What do I look for in a Pontoon Boat
Here are some items you want to be looking at when selecting a pontoon boat.
1. Is the primary use for rivers, salt or lakes. Do you need the boat to be White Water approved by the manufacture? River boats needs some rocker built into the tube. It is not as important in a lake or salt water boat.
2. Are the oar locks adjustable fore/aft?
3. Are the foot rest adjustable?
4. Is the seat adjustable? If the oar locks and foot rests are adjustable you don't need an adjustable seat. If the seat is adjustable you don't need the oars to be adjustable. Being able to adjust the boat to fit is not as important for salt water or lakes.
5. Is the frame made from aluminum or stainless steel? Stainless may be a better choice for salt water. Is the frame painted. Painted frames may get scratched up a bit.
6. How is the anchor support constructed? Is the anchor easy to use?
7. Does the boat have a motor mount and is it removable.
8. What is the diameter of the tubes? Does the frame provide good support to the tubes so they are not displaced by striking rocks or white water. Small diameter tubes are less wind resistant and large diameter tubes have more rocker.
9. How are the pontoon shells made and how heavy is the material on the top and bottom. The bottom gets the most abuse.
10. What are the bladders made from. Poly is the best choice. Make sure they have life raft type valves. Are the valves made from brass? The best valves use to be made from brass. Some of the new plastic vales are quite good.
11. What is the back platform made from? Do you need to carry heavy or bulky loads?
12. Does the boat have saddle bags?
13. Does a pump come with the boat?
14. Is it easy to assemble? How much does it weigh?
15. Does it have a standing platform? If it does it should be easy to remove or slides under the seat when not in use. A fixed standing platform won't allow you to use flippers to help control the boat.
16. What is the length of the oars? I would not get oars shorter than 7'. The longer the tubes and the heavier the loads, the longer the oars need to be. What material are they made from? Are they one, two or three piece? I would only get three piece oars if you were packing or flying the boat.
If you compare these items against various boats you stand a good chance of getting a boat that meets your requirements. You will not find everything in one boat. The trick is to pick and choose the items that are the most important to your application.