The Best Dinghies

Dinghies are small boats that historically have been carried by larger sea-faring vessels as lifeboats or tenders. Modern dinghies have been adapted to a broader range of use. Today, you’ll still find yachts and large fishing vessels that utilize dinghies as emergency evacuation boats, but many are now used recreationally for light fishing and other leisure activities.

Lightweight and packable enough to throw into the back of your car, inflatable dinghies are by far the most popular style for outdoor recreation. They’re quick and easy to inflate with a simple foot pump or electronic pump and can create a sizeable wake at top speed with a fairly powerful motor attached.

We reviewed dozens of dinghies and have identified the best available to help you choose your perfect watercraft. Considering factors such as size, hull durability, and floor strength we’ve picked our top choices and broken down the rest to show you our favorite long, short, and budget dinghies.

Best Dinghy Overall
Inflatable Sport Boats Dolphin
Industry-leading pontoon strength paired with a drop-stitch PVC floor gives the Inflatable Sport Boats Dolphin versatility and long-lasting durability that every boat should have. Excellent size, quality, and price make it the King of Dinghies.

After scrutinizing all of the dinghies we could find, we’ve chosen the Inflatable Sport Boats Dolphin as our dinghy top pick. It’s a high-quality inflatable dinghy crafted by nautical engineers with buoyancy, durability, and reliable stability in mind. The streamlined design is constructed of top-notch materials and packed with all of the features we’d expect in an excellent dinghy.

The 5 Top-Rated Dinghies

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best Dinghy OverallInflatable Sport Boats Dolphin5.0
Best Family Sized DinghyBRIS 9.8 foot Inflatable4.7
Best Budget DinghyBestway Hydro Force4.2
Best Long DinghyNewport Vessels Baja4.3
Best Short DinghyNewport Vessels Dana
4.1

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

Best Dinghy Overall: Inflatable Sport Boats Dolphin

The Inflatable Sport Boats Dolphin is a premium dinghy in every sense. Wrapped in high-grade .9mm, 1,100 denier reinforced polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the Dolphin can withstand turbulent ocean water and is resistant to damage from sharp items like rocks and fishing lures. Balanced by two large “Easy Planing” pontoons extended beyond the dinghy’s transom, the Dolphin maintains stable in rough conditions whether you’re escaping a larger vessel in an emergency situation, tending people across choppy waves, or tearing up a mean wake at the lake.

To ensure rock-steady construction throughout the dinghy, Inflatable Boat Sports has heat-welded every seam for maximum durability in both fresh and saltwater environments. A drop-stitch high-pressure deck floor holds at 8 PSI to create a solid boat floor that won’t fold under its 1,070-pound weight limit. The reinforced PVC material throughout the floor and pontoons is UV, oil, and stain-resistant.

All-in-all this remarkable dinghy comes equipped with a cushioned bench seat, a removable aluminum bench seat, two storage bags, two aluminum oars that can be conveniently locked into place, a foot pump, repair kit, towing rings, and multiple carry handles. The dinghy can be propelled manually with the oars or equipped with your choice of a two or four-stroke outboard motor with a 15″ or 20″ shaft. You can even equip a Bimini boat canopy for sun and rain protection. Inflatable Sport Boats has thought of it all, and the Dolphin is our favorite of their many high-quality dinghies.

Inflatable Sport Boats Dolphin 2 Key Features:

  • Max person: 4
  • Length: 8’8″
  • 1,100 denier reinforced PVC material
  • Drop stitch high-pressure air deck floor

Best Family Sized Dinghy: BRIS 9.8 foot Inflatable

Best Family Sized Dinghy
BRIS 9.8 foot Inflatable
A heavy-duty aluminum floor and the robust, rubber strake on the BRIS 9.8 foot Inflatable dinghy setup a solid foundation. This is one tough dinghy.

Riding right behind our best overall pick, the BRIS 9.8 foot Inflatable dinghy takes the runner up spot. The BRIS 9.8 is nearly identical in construction to our top dinghy pick with an equally thick PVC encasing and heat-welded, quadruple overlapped seams. Where the BRIS 9.8 differs is its extended length, strong aluminum floor panels, and heavier carry weight.

If you’re looking for a bit more elbow room than the Dolphin and more rigid flooring, the BRIS 9.8 may be the dinghy for you. You’ll miss out on the storage bags and cushioned seating that comes with the Dolphin, but the BRIS 9.8 is far from devoid of creature comforts. Triangular splash guards hold back airborne water droplets from the motor you’ll have attached to the marine coated plywood transom, and rubber-strake around the dinghy’s exterior prevents wear and tear when attached to a dock.

