Inflatable Boat Coolers and Tie Down Systems

Recently Mike from IBC conducted an inflatable boat cooler test which included the Engel Deep Blue 65 cooler to see how it stacked up to high desert boating. When you hear “high desert” you normally don’t think boating but bear with us for a minute. Considering IBC supports military, professional and recreational boaters alike the picture starts to get a bit clearer. We wanted to see if claims regarding various coolers were all they were made up to be, so Mike went to the desert with coolers and goods for a week to see what all the fuss was about. Yes we tested other brands, but none came close to the Engel Deep Blue, not even the more expensive snow monster brand. One cooler worth an honorable mention was not what we had expected, the Rubbermaid cooler.

For the purposes of this post we are only going to focus on the Engel Deep Blue 65qt. as it was the only one that did what it was claiming.

Per cooler manufacturer’s directions for best results you need to pre chill your cooler for 24 hours with ice prior to adding any items. Mike didn’t feel this was a good test because “only the anal retentive types will do this step” (his words). Instead we just added the drinks and other goods the morning of departure then threw in one block of ice and one bag of cubes like Joe Six Pack American would do. All the coolers were loaded the same and thrown into the truck for the journey to Lake Billy Chinook from Portland, a journey that goes up and over the Mt Hood Pass or Blue Box Pass.(this will matter later) Several hours later we arrived at the Cove Palisades where temps were in triple digits, upon unloading the coolers all but two made a sloshing noise. The Rubbermaid and the Engel Deep Blue were silent so we pulled those aside for the next round of testing.

Out of the race were the Igloo, the Yeti, and the Coleman so we left them to their own devices and didn’t access them except to put in more ice or to transfer valuable cargo to the Engel and the Rubbermaid.

Phase two of the cooler test was the “Opening Test”.

Other reviewers state online how they only open their coolers a minimum amount of times per day to keep ice. Again Mike didn’t feel that this was a boating, fishing nor family worthy of a test so he put a pad on each cooler and offered free refreshments for a tick on the pad to count openings. Our daily opening average was 28 times for both remaining coolers averaged over a week. A more substantial number than those other sissy reviews I read online, and more in the spirit of a proper cooler test in average conditions of use.

One thing I’d like to add at this point was the Engel let out a “whoosh” when I opened it up for the fist time as the altitude was several thousand feet higher than the starting point. The Rubbermaid did not make a peep because it lacked the seal of the Engel’s design. Remember this for later when you can’t open the Engel at low altitude without opening the easy to use drain to “burp” in some air.

The next or third phase of the cooler shoot out was the loading and tie down phase.

For this phase we used the Bombard Commando C4R which has the Zodiac HD floors so the Engel tie down system,which would be perfect for any boat, was replaced with the Zodiac Runner Block and Strap Tie Down System for HD Floors. The Rubbermaid lacked any integrated system for securing it to the boat so para-cord filled the need for both coolers. The Engel was heavy empty and extra heavy loaded with ice and refreshments so getting it into place in the C4 Commando was difficult, the Rubbermaid made a sloshing sound when lifted and placed into the boat where it’s integrated wheels made it roll to the back of the boat. The Engel’s integrated rubber feet gripped so firmly to the Snow Camo Seadek on the floorboards that Mike had to go back and forth side to side to get it into position. Since the Rubbermaid sloshed and rolled around it was eliminated at this point from the underway testing and pulled from opening testing as well.(note the Zodiac Tie Down System made easy work of even the wheeled cooler)

Sitting, standing on, and bashing thru chop were no problem for the Engel Deep Blue, it seems to be made for abuse and torture. It never opened, moved, or leaked despite what we did in the boat. If you know how Mike runs a Commando then you know he didn’t take it easy, once 3 passengers were added he eased off and slowed it down to 30mph to “go easy on em” for the approx. 40 mile trip there and back.

Fast forward to the secret kokanee station for day 3’s activities and the Engel Deep Blue 65 saw double duty as a seat/standing pad and drinks/fish cooler. As mentioned this was the third day and no ice was added to the cooler. The boys and girls started to catch their fish and Mike would open the cooler and drop them in flopping about among the ice and drinks and get their tackle back into the water for the next go at it. At the end of this third day when the kids and the fish were dropped off at the fish cleaning station there was a small amount of blood and water in the bottom of the cooler.

