I am going to make a trip on a river in an inflatable rowing boat. The trip is going to be two days long: one day down the river and the next day - back.

The question is how I should spend night. I don't have a tent and now am pondering over whether I should buy it and spend night onshore or not. Have anybody spent night in the boat on the water? Is it safe? What safety precautions should I take?

The river is relatively calm, it's the Dnieper river in Ukarine, and at the section I'm going to boat at it is about 500 meters (540 yards) wide, current speed is 0,6 - 0,7 m/s (up to 2 miles per hour).

  • 2
    If you are going to paddle up and down the river, If possible, I suggest you paddle up for the first day. It is easy to paddle down, and you are going to be more sore and tired on the second day. Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 1:44

4 Answers 4


I would suggest not sleeping on the boat. Apart from the safety issues this will bring up - the boat could slowly lose air, or could start drifting away, the water could rise, ... - it will not protect you against wind or rain.

So in any case, the least I'd suggest for you to get is a good tarp or a rain-proof bivouac sleeping bag. A tent is obviously even better, but will also be more expensive. Without these you'll not be a happy camper should it rain during the night.

Another possibility:
You could pull the boat to shore and use it as an improvised shelter. For example you raise it up on one side using the paddles, which will form a sort of roof over your head. Then you'll only need to worry about a sleeping mat and sleeping bag to keep you warm at night.


Wile the faint of heart might find this answer disturbing, Yes it is fine to sleep on an inflatable boat, if it is durable thick rubber like a Zodiak. I have done so many times, and find it quite relaxing even on the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers. These after all are life raft level construction. You are actually safer in a boat on the water than in a tent, creepy bugs, snakes, rodents and bears typically do not moonlight skinny dip. A tarp and some rope using the oars, you can make it rain proof. You can also just tie it up on the 'beach' or landing.

Sleeping on the ground without a sealed tent , at least at the base is a good way to get bit. Hammocks are also good, light weight and small. a sleeping bag and a tarp make this a real nice sleep in any weather. We used to hang off the tight rocks near old rag mtn in the shanandoahs, using ptons and rope, really fun. and somewhat bear proof.

  • Interesting answer. How cold were the rivers where you camped? Also, how far from the shore would you tie up? You obviously wouldn't want to drift off in the river :) Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 6:23
  • I have camped on the water in all kinds of conditions, anchored and tied up to shores. there is really no bad time to do it. you just have to be prepared. a self inflating foam mattress is a good insulator when it is cold. rafting with a group is a blast. and very safe.
    – SkipBerne
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 13:59

Why not have the best of both worlds? I take week long river excursions a few times a year, and I always sleep inside my inflatable, but on shore. Super comfortable, and it keeps me off of the bare ground. Just be careful to remove all sharp objects from beneath, and I usually lay a tarp down (doubled) beneath, and one on top if it's rainy. Best camp sleeping ever!!


Sleeping in an inflatable boat could be very similar to sleeping on a water bed. Water beds have heaters for the water, or else it is rather cold. Check the temperature of the river before you decide on this. (Other answers already providing other forms of safety advise, but non mentioned temperature.)

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