best small pontoon boats

Best Small Pontoon Boats (8 Compact & Mini Pontoon Boats)

The pandemic has forced us to make several lifestyle adjustments, the most notable of which is keeping distance from other individuals to minimize the risk of transmission. Avoiding crowds and finding alternative methods of transport are the new practices that have been adopted around the world, and the boating scene is no exception. What better way to do this than to get yourself one of the best small pontoon boats to sail away all on your own?

In this guide, we walk you through the fascinating world of pontoon boats, of small varieties. If you would like to learn about the best market offerings today and why a small pontoon boat is the way to go, then continue reading!

The 8 Best Small Pontoon Boat Options

1. Harris LX 160 Cruise

Harris lx 160 cruise small pontoon boat

If you are in the pontoon scene for a manufacturer that has bagged a fair share of awards for comfort and entertainment, then take a gander at the Harris LX 160 Cruiser. Comfortably allowing up to 8 individuals, this pontoon is one of the most spacious vessels despite its relatively compact appearance.

  • Length: Approx. 18 feet
  • Beam: 8 feet
  • Weight: Approx. 1,600 lbs
  • Maximum Power: 50 HP
  • SRP: Approx. $12,000

2. Lowe Ultra 162 Fish & Cruise

compact pontoon boats

Make your way aft with Lowe's Ultra 162 Cruiser model. This pontoon is stylish, compact, and is fitted with an l-shaped lounge with cup holders for maximum comfort. If the l-shaped lounge is not enough for you, you can fit a few fishing seats by the aft for an alternative vantage point when doing fishing.

  • Length: Approx. 18 feet
  • Beam: 8 feet
  • Weight: Approx. 1,600 lbs
  • Maximum Power: 50 HP
  • SRP: Approx. $14,000

3. Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 XL

sun tracker bass buggy 16 xl

As one of the most popular boat brands these days, Sun Tracker definitely did not disappoint with the Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 XL fitted with an outboard motor. With a seating arrangement good for a small family of 5 to 7 members, practical features such as cup holders and a swim platform by the aft, and a variety of seat options, this model is definitely one of the best in the market today.

  • Deck Length: Approx. 16 feet
  • Beam: 8 feet
  • Weight: Approx. 1,300 lbs
  • Maximum Power: 50 HP
  • SRP: Approx. $13,000

4. Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 18 DLX

sun tracker bass buggy 18 dlx

If you are in need of a slightly larger option but would like to stick with the Sun Tracker manufacturer and motor, then take a look at the Bass Buggy 18 DLX that retains the same helm, bow, outboard motor, swim platform, and deck design as the former entry and has a great seat arrangement to boot.

  • Deck Length: Approx. 18 feet
  • Maximum Power: 75 HP
  • Weight: Approx. 1,500 lbs
  • SRP: Approx. $22,000

5. Avalon GS Cruise

avalon gs cruise small pontoon

The Avalon GS Cruise is a feature-rich product that comes with a relatively efficient outboard motor and an efficient seat arrangement. The built-in bimini top is great for dealing with problematic weather and the cruise capability and overall experience are arguably worth the price.

  • Length: Approx. 20 feet
  • Weight: Approx. 1,700 lbs
  • SRP: Approx. $25,000

6. Sylvan Mirage 820 Party Fish

sylvan mirage 802 party fish pontoon boat

With a unique helm design, built-in bimini top, and an interesting seat arrangement, the Mirage 820 Party Fish is a great choice for those with a slightly higher budget for this segment.

  • Length: Approx. 21 feet
  • Weight: Approx. 1,900 lbs
  • Seat Capacity: 9
  • SRP: Approx. $28,000

7. Bennington 168SL

compact pontoons

The unapologetic Bennington 168SL has modest features that are ideal for your no-frills cruise needs. The helm design is simple yet stunning and the passenger capacity is ideal for a smaller family or group of friends.

  • Length: Approx. 16 feet
  • Weight: Approx. 1,500 lbs
  • Seat Capacity: 7

8. Pond King Rebel Mini

best mini pontoon boats

If you are planning on taking the smallest of them all, take a look at the Rebel Mini's specifications below. This is a one person pontoon.

