstand punctures and abrasions, but it’s better to be safe and steer clear of any objects—including stilettos—that might cause issues. Another example would be if you plan to take your inflatable boat out to the intracoastal waterway. You would probably want to have an anodized aluminum floor in your inflatable to feel like you have more stability when inside, in case you would have stand up on the deck to top up on fuel for your outboard motor or simply move around on the deck. Even though it takes more time to set up your inflatable boat with the aluminum floor inside compared to the inflatable floor, you’ll be glad you did when you feel a sturdy floor underneath your feet when you’re out in the ocean.
You can visit us at RibRave.com for more specifications and information, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me.
Until then, happy boating!