Pontoon accessories are nothing to squawk at.
A small item can help you land that big catch, keep the party going or even save your life.
Being out on the water can result in some unexpected twists and turns.
At the very least, you’re looking to have food, water, comfort, safety, storage space and fun.
Whether you’re out for an hour, a day trip or an extended camping trip, you’re going to need some key accessories to be fully prepared and confident.
Surprised to hear me talking about camping? Well, pontoon camping is a ridiculously fun experience! If you haven’t tried it already, you really need to. It’s tooning at its finest.
Being prepared for a pontoon trip is very much like being prepared for a camping trip anywayâ€”there’s tons of overlap to keep you and yours having a blast outdoors.
That said, sometimes the general idea of boating or camping, for any length of time, can get a little intimidating. What might you need? What’s really essential? What’s too much? What’s too little?
If you don’t know what you’re doing when it comes to outdoor excursions, you might be sitting around scratching your head over what to bring.
Now add a boat to the mix. Knowing you can’t easily hop in a car to fetch something you forgot makes things even more overwhelming.
I’m an avid camper and I still get overwhelmed, spending hours searching for things in recreational outdoor stores. So from my camping expertise, I hope to provide ‘tooners (and other boaters) with an essential list of gear and important things to consider for any water-based trip.
1. Durable Cooler
- VOLUME: True 70 quart internal volume
- EXTREME ICE RETENTION: 2 inches of polyurethane insulation with a 360 degree freezer-grade gasket delivers extreme ice retention
- FEATURES: Overmolded carry handle, 3 inch locking latches, reinforced lockable hasp, stainless steel bottle opener, anti-shear hinge system, molded-in tie-down slots
- FEATURES: 4 self draining cup holders, non-skid rubber feet
- MADE IN USA: Includes Pelican's legendary lifetime guarantee - "you break it, we replace it. Forever!"
Keeping your drinks cold while under the hot sun for an entire day is already difficult enough. Keeping your food and drinks cold for an entire weekend or several days is even harder.
There are many trusted cooler brands out there, but be sure to invest in a cooler that can handle itself for a few days without the pain of you going back out to find bags of ice.
Perhaps the best name in the cooler business is Yeti.Â The Yeti cooler is one of its bestselling and highest-rated coolers, and it will keep things cold for a ridiculously long time.
It doesnâ€™t have to be a Yeti, though. Everyone knows the name, but there are arguably other brands just as well-made (and less expensive) like Pelican or Engel. I recommended this nice Pelican cooler (buy on Amazon)Â in another post, and I’ll recommend it againâ€”it can keep your ice frozen for a week, which is impressive enough for most.
2. Flashlights and Headlamps
Flashlights are great for handheld light, but I prefer to have a hands-free, adjustable headlamp. Itâ€™s hard to do anything single-handedly while also fumbling around in the dark.
Think of all that you could accomplish with both hands free at night. You could even use a headlamp for night fishing. You know, in case you need both hands free to reel in the big one.
This waterproof and rechargeable headlamp is an excellent purchase and very versatile! What I love most about it is the detachable lamphead which works as a handheld flashlight if needed.
3. Changing Room or Pontoon EnclosureInvalid table id.
An enclosure to cover your entire pontoon basically converts your whole boat into a tent. It’s a great addition, but it can be quite costly. Luckily, there are other options.
If youâ€™re okay with going on shore and sleeping in a tent, thatâ€™s fine too. At the very least, purchase yourself a portable changing room for a bit of privacy when you have guests. https://betterboat.com/pontoon/pontoon-privacy-partition/
A portable changing room could be anything from a drop down bimini attachmentâ€”which is really a breed of pontoon enclosureâ€”to a collapsible pop-up changing room (buy on Amazon). I personally think pop-up changing rooms are sufficient because, unlike the drop-down biminis, you’ll be able to set itÂ up anywhere you wish. Sometimes a drop-down bimini just gets in the way; a pop-up folds and stores away beneath a seat when not in use.
4. Portable Toilets and Sanitary Items
- [VERSATILITY]: Award-winning, top-of-the-line portable toilet, suited for RVs, boats, trucks, vans, healthcare, medical, camping and even off-the-grid lifestyle, with a 4 gallons fresh water tank capacity and a 5.5 gallons waste water capacity
- [DESIGN]: Sleek, modern, and homelike look, Porta Potti Curve comes with a comfortable seat height, increased bowl size, and battery-powered flush
- [FUNCTIONALITY]: Easy to use and clean, Curve has an ergonomic carrying handle, an integrated toilet paper holder, and a tank level indicator
- [SANITARY]: Odorless and leak proof, the portable toilet has a sealed valve to prevent odors from escaping and a rotating pour-out spout for emptying the waste water tank without backsplashes
- [OPTIONAL]: The hold down kit helps secure the portable toilet to the floor, holding it in place while you're on the road and Water fill adaptor
If you plan on camping somewhere remote, youâ€™re gonna want a portable toilet like this slick option from Thetford (available to buy on Amazon). This is one of the nicest-looking portable toilets out there, and it will come in handy sooner or later.Â Plus, this portable toilet has an integrated toilet paper holder and a holding tank level indicator so you know when itâ€™s time to empty it out.