The heavy-duty aluminum floor panels can be set or removed at a moment’s notice. Many people find the solid feel of metal flooring to be more secure for standing than a pressured air deck, and it makes this dinghy a better alternative for those who want to take their dog out on the water. The BRIS 9.8 has a four adult max occupancy – making it ideal for family fun – and can handle 1,102 pounds of onboard weight.

BRIS 9.8 foot Inflatable Key Features:

  • Max person: 4
  • Length: 9’8″
  • Heavy-duty aluminum floor panels
  • Quadruple overlap seams

Best Budget Dinghy: Bestway Hydro Force

Best Budget Dinghy
Bestway Hydro Force
Equipped with many of the same features and materials seen on high-end dinghies, the Bestway Hydro Force is a quality option at a fraction of the price.

At an inexpensive price that won’t break the bank, the Bestway Hydro Force retains the high-quality construction of more expensive dinghy options by keeping its design lean and simple. It’s got everything you need and no corners have been cut in its creation.

Marine-grade plywood flooring acts as this dinghy’s foundation. The floor is covered on the bottom by tough PVC for increased durability that can withstand light abrasions from rough sand and shoreline rocks, and the top has been fitted with a cushioned drop stitch material for maximum rider comfort. The plywood flooring is framed with aluminum to create a robust deck that can securely support two adults. As this dinghy is light, you’ll want to equip it with a lightweight motor no stronger than three horsepower. Alternatively, you can use the two aluminum oars that come with the dinghy if you’re simply looking to enjoy a leisurely day out on a quiet pond or lake.

Affordable though it may be, the Bestway Hydro Force is loaded with all of the necessities any tendering vessel should have. This well-built dinghy is stable and comes with a suite of features such as a bench seat, draining valve, attached safety rope, a 33-foot tow rope, a hand pump, pressure gauge, and aluminum oars.

Bestway Hydro Force Key Features:

  • Max person: 2
  • Length: 8’7″
  • Drop stitch-covered plywood flooring with aluminum motor mount

Best Long Dinghy: Newport Vessels Baja

Long Dinghy Pick
Newport Vessels Baja
Ride steady in the stable Newport Vessels Baja with it’s high pressure keel and V-hull.

The tried-and-true Newport Vessels Baja is our top pick for long dinghies because it has a durable design that is paired with impressive capability and portability. The oversized 18-inch outer tubes make this an incredibly stable dinghy, even on rough waters, and the aluminum-framed marine plywood flooring is strong enough to hold 1,519 pounds of people and cargo.

There’s room on this dinghy for six adults. Two aluminum bench seats are provided that can fit two people on each, and the other occupants will find plenty of high-pressure tubing available for extra sitting space. The passenger compartment is lined with a polyester fabric brace in which a stability rope has been woven throughout to provide plenty of opportunities for passengers to get a grip and hold on tight.

The Newport Vessels Baja has been tested with and approved for use with both 15-inch short shaft and 20-inch long shaft motors. Two and four-stroke motors can be used with a maximum output of 20 horsepower. Strength and stability are hallmarks of Newport Vessels dinghy and tenders, which is why you will also find several other models from the company on our list. Top-tier build quality is another consistent attribute of the brand, and this boat comes backed by a two-year warranty as an assurance of those standards.

Newport Vessels Baja Key Features:

  • Max person: 6
  • Length: 11’9″
  • Two-year warranty
  • Max weight load of 1,519 pounds

Best Short Dinghy: Newport Vessels Dana

Short Dinghy Pick
Newport Vessels Dana
Premium construction in a compact package, the Newport Vessels Dana can hold up to three people and can fit inside the trunk of your car when completely deflated.

Petite and poised, the Newport Vessels Dana is our favorite short dinghy. Performance meets portability in this three-person go-anywhere watercraft that handles rough water as well as its bigger counterparts.

Newport Vessels has combined three layers of PVC using the same heat-welded seam technique as the other top picks on our list to craft this dependable dinghy. There aren’t any specific design traits that make the Newport Vessels Dana stand out from the crowd, but the design as a whole is reliable, well-rounded, and compact. It’s an understated vessel that does what it was built to do and does it well. It comes built with the same top-of-the-line materials as our other top choices, and it’s loaded with features such as tow rings, safety rope, an inflatable V-keel, and rub strake protection despite its comparably diminutive size.

