Tips on Buying Used Inflatable Boats

When faced with a choice between used inflatable boats or buying brand new, you might be surprised to hear that previously owned models are not just a great bargain but an equally good value as well.

Modern inflatables are made with PVC and Hypalon hull material making them far superior to old style rubber rafts. Not only is it attractive, this nearly puncture-proof fabric is designed to stand up against UV sunlight, salt water, oil, gasoline, dirt, and other elements that would deteriorate lesser fabric. The advanced technology and high tech materials put into these boats allow them to last for decades.

What to Look For

Sea Hawk Super Tough Inflatable Boat

While you are researching used inflatable boats for sale, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Gently used returns: boats that are sent back to the manufacturer because they were simply the wrong style for the prior owner are generally the best buy you can find. There is nothing wrong with these inflatables save for a few cosmetic scratches. You’ll save at least $150 if you buy a return versus buying new.

Patched or repaired: the seller will indicate in the listing if the used boat has been repaired. Because of the bonding qualities of patch material, repaired boats – if they have been repaired by a professional – are likely every bit as good as new inflatables. If they’ve been patched by someone who didn’t know what they were doing, it would be best to avoid that one.

Hull integrity: Check for any longitudinal cracks in the hull that would indicate a loss of strength.

The Safest Places to Buy

RST Marine Navigator III

Since you are buying online, you won’t have an opportunity to inspect a used boat for damage before buying, but this is less of a problem if you get it from merchants (sellers) listing on eBay or Amazon, since they are required to adhere to certain standards.

Amazon.com — You can occasionally (but not always) find used inflatable boats on Amazon from third party sellers. Check the link under the product price that says, “Used and new from $…” Some of the brands sold on Amazon are Advanced Elements, Coleman, Intex, Sevylor, and Sea Eagle.

Ebay.com — This is usually a good place to shop for used and new models. Inflatable boats run the gamut from cheap rafts to high-end, ex-Coast Guard Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs). Both dealers and private sellers list boats and usually post photos and a detailed description of the craft. Be sure to factor in shipping costs before bidding.

Sea Eagle 8.10 Used Dinghy

SeaEagle.com — Some inflatable boat makers such as Sea Eagle offer several used models including kayaks, tenders, and pontoon boats right on their website. Sea Eagle tests each boat inflated for 72 hours. In addition, the boat will be guaranteed to never having been punctured or patched, though a used model might show minimal wear. These secondhand market inflatable boats will save you $50 - $200 over the price of a new boat. They are sold with the original 3-year bow-to stern warranty and you are covered with a 6-month money back guarantee so that you have ample time to decide if the boat is right for you. Check the website for details.

Use your best judgment when purchasing used inflatable boats. As long as they are properly maintained, a previously owned craft can last up to 20 years, and will prove to be a worthwhile investment for the buyer.

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