Not every pontoon boat on the market has the trademark rectangular shape and metal pontoon tubes. Yet another option you might consider is the inflatable pontoon boats. These aren’t really what you have in your head regarding what a pontoon boat can look like, that’s for certain. These boats have seating for a passenger and too and then long, angular tubes on either side. Those inflatable tubes, the namesake of this pontoon, keep your boat afloat.
If you’re interested in trying an inflatable pontoon boat for yourself, this is the guide for you. In it, we’ll describe the types of inflatable pontoons, what you can use these boats for, their cost, as well as some brands you might shop. We’ll even include a comprehensive accessories list.
Let’s get right into it.
What Are the Types of Inflatable Pontoon Boats?
Before we get too deep into what kinds of features and activities you can enjoy in your inflatable pontoon, let’s describe the types of these boats first.
One-Person Inflatable Pontoons
For the single rider, a one-person inflatable pontoon boat has a seat for you, yourself, and I. No one else can fit, but that doesn’t mean you’ll travel with the bare minimum. For the lack of a second seat, you often get more storage room on one of these boats.
If you’re the solitary type who enjoys quiet days on the water surrounded by nature so you can spend time alone with your thoughts, then a one-person pontoon should suit you just fine.
Two-Person Inflatable Pontoons
Whether a spouse, a best friend, a sibling, or another partner in crime, you and a second person both equally love the pontoon boating lifestyle. You never have to leave them home on your adventures (and vice-versa) again with a two-person inflatable pontoon boat.
These boats are often bigger than one-person pontoons to accommodate for a second seat. With most setups, the first person will sit in front of the other passenger in a row. Some manufacturers install swivel chairs so you can move around and tell your buddy about that awesome fish you just caught.
While inflatable pontoons can get quite sizable, there’s never enough room for three passengers, at least as of yet. You’d have to get a custom boat made or buy two inflatable pontoons and travel in groups of four.
What Can You Use Inflatable Pontoon Boats for?
Boating is as much about the journey as the destination. What kinds of journeys is your inflatable pontoon boat built for? We’re so glad you asked.
One of the most popular activities for inflatable pontoon boats is undoubtedly fishing. Even if it’s just a single-rider boat, you’re hard-pressed to find one of these vessels without accommodations for fishermen (and women). Sometimes you have to pay extra to get these features, and you always have the option of adding on such an accessory yourself (more on this later).
Regardless, inflatable pontoon boats and fishing go together like peanut butter and jelly or hamburgers and cheese. While the traditional version of pontoon boats does indeed accommodate fishermen especially well, we’d say inflatable ones do so even better.
While traditional pontoon boats have tall metal railings and often Bimini roofs, that’s not the case with an inflatable vessel. Sure, you could get your own Bimini top set up if you wanted, but otherwise, there’s nothing keeping you from that big, bright sun.
If you wanted to sunbathe, you can take your inflatable pontoon boat out, paddle or row to a nice, sunny spot, and then let the rays give you a nice, appealing tan. Just do make sure you stay hydrated and take good care of your skin! Apply sunscreen every two hours.
While not every inflatable pontoon boat will include a ladder, for those that do, you can easily climb into and out of the water and get your swim on (we’ll have a ladder recommendation later on, so keep reading). Few things feel more refreshing in the summertime heat than diving into the perfect blue water and enjoying a lovely swim.
Pontoon enthusiasts often gather together for lively, exciting block parties. During these gatherings, you park your boat along a dock, anchor her down, and hang out with your fellow pontoon boat lovers.
Even if yours is inflatable instead of the traditional version, your boat’s still technically a pontoon, so you should be welcome at any of these gatherings. If you can’t find any pontoon parties in your neighborhood, then you know what that means. You should have your own! You only need a few friends with some pontoons to get this party started. The idea should catch on from there.
Above all else, your inflatable pontoon boat makes the perfect place to kick back and relax. The soothing sounds of the open water, the feel of the sea breeze on your skin, it truly doesn’t get any better than this. You can definitely fall asleep if you’re not careful.