Reviewers appreciate the small stature and quality engineering of the Newport Vessels Dana. It has been lauded as the perfect size for storage on sailboats and is relatively lightweight when compared to other dinghies.

Newport Vessels Dana Key Features:

  • Max person: 3
  • Length: 8’10”
  • Compact when deflated and easily portable

Who Should Buy a Dinghy

Modern dinghies are durable watercraft that come in a variety of sizes and can be equipped with outboard motors or manually propelled with paddles. There are a few key purposes for dingies. Read on to see if they pertain to you.

Recreation: Dinghies are fun, convenient recreational watercraft that can be used on ponds, lakes, rivers, and near-shore ocean waters. River rafting, fishing, and leisurely cruises are just a few of the fun activities that can be had with a dinghy. Unlike rigid boats which require a large truck or trailer to transport, inflatable dinghies can be conveniently deflated and stored away in small spaces.

Tendering: Able to quickly move people and supplies over both shallow and deep water, dinghies are excellent tenders for larger sea-faring vessels that are unable to tread close to the shore. Fishing boats, party boats, and yachts are just a few examples of larger watercraft that should keep a dinghy on hand. People on a moored ship may want to take the dinghy to the shore to spend some time on the beach and grab a fish taco from the boardwalk.

Emergency Evacuation: With luck, you may never need to use an emergency dinghy, but that doesn’t mean your boat should be without one. Every boat must have an emergency evacuation plan in place for all passengers on board. If you like to spend your weekends cutting through the water on your sailboat or fishing out in the open ocean you should have an emergency dinghy on board you can easily access in case a fire or sinking ship means you have to evacuate. An inflatable dinghy will store away easily on most any vessel and can save lives in extreme circumstances.

Best Dinghy Overall
Inflatable Sport Boats Dolphin
Industry-leading pontoon strength paired with a drop-stitch PVC floor gives the Inflatable Sport Boats Dolphin extreme durability. Excellent size, quality, and price make it the King of Dinghies.

Important Features to Consider

A dinghy should be the right size for your needs and get you where you need to go. Here’s what to consider before purchasing a dinghy.

  • The number of people you will need to fit in your dinghy. Suffice it to say the size of your dinghy matters. No matter the situation for its use, you’ll need to predict the number of people you’ll likely be carting around on the water. If you’re looking to take your dinghy on family trips to the lake you’ll need to make sure everyone can fit, and the same foresight needs to be applied for emergency dinghies as well. Get a dinghy that meets or exceeds your occupancy needs, and keep an eye on the weight limit as well. You don’t want to overload your dinghy and put people in a dangerous situation.
  • The type of water bodies you will be boating on. Consider the type of water you’ll be using your dinghy on and how much power you will require. For ponds and small lakes you may be fine with using oars to paddle about, but if you are going to be sailing on turbulent bay or ocean waters where currents and waves will push you around you are going to need a powerful outboard motor to control your speed and direction. Be aware of the strength of the dinghy’s transom and how big of a motor it can handle. Dinghies on our list range from no motor allowed at all up to 25 horsepower motors. Make sure you get a dinghy that meets your needs and then take a look at our guide to the best trolling motors.
  • Creature comforts. Not all dinghies are made equal. Some are loaded with storage options and cushioned seats while budget-friendly models may have little more to offer than metal benches. If you choose a dinghy with fewer features, consider bringing along a waterproof backpack to protect your important items. If you’re planning to hang out on the water with a few friends take a marine speaker to kick back with some tunes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a dinghy and how does it work?

A dinghy is a small watercraft that can be used recreationally or as a secondary utility vessel to a larger boat. Most modern dinghies are inflatable and have their own manual foot pump, though electric pumps do make the process much faster. Dinghies often come with paddles and can be equipped with an optional outboard motor.

How many people can a dinghy hold?

That all depends on the model you choose. Typically, dinghies are small watercraft that can hold anywhere from one to six adults. Be sure to think about how many people you will need to fit on your dinghy before purchasing one.

How should I store my dinghy?

After use, you should clean your dinghy and dry it out before storing it away. If you are storing away a solid or fully inflated dinghy, cover it with a UV and moisture protective cover. Most inflatable dinghies come with their own storage bag and should be deflated for storing. Deflate and fold your dinghy to its smallest size, put it in its bag, and then store it away in an indoor climate-controlled environment.

How do I know if my dingy is fully inflated?

Pump air into the dinghy until the surface is smooth and all of the wrinkles have vanished. Manual and electronic pumps are designed to not allow any more air into the dinghy once it is fully inflated to prevent overinflation.