All ice was removed still in bags and placed on the pavement for a rinse off along with the bottles and cans then replaced after the cooler was thoroughly washed of it’s bloody face paint. Of special note, out of the three boats we took, each with a separate brand of cooler, only the Commando C4R’s Engel Deep Blue 65 “froze” the fish. All other coolers failed miserably in this department. Also of note half of the fresh bottles of water that were added started to freeze into slush, this was a complete surprise to all who witnessed it.

The last phase of the test was the ice remaining test which was performed once we got back to Portland. The Rubbermaid which got honorable mention still had half of the block left and none of the cubes, all other coolers were mostly water at this point. When we got to the Engel Deep Blue 65 we couldn’t get the lid open no matter how hard we tried. It says it’s bear proof and we have no doubt about that, but the problem was we closed the cooler at a few thousand feet and now were at 200ft above sea level. Basically the Engel Deep Blue 65 held a vacuum until the easy drain was cracked and air was vented into it to equalize the pressure. Almost no water came out at all so we took out the ice and weighed it. We came back with 17 of the 20lbs of cubes we started with after a week in the desert and a day of mad action fishing. Probably most of the ice loss was when had to clean all the blood out of the cooler and off of the drinks in the parking lot. When we opened the lid on the Engel cooler it looked like it was full of dry ice with the icy vapor escaping ever so slowly like a horror movie effect. (note the Engel is dry ice rated but not tested in this test) Think ice cream for that sweltering night at camp!

The weight test didn’t lie neither did the icey cold beer I enjoyed as I washed out coolers in my shimmering hot Portland driveway.

This reviewer gives a resounding 5 gold stars for the Engel Deep Blue 65 Cooler, and 5 golden stars for the Zodiac Tie Down System. IBC can order a cooler in for your next boat build to help keep you cool on even the hottest of days! (we sell boats primarily but order accessories as needed)

IBC tested Mike Approved!

Get your next boat at The Inflatable Boat Center

Call us at IBC (503)235-2628 and we’ll order the perfect cooler for that new Zodiac or Bombard inflatable boat!

Inflatable Boat Maintenance

Let’s spend a few minutes to talk about inflatable boat maintenance and it’s role on the life of your boat.

Proper inflation is the best preventative medicine you can do for your inflatable boat. By running a “floppy” or “soft” boat you are putting stresses on the seams and hardware that otherwise would be mitigated by the rigidity of a properly inflated boat. Remember to keep your boat tight and it will perform better, use less fuel and live a longer life.

Sand, we know it from beaches and from the sand paper on our workbench. There are many types and grades of sand but we’ll just concern ourselves with two for this article. The first type we are all familiar with is SiO2 better known as silicon dioxide in the form of quartz. The second type is CaCO3 or calcium carbonate that comes from biological sources (think pearls and shells). Sand by it’s self isn’t a problem but it sticks to feet and gets into the nooks and crannies of your inflatable boat where the grains do work (sanding) because of the action of the boat. Now if you don’t have enough air in your boat like mentioned above then you are speeding up the wear process. Remember to clean & rinse out your inflatable boat frequently and before it goes into storage every time. IBC sells patches and glue for those of you who think this doesn’t matter!

Sun exposure or as it is more correctly stated, radiation exposure. People online are always talking about the Sun’s UV radiation and how it it made their tubes sticky or brown or why you have to have Hypalon to beat it. Let’s go back a step and mention that UV radiation is absorbed at the same amount for both materials. I’m not making this stuff up it’s well understood from the fields of physics and it’s twin sister chemistry.  As a rule UV radiation at the correct energy density causes electrons to be liberated from atoms causing a decomposition and ejection of said atom. IBC’s very own Mike capitalized on this well understood phenomena as a laser engineer for the hi-tech and nano-tech fields in a prior life. Since he has many patents in directed energy and material science we tend not to argue about it with him. UV radiation damage is most commonly seen as photo bleaching, this is true for PVC or Hypalon or just about any other material under the Sun.Even a diamond will down convert to CO2 given enough exposure to the sun, nothing is forever. If your boat is chalky or frosted you have UV damage and it needs 303 or Polyguard. When stuff is left to die in the sun it does so very predictably and without fail.

