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What is a Pontoon Boat? Types of Pontoon Boats

What is a Pontoon Boat

What is a Pontoon Boat? If you’ve ever been near a lake or river, you’ve likely seen one of these popular watercraft cruising smoothly on the water. A pontoon boat is a popular type of watercraft with two or more aluminum tubes, called “pontoons,” running parallel to each other and supporting a flat deck platform.


Known for their unique design, spacious decks, and stability, pontoon boats have become a top choice for inland water adventures, attracting boating enthusiasts of all types.


In this article, we’ll explore the world of pontoon boats, examining their versatility and the various types available. Join us as we uncover the appeal of these remarkable watercraft and learn how they can enhance your on-water experiences.


What is a Pontoon Boat? How Are They Different from Other Boats?


Pontoon boats are versatile vessels that offer ample deck space, stability, and a smooth ride. They can be used for various recreational activities such as fishing, water sports, and entertainment.


Pontoon boats come in different styles and designs, ranging from traditional to modern tritoon boats with optional features like outboard motors, twin engines, and larger tubes.


Benefits of Owning a Pontoon Boat


Pontoon boats are easy to use and maintain, with a low cost of ownership and excellent resale value. They have straightforward operations, and their engines are typically outboard motors that are easy to service. They are also less expensive to maintain and repair than other boats.


Pontoon boats are designed with wide gates, open floor plans, ample space, and a stable platform that make them perfect for hosting social events, fishing trips, or just cruising around. Its flat deck creates a comfortable and safe surface for any activity.


The open floor plan provides enough space to accommodate large groups of people. The wide gates make it easy to embark and disembark the boat, even when carrying coolers or other equipment.


Another benefit of owning a pontoon boat is the smooth ride they provide due to their design, which keeps them stable, regardless of the type of water you’re on.


Types of Pontoon Boats


Pontoon boats come in different styles, sizes, and designs to cater to specific needs, preferences, and budgets.


Let’s explore the different types available in the market and their features and benefits:


Traditional Pontoons


Traditional Pontoons


Traditional pontoons are designed with aluminum tubes that provide stability and buoyancy. These boats offer ample deck space, allowing for comfortable seating arrangements and sufficient storage space for fishing gear, water toys, and other essentials.


Outboard engines make traditional pontoons easy to maneuver, and their lightweight design contributes to their ease of operation.


One of the main benefits of owning a traditional pontoon is its stability on the water. Because of its tube design, this boat can withstand windy and choppy conditions.


Twin Tube Pontoon Boats


Twin Tube Pontoon Boats


Twin tube pontoon boats are similar to traditional pontoons in design, with two aluminum tubes providing stability and buoyancy. However, these boats have a narrower beam, which makes them faster and easier to maneuver on the water.


Twin tubes are great for those who prioritize speed and agility over deck space. They are also a popular choice for water sports enthusiasts who enjoy activities like water skiing or wakeboarding.


While they may have less deck space than traditional pontoons, twin-tube boats still offer ample seating and storage options. They are also more fuel-efficient than larger pontoon boats, saving owners money in the long run.


Triple Tube Pontoon Boats


Triple Tube Pontoon Boats


Triple tube pontoon boats, an upgrade from twin tube designs, feature three aluminum tubes for enhanced stability and performance. With a wider beam, these boats offer increased deck space and improved handling, making them ideal for larger groups and water sports.


These pontoons are perfect for those seeking both speed and ample room for entertaining. They cater to water sports enthusiasts and provide a comfortable experience for passengers.


Though they may consume more fuel than twin tube boats, their versatility and additional space make them an attractive option for many boaters.


Inflatable Pontoons


Inflatable Pontoons


Inflatable pontoons are constructed using durable materials such as PVC and nylon. They provide a stable platform for fishing, swimming, and other water activities.


One of the main benefits of owning an inflatable pontoon is its weight capacity. Because of their lightweight design, these boats can also be easily transported to and from the water, which makes them an excellent option for frequent travelers.


Types of inflatable pontoons include solo models, tandem models, and multi-person models.


Flat Deck Pontoons


Flat Deck Pontoons


As the name suggests, Flat deck Pontoons have a flat deck that provides ample space for passengers and equipment. The main advantage of flat deck pontoons is their spacious deck, making them an excellent choice for families or groups of friends who want to spend time on the water together.


This design feature makes flat deck pontoons popular for recreational boating, fishing, and other water-based activities.


Double Decker Pontoons


Double-decker pontoons have gained increasing popularity among pontoon boat enthusiasts due to the addition of an upper deck. Upper decks are elevated platforms installed on the top of the boat’s pontoons, providing additional space, seating, storage, and entertainment options.


The double upper deck provides ample storage space for marine equipment and accessories, which helps keep the boat organized and clutter-free, leaving more room for entertainment.


Interesting Read: 26 Different Types of Boats | Your Guide to Boat Types


Features of Modern Pontoon Boats


We will dive into the main features of pontoon boats and what makes them a versatile and popular choice among boating enthusiasts.


Pontoon Tubes


The heart and soul of a pontoon boat lie in its tubes. These cylindrical, buoyant structures provide the necessary flotation and stability for the boat, allowing it to glide effortlessly across the water.


Several types of pontoon tubes are available in the market, each designed to cater to specific needs and preferences. Some common types include:


Single-chambered tubes: These tubes have a single, continuous air chamber. They are commonly found in smaller, entry-level pontoon boats.