Other Dinghies We Reviewed

Best Dinghy Overall
Inflatable Sport Boats Dolphin
Industry-leading pontoon strength paired with a drop-stitch PVC floor gives the Inflatable Sport Boats Dolphin extreme durability. Excellent size, quality, and price make it the King of Dinghies.

We looked at 20 other dinghies. Even though they didn’t make our five best dinghies list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for a fun day at the lake. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing below.

Long Dinghies

BRIS 12 foot Inflatable

BRIS 12 foot Inflatable

This 12-foot long dinghy can comfortably seat five people. Constructed with extra thick PVC fabric, the BRIS 12 foot Inflatable can hold over 1,300 pounds of weight and handle rough water as well as the best.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 5
  • Length: 12′
  • 1,100 Dtex 0.9mm PVC fabric with polyester support

Cost: $999.00

Inflatable Sport Boats Killer Whale

Inflatable Boat Sports Killer Whale

Styled with a slick black and white design modeled after its namesake, the Killer Whale is strengthened with aluminum floors and seats. It is compatible with 15″ or 20″ shaft outboard motors.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 5
  • Length: 10’8″ feet
  • Two adjustable sliding bench seats

Cost: $1,599.99

Newport Vessels Newport

Newport Vessels Newport

Newport Vessels’ signature dinghy, the Newport has a marine coated plywood floor and an inflatable keel. Reviewers praise this dinghy for its stability in the water and surprisingly strong 1,248 pounds of maximum load carry weight.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 5
  • Length: 10’6″
  • Aluminum framed marine wood flooring

Cost: $1,188.00

Newport Vessels Catalina

Newport Vessels Catalina

Bigger and even more robust, the Newport Vessels Catalina takes things one step further. This extended model was recently updated with enhanced D-rings for worry-free moorage and Bimini canopy attachments.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 6.5
  • Length: 12’6″
  • Max carry load: 1,603 pounds

Cost: $1,280.01

Newport Vessels Santa Cruz

Newport Vessels Santa Cruz

Now taking a few steps back, the Newport Vessels Santa Cruz isn’t as long as its other ‘Long Dinghy’ companions, but it makes up for that with air mat flooring that offers superior comfort. This 10-foot model rides the fine line between long and short dinghies.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 4
  • Length: 10′
  • Drop stitch high-pressure air mat floor

Cost: $1,041.44

Saturn 11 foot Inflatable

Saturn 11 foot Inflatable

Double-layered tube bottoms and rub-strake protection add extra durability to the Saturn 11 foot Inflatable that makes it a great fishing vessel, recreational boat, or safety escape dinghy. It has an extremely rigid hull that responds more like a solid boat than a soft raft.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 5
  • Length: 11′
  • Wrap-around rope grab line

Cost: $1,023.99

Saturn 12 foot Inflatable

Saturn 12 foot Inflatable

More than just a longer version of the 11-foot model, the Saturn 12 foot Inflatable comes equipped with a keel rub-strake for solid protection against rough sand and shard rocks. This reliable and roomy dinghy can be transported by a single person with a dolly when deflated.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 5
  • Length: 12′
  • Keel rub-strake for solid underbody protection

Cost: $1,250.00

Short Dinghies

Aleko Heavy Duty Boat

Aleko Heavy Duty Boat

Stylish and stealthy, the Aleko Heavy Duty Boat has a blacked-out aesthetic for those who appreciate darker styling. This sturdy dinghy can hold up to 770 pounds and its rigid aluminum floor is a safe place to store objects like coolers and fishing gear.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 3
  • Length: 8’6″
  • Max carry load: 770 pounds

Cost: $1,358.00

BRIS 8.2 foot Inflatable

BRIS 8.2 foot Inflatable

The BRIS 8.2 foot Inflatable is a feature-laden diminutive dinghy that mirrors the high-quality design of its larger counterparts. This watercraft is small, packable, and easy to transport.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 2.5
  • Length: 8’2″
  • Drop stitch floor with 9 PSI air pressure

Cost:  $689.00

Inflatable Sport Boats Manta Ray

Inflatable Sport Boats Manta Ray

Whereas our Best Overall Pick, the Inflatable Sports Boat Dolphin, is equipped with a high-pressure inflatable floor, the Inflatable Sport Boats Manta Ray is constructed with an aluminum floor for added strength. Choosing between the two is a matter of personal preference. The Manta Ray is stronger, but the Dolphin is easier to pack away– otherwise, they’re nearly identical.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 4
  • Length: 8’8″
  • Aluminum floors

