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Best Inflatable Pontoon Boat Reviews
If you need a versatile and stable boat that is well-equipped for wild fishing adventures and easy to transport, an inflatable pontoon boat will have a lot to offer you. These boats have established themselves as an exceptional alternative to expensive drift boats while offering a similar level of performance.
If you have never had the privilege of working the water from an inflatable pontoon boat, then you are definitely missing out on one of the best options available today.
With comfortable seating, insane stability and buoyancy, and a host of features that make for an excellent fishing platform, inflatable pontoon boats really are the whole package.
Sometimes referred to as a catamaran, inflatable pontoon boats are quickly becoming one of the most popular options for river use. Since they provide for a higher ride than a whitewater raft, and are all but impossible to swamp, pontoon boats offer some appealing advantages over other popular options.
We are huge fans of inflatable pontoon boats, and even bigger fans of fishing from them. That’s why the Rowing Inc team came together for an inflatable pontoon boat review of our top 5 favorite models.
When trying to decide on the best inflatable pontoon boat for your favorite applications, there are a number of features that will make one model more appealing than another. Single person versus 2-person boats is one important point, but you can dissect all the details in the helpful comparison chart below and see why we chose our front runner for the top inflatable pontoon boat.
Top Inflatable Pontoon Boat Features To Consider
- Load Capacity – A boat that can’t carry what you need isn’t going to do you much good. Thankfully pontoon boats can usually carry quite the substantial load, and larger models are very strong performers when floating a lot of gear. You should consider what you regularly use, as well as what you might use. And if you want to take along a fishing buddy, inflatable pontoon boats that provide for two passengers are incredibly fun.
- Stability – This is a real strong point with pontoon boats. Their wide footprint makes for a solid and steady center of balance and most models make good use of it. Making a run through whitewater or some light rapids is very common while fishing rivers. Most inflatable pontoon boats are designed to keep passengers seated, but others are designed to accommodate standing while fishing. If you are looking for a model that is conducive for standing, lean bars are another helpful fishing feature. A lean bar is designed for anglers to lean against while standing, which helps to keep their balance while casting.
- Versatility – River rafting has a real nostalgic and traditional feel when you simply work the water with a set of oars. But being limited to that means of propulsion is less than ideal in some situations. The option to add a motor mount, when needed can make all the difference when you need to cover water quickly. And even rivers can have slow flowing areas that can make for slow traveling.
- Overall Weight – If you are looking for a lightweight option that is easy to carry for a good distance, then this might be an area of compromise. A smaller lightweight inflatable pontoon boat isn’t going to be able to carry as much gear or passengers as a larger and more capable model.
- Storage – Spending a few days on the water for a rafting excursion can be fairly demanding of any river raft and an inflatable pontoon boat is no exception. Places to store your gear and holding areas for coolers and clothing are going to be essential. Large gear requirements is going to translate into a larger pontoon boat. But for your average day on the water fishing, it’s unlikely that you’ll have tremendous storage needs aside from lunch, tackle, and fishing gear storage.
Top Inflatable Pontoon Boat Comparison Chart
Best Inflatable Pontoon Boat
In Outcast’s view, angling should be about the joy of the experience, not the fanciness of the equipment. That’s why the company created the Fish Cat 13, a pontoon boat that does it all, but without any unnecessary frills whatsoever.
The first thing you’ll notice about this boat is its durability. It just feels incredibly well-made, with its thick hull, impressive metal seating section, and numerous reassuring features, like double stitching.
It’s a welcome sight. Few pontoon boats at the entry-level end of the market focus on these added details, making the Outcast Fish Cat 13 something of an outlier.
The second feature experienced anglers will notice is the stability out on open water. While all pontoon boats feature two separate hulls, connected by a central scaffold, the Fish Cat 13 uses this to its advantage. For anglers, it’s much more stable than a regular rowboat or a single-hulled motorized inflatable pontoon boat, meaning that you never feel as if you’re at risk of topping over, even while standing up.
Third, this pontoon is one of the heaviest-duty on the market. It comes with an enormous 750 lb load capacity, meaning you never have to worry about weight again.
Finally, Outcast designed the boat to last for multiple seasons. This vessel isn’t something that you take out on the lake for a summer and then leave to rot in your shed: it’s something that will serve you for seasons to come. Thus, while it’s not the lightest pontoon boat in the world, it more than makes up for it in terms of durability.
When Classic Accessories were developing the Colorado XT, their goal seems to have been to create a vessel that would be able to accommodate all the accessories that an angler would ever want to take with him or her on a fishing excursion.
To that end, the Colorado XT is a triumph. The boat features “customizable storage,” which means that you can attach more than twenty individual pockets to the sides of the vessel, and drinks holders (both insulated, of course), and an additional mesh tray for larger items.
The other impressive feature of the Colorado XT is the ease with which it packs away. Yes, the bag is still quite large, but it’s carryable and comes with a handy shoulder strap, making it relatively easy to lug from the car to the lakeshore in most settings.
Like Outcast, Classic Accessories focuses heavily on the durability of its inflatable pontoon. From a marketing perspective, this strategy is vital. No company in the industry wants to leave consumers with the impression that their vessels are prone to damage that could cause them to deflate.
