Pontoon boats are a very popular choice for many people because they are stable boats that can carry lots of passengers comfortably. However, before you start loading up your pontoon boat, you need to know just how much weight your particular boat can safely carry.
How much weight can a pontoon boat carry?
A pontoon boat can carry between 1500 and 3700 lbs, depending on the make and how long your boat is.
To play it safe, always stay well within the manufacturer’s recommended maximum carrying weight. Keep in mind that not just people but also supplies, gas, livewells, etc all contribute to your boat’s overall weight.
Here’s what you need to know about how much pontoon boats of different makes and lengths can carry and how much weight you will likely find that you need to load onto your pontoon boat.
How Much Weight A Pontoon Boat Can Carry
|Pontoon Boat||Length||Max Load|
|Lowe Ultra 160 Cruise||16||1659|
|Sun Tracker Bass Buggy||16||1550|
|Avalon Venture Fish||16||1350|
|Starcraft EXS 1||20||1270|
|Lowe Ultra 202 Fish & Cruise||20||2214|
|Harris Cruiser LX 200||20||2196|
|Sun Tracker Party Barge 18 DLX||20||1750|
|Sun Tracker Party Barge 22 RF DLX||24||2200|
|Lowe Retreat 270 Extended WT||28||2763|
|Tahoe Cascade Platinum Quad Longer||28||2,675|
|Harris Crowne DL 250||28||3721|
How Much Weight Will Your Pontoon Boat Need To Carry?
Gas is frequently overlooked when you are considering how much weight your pontoon boat will need to carry. Gas typically weighs about 6 lb per gallon.
If you want to carry extra fuel on board so that you can refuel as you go, you will need to consider this weight as well.
If you will be using your pontoon boat for fishing, a live well either for bait or to keep fish fresh is likely something you’ll want on your boat.
Generally, a live well holds between 15 and 30 gallons of water. Big livewells designed to hold a lot of fish can occasionally hold up to 50 gallons.
A gallon of water weighs 8.6 lb, so a 15 gallon live well weighs about 130 lb, a 30-gallon live well can weigh 250 lbs, and a 50 gallon live well can weigh a whopping 430 lb.
This is a significant additional weight for your pontoon boat that can be easy to overlook.
The wide range of accessories that you may want to add onto your pontoon boat all contribute to the weight. The bimini, anchor, ski deck, and more all add to the overall weight.
While these accessories may not significantly increase the weight, when added together, you can expect them to result in at least a couple hundred pounds of added weight. This is worth considering if you are trying to fully load your pontoon boat
Most people do not take their pontoon boats out for very long voyages, so the weight of supplies is usually not a hugely important element to consider. However, if you are trying to work out your boat’s weight to the last ounce, it is certainly worth keeping in mind the average supplies you’ll be carrying with you.
A 24 pack of beer or soda generally weighs about 36 lb. If you’ll be bringing several 24 packs with you, this weight can add up. High-end coolers like the Yeti weigh around 30 lb, and when filled with ice, food, and drinks they can easily way 60 or 70 lb.
Skis or wakeboards, surfboards, and other things you may want to take on board will also contribute to the overall weight.
Needless to say, an engine is an absolutely essential part of your pontoon boat. However, it also contributes to the overall weight of the boat.
When the engine is in the water, it may not contribute to the weight of the boat as much, but when you lift it, it can weigh down your boat. How much your engine weighs depends on how much horsepower it has.
An engine of around 40 horsepower will typically weigh around 220 lb. An engine of 150 horsepower can weigh as much as 460 lb.
An engine of 300 horsepower can weigh a whopping 575 lb, a significant contribution to the overall weight that your boat is carrying.
Perhaps the most obvious and important weight that you’ll be considering for your pontoon boat is the weight of people.
It can be pretty awkward to ask your guests how much they weigh before they get on the boat, so you will typically be left estimating how much your guests weigh in order to know how many people to invite.
Once you add up all the things that can contribute to the weight that your pontoon boats can carry, make sure you err on the side of caution when inviting people to make sure that they don’t overwhelm your boat.
How To Tell If A Pontoon Boat Is Overloaded
The best way to avoid overloading is to look at the maximum amount of weight that your pontoon boat can carry and stay inside that weight.
However, if you have had trouble with your estimate or somebody brought a friend unexpectedly and you’re wondering whether they put the weight over the capacity but aren’t sure, you can look at your pontoon boat to determine whether it is overloaded.
Unfortunately, when it comes to pontoon boats, they often look fine even when they’re overloaded. This is thanks to how high they tend to sit in the water and the stable platform.
At a glance, it may appear that your pontoon boat is stable even though it is severely overloaded.
However, by looking at the water line against the pontoons, you can help determine whether the boat is overloaded. The water line should not go above the middle of the pontoons.
Furthermore, the water line at the stern should be lower than the water line at the bow. The stern should be lower than the bow so that the pontoon boat will be able to cross over waves instead of taking water over the bow.
A boat that is overloaded at the bow will tend to nosedive into waves, which can result in the boat sinking.
The overall weight on your pontoon boat isn’t the only thing you need to keep in mind when you are trying to decide whether your boat is loaded safely. How weight is distributed is also extremely important.
This most often comes into account when people are moving around on your boat. Because a pontoon boat has a flat surface that makes it comfortable for people to move around, it can be very easy for people to throw off the weight distribution.
Everyone may enjoy riding at the bow when the boat is underway, which can overweight the bow and cause it to take on water.
Your group may run to the side of the boat if they see something interesting, which can cause your pontoon boat to list to that side.
Usually, these changes in weight distribution don’t cause serious problems and can quickly be corrected by telling people to move.
However, if everyone moves forward at the same time as a big wave comes, it can result in your pontoon boat taking on a lot of water.
Don’t be afraid to be straightforward with your passengers about why it’s important that they distribute their weight.
Is It Okay To Load Your Pontoon Boat To The Maximum Capacity?
As a rule, you should never allow your pontoon boat to be loaded up to its maximum capacity. Even though it may be fine starting out, a change in weather can quickly cause problems for a boat that is loaded up to the max.
A pontoon boat at maximum capacity will be less agile and tend to sit lower in the water, which means it can take on water from waves more easily.
Your pontoon boat can become swamped and begin to sink faster than you may expect.
There’s no hard-and-fast rule about how far below the maximum capacity you should keep your pontoon boat, as it depends on the expected conditions such as weather and waves.
However, it’s a good idea to always leave at least several hundred pounds of leeway between the maximum weight and how heavily you load your boat.
Enjoy Loading Up Your Pontoon Boat
Inviting all of your family or friends out on the boat is one of the reasons you got a pontoon boat in the first place. After all, this is one of the most passenger-friendly boats that you’re likely to find.
However, fun can quickly turn to disaster if your pontoon boat begins to sink because it is overloaded. Think carefully about how much your pontoon boat can carry and make sure that you never load it too much.