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Inflatable Dingies, Aluminum Or Air Floor.

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Apr 26, 2009
Catalina 309 #168 kentucky lake
I am going to buy a Hypalon inflatable soon, and thought I would ask the question:

I was leaning toward the aluminum roll up or panel floor (Avon, Achilles or West Marine 9-10' w/8hp) because I have read several people having issues with the air floor. It will be towed behind a 31' sailboat on a large lake and stored on the boat after weekly outings.

Of course weight is a issue but durability is also.

Which would you choose?


May 8, 2004
Hunter 27 Bellingham, WA
I'll throw in my change on this question. I've had all Avons, 10' soft floor (no keel either), a 9' inflatable floor, and now an 8' aluminum slat floor. Of hand I prefer the inflatable floor for the following reasons" Easy to roll up (when I was younger), when it rains, the floor tends to stay on top of the water, seemed more stable. I towed the 9 ft for nine years behind a H380. Scrapped it badly on a cement dock and had it repaired so that I could not see where I had been careless.

I now have the next to the smallest Avon for my H27. No motor, just o row ashore.

By the way I did buy a 9 ft Avon with inflatable floor for this present boat and realized it was too big for our needs, so sold it for a hundred more to someone who wanted an AVon for cruising. I had only inflated it once.

I like Avon because of their quality but someone could make a case for the Avon made West Marine inflatables saying that the cost is half of the Avon. It is what you want.
Jun 2, 2004
Hunter 37-cutter, '79 41 23' 30"N 82 33' 20"W--------Huron, OH
I'm with Les on the Avon. Your statement, "stored on the boat", has air-floor implied. My Avon has the hard floor. It is hard to get the floor in and out. It has to come out to roll it up. I think the aluminum slat floor will roll but be heavy.
Dec 19, 2006
Hunter 36 Punta Gorda
Air Floor

I have an 9'6'' Aluminum floor and wish I had the Air floor model,it's much heavier than the air and the Aluminum floor does't ride as smooth,harder to roll up also.
The Aluminum is OK but the air floor is nice even floor and the Aluminum is very wavey.
Feb 26, 2004
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
Another way to say it is ease of setting up. Hard floor dinghies "require some assembly." Air floors do not. We have a Zodiac Cadet Fast Roller high pressure air floor and drive it with a used 1990 Evinrude 9.9, can plane with two adults and two teenagers. We previously had a smaller West Marine 8'-4" with plywood floors that was a bear to assemble on deck. The air floors are stable and work quite well.

One trick with an air floor: buy outdoor carpeting and covert the floor with it. Keeps the floor cleaner and good underfoot. Color is your choice, but darker keeps visual dirt down, but if it's too hot, you'd want a lighter color. Learned this from a cruiser the first time we took the dinghy out after we purchased it.

And don't forget a cover for it if you're gonna leave it on the foredeck when you're not on board.

The really critical issue is hypalon vs. PVC. We've discussed this many times, here, but there has been a recent spate of folks reporting bad longevity with PVC dinghies.
Dec 2, 1999
Hunter Vision-36 Rio Vista, CA.
I agree with everyone regarding Avon. They make good boats. There are also other good manufacturers. Just because Avon is making a boat for WM it does not mean that this boat is equivilant to the Avon.

My previous roll up unit had a wood floor and it was a SOB to get in and out. The wood gets wet and removing it is tough.

If you are going to leave it on board (inflated) when you are not using it you may also want to consider a small rib with a single hull. They are not too heavy and may be stored on your foredeck when not in use.

Regardless of what you decide to go with, consider having a cover for the boat if you will leave it inflated.

Another issue of a RIB is how do you transport it if you need to take it home for the winter.

We have a RIB with a 15 hp engine. It makes transporting people, animals & gear ashore much quicker. We can also run back to the marina in short order if we need to. The down side for us is storage of that 15HP engine
Jun 4, 2004
Hunter 30 Union Springs, NY
I chose an air floor for one simple reason...the grandkids can play in it and not get all scraped up or "boink" their heads. works great, easy to bring onto the hard and store with a cover when we're not there.
Jun 5, 2004
Hunter 44 Mystic, Ct
Air Floor and Pets

Does anyone have any experience with an air floor and pets? Let's say a 70# lab?
Apr 26, 2009
Catalina 309 #168 kentucky lake

I have 2 Airies kayaks with air floors and I used 1 of them every day for 2 weeks as my tender. My dog is 50# and we no issues with the dogs nails at all.

Dec 2, 1999
Hunter Vision-36 Rio Vista, CA.

I think you will find that they are PVC and you may expect similar issues as with PVC skinned inflatables. PVC can/will get sticky after time if left out in the sun. It abrades easily and will react with fuel.

We have a hypalon RIB that we use to take our dog ashore. If I were to switch back to a soft inflatable I would probably go with something other than an inflatable floor because of the dog & fuel issues.
Mar 3, 2003
Hunter 356 Grand Rivers
Go with the Avon Hypalon air floor. If you are not sure, mine (Avon 280) is on Persistence at Lighthouse Landing (currently on the hard) on the foredeck upside down - no cover - go take a look at it if you want to. I bought it in spring 2004 and have a 4hp 4 stroke yamaha for power. It will not plane with 2 people with the 4hp so get 8 if you want to be speedy.

The only issue I have had is the floor valve has an O ring that needs to be kept in good condition. Mine has just about had it last year and developed a slow leak. Once I found the problem was the O ring, I replaced it and the floor holds air just fine. On Kentucky lake it will work out very well for you. I have towed with and without the motor, but I generally leave it inflated, upside down in front of the mast. I use my spinniker halyard to raise and lower into the water.


Jun 9, 2008
- -- -Bayfield
The only thing I can add about buying an inflatable dinghy is that you also make sure it has a keel. Many are inflatable. Not only will it add a little more buoyancy, but it will also track better especially when you are rowing. A dinghy with no keel gets squirrely when rowing.
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