To this end, the Colorado XT features heavy-duty plastic materials with abrasion-resist nylon, a padded plastic seat, and steel mesh. The raft can withstand nasty scrapes on the lake floor, even if there are sharp objects below the surface.
What about comfort? Impressively, Classic Accessories has you covered there too. There’s a padded, fold-away seat as well as footrests, allowing you to change your position when required.
Overall, who is the Colorado XT for? To be honest, this boat is such a great all-rounder; it’s hard not to recommend it for everyone. It’s 400-pound weight limit, however, makes it ideal for larger anglers or those who want to take a lot of equipment out onto the water.
Sea Eagle wanted to make a pontoon boat that didn’t have a frame, making it easier to inflate, deflate, and store.
The result of that process was the 285 – the company’s inflatable, frameless boat that offers all of the benefits of a regular pontoon, but in a much smaller package.
One thing you’ll immediately notice about the 285 is the 360-degree swivel seat and adjustable pedestal. Unlike many fixed seated inflatable pontoons, you don’t have to turn the boat to change the position you’re facing. Instead, you just swing around on it, like you would a standard office chair.
Sea Eagle has been clever to ensure that the U-shaped boat design is as stable as possible, especially when changing position. The idea is to provide you with the maximum practicable area of fishing space while minimizing both size and weight.
According to the company, the entire hull weighs just 30 lbs, which is considerably less than its main rivals.
If you want to install wooden boards on the floor, you can, and there are also two Scotty Rod Holders if you’re going to fish with multiple lines.
The boat also comes with an electric-powered pump to make inflation easier.
So who is this boat for? Again, this boat is well-suited for anyone, due to the exceptional quality of the construction and design. Those who stand to benefit most, however, are people who have to carry their pontoon boats a considerable distance to the lakeshore. It is also for those who want to navigate tight, choppy waters while maintaining stability.
For some, installing the floor might be a little tricky, but once it is in place, it provides an excellent surface on which to fish.
Here is a great overview of the Sea Eagle 285 Frameless Pontoon Boat:
BRIS is less well-known than many of the other companies in the market, but it offers one of the best inflatable fishing boats you can buy.
The BRIS 11 ft inflatable catamaran is similar in style to many standard pontoon boats but takes advantage of inexpensive materials to get the price down.
Like the other boats we’ve discussed, it comes with two independent inflatable chambers, which the company claims improve safety. It’s also compatible with a wide range of light outboard motors, allowing anglers to power their way along lakes and rivers to the most promising fishing spots.
The design of the catamaran is also highly innovative. The inner frame is a glorified float that you inflate using the supplied pump attachment. BRIS describes it as an “air deck” – something that protects anglers from sudden depressurization of either of the two air chambers to the side.
The design features don’t stop there either. Anglers often complain their inflatable pontoons don’t’ track well through the water when traveling at high speed. BRIS, therefore, includes a couple of notched fins on the underside of the catamaran hull, assisting directional control while powering across the water.
There are also clips for oars and two benches, although neither incorporates a swivel.
BRIS, like the other manufacturers we’ve discussed in this review, wants to assuage customers’ concerns about the durability of the boat.
The catamaran relies on the maintenance of an air chamber to stay afloat — the smallest hole and it’s game over.
BRIS, therefore, includes a repair kit with every boat that it supplies. The company claims that in the unlikely event of air chamber failure, users can simply patch their boats up.
Granted, it won’t work while you’re out on the water, but if you do notice a hole, it means that you’re free to resolve the problem fast, without having to buy a new raft.
Classic Accessories other primary line is the Roanoke, a slightly smaller version of the Colorado XT.
Like the XT, it comes with a host of user-friendly features, designed to thrill keen anglers. One of the most important is the storage platform and integrated armrest pockets.
The storage platform sits just behind the seat. It’s essentially just a pouch where you can put tack boxes or other large, bulky objects.
The armrest pockets are for smaller items, like snacks, drinks, and possibly tools.
As with the Colorado XT, the Roanoke from Classic Accessories also comes with adjustable footrests, making it an excellent option for people who plan on spending hours at a time on the open water.
So what makes the Roanoke different from the Colorado XT?
Well, for one, this is a much smaller boat at 8-foot, compared to the XT’s nine. It’s also lacking the XT’s non-slip application on the footrests and is made of fabric, not wire basket like the Colorado. It also comes with a one year warranty compared to the XT’s two years.
Besides that, though, the two boats are surprisingly similar. They both, for instance, feature Classic Accessories signature quality-of-life additions, specially designed to make angling trips for comfortable and enjoyable.
This boat, therefore, is excellent for people who want something that can do it all, but at a lower price point than the Colorado XT. While the XT upgrades the materials, the majority of the features of that boat remain in place with the Roanoke. You still get all the storage,double-stitching along the hull, and the company’s legendary support.
Ultimately, this is a boat for somebody who wants to stay out on the water for an entire day and enjoy their pontoon, week after week, year after year. The hard nylon base means that the vessel is scuff and puncture resistant, making it a great choice for people who are new to angling, as well as seasoned professionals.