Not all of us are comfortable with the idea of taking a trowel and burying our business.Â Having one leaves your site more sanitary and not so gross for the next campers.
Another reason to get a portable potty is the convenience. Most campgrounds will have pit toilets, but even so, itâ€™s not the easiest place to find stumbling around in the middle of the nightâ€”even if you’ve got your headlamp on. Have a means of relieving yourself on board instead.
If you’re only planning on making day trips with your pontoon, it’s still a nice addition. Now nobody has to stress about getting back to the dock!
5. Grills and Camp StovesInvalid table id.
A classic Coleman propane stove is a camping standard. Nowadays they have even smaller camp stoves. But where safety is always a concern with any stove, propane is risky and frowned upon in the boating community.
Theyâ€™re unsafe to use or store in enclosed spaces as leaks can build up, potentially causing an explosion. But you should also never use this inside a pontoon enclosure, as the fumes can build up and knock you out.
We’ve reviewed a few choice grills thoroughly, so be sure to check those out.
6. Camp Chairs and Tables
If you donâ€™t already have a set of camping chairs, I recommend investing in a few crew deck chairs instead. That way you never have to worry about forgetting them, and can just leave on board at all times for extra guest seating during other occasions.
A collapsible table for gathering around for meals is important to have also. Plus itâ€™s great for playing cards or games around too. Again, something you can just leave on board and fetch whenever you need.
7. Mess Kit
- Pots and pans designed specifically for RVs and boats using induction cooktops
- 100% 18-10 mirror polish marine grade stainless steel, encapsulated triple-clad bottoms for superb even heat distribution
- Secures conveniently for storage with the included bungee cord, stores in less than 1/2 cubic foot of space
- Includes 3 sauce pans (1-1/2 quart, 2 quart, and 3 quart) with interchangable lid, a stock pot (5 quart) and a saute / fry pan (9-1/2 inch diameter) with interchangeable lids, two removable handles and storage cord
- Oven and dishwasher safe
The popular Magma cookware set (buy on Amazon)Â is a good set whether youâ€™re cooking on a large cruiser or pontoon. The nesting ability saves space and the stainless steel makes it very durable.
8. Glassware and Utensils
Glass has no place on a boat. Well… except for windows.
But donâ€™t even think of bringing breakable porcelain plates or glasswareâ€”just donâ€™t do it! Any bowls or plates or wine glasses should be BPA-free plastic. Or better yet, stainless steel! Go with something thatâ€™s shatterproof, easy to clean and capable of handling hot liquids.
When I was a novice camper, I took basic plastic cups which eventually became scratched and cloudy. Not to mention they never could handle hot liquids like coffee or tea very well. So I also recently invested in a set of . What I love most about these is theyâ€™re durable and versatile. Theyâ€™re powder-coated, stackable and can hold either a cold pint or your morning joe.
Iâ€™m not a fan of throwaway plastic utensils or paper plates. It just seems so wasteful. And it doesnâ€™t take much extra effort to clean your dishware and flatware. I purchased this set of utensils for myself and love them!
- Unbreakable, rust-proof, camp cutlery set includes 2 forks, knives & spoons, 2 pairs of chopsticks, a storage bag & cap popper.
- Utensils made from heavy duty (3.5 mm) metal designed to perform well with food, unlike cheap plastic flatware.
- Reusable, compact tableware set weighs only 6 ounces, adding virtually no weight to a backpack.
- Washable neoprene bag wicks away moisture and conveniently hangs outside your backpack.
- Great for kids or couples who love to camp & want to ensure they use an environmentally-friendly gear.
They have a carrying pouch to keep them organized and have a normal hand-weight. And Sea to Summit is quality brand name in camp gear; they make lightweight and stackable tableware sets.
- Lightweight, food grade, cut-resistant polypropylene mess kit designed for camping and backpacking
- Six-piece set includes one plate, bowl, mug, fork, knife and spoon
- Includes a gusseted mesh pouch with drawstring closure for carry or air-drying
- Easy to hold thumb grip on plate and bowl doubles as an attachment loop
- Dishwasher safe; total weight 10.6-ounces
9. Mosquito Repellents and Nets
Again, a pontoon enclosure would come in handy for this, especially ones with roll-down windows, but if you canâ€™t afford itâ€”no worries! What you could invest in instead is a mosquito curtain.
Check out Mosquito Curtains. They specialize in exactly this sort of thing, and they have a variety of netting options. With three different mesh type screens including marine-grades for mosquitoes and no-see-ums (a flea-sized mosquito) native to more humid climates, they can shape and customize for everything from pontoons to sailboats to cruisers.
