Best portable dinghies under £ 5,000
Lightweight fabrics and drop stitch construction allowing for rigid structures at high pressure are a far cry from the ubiquitous inflatable rubber tender.
Despite all the convenience of storage, these old-fashioned bulbous boats have never been easy to row and generally cannot be sailed.
This led to a heavy reliance on speedboats and with it the loss of a peaceful way to explore new ports.
With reasonable sail and rowing capabilities, however, you can get around without a noisy engine, keep the family busy for hours, and navigate coves a yacht could never explore.
We wanted to try portable dinghies that offered the best of both worlds – truly portable dinghies that also double as capable dinghies.
The Seal, a new product, most closely resembles the once popular Tinker Tramp.
The two Dinghy Go dinghies are the closest to the conventional dinghies, but with rigid inflatable floors, daggerboards, and rigs without shoring.
The Seahopper will delight traditionalists and lovers of hard tenders, while folding completely flat.
The two jokers were the MiniCat Guppy and the Tiwal 2, both of which offer a lot of fun afloat and could double as offers if needed.
How we tested the portable dinghies
We rated the six dinghies based on a few key factors.
We first measured the size of the bags the canoes and all their gear were stored in, and weighed each bag.
This gave us a good idea of how realistic the portability of each offering was and how much space it could take up on board.
We then put each boat together and clocked how long it took to get it packed and ready.
While assembly will always get faster with practice, some manufacturers have sent representatives for testing, which makes our learning process easier.
Once on the water, Toby Heppell and Theo Stocker took the dinghies for a spin, sailing upwind and downwind.
They also rowed and motorized those who were equipped to do so (the MiniCat and Tiwal were not equipped with swim locks or an outboard mount).
We measured the approximate speed via GPS to give us an idea of the speeds that can be achieved in the dinghies.
The weather during our test was a bit variable with winds between 7 and 13 knots and minimal wave conditions.