Buying your first pontoon boat is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. With so many models, features, and options on the market, it can be hard to know where to start. To help you pick the perfect pontoon boat for your needs, here’s a checklist of 20 factors to consider. From size to engine power, seating capacity to amenities, these are the most important questions to ask yourself before you make a purchase. Whether you’re a seasoned boater or a beginner looking to make your first purchase, this list will help you find the perfect pontoon boat for your lifestyle. So get ready to dive in and take a look at the 20 factors to consider when buying a pontoon boat.
1. Pontoon Boat: Size
When choosing the size of your pontoon boat, there are several factors to consider. To host 2-6 people onboard, a pontoon between 18-20 ft. is ideal; for 6-10 people, 22-24 feet; and for more than 10 people, 24 feet or larger. Additionally, review your state and local regulations for size restrictions, as certain bodies of water may have limitations. Though smaller boats are suitable for smaller waters, larger boats (22 feet and up) are more stable and can accommodate bigger motors for faster speeds.
To maximize the potential of a pontoon boat, look for one over 20 feet. The larger size allows for more people, safety and stability, and customization with comfy furniture and enclosures. With the large deck and roomier interior, you can have many activities, such as fishing and water sports. For a faster boat, opt for a triple-tube pontoon boat.
Ultimately, consider the capacity, activities, and regulations to determine the correct size boat for you.
2. Pontoon Boat: Speed
When shopping for a pontoon boat, speed is a key factor to consider. Modern pontoons can easily reach speeds up to 25 mph, whereas some high-performance models can even exceed 100 mph. However, for most recreational water sports, the typical speeds of 28-35 mph of a standard pontoon boat should be more than sufficient. For those looking for a little more speed, there are newer models that have larger engines with three tubes, which can improve performance, but these tend to be more expensive. Additionally, outboard engines tend to be noisier, so this should also be taken into consideration. Lastly, while pontoon boats are great for cruising and fishing, they are not necessarily suitable for more advanced watersports as they have limited maneuverability and cannot handle tight corners. All in all, when buying a pontoon boat, one must take into account the desired speed and performance, as well as the availability of features such as outboard engines and turning radius.
3. Pontoon Boat: Weight Capacity
The weight capacity of a pontoon boat depends on the size and type of pontoon. Most 23- to 28-foot pontoon boats are able to carry up to 15 people, whereas Bennington’s 30-foot boats can hold up to 21 people. It’s important to spread out the weight evenly on the boat, and the capacity plate on the boat will give an indication of how much weight the boat can handle. Smaller boats under 19 feet usually accommodate up to 8 people, and medium-sized pontoon boats up to 22 feet can take up to 13 people. For bigger and faster boats, triple-tube pontoon boats are the best, and they range from 22 to 30 feet and can accommodate 10 to 21 people. Additionally, the bigger pontoon boats can be quite heavy, and thus need a vehicle that can handle towing them.
4. Pontoon Boat: Layout
When looking to buy a pontoon boat, it is important to consider the many factors related to the layout, such as size, seating configuration, amenities, and type of pontoon. Size is an important factor when selecting a pontoon boat, as it directly affects the amount of people and gear that can be accommodated on the vessel. The seating configuration is also a factor to consider when selecting a pontoon boat, as it can make a huge difference in the usability of the vessel, and the number of amenities available. Amenities such as tables, changing rooms, and portable toilets can make a pontoon boat more comfortable and convenient. Additionally, different types of pontoons can offer different features, from the traditional two or three pontoon models to the inflatable pontoon boats and the jet-powered ones. Each of these types of pontoons have their own advantages and drawbacks, so it is important to consider your needs and choose the type of pontoon that best suits you.
5. Pontoon Boat: Amenities
What amenities are available with a pontoon boat? [Expanded list] Pontoon boats are the perfect choice for comfort and leisure. They are spacious and comfortable, providing plenty of seating and storage space. You can relax and enjoy the ride with the pontoon boat’s smooth navigation. Furthermore, pontoon boats come with a wide variety of amenities that make your time on the water more enjoyable. These amenities include:
- Spacious seating and storage areas
- Integrated touch panel control systems
- Chart plotters
- Life jackets
- Inner tubes for floating
- High fences and gates for extra security
- Stereo and speaker combinations
- LED lighting packages
- Upper deck lounge areas with slides
- Barbecue grills
- Queen-sized beds
6. Pontoon Boat: Safety Features
When buying a pontoon boat, there are a number of features that should be considered to ensure a safe and enjoyable time on the water. Pontoon boats are known for their safety, due to their weight and fence with high rails that reduces the chances of falling overboard. Additionally, they have a low risk of flipping because the turning radius is not very tight and the speed is usually around 30 mph.