How Much Do Inflatable Pontoon Boats Cost?
Your interest has risen to an all-time high. While you want to know more, you’re starting to think an inflatable pontoon boat could really suit you. The question now becomes how much will you spend on one of these boats?
Like with a pontoon—or, any boat, really—prices will fluctuate. You’ll probably pay $350 as a starting price, so that’s not too bad. Others can cost up to $800 or more.
With their bare-bones design, smaller size, and low passenger count, an inflatable pontoon won’t ever be priced as high as its bigger, fuller pontoon counterpart. That makes an inflatable pontoon a practically harmless investment for beginners who aren’t sure if they want to stick with boating. For a few hundred dollars, you can spend hours on the water, discovering if it fulfills you to the core or not.
Just as a comparison, for a traditional pontoon boat, you might pay anywhere from $17,000 to $35,000 and up. That’s quite a lot of money for something you might not even like.
The Best Brands of Inflatable Pontoon Boats
As you begin the hunt for your ideal inflatable pontoon boat, you’ll come across a slew of brands. Each of these manufacturers brings something to the table, hence why we decided to feature them. We’ll go over each brand a bit, what they sell, and then highlight one or two inflatable pontoons we think you’ll like.
The first inflatable pontoon boat manufacturer we want to talk about is Sea Eagle. They produce boating gear, inflatable boards, inflatable boats, inflatable fishing boats, and inflatable canoes and kayaks.
The 285fpb is an inflatable pontoon fishing boat designed for only one person. It has an inflation pressure of 3.2 pounds per square inch or PSI. You’ll spend about five minutes inflating the boat. It has low speeds, about four miles per hour (MPH).
This boat includes a reinforced floor with a count of 1,000 denier. The 285fpb also comes equipped with a three-horsepower (HP) engine with a max thrust of up to 55 pounds. That engine weighs 45 pounds and has a shaft of at least 30 inches. All seams in this inflatable model are quadruple overlapping superior glued.
You’ll find three air valves in this pontoon, all with a recessed one-way design. The tubes have a diameter of 16 inches and include three chambers. When deflated, the 285fpb boat measures 24 inches by 14 inches by 12 inches. Once you get it all blown up, it can hold 450 pounds of weight. It’s four feet wide, nine feet long, and has a hull weight of 30 pounds at that point as well.
The 375fc or FoldCat is another great fishing boat, this time for two passengers. It has the same inflation pressure, but now you’ll have to wait 10 minutes for it to be ready to use. It’s a faster vessel, too, reaching speeds of up to 10 MPH if you outfit it with a gas motor.
The FoldCat has a floor made of aluminum slats. You can roll these over the fabric included with the flooring. The same seams in the 285fpb make an appearance here, as do the air valves.
You’ll discover the FoldCat has four air chambers with a tube diameter of 16.5 inches. When you deflate the boat, it measures 56 inches by 21 inches by 10 inches. After inflating this Sea Eagle inflatable pontoon, it has a width of four feet six inches and a length of 12 feet, four inches. Its hull weight is 75 pounds and it can support 650 pounds between two people.
Although we couldn’t track down a website for them, the next manufacturer you might consider does sell its boats on the Internet. That’s Togiak. For instance, you can pick up an inflatable pontoon from Togiak on DirectBoats.com.
Their inflatable pontoon boat for one, new for 2019, measures 19 inches tall, 47 inches wide, and 54.25 inches long when assembled and inflated. It includes such features as a rear visibility panel in bright orange, a safety flag pocket, and a stripping apron with quick-release technology.
You also get D-rings and lash tubes so you can connect creel bags and gear to the pontoon no problem. A rear mesh storage platform lets you keep your fishing essentials close as you ride. There’s also storage in the armrests as well as flat zipping pockets, mesh pockets, gear pockets, and reel pockets.
