Inflatable Boats: What Is The Best 2-Person Dinghy?
With so many different inflatable boats on the market, it can be difficult to decide what the best dinghy is for your needs. This can be especially true for individuals shopping for a smaller boat to fit just themselves or to accommodate the limited space on their sailboat. To fit those needs Zodiac, Mercury, Achilles, GoPlus and recently Newport Vessels have stepped up to offer a 7ft, 2-Person inflatable boat. In this post, we will compare and contrast the different brands and models to help potential buyers decide which is the best inflatable boat at 7ft. The contenders are: the Zodiac Cadet 230 AERO, the Mercury 240 Air Floor, the Achilles LSI-230E, the GoPlus 2-Person Dinghy and the Newport Vessels 7ft 7in Carmel.
Zodiac: Cadet 230 Aero
At 7ft 7in, the Cadet 230 AERO from Zodiac is a well made dinghy from the original manufacturer of inflatable boats. Zodiac is well-known around the world and their name is nearly synonymous with inflatable boats. Zodiac boats make great dinghies, however their Cadet C230 AERO inflatable boat only has two pontoon chambers in the main hull. With only two chambers, if one side were to spring a leak or burst the boat would only have one other chamber left. Although this scenario would probably not be life threatening, you and you passenger would definitely be getting a little wet on your trip back to shore. This is not an ideal design for the expensive Zodiac inflatable boat. However, this is not just a concern with the Zodiac boat, but also with the Mercury 240, the Achilles LSI-230E and GoPlus 2-Person Dinghy models. The Newport Vessels 7ft 7in Carmel inflatable boat is the only dinghy in this group that has three air chambers built into the hull. Three chambers might take a little more time for full inflation, but Newport Vessels makes safety and security the top priority with every inflatable boat we design.
Mercury: 240 Air Floor PVC
At 7ft 10in, the Mercury 240 Air Floor is the largest boat in this list. Although Mercury is better known for their outboards rather than for their inflatable boats, they do manufacture RIBs and inflatable boats like the 240 Air Floor model. The Mercury 240 Air Floor does have some good qualities like being lightweight, the longer hull provides for more space, and welded PVC construction. Unfortunately the Mercury 240 Air Floor has one major drawback, small pontoon tubes. At only 13” in diameter, these tubes are small. Smaller tubes minimize the boats weight and packed size, but reduce stability and splash protection when on the water. Small dinghies are often known for leaving passengers wet, and thankful to step ashore; larger tubes increase stability and keep passengers dry in rough conditions.
Even smaller than the Mercury 240 is the GoPlus 2-Person Dinghy with only 12.5” tubes, just reading that, you can almost feel the saltwater splashing your back as you sit on the side tube. Fortunately, the other dinghies in this comparison show more promise with their larger tube sizes. The Zodiac boats tubes are 14” in diameter, the Newport Vessels 7ft 7in Carmel has 14.5” tubes and the Achilles dinghy floats comfortably with 15.5” diameter tubes. Sometimes the phrase “bigger is better” does have some truth to it.
The Achilles LSI-230E is the only Hypalon dinghy on in this group. Hypalon fabric has been favored by many for being able to resist chemicals and prolonged UV exposure, however these properties come at a significantly higher cost. In this modern day, PVC fabric has made significant improvements and has closed the performance gap that used to distinguish the Hypalon and PVC fabric. Now days, the main difference between the two types of material is the price. Hypalon material is more expensive because it is only produced in small quantities, and demands hand glued construction techniques, which drastically increases the price. For example, the Achilles LSI-230E retails for roughly $2,360! That’s roughly 40% more than the Zodiac Cadet 230 AERO at $1,350, the highest priced PVC dinghy. Then comes the Mercury 240 Air Floor at $1,012, the Newport Vessels Carmel for $749 and lastly the GoPlus 2-Person at $289.99. PVC is an easier material to work with, for example, the seams can be hot air welded, which helps keep costs and defect rates incredible low.
GoPlus: 2-Person Inflatable
If you are price shopping, the GoPlus 2-Person inflatable boat might seem appealing. However, this price is substantially lower for a reason. It ranks the lowest on all of the comparisons, uses low-quality PVC and the seams are held together by glue and seam tape. While this can be a strong seam design for Hypalon boats, this is not the type of seam construction you want in a PVC inflatable. A higher quality construction method is hot air welding, which bonds the two PVC sheets to effectively create one piece of fabric, creating a significantly stronger bond than adhesives. Goplus is the type of brand we see far too frequently in the inflatable boats industry, a fly by night Chinese importer. They sell everything and specialize in nothing other than making a quick buck, as demonstrated by their nonsensical self description: “Goplus dedicates to create high efficiency, total convenience, pure pragmatism in your daily life with its superior items (treadmills) deserving one shot.”
If something does go wrong, GoPlus does not have a website or contact information for you to get the help you need. They sell a variety of items on Amazon that range from treadmills to patio furniture, inflatable boats a very small percentage of what they deal in. This is a huge issue when you are shopping for the best inflatable boat, especially if you want your inflatable boat to be safe, durable, and long lasting.
Newport Vessels: Carmel
The Newport Vessels Carmel dinghy measures in at 7ft 7in. The only aspect in which the Carmel doesn’t place in the top spot is overall weight at 58lbs, it is 3lbs heavier than the next competitor the Achilles 230 at 55lbs. After the Achilles dinghy is the Zodiac boat at 53lbs, the GoPlus at 51lbs and finally the Mercury at 49lbs. The extra few pounds can be attributed to the extra fabric used for the larger tubes and extra materials to increase durability such as rub strakes and wear patches. If working alone, this can make it more cumbersome when lifting and transporting. However, the added weight is what makes this boat perform significantly better than the competition, with larger tubes that help increase the carrying capacity, and wear patches that show this dinghy is built like a tank.
When considering the best inflatable boat for two people, it is important to consider both performance and value. As detailed in this article, the Carmel is a strong performer in each of the categories, including price. The Carmel inflatable boat scored near the top of every category and sells at a price that won’t hurt your wallet. Constructed with high quality PVC that uses hot air welding technology, this dinghy is built to last. Unlike most of the competition, if you do have any questions or problems, you can email or call us directly. Our California based customer service team is always happy to help and answer all of your questions!