Best Inflatable Catamarans

The best examples of the wide range of designs for inflatable catamarans come from Sea Eagle, a company in the boat business since 1967.

Sea Eagle is known for making durable and tough inflatable pontoon fishing boats, and they have really outdone themselves with the design of the new FoldCat.

They also make a sailing cat, cleverly named the SailCat, and another exceptional innovation, an inflatable kayak catamaran called the PaddleSki.

Here’s a closer look at all three inflatable catamarans:

Three Types of Inflatable Catamarans

1. FoldCat

The FoldCat is an awarding-winning design among inflatable pontoon boats. The North American Fishing Club tested it and gave it one of their best scores, a 9.7 out of 10. The catamaran has a folding frame and a full floor riding on twin-pontoons. A built-in motormount lets you add up to 4 hp gas (60 lbs. max weight) or up to 74 lb. thrust electric. Drop a Mushroom Anchor ($49) to keep from drifting, or float with the current, and you’re set for fishing.

2. SailCat

Fifteen minutes is all you need to set-up and inflate the SailCat. The catamaran has an easy for beginners to learn Lateen Rig Sail, with an aluminum mast, center tiller/rudder, and trampoline floor to seat up to 4 people. Because of its dual pontoon hull, the SailCat is a very stable and can move at a good clip when it catches the wind. This 97-lb inflatable sailing catamaran is a good value for less than $1400.

3. PaddleSki

The last example is one that has won over a lot of fans. It is an inflatable kayak catamaran called the Sea Eagle PaddleSki. You might wonder how a kayak could be paired with a catamaran but Sea Eagle pulled it off. They placed the pontoons close together, seated the passengers up high on the deck, and added two skegs underneath for directional stability. The seats mount quickly into the frame and you have a foot rest for support; both of these features are important for safety when going down occasional whitewater. The 395 and the larger 435 PaddleSki serve as multi-purpose boats: you can add a sail, a rowing frame, or small outboard motor on them.

1. Sea Eagle 375fc FoldCat

The first thing you notice about the Sea Eagle 375fc FoldCat is its unique folding frame design — a first for a pontoon boat. Once you complete the initial assembly, each time you use it you only need to unroll it, slide the four aluminum stabilizer bars under the slats, then inflate the catamaran’s hulls. That’s it. You’re ready to load your gear and get at those fish.

A Look at the Craft

The Sea Eagle 375fc FoldCat  has a 4’6″ wide beam on top of two 16″ pontoons to offer incredible stability over a hard hull boat design. The inflatable catamaran can be self-powered or used with a 3 hp 4-cycle small outboard for up to 8 knots or powering upstream loaded with gear. It will also mount an electric trolling motor.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 12′ 4″ x 4′ 6″
  • Deflated: 56″ x 21″ x 10″
  • Tube Diameter: 16″
  • Capacity: Two adults (650 lbs)
  • Hull weight: 75 lbs
  • Chambers: Two independent air chambers
  • Material: 1000 Denier Reinforced
  • Seam: Quadruple Overlap Seams
  • Floor: Aluminum slat roll up over full fabric floor
  • Air Valves: Halkey Roberts one way
  • Nylon hull carry bag, and repair kit
  • 2 oars & oarlocks
  • Motormount capacity: 3 hp (45 lbs max weight)
  • Speed Estimates: 8-10 mph with gas, 4-6mph with electric
  • Warranty: 3 years (180 day money back guarantee)
  • NMMA Certified for safety/construction standards
  • Inflation and Assembly time: 5-15 minutes

There are four packages to choose from when outfitting the Sea Eagle 375fc FoldCat. The most popular, and best deal, is the Pro Angler package. The Pro Angler Guide Package includes everything listed above plus:

  • 2 additional rod holders
  • Two 360° swivel padded seats
  • Quick-release seat mounts
  • AB45 Oar/paddle set
  • Oarlock set
  • Foot pump

How it Performs

The Sea Eagle 375fc FoldCat weighs just 75 pounds so it’s easy to get in and out of the water. It handles two adults plus gear for a combined weight of 650 pounds. The large inflatable pontoons keep the craft riding high in the water and its wide beam design allow it to flex as it rides over choppy water and not rock from side to side like a rigid hull catamaran will. The downside is that the 375fc FoldCat doesn’t track well in a straight line, even with skegs, since the boat is light even when loaded.

The hull material is a heavy-duty 1000 Denier material that is amazingly puncture resistant so you don’t have to worry about bouncing the catamaran into jagged rocks, or getting damaged when hauling it in and out of a truck bed, car trunk, RV, or sailboat. Other inflatable pontoons are made with abrasion-resistant PVC bottoms and nylon tops and won’t stand up to such punishment. Sea Eagle’s patented folding support system sets up in as little as five minutes, with no bolts and parts to sort through like other pontoon designs.

