Discover Types & Styles

AB Inflatable Boats: How They Compare to Zodiac Boats in Performance and Quality

AB Inflatables is a respected manufacturer of rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) with fiberglass or aluminum hull boats, tenders, and dinghies worldwide. Renowned for their quality and durability, these boats are often compared with other well-known brands, such as Zodiac Boats. Zodiac is also a leading name in the world of inflatable boats, known for their exceptional build and wide range of applications.

When it comes to comparing AB Inflatables with Zodiac Boats, several factors need to be considered, such as materials, performance, and price. Both brands utilize Hypalon fabrics in their construction, which offer excellent resistance to chemicals, temperature extremes, and ultraviolet light. This makes them highly suitable for military and professional organizations across the globe. In the realm of performance, both AB Inflatables and Zodiac boats have proven their capabilities, providing reliable and efficient options for various water-based activities.

Price is an important aspect for consumers when evaluating different inflatable boat options. While the cost of the boats may vary depending on the model and specifications, it is essential to examine not only the price tag but also the value that each brand brings. That being said, comparisons made between inflatable boats like the Dana from Newport Vessels and the boats from Zodiac show that there can be similarities in quality and design, despite potential differences in price. Ultimately, choosing between AB Inflatables and Zodiac Boats should be based on an individual's specific needs, preferences, and budget.

Types of Boats

When comparing AB Inflatable boats to Zodiac boats, it's essential to consider the different types of boats offered by these manufacturers. Both companies specialize in producing high-quality inflatable boats designed for various purposes. In this section, we will discuss three types of boats: Rigid Inflatable Boats, Inflatable Boats, and Dinghies.

Rigid Inflatable Boats

Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) are a popular choice for boaters due to their combination of lightweight, durability, and performance. RIBs typically have a fiberglass or aluminum hull, providing a stable platform while maintaining the buoyancy and ease of use associated with inflatable boats. AB Inflatables and Zodiac both produce a wide range of RIBs suitable for various uses, such as tendering, fishing, and diving.

Inflatable Boats

In contrast to RIBs, inflatable boats do not have rigid hulls but instead rely on air-filled tubes to provide buoyancy and structure. These boats are generally lighter and easier to transport than RIBs, making them an attractive option for those who need a versatile and portable watercraft. Both AB Inflatables and Zodiac offer a selection of inflatable boats with features like durable construction, high-quality materials, and multiple air chambers for safety and stability. Additionally, inflatable boats are available in various sizes, from compact single-person models to larger boats suitable for group outings.


Dinghies are small, lightweight boats used for various purposes, including tendering to larger vessels, fishing, and recreational use. While they can be either rigid or inflatable, the focus here is on inflatable dinghies. AB Inflatables and Zodiac both manufacture high-quality dinghies designed for easy transportation, quick setup, and reliable performance. These boats often come with features like durable fabric, reinforced seams, and air-filled keels to provide better tracking and stability. Dinghies are available in multiple sizes and configurations, catering to a range of needs and preferences among boaters.

Key Features

Hull Materials and Design

When comparing AB Inflatable boats to Zodiac boats, it's important to examine the hull materials and design. AB Inflatables produces boats that feature both aluminum and fiberglass hulls, designed to achieve maximum performance and durability (Boat Specialists). Zodiac boats, on the other hand, typically utilize a combination of PVC and Hypalon materials in their construction (Newport Vessels).

Fiberglass hulls in AB Inflatable boats are known for their ability to provide a smooth and stable ride, thanks to their robust and lightweight composition. Meanwhile, Zodiac's use of PVC and Hypalon materials results in a lighter boat that is fairly resistant to wear and tear but may not offer the same level of stability as a fiberglass hull.

Tube Diameter and Construction

AB Inflatable boats typically have larger tube diameters compared to their Zodiac counterparts (Newport Vessels). Larger tube diameters offer increased buoyancy and stability, ensuring a drier and more comfortable ride. Zodiac boats often have 17" diameter tubes, which may lead to less stability and a wetter experience on the water (Newport Vessels).

Performance and Stability

When it comes to performance and stability, AB Inflatable boats are known to outperform Zodiac boats due to their larger tube diameters and fiberglass or aluminum hull options (Boat Specialists). Theses hull materials allow AB Inflatable boats to provide a swift, smooth, and stable ride even in rough water conditions.

