Choosing a canopy for an inflatable boat

Published: 16.08.2021

PVC boat canopy is an important part of its “wardrobe”. Canopies come in different types and sizes, depending on their purpose and the specific model of the PVC boat.

Types of PVC boat canopies:

  • removable dodgers;
  • protective canopies;
  • bimini tops;
  • overall covers.

Depending on the functionality, canopies are made of different materials, can have transparent flexible windows-inserts, can be of different colors. Each PVC boat canopy is made for a specific model of an inflatable boat — this should be taken into account when choosing it.

Any type of canopy is used to protect the boat, its passengers, luggage and tackle from various environmental factors.

Types of canopies for the boat

Let’s take a closer look at different types of boat canopies.

Removable dodger

It is designed to protect passengers from wind and splashes, is used for better aerodynamics when boat is moving at speed.

It is mounted at the bow of the inflatable boat by means of special holders glued to the hull, further along the canopy it is attached by means of hinges and hooks. It consists of an aluminum frame and a canopy fixed on it. KOLIBRI Boat Manufacturing Company produces two types of such canopies: a large one and a small one – for the KOLIBRI motor boats. They are different in shape and size. The large removable dodger for the KOLIBRI PVC boats is equipped with a transparent “window” for easy viewing. There are three types of small KOLIBRI removable dodgers (for canoes, for some models of motorboats of the Standard, Light, Profi, SL series) and two types of large removable dodgers of the same manufacturer (for certain models of motorboats of the Standard, Light, Profi, SL series). Large and small removable dodgers made by KOLIBRI company are available in two colors – gray and black.

Removable dodger

Protective canopy

Protective canopy is used to protect the cockpit, both during movement and while being anchored or moored. It serves as a cabin or a traditional tent. Protective canopy retains its shape due to the aluminum frame, which is attached to the sides of the boat. Such canopy is stable to the oncoming air flow at speed, to lateral gusts of wind. It can be easily transformed – you can open and fold every (or some) part of it, which are normally fastened to each other with a zipper. The material of the canopy has transparent inserts that allow for a full all-round view from the boat.

KOLIBRI Boat Manufacturing Company produces two types of such protective canopies – for rowing and motor inflatable boats of its own production. Canopies differ in shape and size, which does not affect their main function – to reliably protect passengers and goods inside the cockpit from external influences during the movement of the boat or while being anchored, for instance, from sunlight, precipitation, wind, splashes, cold, insects, etc.

So, there are 10 types (or articles) of protective tents for motorboats manufacturted by KOLIBRI company and 5 types for rowing boats. Each of these types can be of two colors – dark gray or camouflage.

Bimini top

Bimini top is used as a canopy from the sun rays or a light rain. Such a canopy is a fabric roof on an aluminum frame, which is attached to the sides of the boat and additionally held by special extensions. Bimini tops for KOLIBRI inflatable boats are resistant to oncoming air flow and wind, they are light and reliable. The simplicity of its design allows it to be quickly mounted and dismantled. There are 4 types of bimini tops for rowing and motor boats manufacturted by KOLIBRI company. Each of these types can be of three colors – white, dark gray or camouflage.

Bimini top

Overall cover

Overall cover (a mooring canopy for a boat) protects the hull of a PVC inflatable boat during its transportation and storage. This is the simplest type of canopy, it does not contain any frame and other complex fastening elements. It is a fabric cover made to fit a specific model of the KOLIBRI boat — the company produces eight types of overall cover, each of which can be of two colors – dark gray or camouflage.

Boat canopy materials

Usually protective canopies for PVC inflatable boats are made of durable water-resistant materials that tolerate exposure to intense sunlight, are resistant to temperature changes and contact with aggressive liquids (gasoline, engine oil, etc.).

For the manufacture of a boat canopy, as a rule, the following fabrics are used:

  • Polyester
  • Nylon
  • Ripstop
  • Oxford
  • Taffeta
  • Cordura


The most common material used for sewing boat canopies is polyester, which is obtained from polyester fibers. Its main advantage is its high abrasion resistance. A polyester canopy will last long enough. Due to the polyurethane additive, polyester keeps its shape better, becomes waterproof, resistant to UV rays, mold, and other odors.


