The 5 Best Inflatable Pontoon Boats: Buying Guide
So maybe you love fishing, but you just aren’t ready to invest in a full-sized boat. We hear you. A pontoon is a major investment, and if you’re too often alone on the water, bringing a big boat might not be too practical. But that doesn’t mean you need to rent a boat for the rest of your life.
An inflatable pontoon is a much more affordable alternative to a full-sized vessel. Designed to accommodate a boater and some gear, these intuitive, cost-efficient boats are easy to use, store, and maintain. So if you were on the market for a personal fishing boat, this list of the best inflatable pontoon boats should help out.
The Best Inflatable Pontoon Boats
At 9 feet in length, the Classic Accessories Colorado Pontoon Boat features heavy duty abrasion-resistant PVC bottoms that can easily traverse all sorts of water conditions. The nylon tops and powder coated steel tube frames tout excellent durability that makes it an ideal choice for frequent fishers who always find themselves on the water.
With 10 mesh pockets, 12 zippered pockets, and 2 insulated drink holders, this inflatable pontoon boat provides substantial storage space. With a frame that allows a higher ride, the boat also makes sure you’re more visible on the water. Its non-slip footrests allow ergonomic seating, while its padded seat provides maximum comfort for hours out on the lake.
This ultra heavy-duty pick rolls with the rest of the large inflatable pontoons and is the boat of choice for fishermen who want something a little more spacious and a lot more robust. The solid aluminum floorboards provide ample space for moving around and for taking your essentials with you while its four individual chambers allow maximum bouyancy to reduce the hazards of getting toppled over by waves and obstacles.
Assembling in less than 30 minutes, this ultra compact and portable pontoon boat fits on planes, larger boats, or even your car’s trunk, letting you take it virtually anywhere. And because it’s made to be extra durable, the three year warranty covers just replacements and no repairs to showcase the brand’s confidence in the quality of their boat.
So maybe you’re not always alone on the lake, and you prefer having a buddy with you when you fish. This inflatable pontoon boat comes equipped with two seats, allowing a maximum weight capacity of 650lbs to accommodate two adults. Assembling in just under 10 minutes, this pick lets you set up and pack your boat away in record time.
If you want to speed up your boat, the design comes with a motor mount that lets you convert the paddle-powered vessel to a motorized pontoon. Using robust tubes, NOMA-certified aluminum floors, and full fabric covers on the slat roll up, this boat provides comfort, versatility, and durability for unlimited fishing trips with your best bud.
Simple yet sturdy, this pontoon boat features a double-seat design that easily converts to a one-person expedition raft. The durable boat touts a sturdy construction with a weight capacity of up to 750lbs. Its ultra durable framework and PVC pontoons keep rugged river conditions in mind, providing stable performance even in tough weather and challenging waters.
Assembling the pontoon takes no more than a few minutes, and the entire design disassembles into a neat little size for storage and transport. With ample storage space on-board, the pick also provides maximum capacity for all of your essentials and paraphernalia. Fitted with provisions for a motor, this choice lets you mount a 30lb motor to speed up your movement and bring you where you need to go much faster.
Lightweight and compact, this choice is perfect for occasional fishermen who want a decent boat for easy fishing. The durable aluminum frame works with 600-denier nylon tubes that provide maximum stability for one-person use. The design comes with two large mesh storage compartments and adjustable leg rests for added comfort and ergonomic performance.
The entire package includes oars, oar holders, a hand pump, and a carry bag to pack everything away for storage or transport. The pontoon has a maximum weight capacity of about 350lbs, which is more than enough for an average adult. But even with its impressive build, the boat weighs no more than 24lbs.
What to Look for When Buying an Inflatable Pontoon
While all of these boats serve the same purpose, it's no question that they're all different. That said, there's a lot more to choosing an inflatable pontoon than simply deciding based on appearances. Distinct features and functions can change the overall experience that each boat provides. And what works for someone else might not exactly float your boat.
So what should you look for when buying an inflatable pontoon?
This can pertain to two different things - the weight capacity and the user capacity. If you’re often on your own, then a one man pontoon boat should work just fine. But for boaters who like to bring along a friend, then it might be necessary to check out pontoon boats that can carry as many as two people at a time.
While most inflatable pontoons are propelled by the use of oars, some pontoons incorporate a motor mount that lets you install a motor for easier propulsion. Consider whether or not you need that kind of power, or if oars are good enough to get you where you need to go. For boaters that like to traverse more difficult waters like vigorous rivers, then a motor might be a necessary add-on.
On-board storage has to be one of the biggest issues for compact inflatable pontoons. Since they’re pretty small, they might not have quite as many storage solutions on board. Check for zippered pockets, mesh sleeves, and other compartments that might come in handy for bringing your essentials along.
A flimsy boat can be easily capsized by waves and currents on an unruly river - not to mention the risk of puncturing those tubes. Taking a closer look at build, material, and durability should help you figure out how well a boat can muscle it against the elements. But aside from the specifics, the length and coverage of the warranty should also shed light on the kind of commitment and confidence that the manufacturer has in their products.
A pontoon can offer all the right things in terms of durability, size, and quality, but if it doesn’t steer easily on the water, then it might be a pain to use. Consider the placement of the oar mounts in relation to the seat and foot rests. Some boats let you adjust various aspects of the set-up in order to achieve a comfortable, smooth ride. The easiest to maneuver are often the lightest, like frameless pontoon boats that minimize weight to help you achieve sharp turns without breaking a sweat.
Pontoon Boat Buyer’s Considerations
To make doubly sure you’re buying the ideal boat, it helps to take a few factors into consideration. These won’t only improve the value you get out of your pontoon, but also help to make sure you won’t run into consumer remorse down the line.
They might not be as expensive as full-sized pontoon boats, but an inflatable pontoon boat is an investment no less. Read up on the fine print and see how far the manufacturer is willing to go in terms of warranty coverage. The longer and more expansive the warranty, the more you can trust that the product is built to code.
Accessories and Spare Parts
One thing that a lot of buyers don’t really think about is the availability of boat parts, but it can be a major issue later on. Should there be any damage to your boat that isn’t covered by the warranty, you’re going to have to look for a replacement part or accessory. But if your chosen boat comes from a manufacturer that’s tough to find on the market, then you might have to go with a DIY solution that doesn’t really fulfill the job.
There’s more to prices than just the upfront cost of the boat itself. Think about maintenance, cleaning, repairs, modifications, and add-ons that might be necessary to keep your boat in top shape. More durable boats that use materials that can be cleaned with conventional store-bought solutions can be far easier to keep sparkling and clean for years down the line.
*Related: Check out our guide to purchasing the best inflatable boat cleaners.
Whatever Floats Your Boat
Whether you’re a seasoned fisherman or just a recreational boater looking for something new to try, the best inflatable pontoon boats offer tons of fun and excitement to help you enjoy the water in a brand new way. But before you jump into a purchase, make sure you know what you’re getting into. Read up on the specifics, understand your own needs, and scout your options to guarantee both your safety and satisfaction.