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Lightweight inflatable raft for inland lake recreation use???

I'm looking for a lightweight inflatable and hopefully tow-able raft for recreation use on an inland lake. Forgot to mention... It needs to be a row-able.

Here are my use requirements:

I have a 23.5 ft. Beneteau First 235 that is currently kept on a mooring (hopefully a slip in the future) on an inland lake in Minnesota. I have an aluminum row boat that I use to access the mooring. I'm looking for a light weight inflatable to be used when sailing with my family. We have two daughters (currently 3 and 5) and I'd like to be able to anchor the sailboat and use the raft to access beaches. Ideally I'm looking for something that would be packed away most of the time (I race the boat regularly) but could be easily inflated for recreational daysailing use. Maybe this is asking too much... but I also think my daughters would absolutely love riding in the raft while being towed behind the sailboat. Is the Bestway HydroForce Marine Pro durable enough for this in an inland lake? If so, I like that it is only around 30lbs and only around $120. The Intex Mariner 3 is another option but weighs over twice as much, costs more, and doesn't appear (based on photos) to have a setup for towing that would be any better than the Bestway.....

Does anyone have experience with these models or recommendations?

Thanks,
Chris

Last edited by prskier17; 6 Days Ago at 02:49 PM.
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Re: Lightweight inflatable raft for inland lake recreation use???

there a thousands of types available Google ski boat rafts

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Re: Lightweight inflatable raft for inland lake recreation use???

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there a thousands of types available Google ski boat rafts
Ooops... I need to clarify that I'm looking for a row-able boat.... basically a lightweight inflatable dinghy/tender. But I will look into the towable water sports type of items as well... just don't know if they would be useful to transport the family to a beach with picnic basket, etc....
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Re: Lightweight inflatable raft for inland lake recreation use???

Academy Sports and then Gander Mtn....then Bass Pro.
That will cover the bottom end. After that, it's 'marine$' stores.
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Re: Lightweight inflatable raft for inland lake recreation use???

Bestway makes inflatables from near-disposable toy quality, to semi-wannabe almost-real marine grade. The one you're looking at leans more toward the former. We purchased the latter, a 7.5 foot Caspian from Amazon, also available in 9'3" and 10'10" versions. They all come with oars.

Dinghies are one of those things where you get what you pay for and these in no way approach the quality of Zodiac, Achilles, etc., but for occasional use for the budget conscious I find it suffices nicely.



Edit: The 7.5 foot is a little cozy. I recommend at least the 9 footer for two adults and two kids. It also gives you a v-hull.


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Re: Lightweight inflatable raft for inland lake recreation use???

The thing to look at is the fabric. The cheap ones are just PVC and never get firm as you pump them up. The PVC stretches. Fabric that is a laminate of cloth and PVC makes a big difference as the boat gets firm as you pump it up. Anything in the $100 to $200 range is going to all PVC and basically just a higher quality beach toy. Expect to pay at least $400 to $500 for one with the laminate cloth. Another feature in the better quality boats is the floor is either slats or plywood panels. Makes a big difference is stiffening the boat and make it easier to tow and more secure when you step into it. The "beach toy" floors are just inflated PVC tubes and have little stiffness.

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Re: Lightweight inflatable raft for inland lake recreation use???

I agree with the cost/quality assessment responses from everyone. For my specific use I am going to keep searching. I'd like to find something in the 30-50 lb range that stows very compactly and will last a few years with a dozen short trips between the sailboat and the beach per season. If I find something that can also be pulled behind the sailboat with the kids riding along it would be sweet, but that would definitely add a lot of stress to the inflatable.

Does anyone use a typical watersports/inflatable towable for their kids to ride in behind a sailboat? Maybe I can find a beach location that is deep enough to get close where the raft/dinghy isn't necessary (assuming we'll be swimming anyway).
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Re: Lightweight inflatable raft for inland lake recreation use???

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Originally Posted by JimsCAL View Post
The thing to look at is the fabric. The cheap ones are just PVC and never get firm as you pump them up. The PVC stretches. Fabric that is a laminate of cloth and PVC makes a big difference as the boat gets firm as you pump it up. Anything in the $100 to $200 range is going to all PVC and basically just a higher quality beach toy. Expect to pay at least $400 to $500 for one with the laminate cloth. Another feature in the better quality boats is the floor is either slats or plywood panels. Makes a big difference is stiffening the boat and make it easier to tow and more secure when you step into it. The "beach toy" floors are just inflated PVC tubes and have little stiffness.
Thanks for the response. A "higher quality beach toy" might actually be proper for this application, minus the ability to tow behind the sailboat with the kids riding along....
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