Hands up if you’ve ever dreamed about spending a hot afternoon out on the lake. Maybe you have a beer in hand, maybe it’s a glass of champagne. We’re listening to the sound of the water lapping against the hull in complete bliss.
Most of us probably dream of spending that afternoon on a yacht. Not us, long ago we discovered that a pontoon could offer us all of the benefits of a yacht, for a fraction of the price, and they’re a lot more fun to drive.
The problem is, when it comes to purchasing your first (or next) pontoon, it’s hard to know where to start. How do you know what brands you can trust? How do you know which brands are good value for money?
If only there was an article written by pontoon lovers that could walk you through the 5 best pontoon brands on the market right now… Oh, wait!
Best Pontoon Brands
#1 – Crestliner
‘Since 1946, Crestliner has prided itself on constructing boats that are simply built right and built to last. Through superior design, quality craftsmanship, attention to detail, and unmatched value, Crestliner has become synonymous with the world’s most durable aluminum boat… boats that are built right. It’s how we’ve done things in the past, and it’s how we intend to continue to build boats for the next 70 years.’
Crestliner is one of the oldest of the prestigious pontoon brands. They have been making handsome, reliable, and innovative pontoons for over 70 years. They offer nearly 30 different models, all of which are designed well, right down to the nuts and bolts.
What really makes Crestline stand out in the world of pontoon manufacturing, is that they are clearly a company run by pontoon lovers. They take time to nail every part of the ship’s design, from the fiberglass hulls (that allow for greater speed and stability) to the shape of the driver’s seat (high neck and wide shoulder support).
Not only are these pontoons impeccably designed, but they are also great value for money. You could forgive a brand like this for charging top of the range prices, but instead, they fall at a great midpoint.
The real highlight of their range is the Crestliner 240 Rally DX. Crestline offers this boat in 5 different configurations and floor plans. This is a 26 foot boat that can fit 15 people, and travel at an impressive 36 miles per hour.
The only flaw that the company has in our books, is that the majority of the accessories they offer have to be purchased separately. Meaning that if you want to heavily accessories your boat the price is going to add up pretty quickly.
- Reliable products
- High quality products
- Well priced
- Most accessories not included
- Accessories can be expensive
#2 – Pinecraft
‘To create unparalleled experiences on the water for fishing and boating enthusiasts with “professionally rigged and ready” packages of aluminum fishing boats, pontoon boats, and deck boats. Our commitment is borne out of a deeply rooted heritage of unmatched craftsmanship, incomparable performance, and the promise of years of trouble-free boating.’
Pinecraft has been making boats for over 67 years. The company was started by two brothers in Quebec who wanted to make high quality boats available to all. And the company still builds its boats in its original factory (although it has expanded a little over the last 65 years).
Pinecraft does simple, affordable, and practical better than anyone else on the market. If you are looking to get the best bang for your buck, then look no further. Pinecraft has you covered.
Our favorite Pinecraft pontoon is the Pinecraft Vectra 21 RL. This is one of the more bougie options in their range. This comes with a built-in ice box, a table with 4 large cup holders, a built-in Bluetooth stereo with waterproof speakers.
It also comes with a stainless steel boarding ladder and ski tow bar as standard. The pontoon is 21 feet long and comes with three durable pontoon tubes (making it a tritoon).
One of our favorite touches is the seating. Not only is all the space under the seating cleverly used for bonus storage. But, the seats are also situated in front of the driver’s seat. Meaning that if you travel with children you can keep an eye on them while you move. And the driver can be more easily involved in social activities while navigating the boat.
- Family owned company
- Well priced pontoons
- High quality materials used
- Smart social designs
- Base models tend to be very simple and bare bones
#3 – Sunchase
Sunchaser is a family owned and operated company that has been making boats for over 5 generations. They have been making pontoons since the early 90s.
This brand is focused on making leisure pontoons. They’re not super fast, heavily protected machines designed for watersports. Instead, they are safe and spacious pontoons designed for spending sunny weekends out on the lake with your family.