One of the best features of Sea Eagle’s 375 FoldCat is the full floor that allows you and your buddy to move around as well as store gear on the floor. No more uncomfortable straddling with your feet on the pontoons or a front bar! In addition, standing on the deck means better leverage to haul in that big catch as opposed to trying to maintain your balance in a rowboat while fighting a fish.

You’ll Be Hooked

The Sea Eagle 375fc FoldCat is ideal for fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, or just having fun. It’s stable, economical, and certified for safety and quality by the National Marine Manufacturers Association. This award-winning inflatable catamaran has scored a rating of 9.7 out of 10 from the North American Fishing Club, America’s oldest fishing organization, and is highly recommended over other pontoon designs.

2. Sea Eagle 440fc FoldCat

The Sea Eagle 440fc FoldCat has been given a rating of 9.7 out of 10 by the North American Fishing Club for quality, safety, ruggedness, durability, and price. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

A Look at the Craft

When ordering this inflatable catamaran, you will choose between two packages, the Deluxe or the Pro Angler, the latter includes everything found in the deluxe package plus seat pedestal stands and an upgraded oar set suitable for white water.

The Sea Eagle 440fc FoldCat  Deluxe Package Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 14’3″ x 5’11”
  • Deflated: 74″ x 24″ x 12″
  • Tube Diameter: 18.5″
  • Capacity: Four adults (950 lbs)
  • Hull weight: 101 lbs
  • Chambers: Four separate air chambers
  • Material: 1000 Denier Reinforced
  • Seam: Quadruple Overlap Seams
  • Floor: Aluminum slat roll up over full fabric floor
  • Air Valves: Recessed one way
  • 3 Swivel seats & 3 quick-release mounts
  • 4 rod holders
  • 2 oar/paddles, oarlocks and pins
  • Foot pump
  • Built-in motormount
  • Nylon hull carry bag, and repair kit
  • Motormount capacity: 4 hp gas (60 lbs max wt), or electric up to 74 lbs thrust
  • Speed Estimates: 8-10 mph with gas, 4-6 mph with electric
  • Warranty: 3 years (180 day money back guarantee)
  • NMMA Certified for safety/construction standards
  • Inflation and Assembly time: 5-15 minutes

The Extras in the Pro Angler Package are:

  • 3 pedestals for swivel seats
  • 2 additional rod holders
  • Upgraded AB90 oar set: two 9′ heavy aluminum oars

Options and Accessories:

  • BST Super Turbo Pump ($189)
  • Casting Bar ($159)
  • One seat pkg ($79)
  • Canopy for 440fc ($239)
  • Minn Kota 28 lb thrust motor ($149)

Kicking the Tires

The Sea Eagle 440fc FoldCat sports a unique folding frame, a full floor for standing and casting as well as storing gear, and 360° swivel seats which offer firm back support. The two hefty inflatable pontoons and the wide beam design provide independent buoyancy allowing the catamaran to roll over lapping water like a dual suspension, versus rocking up and down at the mercy of swells and waves in a hard-hulled boat.

Another key feature of the Sea Eagle 440fc is the 1000 Denier fabric used on the hull that allows the pontoons to take a beating without fear of rips or punctures. That means the FoldCat can survive rough handling such as being dragged over rough rocks on the beach or getting tossed in the bed of a truck, without damaging the air chambers.

Three adults can fish aboard the Sea Eagle 440fc FoldCat and have elbow room to spare. It’s designed to seat up to four people plus their gear, but that many fishermen aboard makes this boat seems crowded.

Out on a lake, this inflatable catamaran is fairly easy to navigate as it zips through calm water. In heavy and persistent chop, it is a bit more difficult to maneuver at speed but not so much that it’s a problem.

New or Used, It’s a Good Choice

If you buy your catamaran direct from the Sea Eagle website, you may have the option of purchasing a used FoldCat saving you about $200. There may be a few cosmetic scratches but the used boats have been tested and inspected for damaged, and come with the same 180-day money back guarantee as a brand new inflatable boat. New or used, the Sea Eagle 440fc FoldCat is a good choice for bass anglers and comes highly recommended.

3. Sea Eagle 14 SailCat

Novices will find that the Sea Eagle 14 SailCat is a wonderful catamaran sailboat that is affordable, easy to learn on, and is so portable – it can be assembled in about 15 minutes.

A Look at the Craft

The Sea Eagle 14 SailCat comes in two packages: the Deluxe that includes the boat, oar set, foot pump, storage bag, two cushions, and a 14-sc Sail Rig; and the Comfort Package ($1,499) that includes boat, oars, foot pump, storage bag, two cushions, swivel seat kit, motormount, and 14-sc Sail Rig. Both packages include Free Shipping when you buy direct from Sea Eagle.