Zodiac boats, on the other hand, may provide a lighter and more maneuverable ride, but their smaller tube diameters and PVC or Hypalon construction may not provide the same level of stability or durability as an AB Inflatable boat, especially during choppy or wavy conditions.

Popular Brands Comparison

In this section, we will be comparing the features and offerings of some of the most popular inflatable boat brands, including AB Inflatables, Zodiac, Avon, and Mercury.

AB Inflatables

AB Inflatables is a well-known brand in the inflatable boats industry, offering a wide range of products suitable for various applications. Their boats are known for high-quality fabric material and hand-crafted designs, ensuring durability and performance. Some popular models by AB Inflatables include the Navigo and Alumina series. These boats cater to different audiences, such as recreational users, professional mariners, and rescue teams, depending on their specific requirements.


Zodiac is another leading brand in the inflatable boat market, known for its long history and innovative engineering. The Zodiac boats are designed to be lightweight, stable, and durable, offering excellent performance in various water conditions. Some popular models by Zodiac include the Cadet and Pro series. Zodiac inflatable boats are used for various purposes, such as leisure cruising, professional marine applications, and rescue operations.


Avon is a renowned brand of inflatable boats, commonly known for its high-quality construction and versatile design. Avon boats are made using Hypalon, a durable and UV-resistant material. They offer a broad range of products, such as the Adventure and Seasport series, catering to diverse boating requirements. Avon inflatable boats are well-suited for leisure activities, fishing, and rescue missions.


Mercury is a prominent brand in the boating industry offering inflatable boats with a focus on performance and innovation. Their range of products includes the Ocean Runner and Air Deck series, designed to cater to various applications. Mercury boats are made from premium PVC materials and offer a range of propulsion options, including outboard motors and rowing. These boats are well-suited for recreational boating, fishing, and water sports activities.

Capacity and Dimensions

When comparing AB inflatable boats to Zodiac boats, it is essential to consider factors such as load capacity, weight, horsepower, and storage space. This section will provide an overview of these factors and how each brand stands in terms of these characteristics.

Load Capacity

Load capacity refers to the maximum weight a boat can safely transport, including passengers and equipment. AB inflatable boats come in various sizes, offering different capacities. AB Inflatables manufacturer provides specific load capacities for each of their models. In contrast, Zodiac boats such as the Cadet have a load capacity of 992 lbs and can accommodate up to 3 passengers. While the West Marine PSB-275, another Zodiac boat, can carry 1,103 lbs and fit 4 people.


In terms of weight, both AB and Zodiac inflatable boats are relatively lightweight, making them portable and easy to maneuver. One of the advantages of Zodiac-style inflatable boats is their compromise between weight, durability, and performance. The specific weight of each boat model will depend on the size and materials used. Generally, both brands offer models that are easy to transport and handle.


Horsepower is a measure of the engine's power in a motorized inflatable boat. Both AB and Zodiac boats offer a range of models with varying engine power, enabling users to choose the boat that best suits their performance needs. The horsepower of a boat can also impact its speed and overall capabilities. It is essential to check the manufacturer's specifications for each model to determine the appropriate horsepower for your intended use.

Storage Space

Storage space on a boat refers to the available room for carrying equipment, supplies, and personal items. Both AB and Zodiac inflatable boats can offer storage solutions such as built-in compartments or extra room for adding storage accessories. The amount of storage space in a boat can vary depending on its size and design. It can be crucial for boaters to compare the storage capabilities of different models to find the one that meets their needs.

Comfort and Functionality

Seating and Comfort

When it comes to comfortable seating, both AB Inflatables and Zodiac boats offer a variety of options. AB Inflatables feature padded seats with back support, ensuring passengers can enjoy a relaxing ride (AB Inflatables). Zodiac boats, on the other hand, also provide comfortable seating with cushions and often adjustable positions, allowing users to customize their experience ("Newport Vessels Inflatables vs. Zodiac").

Both manufacturers place an emphasis on stability, which contributes to the level of comfort on the boat. Large tubes present in both AB Inflatables and Zodiac boats increase the stability of the vessel, decreasing the likelihood of capsizing and reducing the amount of water spray and splash ("Newport Vessels Inflatables vs. Zodiac").

Tenders and Accessories

Both AB Inflatables and Zodiac boats offer tenders and dinghies to suit various needs. AB Inflatables produces rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) with fiberglass or aluminum hulls, specifically designed for use as tenders and dinghies (AB Inflatables). Zodiac, with its wide range of products, also offers an impressive selection of tenders and dinghies, suitable for recreational boating as well as professional use ("Newport Vessels Inflatables vs. Zodiac").

