The inflatable boat has come a long way.  It has gone from a toy to a viable alternative craft that is popular around the world for a variety of purposes.  Today, military units use it as a landing craft, for anglers as a fishing craft, for the recreational boater, and even for the boat racing crowd.

As a youngster, we thought an inflatable was an old car tire that we rode on while drifting along the local creek in the hot days of summer.  Later, we would tie several together to make a raft.

Then someone found out that one could make a small boat out of rubber that would hold one or two people who needed rescue from aircraft ditching and boat sinking at sea.  Anglers found that they were also good for exploring the local ponds with rod and real.

In the 60’s the military needed a portable craft that would take the rigors of battle with a minimum of damage.  In testing different craft they found the Zodiac to be just the ticket for nighttime missions behind enemy lines.  In one test they fired machine gun rounds at the boat and found that the structure of the craft’s lines and construction deflected a significant number of rounds.

Many of the features on today’s inflatable boats originated with Zodiac.  (   their line of fishing and pleasure boats has replaced A formerly largely military use.  The fishing models range in length from 11 to 14 feet.  The light weight and durable construction allow anglers to get them into some of the most inaccessible places.  Some are equipped with wooden floorboards and aluminum stringers.

Although they are light in weight, inflatable boats have are remarkably buoyant that allows for large cargo loads of people and tackle.  The stability makes for safe operation as well as loading and unloading.  The light weight makes for ease of handling with small motors and easy launching.  Transport to and from the fishing area is easier with a craft that often weighs less than 100 pounds.

Models that are particularly light in weight come with carry handles as well as carrying bags for the boat and floorboards.

Another manufacturer that is a more recent entry in the inflatable market is Mercury Marine which is more often as a builder of marine engines.

Mercury has inflatable lines that range from small six-footers to larger 20 foot models.  They recently launched an inflatable website ( Once on the website, one can follow the “inflatable” link for more information.

The site is interactive so the reader can get information specific to his/her personal situation.  In addition to providing product information, accessory, service and dealer location, the site features a link to specific dealers according to ZIP code or geographic region.

In addition to this information being available 24/7, the site also contains boat selectors and free owner’s manuals as an additional service to the customer.

The selling points for Mercury include many of the same features of weight and strength that Zodiac pioneered in the field.  The site also touts the ability of their boats being able to do anything that is possible with conventional boat.  That includes the ability to take today’s Four Stroke engines.

The inflatable boat now comes in a variety of sizes and has many purposes.  It has become a great craft for many boaters.  Some use it for transport from the dock to a sailboat or powerboat tied to a can away from the shore.  Some race the boat.  Some in the military use it for “sneak” landings in far off places.  Police and Fire Departments find uses for it.  A family wanting a safe stable boat for recreational use turns to the inflatable.  Anglers use it on rivers and lakes as well as in those out of the way ponds in search of that big lunker.



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  1. You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog.


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