A horizontal rod holder, fish ruler with stripping apron, and stadium seating with an adjustable, plush back rest make fishing far more comfortable and convenient than ever. The hull with its hydrodynamic design increases tracking and buoyancy on the water. Togiak offers a warranty good for a year with their boat. It can hold up to 300 pounds but itself weighs 15 pounds.
You can also shop for Cumberland pontoon boats through DirectBoats.com right here. Another inflatable pontoon boat fresh for 2019, this new Cumberland model has a weight capacity of 350 pounds. It’s meant for only one passenger. It weighs 18 pounds on its own, has a height of 17.5 inches, a width of 47 inches, and a length of 56 inches.
This Cumberland boat comes loaded with features. For instance, you get Boston valves so you can quickly get your boat inflated and ready to ride. At the end of the day, when you want to let the air out ASAP, those valves quickly release it so you can deflate your boat and go home.
The rear visibility panel, still in orange, makes a return here. You also get a safety flag holder, a stripping apron with a quick-release mechanism, and plenty of storage. Seriously, there’s the back mesh storage platform, which is quite sizable. On top of that, you’ll quite like the mesh stuff pocket on the back of your seat. This closes with a drawcord for safety and security. Near the stuff pocket, you’ll also find dual mesh pockets as well as more interior zip pockets, two total.
The seat comes with plenty of padding so you can sit and fish on your lonesome all day long. You have the freedom to adjust the backrest as needed, getting the support and ergonomic comfort you crave. You can even adjust the backpacking shoulder straps.
Cumberland covers its inflatable pontoon boat with a warranty that lasts a year.
VO stands for Venture Outdoors. This brand produces inflatable pontoons as well as replacement parts and accessories, among them gear sacks, transport kits, oars, anchor kits, fins, motor mounts, and battery boxes.
As for their pontoons, we’ll talk about two of the four: the VOLight8T and the VOLight10T. The other two models are not inflatable.
Beginning with the VOLight8T, this boat has red inflatable pontoon tubes with a matte finish. They can handle temperatures of up to -55 degrees Fahrenheit before they risk cracking. The tubes also have T6061 aluminum braces and Halkey Roberts fill valves with bladders made of tough PVC.
The VOLight8T features a folding seat that’s padded for hours of comfort. The sizable pockets on either side let you keep your gear close. Included oars, made of aluminum, are 72 inches long each. Around back, you’ll find a hybrid rear cargo rack that could hold a VO Battery Box/Motor Mount or a VO 8 Transport Kit if you bought them. The boat is 49 pounds.
Next, we’ve got the VOLight10T. A somewhat heavier boat at 59 pounds, a lot of the same features are replicated in this streamlined green inflatable pontoon boat. Those include the folding, padded seat, the gear side pockets, the aluminum oars (although they’re 84 inches now), and the hybrid rear cargo rack.
The VOLight10T also features a fly apron with four attachment points. The edges on this apron allow you to keep tiny necessities close. There’s even a ruler printed on the apron so you can easily figure out how big that fish is that you just reeled in. The DuraBladder system, a VO staple, boasts urethane bladders that will keep your tubes afloat.
This VO inflatable pontoon boat also has padded footrests that you can adjust five different ways. If you wanted to make your pontoon into a kickboat, just set the footrests downward. The TIG rowing frame, included with the VOLight10T, is made from lightweight aluminum with powder coating. Each pontoon tube of the boat measures 16 inches in diameter and features PVC coating, a bottom that’s 1,300 denier, and a top that’s 1,000 denier.
Accessories for Your Inflatable Pontoon Boat
Now that we’ve talked about the big inflatable pontoon boat brands and models, let’s discuss the kinds of accessories you might consider for a safe, efficient, and wonderful boating experience.
Inflatable pontoon boats aren’t ready to go right away. Instead, they require inflation each time you want to ride one. You have two options in terms of pumps: foot or hand pumps. We’ll start with foot pumps.
As you can guess, you use your foot to press down on the pump. This repeated action pushes air into your pontoon tube, inflating it fully. You can then press in the valve and move on to the other pontoon tube.