When on a pontoon boat, it is important to have the proper personal flotation devices (PFDs) and other pontoon safety equipment onboard. Make sure to apply anti-slip grip tape to the deck floors in case of emergencies. It is also important to be aware of the boat’s limitations. Don’t risk heading out in rough water and always check the weather forecast before heading out.
Finally, larger pontoons are more stable than smaller ones, so consider a larger model if you boat in choppy water. Additionally, advanced marine electronics, stereos and LED lighting can be added to most pontoon boats to further enhance the safety and enjoyment of the boat.
7. Pontoon Boat: Seating
When choosing a pontoon boat seating, there are a few factors to consider. Comfort is an important factor if you plan on spending a lot of time on the boat, so having enough room to fit everyone comfortably is essential. Pontoon boats typically seat more people than motorboats, sometimes even up to 10 people. Additionally, their large decks provide enough room to include furniture and other amenities for a comfortable ride.
In terms of safety, pontoon boats are quite stable and unlikely to capsize. Their flat floor, high enclosed sides, and plentiful seating make them a good option for families or groups of people who want to stay safe on the water.
Finally, pontoon boats are highly modular, giving you the ability to customize your boat with different fabric, upholstery, floor covering, and graphics packages. You can even choose a jet powered pontoon boat for a faster and more exhilarating ride. Ultimately, the type of pontoon boat you choose should depend on what type of boat you want and the type of boating experience you’re looking for.
8. Pontoon Boat: Setup
9. Pontoon Boat: Wakeboard Package
A wakeboard package for a pontoon boat is an aftermarket feature that includes the addition of components and accessories to the boat to enhance its performance in wakeboard activities. This includes items such as wakeboard towers, wakeboard racks, ballast systems, and specialized hull designs. When buying a wakeboard package, you should consider the type of performance you are looking for, the cost of the package, and the installation process.
The type of performance you should look for in a wakeboard package depends on your budget, the size of your pontoon boat, and the type of wakeboarding you plan to do. If you are looking for improved speed, agility, and maneuverability, a higher-performance package may be what you need. This would include things like adding more powerful engines, larger tube diameters, and specialized hull designs. On the other hand, if you are just looking for more wake for jumps, adding a wakeboard tower with racks and ballast systems is a good idea.
The cost of the package will depend on the type of components included and the labor required for installation. Generally, wakeboard packages with higher-end components will cost more, while simpler packages may cost less. Additionally, the installation process will vary depending on the complexity of the package.
Finally, you should take into account the experience and reputation of the dealer or installer you are considering. It is important to do your research and make sure that the person you choose to install the wakeboard package is qualified and experienced. Doing this will ensure that your package is installed properly, providing you with the best possible performance and the greatest enjoyment.
10. Pontoon Boat: Decking
When buying a pontoon boat with a deck, there are several important things to consider. Firstly, you should think about the exterior and interior layout options available, as well as the fabric, upholstery, floor covering, and graphics packages that can be chosen. Additionally, you should compare the walking space and guest capacity of a pontoon boat with a deck boat.
When it comes to the hull, it’s important to note that pontoon boats have a catamaran-style hull with two parallel floats, whereas a deck boat has a single V-hull. Furthermore, be sure to look into design and function improvements that may blur the line between the two boats. Additionally, be sure to research the warranties covering tubes, deck, and other components, as well as the materials and construction of the boat.
Finally, consider the size and number of pontoon tubes, the size and capacity of the deck, the safety features, and the various uses of the boat. By doing your research and keeping these factors in mind, you’ll be sure to find the perfect pontoon boat with a deck that fits your needs.
