Best Deck Boats Guide

When you’re in the market for something new and considering the type of boat that will be best for your style of boating, deck boats are a unique option. These vessels offer a combination of speed and space you won’t find on just any boat. If you’re considering buying a deck boat for your next purchase, you’ll want to take the time to learn all about what these watercraft offers and whether they have the features you’ll need. This guide will cover everything from the basics of deck boats and their benefits to the various popular brands and models on the market today. Keep reading to learn everything that you need to know about deck boats and what they have to offer, as we take a look at:

Hurricane SunDeck 235 OB. Photo by Hurricane Boats.

What are Deck Boats?

The deck boat design combines a layout similar to a pontoon boat with a hull that is more akin to a runabout. The open space allows for plenty of passengers and enjoyment while on board, but the hull is designed for speed and agility, generally offering something a bit quicker than the average pontoon. As a result, these boats are often more popular among those who are looking to enjoy water sports like tubing and water skiing and are considered as good alternatives to those who may be interested in buying pontoon boats and bowriders.

Deck Boat Features

Deck boats often have a large, rectangular decks that may or may not include built-in seating and other features. Many have pop-up changing rooms, ski-tow bars, Bimini tops, and other accessories. This will vary depending on the model that you choose. Unlike a pontoon boat, however, a deck boat has a v-shaped hull that is usually quite pointed, since it is designed to add speed and seakeeping abilities to the vessel. Essentially, those who enjoy the relaxing design of the pontoon but who want a little more sport will end up faring better with a deck boat.

hurricane fundeck water skiing
Some deck boats, like this used Hurricane Fundeck FD220 boat for sale on Boat Trader, can be fully equipped with features appropriate for serious watersports fun. Photo via Ron Hoover RV & Marine Center.

What are the Benefits of Deck Boats?

Primarily, when it comes to deck boats it’s all about maximizing space without giving up performance. To this end, above the sporty hull most deck boats carry their beam far forward, sometimes to a squared or rounded bow. This helps provide extra space in the bow cockpit and makes room for additional seating.

bayliner m17
Many deck boats, like the Bayliner M17, have a rounded bow rather than sharply tapering to a point. This makes for significantly more room up forward in the boat. Photo via Wilson Marine Group.

What Does a Deck Boat Look Like?

Deck boats can take all sorts of forms, but there are some commonalities, such as lots of seating, which makes them great for larger families and group activities. You won’t have to compromise speed or performance, thanks to the sport-designed hulls, and you’ll still have plenty of space for everyone on board.

lowe sd224 sport deck deckboat
Deckboats come in all sorts of flavors, including aluminum models like this Lowe SD224 Sport Deck. Photo by Lowe Boats.

Many deck boat models are even designed specifically for things like fishing, including adding all of the storage and other fishing equipment that wouldn’t be included on a standard model. You will be able to pick and choose from a wide selection of boats that offer various built-in features and included equipment to ensure that you can make the most of your boating experience every single time.

What are the Best Deck Boats?

Although there are a number of different styles and brands of deck boats on the market today, there are some that are more popular than others. For basic boat ownership when you don’t want to spend a small fortune, you can look for top popular models like:

What does the list above tell you? Not a single manufacturer is repeated, which means you can find deck boat models available from just about any major brand that you prefer, as well as many smaller boat builders. This makes it easy for those who have a brand preference and even those who are just shopping on a tighter budget, as you can narrow your options based on price and manufacturer when you are comparison shopping for your next deck boat.

Are Deck Boats Good for Fishing?

As mentioned above, some manufacturers are building deck boats specifically for fishing. But are they a good choice for your type of fishing? Well, it depends: deck boats are often great options for fishing on smaller bodies of water, such as rivers, bays, and lakes, although they are not suited for offshore and deep-sea fishing. Some builders create a dedicated fishing deck design for their deck boat platforms. These models still benefit from the more voluminous bow and may have an identical hull, but some people would argue that they barely qualify as deck boats.

bayliner trophy element 18
Some builders offer fishing-oriented versions of their deck boats which do away with the extra seating and side consoles for a center console deck design. Photo via Intermarine.

New vs. Used Boats: Classic and Modern Options

When it comes to buying a deck boat, just like with any boat purchase, you’ll have to choose between new and used models. Some people like the idea of a modern, newly designed vessel that is going to give them plenty of innovative features. Other people enjoy the cost savings that they get from buying a classic used deck boat that has just what they need and nothing else. Ultimately, the choice will be yours to make. In either category, you’ll find a wide selection of models to choose from and deck boats for sale on Boat Trader.

Affordable Deck Boats

Some people who don’t want to buy used will choose a more budget-friendly brand which offers a full line of basic deck boats with simple arrangements. These boats are designed to hit all the marks without hitting the highest price point, giving consumers another way to get more for their money when it comes to investing in a deck boat. You can even choose new or used models to help increase your selection and widen the available options. Although some people won’t find what they want in the used market, it certainly doesn’t hurt to look.

The Bottom Line on Deckboats

Deck boats have a lot to offer. Their hybrid design answers a great boating demand for a vessel that has both speed and space for the ultimate in enjoyment on the water. These unique boats are certainly not designed for every boater, but they do have a lot to offer to those who choose them. When you need space and performance and you don’t want to compromise, the deck boat should definitely be on your list. Test drive one for yourself and you’ll be hooked in no time.

This article was last updated in April of 2022.

Written by: Valerie Mellema

Valerie Mellema is a writer, published author and avid bass angler who lives on the shores of Lake Fork in East Texas — the top bass lake in Texas and the fifth in the nation. For the past 10 years, she and her husband have enjoyed the pontoon boat lifestyle while fishing a lake that not only has bass but beautiful wildlife as well. She holds a BS in Agribusiness/Equine Business and regularly contributes articles to boats.com, YachtWorld and Boat Trader.

Related