Best Pontoon Boats in 2017 – Guide & Reviews
Lounging around in the best pontoon boats is a surefire way to beat the heat during summer, not mention catch some big fish.
Today’s pontoon boats have gone a long way and offer more space and comfort than before. Performance and features wise they’ve improved a lot, and different types are available too.
Of course the question is, how do you find the right kind of pontoon boat for you? To make things easier we have narrowed the list down and picked the top pontoon boats available today.
Best Pontoon Boats in 2017 - Comparison
Steel tube frame
Steel tube frame
Seat and footrests adjustable
Steel tube frame
Seat and footrests adjustable
Steel tube frame
1000 Denier 36 mil
1000 Denier Reinforced
1000 Denier Reinforced
Safety flag holder
Safety flag pocket
Best Pontoon Boats - Things To Consider
When choosing pontoon boats you have to consider several factors. One of the mistakes that first time buyers make is assuming that cost and capacity are the only factors that matter. It’s true those two are important, but there are other things that you have to account for.
We know how hard it can be to choose a pontoon boat. At first glance it might seem like they’re all the same. However, we have a lot of experience with pontoon boats and can tell the great ones from the mediocre.
To simplify things, we have prepared these reviews. There are a lot of quality pontoon boats, but we picked these as they’re head and shoulders above the rest. In the following reviews we’ll take a look at their most salient features. I also have here information about buying a pontoon boat.
You’re probably eager to jump into the reviews and you may do so. However it’s also a good idea to learn as much as you can about the different types. With this information, you’ll have an easier time deciding which one to use.
Different Types of Pontoon Boats
If you’re going to buy a fishing pontoon boat, you have to familiarize yourself with the various models available.
Pontoon Boat vs. Float Tube:
These two terms are used interchangeably. Technically speaking, pontoon boats are larger and more powerful, but what really matters as long as the specs match your requirements.
Heavy Duty Pontoon Boats:
A pontoon boat can be considered of the heavy duty type if you can use it in rivers. An ordinary float tube is only suitable for lakes, so if you’re going to fish in rivers, make sure it’s the heavy duty type.
Remember what we mentioned above that float tubes and pontoon boats are considered similar? Well, they’re not in this case, because you can use a pontoon boat for river fishing, but not a float tube.
Fiberglass Pontoon Boats:
Some pontoon boats have fiberglass materials. They’re light and durable enough, but repairs can be costly compared to other pontoon boat material.
Foam: a lot of pontoon boats are filled with foam, the main reason being it gives the boat a solid fill and less likely to leak. Foam filled pontoon boats are less expensive than other pontoons.
Foam pontoons however, are slower and poor fuel management. Like fiberglass, repairing pontoon foam boats is difficult and often requires professional assistance.
these are the most popular types of pontoons today. You simply inflate the pontoon to use, which makes them practical for a lot of fishermen.
Since they deflate you can carry one in a backpack or in your car. They’re also available in different capacities and can be used in a variety of fishing locations.
Pontoon boats with aluminum pontoons have anti-corrosive properties, and they’re not going to deteriorate even when subjected to moisture. Aluminum pontoons are also easier to fix than other types, and they’re not heavy either.
The drawback with aluminum pontoon is they can still rust if submerged in mud or sand. These also cost more than other pontoons.
So what is the right type of pontoon boat for you? For first time buyers, an inflatable pontoon boat is the most practical option. They’re widely available, easy to set up and have a generous capacity.
If you’re a fisherman and want to use a specific motor, any of the ones we mentioned above will do. As long as you’re aware of their limitations you’ll be fine.
Popular Pontoon Boat Brands
The popularity of pontoon boats have led to the manufacture of various models. Several outstanding companies have appeared, but the following are our favorites:
If you go online and read reviews, you’ll notice that pontoon boats from Classic Accessories are often mentioned. Why is that?
For starters, their pontoon float tubes and boats are of the highest quality. They’ve also come out with different pontoon boats to satisfy the needs of various customers.
We also like the Sea Eagle pontoon and fishing boats. They’re lightweight, stable and can be used in different situations. Sea Eagles are also notable for their durability, able to withstand use in rivers.
There are many other noteworthy brands like Outcast and the Creek Company. Like those made by the Sea Eagle and Classic Accessories, these are portable, light and can be used in lakes and other fishing locations.
These are well-established names, and you’re off buying from known brands than gambling with unknown types.
How To Choose The Best Pontoon Boats
The lighter the float tube the better especially if you’re bringing along other gear. However you must not focus on weight alone.
A lightweight pontoon boat must still be made from durable materials so it will hold up. Today it’s become possible to get high quality inflatable pontoon boats small enough to put in your backpack.
