If you have a large family or like to entertain friends on the lake, you will need to get an inflatable boat that has the capacity to carry 6 people.
Unfortunately your choices are limited, since not many inflatable boats are made for 6 people to fit. Even the ones that are advertised to fit 6 people are usually rather tight (if 6 people can get in at all).
Most 6 person SIBs can carry 2-3 adults plus 2-3 children.
Best inflatable boats for 6 people
On the more affordable end of the spectrum, there are just a few inflatable rafts rated for 6 people. If you are willing to spend more, you get more features and space in higher quality inflatable dinghies.
Here is a list of the SIBs I can recommend for 6 people.
Solstice Voyager inflatable 6-person boat
Solstice Voyager opinion
The Solstice Voyager is one of the cheapest inflatable rafts on the market. The 6-person version is large enough to sit 3 adults and 3 kids.
The boat has some nice features (swiveling oar locks, 4 air chambers, integrated fishing rod holder), but doesn’t come with a pump or oars. It’s PVC is also not very durable, but you can’t realistically expect more at this price.
Sevylor Fish Hunter 360
Sevylor Fish Hunter opinion
Sevylor’s Fish Hunter is a capable inflatable boat. It comes in 2 variants: the 360 for 6 people, and the 280 for 4 people. There are a lot of features aimed at fisherman, like the Berkeley rod holders, 5 separate air chambers, and 4 swiveling oar locks. Too bad the package does not include a set of oars and a pump.
Airhead Angler Bay 6-person
Airhead Angler Bay opinion
Airhead’s Angler Bay is a lightweight and portable, yet strong inflatable boat. It will inflate or deflate in a matter of minutes. It is great for lakes and low paced streams and comes with enough capacity to carry your family (about 5 people), or 2-3 people plus fishing gear.
Newport Vessels Catalina
Newport Vessels inflatable dinghy opinion
Newport Vessels makes good quality, rugged inflatable boats that can be used as a tender, for fishing, or just for fun. Getting it on plane with over 400 lbs was hard, but that is my only complaint. It is PVC, so don’t store it in the sun. Otherwise, it will give you years of service.
BRIS 1.2mm PVC 12.5 ft
BRIS BSA380 12.5 ft Inflatable Boat Opinion
The BRIS BSA380 is a rugged inflatable boat with a unique look. It features class-leading thick PVC fabric, a sturdy aluminum floor and transom, and loads of included accessories. The boat can support 6 people and is very safe out on the water, even the ocean when paired with a max 25 HP engine.
Sea Eagle 12’6″ Sport Runabout
Sea Eagle 12.6SR Opinion
The 12.6SR comes with a fairly large cockpit, good lugging space, and myriad options and features that render it both work and recreation-friendly. It is exceptionally light-weight, so if you’re looking for a 6-person boat for the family that is exceptionally safe, you may have found it.
These were the boats I can recommend for 6 people.
How big & heavy is a 6 person inflatable boat?
To try to fit 6 people into an inflatable boat, you need the boat to be at least 12 feet (3.6 m) in length. The longer the better.
To safely carry 6 people, you also need the boat to be made out of thick, durable material. This will mean the boat can get heavy.
How much does a 6 person inflatable boat weigh?
It depends on the boat. At the low-end of the spectrum, a 6-person inflatable raft like the Solstice Voyager will weigh a mere 25 lbs. A high quality inflatable dinghy with capacity for 6 people weighs much more, like the Bris BSA380 at 180 lbs.
Moving such a heavy boat is a challenge in itself. You either need:
- 2 people
- a hand dolly cart
- launch wheels installed on the transom
I prefer the launch wheels, here is an article on why I can’t live without them.
How long does it take to inflate such a big SIB?
It will take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to inflate a 6-person inflatable boat.
The speed really depends on what kind of air pump you are using. Electric air pumps are the fastest of course, but there is nothing wrong with using a manual foot or hand pump. It just takes a bit longer.
Inflatable dinghies like the Bris, Sea Eagle and the Catalina also require the installation of a hard floor. This increases the set up time of these boats.
Using oars to paddle large boats
When you have 6 people sitting in a 100+ lbs boat, you have to move a lot of weight.
This is very hard with paddles.
Let’s say you have 3 adults with an average weight of 170 pounds (ca. 77 kg) each, and 3 kids weighing 80 pounds (ca. 36 kg) each in the boat. That will equal 750 pounds (ca. 340 kg), plus the weight of the boat.
I’m not saying it is impossible to use oars on a boat with this many people, but it will be very slow.
Also, if there is any wind blowing or current flowing against your desired direction, you will be in trouble.
Do you need a motor mount on 6 person SIBs?
Yes, it is recommended to get a boat with motoring capabilities. All the inflatable boats on this list can be fitted with a motor.
The inflatable rafts need to be fitted with a motor mount, onto which you can put a trolling motor. This is a perfectly good solution if you want a low-cost motorized boat.
Here is a list of electric trolling motors that will do the job.
The inflatable dinghies have transoms, so you can attach a motor right onto the boat.
While you can use trolling motors on dinghies as well, you can make better use of the boat’s capabilities by getting a gasoline outboard motor such as these.
How portable is a 6 person inflatable boat?
A lot of people prefer inflatable boats over traditional hard shell boats because of their portability.
All inflatable boats break down and can be stored or transported easily.
As you can expect, a deflated 25 lb raft will occupy much smaller space than a 150 lb dinghy. You should also keep in mind that the hard floor of a dinghy needs to be stored separately, as do other accessories like paddles, seats, and the motor.