Looking to go boating? Buy a RIB!

Are you planning to buy a boat or just getting started in boating but unsure which boat to choose? This guide is for you.
XP80 RIB in the Solent

What is a RIB?

A RIB, or Rigid Inflatable Boat, is typically a high-performance powerboat powered by an outboard engine. Larger models might feature an inboard engine. Compared to motorboats, RIBs are lightweight and feature large, thick rubber inflatable tubes around a solid hull. This hull, usually made of fibreglass, providing a rigid floor, much like a car chassis, giving the boat its name. The tubes enhance stability, especially in rough seas.

Most leisure RIBs are open, without a cabin, resembling an open-top car. Larger RIBs might have a windscreen to shield the driver and front passenger. Additional crew members can sit on bench seats or jockey seats for support during rough rides. RIBs range from around 4m to 13m in length. Larger boats carry more people, heavier loads, bigger engines, and more fuel, allowing for extended coastal exploration.

RIBs are fun and easy to drive

If you want to start boating RIBs are a great choice:

  • Quick and easy to learn
  • Simple to handle, manoeuvre, stop, and start
  • Exciting and exhilarating, akin to a sports car

As the driver, you control the steering and power via the engine throttle and gears. Steering a RIB is similar to driving a car—turn right to go right and left to go left. The main difference is the steering connects to the outboard engine or an outdrive (for inboard engines) at the back of the boat, turning it as the wheel turns to push the boat in the desired direction.

RIBs are versatile

RIBs are not only seaworthy but also highly versatile. They are perfect for:

  • Speeding across waves
  • Slow family adventures
  • Drifting with a fishing line
  • Visiting beaches and anchoring on the sand

They sit low on the water, making them ideal for use as swimming platforms. You can easily climb back in over the soft tubes or use a small boarding ladder, and it’s okay if the boat gets wet inside. This feature also makes RIBs popular with diving enthusiasts.

RIBs between 4m and 5.5m with a 40-100hp engine can pull a waterskier on two skis. Larger RIBs with 70hp+ engines are suitable for towing water skiers, wakeboarders, or inflatables.

After your trip, RIBs are easy to rinse out, especially after sandy feet have climbed aboard. They can be towed on a road trailer behind a suitably sized vehicle for vacations or different launch locations.

Why buy a boat with inflatable tubes?

RIBs are excellent for building confidence as you gain powerboating experience. Developed in the sixties for the RNLI as rescue boats, their inflatable tubes provide protection and limit damage when coming alongside other boats in rough seas.

These tubes act as large soft bumpers, absorbing impacts if you accidentally hit something hard, unlike wood or fiberglass, which can crack or splinter. Benefits include:

  • Added safety and protection
  • Reduced fears of causing damage
  • Increased buoyancy, enhancing load-carrying capacity
  • Stability during high-speed turns and when stationary


Brands like Ballistic RIBs optimize tube positioning, balancing high-performance handling with stability and water spray deflection to keep you dry at speed. It’s all very civilized—and good fun!

XP80 at speed coastal