If you love spending time on the water relaxing, socializing, or fishing, a pontoon boat might be the perfect way to do it. People typically use these popular vessels for freshwater recreational activities, which are ideal if you want to entertain a large group. But how many people you can comfortably fit depends on what pontoon boat dimensions you choose.
Pontoon boats range from mini styles as small as 6 to 8 feet long and 7 feet wide to large 40-footers. These larger pontoons are roughly 12 feet wide and can accommodate 20 people. The mini pontoons only hold two to three people. The average pontoon boat is between 20 and 24 feet long and 8 to 10 feet wide.
If you're looking for a pontoon boat, you need to consider several factors, aside from things like a boating license or registration. The most critical items are how you plan to use it, storage, and how many people you want to bring with you. From there, you can narrow down your size options and determine which is the best pontoon boat for you.
What Are Small Pontoon Boat Sizes?
Anything up to roughly 20 feet long is considered a small pontoon boat. The average size of small pontoons is between 16 and 20 feet long, with a width of about 8 feet. The pontoons are typically between 24 and 26 inches in diameter.
If you don't want to deal with a lot of boat maintenance and hassle, you might consider these smaller styles. They come in several sizes, including mini options and compact boats.
These smaller boats, between 16 and 20 feet, can usually carry between 6 and 10 people. A smaller option might be best if you have limited space to store your boat.
Smaller boats are best suited for calm water, like the kind you would find on a serene lake. It's important to note that pontoon boats don't have standard sizes across the board. The exact lengths and widths can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
However, regardless of the length of a pontoon boat, the width remains pretty similar. You'll find that most of the time, the width is between 8 and 8.5 feet, except for mini-versions. For the majority of small-sized pontoons, the width will be around 8 feet, and some larger pontoons can be 10 feet wide.
How Wide Is a 16-Foot Pontoon Boat?
A 16-foot-long pontoon boat is usually 8 feet wide. Also, consider if 16 feet refers to the deck length or the overall length. If it refers to the overall length, the deck might only be 14 to 14.5 feet long.
For example, once you account for the motor, pontoons, etc., it can add 1.5 to 2 feet. When measuring a pontoon boat, the measurements typically refer to the deck. For the length, you measure from the tip of the bow to the tip of the stern.
You get the width by measuring from the outer edge of the deck across to the opposite outer edge. This measurement shows up on most pontoon boat descriptions as the "beam."
How Wide Is an 18-Foot Pontoon Boat?
An 18-foot pontoon boat is 8 to 8.5 feet wide. The overall length of a boat with an 18-foot deck is about 19 to 20 feet.
If 18 feet is the overall length, the deck would be between 16 and 17 feet long. This size pontoon is also well suited for calmer waters. But it could also handle some slight waves, such as on a busier lake or river.
How Wide Is a 20-Foot Pontoon Boat?
A 20-foot-long pontoon boat is between 8 and 8.5 feet wide. If the overall length is 20 feet, then your deck length would be between 18 and 18.5 feet.
However, if 20 feet refers to the deck length, the overall length would be about 21.5 to 22 feet long. Either way, you would still have a width between 8 and 8.5 feet.
What Size Is A Compact Pontoon Boat?
A compact pontoon boat would be 12 feet or less in length and approximately 7 feet wide. If you get a pontoon boat between 9 and 12 feet long, it would be considered compact.
However, you can go even smaller by looking for a mini pontoon. Mini pontoon boats are between 6 and 8 feet long and roughly 7 feet wide.
Many mini versions don't even feature a motor, making them ideal if you want a simple boat for a couple of people. To power these kinds of boats, you would use a paddle, or it might have pedals.
These are also ideal boats if you use them in smaller waterways or need to navigate more turns, etc. You certainly would not want to take these compact or mini boats out in rough waters.
Is It Easy to Flip a Small Pontoon Boat?
It's difficult for a pontoon boat to flip, especially if using it in its intended environment. In other words, most small to medium pontoon boats are designed for calmer waters. You would only need to worry about flipping if you took one of these boats out on choppy, rough waters.
Due to their design, including the tubes below the deck and the wide base, pontoon boats are very stable. Additionally, even if one pontoon incurs damage, the other can keep you afloat as you make your way to shore.
If you plan to go out in rough waters or the ocean, you would need a specifically designed pontoon to do so. These pontoons are those that are on the larger side and have higher horsepower. The typical recommendation is not to consider bringing a pontoon into the ocean unless it has at least 150 HP.
To minimize your tipping risk, always check the weather before heading out. If there's a chance of a storm, best to skip boating that day. Make sure the weight load on your boat remains even, including your cargo, passengers, and the boat itself.
