Tender Care: 6 Protective Dinghy Covers for Inflatable Boats

Tender Care: 6 Protective Dinghy Covers for Inflatable Boats

Once you decide to buy a dinghy, you'll need to protect your investment from mother nature's ravages. Some people are lucky enough to have a garage or boathouse to keep their vessel away from the elements. Others have an attached davit system on the back of their vessel. But there are others who will need to invest in a dinghy cover.

Why Buy a Dinghy Cover?

Dinghy covers are an excellent choice. They're affordable, easy to store when not in use, and above all, effective at keeping your small vessel dry throughout the winter.

Also, if you're towing your boat by road, a trailerable cover is the perfect way to secure your boat belongings inside the vessel while you're on the move.

Types of Dinghy Covers

  • Overboom Cover: This cover is ideal if you plan on leaving your boat in one place for the winter. It has a specially designed opening for the mast to fit through, and it covers the boom to reduce water collection, which could ultimately lead to sagging if left to its own devices. 
  • Flat Cover: This cover style is the most useful when the mast is either up or down. It has openings for the mast, shrouds and forestay. To reduce water collection, it has a main halyard tie.
  • Trailing Cover: As a super-snug fit, trailering covers enable you to secure your boat accessories inside the vessel during travel. It's ideal for unstayed masted boats like Lasers and Toppers and features drawstring and straps to secure the cover down tight.
  • Under Cover: This cover protects the underside of your boat when you're towing it. They're typically made from heavy-duty nylon and are secured using drawstrings and straps.

Features of a Dinghy Cover

Dinghy Cover Materials

  • Nylon: Nylon is a great budget option. However, it's considered to be one of the least UV-resistant materials used in making boat covers. Typically, nylon covers have a shorter lifespan than other more resilient materials, so it could be a false economy to buy this type of cover. I tried nylon as a rookie boater and swiftly moved to a higher-end material.
  • Polyester: Often, polyester covers are vinyl or PVC-coated to make them more weather-proof and robust. It's pliable, non-shrinking, easy to handle and easy to clean. The downside with vinyl-coated polyester is that it wrinkles as it weathers in the rain and cold, leaving your boat cover looking tarnished and unsightly.
  • Acrylic: Considered top line when it comes to dinghy covers, acrylic covers are breathable to reduce mildew and damp conditions. With UV resistance and the ability to keep their shape, they're also available in a large selection of colors. Typically, acrylic boat covers have a longer warranty because of their robust nature. The only negative is its lower abrasion resistance and the need for additional weather-proofing over its lifespan.
  • Breathable: Breathable fabric, like acrylic, is ideal if you want to keep the moisture out of your boat. Unlike some coated polyester covers, breathable fabrics are better for older boats with wooden hulls as they allow the dampness to escape without letting in the rain.
  • Non-Breathable: These fabrics are heavy-duty, worst-weather covers like PVC. They stop any rain from penetrating the boat but do not allow the air to circulate inside the vessel. While the material may be mold and mildew-resistant, your boat is not.

Glued vs. Stitched Seams

  • Glued Seams:  Typically, PVC covers are glued rather than stitched. This is because the material is better suited to glue, and some of the adhesives used bond exceptionally well. Also, when repairs are needed, they're easier to attend to, meaning the average person could attempt a fix. The downside with glued seams is that they deteriorate over time, causing them to fail.
  • Stitched Seams: Fabric like acrylic lends itself well to stitched seams because it's pliable and easy to work with. The advantage of stitched seams is they're much stronger, look neater and are repairable when tears occur. The disadvantage is you need to know what you're doing when it comes to repairs or be willing to pay a professional to do the work.

Rope vs. Stretch Cord

  • Rope Fasteners: As an alternative to stretched elastic covers, the rope-tightened covers are more robust and last longer. Also, when the rope needs replacing, you only have to find a single cost rather than the price of replacing the whole cover. The downside is that the watertight seal may not be as secure, causing some water ingress which in turn, causes mildew and dampness.
  • Stretch Covers: Easier to put on, they're shaped and sized for your boat. They create a watertight seal to prevent water from getting inside. The disadvantage of a stretch cover is that the elastic wears and loses elasticity over time. This creates a loose-fitting cover, and unlike the rope varieties, you may need to replace the entire thing at a higher cost. That said, stretch covers are the most popular by far.

