I am bad at making decisions. There are pros and cons to both kinds of hides that I am considering. I need to order one this week though to have it for early spring. I have to buy a dry suit too, and those are pretty expensive.
Option 1: The pontoon style hide. This one has inflatable pontoons. The benefit is high floating height, even in super shallow water, but it is...inflatable. The longevity may not be there. Plus, you have to pump it up every time. The pluses include it is super lightweight and portable. I could actually check this in baggage. Another plus? It is reasonably priced. https://mrjangear.com/shop/floating-hide-3-combo/
Option 2: A solid deck hide. This one is bulkier and heavier, but not prone to punctures. It folds up and transports easily. Downsides? It is heavy and not as easy to travel. I live near a huge water fowl refuge though, so I most likely would be throwing it in my car. This one is about twice the cost of the previous option. https://www.floating-hide.com/
Birders, what would you choose?
Hey Caroline, I'm not a birder but I can give you an engineer's perspective.
Option 1 has only 1 advantage: weight. The simple material used is the reason for the lower cost. But the most important factor I believe to be considered is durability. After all, you will have at least $10,000 worth of gear carried on the float. The durability will also be essential during equipment transportation and storage. Option 2 , in my opinion, should give a longer performance life than option 1, especially when stored correctly. Yes it is more expensive, but that price goes to the working life and durability. Additionally, it looks like option 2 has a cup holder. Perfect for coffee on the job!