How Wide Is The Average Pontoon Boat?
The average pontoon boat is 8 to 8.5 feet wide. When it comes to length, the average is between 20 and 24 feet. These sizes refer to medium-sized pontoons and are some of the most popular options.
They work well for many activities and can provide room for about 10 to 12 people. Depending on the length-to-width ratio that the manufacturer uses, you might find some boats this length closer to 10 feet wide.
How Wide Are Pontoon Boats Between 20 and 40 Feet Long?
Pontoons closer to 40 feet long won't be wider than 12 feet; 8.5 to 10 feet wide is the average. You'll find those 30 to 40 feet long closer to 10 feet wide. Furthermore, those closer to 20 to 30 feet would still be around 8.5 feet wide.
However, most pontoons max out at around 30 feet long. Pontoon boats that are longer than this would undoubtedly be considered luxury models. They also are not as popular as the medium-sized pontoons.
This is because they would be highly challenging to store and maneuver. They also would cost a lot more and require more maintenance.
Choosing the Right Size Deck for Your Pontoon Boat
Decide how you plan to use your pontoon boat and how many people you'll carry to determine the necessary deck size. Keep in mind to select the deck size, use the length and width of the actual deck. Do not calculate the square footage based on the overall length and width.
Therefore, imagine a pontoon with a deck 20 feet from bow to stern and 8.5 feet across the edge to edge. You get roughly 170 square feet of deck space. Depending on the design of your boat, you likely have a combination of seating and lounge space.
You also need to account for storage for various supplies and how you plan to use the boat. Pontoon boats with a deck size below 20 feet are better for under 10 passengers. They are ideal for recreational activities on lakes and inland waterways, like swimming, lounging, or a day trip.
What if you also prefer to have the ability to enter intercoastal areas or entertain large groups of 10 to 12 people? If this sounds more like your speed, a 20 to 24-foot pontoon is ideal. It works for various watersports, fishing, and larger parties.
Things to Consider When Choosing A Large Pontoon Boat
If you plan to entertain groups of over 15 people on your pontoon boat, you'll need one 25 feet or longer. These larger boats can also accommodate more luxuries onboard, like a bathroom or cooking area. But the larger the boat, the more challenging it is to handle and store.
Therefore you need to honestly consider how often you plan to use the boat in this capacity. Is it worth the extra expense and time, and maintenance? Do you plan to take it out into choppier waters or the ocean?
If you answer yes to all these questions, then considering a larger, faster, stronger pontoon might be for you.
Can a Pontoon Boat Fit Inside A Garage?
The average garage door opening is 8 to 10 feet wide and 7 to 8 feet tall. Smaller pontoons can fit in a garage. However, make sure your pontoon boat can fit through the door and also consider the added dimensions of the trailer.
The trailer can add another 3 to 5 feet of height to your pontoon boat. Additionally, a trailer is usually a few feet longer than your pontoon boat (usually 4 feet).
If you have a single garage, the average is about 12 feet wide and 20 feet long. The door width is about 8 to 9 feet wide. This would be a tight squeeze for anything larger than a compact or mini pontoon.
But if you have a double garage, the average size is 18 feet wide and 22 feet long. The door can be closer to 16 feet wide and 8 feet tall. In this case, you could fit a pontoon with an overall length of about 17 feet. (This is leaving room for the trailer, etc.)
Before buying your pontoon, measure the width of your garage door opening. Also, consider the overall length, width, and height of the pontoon on the trailer. And don't forget to leave some wiggle room on the sides.
How Much Do Pontoon Boats Weigh?
On average, a pontoon boat weighs between 2,000 and 2,500 pounds, but it varies based on size. A good estimation is to multiply 100 to 120 pounds per foot of length to get an estimated weight range. This weight includes the motor but does not apply to the cargo.
How Many People Do Different Size Pontoon Boats Fit?
A 16-foot pontoon boat holds approximately 6 to 8 people, and the average 22-footer holds 12 people. Of course, the exact number of people that a specific boat carries varies from boat to boat. Your boat's manufacturer will give a detailed recommendation of the maximum number of persons.
It's important to heed these recommendations, as going over the limit can compromise the integrity and safety of your pontoon boat. Here is a snapshot of how many people can fit on various length pontoons.
Another option is, you can use this rough formula to get an estimate. Multiply the length times the width and divide by 15. This assumes an average weight per person of 150 pounds. Therefore, a 16 x 8-foot boat could hold approximately 8 people.
How Much Weight Can a Pontoon Boat Carry?
The average weight load of a medium pontoon boat is roughly 2,000 pounds. This amount includes all cargo, fuel, and passengers.