The “brown” you see on vinyl compounds such as PVC and even Zodiac’s nigh indestructible Strongan™ , even the much touted Hypalon, is from long wave radiation exposure (you know this as heat) from around the 10.6 µm wavelength. Brownian Motion (named after Robert Brown from experiments in 1827), and cascading radiation absorption due to brownian motion is the mechanism here. Basically the more exposure the darker it gets, the darker it gets the more exposure it sees until decomposition and failure occurs. Leaving your boat, car or anything else out in the elements to die will provide those results. If you are keeping your dinghy on a davit for the whole year unprotected, until that one weekend when you decide to go boating, you can’t complain. It’s your own fault!

My suggestion to all of you who want to keep your boat for many years to come, is to properly inflate, clean and condition your boat.

Mike uses Aurora Speed Clean and Polyguard sold together as a kit from IBC as well as Aerospace 303 spray protectant for those easy on quick applications.

Speed Clean rinsed off

After proper cleaning with speed clean and rinsing/wiping down

303 applied

After applying 303 protectant

Remember no one likes a dirty floppy dinghy!




Get A Bombard C-5 Commando Just For The Halibut

We always get asked the question of can you fish out of an inflatable boat? It seems like no matter how many times I answer this and no matter how many pics we post of spearfishing and hook and line angling we still get asked.

So to answer this question I’ve included a couple of more pics to set the record straight.

Our friends just picked up a new Bombard Commando C5 to do a little halibut harvesting off the Oregon Coast and shared some pics of their first effort.

halibut c5 4 halibut c5 3 halibut c5 2 bombard commando c5 halibut front halibut c5

Sure you can fish the rivers!

Look at what our friend Jenny does with her C3 Commando.

Yes you can fish on an inflatable, just ask Jenny she tells no tales.

Yes you can fish on an inflatable, just ask Jenny she tells no tales.

jenny c3 commando 2

Jenny inflates and deflates her Bombard Commando C3 every time and uses a Yamaha F20Hp outboard to get to her fishing spots .

Jenny inflates and deflates her Bombard Commando C3 every time and uses a Yamaha F20Hp outboard to get to her fishing spots .

You like spearfishing?

So do we! Our friend Mark makes easy work out of it with his Zodiac Bayrunner 420.

spearfishing Zodiac Bayrunner 420 2 spearfishing Zodiac Bayrunner 420 spearfishing Zodiac Bayrunner 420 4 spearfishing Zodiac Bayrunner 420 3

If offshore Big Island spearfishing is your thing watch our friends Jeff and Rick do some handy work out of the Avon/Zodiac MILPRO Sea Rider series of RIBS.

We have you covered with crabbing too!

why use pots when yu can just grab the ones you want from a zodiac inflatable boat?

why use pots when yu can just grab the ones you want from a zodiac inflatable boat?

IMG_4613 IMG_4612 IMG_4611 IMG_4610 crabbing in an inflatable boat

Mike makes it all look easy and is guilty of a lot of the secret spots remaining secret.

Tillamook Bay

Tillamook Bay

Don't come over here!

Don’t come over here!

So a resounding YES! Anyone can fish out of an inflatable boat and make it look easy while they are at it.

Get your next fishing boat at The Inflatable Boat center by calling us (503)235-2628 or by shopping online here.

Zodiac Pro 420 NEO Goes Mammalian

Recently IBC rigged up a Zodiac Pro 420 NEO open boat for some marine mammal biologist types to use on their adventures.

zodiac pro 420 neo

Starting with a Zodiac Pro 420 NEO open hull IBC techs Chris and Adam added a leaning bolster and console to fit the operators size and mission profile. Slightly offset from center, the console still allows for free movement fore to aft making the observations and tests easier to perform while being in complete safety and control.

zodiac pro 420 5 zodiac pro 420 6

The boat’s light but exceptionally strong leaning bolster will accommodate even the biggest operator, even while wearing dive gear or deploying tracking equipment .