Basic specifications of the Sea Eagle 14:

  • Exterior Size: 14′ x 5′
  • Interior: 9′ 6″ x 4′
  • Deflated: 60″ x 14″ x 12″
  • Tube Diameter: 16″
  • Capacity: 4 persons (1000 lbs)
  • Hull weight: 97 lbs
  • Chambers: 2
  • Material: 1000 Denier reinforced
  • Seam: Quadruple overlap
  • Air Valves: Recessed one-way
  • Sail Area: 45 sq ft
  • Wind Rating: 0-25 mph
  • Warranty: 3 years (180-day money back guarantee)
  • NMMA Certified for safety/construction standards
  • Inflation & assembly time: 12 minutes

The SailCat incorporates a patent-pending folding-frame system with 3 aluminum cross- benches and 4 aluminum underbars which supports a trampoline floor for up to 4 passengers. It has strong 1000 denier material on its twin 14′ catamaran hulls, a 45 sq. ft. Lateen Rig Sail, and a nautical-grade, anodized aluminum mast.

You Will Experience Success

Sailing and handling wind, water, and sails is a difficult skill set to master. The Sea Eagle 14 SailCat comes with a Lateen Rig that even a beginner can learn proficiently in a short amount of time. A Lateen Rig uses just two lines: one to raise the sail and one to trim it. Trimming a sail is working with the wind as it fills the sail, then as the wind changes direction, you must make adjustments depending on which direction you want the boat to go.

With only one sail to learn, combined with a small manageable dinghy, you will be better able to learn sailing basics. Because of its lightweight rigging, and catamaran hulls that sit high in the water, Sea Eagle’s 14 sailing catamaran is fast and responsive for the new sailor.

Easy Handling In or Out of the Water

At 60″ long deflated, this inflatable sail boat can be strapped to the top of a car or laid down in the back of an SUV with a rear seat folded down. (No trailer required!) The 97-lb hull and rig can be set up fast: inflation and assembly time is only about 12 minutes.

Two Beautiful Words: Risk Free

We recommend you get the less expensive Deluxe package rather than the Comfort package if you don’t think you’ll be adding an electric or gas motor to the SailCat. If you change your mind later, you can buy a motormount kit ($49), which you’ll need for attaching a motor to the boat.

The SailCat is a fun and inexpensive way to try out the sport of sailing and see if you fall in love with it. (You will.) You can even try out the Sea Eagle 14 risk-free for a full 180 days (that’s 6 months!) starting the day you receive your boat. If sailing isn’t for you, or feel the SailCat doesn’t fit your needs, return the package to Sea Eagle (in good shape, of course) for a full refund. However, if you love this rugged little inflatable catamaran, sail away with the peace of mind that the Sea Eagle 14 SailCat is covered for 3 years with a complete bow to stern warranty.

4. Sea Eagle 395 PaddleSki

The Sea Eagle 395 PaddleSki glides through the water with greatly reduced drag thanks to its unique design where only the catamaran pontoons touch the water while occupants sit high, yet it rides like a long kayak.

Specifications of the Sea Eagle 395 PaddleSki:

  • Exterior: 12’11” x 3′ 3″
  • Interior: 11’6″ x 1′ 4″
  • Deflated: 38″ x 18″ x 9″
  • Tube Diameter: 12 1/2″
  • Capacity: Two adults (500 lbs)
  • Hull weight: 49 lbs
  • Chambers: 2 (port & starboard)
  • Material: 1000 Denier Reinforced
  • Seam: Quadruple Overlap Seam
  • Floor: 2000 Denier Reinforced
  • Air Valves: Recessed one-way
  • 2 skegs for directional stability
  • 6 D-Rings to secure seats
  • 3 aluminum crossbars
  • 4 side carry handles; bow handle
  • Carry bag and repair kit
  • Engine capacity: 55 lbs thrust electric
  • Warranty: 3 years (180 day money back guarantee)
  • NMMA Certified for safety/construction standards
  • Inflation time: 5 minutes

Sea Eagle’s Ultimate package  has everything the Pro Kayak kit includes, plus a motormount and a pricey Torqeedo Electric Motor. If you want the 395 PaddleSki with a motor, we suggest you get the Pro Kayak package, buy a PaddleSki Center Motormount separately, and get a less expensive electric motor.

Unique Design – But for What?

Sea Eagle advertises the 395 Inflatable PaddleSki as “5 boats in 1” that can sail, motor, fish, paddle, and row, but those options work only if you buy add-on packages such as a sail rig, motormount kit, rowing frame, fishing seat, etc.

The Sea Eagle 395 PaddleSki is not a good boat design for a sail and mast, and it is definitely the wrong boat for serious fishermen. Despite the cool design of the inflatable kayak catamaran combo, the nagging problem with the craft is that is very crowded with two people on board – and once you add any gear it gets piled up pretty quick due to a lack of storage space.