10. Water Purifiers and Tablets
- Gravity-fed, high-capacity, hollow membrane water purifier; ideal for group and family camping, outdoor activities, and emergency preparedness
- Compact roll-bag reservoir available in 5-liter (1. 3 gallon) or 12-liter (3. 1 gallon) size; can be suspended from tree or other support for easy access
- Lifetime filtration capacity of 18, 000 liters (4, 755 gallons); produces flow-rate of 9-12 liters (2. 4-3. 4 gallons) of purified water per hour
- Make an Impact: For every LifeStraw product purchased, LifeStraw will provide a school child in need with safe drinking water for an entire school year.
Five-gallon containers are a quick pick up at your local grocery store. But if you have the ability to gather water from a fresh source, you can get a water purification system.
Lifestraw is known for making literal straws that purifies water as you drink, useful for long-distance backpackers who sip directly from streams. But they also make this much larger family-sized pouch (buy on Amazon). You can take this along for any excursionâ€”not just camping!â€”to clean off sand and mud before stepping back into the boat.
11. Portable Showers and Travel Soap Dispensers
- LONG-LASTING HEAT - The high capacity, insulated 11-liter soft Helio tank heats water using sunlight; Heated water stays piping hot for hours so you can clean up on your schedule
- SUPERIOR PRESSURE & CONTROL - Designed for ultimate user control, the hands-free foot pump provides simple flow regulation and strong water pressure just like your showerhead at home; Fully pressurized, the Helio provides a steady flow for 5-7 minutes
- SHOWER ANYWHERE, ANYTIME - Ideal for camping, backpacking, rafting trips, music festivals, and adventure travel, all shower components stow in a durable, trail-ready carrying case that's effortless to pack in and out
- VERSATILE DESIGN - Engineered with more in mind than just washing off backcountry grime, the Helio is a multi-use cleaning tool with enough water pressure and capacity to wash dishes, bath pets, rinse off gear, or water plants
- LIGHTWEIGHT SYSTEM - The complete Helio system, including 11 liter tank, 7-foot hose with spray nozzle, foot pump, and compact carrying case, pack down to 8.5 x 5.5 inches with a combined weight of 1 lb 6 oz
Nemo Equipment Helio Pressure Shower (buy on Amazon)Â is a versatile shower with stellar reviews.
With a plentiful 11-liter tank itâ€™s not only great for showering but the perfect camping companion for cleaning up your dishes.
You can also use it for rinsing off pets, and should every time if they swim in saltwater.
12. Food Storage Organizers and Prep Stations
- Ideal For Cleaning Fish And Game
- Portable Table For Outdoor Use
- Folding Legs For Easy Storage
- It Can Be Connected To A Garden Hose For A Steady Supply Of Fresh Clean Water.
- Large pull-out wide steel handle with soft grip for easy maneuverability
- Portable, deep tote tray
- Two 2-inch by 4-inch grooves on lid
- Heavy-duty wheels. Assembled Depth (in.)-34.25 in , Assembled Width (in.)-20.47 in, Assembled Height (in.)-18.9 in ,Handle Length (in.) -15in
- Enormous capacity
You can eat standing up or on a pontoon bench. But where it becomes messy is meal preparation.
Chopping and cooking while camping can be a frustrating experience. You forget where you packed things and sometimes find yourself fighting time to eat in daylight. And this is with the luxury of a picnic table.
If you take your boat to a remote island, you won’t have much counter space. So I suggest this portable prep station (buy on Amazon). With collapsible legs, it can hide away on the pontoon when not in use and on any normal weekend, doubles for cleaning fish.
Get a dry box to keep food or other things from getting wet. Stanley is a reputable brand and has very heavy-duty dry boxes. I like this style because it has wheels and a latch (to keep out critters). Plus, you can always keep it on the boat and just add already pre-organized bags of groceries or clothes.
13. Dry Clothing and Dry Sacks
Even when you go cruising for only a day, you need these! Even at minimal speeds with no chance of splash, thereâ€™s still a chance for rain. Protect your food, paper towels, beach towels, electronics (the list goes on) and keep them bone dry in a dry sack or dry box.
But when it comes to campingâ€”dry bags and dry boxes help keep clothes, sleeping bags and pillows from getting too damp. Even the most skilled campers canâ€™t protect their fabrics from absorbing air condensation and moisture. The best you can do is make sure you bring along a watertight container made for all-weather protection.
Also for extra measure, bring moisture-wicking clothes and more than you think youâ€™ll need. And microfiber towels may not be as luxurious and plush, but they dry a lot faster than a regular beach towel.
14. Propane Fire Kit
Thereâ€™s nothing more relaxing than sitting around a bonfire after a day of camping. But youâ€™ll discover some campgrounds or remote sites lack a fire pit.
If you find this to be the case, and you just canâ€™t imagine a bonfire-less camping experience, go purchase a portable fire stove (buy on Amazon). This also frees up space on deck youâ€™d otherwise need for firewood. And propane doesnâ€™t get that smokey campfire smell into all your clothes.
Although I donâ€™t recommend using this on board your pontoon.
You already enjoy the water, so why not appreciate the rest nature has to offer! But if you’re not sold on camping, try one night first and break yourself into it.
You might be pleasantly surprised. And donâ€™t forget to bring marshmallows for sâ€™mores!