To establish comms and keep in contact with the mother ship and other chase boats IBC added an ICOM hand held pod VHF radio and Sherwood antenna that allows for clear voice communications at extended ranges.

zodiac pro 420 2

To address power IBC chose the Yamaha F40 LA outboard motor. The Yamaha offers the quiet noise signature and ultra clean emissions that the team requires to make approaches less threatening to marine organisms and mammals while making the smallest possible eco footprint.

zodiac pro 420 7

Boat handling is clean and crisp even in the toughest of conditions, and the RIB’s size ,shape and weight mean that surf zone operations don’t pit the crew in un-necessary peril.

zodiac pro 420 4 zodiac pro 420 3

To find out how IBC can help to make your next mission a success call (503) 235-2628 and ask for Adam our RIB specialist.

Until next time..

See you on the Water!


New Bombard Commando Models Back In Stock

Just a quick note to the people who missed out on the hottest boat this year, IBC has received  a new shipment of 2016 Bombard Commandos. We have C4R (red), as well as the original bad to the bone black in C3, C4, and C5 while supplies last.

Shop now and get the best boats of the summer, take control of the water!

Nothing gets the job done like a Commando!


Zodiac MK2C Classic Does It All

People frequently call and ask us which boat we would use for a given application or mission and very often it’s the Zodiac Classic range that’s the go to answer. The Zodiac Classic range does it all, and it does it all better than most, inflatable or not.

Forget for a minute the word “Classic” and it’s definition because today in the digital age of 10 second obsolescence “Classic” means old and outdated. Instead think of “Classic” as indefatigable, tested, proven, burly, or whatever the in crowd of internutters are saying currently.

The Zodiac Classic line is one of deep heritage that has been there and done that it hasn’t had to change because it nears perfection from the start. Aside from modern changes like;

  • the patented inflatable keel (it used to be wood)
  •  it’s heavy duty aluminum floors (they used to be wood)
  • Zodiac’s Strongan™ space age fabric

it remains pretty much the same design as back in the day (WW2 timeline).

We know it’s strengths which is why we use it ourselves here for our many varied missions like “The Big Float”  where we use it to take bands and their gear to and from the floating stage. The Zodiac MK2C was used this year for this as well as for rescue and agency support. IBC worked with several federal, state, and local agencies to coordinate the general safety over watch for this event. Why did we chose the Zodiac MK2C? Because it works, every time.

From a performance stand point the Zodiac MK2C is faster by a few mph than other models in the 12’6″ range with the same motor. The Zodiac MK2C gets on plane quicker and carries more than it’s competition all with reduced fuel consumption and big grins for all who are lucky enough to have one. Don’t take our word for it see it for yourself!

Bombard Commando C4R Rescue Jet

While out running a water test of a Bombard Commando C4R Rescue Jet on the Willamette River with Chris & Mike from IBC’s Special Boats Div. (and of course Nora the shop dog too) we came across a couple of bald eagles resting on a snag.

No, your dog's nails won't "pop" your inflatable boat. Just ask Nora our shop dog who is considered one of the bigger ones.

No, your dog’s nails won’t “pop” your inflatable boat. Just ask Nora our shop dog who is considered one of the bigger ones.

Bald eagles are returning in bigger numbers to our Willamette River and are an indicator species for ecology because they eat the organisms that live in the water such as trout, carp, bass, etc. Our rivers are getting cleaner and are safe to swim and recreate on which brings us back to the water test.

bald eagles on the willamette river

Bald Eagles On The Willamette River


This particular package is the second one built by IBC and the Special Boats Division for Montana’s search and rescue teams. They chose the Bombard Commando C4R for it’s rescue red color, and it’s wooden keeled performance that far surpasses any other inflatable boat rigged with a jet. The Bombard Commando C4R is rigged with a four stroke Yamaha 40/30 jet to allow access to flooded areas with debris, skinny rivers and creeks, and also offer protection from prop strikes to victims and rescuers in the water.

IBC and it’s Special Boats Division has pioneered the jet modifications used on these craft from it’s early white water racing roots with Capt. Ron Mauselle, to the new breed of boaters like Adam, Chris, and Mike. Our crew rates as “super users” and operates on all bodies of water in all conditions. We have an intimate understanding of the needs of the rescue professionals because we do it ourselves.