A 16-foot pontoon has a capacity of roughly 1,200 pounds, and a 22-foot boat has one of about 1,800 pounds. A larger boat, about 28 feet, has a capacity of roughly 2,380 pounds. The specific capacity will vary from model to model and depending on manufacturers.
If your boat doesn't have a capacity plate, you can look the model up online to see if you can get the information. Also, you can contact the manufacturer directly. You can also use the above formula that you used to determine how many passengers you can hold on your pontoon.
Once you get the number of passengers, you can then multiply 8 by 150 to get the overall approximate weight capacity. You can use this number to determine how much your pontoon can hold.
For example, if you have a 20 x 8-foot pontoon, multiply 20 by 8 to get 160. Divide 160 by 15 to get 10.66. This means this boat can hold about 10 to 11 people. Multiply 10.66 by the average weight of 150 to get your approximate capacity of 1,600 pounds.
Tips for Choosing the Right Pontoon Boat Size
Before you jump at the first pontoon boat you see, think about what size you really need. Consider the following points when you are deciding on the best pontoon boat size for your needs.
- What activities do you plan to do on your pontoon boat? If you intend to take it out in rougher waters or use it as a tow boat, you'll need a larger, faster, stronger boat. But a smaller boat works well for simple, calm activities on the lake.
- How many people, on average, will you have on the pontoon boat at one time? Is it just for you and your immediate family, or do you plan to host larger parties on it?
- What size is your garage? Does it have any room to grow, and are you willing to expand it? If your garage is large enough, but the door is too narrow, can you enlarge the opening and get a new door?
- How much time do you want to devote to maintenance? A larger boat will obviously take more time to maintain, wash, clean, etc.
- What's your budget like for your boat? (Not only the initial costs but the cost to use and maintain it.) Consider how much fuel it uses, etc.
Figuring Out the Necessary Towing Capacity for Your Pontoon Boat
When determining the towing capacity to haul your pontoon boat, you need to know the pontoon weight, cargo, fuel, and trailer weight. Fuel can add between 200 to over 500 pounds to the weight. For this reason, many people opt to transport their pontoons with an empty tank and fill it closer to where they plan to use it.
In addition to the dry weight of the pontoon and any fuel in the tank, you also must add cargo that's onboard. Lastly, don't forget to add the weight of the trailer.
On average, a trailer is about 1,200 pounds, but smaller ones weigh less, and larger ones weigh more. Smaller trailers can weigh around 700 pounds.
Therefore, make sure to add up the specific weights of your pontoon, trailer, and any cargo. You will have an accurate number to determine your tow load. Then, you'll know what kind of vehicle you'll need to haul your pontoon.
What Size Trailer Do You Need for Your Pontoon Boat?
Manufacturers typically recommend your trailer be 3 to 4 feet longer than your pontoon boat. The ideal length is four feet longer than your pontoon to make sure the boat doesn't hit your vehicle in tight turns, etc.
You also need to note the trailer's weight load to ensure it can hold the pontoon (including the engine/motor) and any cargo. Don't max out the trailer capacity, so make sure you leave some breathing room.
You also need to consider the number of axles the trailer has. A single axle is adequate for smaller pontoons that have a total weight of about 2,000 to 2,250 pounds. But boats weighing 2,500 and 4,800 pounds and are between 20 and 28 feet long need two axles.
You'll need a multi-axle trailer if you have a larger pontoon (over 28 feet long). A final factor is the trailer style. Scissor-style trailers are lightweight and easy to maneuver but can rock the boat on bumpy roads.
Bunk trailers are more stable and secure, but it can be difficult to load the pontoon. However, it's the top choice if you have a larger boat over 25 feet.
The average pontoon boat is between 20 and 24 feet and is 8 to 8.5 feet wide. These medium-sized boats are the most popular options, suitable for day-tripping, swimming, and parties on the lake. They hold about 10 to 12 people.
You'll need a larger boat if you regularly entertain groups larger than 15 people. Pontoon boats 25 to 40 feet are considered large and can be closer to 10 feet wide. You won't typically find a pontoon boat wider than 12 feet.
Smaller pontoon boats are under 20 feet long and about 8 feet wide. Compact sizes are 10 to 12 feet long, and mini boats are 6 to 8 feet long and 7 feet wide. Mini boats are best for just two to three people, and many don't even have a motor.
When determining what size pontoon boat you need, consider the overall deck size. Think about how many people you want on the boat and where you plan to use it. Most pontoons are best for calm waters, like lakes or small rivers.
However, newer models that are larger and faster can handle rougher waters. Some are even suitable for things like water-skiing but make sure you get a boat specific to this activity.