Cost: $1,199.99

Inflatable Sport Boats White Marlin

Inflatable Sport Boats White Marlin

Newly released in 2019, the White Marlin is a larger version of the Dolphin. The high-pressure air deck floor and all of its other components are identical to the Dolphin. Despite its larger size, this White Marlin still weighs an impressively light 70 pounds for easy portability when deflated.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 5
  • Length: 9’8″
  • Max load weight of 1,158 pounds

Cost: $1,399.99

Inflatable Sport Boats Shark

Inflatable Sport Boats Shark

Continuing the Inflatable Sport Boats theme, the Shark is a longer version of the Manta Ray with identical components including that heavy-duty aluminum floor. These dinghies receive high marks from reviewers and are well-constructed which is why so many of them have made it onto our list.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 5
  • Length: 9’8″
  • Strong aluminum floor

Cost: $1,399.99

INMAR Dinghy Tender

INMAR Dinghy Tender

The INMAR Dinghy Tender was designed to ensure an uninterrupted, worry-free boating experience. With double the lower hull protection of most other dinghies, this boat can handle rough rocks and sand like few dinghies can. A unique bow bag provides a convenient storage option for small items like rain jackets and fishing gear.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 4
  • Length: 9’6″
  • Double hull protection

Cost: $1,125.95

Mercury Inflatable Boat

Mercury Inflatable Boat

Tough and ready for action, the rugged Mercury Inflatable Boat is loaded with rubbing strake protection, a high-pressure air floor, and several thick layers of PVC fabric for a safe and smooth ride. Mercury trusts their quality craftsmanship so much they slapped a ten-year warranty on this bad boy.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 4
  • Length: 9’6″
  • Ten-year manufacturer’s warranty

Cost: $4,220.04

Newport Vessels Del Mar

Newport Vessels Del Mar

Equally amazing as our Short Dinghy Pick, the Newport Vessels Dana, the nearly identical Newport Vessels Del Mar was just a bit too long to be given our Top ‘Short’ Pick. The Del Mar’s a quality dinghy made with good materials pumped full of features, and it can carry more than the Dana. Which is better? That’s for you to decide.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 4
  • Length: 9’6″
  • Aluminum framed custom hard marine coated plywood floor

Cost: $1,078.00

Newport Vessels Seascape

Newport Vessels Seascape

Also similar to our Short Dinghy Pick, the Newport Vessels Seascape substitutes a cozy drop stitch floor for rigid aluminum and has seven extra inches of interior cabin space over the Dana.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 3
  • Length: 9′
  • Triple layered PVC drop stitch high-pressure air mat floor

Cost: $1,058.00

Budget Dinghies

BRIS 8.8 foot Inflatable

BRIS 8.8 Inflatable

Save a few hundred dollars over the other high-quality dinghies and choose the BRIS 8.8 foot Inflatable with aluminum slatted floors. Instead of a solid floor, this vessel comes with two rigid floor slats while the remaining floor space is soft. It’s difficult to stand on the floor other than the slatted sections, but this one drawback drastically reduces the price.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 3
  • Length: 8’8″
  • Aluminum floor slats

Cost: $499.99

Intex Mariner

Intex Mariner

Raft by design but full-fledged dinghy at heart, the Intex Mariner is comprised of stronger body material than most dinghies on our list because it’s built to survive rocky river rapids. Equip your motor with the motor mount kit to turn this tough cookie into an inexpensive dinghy. This vessel comes with two hull valves for quick inflation and deflation.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 4
  • Super tough three-layered 26.4 gauge vinyl material
  • Included motor mount kit

Cost: $242.99

Klymit LiteWater Dinghy Packraft

Klymit LiteWater Dinghy Packraft

The Klymit Litewater Dinghy Packraft can serve as an emergency personal dinghy for your small boat. This niche dinghy/packraft hybrid can’t handle a motor, but it more than makes up for that shortcoming with its ultralightweight design and extremely small packability. Plus, it comes at a price that just can’t be beaten.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 1
  • Weighs only 35 ounces
  • Packs down to 4.5″ by 9″

Cost: $99.96

Tangkula Inflatable Boat

Tangkula Inflatable Boat

A feature-rich dinghy with specs that match the top dogs on our list, the Tangkula Inflatable Boat comes in at a low price for such a fleshed out boat. With an aluminum floor and 3-ply polyester fabric, this is one sturdy dinghy.

Key Features:

  • Max person: 4
  • Length: 9′
  • V-hull with skid rake for performance, stability, and durability

Cost: $399.99

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