Other Considerations of a Dinghy Cover

  • Mildew Protection: Mildew is harmful because its presence indicates damp conditions, and when there are wet conditions, your boat suffers. Getting a cover with built-in mildew protection is the ideal solution. But even then, over time, that guard diminishes, so it's a wise idea to treat your boat cover at least once a year. Invest in a mildew protector like Better Boat Mildew Stain Remover.
  • Sewn-in Ventilation One of the easiest ways to keep damp away from your boat is to let air circulate. Having a boat cover with ventilation sewn in helps because it allows the damp air to escape and for surfaces inside to dry out.
  • Support Poles: Support poles enable the boat cover to maintain its structural integrity. They also allow water to run off the cover without the risk of pooling, which ultimately leads to sagging and the deterioration of the boat cover.

6 Protective Dinghy Covers for Inflatable Boats

1. Newport Vessels UV Resistant Cover

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This Newport Vessels cover is constructed from 600 Denier polyester and is designed to be UV resistant. It's also water-resistant and is primarily for use on inflatable dinghys.

It fits most makes and models, like Zodiac, Avon, West Marine and Mercury. I found this cover to be extremely easy to fit and quick to remove.

The only downside is it's not fit for towing, so be sure to remove it before setting off.

  • Material: 600 Denier polyester
  • Size Range: 7 - 13 ft

2. Ding by Eevelle Dinghy Boat Cover

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This cover by Ding doesn't have the size variations of other makers. But it does have a trademarked Durapel coating that resists mildew, and UV damage and is heavy-rain waterproof.

The material is breathable, so it's less prone to the accumulation of mildew and condensation, and it's designed to fit boats with or without their motors.

Also, Ding is so confident you'll love this product, they've given it a five-year warranty.

  • Material: 600 DenierPolyester
  • Size Range: 9.5 - 12.5 ft

3. New Blue Vortex Cover

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This new Blue Vortex cover is designed to be breathable but incredibly waterproof. It lets your inflatable dinghy breathe, allowing moisture to escape but not to return. This is great, if like me, you live in a damp climate with humid conditions.

The company classes this cover as a heavy-duty variety, so it should withstand whatever the elements can throw at it. Also, they're so confident you'll love it, they've issued a 5-year warranty.

  • Material: 600 Denier polyester
  • Size Range: 9.5 - 16.5 ft

4. Seamax Inflatable Boat Cover

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Seamax has developed a range of dinghy covers that are highly water-resistant and cover all manner of models from the Seamax itself, to Mercury, Zodiac and Achilles.

This cover is available with the option of enclosing your outboard and is a great choice when you want to tow your dinghy to the beach.

It has elasticated hems, sewed seams and multiple tie-down straps.

  • Material: 600 Denier polyester
  • Size Range: 12.2 - 16.5 ft

5. Leader Accessories ShoreGuard Cover

This Leader Accessories ShoreGuard urethane-coated dinghy cover has double-stitched seams and is constructed from six-ounce marine-grade polyester, which means it can take almost anything the weather has to offer.

It won't shrink or stretch and has an elastic cord sewn into the hem for a snug fit. It has multiple anchor points that are quick-release for less hassle.

Because of its heavy-duty construction, it's the ideal cover for off-season storage.

  • Material: Marine-grade polyester
  • Size Range: 9.5 - 12.5 ft

6. Pyle Inflatable Boat Cover

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This Pyle cover is double-stitched at the seams for added durability and, like the others featured, is UV and mildew resistant.

The heavy-duty canvas material is perfect for harsh weather, meaning this cover is the ideal candidate for winter storage, especially if you live in a more inclement environment.

Like the Leader cover, this also has quick-release buckles so you don't waste valuable time removing the cover.

  • Material: 600 Denier polyester
  • Size Range: 12.5 - 13.5 ft

Featured Boating Product

      Boat Cover Support Poles are sturdy and easy to store.It's perfect for boats, dinghies, kayaks, canoes and pontoons. 

Check Price on Amazon - Better Boat's boat cover support pole has a mushroom top and a sturdy base to keep boat covers from sagging under the weight of rain, snow, ice, leaves and other debris. The marine-grade aluminum pole extends from 23" to 56" to accommodate vessels of all sizes. Secure in place with boat cover straps.  

Final Thoughts

Whichever dinghy cover you choose, protecting your inflatable or dinghy is vital to get the best out of your vessel for years to come.

If you want my advice, think about how the cover performs when you're towing and think about how well it repels the elements. Also, think about the cost as the cheapest option is not necessarily the best one.

For me, a decent boat cover should be durable, have sturdy straps for security and be waterproof. Everything else is a bonus.