11. Pontoon Boat: Fishing Package
A pontoon boat is a great option for fishing, as it offers a stable and spacious platform for a day out on the water. A fishing package for a pontoon boat includes a variety of features to ensure a successful day on the water. These features include a full road trailer, an almost silent electric trolling motor, fish finder, GPS, aerated livewell, rod holders, dedicated fishing chairs, a removable table, stereo system, fish finder, trolling motor, power-pole, live well, fishing chairs, bimini top, rod holders, jack plate, and a built-in fish finder with a rear fishing station and center console. Additionally, you can find accessories such as a shade netting, live well, and additional rod holders to further customize your pontoon boat for the perfect day out on the water.
12. Pontoon Boat: Storage
When it comes to selecting a boat, storage considerations are an important factor to consider. Pontoon boats are particularly great in this regard, as they provide substantially more storage than speed boats or motorboats. Pontoon boats typically have plenty of space under seats and floors, allowing you to store extra blankets, food, drinks, and other items you may need while out on the water. Additionally, they accommodate more people than motorboats and provide ample storage for all the necessary boating accessories, such as equipment, gear, life vests, and anchors.
Compared to other boats, pontoon boats also offer more storage for people who bring a lot of items, like ice chests, bags of clothing, and extra blankets. With plenty of storage compartments under the seats and deck space, pontoon boats make it easy to store all of your items out of the way. Plus, if you are going out for an extended period of time, you’ll have ample space for items you may need.
Overall, pontoon boats provide more storage than other types of boats, making them an ideal choice for those looking for a boat with plenty of space.
13. Pontoon Boat: Trolling Package
When buying a pontoon boat with a trolling package, there are a few things to consider. The first is the size and capacity of the boat. Consider how many people will be on the boat, how much cargo and equipment it needs to carry, and what type of water it will be used in. You will also want to make sure you understand the motor size and power that you will need.
Next, consider the features of the boat. Look for things like a fish finder, electric trolling motor, aerated livewell, rod holders, dedicated fishing chairs, removable table, stereo system, and Bimini top. Additionally, if you are looking for a higher performance, you may want to look for special tube add-ons that can improve performance and turns, or an under-deck skin.
Finally, you should take a look at the overall cost of the boat. Consider the initial cost of the boat, as well as the cost of any additional features you may want or need. Some boats may even come with a full fishing package already included. Once you have taken into account all of these factors, you can choose the perfect pontoon boat with a trolling package for your needs.
14. Pontoon Boat: Anchoring
Anchoring a pontoon boat can be a challenging task, even for experienced boaters. When considering anchoring a pontoon boat, there are many factors to consider, such as the type of anchoring system, the size of the boat, and the type of bottom you are anchoring in. Pontoon boats require a heavier anchor for their size than many other types of boats due to their greater displacement, and you should also consider the type of bottom you will be anchoring in. Generally, a heavier weight is needed for softer bottoms, such as mud or sand, while a lighter weight may be used in harder bottoms, such as rocks or coral.
When choosing an anchoring system for a pontoon boat, two popular options are mushroom anchors and Danforth anchors. Mushroom anchors are a good option for pontoon boats because they are designed to dig into the bottom, providing good holding power. On the other hand, Danforth anchors have greater holding power, but they can be difficult to set in softer bottoms. Ultimately, it is important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each type of anchoring system and choose one that is best suited to your boating needs.
15. Pontoon Boat: Lifesaving
A pontoon boat can be an excellent choice for lifesaving because of its safety features. Firstly, its weight makes it incredibly stable – meaning there is less chance of it flipping over. Additionally, its wide, flat platform of a pontoon boat makes it perfect for carrying more people than a motorboat. Secondly, the high fence and gates provide extra security for those boating with children, and the inward swinging design of the SUN TRACKER ensures that there are no “don’t go there” parts on the boat. Thirdly, the turning radius of a pontoon boat is not very tight, allowing for full-speed turns with ease. Lastly, pontoon boats are also very easy to maintain, making them an ideal choice for first-time boat owners.
16. Pontoon Boat: Cruise Control
Cruise control is a feature that allows you to control the speed of a boat without having to manually adjust the throttle. This is especially important when considering purchasing a pontoon boat, as it allows for greater control and less fatigue over longer periods of time. Cruise control is ideal for long trips on the open water and for maneuvering around tight spaces. It also gives the driver more control in the event of unexpected waves or currents.
