Meaning of RIB: What is a RIB?

Basically, the word RIB stands for Rigid Inflatable Boat in English, so it is a compound of words rather than a single word. Its literal translation would be 'costilla,' which means rib in Spanish, but R.I.B. is typically translated into Spanish as 'barco inflable rígido' (rigid inflatable boat). This concept refers to the inflatable tube surrounding the rigid hull. The designation for this type of boat may vary depending on the country. In Spain, for example, they are called Semirrígidas (Semi-Rigid) RIBs, as they are not entirely rigid due to their inflatable part, which is the tube. They are also sometimes referred to as Zodiacs, after one of the oldest brands in the market. In the Strait of Gibraltar, they are called 'gomas,' similar to the name used in Italy, 'Gommone,' because their tubes are often made of neoprene, a derivative of rubber. Undoubtedly, as with vehicles or cars, each country may differentiate them according to its language or dialect. Interestingly, within the same country, they may be known by three or four different names. This presents a challenge for the market, as manufacturers may struggle to determine how to market their boats, particularly when targeting a country like Spain. In Argentina, they are called 'semirrígidos' (semi-rigid), in masculine form because they are accompanied by the word 'barco' (boat), while in other South American countries, they are referred to as 'pontones' (pontoons). Ultimately, you can call them by whatever name is used in your country or wherever you happen to be."

All You Need to Know About Semi-Rigid Boats

When it comes to enjoying the water and exploring the seas, lakes, and rivers, few things rival the versatility and excitement of a semi-rigid boat. These vessels, known for their unique design that combines the best of inflatable boats and rigid hulls, offer an exceptional experience for boaters of all levels. Want to know more? Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about semi-rigid boats.

What is a RIB?

A RIB is a type of watercraft that combines a rigid hull with inflatable tubes on the sides. This combination provides stable and secure navigation, while the inflatable tubes add additional buoyancy and increased load capacity. This versatility makes them ideal for a wide range of water activities, from recreational boating to diving, various forms of fishing, and more.

Main Features

  • Rigid Hull: The rigid hull provides stability and durability, allowing for smooth navigation even in turbulent waters, as its stern hull can have a more pronounced V-shape due to the stability provided by the float tubes on the sides.

  • Inflatable Tubes: The inflatable tubes, typically made of PVC or neoprene, provide additional buoyancy and impact protection. They act as natural stabilizers when in contact with the water, making it very difficult for a rigid inflatable boat to capsize.

  • Versatility: Rigid inflatable boats are versatile and can adapt to a variety of water activities, including water sports, fishing, diving, spearfishing, etc.

  • Ease of Storage and Transportation: Due to their inflatable design, rigid inflatable boats are easy to transport and store when not in use. They can be deflated and folded to take up less space.

Benefits of Rigid Inflatable Boats. THE GOOD

  • Stability: Thanks to their unique design, rigid inflatable boats offer great stability on the water, making them ideal for underwater activities. Unlike rigid boats, the high part of the tube is very close to the water, making it difficult for the boat to submerge, thus preventing the entry of water and risking the buoyancy of the vessel.

  • Payload Capacity: Despite their compact size, rigid inflatable boats often have an impressive payload capacity, making them the perfect choice for group outings or camping trips.

  • Maneuverability: Their lightweight and agile design make rigid inflatable boats easy to maneuver, even in tight spaces or shallow waters.

  • Durability: Built with high-quality materials, rigid inflatable boats are durable and corrosion-resistant, ensuring years of fun on the water with minimal maintenance.

Disadvantages of RIBs . THE BAD

  • Maintenance: The Achilles' heel of this type of boat is undoubtedly the inflatable tube that almost completely surrounds it. About 90% of the total maintenance cost of this type of boat is attributed to re-gluing the tubes to the hull, which is typically done using adhesive in 99% of brands. Even Zodiac and its patented rail system require adhesive to join the rails to the tubes, contrary to the belief of most users that it's not necessary for them.

  • PVC Discoloration: Regardless of whether it's Mehler, German, or Japanese PVC, PVC is PVC. It requires an industrial lacquer that, over time, can deteriorate due to exposure to sunlight and water, resulting in discoloration. This is why boats made of neoprene (Hypalon) don't face this issue, as neoprene is a special fabric that is applied to the outer part of the total compound. Hence, the higher price tag.

  • Price: Quality comes at a cost, and RIBs are no exception. PVC RIBs are generally more affordable than neoprene ones, or at least they should be. However, as the brand name becomes more prominent, the price tends to increase, even if the boat is made of PVC and doesn't merit the higher price. Some buyers may opt for brand names blindly, driving up the cost. Zodiac is a notable example of this phenomenon, often priced similarly to higher-quality boats.


In summary, RIBs are an exceptional option for those seeking a perfect combination of performance, versatility, and fun on the water. If you have a trailer and need to transport the boat by road, you shouldn't look elsewhere. The RIB is the best boat created to date for road transport, with its lower weight, shallower draft, and reduced beam (width of the boat) when the tubes are deflated. Without a doubt, it's unrivaled in this regard.