  • Length: Approx. 7 feet
  • Deck Length: 4 feet
  • Seats: 1
  • Weight: 175 lbs
  • SRP: Approx. $2,000

The Different Types of Small Pontoons: Narrow, Compact, and Mini

Generally, people see a pontoon boat of any shape or size and simply call it a pontoon boat. However, there are distinctions that have to be made when considering buying a pontoon boat.

When it comes to the small pontoon boat, there are three accepted types or categories: mini pontoon boats, compact pontoon boats, and narrow pontoon boats. Let us take a look at each in detail:

Narrow Pontoon Boat

A narrow pontoon boat is the largest, in terms of dimensions of the three types of pontoons that fall under the small pontoon boat category. This is ideal for fishing and great for small lakes to medium lakes or narrow rivers without sacrificing storage capacity, the number of seats, and electric motor or engine horsepower. This model can also do okay in a pond, but the options below may be better for you in this case.

If you need a relatively small pontoon boat that is capable of that quality and luxury experience and has a relatively spacious lounge for close friends or family, the ability to go cruising or accelerating with decent power, and seating that is not skimped on for the sake of being compact, then the narrow pontoon boat is good for you.

For technical reference, a narrow pontoon boat falls within a beam measurement of just 6 to 8 feet with an approximate range of 1,500 lbs to 2,000 lbs.

Compact Pontoon Boat

A compact pontoon boat is your middle-of-the-pack variety of small pontoon boats. Given its lighter frame and lower maximum speed or engine horsepower, do not expect this caliber of pontoon to excel in medium lakes. Instead, focus on how it would be great in small lakes or even a pond.

In terms of the lounge and seating capacity, having 2 to 3 individuals (including yourself) would be the optimal approach. In terms of features and storage capacity, compact pontoons are not that far away from its narrow counterpart, and, as a bonus, they come at a more affordable price range.

If you are into the small and minimalist energy without sacrificing the quality of essentials and extra luxury features that would make family cruising a blast, then compact pontoons should be right up your alley (and would most likely fall within your budget range).

In terms of specifications, compact pontoons fall well under the average pontoon length (front to rear or bow to stern) and width (or beam). Whereas pontoon boats can go to as high as 30 feet to 40 feet in length, compact pontoons are around the 10 feet to 20 feet range, with a beam measurement of 4 feet to 8 feet. The heaviness of compact pontoons, including the engine or electric motor, would be right below the narrow pontoon at a range of 1,000 lbs to 1,500 lbs.

Mini Pontoon Boat

If you are looking for a boating model that fits you (and perhaps an occasional friend or family member) and just the essentials of a pontoon, then look no further as the mini pontoon boat is here to answer your every need and budget.

While some features, seats, and non-essentials may be missing from the mini pontoon boat, expect great things from this small package. The mini pontoon is great for solo trips or adventures in small bodies of water such as a fish-filled lake or fish-filled pond (yes, this means you can prop up fishing chairs or sit on your fishing seats and go fish for some bass in small bodies of water).

Do not expect to be cruising your way through the crowd, however. In terms of maximum engine power output or maximum electric motor horsepower, not a lot can be said. The sacrifice in size, length, width, and weight has also led to a sacrifice in engine power.

When it comes to boating specifications, expect the smallest dimensions possible. The best mini pontoon boats usually observe a deck length of 6 feet to 8 feet, a front-to-rear or bow-to-stern length of up to 15 feet, and a weight of around 200 lbs to 1,000 lbs. Of all the fishing boats being offered in the market, this mini pontoon fishing boat is one of the smallest (with some even calling it an ultra-small fishing boat).

Advantages of Small Pontoons

advantages of small pontoon boats

Fishing

If you want to call yourself the fish king or queen, you do not need a whole lot of storage capacity and fish gear or equipment. All you would need is time, dedication, and a stable platform to conduct fishing. Whether with family or all by yourself, small pontoons offer the same benefit and opportunity for you to go out and catch that bass.