Cruise control is especially useful for pontoon boats due to their stability and size. With cruise control, pontoon boats can easily navigate tight turns, giving the driver more control over their speed and direction. Cruise control also makes it easier to enjoy activities like fishing or skiing, as it allows the driver to maintain a steady, safe speed while the rest of the crew can focus on enjoying their time on the water. Additionally, cruise control is a great feature for those who are new to boating, as it will help them learn the proper speed and control of their pontoon boat.
Overall, cruise control is an important feature to consider when buying a pontoon boat since it allows for greater control while operating your vessel. It helps make your experience on the water safe, comfortable, and enjoyable.
17. Pontoon Boat: Wakeboarding
When it comes to buying a pontoon boat for wakeboarding, it’s important to take into account the type of body of water you’ll be boating on, the size of the boat, and the power behind the outboard engine. Pontoon boats create a wake that is wider than traditional V-hull boats, and although it can be similar to a ski boat’s wake, the pontoons on either side of the boat will also create wakes. Pontoon boats are also generally slower than traditional boats which can be an issue if you’re primarily looking to water ski. Additionally, pontoon boats are known to dive into waves rather than riding over them, so they can be more dangerous in severe storms.
Tritoons, however, are a great choice for watersports like wakeboarding, as they are more stable and perform better in rough waves. They are also known to be better for tight coves when fishing. Pontoons are also more comfortable for large groups, as they provide a large platform to lounge on for the whole family and friends. Many modern tritoons come with integrated tech options which can provide additional controls and a power sport tower with a remote control. Finally, some pontoon boats like the Aqua Patio AP 250 XP are specifically designed for watersports and are equipped with a 350-horsepower Yamaha F350 four-stroke outboard, a watersports tower, and under-deck board stowage.
18. Pontoon Boat: Fishing
When it comes to fishing on a pontoon boat, there are a few things to consider. The first thing is the space; pontoon boats have plenty of open area, making them great for multiple lines and different baits. They are also ideal for fly fishing since you can stand up straight and the boat is high out of the water. This can make it more difficult to pull fish out of the water, however, you can find boats with fishing chairs and rod holders at the front or rear of the boat, making it easier.
Also, pontoon boats are great for taking a family on a fishing trip as they are spacious and comfortable, but not all ten people can fish at once. If you’re looking for a boat that is equipped with the latest fishing accessories, pontoon boats are a great choice. You can find boats with features such as a fish finder, trolling motor, power-pole, live well, fishing chairs, bimini top, and rod holders.
Overall, pontoon boats are an excellent option for fishing, but there are certain considerations to make sure that your experience is the best it can be.
19. Pontoon Boat: Swimming
When it comes to buying a pontoon boat, there are several considerations regarding swimming. Since pontoon boats are generally larger and offer more stability than other types of boats, they are a great choice for watersports such as tubing, waterskiing, and wakeboarding, particularly in rougher water conditions. On the other hand, smaller boats are better suited for smaller bodies of water like rivers and lakes, and can accommodate up to 8 people.
In terms of comfort and space, pontoon boats have the advantage. Spacious couches offer plenty of room for everyone, and the high fences and gates provide extra security for those boating with children. The larger pontoon boats can also provide a changing room for swimmers to change into dry clothes after a swim. Finally, a pontoon boat offers a great platform for fishing, snorkeling, diving, sunbathing, and just hanging out—it is even comfortable enough for someone to lay down and take up the entire couch.
Ultimately, the choice between a smaller or larger pontoon boat depends on the size of the water, the activities you plan on doing, and the number of people in your party.
20. Pontoon Boat: Sightseeing
Pontoon boats offer a great platform for sightseeing, with plenty of room for the whole family to take in the views. Their wide, stable platform provides a safe and comfortable way to explore the waterways around you. Pontoons also have high fences and gates (inward swinging on every SUN TRACKER) to provide extra security for those boating with younger children. With plenty of seating, storage and space for up to 10 people, you and your family can explore the waters and take in all the sights without feeling overwhelmed or crowded. Enjoy the beauty of the coast, the open sea and all the wildlife around you with a pontoon boat.