Comparing some of the best brands of boat manufacturers is no easy feat, and yet, here we are, attempting to wrangle a review together to help you make the best choice among all the fishing boats on the market. Tracker and Ranger are two of the leading brands on the water today, but they both offer very different options. Where Tracker is dedicated to fishing and hunting boats, Ranger offers freshwater fishing boats, ski-n-fish models, saltwater fishing bay boats, and even pontoon boats for cruising, relaxing, and enjoying the water. But which is better? These two high-end brands offer a lot of different models and options for people who are in the market for a new boat. From premium fishing gear and customized additions to simple boats with limited features for the minimalist angler, there is something in these collections for every boater. Just remember, getting the right boat is less about which of these brands is best and more about which brand is best for your boating needs. But don’t worry — you don’t have to become an expert on boat models to be able to make the right decision, and we’ll cover all the basic elements including:
Tracker Boat Construction Vs. Ranger Boat Construction
Tracker is the number-one manufacturer of aluminum fishing boats in America. They also take advantage of robotic welding tools to deliver consistency in construction for high-quality results. Welding the transoms and stringers is just the start — all Tracker boats are welded instead of riveted, and the company uses a proprietary process to ensure that all welds are secure and they deliver a premium product. Tracker also has a lifetime limited warranty on the structural elements of the boats, giving you even more peace of mind.
Tracker also uses laser machining to fabricate their aluminum parts, offering more precision so the parts fit better and welds are stronger. Even the transverse bulkheads are welded into place to ensure that the boat decking can be installed securely and without incident. Premium construction and durability are first and foremost considerations for Tracker, and you’ll see this in all three of their collections: the Mod V, the Deep V, and the Grizzly Jon Boats. Speaking of Jon boats, how does a standard seven-degree deadrise and thick premium flooring for more durable use sound? Those elements come standard and ensure better handling, a smoother ride, and a boat that will last longer.
Ranger enters the contest for construction with uncompromising quality that their “Five Star Advantage” focus on:
They also have strict safety standards to ensure that all boats are made to be as safe as possible, both on the water and off. Unlike Tracker, a brand embracing robotics, Ranger still prides itself on craftsmanship by dedicated craftsmen who know boat building and premium-grade materials. They deliver on the details in an impressive way, and their superior fit and finish ensure that your boat looks and performs as good as it’s built.
The fiberglass collection from Ranger offers zone-tempered fiberglass used to reinforce the structure, a Rite-Track Keel design that protects from drift and wind exposure while offering premium maneuverability, and additional foam to create a quieter, more solid platform for any of their models. Their fiberglass boats also enjoy some Ranger-specific construction touches like the pultruded fiberglass transom and backing plates. Pultrusion runs the fiberglass through a heated die to deliver a stronger, denser part, and you won’t find it on other boats. Other high-end construction techniques include the use of RTM molding (which produces a lightweight part finished on both sides), high-density urethane foam, and guttered and gasketed hatches.
Their aluminum boat collection features all-welded construction with hulls that are completely filled with foam to provide premium floatation and stability. With what they term “class-leading design” and impressive structure and durability, Ranger prides itself on building boats that are “engineered to excel,” and that’s exactly what they do, starting with the construction.
Tracker Design Traits Vs. Ranger Design Traits
Tracker design is all about style and simplicity while delivering premium features for fishing, from high-tech fish finders to impressively well-aerated livewells to ensure that the bait (or the catch) is always lively. Plus, all Tracker models come ready to fish with Mercury outboard motors and (sometimes optional) Minn Kota trolling motors. Tracker boats are designed for fishing first and style second. That’s not to say that you won’t find your fair share of stylish boats from this brand. It’s just not their first priority. Their designs are focused on functionality, leaving no useable space empty and making room for as many fishing gadgets and creature comforts as possible.
Hull designs range widely through the Tracker lineup, which is no wonder since it includes boats of so many different sizes and types. The Deep-V lineup has 35-degree entries with 20-degrees of transom deadrise; the Semi-V range features between 16 and six degrees of deadrise; and the Jon boat models have seven degrees of deadrise in the hull.
