The ultimate tender test

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


The Chinese may have just about taken over world inflatable production, but our test shows they can build a pretty good boat.

Provided European fabrics are used, and the UK or European importer specifies the design and equipment carefully, the resulting product is well up to the required standard, certainly for light-use leisure craft.

Mariner Stand

Mariner Stand

Tender-Group-TestOf the three styles available, the boats with slatted bottoms are cheaper, lighter, quicker to inflate, and perform adequately with a small outboard.

The craft with inflated floors and an inflated keel row best, and will give you planing performance for one adult or two kids with 5hp, but they can start to porpoise over 15mph, and the floor pressure is critical. Their flat floor is also more comfortable for normal use.

The inflated vee-bottomed boats are best if planing performance is your main ask, but they can take up to 20 minutes to inflate by hand, and will be slightly heavier than other dinghies.

If you want an inflated floor and keel, the Excel at £539 is a great buy, although the Lodestar wins on features. However if you’re looking for a dingy for life, still buy an Avon.

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