When it comes to pontoon boats, many people still think of a stodgy, slow-putt-around-the-lake. Made for entertaining, yes, but more like a cocktail hour than a-rockin’ house party. This reputation is changing—and fast. Many of the latest and greatest pontoons offer speed, handling, seaworthiness, and even the ability to be used as legit towboats for skiing and wakeboarding. Yet they haven’t abandoned their strengths: passenger comfort and amenities have never been more cushy or diverse.
Top 7 Pontoon Boats
- Rod holder can be mounted in three different positions on each oar stand
- Anchor System with fillable mesh bag; cleat and pulley controls can fit on right or left...
- Removable gear bags provide customizable storage, including 20 pockets and two insulated...
- Anchor system with fillable mesh bag - easy to use cleat and pulley controls
- Removable side pockets combine to create a portable gear bag
- Transport wheel allows easy access to your favorite fishing spot
- Works with Coleman incl. DripTray and all Hardware & Instructions Included screws bolts...
- Requires OPEN FENCE railing Search "Arnalls Universal" to see CLOSED FENCE options
- Made of marine grade polyester canvas with double PU Coating
- Designed for both long-term storage, mooring and highway travel
- Mesh under-seat apron, zippered armrest pockets, and a rear storage platform
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver
- Heavy duty welded 316 stainless steel pontoon ladder. Unique universal self supporting...
- Extra wide telescoping steps for more comfort when boarding. Extra tall, comfortable...
Important features to consider before buying a pontoon boat
How you plan on using your boat is the single most important factor to consider when you are boat shopping. Different boats are designed with different purposes in mind, and buying the wrong boat can have a major impact on your level of enjoyment.
- Sport: People who enjoy watersports like waterskiing or wake surfing will want to look for a boat with a tow specifically for water sports. These boats move fast and are designed for safe, but fun, water sporting.
- Fishing: Whether you’re a casual or professional fisher will make a difference in the type of fishing boat you choose. A very casual fisher may be able to use a hybrid or even a canoe for successful fishing. A professional fisher, or angler, will want a boat specifically designed for their fishing purpose, whether inland or offshore, and even the specific type of species they fish the most.
- Cruising: A lot of people prefer to spend their day on the water simply relaxing. They may want a cruiser or yacht. A hybrid model that can accommodate fishing and/or water sports in addition to cruising might also be a good option.
Generally, boat hulls are made out of two materials, aluminum and fiberglass.
- Aluminum: Aluminum has traditionally been the material of choice for boat hulls because of its durability. Aluminum boats are also usually less expensive than fiberglass boats. These boats tend to weigh less than fiberglass boats, making them more maneuverable. However, many boat manufacturers are actually using heavier aluminum to increase the hull weight.
- Fiberglass: Fiberglass is a relatively new material for boats, and they tend to cost more than aluminum boats. An advantage is that their heavier hull weight translates to a smoother ride. Their added weight can also make fiberglass boats easier to maneuver in windy and/or rocky waters.
Amount of passengers
Whether you prefer to cruise solo or with all your friends and family will make a difference in the type of boat you choose.
- Solo rider: People who prefer to boat on their own will want a smaller boat. If you want a manual boat, opt for a canoe or kayak. Many fishing boats are small enough to handle the water with only one passenger.
- Small group: If you want to hit the water with just a few of your favorite people, you’ll want a smaller boat. Depending on your boating purpose, you can find a fishing boat, cruiser, canoe or water sports boat that can hold up to four or five people.
- Crowd: If you prefer your days on the water with a huge crowd, you’ll want to look for a boat large enough to accommodate everyone. A pontoon is a good option if you aren’t looking to do watersports. You can fish off of a pontoon, and most of them include a swimming platform. Yachts and cruisers are also good options.
You can choose to buy a basic package of a boat, or you can add amenities and/or accessories to fully customize your ride. Many of these can be added on after your purchase so you can determine how you use your boat and add things as necessary.
- Grill: Some pontoons have the deck space for a propane grill, which can be a nice addition to your day on the water.
- Seats: You can change or customize the seats on your boat if the ones that come with it aren’t working for you. Some types of seats include fishing seats, lounging seats, bench seats, and folding seats.
- Motors: You can add an outboard motor to traditionally manual boats like kayaks or canoes. You can also choose your motor for your new boat based on things like speed and how much weight will be on the boat when you use it.
Your boat company should provide you with a full maintenance plan to make sure your boat lasts for years. There are some basic maintenance rules to keep in mind that is true for most boats.
- Rinse off salt water: If you boat in saltwater, a good rinse after every outing will go a long way to preserve your boat and keep the salt from corroding the metal on your boat.
- Keep things safe: Safety should be your top priority when you’re getting ready to take your boat on the water. Make sure you have enough life jackets for all of your passengers along with a working fire extinguisher and first aid kit on deck. Make sure to seal your deck to prevent accidents and slips.
- Change your oil: Your boat needs routine oil changes, just like your vehicle. You’ll either need to do this yourself or take it to your dealer. A general rule of thumb is to change your boat’s oil every 100 hours of operation or once a year but refer to your manufacturer’s specifications for details on your boat.
- Check your propeller pre-launch: Make checking your propeller a part of your pre-launch inspection. Things you’re looking for include nicks, dents and fishing line that can easily get caught up around the propeller.
The huge variety of boats means they are available in every price range, from a few hundred dollars to over $500,000. You will want to create a realistic budget before you start shopping for boats. It’s easy to get swept away with all of the features a boat company can offer and end up overspending.
- Financing: Some boat companies offer to finance for qualifying consumers. This financing can be in the form of a loan or a credit card that has an introductory APR. Make sure to read all the fine print before signing on to a financing agreement.
- Buy used: Boats are generally designed to last for decades so you can find a used boat in good condition if you look in the right places. Many dealers and boat companies have a used marketplace and can direct you to quality boats at a fraction of the price of their brand new models.
- Only buy the size of boat you need: It’s important to be realistic about how you will use your boat when you’re shopping. Focus on your purpose for boating and consider your best option to get everything you want out of your boat without going overboard.