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The Deck Boat vs Bowrider Breakdown: Who Does Boating Better?

How do you know a certain boat’s right for you?

Easy! Compare them with the competition and make the tough—but necessary—choice!

When we talk about deck boats, we often discuss their similarities and differences when compared to pontoons. But, it’s even more instructive to make comparisons between deck boats and bowriders (which share many same characteristics).

Without further ado, let’s dive right into it! This primer covers everything you need to know about deck boats, bowriders and which one might best suit you and your family’s needs out on the water.

The Basic Layouts of Deck Boats and Bowriders

The first feature you’re likely to notice about deck boats and bowriders is they’re both equipped with lots of room.

This was actually the feature that attracted me to deck boats. I had used a fairly simple fishing boat up until this point and was looking for a boat to accommodate my friends and me a bit better.

Deck boats have tons of room all throughout their layout. It’s this wide-open floor plan that’s an advantage for deck boats.

Their wide-bow designed front is where this is most evident, and affords a great deal of space.

While bowriders definitely provide some space up front, it’s unlikely to be the same amount of square footage as a deck boat. This is simply because of the bow’s design and layout.

Typically, bowriders have a narrower bow. However, some bowriders forsake this narrower up-front space for more in the back stern (and even for additional cabin space, in some instances).

Depending on how you wanna use your boat, you can find value in either model layouts. Deck boats, though, often offer more of an open-concept layout leisurely boaters find valuable.

How Deck Boats and Bowriders Perform

One main deck boat advantage over pontoon boats is speed. The potential is much higher, and a byproduct of a more speed-inclined design. But, how then does a deck boat compare to a bowrider?

While both deck boats and bowriders involve outboard motors, you’re more likely to find powerful outboard motors on deck boats. This is because bowriders typically have powerful stern-drive motors.

The truth is this: Due to their design, bowriders perform better at higher speeds. And these higher speeds make bowriders especially good for handling rough waters. Deck boats, alternatively, are better suited for clearer days.

While this does make deck boats more advantageous for fishermen, a bowrider might be more your style if you’re a speed demon out on the water.

It’s also important to note that while both deck boats and bowriders offer solid maneuvering capabilities, the typical deck boat may have more edge. This is because deck boats handle better at lower speeds.

How Deck Boats and Bowriders Entertain

Who’s ready for fun?

If you’re looking for a boat with the room both deck boats and bowriders provide, then chances, what you really want is to have serious fun with family and friends.

So how do these two boat styles stack up when it comes to water sports? Unsurprisingly, both styles are quite strong for tubing, wakeboarding and waterskiing. And the majority of deck boat and bowrider models offer convenient towing capabilities.

The one edge bowriders have against deck boats is the additional platform.

Bowrider platforms not only provide extra room, but they also make great additions to boaters who simply want to park their boat and jump off into the deep end!

How Deck Boats and Bowriders Hold Up

Here’s where we need to get into the literal nuts and bolts of deck boats vs bowriders.

Is there one model boaters can trust over another? Well, the answer’s often not this simple. Due to their design, bowriders typically perform better in choppier waters or more rough weather conditions.

Whereas, with a deck boat, you’re better off on still waters with little issue.

As you might expect, though, the maintenance and care for a deck boat or a bowrider are relatively the same. You need to ensure it’s cleaned, stored properly and that you have the proper horsepower for your needs (so you don’t stress out your motor).

What this all comes down to is research, research, research.

When you know the type of boat you want, make sure you’re digging deep to learn everything you can. This way, you’re guaranteed to find a model to suit your needs.

A great place to start, though, is to understand where and when you’ll be using your boat—and go from there!

The Essential Deck Boat and Bowrider Models

I’ve profiled Bayliner as one of the most trusted brands. The Bayliner brand offers boaters both a series of deck boats and bowriders that are definitely worth considering. When it comes to starting off boating, here are the quintessential models and what we love about them:

Bayliner 190 Deck Boat

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  • Entry-level design with loads of space
  • Fuel-efficient outboard motor
  • Space for a maximum of 11 passengers
  • Dry storage for fishing equipment and more

Bottom Line: The Bayliner 190 is the quintessential deck boat. It has so much space and storage opportunities (for reels, rods, food and more). It also has the traditional outboard motor you’re more likely to find these boats. It’s a value play, but it’s tons of fun!

Bayliner VR4 Bowrider

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  • A smaller model that still offers a great deal of room
  • Versatile floor plan to suit just about any lifestyle
  • Space for 7 passengers
  • Fishing and water sports options available

Bottom Line: If you want a bowrider, chances are you don’t necessarily need as much space as a deck boat. That’s why the essential bowrider is a bit smaller, while still including space for 7 folks, and loads of opportunity for water sports. The floor plan is the key here, where the design makes up for the lack of square footage.

Discover More Deck Boat and Bowrider Brands

Some other deck boat and bowrider brands to consider are:

Each brand has their own selection, so it all depends on the brand you trust most and want to work with when buying your next boat.

When you break it down, though, no matter whether it’s a deck boat or bowrider, there are definitely some features you should look out for:

  • Configurations and size
  • Motor and horsepowers
  • Warranties and versatility (accessories)

Your needs on these three key areas will typically determine which brand you want to go with, and may even help you decide whether a deck boat or a bowrider is the right choice for you. 

Bottom Line: Deck Boat vs Bowrider

As always, your ideal boat is dependant on what you and your family require. If you need ample space, a deck boat or a bowrider would be a perfect choice. Both have loads of room. But while a deck boat may have the edge in pure space, a bowrider has lots of performance nuances that deserve your attention, too.

No matter what you choose, make sure you do your homework and go with a reliable brand you can trust. Your boat’s an investment, after all, both in your money and happiness. Make sure to make it count.

The one piece of advice I can leave you with: Choose wisely and always account for more space than you need right now!

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