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The Best Features to Look for in a Small Pontoon Boat: A Comprehensive Guide

The Best Features to Look for in a Small Pontoon Boat: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to enjoying a day out on the water, few things can rival the comfort and convenience of a small pontoon boat. These vessels are perfect for small groups of friends or family who want to relax and enjoy the scenery while cruising around a lake or river. However, with so many different models and features available, it can be challenging to know what to look for when shopping for a small pontoon boat.

Understanding Small Pontoon Boats

Small pontoon boats are a popular choice for boaters who want a versatile, easy-to-use watercraft that can be used for a variety of activities. These boats are typically defined as having decks that range in length from 10 to 20 feet, making them smaller than traditional pontoon boats.

One of the main advantages of a small pontoon boat is its maneuverability. With a smaller size and lighter weight, these boats can navigate tight spaces and shallow waters with ease. They are also easier to transport and store than larger boats, making them a great option for those with limited space.

When it comes to features, small pontoon boats can be just as impressive as their larger counterparts. Many models come equipped with comfortable seating, ample storage space, and even built-in entertainment systems. Some boats also offer fishing-specific features such as rod holders and live wells.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all small pontoon boats are created equal. Some models may lack the features or durability that you need for your specific boating needs. Before making a purchase, it’s important to carefully consider your budget, intended use, and must-have features to ensure that you find the right boat for you.

Key Features of Small Pontoon Boats

When looking for a small pontoon boat, there are several key features to consider. These features can greatly affect the boat’s performance and overall enjoyment. Here are some of the most important features to look for:

Size and Capacity

Small pontoon boats typically range from 14 to 20 feet in length and can accommodate up to 10 people. It’s important to consider the boat’s size and capacity to ensure it meets your needs. If you plan to use the boat for fishing, a smaller size may be more suitable. If you plan to entertain guests or have a larger family, a larger size may be necessary.

Construction Material

The construction material of a small pontoon boat can greatly affect its durability and longevity. Look for boats made from high-quality materials such as aluminum or fiberglass. These materials are lightweight, durable, and require minimal maintenance. Additionally, check for the thickness of the pontoons. Thicker pontoons are more durable and can withstand rough waters.

Engine Power

The engine power of a small pontoon boat is crucial to its performance. Look for boats with engines that are powerful enough to move the boat efficiently. The engine power should be based on the boat’s size and weight. A boat with too little power may struggle to move through the water, while a boat with too much power may be difficult to control.

Deck Layout

The deck layout of a small pontoon boat can greatly affect its functionality and comfort. Look for boats with a layout that meets your needs. For example, if you plan to fish, look for boats with a fishing station or rod holders. If you plan to entertain guests, look for boats with comfortable seating and a table. Additionally, consider the boat’s storage capacity for gear and equipment.

Comfort and Convenience Features

When it comes to small pontoon boats, comfort and convenience features are essential for a pleasant on-water experience. Here are some of the most important features to look for:

Seating Arrangements

One of the most important comfort features on a small pontoon boat is the seating arrangement. Look for a boat that has comfortable seating options for all passengers. Some boats have bench seats that run the length of the boat, while others have individual seats or a combination of both. Consider the number of passengers you plan to have on board and choose a boat with enough seating to accommodate everyone comfortably.

Another important factor to consider is the placement of the seats. Some boats have seats that face forward, while others have seats that face inward or even backward. Think about how you plan to use the boat and choose a seating arrangement that will work best for your needs.

Storage Options

Storage is another important convenience feature to consider when choosing a small pontoon boat. Look for a boat with ample storage space for all of your gear, including life jackets, fishing equipment, and snacks. Some boats have storage compartments built into the seats, while others have dedicated storage areas in the bow or stern.

Consider the type of storage you need and choose a boat that has the right combination of compartments and space. Some boats even have built-in coolers or refrigerators, which can be a great convenience feature for longer trips on the water.

Safety Features

When it comes to small pontoon boats, safety is always a top priority. The following are some of the most important safety features to look for when purchasing a small pontoon boat.

Railing and Fences

One of the most important safety features of a pontoon boat is its railing and fences. These safety features help keep passengers from falling overboard and also help prevent small children and pets from accidentally falling into the water. Look for a pontoon boat with sturdy, high-quality railings and fences that are at least 24 inches tall.

Navigation Lights

Navigation lights are another important safety feature on a pontoon boat. These lights help other boats see your pontoon boat in low light conditions and help prevent collisions. Look for a pontoon boat with bright, easily visible navigation lights that meet the Coast Guard’s requirements.

Fire Extinguisher

A fire extinguisher is an essential safety feature on any boat, including a small pontoon boat. Look for a pontoon boat that comes equipped with a fire extinguisher that is easily accessible and has not expired. It is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with how to use the fire extinguisher before you head out on the water.

Additional Features

Small pontoon boats offer a wide range of additional features that can enhance the boating experience. Whether you’re looking for fishing amenities or entertainment options, there are plenty of features to choose from.

Fishing Amenities

For those who enjoy fishing, a small pontoon boat can be a great choice. Many small pontoon boats come equipped with fishing amenities, such as:

  • Fishing rod holders
  • Livewells
  • Fish finders
  • Trolling motors

These amenities can make it easy to catch fish and enjoy a relaxing day on the water. Additionally, some small pontoon boats come with built-in fish cleaning stations, which can make cleaning and preparing your catch a breeze.

Entertainment Options

Small pontoon boats are also a great choice for those who want to enjoy some entertainment on the water. Many small pontoon boats come equipped with a range of entertainment options, such as:

  • Bluetooth speakers
  • LED lighting
  • Stereo systems
  • Television sets

These amenities can make it easy to enjoy music, movies, and other entertainment while you’re out on the water. Additionally, some small pontoon boats come with built-in grills, which can make it easy to cook up a delicious meal while you’re enjoying the scenery.

Maintenance and Care

Maintaining and caring for a small pontoon boat is essential to ensure its longevity and optimal performance. Here are some tips on how to properly maintain and care for your small pontoon boat:

Cleaning and Washing

Cleaning and washing your pontoon boat regularly is crucial to prevent dirt, grime, and other debris from accumulating on its surface. Use a mild soap or a specialized boat wash to clean the boat’s hull, pontoons, and other components. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water after washing to remove any soap residue.

Waxing and Polishing

Waxing and polishing your pontoon boat can help protect its surface from UV rays, saltwater, and other environmental factors. Use a high-quality marine wax or polish to add an extra layer of protection to the boat’s exterior. Apply wax or polish at least twice a year or as needed to maintain the boat’s shine and luster.

Engine Maintenance

Maintaining your pontoon boat’s engine is essential to ensure its optimal performance and longevity. Check the engine oil, filters, and other components regularly and replace them as needed. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule to keep the engine running smoothly.

Battery Care

Keeping your pontoon boat’s battery charged and maintained is critical to ensure its reliability and longevity. Check the battery’s charge level regularly and recharge it as needed. Use a battery charger or a solar panel to keep the battery charged when the boat is not in use.


Proper storage is essential to protect your pontoon boat from damage and deterioration. Store the boat in a dry, covered area when not in use, preferably indoors. If you must store the boat outdoors, use a high-quality boat cover to protect it from the elements.


In conclusion, when looking for the best features in a small pontoon boat, it is important to consider the boat’s size, seating capacity, power, and overall design. The ideal boat should be comfortable, practical, and easy to handle.