A canopy for an inflatable boat can also be made of nylon. Nylon is a fabric that is made from polyamide threads with the addition of a special impregnating agent. Externally, nylon is similar to silk and can be of different colors. This fabric is characterized by low cost, wear resistance, ease of use and can be stored folded.


Ripstop is a type of fabric of combined weave, in the structure of which a reinforced armored thread is used. Such thread is usually made of polyester or nylon. The main yarn can be of any composition, thickness and density. Equally spaced reinforcement threads are put into the fabric structure crosswise. The intervals between the threads (frames) are from 5 to 8 mm.

The advantage of ripstop is increased strength, since damage is mechanically limited to a separate frame. Due to reinforced threads, small cuts cannot easily spread on such a fabric.

KOLIBRI Boat manufacturing Company uses ripstop fabric to produce its canopies.


One of the best materials for sewing boat canopies is Oxford fabric. The material is obtained from polyester fibers intertwined by the hopsack weave. At the moment, there are a huge number of completely different fabrics that are distributed under the Oxford trademark. Do not confuse them with the classic fabric of this type. Oxford fabric is divided into several types depending on the thickness of the thread underlying the fabric: 210den, 240den, 300den, 420den, 600den. In the manufacture of canopy covers for cars, motorcycles, scooters, ATVs, snowmobiles, jet skis, 240-300 den fabric is used (if intended for storage while moored). For the equipment transportation (ATVs, snowmobiles, jet skis), a denser 600den polyester is used to avoid tearing the cover during transportation. Oxford fabrics are used in the production of canopies, tents, curtains, backpacks, shoes, bags, workwear.

Coating: PU (polyurethane) is an internal colorless coating that provides waterproof and windproof properties of the fabric. It is resistant to organic solvents. The water resistance of the PU-coated fabric varies from 200 to 5000 mm of water column.

Test results: Breaking load for different types of oxford — 80-160 kgf (at a rate of at least 50 kgf) in warp, 45-120 kgf (at a rate of at least 30 kgf). Water resistance for different PU coatings — 450mm; 800mm; 1000mm; 3000mm of water column. Frost resistance – oxford PU (-60°C).


Boat canopies are also made of taffeta. This is a special fabric that is made from nylon or polyester fibers. Externally, this fabric, like nylon, is similar to silk, but at the same time it is thinner and stronger. Due to its resistance to sunlight, Taffeta fabric is often used to produce bimini tops. The Taffeta material does not burn out and retains cold or heat well.


Cordura is a registered trademark of certified nylon from INVISTA company. This is a polyamide fabric in which, due to the special structure of the thread (made of cut and twisted fibers), fourfold abrasion resistance is achieved compared to simple nylon, also consisting of polyamide. It is noticeably superior to ordinary fabric in terms of tensile strength and abrasion resistance. During production, the material is treated with polyurethane and a water-repellent DWR coating, which makes cordura more resistant to the elements of nature.

Accessories for boat canopies

Accessories for PVC boat canopies are:

  • aluminum tubular frames
  • extensions
  • zippers
  • stripes with clasps
  • plastic hooks that are attached with glue to the sides of the boat

KOLIBRI Boat Manufacturing Company produces almost all accessories for all types of its canopies on its own, which ensures high quality and reliability of the KOLIBRI protective canopies.

How to choose a PVC boat canopy

Choosing one or another type of canopy for a PVC boat is a responsible matter. First of all, you need to make sure that the specific model of the canopy fits exactly for the model of your boat. The mounting points should exactly match as to ensure reliable fixation of the canopy. This is stated in the relevant product documentation.

Next on the list is functionality – for example, if you need reliable protection from the weather, then a simple bimini top is not enough — you need to choose a protective canopy then.

The color scheme is a matter of aesthetics, coloring may possibly be important for you when hunting or fishing.

Anyways, canopies produced by the Ukrainian KOIBRI Boat Manufacturing Company will give you and your friends comfort and safety for a long time and protect your boat – both in extreme travel and quiet picnics in nature.

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