9 Creative Boat Seating Options for Boaters Who Think Outside the Bench

9 Creative Boat Seating Options for Boaters Who Think Outside the Bench

The more, the merrier. Sharing a good time with friends and family is the boater's dream. Well, maybe not for the lone wolves out there, but this holds true for plenty of us. 

Having loved ones on board can make the experience more enjoyable. Some of us even buy our boats for the purpose of spending more uninterrupted quality family time.

So, the more people you can seat on your boat, the more fun you can have on the next aquatic outing. The more siblings, cousins and in-laws who can come aboard for the next big nautical cookout or movie night, the better.

That's considering you have enough space and seating aboard your boat to comfortably hold everyone. 

How to Consider Your Boat Seating Options

It's not much of a surprise to learn that bigger boats can accommodate more passengers. A compact, single-person kayak can only seat one person, for example (that's why it's called "single person," right?).

A full-sized canoe can usually hold three adults or an adult and a group of kids and, more often than not, a dog.

A good-sized pontoon boat can seat as many as eight to ten adults.

For a bit of perspective, the MS Allure of the Seas cruise ship can accommodate around 6,300 passengers when fully loaded.

The most recent addition to the US Navy's modernized fleet, the USS Zumwalt DDG-1000 guided missile destroyer has a complement of 142 sailors.

In case you're enjoying the boat and ship trivia, the longest ship ever built was the Seawise Giant, a supertanker that was 1,504 feet long. Yes, that's a ship that was well over a quarter of a mile in length.

Most people are more interested in the seating capacity of a boat in their price range, as well as one that can fit at the local marina and be towed by an SUV with a boat trailer. So, we'll take a few steps back from the cruise ships and missle destroyers and instead focus on boat seating options that are a bit more practical.

If you're considering purchasing a new boat, you have some latitude in controlling how many people you'll be able to have aboard. If you already own a boat, you might be able to accommodate more passengers than you think, especially if you think outside the box for boat seating options.


Safety First: Know Your Boat's Maximum Capacity Limits

Your boat, whether it's a 24-foot pontoon boat or a 52-foot yacht or any other type of vessel, will have a maximum number of passengers specified by its manufacturer and/or by the United States Coast Guard.

This maximum capacity information was calculated very carefully. There's actually a surprising amount of math involved and is not to be taken lightly.

An overloaded boat is unsafe in any condition. You'll need to know the capacity before looking at your seat options.

Be sure to take into account any weight added to the boat by extra gear or supplies, whether it be fishing tackle, anchors, paddles, food, extra fuel and so forth. 

Just because you can figure out how to seat more people on a boat doesn't necessarily mean you should do so. Always think of safety first. Then we can move onto creative boat seating options.

How Many People Can You Seat on a Boat?

Take these figures as a guideline, not hard and fast rules. Remember that a given person's size must be factored in as well.

In general, a smaller pontoon boat (one that's under 20 feet long) probably has a maximum safe seating capacity of six adults, which is perfect for most family outings.

A pontoon boat measuring up to 25 feet can usually accommodate eight or ten people.

A larger pontoon boat, one that measures over 25 feet and up, is usually stable enough for groups of 12 to 15 people.

Check the recommendations of the manufacturer, and remember to keep people spread out evenly on the deck. Even a large stable pontoon boat can list dangerously to one side or the other if too much weight (i.e. too many human beings) end up on one side of the boat.

When you install your seating on your boat, you should keep all of the following in mind:

  • The weight capacity of your boat
  • How much the items currently on your boat weigh
  • How much the additional seating will weigh
  • How many people can comfortably be on your boat at one time
  • How to keep the weight distributed evenly on your boat with smart seating placement

9 Creative Boat Seating Options 

1. Bench Seating

Wise 8WD100-1011 Deluxe Series 37" Pontoon Bench Seat Cushion Set (Base Required to Complete), Grey/Navy/Blue





This is the standard type of seating you'll find to add to your boat. Benches are available in a variety of sizes somewhere from 28 inches in length to 65 inches in length.

Bench seating is usually made out of marine-grade vinyl that withstands UV rays, rain and normal boating conditions. It's also super easy to clean with boat soap and a quick rinse with a garden hose.

If you do happen to encounter some stains or mildew issues, a quick spray with mildew stain remover and a soft scrub brush will take care of it. Boat cleaning wipes can quickly take care of day-to-day cleaning jobs. 

When you buy online, keep in mind that you may need to purchase the base for the bench seat separately. For example, the Wise bench seat above comes with this bench seat base.

2. The Captain's Chair

Wise 8WD015-3-710 Standard Pilot Chair with Cushions and Mounting Plate





Ah, the captain's chair. It's undoubtedly the best seat on the boat. You can opt to steer from a bench seat, but where's the fun in that?

Check out this classy Wise captain's chair. It just needs the base to be installed permanently on your boat's deck.

Made of heavy-duty marine-grade vinyl, this seat can withstand years of use in the sun, rain, wind and other elements. As with any vinyl upholstery, a quick rinse down with Better Boat boat soap will take care of stains, scuffs and standard dirt. 

3. Lounge Seats

Wiseco Wise 8WD505P-1-660 Deluxe Bucket Style Lounge Seat (Grey/Navy),Standard






Lounge seats aren't always the big lazy boys you might be expecting from the name. Rather, they're just comfortable seats that allow your passengers to stretch their legs out.

Lounge seats can often pull out and fold down into a flat, or slightly reclined, lounge chair. Sometimes, there's storage space underneath the seats.