The Sunchaser Geneva 22 LR PSB is a perfect example of this. The Geneva is a 23 feet long pontoon that can seat up to 11 people. It comes with a ski tow bar and an aluminum boarding ladder.
The pontoon has plush seating and high walls, making it perfect for taking younger family members out on the water. It has a Bluetooth enabled sound system to make the party on the water even more fun. It has a 9 foot Bimini roof for those days when you need a little extra shade.
It comes with a top of the range Yamaha engine, with a top speed of 28 miles per hour. Which is pretty impressive for a pontoon this size.
On top of their standard models, Sunchaser also offers a ‘build your own pontoon’ service.
Sunchase offers pontoons that are more on the luxury side, unfortunately, they come with a more luxury price tag.
- Smart social design
- Fantastic engine
- Safety is put first
- Family owned business
- Perfect for a family day out
- Quite expensive for what they are
- Not designed for watersports
#4 – Starcraft
If you want your pontoon to be able to do a bit of everything then you will want to invest in a pontoon from Starcraft.
The pontoons from Starcraft come with enough power to easily take part in watersports but have enough space and storage to still be pleasant to cruise in. While other brands make you choose between excitement and relaxation. Starcraft is happy to offer you the best of both worlds – for a slightly higher price.
If Starcraft pontoons were more affordable, then they would be number one on this list. We’ve really struggled to find anything else that we don’t like about their pontoons.
Take the Starcraft SLS 5 DC, for example. It comes with a Yamaha 250 HP – which can push this pontoon at over 46 miles per hour, Despite the fact that this pontoon is 26 feet long and can easily seat 14 people.
This craft has the high safety walls that you would usually associate with a cruising pontoon. The same goes for its wide, comfy seats with built-in storage underneath. The driver’s seat is designed for ultimate comfort and is surrounded by passenger seats, meaning the driver can still be in the middle of all the social action.
This also comes with a Bimini top, Bluetooth enabled speakers, changing spots, hydraulic seating, and a tilting wheel.
- Everything (there are no issues with the design of this pontoon)
- Powerful engine and hydraulic steering
- Comfy seating and high safety walls
- It is fast – 48 miles per hour
- Seats 14 people
- Lots of storage and a bimini top
- The price
#5 – Bennington
If you’re looking for uncompromising luxury and performance – then you will want to invest in a Bennington Pontoon.
Bennington offers fast pontoons that are just as good for racing and watersports as they are for relaxing. You will notice little touches of luxury throughout their vessels. Like real wooden tables, top of the range Yamaha engines, and even sleek bimini shelters.
- Beautiful, well-designed boats
- Fast – up to 40 miles per hour, with top of the range Yamaha engines
- High quality materials like oak and stainless steel used throughout
- Seats up to 14 people
- Comfy seats and an impressive amount of storage
- Luxury price points, for luxury boats
Now that you know what are the best brands to purchase pontoons from, it’s time to look at the pontoons themselves.
In this section, we will be talking you through everything you need to ask yourself before you can find the perfect pontoon for you.
What is the purpose of your Pontoon?
The first question you will need to ask yourself is, what do you want to use your pontoon for. You don’t have to have just one answer for this, but think about what you will be using it for 7/10 times.
Knowing this will help you narrow down the size of the pontoon that you need.
As there is an endless range of accessories that you can purchase for pontoons, knowing what you will use them for will help you to pick out the right accessories.
For example, if you want to use your pontoon for towing water skis then you will need to purchase a pontoon with the right towing equipment. Or if you want to use your pontoon for fishing then you will need something entirely different. A fishing pontoon will need slots for rods, spaces to store your ice buckets, and some kind of beer holder to help you out when you get a bite.
If you are going to require a pontoon with changing areas, portable toilets, or even a bar – then you are going to be looking for a much bigger boat.
Will you need 2 pontoon tubes or 3?