Inflatable pontoon boats are the best option in this regard. These boats weigh very little but when inflated support hundreds of pounds.
Again, while you want the pontoon to be light, it must still be made of quality materials. It should be resistant to abrasion, powder coated metal frames and general heavy duty materials.
A single seat pontoon boat has a capacity of at least 300 lbs. up to 450 lbs. Those designed for two have a capacity of 650 lbs. more than enough for two people.
However, you must never pack a pontoon boat so it’s at the maximum capacity as that could affect its performance.
It might seem odd for a manufacturer to state a maximum capacity and not yet use it. However, the pontoon is forced to work harder because of the heavy load, and this will have an effect on the long term. Even with a motor it’s going to take their toll.
A well-made pontoon boat has a comfortable and adjustable backrest. It’s hard to emphasize how important this is.
If you’re going to spend the entire day fishing on the pontoon, you have to be as comfortable as possible. There should also be a comfortable and adjustable footrest.
Pockets and Storage
Well-designed pontoon boats have several pockets and storage compartments. Usually there is a combination of zippered and mesh pockets and a rear storage.
If you’re going fishing, extra pockets and storage will be necessary as it reduces the items you have to carry in your bag.
If you don’t carry a lot of gear, the presence of additional pockets may not be necessary, but for most anglers and fishermen these pockets are essential. Another important feature is the fishing rod holder, as it must be conveniently set.
If you look up pontoon boats online, you’re going to see that manufacturers make a big deal out of pockets and storage, underscoring their importance. If you’re going to fish for extended periods, the extra pockets will be a necessity.
The best fishing pontoon boats have a mount so you can install a gas or electric motor. The capacity varies and so does the set up so you’ll need to do some research. If you already have a motor, it’s simply a matter of buying a pontoon boat that can handle your motor.
These are just some of the most common features you should look for when buying a pontoon boat. If you become acquainted with these features and what they can do, you won’t have any problems distinguishing one from the other.
All right, now that you know the pertinent facts about pontoon boats, it’s time we took a look at the reviews.
Recommended Best Pontoon Boats Reviews
Without further ado, here are top pontoon boats. I’ve included the most pertinent information in the reviews below so you’ll know what to expect from each one.
The Classic Accessories Colorado Boat comes with a couple of insulated drink holders and more than 20 pockets for storage. With a 400 lb. capacity it’s more than capable of meeting the demands of heavy users.
The motor mount is weather resistant, and you can set up the rod holder in half a dozen positions.
The seat and foot rest are adjustable and the padded plastic adds convenience. It comes with combo quick/fill valves, and you don’t need tools to assemble the Colorado. The bladders are resistant to heat and cold and there’s a 1 year warranty.
- Generous storage capacity, with 12 zippered and 10 mesh pockets
- Foam fly is detachable
- 2-positon mount motor is ideal for trolling
- Cleat and pulley controls can be set on either side
- Rod holder can be configured in three different positions
- 108" long x 56" wide x 30" high fully assembled
The Roanoke is built for reliability and flexibility. One of the best fishing pontoon boats today, the 8 ft. long Roanoke has a Class 1 river rating and a weight capacity of 350 lbs.
The Classic Accessories Roanoke Inflatable Boat also comes with several unique features like adjustable foot rests, fold down plastic seats and storage at the back.
You can put various items in the armrest pockets, and the bladders are temperature resistant, and the steel frame has powder coating for extra durability.
Like the rest in the Classic Accessories series, the Roanoke boat is lightweight and easy to operate.
- Fold down seat is convenient and durable
- Plenty of storage in the zippered and mesh pockets
- Rear storage available
- Adjustable footrests
- High ride for better visibility
- Made from heavy duty materials
The 9 ft. Colorado XT has a 400 lb. capacity, and it comes with detachable storage bags, and that includes two drink holders and 20 pockets.
The XT pontoon boat also has a built-in transport wheel for convenient moving. The best pontoon boats are made from heavy duty materials, and the XT is no exception.
Other notable features on the XT are its retention cord, adjustable cushioned seat and multi-position rod holder. Its foam fly patches are detachable and the motor mount is weather proof. The XT pontoon boat anchor system has a mesh bag and you can set the anchor on boat sides.
- The side pockets are detachable and allows for custom storage
- You can take out the side pockets so it’s more portable
- You can configure the rod folder in different ways
- The transport wheel makes it easy to get to your fishing location
- Durable construction
One of the most notable features of the Skagit is its rear platform, which boosts its capacity. The Skagit boat measures 96” L 50” W 26.5” H. assembled with a 350 lb. capacity.
One of the best pontoon boat for fishing, the Skagit Inflatable Pontoon Boat is built with durable nylon tops, abrasion proof PVC bottoms spacious armrest pockets.