Choose an accent color to match the trim or hull on your boat for a super stylish look. 

4. Casting Seat

Wise 8WD1278-039 Pro Verzion Tour Casting Seat, Charcoal/Grey






A casting seat is a simple swivel chair that lets you fish with ease. These are often very small space-saving chairs that can be detached or folded away when not in use.

The above simple Wise casting chair requires permanent installation on the deck. As with the captain's chair, you'll need a seat base and a post to complete the installation of a lightweight chair like this.

Just think about how all of these standard boat seating options would work on our example pontoon.

One of the main benefits of the pontoon boat tends to be generous seating capacity. The flat open deck of these boats allows for multiple seating arrangements such as benches, captain's chairs and even lounge-style seats. 

The pontoon boat also offers easy rearranging of seating positions. You can quickly change the types of seating on the deck, which provides you with a boat that will seat all your passengers in comfort.

Pontoons have plenty of deck space for this. Of course, many other types of boats can accommodate these seating options.

How to Add Boat Seating Options that Stow Away Easily

Not willing to tear your seating arrangement up at the moment? If your pontoon boat, or any other type of boat, has its seating arrangement locked in place for now, don't worry. You can still add additional seating options and often without any significant expense.

If you want to add boat seating options that are temporary and that won't take up extra space when not in use, look to the campsite as your inspiration.

5. Camp Chairs

Coleman Cooler Quad Portable Camping Chair, Blue






A camp chair like this affordable classic Coleman Oversized Quad is designed to fold away into compact packages when not in use. Even so, many camp chairs can be deployed into full-size comfortable seats in a matter of seconds.

Many such seats come complete with sunshades, cup holders and other accessories that make them so comfortable your friends perched on the regular boat seats might even be jealous.

6. Stadium Chairs

Kelly Green Stadium Chairs






Another boat seating idea is a stadium chair These are also called bleacher seats and can be affixed to the gunwales of a boat or even plopped onto the deck to create another comfortable spot for sitting.

Like the camp chair, the stadium chair folds up small enough to tuck away under a bench or in a corner of the boat when not in use. It can also be tossed in the trunk of a car for transport to and from the water.

How to Maximize Boat Seating Capacity with Multipurpose Gear

7. Cooler Seats

Wise 8WD437SS-784 Offshore Swingback Cooler/Storage Seat, Brite White , 62 Qt.





If you and your friends or family are headed out for a day of boating on the lake, river or ocean, chances are you're going to bring along some food and beverages in a cooler (it's practically mandatory as far as boating goes). 

Most coolers have hard sides and a solid top that can be used as a seat in a pinch, though not necessarily as the most comfortable seat ever known. So, why not instead opt for a cooler designed to serve as a comfortable seat?

There are a myriad of cooler seats available that not only feature padded seat cushions but even have backrests. Your cooler seat might just be the most comfortable seat on the boat!

We recommend the Wise 70-Quart Swing back. Yes, it's a bit expensive for a cooler, but it's cheap for a big comfy seat that will last for years and years.

8. Storage Seating

Geartist GOO1 Leather Folding Organizer Storage Ottoman Bench Footrest Stool Coffee Table Cube, Camping Fishing Stool, Quick and Easy Assembly, Perfect for Child. 12"x12"x12"




For even less expensive multipurpose seating options, consider a storage ottoman (there are many available on Amazon). Ottomans are designed for use in the home as a convenient way to create a lightweight and easily portable seat. When you can stow some extra gear - like dock lines, boat fenders and anchor lines - aboard your boat and accommodate a seated adult in comfort, that's just an added bonus.

An ottoman serves as seat, a footrest and a storage area that you can move around your boat easily and take on and off the vessel as needed.This cool Geartist waterproof ottoman is a nice choice for boaters.

For a fantastic option designed specifically for a boat, try this Frabill combination trunk-seat. It's the ideal blend of storage, seating and portability.

9. Off-Boat Seating with a Great Float

Bestway Hydro Force Tropical Breeze Floating Island Raft | Giant Inflatable Pool Float for Adults | Includes Canopy, Cupholders, & Cooler Bag | Lounge Fits Up to 6 People | Great for Pool, Lake, River




Just because you want to add more comfortable boat seating options for your passengers doesn't necessarily mean you need to add more seating aboard the boat itself.

Consider getting a giant raft-style float that you can tie to your boat and can even tow along at slow speeds. There are many inflatable rafts, often called floating islands, to choose from out there.

This CoolerZ Tropical Breeze from Bestway can comfortably accommodate multiple people (even several full-grown adults or a whole passel of kids), comes with a cooler and yet only costs $150 to $200.

The Fiesta Island raft  is extra heavy duty and lets you stay cool in the water while lounging off the boat. It also comes with an inflatable cooler so drinks can be kept handy nearby.

These large rafts are both fun and practical while adding more square footage of living space to your boat and providing easy access to the water for swimmers.

Just keep in mind you really will have to keep the pace slow if you want to tow one along. They're not designed for high-speed aquatic adventures!  

Featured Boat Care Product

      Upholstery Brush Set

 Check Price on Amazon - Better Boat's upholstery set comes with two brushes. The horsehair brush gently cleans leather and vinyl without scratching it. The nylon brush is designed to tackle heavily soiled areas like carpet and floor mats.

Choose the best seating options for you and your boat and you'll be all set for your next outing. And you'll be able to invite as many friends and family members as you could possibly want on board (and maybe even some you never expected).