Multi-chambered tubes: These tubes feature multiple air chambers, offering increased buoyancy and safety. In case of a puncture or leak, the remaining air chambers help maintain flotation.


Tritoon tubes: Found in tritoon boats, an additional center tube is added to the traditional two pontoon tubes. This design enhances stability, buoyancy, and handling, leading to higher speeds and better performance suitable for watersports.




Dry Weight 


Dry weight capacity is an essential feature to consider when selecting a pontoon boat. This capacity refers to the boat’s weight without any passengers, equipment, or fuel. The size and the engine type often determine a pontoon boat’s dry weight.


Most popular pontoon boat models have low to high dry weight capacities, ranging from 1,500 pounds up to 5,000 pounds or more, depending on their size and power.




It’s crucial to know the weight capacity limit of your pontoon boat to avoid any safety issues. Exceeding the boat’s weight capacity limit can result in instability and may cause the boat to capsize. Overloading the boat can also cause damage to the engine and other parts of the boat.


When packing gear or loading passengers and amenities, it’s crucial to bear in mind the boat’s capacity. Remember to consider each person’s weight and belongings, as well as other equipment, like coolers, grills, and water toys.


Engine (Inboard / Outboard Motors)


Pontoon boats are commonly powered by two types of engines: outboard engines and inboard engines.


Outboard engines are mounted on the boat’s transom and are easily accessible for maintenance and repairs. They are also relatively lightweight and offer excellent maneuverability.


Inboard engines are housed within the boat’s hull, requiring more extensive maintenance and repairs. They are often more powerful than outboard engines but may be less efficient in terms of fuel consumption. Inboard engines are ideal for larger pontoon boats requiring more horsepower to navigate rough waters.




The higher decks of pontoon boats allow passengers to remain dry and provide a smooth ride through rough waters.


This height advantage also allows the boat to cut through waves more effectively, reducing the rocking and bouncing often experienced on lower boats. the height also allows pontoons to navigate shallow waters easily.


The higher decks  provide a unique vantage point and allow passengers to see further and explore more.


Interior/Exterior Packages


Fortunately, various interior and exterior customizable options are available to make your pontoon boat stand out.


One of the most crucial features of pontoon boats is their upholstery. Many manufacturers offer a variety of materials and colors. The possibilities are endless, from sleek and modern vinyl to cozy and comfortable plush materials.


Another aspect to consider is floor coverings. Options include carpeting for added warmth and comfort and durable and low-maintenance vinyl flooring for those who prefer easy clean-up.


Graphics packages are also available to add a personal touch to your boat’s exterior. Designs vary from bright and bold patterns to more subtle designs.


Performance packages are another consideration for those looking to maximize their boat’s capabilities. These packages may include upgrades like larger pontoons, heavy-duty transoms, and performance-enhancing features like lifting strakes and high-performance engines.


Pontoon Boat


Pontoon Boat Manufacturers and Brands


Pontoon boats have become increasingly popular over the years, and many manufacturers have entered the market. However, some stand out as the most reliable and well-known. Here are the top manufacturers:


Harris Boats – This manufacturer has been in the boat business for over 60 years, and they have established themselves as a trusted name in the industry. They are known for their high-quality boats, innovative designs, and modern technology.


Barletta – Barletta is a newer manufacturer that’s been around for about six years. However, they have made a name for themselves by creating luxury pontoon boats that offer comfort, style, and performance.


Bennington Marine – With over 20 years of experience, Bennington has established itself as one of the top manufacturers of pontoon boats. They offer a wide variety of models that are suitable for fishing, leisure, and family activities.


Avalon Boats – This manufacturer is known for their upscale pontoons that offer luxurious amenities such as lounges, bars, and entertainment systems. They have been in the business for over 40 years and have earned a reputation for quality and innovative designs.


Crest Pontoons – Crest Pontoons offers a wide range of pontoon boats catering to all boaters. They are known for their stable, smooth rides, ample deck space, and high-quality materials.


How Much Does a Pontoon Boat Cost?


Pontoon boats are famous for recreational water activities for their ample space, stability, and smooth ride. However, they can come with a hefty price tag.


The average cost of a new pontoon boat ranges from $15,000 to $150,000, depending on the size, features, and brand. The price can increase significantly for larger vessels with more advanced features or those built with higher-end materials.


A pontoon boat’s dry weight is another factor affecting its cost. A lighter boat may cost less but may sacrifice stability, whereas a heavier boat may provide a smoother ride but can be more expensive.


Comparing models and features is crucial when determining the right boat for your needs, and many manufacturers offer customization options that can add to the overall cost.




Pontoon boats offer a world of recreational opportunities, enhancing your outdoor experiences, and are perfect for those seeking leisurely cruises, fishing trips, or thrilling water sports. With various models available, from traditional pontoons to modern tritoon boats, there is a perfect boat to suit every need and preference.


As you explore the world of pontoon boats, consider your needs and preferences to find the ideal model for your adventures. With the right boat, you’ll unlock countless enjoyable opportunities and create unforgettable memories on the water.


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About The Author
Picture of Olivia Benjamin

Olivia Benjamin

Olivia has spent the last 12 years working in and around boating and yachting industry in interior, exterior and repair roles with a wealth of knowledge in the industry. Olivia works currently as a boat/yacht repair consultant.
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