One foot pump that many pontooners recommend is the Airhead Bellow foot pump, available on Amazon. This pump generates pressure at a rate of 2.2 PSI at a time. You can collapse it down to keep it stashed under your boat seat as you venture out should you need it on your pontoon voyages.
If you’d rather not push down on a pump over and over again by foot, then you might opt for a hand pump instead. With one of these, you press down with your hands to apply air to the inflatable pontoon boat. This Classic Accessories hand pump is an Amazon’s Choice product. It also comes highly rated.
Made of plastic that won’t corrode or snap when you pump, you can do down and up strokes to get air into the pontoon tubes. Classic Accessories even added variously sized nozzles and a hose for quick, convenient air inflation. The base of this hand pump has texturing so you never slip.
Some inflatable pontoon bars can get outfitted with an accessory known as a casting bar. For instance, Sea Eagle makes such a bar for its FoldCat inflatable pontoon. What exactly is a casting bar and why would you consider one for your boat?
These bars increase the security and safety of your pontoon. They act as something to grip your hand on as you climb aboard the vessel. If you want to stand up, you get support as well. Sea Eagle’s casting bar includes a foam grip with the brand logo so you don’t hurt your hands on the metal.
You can clip on your casting bar to your inflatable pontoon, so it’s not permanently installed on your boat by any means. If you need to take it off, it folds so you can easily carry it.
Another accessory we encourage you to strongly consider is an inflatable pontoon boat repair kit. This one, another pick from Classic Accessories, includes a series of tools that can get your boat seaworthy once more.
You get the following:
- Coated oarlocks
- Bladder repair kit
- Inflation adapter
- Valve parts and tools
- Spring clevis pin
A bladder repair kit can save you in a pinch if the inflatable bladder starts deflating for any reason. With an inflation adapter, you can switch between pumps effortlessly. This way, if you forget your pump at home but you have to borrow a buddy’s, you’re covered. Then there’s the spring clevis pin, which keeps the frame of the boat attached to the tubes if your vessel needs reinforcement.
What’s included in an inflatable pontoon boat repair kit can vary from the products offered in Classic Accessories’ kit, so always look before you buy.
Having a swivel seat onboard your inflatable pontoon boat provides a mountain of benefits. You can turn around and take in the stunning views of nature all around you, for instance. You’re also free to talk to your buddy or partner instead of having your back to them all day. If you’re a fisherman, you’ll also quite appreciate the versatility a swivel seat offers.
Some pontoons, as we covered, do have swivel seats included. If yours doesn’t, you might want to change that right away. Do keep in mind that most of the time, reinstalling the seating of your inflatable pontoon would probably count as a modification. That will more than likely void your warranty, so decide if it’s worth the risk.
Once you get your inflatable pontoon boat blown up and ready to go, you still need to push it into the water somehow. Trailering the boat remains the most convenient method. If you own a traditional pontoon, then a trailer of that size won’t be appropriate for use with an inflatable boat. Thus, you’ll have to find another trailer.
There are two trailers that come up again and again or inflatable pontoon boat enthusiasts. The first of these comes from Yakima, and it’s their Rack and Roll Trailer. By no means cheap (we’ll just say you’ll spend well over $2,000 on this bad boy), this trailer can hold boats that weigh 300 pounds or less.
With independent suspension, this trailer also includes shock absorbers in a motorcycle style as well as dual springs you can move. Those shock absorbers give the wheels four inches of space in which to roll. With locking levers that have their own set of keys, the tongue and wheels will always stay in place. This trailer has cross bars that measure 78 inches each.
Another trailer you might want to consider is the Malone Xtralight Trailer Package. Somewhat cheaper than the Yakima trailer, this one can hold only 275 pounds. You get composite fenders, galvanized wheels that measure eight inches each, and SaddleUp Pros equipment for a kayak or inflatable pontoon boat. Your boat should be 14 feet or less for the best compatibility. Malone’s XtraLight trailer includes load bars coated in steel (58 inches each) as well as a galvanized steel frame.