See some of our pontoon boat fishing tips here.

Storage Capacity Requirement

The drawback of having large boats with astounding maximum horsepower and cool features is the fact that storage will be a very big challenge. Building or renting your own boat storage area or facility will cost quite a lot and would be rather inefficient if you only plan on using your boat for short, personal trips.

Fortunately, with small pontoons, you do not have to worry as much when it comes to storage and trailer sizes. This means you can maximize your budget for the actual boat without spending a fortune on the storage costs.

Length and Weight

Boat dimensions such as length and weight are big factors as well. In addition to being related to the storage capacity requirement mentioned above, you would also have to consider how you plan on traveling with your pontoon. You would need a pretty powerful truck or vehicle with the appropriate weight capacity to safely and effectively travel around in search of a good fishing pond, fishing lake, or fishing river.

In addition to storage and traveling considerations, the weight distribution and capacity of the actual pontoon boat is related to its size and weight. The heavier the boat, the heavier the load it can accommodate (typically). Conversely, if you only plan to load yourself and a few pieces of fishing gear and equipment onto your pontoon, then it would be much better and more efficient to go with a smaller boat.

Repairs and Maintenance

Think of it in car-speak. Would you rather go into your automotive repair shop to have your sedan or hatchback repaired or would you rather send in an 18-wheeler truck for general repairs and maintenance? For the majority of people, the former would be their preferred vehicle for maintenance check-ins.

Bearing in mind the analogy above, the same logic and reasoning apply to smaller boats, particularly small pontoon boats. Aside from being easy to transport, small pontoons have fewer moving parts and components and would lead to a less stressful experience when handing it over for a check-up.

Operation

Let us once again revisit the analogy posted above. Would you rather drive a sedan or hatchback or operate an 18-wheeler truck? Again, the response should still be the same, with the same reasoning holding true.

It is simply easier to operate and understand the mechanics and mechanisms of a smaller boat compared to a larger one as there are fewer things to think of outside of the core functionalities of a boat.

Power Limit or Horsepower Limit

The maximum output of a pontoon may be considered a disadvantage rather than a benefit, but hear us out. A significant portion of boat-related accidents is related to high-speed travel. If your pontoon's engine power is limited to relatively safer speeds, then your risk of injury or damage is significantly lower.

Stability

This advantage is actually true of all pontoons due to the nature of their design and functionality, but can especially be felt in the smaller models, particularly when compared to other smaller boats.

Stability is king when it comes to pontoons. With its stern being more or less having the same dimensions as its bow, having a smaller pontoon could really do wonders for people who are prone to motion sickness.

Environmental Friendliness

We have reached a day and age where environmental concerns are vastly more important and talked about than they were a couple of decades ago.

If you would like to do your part in helping keep our world safer and less polluted, then operating smaller boats, powered by smaller engines, would reduce your overall carbon footprint.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the smallest pontoon boat you can buy?

The smallest pontoon boats you can buy are mini pontoons. These are ultra-small and lightweight models that have one of the smallest front-to-rear or bow-to-stern length and width dimensions in the market. What they lack in power, seats, features, lounge space, and storage capacity, they make up for in terms of mobility, agility, and an affordable price point.

What is the average cost of a small pontoon boat?

There are several different small pontoon boat offerings in the market, each with their own maximum engine power output or horsepower rating, which is one of the biggest factors of pricing. You can find a small pontoon model within the price range of $10,000 to $25,000.

So what is the shortest pontoon?

The shortest pontoon boat we have found is the Pond King Rebel Mini Pontoon Boat. With a bow-to-stern length of just approximately 7 feet, this boat has a seating capacity of 1 and an overall weight of 175 lbs.

Conclusion

The best small pontoon boats may come in different shapes and sizes but one thing is for sure: this type of boat is an ideal pick for those who love to enjoy the boating scene by themselves (or with a loved one). Beyond the fish, the seating capacity, and all other aspects mentioned in this guide, we hope you had a pleasant cruise as you learned more about this category of boats.

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