Since 1968, Ranger has been making fishing boats that are among the most popular in the United States. What originated as a fleet of six boats has quickly grown to become a household name with dozens of different models available to choose from in various styles and designs. Ranger’s design is all about using the space wisely, and that means lots and lots of integration. Everything from molded-in footrests for the driver and passenger, to recessed trolling motor pedals, to multiple rod and tackle boxes. They also patented the aerated livewell, which makes it easy to keep fish alive during tournaments and even just fishing afternoons out on the water.
Of course, with a lineup ranging from pontoon boats to saltwater bay boats, Ranger’s hull designs vary widely. That said, Ranger is best known for designing bass boat hull bottoms that attain tournament-level speeds while remaining stable and dry in a chop
Tracker Performance vs. Ranger Performance
Tracker has the Pro Team Tournament series for those who want premium performance in their boat, and there are several models within this collection to suit just about every need short of professional-level tournament fishing. Their top-of-line Pro Team 195YXW, for example, breaks the 50-mph barrier with a 150-hp Mercury Marine outboard. And the 190 TX runs in the mid-40s with 115 horsepower on the transom. The top end for Targa line models ranges from the low 30s to the upper 40s.
And as one would expect the Jon lineup doesn’t offer the same level of performance, but still has plenty of pep. Of course, the various options for motors with different horsepower ratings can change the performance game for Tracker boats.
Ranger Boats are designed to perform up to and at optimal tournament levels. Some, like the Z521R, can even touch the 70-mph mark in the right conditions.
Of course, not all models are made for sheer speed, when it comes to considering performance. The Fisherman and Angler series are just as much about handling heavy seas with comfort. And Ranger’s bay boats provide a mix of the two attributes, so you can get the the hotspots in short order but won’t have to worry when the wind starts blowing.
Tracker Cost Vs. Ranger Cost
So, now it’s time to talk about the one thing everyone’s been dying to ask: how much do these boats cost? The short answer is they probably cost less than you think. The long answer? Well, read on. Tracker starts as low as $5,995 for a simple Jon boat model with limited features (excluding a motor and trailer; fully rigged base packages start closer to $15,000). But there are models all the way up to $60,000 or more, featuring various customizations and additions. Tracker also offers a “no haggle no hassle” pricing model. This means that the price you see is the price you pay.
Ranger, on the other hand, goes a little higher with the pricing. At the low end, some models will sell new for under $25,000, give or take. On the high end, however, Ranger boats can be as much as $120,000 or more. Take the time to consider what type of boat you want and how much it’ll cost before you fully decide on which route to go. With Tracker and Ranger, it’s going to come down to the last detail, and that could include the cost involved.
Ranger offers transparency in pricing like Tracker does, so you can be sure that you’ll get the right price the first time. You can select a dealer to find your model from Ranger, or you can start searching to see what kind of prices you would pay for customization or a higher-end model that delivers more of the performance and construction features that you want. Ranger has small and large vessels with basic to premium features, creating a range of choices for those who are willing to spend a little more and want the best that money can buy.
The Bottom Line
Tracker is one of the most popular fishing boat brands on the market right now. They’re made in America and designed to deliver just what people want in a fishing boat. Even if you choose a base or stock model, you’ll find plenty of added conveniences and upgrades that aren’t found on all brands. Of course, since Tracker knows the value of getting out on the water when you’re a first timer, they also have some basic models that will deliver more than people expect.
See all Tracker boats for sale on Boat Trader.
Ranger is all about sport and premium design. They have more selection than Tracker, and also offer some customization options. From budget-friendly watercraft to premium fishing boats for tournaments and more, Ranger is sure to have something for just about every need. Plus, with their durable construction, you can trust that they’re going to last longer and hold up better than other models.
See all Ranger boats for sale on Boat Trader.
We can’t tell you which boat wins the race because, honestly, it’s kind of a tie. Depending on what elements matter most to you, of course, you’ll have to decide which boat fits your taste, needs, and type of fishing or watersports you want to engage in. Don’t worry about what’s popular — find what’s right for you.
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