Both companies provide a variety of practical accessories to enhance the functionality of their boats. This includes items such as oars, pumps, repair kits, and storage bags to make the boating experience more convenient and enjoyable for users. Additionally, custom add-ons like canopy tops, additional seating options, and specialized equipment for fishing or water sports can be found for both AB Inflatables and Zodiac boats (DIVEIN).

Durability and Warranty


Inflatable boats are typically made from either PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) or Hypalon (CSM). PVC boats are known for their lightweight and affordability, while Hypalon boats offer better resistance to UV radiation and various chemicals, making them more durable in the long run. Both materials can provide great performance and durability, depending on the boat's construction and quality.


When comparing AB Inflatable boats to Zodiac boats, both brands offer high-quality products that can last for many years with proper care and maintenance. Zodiac boats are known for their sturdy construction, using materials like PVC, Hypalon, or a combination of these materials called Strongan, which ensures long-lasting durability for their boats (DIVEIN).

AB Inflatables also uses high-quality materials, such as Hypalon, PVC, or specific marine-grade aluminum hulls on some of their boat models. This results in a long-lasting and durable product that can withstand daily use and harsh conditions (Sail Magazine).


The warranty offered by both manufacturers serves as a testament to their confidence in their product's durability. Zodiac boats, for example, come with a limited warranty that covers their inflatable boats for a specified period, depending on the boat model and the material used for construction.

AB Inflatable boats also offer warranty with their products, though the duration and coverage may vary depending on the specific model. Some of their boats even come with a two-year limited warranty, providing customers with peace of mind regarding their investment (Sail Magazine).

Other Notable Brands

While Zodiac boats have long been a popular choice in the inflatable boat market, there are other notable brands that offer competitive alternatives. One such brand worth mentioning is Newport Vessels.

Newport Vessels is known for producing high-quality inflatable boats that cater to a variety of needs, ranging from recreational activities to more demanding tasks. Their inflatable boats often come in comparable sizes and designs to Zodiac models, such as the Newport Vessels Dana, which can be compared to Zodiac Cadet 270, and the West Marine PSB-275.

In addition to their inflatable boats, Newport Vessels also offers a range of accessories and support services, ensuring you'll have everything you need to get the most out of your investment. Some of the key features that Newport Vessels boats offer include:

  • Durable construction with high-quality materials
  • Stable and reliable performance on the water
  • Variety of models catering to different activities and budgets
  • Comprehensive warranty and customer support

DIVEIN has also recognized Newport Vessels Dinghy as one of the best inflatable boats in 2023, highlighting the brand's commitment to quality and innovation. With these features and accolades in mind, Newport Vessels stands out as a strong competitor to Zodiac boats.

When considering an inflatable boat purchase, it's important to weigh the pros and cons of each brand and model, while also taking into account your specific requirements, budget, and preferences. Although Zodiac remains a popular choice, exploring alternatives like Newport Vessels can help you make a more informed decision.


In the world of inflatable boats, both AB Inflatables and Zodiac Boats stand out as reliable and high-quality options for consumers. Each brand offers a diverse range of models to suit various purposes, whether it's for leisure or professional use.

AB Inflatables is renowned for its craftsmanship and premium quality materials, making them both durable and eye-catching. Their rigid inflatable boats come equipped with advanced features that enhance safety, comfort, and performance on the water. They also enjoy a global reputation for their expertise in the field, as evidenced by their presence in notable events such as CNR EURASIA BOAT SHOW 2022.

On the other hand, Zodiac Boats is an industry pioneer with decades of experience producing reliable and versatile inflatables. These vessels are known for their ease of transport and storage, as well as their adaptability to various water conditions. Despite some minor drawbacks, such as the need for more frequent pumping, Zodiac boats remain popular for their practicality and functionality.

In conclusion, both AB Inflatables and Zodiac Boats demonstrate their respective strengths and offer distinctive advantages to users. When choosing between the two, consumers should carefully assess their specific needs and preferences, taking into account factors such as use case, desired features, and budget. Ultimately, each brand has a lot to offer, and it comes down to personal choice and requirements to determine the most suitable inflatable boat for each individual. 

© 2024 SeaMag. All rights reserved.