What Are Inflatable Boats Made Of?

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What are Inflatable boats made of? This is one question you should ask yourself before you buy one for your boating activities. Several decades ago, buyers could only choose from limited options, but in light of recent innovations, there are different options now.

By feeling the material with your hands, you should know whether it is made of plastic or rubber because merely observing it may not be enough to tell them apart. Rubber boats have a smoother texture compared to plastic boats, which have a rougher texture. If the boat has its label intact, the manufacturer’s information will reveal the build material.

Types of Inflatable boat materials

Let us review the different types of materials used in modern inflatable boats.


Hypalon is a widely used build material for making inflatable boats. This material is a combination of polychloroprene and chlorosulfunated polyethylene. Hypalon is the result of these materials, and it is a very durable rubber base material. Many boaters and builders in the industry consider Hypalon to be the best material for inflatable boats. Hypalon is highly rated because it is

  • UV resistant
  • Possesses firm abrasion
  • Tougher exterior
  • Chemical resistant

If you leave it under the sun, it will not melt or bloat because it is very tough. Moreover, of all the materials, Hypalon has a much longer guaranteed shelf life because the sun doesn’t weaken it as quickly as other materials.


  • Very durable
  • Strong texture
  • Temperature and UV rays resistant
  • Anti-abrasive features


  • Very expensive


PVC is one of the earliest materials used for building inflatable boats. Polyvinyl Chloride is water-resistant and equally very strong. If you want a good but affordable inflatable boat, PVC is a good option. It is also easy to store due to its lightweight. But it is not as durable as Hypalon, and if you leave it under the sun for too long, the UV rays will degrade it.


  • Affordable
  • Lightweight and easy to store


  • Not very durable
  • Easily damaged by the sun


Vinyl is another material, but it is not as popular as PVC or Hypalon. Vinyl is similar to PVC, though but with a difference. In a nutshell, Vinyl is PVC that has undergone polymerization. This process makes it tougher than PVC, but it is still not a better material than PVC.


  • It does not break down easily
  • Stronger exterior
  • Cheaper than Hypalon


  • Heavy material
  • More expensive than PVX


Urethane boats are a recent introduction to the market, and they’ve not done too badly. The good thing about Urethane is that it is scratch-resistant, but it can be very hard when left under the sun for too long. Recent innovations have seen a transformation of urethane to make it a lot more comfortable for boaters.


  • Very strong and durable
  • Scratch and puncture-resistant
  • Environmentally friendly


  • Very scarce
  • The most expensive inflatable boat on sale


Then we have neoprene inflatable boats made from polychloroprene rubber. This material is similar to the one used in making wetsuits. Neoprene boats have cotton in the internal structure with the material used in covering the outer layer. But these versions are no longer in the market because the internal cotton starts to rot with age.

These days, manufacturers now use chlorosulfunated polyethylene in place of cotton. These combinations brought Hypalon to life. So today, Neoprene boats have been replaced with Hypalon, but there are a few of them still in use today.


  • Traps air in
  • Durable


  • Shorter shelf life
  • Hardly ever in use today

The best material for inflatable boats

So we have Hypalon, PVC, Neoprene, Urethane, and vinyl, so which of them is the best?

All of them are very good, but in terms of popularity, PVC and Hypalon are widely used by boaters, while urethane and Neoprene make up less than 20% of the entire inflatable boat population. They all have an average shelf life of between 5-15 or even 20 years. While Urethane and Neoprene can last for up to a decade, a well-used PVC boat can last for 10-12 years if used correctly and properly stored.

 But of the lot, Hypalon is king because it is more durable and can serve for about 20 years before it loses value.

 So, if you have been wondering what are inflatable boats made of, now you know. So make your choice from among the lot.

What are inflatable boats made of FAQ

Which materials are used to make inflatable boats?

The materials widely used are

  • PVC
  • Hypalon
  • Vinyl
  • Urethane
  • Neoprene

How many years is my inflatable boat guaranteed to last?

Manufacturers will not give you a guaranteed shelf life because your mode of use and storage conditions determine shelf life more than anything else. However, a Hypalon inflatable boat can last for up to 15-20. PVC can last for up to 25 years, while Vinyl, Urethane, and Neoprene can last for up to 10 years or more.

Does the sun affect inflatable boats?

Yes, it does; that is why boaters are advised to keep they’re under a shade or deflate them when not in use.

Last updated: 13/04/2022

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