Rigid Inflatable Boats

RIBs or Rigid Hull Inflatables are The Safest, Fastest, Funnest Boats On The Water.

Inflatable boats that have rigid hulls are called a “Rigid Inflatable Boat” (RIB) or “Rigid Hull Inflatable boat” (RHIBs).

These types of boats are perfect for any adventure junkie. Just have a look at “The Ultimate Adventure Boat” marketing from some of the newer models.

These boats have hulls made mainly from aluminium and fiberglass or plastic, found on the smaller models, giving these boats a smoother ride and better handling when in rough water.

An inflatable tube made with a coating of PVC, Hypalon or even Polyurethane gets attached to the hull, it is this that makes the ribs so safe and also improves on the handling in choppy water.



There are a few things you need to consider before buying such a boat:

  • What materials are used to make the hull?
  • What materials are used to make the tube or inflatable collar?
  • How did the manufacturer attach the tube to the hull?
  • What do you want to use your boat for, and ideally what features do you want on your boat.


Let’s look at hull material first……


Sand and pebble beaches have a tendency to wear away at fiberglass more quickly than at aluminium; aluminium is more durable when you are planning on beaching your boat a lot.

Aluminium hulls are also lighter than fiberglass and will weigh about 75% of the weight of a fiberglass boat of the same size.



Fiberglass is way more flexible than aluminium and it is overall also a very strong material.

This means that for example, impact with a rock may cause less damage because of the fiberglass flexing before it breaks. Fiberglass can more easily be repaired than aluminium making the cost of the repair considerably less.

There isn’t really a limitation on the variety of shapes that can be created with fiberglass as it is formed in a mould.



Plastic hulls are normally made from Polyethylene and are found on only a few small ribs, these are designed for the use as tenders. These hulls are very durable, they require very little to no maintenance and they can stand up against rough usage.


Next, how is the tube is attached?

Normally the inflatable tube on a rigid inflatable boat will either be glued on, or some type of mechanical attachment system will be used to attach it.


Mechanical attachment

Bolt rope (this is rope inside a flap of fabric) is probably the most commonly used mechanical system. There will then be a tube or a slot on the hull to slide the rope into.

There is also a system where an inflatable tube is inserted into a slot in the hull. The secondary tube gets inflated and then holds the primary tube to the hull. (Though I haven’t found a company yet that uses this idea.)


Glued on

The tube can be glued onto a fiberglass or aluminium hull with the same coated material (PVC, Hypalon or Polyurethane) that the tube itself is made of.

There is quite a rigid and extensive process that needs to be followed in creating a strong glue bond to the hull; this method requires careful control of humidity and temperatures.

High quality brands normally take their time and care to glue these parts together, as it can take as much as eight hours to properly glue a tube or collar to a rib.


Lastly, what features and accessories are you looking at in your boat?

There are overall a lot more options and features available for ribs than there is available for other inflatables. A full cabin is even a possibility.


Feature include:

  • A center, or a side steering console.
  • Jockey seats, or even bench seats.
  • A radar Arch.
  • A tow post for tubing or boarding.
  • Ample storage compartments.
  • Built in fuel storage.
  • And even gear storage lockers.


RIBs are the ultimate, rugged and sea friendly adventure boats.



Now that you know more about Rigid Hull Inflatables and what sets them apart from other inflatables you should have a look at Boat maintenance costs, tips, techniques to care for your boat. Perfect for any one just starting out with inflatable boats.

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