The next question you will need to ask yourself is, how many pontoon tubes will your boat need.
This question doesn’t just take into account the size of your pontoon, but also what you want to use it for. The amount of pontoon tubes you use will also affect the price of your boat – more pontoon tubes being the more expensive option.
The most common choices are Twin Pontoons (2 tubes) or Tritoons (3 tubes).
Twin pontoons are the cheaper option.
Twin pontoons are perfect for those of you who want to enjoy the slow life on the waves. They’re the right choice if you’re interested in fishing, cruising, swimming, and entertaining on your pontoon.
If you’re planning to make shorter trips in your pontoon, twin pontoons are also a good option. They have a smaller amount of storage space than the Tritoons.
If you are looking for a high speed, watersport friendly pontoon then you may want to consider the option below.
Tritoons are the perfect option for adrenaline junkies. They are high stability, high speed machines. They’re easy to fit towing equipment on and come with more storage space than the twin pontoons.
They are the more expensive option.
Where will you be driving your Pontoon? What is the environment like there? Ocean or calm waters?
You may be tempted to take your pontoon out on the ocean. However, this is something you should not do unless you have modified your pontoon beforehand and are an experienced sailor.
Pontoons are traditionally designed to be driven across calm, inland bodies of water. Lakes, rivers, and reservoirs being the best options. Their engines are usually not powerful enough to cope with the riptides and large waves that can be found on the ocean.
Driving on the ocean:
If you are an experienced sailor, and you do want to take your pontoon out onto the ocean – then carry on reading to learn how to make your pontoon sea-worthy.
You will want to avoid aluminum tubes that corrode very quickly in salty water. Coat your tubes in anti-fouling and anti-corrosive paint before heading out.
After you return to shore, wash your whole pontoon down with freshwater. This will stop any damage taking place while you are not using the boat. It will also break down an engine and tube damaging salt deposits that could be hiding out of sight.
If you do want to head out onto the ocean then you will need the following to do it safely:
- 150 horsepower (anything less won’t provide enough power)
- Tubes with a diameter of at least 25 inches
- A triple hull
If you are planning to sail your pontoon in calmer waters then you won’t need to invest in so much power.
The most important thing to remember is that the initial purchase of your pontoon isn’t the end of the spending. They need to be insured. They need fuel, upkeep, and you will need to find somewhere to store your pontoon.
Everything that we have mentioned above will affect the price of your pontoon. As well as, any extra modifications you will need to make after purchasing. The more time you spend researching pontoons, the better idea you will have about how much you will have to spend to make your pontoon dreams come true.
That being said, we’ve found our investments in our pontoon have been paid back tenfold in our happiness.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between Tritoons and Pontoons?
Contrary to popular belief, Tritoons are actually a type of pontoon. It is possible for your boat to be both at once.
Tritoons are pontoons with 3 pontoon tubes, rather than 2 (usually referred to as twin pontoons). They are a triple hull pontoon boat. Because of this they are more durable and can move faster.
Tritoons are better options if you are looking to use your pontoon for watersports.
How big are Pontoons?
The average pontoons are between 18 – 25 feet long. A pontoon this size can hold up to 13 people and is suitable for bigger bodies of freshwater like a lake or reservoir.
Smaller pontoons range from 12 – 17 feet long. These are perfect for really calm bodies of water.
Larger pontoons can be over 30 feet long.
Are Pontoons safe? Are Pontoons easy to drive?
The general rule of thumb is, if you can drive a car then you will have no problem driving a pontoon. On the whole, driving these boats are a lot easier and safer than driving a land vehicle.
The main safety concern comes from the elements your pontoon is exposed to. However, pontoons are generally safe unless you are pushing them to do something your pontoon isn’t designed to do – like go out onto the ocean or drive too fast.
When were Pontoons invented?
Pontoons were invented in 1951 by Ambrose Weeres. They were originally designed to make fishing on the ocean safer and more fuel efficient for fishermen. They have since been adopted as a luxury vehicle.