Solstice Sportster 3-person Runabout Review

Dinghy Overview

Solstice Sportster 3 Person DinghyYou might think that the name Sportster indicates that this dinghy is made for high speeds, but in reality it will not go past 5 knots unless you put a powerful motor on it. Many mistake the Solstice Sportster for West Marines RU 3 boat, which is almost identical in looks and function, but the West Marines is slightly more expensive.

The Sportster is a great choice if you’re looking for a tender boat to shuttle people to and from the shore. You don’t have to use it as a shuttle only, it can be used for other activities as well, such as fishing with your best friend or exploring new areas.

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You can row the boat with the included oars or use a motor. Both gas and electric motors work fine, as long as they don’t go above 5 HP.

The dinghy is 9.5 feet long, weighs 82 pounds and has a carrying capacity of just under 600 pounds (595 pounds to be exact). The Solstice Sportster is capable of carrying 3 people. The inflatable tubes are made out of heavy duty PVC, which makes the boat tough, abrasion and puncture resistant, so scraping against rocky surfaces will not be a problem. Even though the material is heavy duty and rather tough, the tubes are very comfortable lean against. The floor is made out of marine grade aluminum slats, making assembly quick and easy.

The Sportster comes with a carry bag, making transportation of the inflatable dinghy real easy. Due to flexible PVC material, this dinghy can be rolled up into a something that isn’t much larger than your average sleeping bag, making it the perfect choice for someone with limited storage space.


Since we do not currently have any videos of the Sportster we will show you the RU-3 because they’re pretty much identical.

The Solstice Sportster is a great inflatable dinghy for someone looking for something light weight, compact and portable. With the roll up design the dinghy takes up minimal space, making it a great addition to your yacht or sail boat. You can both row and put a motor on this boat, both electrical and gas motors work. It also works great as a smaller fishing boat, the aluminum floor allows you to place your all of your gear without having to worry about puncturing the deck.

Features

  • Tough and heavy duty PVC makes the Solstice Sportster abrasion and puncture resistant
  • Marine quality aluminum floor
  • Heavy duty D rings for towing and mooring
  • Comes with a foot pump, carry bag and oars

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 114 inches in length, 54 inches in width and  ~20 inches in height
  • Carrying Capacity: 595 pounds
  • Weight: 82 pounds
  • Material: Heavy duty PVC

Our Review

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We’ve been using this dinghy as a shuttle boat for our big yacht. Taking the family out for a nice day trip with our Yacht is one of those things we enjoy the most during the summer months. But when we brought the kids along we faced a problem many other parents face, the kids become bored and look for ways to have fun. Luckily the Solstice Sportster solved that issue, now whenever we got for longer trips we always bring the Sportster with us so the kids can have some fun.

Works just as good for shuttling people as for fishing and other recreational activities
Having a small and motor powered dinghy is not only a great way to shuttle people, but it also works wonders to let the kids use. Since you can only mount smaller outboard motors, we can safely let the kids out on the ocean without having to worry about them too much (we do worry a little bit, we’re parents after all!).

9.5 feet long when inflated, deflated it’s no bigger than a sleeping bag
What we like most about this dinghy is the size of it, when inflated it’s 9.5 feet long, but rolled up it doesn’t take a lot space. Making it super convenient to use in our yacht. Rolling it out and inflating is just as easy as with any other inflatable. With the included foot pump it takes around 10-20 minutes to set everything up, depending on how fast you are with your feet. Setting everything up on colder days will take longer, since the materials becomes a little harder when it’s cold, so warming it up before use is a good idea.

3 persons is not equal to 3 full grown adults
Solstice claims that this inflatable boat can take 3 people on board, it’s not 3 full grown adults, but rather 2 adults and a child. It is possible to take three full grown adults onto the boat, but there will be very little space for anything else, you will pretty much sit on top of each other.

Gas or electricity, you choose
You can mount a gas powered motor or an electric one. The recommended horsepower for the motor is 4, but some owners have reported that they’ve used up to 8 HP without any problems. If you’re short on storage we recommended using an electrical motor. We use a 4 HP electrical motor, it’s lightweight and fits in our cabin without any problems, it’s also easier for the kids to steer the dinghy and not as frightening.

Pros

  • Since it’s made from tough materials there’s no need to worry about leaks or punctures
  • When rolled up the dinghy takes a little bit more space than your average sleeping bag
  • The included carry bag makes it even easier to bring with wherever you go
  • Works with both gas and electrical motors

Cons

  • 3 full grown adults will fit on the boat, but you will have to sit on top of each other

Conclusion

If you’re looking for something portable and compact for your larger boat, be it a yacht or sailboat, this dinghy will overdeliver. Combine it with a smaller electrical motor and you got yourself one of the smallest and most compact inflatable dinghies you’ll ever find. While the main purpose of the Solstice Sportster is to use it as a tender boat to shuttle people to and from the shore, it works just as good as for other activities like fishing or exploring rivers.  To sum it up, it’s amazing when used for shuttling people and gear from shore, and while you do recreational activities with it, don’t expect anything that will blow your mind.

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