We get it, you are tired of being inside and want to be outside enjoying the waterfront lifestyle. Marinas have opened and with each day passing more outdoor venues are re-opening. You are super excited about all the possibilities of being back out on the water and are considering an inflatable dock to make your experience even more enjoyable. Inflatable docks come in a variety of makes and models. I review the BOTE 7 x 7 inflatable dock to assist you with your choice. This dock comes in different sizes however in this review I focus on the 7 x 7 model.
First Impressions/ Pros and Cons?
My first impression of this inflatable dock was that it was hard not to be excited by its versatility as both a dock and swim platform. It is possible to take the dock out with you on the boat in the ocean or the lake to use as a home base. Alternatively, it can be used as a launch pad for paddleboards and other water vehicles. Inflatable docks are a great solution for waterfront homes that do not allow for a fixed frame dock or those of us that do not want to invest in the cost of building and maintaining one. You are only limited by your imagination on how to use this 49sq ft of portable real estate.
For those seeking to escape the crowds the dock can be floated near sandbars or secluded areas of a lake giving you the best private platform for sunbathing, reading, and relaxing while taking in beautiful scenery. The dock is unexpectedly rigid for an inflatable making it sturdy enough for practicing yoga on water. This provides a similar experience to SUP yoga with the benefit of more space to do your poses. Even with most of the weight on one side, it does not struggle to maintain balance.
The dock makes it easier to get in and out of the water from your boat. Young kids and elderly parents will benefit from the grab rails that ease the transition from the boat to the water. This is also particularly useful if you have a dog that cannot easily reach the water. The dock provides enough room for your furry friend to run around and the military grade PVC skin is durable enough to withstand claws. The anti-slip texture safely ensures nobody slips and falls.
Entertaining on the dock is easy. Hang out on the dock and serve the food that you grilled and provide drinks from the cooler to your friends and family. The dock has tie-down points for securing your cooler and chairs among other things. For partygoers the dock can be used for an instant party. Transforming into a swim up bar. Big kids can play beer pong and other fun opportunities are endless. The dock is dry enough to provide a safe place for keeping your iPhone and not be afraid of a wave. Perfect for raft-ups, which is the water community’s version of a neighborhood block party, the dock gets you plenty of attention. Its faux-wood appearance is stylish while providing the center base for everyone to hang out.
The portability of the dock depends on whether it is inflated or not. When moving the dock on land it is best to do this when it is not inflated! Moving while inflated requires a couple of people and a lot of effort. Dragging the dock while inflated on the water is an easier exercise. The BOTE inflatable deck comes with a compact sling bag for storage and transport. Once deflated the dock is easily folded up and stored in the carry bag. However, the weight of the bag is heavier than you would expect. I would recommend not storing it on the roof of your vehicle but in the trunk instead.
The drawback of the product comes from using the hand pump that is included with your purchase. The hand pump is suitable if you want the dock to stay set up for a few months at a time. However, if you want to frequently pack-up and move it around I would advise an electric pump. This reduces the time to inflate and deflate the deck to 5-10 minutes. The dock has a universal valve that is compatible with any kind of air compressor or pump.
Who is this inflatable platform for?
The 7 x 7 size of the inflatable dock and the maximum weight of 1050 pounds is the main determining factor for those planning to buy. These factors limit the number of people on the dock depending on the activities undertaken. A maximum of two paddleboards can be docked at one time. To lay comfortably or exercise one or two people is best. If you want to sit comfortably on chairs, then there is space for four. The dock also has four fishing line holders. In these situations, the BOTE inflatable dock is most ideal for couples, those with a couple of kids or small groups of friends. However, if you are using the inflatable dock primarily as a swim or food/drinks platform then larger groups can be accommodated. The dock can hold four to six people at one time. Eight to ten people can hold onto the perimeter while in the water. It is suitable for pet owners.
The price point of $899 for the 7 x 7 feet version makes it one of the more expensive options for inflatable docks. The BOTE inflatable dock is a quality product that provides an aesthetically pleasing design, durability and allows you to take advantage of the sturdy design compared to others on the market. The real decision maker for me is the further cost if you don’t have your own electric pump and want to take advantage of the inflatable dock’s biggest selling feature being its ease of portability.