The Zodiac Difference.

What makes a Zodiac inflatable boat different and why should you buy one?

These days everyone is trying to sell us boats made in China with brand names that sound like Zodiac models of the past. What sets the boats apart is not that they are made in China, but that they are made in one of the many Chinese production facilities that brands like Zodiac don’t use. Substitutions of fabric, materials, adhesives, fittings, etc. abound in the no name brands. Sure, they are cheaper to buy and can come with little to no shipping charges so why not save the $$$? While this model of sales and marketing is very attractive to todays’ shopper who can’t be bothered to look up from a screen it represents real problems when they experience the failure modes associated with this practice.

Since about 90% of the inflatable boat market utilizes P.V.C. in their construction, and substitute materials are the norm in knockoffs one doesn’t need to look too far to see issues.

Adhesive and fabric are everything when it comes to being safe and reliable. For example, one quart of proper glue can cost upwards of $250 U.S. dollars, but the cheap substitute glue can cost less than $10 U.S. dollars. Not having to spend the extra money on glue can be a real money maker for the counterfeiter.

Why would the online shadow manufacturer/seller be concerned with failure? They close out companies and models after each production run thereby leaving the would-be boater adrift with no support for their inflatable boat when it falls apart. When a boat from Zodiac has an issue, (never happens), there is a worldwide network of dealers to take it to for a warranty issue. Try shoving your online mystery boat back into your phone or laptop when you need service, it’s pretty futile.

Using a stabilized and thermally protected glue will get 15 to 20 years of use before the bonds weaken. The inventor and innovator of inflatable boats “Zodiac” has been working on their P.V.C. formulation since the 70’s, and as such has determined that it’s better to use the good stuff.

Speaking of P.V.C. fabric, one thing we see in the repair shop time and time again is fabric used on the wrong bias. While nesting patterns for the most efficient use of the sheet makes more money for the knock off brands, Zodiac has long understood the mechanics and structure of each model design. What this means in simple terms is that to approach a particular design element such as a transom overlay for example, one needs to cut on the correct bias to ensure conformal adhesion and strength. Zodiacs cost more to make for reasons not apparent to the end user at a glance.

Fabric is essentially the most fundamental part of an inflatable boat and using it incorrectly leads to failures of strength, rigidity, air keeping, durability, and longevity. Zodiac repair technicians must go to school and be certified just to be able to perform work on Zodiac inflatable boats, a requirement that is non-existent in any other brand. It can take years to become proficient at some inflatable boat repairs other than a simple patch. When it comes to the knock off inflatable boats, anything goes. Forget the environment, forget proper construction, forget anything that will make their cheap boats more expensive or take longer to produce. Human work hours cost companies money even if they are made in third world sweat shops.

Zodiac is environmentally friendly and always evolving material science and process engineering techniques since their founding in 1896. Maurice Mallet (founder of Zodiac) started out making balloons, airships, and airplanes of the highest quality because failure was not an option, then, or now. Cutting corners could cost lives and it’s this thinking that has prevailed for well over a century with the modern Zodiac Inflatable Boat.

Born from wartime necessity and transformed with the leisure movement Zodiac Inflatable Boats have endured to reach into the zeitgeist of today where everyone calls an inflatable boat a “Zodiac”. They’re not all the same, you deserve to have a better boat. You deserve a genuine Zodiac for your adventures, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing corners weren’t cut when you put yourself and your family on the water.

Get your genuine Zodiac Inflatable Boat from IBC by calling us (503)235-2628, stopping by our showroom 2041 SE Powell Blvd. Portland Oregon 97202, or online from