It has two drink holders, ten small mesh pockets and a couple of large zipper pockets. The Skagit also has an over the lap stripping apron and fish ruler. The footrests are adjustable and nonslip, and the deflation / inflation valves are really easy to use.
- Rides for superior visibility
- Bladders are resistant to heat and cold
- Aluminum oars are built for heavy duty use
- Steel tube frame has powder coating
- Rear cargo platform is equipped with heavy duty wire
- Lots of storage
The Sea Eagle 285 is one of the best fishing pontoon boats the company has manufactured. It has a capacity of 450 lbs. yet is compact enough to be placed in a bag.
The 285 comes with a couple of Scotty Rod Holders, a motor mount, floorboard and a swivel seat.
Ideal for fishermen, the Sea Eagle has an engine capacity of 45 lbs. / 3 HP and has a 3 year warranty. It is made from fortified 1000 Denier and assembly takes just 5 minutes. The Sea Eagle is best used in lakes, rivers and other bodies of water.
- Built from high quality, durable materials
- Weighs only 30 lbs.
- Designed for anglers with a 3 HP engine
- Quick inflation and deflation
- 3 year warranty
- Repair kit and carry bag included
The 375FC (Fold Cat) is the best pontoon boat for fishing if your focus in on quality. The Fold Cat sports a patent pending frame which folds in just a few minutes.
The 375FC can seat two people with its maximum 650 lb. capacity. Other features include a 1000 denier hull, a foot pump and a couple of carrying bags.
The Fold Cat is compatible with a 3 HP gas engine and has a top speed of 8 knots. The pontoons have superb buoyancy and rod holders built in. Fully assembled, the Fold Cat is 148 by 54 inches (W x L) and comes in at 75 lbs.
- Assembly time takes only 5 minutes
- Can comfortably sit two people with a maximum load of 650 lbs.
- Designed for heavy duty use
- The Fold Cat is light and easy to maneuver
- You can add more power by using a gas or electric motor
- Its speed can withstand headwinds and tides
The 285FPB fishing pontoon boat is portable, lightweight, and built for rugged use. This boat is for one person / 450 lbs. and weighs only 42 lbs.
Fully inflated the 285FPB tube boat is 9 foot long, but when deflated you can fit it in a bag. The hull is made from solid materials, ensuring its durability.
The swivel seat is optional, and when installed provides you with a high seat with 360 degree capability. The floorboard is made of wood, giving you a place to cast. Thanks to its versatile design you can use the 285FPB boat in lakes, saltwater flats, rivers and more.
- Two rod holders are built in
- Very light and portable
- There is a 3 year warranty against defects and has NMMA certification
- Optional mount for three HP gas or electric motor
- Durable carry handles
- Aluminum footrest
The Cumberland earns a spot in our list of the best pontoon boats owing to its durability. This float tube has a high seat for better visibility, ideal for warm fishing.
Cumberland Inflatable Fishing Float Tube hull is fully hydrodynamic for superior steering and handling, and the shoulder straps are adjustable.
The PVC bottom is reinforced, and the mesh platform provides plenty of storage. Speaking of storage, there is a mesh stuff pock and zip pockets, plus a couple of insulated drink holders.
- Measures 56"L 44"W 19"H assembled
- Weighs only 14 lbs.
- Has a quick release apron
- The valves make it easy to inflate and deflate the boat
- Has a maximum load capacity of 350 lbs.
The Togiak Pontoon Float Tube is ideal if you’re looking for floating tube to relax on. The best pontoon boat for fishing should be lightweight, and at 12 lbs.
That’s precisely what you get. Setting up the float tube only takes a few minutes, and the stadium seat’s back rest is adjustable.
There are mesh, spinning reel and gear pockets for your stuff so you don’t have to worry about where to put your drink and fishing gear. The high seat provides excellent visibility and the pontoon boat is built for long term use.
- Has a maximum capacity of 300 lbs.
- Safety flag pocket included
- D-rings and lash tabs included for creel bags and gear attachment
- Armrest storage offers ample storage
- Easy to inflate
- Compact design
So which of these pontoon boats is right for you? It depends on what type of pontoon boat you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a float tube you can backpack, we recommend any of the Classic Accessories, in particular the Cumberland and Roanoke.
If your main concern is durability and accepts a gas motor, any of the Sea Eagles here will meet your needs. There are a lot of versions available and load capacity varies so you can have your pick.
We particularly like the adjustability and stability of the 285FB and the Fold Cat. If we had to pick one, it would be the Classic Accessories Cumberland, as it is well-padded, convenient and has received a lot of positive reviews.
But all of these are high quality and deserving to be included in this list of the best pontoon boats.