Another option is to use the 395 PaddleSki as a rowboat. You can add a Rowing Frame & Sliding Seat , but there are better boat choices out there if this is to be your primary use of the craft. Again, the deck has limited space as it is and adding any attachment of this size drastically reduces space for gear.

Unique as a Recreation Boat

Yet, as a paddle boat, the Sea Eagle 395 PaddleSki is a lot of fun. With its raised kayak-shaped bow and molded skegs on the pontoons, the boat is easy to maneuver with very little drag in the water. The oversized air tubes and wide beam design provides stability, and the aluminum crossbars provide a footrest for going down whitewater or waves.

Despite its lack of focus (or too much effort trying to be a 5-in-1 boat), it is still a joy to use this Sea Eagle catamaran. If your desire is to paddle for exercise, hitting the surf, or use for afternoon explorations while camping, then the 395 PaddleSki is definitely worth your consideration. But if you are looking for an inflatable kayak for wilderness trips, get an Explorer kayak, or if you want a fishing catamaran, check out the FoldCat. This combo design is more fun than functional, making the Sea Eagle 395 PaddleSki best suited for situations when you don’t need to carry much (if any) stuff onboard.

5. Sea Eagle 435 PaddleSki

The Sea Eagle 435 PaddleSki is a unique design that offers speed in the water and a comfort stance for paddling. With little assembly required, you need only to unfold it, pump it up in 7 minutes, attach the seats — and hit the water!

A Look at the Craft

This inflatable catamaran kayak comes in three equipment packages. The basic Deluxe package includes the paddle ski boat, two 7′ 10″ double-ended paddles, a foot pump, and two inflatable seats.

Specifications of the Sea Eagle 435 PaddleSki:

  • Exterior: 14′ x 3′ 3″
  • Interior: 12’6″ x 1′ 4″
  • Deflated: 38″ x 19″ x 10″
  • Tube Diameter: 14″
  • Capacity: 2 adults (650 lbs)
  • Hull weight: 57 lbs
  • Chambers: 2 (port & starboard)
  • Material: 1000 Denier Reinforced
  • Seam: Quadruple Overlap Seam
  • Floor: 2000 Denier Reinforced
  • Air Valves: Recessed one-way
  • 2 skegs for directional stability
  • 6 D-Rings to secure seats
  • 3 aluminum yokes
  • 2 rear carry handles; bow handle
  • Carry bag and repair kit
  • Engine capacity: 55 lbs thrust electric
  • Warranty: 3 years (180 day money back guarantee)
  • NMMA Certified for safety/construction standards
  • Inflation time: 7 minutes

The Pro Kayak package includes everything the Deluxe package offers with the exception of these upgrades: two high performance 8′ AB40 paddles, two high-back seats, and a bow storage bag. The Ultimate package ($2,849) is same package the Pro Kayak kit with the addition of a motormount and a Torqeedo Electric Motor.

Key Features of the PaddleSki

The Sea Eagle 435 Paddle Ski is built with tough 1000 denier material on its two pontoons that support a tunnel hull, and features three aluminum yokes that serve as stabilizer bars and footrests between the two air chambers. The tall-back seats in the Pro Kayak package add back support, and the 8′ paddles (just 2.75 lbs each) have an asymmetrical spoon design on the blades to improve power to the stroke while lessening fatigue in your arms and shoulders.

What is Your Intended Purpose?

Sea Eagle promotes the 435 PaddleSki as a “5 boats in 1” design but you need to consider how you intend to use an inflatable. The price of the PaddleSki starts at around $1000 and the cost will increase substantially when you have to buy a sail rig, rowing frame, or motor. You will find that there are better choices to suite your needs if you are looking for a boat for a specific type of activity — be it a fishing boat, sail catamaran, inflatable kayak, or motormount boat.

That’s not to say it’s a bad choice; in fact, it’s an awesome and well-built inflatable catamaran kayak from a company that has built quality inflatables for 40 years. For fast assembly, ease of use, expert craftsmanship, and seaworthy stability, the Sea Eagle PaddleSki gets two big thumbs up.

But for lack of room and storage space on the small deck, and the requirement to buy costly accessories to get “5 boats in 1” — that is a problem. The solution is to leave the gear behind, grab the paddles, and use the Sea Eagle 435 PaddleSki for fun and recreation on lakes or even riding ocean waves.

Conclusion

The quality, durability, toughness, and price make inflatables excellent value for the money. They come in many styles and sizes, and it can be a bit difficult to choose which catamaran is best for your needs. Do your research to see how well these pontoon boats perform on the water in terms of stability, tracking, and maneuverability.

And keep in mind that anything you buy from Sea Eagle comes with a six-month, no-risk guarantee. If you aren’t completely blown away with your inflatable catamaran, Sea Eagle will give you your money back.

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