When you deflate your pontoon boat, there’s not much to it. For easy transport, you might try a carry bag. This one from Creek on Amazon will prevent the development of mold and mildew thanks to grommets that let the moisture come right out.
You also get a slew of carrying handles as well as a heavy-duty shoulder strap. You can access your boat, equipment, or accessories via the side opening anytime.
Fishing Rod Holders
If you refrained from getting a fish boat but you now have regrets, it’s not too late to transform your inflatable pontoon boat. You just need some fishing rod holders.
This one from Brocraft is a rod holder designed in a rocket launcher style. That’s not quite as explosive as it may sound, but it does allow you to rotate the fishing rod holder all 360 degrees. If you want to keep your fishing rod in one spot, you can lock the rod holder in place.
The strap in which you attach this fishing rod holder to your inflatable pontoon boat is Velcro and thus customizable for an ideal fit.
Speaking of fishermen, many favor a trolling motor for getting closer to the fish without scaring them. What if your inflatable pontoon boat lacks one of these motors? You can always get it installed.
Now, these motors don’t come cheap, as you’ll spend several hundred dollars for a good one. What do we recommend? Well, you can’t go wrong with the Minn Kota Endura transom-mounted trolling motor. There are five models in this family: the Endura C2 30, the Endura C2 40, the Endura C2 45, the Endura C2 50, and the Endura C2 55.
This trolling motor has a multitude of speed settings, including three reverse ones and five forward options. Not only do you get to choose your speed down to the precise MPH, but you can boost battery life with this setting as well. Minn Kota says the battery of their trolling motor lasts 5x more than similar products.
With the motors in the Endura family, you get the freedom to adjust the tiller at a 45-degree angle or switch the lower unit positioning all 180 degrees. The leaver lock bracket can also move 180 degrees, so rotate and/or lift it at will for great backtrolling.
The Endura trolling motor features a telescoping tiller, a power propeller designed with flared blades, and a durable composite shaft that’s corrosion-proof and resists breakage. You get all this and the Minn Kota Endura is quiet, too.
Don’t risk damage to your pontoon by stashing your deflated boat in the corner of your garage all winter. Instead, you want to treat an inflatable pontoon like you would any other boat. Before winter arrives, put a cover on it.
Newport Vessels’ inflatable boat cover should fit your inflatable pontoon. You can select from a slew of sizes, including seven feet, eight feet, nine feet, 10 feet, 11 feet, 12 feet, and 13-foot covers.
The rear cut, which is quite encompassing, fits most inflatable pontoons like a glove. Also contributing to the fit is the elastic hem at the bottom. This also keeps mold and mildew at bay by inviting in the ventilation your boat needs.
The seams come interlocked and double stitched so you can use this cover for years. With a buckle and strap system, this cover isn’t going anywhere, even in the wind. The polyester fabric has some weight to it as well, as it’s 600-denier fabric that’s heavy-duty. It prevents UV rays from filtering through the cover and into your boat, fading it.
The last accessory you might add to your inflatable pontoon boat is a ladder. This makes getting onto and out of the boat far easier, not to mention a bit safer. This ladder from Garelick is designed for inflatable boats like your pontoon.
It has three steps covered in poly plastic. The tubes, a sturdy anodized aluminum, have a diameter of one inch. You can connect this Garelick ladder to your inflatable pontoon via a swivel snap and a line. It goes on the boat’s floor.
Inflatable pontoon boats don’t really resemble their full-sized counterparts that much. These vessels have a much smaller profile and are often meant for two passengers max. Inflatable tubes don’t allow the boats to reach high speeds, but they’re awesome for fishing. You can also kick back and relax on the water in an inflatable pontoon boat.
If you’re looking to buy your own inflatable pontoon, you have your pick of brands and models. These include names like Sea Eagle, VO, and Togiak. You may also decide to outfit your inflatable pontoon with fishing rod holders, a trolling motor, swivel seats, and a casting bar.
Whether you use yours as-is or with accessories, an inflatable pontoon boat is a great vessel to have!