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What is an Inflatable Raft?

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  • Written By: Miranda Fine
  • Edited By: Jay Garcia
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2016
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An inflatable raft is a type of boat that floats when filled with air. There are many different types of inflatable rafts, which are designed for different uses. They are usually made of plastic or plastic coated fabric. They have multiple chambers that are filled with air. Depending on the type of raft, this can be done by blowing into a valve, using a manually operated or electric pump, or an air compressor. Inflatable rafts are lighter, cheaper and easier to store and transport than conventional boats, which makes them a popular choice for recreation, rescue and other purposes.

There are many different types of inflatable rafts. The most inexpensive types are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic and are sold at sporting good stores, marine supply stores and seasonally at drug and discount stores. These rafts are designed for drifting down a river, light paddling or simple summer fun in calm waters. They come in different sizes which can accommodate varying amounts of people and gear. Kayaks are another type of inflatable raft. These are mostly used for recreational paddling on rivers, lakes or the ocean and seat one or two people. Some inflatable kayaks are appropriate for whitewater rafting.

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Some inflatable rafts are made of multi-layered PVC coated fabric that are more rigid and appropriate for use with an outboard motor. These rafts may be used in a variety of ways and in more versatile locations than their soft-plastic counterparts. Often, these inflatable rafts are used to go between larger boats anchored offshore or in a harbor and the shore or dock. They are also commonly used for fishing. They often have benches to sit on and may have a hard floor. These are also the type of inflatable rafts most often used in rescue situations. Lifeboats are another type of inflatable raft. These are kept on-board a larger vessel to be used in an emergency.

Inflatable rafts are also used for whitewater rafting. These boats come in many sizes and are also made of multi-layered and reinforced PVC coated fabrics. Some are designed to be rowed by one person and carry gear and passengers in front, others to carry paddling passengers. Outboard motors may be attached to these rafts. These boats may be self-bailing, which means that there are holes in the floor of the raft to drain water that enters the boat while navigating whitewater rapids.

If you are considering buying an inflatable raft, there are several things to consider. First, what will you be using it for, and how often? In what temperature and weather conditions will you use it? Second, what size raft will you need? How durable is the raft you are considering? Always be sure not to exceed the weight capacity of a raft. To be safe in the water, always have a personal flotation device for each person in the raft at all times.

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