With proprietary mods and tuning IBC will take your visions of mission profiles and make them the things of legend. IBC serves the professional, military and recreational markets and offers boat packages for every occasion or mission. Give IBC a call today and see why we rate #1 for tough military and professional missions and #1 for recreational applications world wide.

Now for a couple of pics of the boat we ran this morning while you were sleeping.


Bombard Commando Summer

This summer every other call is for a Bombard Commando series of inflatable boat. The customers on the coast ,rivers, lakes and islands have all been seeing the benefit to the Bombard Commando series from Zodiac.

With it’s wooden keeled performance and ability to pack down into bags for transport more and more users are going Commando. We love the Bombard Commando and many of us use them here at the shop, but we are dismayed at some of the other no name manufacturers saying it’s too hard to put together. In fact it’s one of the easiest!

Don’t take our words for it, see two of our newest Bombard Commando owners and decide for yourself.

Shannon runs a Bombard C4 Commando with a Yamaha F20Hp outboard that she inflates and deflates every time to stick in her car for kite surfing and fun on the water.

Shannon runs a Bombard C4 Commando with a Yamaha F20Hp outboard that she inflates and deflates every time to stick in her car for kite surfing and fun on the water.

Yes you can fish on an inflatable, just ask Jenny she tells no tales.

Yes you can fish on an inflatable, just ask Jenny she tells no tales.

Jenny inflates and deflates her Bombard Commando C3 every time and uses a Yamaha F20Hp outboard to get to her fishing spots .

Jenny inflates and deflates her Bombard Commando C3 every time and uses a Yamaha F20Hp outboard to get to her fishing spots .

jenny c3 commando 2

What do these two ladies, surfers, divers and fishermen know that you don’t? The Bombard Commando series by Zodiac offers the best performance and ease of setup over most other makes and models on the market.

The next time you want to go boating don’t make excuses, make friends and Go Commando while you’re at it!

Fox TV Show “American Grit” Features The Bombard Typhoon 310 ALU

At this point the cat is out of the bag and the show has begun to air so we are able to talk a little about it. The show in question is Fox TVs “American Grit” hosted by WWE Superstar John Cena and an elite group of military heros as mentors to competing teams. Watch as 16 contestants push beyond their limits for prize money worth up to a million dollars. – See episode 1

American Grit Mentors

IBC was there consulting with producers before filming to help with boat type selection and evolution planning so contestants could have a good and challenging experience similar to the military programs our troops use today.

american grit bombard typhoon 310 alu

Much thought went into selecting the right boat at the right size and weight for the evolutions. In the end the Special Forces Zodiac FC470 was scrubbed and the Bombard Typhoon 310ALU was put forward as the best fit for the cadre in the evolutions. Because it’s easy to set up and light to carry all while being rated for 4 adults and up to a 10hp outboard the Bombard Typhoon 310 ALU checks all the boxes for “American Grit”.

The Bombard Typhoon is available in sizes up to 15’5″ with a 40hp rating and is tough enough for the “American Grit” cadre while being easy to setup and fun for the whole family. Don’t be fooled by internet copy cats the Bombard Typhoon line is a Zodiac brand and has all of 110 years experience with inflatable boat design and materials, your no name knock off internet special is but a cheap imitation and you’ll get what you pay for.

See Episode 2

bombard typhoon 310 alu 2

Bombard Typhoon 310 ALU

Speaking of teams, IBC added additional handles forward for John Cena’s cadre to allow everyone to team carry the Bombard Typhoon thru the terrain and obstacles laid out for the evolution. IBC knows about teamwork, we are a small shop that tackles big impossible missions for operators around the world daily.

american grit bombard typhoon 310 alu evolution

IBC prides it’s self on our own individual times “on the pond” that mesh together into one of the most knowledgeable inflatable boat cadres on the planet. From Navy deep sea evolutions to off shore racing, leisure cruising, and sailing our guys have done it all  just for the fun of it.

Watch “American Grit” Thursdays on Fox and get into the game, and if you are looking for a great boat for a great price give our team a call and join the evolution!

Shop for a Bombard Typhoon