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Camping With Inflatable Boats

Camping with inflatable boats is one of the most exciting and fun ways to enjoy inflatable boats and the wilderness you use them in. Before considering what kind of inflatable boat you want to use, you should consider what kind of camping experience you wish to have. There are several:

On a lake

Depending on the size of the lake, you can use almost any kind of inflatable boat, however, there may be restrictions on particular lakes forbidding the use of gas or electric engines. If there are, obviously, you will have to restrict your boat choices to paddling, rowing or sailing craft. With this in mind here are come great choices:

  • On large lakes where there remote islands that you can camp on. Depending how far away the island is, you should choose an inflatable that will get you, your passengers and your gear to the island. Obviously, if you are going a long distance or you are carrying a lot of gear & people, having a large sportboat will carry the most and get you furthest and fastest.
  • On the other hand, if you want a more natural and more personal experience, you may prefer to load a lot of gear in an inflatable kayak and paddle off to a nearby island. This has the great advantage of being a true wilderness experience without the sound of motors. However, you should remember, it sometimes rains when camping and you may appreciate in that situation the ability to retreat fast.
  • Motormount boats probably carry the most stuff and get you out there. They also make very functional fishing boats. The only drawback is that they are not very fast to motor and they are not generally specifically rigged for fishing.
  • Pontoon Fishing Boats are ideal fishing and camping boats, especially if you are taking a small motor. A virtue of pontoon fishing boats are generally pre-rigged with fishing equipment you may want to have.

On a River

In this setting, you generally are not going use large transom boats unless it is a very large river without any rocks or white water. For this reason, motormount boats, white water or float fishing rafts or inflatable kayaks are all probably more suitable.

On a large lake, bay or sound

You will probably want to use a larger transom boat capable of motoring long distances. Here you have to plan your gear very carefully, being sure to include back-up safety equipment (one does not want to run out of fresh water on the ocean). Life jackets, tents, proper clothes for all condition you a likely meet, sleeping bags, gps, radio, cell phone are just some of the equipment that you may choose to bring along.

The interesting point about camping and motoring on a big body of water is that your camping experience is movable and changeable. This makes for a very interesting camping experience, but also important to carefully prepare for such a trip because you can be very sorry if you forget something important. An alternative to using a large sportboat, is a motormount boat, a sailing inflatable or a kayak, but remember your flexibility in retreating is not as great.

However, sailing or paddling an inflatable and camping on the shore is also a very pleasurable experience, provided you are fully prepared for every eventuality.

On a small lake or bay

You will probably want to use an inflatable kayak, a sailing inflatable or motormount boat. Your choice of craft is pretty much relegated by the number of people you are going with, how much stuff you want to bring along. In the evening, you can sit at the campsite, tell stories and look at a fire. During the day you can go paddling, fishing, sailing or motoring.

On a river

Here you will theoretically have the benefit of current taking you down river. You will have to consider the logistics of your put-in and take-out and how you will shuttle cars back and forth. Generally, because of underwater rocks and possible whitewater conditions, it is not recommended to take large transom boats. This leaves you restricted to motormount boats, kayaks, river rafts and pontoon boats. All have their place, but your choice should be dictated by what you want to do, how many people are going along with and how much stuff you want to carry.

By Sea or Ocean

In the ocean you also have currents, but these may not be to your benefit. Generally, large transom boats are you best bet, although, as long as you are staying in a set vicinity, inflatable kayaks, motormount boats and sailing inflatables can be fun as well.

Camping along a white water river

Here you have current, but it may be more than you have bargained for. You should never attempt running a whitewater river without checking it out in advance and being familiar with the basics of river-running. If you are not, go down with an organized river running company until you are ready to try this great sport out by yourself.

Speaking of going by yourself, DON’T!!! Always go with 2 or more other people and always have contingency plans on how each person can rescue the other if needed. Understanding all of this, your best choices are inflatable kayaks, river rafts, pontoon fishing boats (depending on the severity of the white water) and motormount boats (used specifically without motors).

Planning a white water camping trip requires making a list of all that you will need, including the most obvious (life jackets, cell phones, foods, proper clothes, etc.). Remember, it is what you do not bring that can kill you.

Camping along Wild Rivers or on Wilderness Lakes

All the same planning requirements are the same as above. Be prepared. Choose the right craft and the right equipment. The further you go out there, the more beautiful and the more dangerous it is. Plan prudently and enjoy!