We review 10 inflatable dinghies on the market to see which one would make the ultimate tender

Dinghy design has moved on from the old, heavy lumps just about good enough to carry you a few yards ashore.

Modern inflatables roll up small enough for one person to lift aboard and stow in a locker, but they can just as easily leave the mother ship for a bit of extra-curricular harbour exploration.

And with the right size outboard, inflatable tenders can give you lots of planing fun.

For this feature, the Motor Boats Monthly team has tested 14 inflatables from 10 manufacturers to see how they performed.

All the tenders are approximately 9ft long and weigh between 30-45kg.

We inflated them, carried them, rowed them and powered them with either a 4hp or – where their rated power allowed it – a 5hp outboard.

Read on for the full results of all 10 dinghies tested:

Sunsport AIB265

Sunsport AIB265 | The ultimate tender test | Motor Boats Monthly |Design

The AIB has an inflatable keel and a flat inflated floor, although when pumped up, it actually rose in a slight inverted vee.

It has three tube compartments, and two in the floor, which all have to be inflated in the right order and to the correct pressure.

Short grab ropes are fitted on each side, but there are none across the bow. The drain bung can only be reached from outside the boat as the floor gets in the way inside. There are no transom rings or davit lifting points.

Ride

This dinghy was simple to row as it sat lower in the water and the flatter floor made it easy to move around.

Under power the AIB planed with the 2.5hp and one light person aboard. With the 5hp the dinghy reached 13mph one up, and even faster at 15mph with two aboard, but the seat was sited too far forward.

Vital stats

At 31kg this tender is easy to carry but the packed dimensions were on the long side, with an average girth. Folding the tubes in tighter might improve this.

Price

At £715 it is one of the most reasonable tenders on test, due to less material in the floor, and has a two-year warranty.

Contact: www.barrus.co.uk 01869 363636

Rating 4/5

  1. 1. Sunsport AIB265
  2. 2. Honwave T27
  3. 3. Bombard AX3
  4. 4. Excel SD260
  5. 5. Zodiac 260AD
  6. 6. Avon 260AD
  7. 7. Zodiac 260RU
  8. 8. Lodestar NSA260
  9. 9. Zodiac Zoom 260
  10. 10. Wetline 260AD
  11. 11. Conclusion
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