The Disadvantages of Deck Boats Compared to Pontoons and Runabouts

The Disadvantages of Deck Boats Compared to Pontoons and Runabouts

In life, it's important that we acknowledge both the good and the bad. The same philosophy applies to your deck boat.

Knowing everything that your deck boat can do and everything that it can't do leads to a more informed purchase and a more pleasurable ride.

Today, it's time to talk about the disadvantages of deck boats and the role that they play in informing your decision to purchase a deck boat altogether.

Every boat is an investment, both financially and emotionally, so it's important that you get the right one for your unique needs. How do you know if a deck boat isn't right for you?

I've found that it comes down to three different factors:

  • Cost:  How much you want to put into (and get out of) your boat.
  • Space: The amount of room that you need to have a good time.
  • Location:  Where you want to take your boat, and where your boat can take you.

Based on what you're looking for related to these factors, the disadvantages of a deck boat might not be disadvantages at all. You might get exactly what you're looking for.

They might also be such major negatives that you need to look to pontoons or runabouts instead.

So, moving forward, let's keep all of these factors in mind when it comes to making the right decision.

Advice for Deck Boats and Life

When it came time to buy my first boat, I was particularly chuffed about the decision. I thought I knew what I wanted, and I thought my choice would last me a lifetime.

You see, I wanted to keep things simple, so I figured that all I would need was a simple jon boat to keep me happy.

After all, I only wanted to take it out on the river every now and again, and I didn't need that much room or power.

Boy, was I wrong.

I rushed into my decision and only considered my needs for the moment—not for the long run. Even though hindsight is 20/20, I should've known that my needs would change down the road.

The more I got out on the water, the more my needs changed and the more I knew that what I got wasn't what I needed in the first place (even if it's what I thought I wanted).

That being said, no boat is perfect. There's never going to be a boat that meets all of your needs for life, simply due to the fact that your needs might change. This means that you need to go with a boat that meets the majority of your needs or is capable of being upgraded to a point where it can give you what you need.

So, don't just think about what a boat can do right now. Think about how it can be set up for success in the future.

Pontoons are more on the slow, spacious and hard-to-maneuver side of things, while runabouts are fast, less spacious and highly maneuverable.

Deck boats fall smack in the middle of the road (or waterway) between them in many ways.

When it comes down to it, these are the key things you need to know about deck boats and their disadvantages as compared to both pontoons and runabouts.

Less Oomph

Let's make one thing clear: A deck is most certainly not a speed boat. We know and love deck boats for their spacious layouts, not their speed.

You're not going to be able to pull off any high-speed chase scenes like in the movies in a deck boat.

While the motors might be powerful (and agile, depending on the model) and you could win a race with a pontoon any day, you're not going to break the sound barrier in a deck boat. If you have a need for speed, consider a speed boat. It's right in the name, after all.

If you're looking to trade a bit of speed for comfort, style or a more spacious design, then you'll be pleased with a deck boat.

Less Spacious

If you're looking for a spacious ride, then you're probably looking at both deck boats and pontoons. They're both known for their space.

When you're on a deck boat, you definitely feel a little bit of that luxury feeling. I can't tell you how many times I've had people comment on how big my deck boat is and how much space there is for activities and storage for gear, water toys, anchors, dock lines, fenders and other boating accessories.

Heck, you could host a family reunion on some of the models I've seen out on the market.

That said, a pontoon will almost always win out in terms of spaciousness. There's usually less open space for people to walk around and mingle on a deck boat, even if there's plenty of seating and storage. While deck boats offer some of that spacious feel, they tend to offer less open space.

Deck boats can, however, be comparable to pontoons in terms of storage space.

Less Agile

With the spacious layout of a deck boat, you lose much of your ability to maneuver and zip around.

Although it's possible to fish on a deck boat, you'll have more trouble in shallower waters and narrow waterways with deck boats compared to runabouts, with which you could have much finer control over your steering.

Maneuverability is paramount when it comes to fishing and navigating certain waterways, so if you need something that's a bit more on the agile side, you might want to consider a fishing boat for your needs.


Don't get me wrong, I love how customizable my deck boat can be. It's just worth noting that it definitely required some investment on my part. 

Due to the deck boat's unique blend of form and function - a nice smooth ride that's also spacious and stylish - the price tags can get pretty steep. It seems that the average deck boat owner is looking for a little taste of luxury when it comes to aesthetics and comfort, as many models are less than affordable.

You'll often find deck boats that end up being more expensive than your average pontoon or runabout. If you're looking to add on different upgrades and equipment for your needs, it can be even harder on the pocketbook.

If you're looking for something cheaper, you're going to have to settle for a simpler boat, which, in the long run, might not be as worth it. With the price, you're getting a very versatile vessel that can be upgraded in many ways.

Gas Guzzling

For some, this is going to be a deal breaker.

Deck boats aren't easy on gas, thanks to the power of the motor, the size of the boat and the typical "human load" (weight) that the boat has to handle (which is just the curse of being popular now that you have a deck boat).

When gas prices are cheap, it's perfect. But it can switch on a dime and can be a real pain. 

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How to Think About the Disadvantages of Deck Boats

Sure, the disadvantages of deck boats might be weighing on your mind now. That's okay—that means that you're well-informed. Here are a few things to consider when you're trying to make the best decision for your needs.

Think about it like this:

  • How fast do you want to go?
  • Where do you want to go boating?
  • How many people do you want to take with you?
  • How much are you prepared to invest?

Bottom Line: If you want a boat that has a little bit of "get up and go," you want to go boating in lakes and rivers, you want to have plenty of room for your friends and family and you're ready to do a little bit of investing, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of deck boats.

Quality Deck Boat Models to Look At

Wondering what deck boat features and prices actually look like? Here's a range of deck boat models you might like looking at, ranging from more affordable options to more high-powered and luxurious options.
  • 2016 Bayliner 190 Deck Boat — 35 gallon fuel tank / 150 HP / $18,000 - $22,000
  • 2016 Bayliner Element XL — 12 gallon fuel tank / 115 HP / $12,000 - $18,000
  • 2016 Crownline E6 EC — 55 gallon fuel tank / 430 HP / $70,000 - $90,000
  • 2015 Monterey M5 — 80 gallon fuel tank / 320 HP / $60,000 - $85,000
  • 2016 Regal 27 Fasdeck — 76 gallon fuel tank / 380 HP / $60,000 - $80,000

As I mentioned before, it all comes down to your needs both in the present and in the future. 

If you know what you need now, make sure you really know it. At the same time, always keep in mind how your needs might change down the road whether that means getting something faster, more agile or with more space.

When it comes to the disadvantages of deck boats, though, it's all knowing how to take the good with the bad. Want more room for more good times?

You might need to be prepared to trade off some other aspects like speed, gas or maneuverability.