17 of the Best Pontoon Boat Brands
There are numerous brands of pontoon boats on the market today. This goes to show just how far pontoons have come in the last several decades. There was once a time when pontoons were a very overlooked type of boat that lacked much of the versatility they feature today. Advances in pontoon technology have allowed for many higher quality pontoons to be available. This list isn’t exhaustive by any means, but these are some of the best and more prominent pontoon brands you’ll find out there.
Avalon & Tahoe
Avalon and Tahoe are based out of Michigan and have been in business since 1972. Though they don’t exclusively make pontoon boats, they do produce models like Catalina, Excalibur, Venture, and more. Avalon and Tahoe boats are often on the higher end of pontoon boats with an eye towards some luxury features and amenities in many of their models.
Barletta manufactures sport and luxury pontoons in Indiana and if you’re looking for higher end luxury they’re one of the best options. They produce lines including Corso, Lusso and Cabrio. They produce performance pontoon boats and are well regarded at the higher end of the popular pontoon boat brands.
Another big name in pontoons, Bennington Marine is based in Indiana and they also produce some very high end pontoons and tritoons. The company has only been in business since 1997, but they have a pedigree that dates back much further as their founders had all been in the industry for a long time before founding Bennington. Everything they produce is under the Bennington name with varying series including SX Line, LX Line, R Bowrider Line and their flagship Q Line. Bennington are considered some of the best pontoon boats in the pontoon boat industry.
Godfrey Pontoon Boats
Based in Indiana, Godfrey Marine has been making boats for over 60 years now. They tend to produce vessels that are more simple and practical than some of the luxury brands. That isn’t to say Godfrey makes low quality boats by any means as they do have higher end models as well. Instead, they have chosen to cover a wide range with their line that includes Sanpan, Sweetwater, Monaco, AquaPatio and XP.
Another maker of some luxury pontoon boats, Harris is based in Indiana and the company is one of the oldest in America dating all the way back to 1956 when they were producing the simplest of pontoon boats. The company is the first to introduce sterndrive pontoons, the first to produce pontoons on an assembly line, the first to use extended decks, the first aluminum transoms, the first power bimini top and so many other impressive innovations. Their model lines include Crowne, Grand Mariner, Solstice, Sunliner and Cruiser.
Legend is a Canadian company that started as a tire shop in 1968. They added boats to their product line in the 1970s, and by 1986 Legend Boats became their main business. They produce both pontoon and non-pontoon boats but their pontoon line includes their V-Series, Q-Series and E-Series. Legends boats are geared towards having fun on the water and can accommodate those interested in fishing, cruising or watersports.
Leisure Kraft is based in Tennessee and is fairly new to the pontoon boat game, with just over 20 years of experience. Despite their newness, they have some popular models that have even won awards and their lines include Prestige and Challenger.
Lowe has been making boats and pontoon boats since the company was founded back in 1971 when they were founded in Missouri. Their pontoon innovations hit the market in 1979 and they’ve been a staple of the pontoon world since that time. They specialize in fishing pontoons and their lines include Ultra, Retreat, SS and SF.
Manitou Pontoon Boats
A Michigan-based company, Manitou specializes exclusively in pontoons and they are designed for everything from fishing to water sports to leisure cruising. You can get a range of prices that cover luxury down to the simple boats that are ideal for first timers and families. Lines include XT, LX, Explore, and Cruise.
Pond King Pro
One of the most unusual histories in pontoon boating belongs to Pond King. The company began offering pond management services in the 1990s. So not boat manufacturing so much as fish stocking and the like. This grew to a wider range of services relating to ponds and lakes and that included making pontoon boats. Their pontoons are small and include one man pontoons intended solely for fishing. Their line includes Sport, Pro, Ultra, Lil Cruiser, Elite and more.
Premier Marine Pontoons
Premier has been making pontoon boats for over 30 years and they even managed to snag the URL of pontoons.com, edging out the competition for what would arguably be the best website for pontoon boats online. Their product line includes Sunspree, Sunsation, Solaris, Intrigue, Supersport and Escalante. Their product line ranges from simple recreation boats to some extremely advanced luxury vessels.
Princecraft Pontoon Boats
Princecraft is a Canadian company that dates back to 1954 when they manufactured traditional aluminum boats. By 1985 they had expanded to produce a line of pontoons. Today, the company has one of the widest ranges of pontoons on the market and their models include Vogue, Quorum, Jazz, Vectra, Sportfisher, Voyageur and Brio Electric. That final model is their fully electric line meaning no fuel is needed for their motors.
South Bay Pontoons
South Bay pontoons are made by Forest River which was founded in 1996. It’s one of the biggest companies in boat manufacturing and employs a stunning 15,000 people, so they’re producing a lot of products under a lot of banners. Their product line ranges from simple, family friendly pontoons, to fishing vessels, to luxury pontoons. Product lines include Le Series, 200 Series, 500 Series, and the Sport Series.
These are produced by G3 Boats which is itself a division of Yamaha Motor USA. G3 has been making boats since the 1960s. They make a wide variety of vessels in addition to pontoon boats but those are all under a different banner. Suncatcher is exclusively pontoon boats and their model line includes Amara, Elite, Fusion and Select.
A huge name in pontoons, Sun Tracker makes both fishing and luxury pontoons in familiar models like the Bass Buggy, Sportfish. Fishin Barge and Party Barge. The company was founded by Johnny Morris, the man behind Bass Pro Shops, and has been producing vessels under the Sun Tracker banner since 1983. The parent company behind Sun Tracker is now the world’s biggest boat builder by volume, so if you want a boat made by a company that absolutely knows what they’re doing, Sun Tracker has you covered.
Sylvan Marine is based in Indiana and may be the oldest of the pontoon manufacturers you’ll find in America. The company was founded in 1903 and they pioneered the use of aluminum for building boats at a time when wood was still the order of the day. Their current line of pontoons include the M-Series, S-Series, L-Series, and the Mirage line.
Other Pontoon Boat Manufacturers
You may have noticed that some names are missing, things like Starcraft or Parti Kraft. Many of these other names, which are fairly popular, are actually subsidiaries of the larger companies. For instance, Starcraft Marine and Sylvan are the same company, which also manufactures Sunchaser among a few other well known brands. Parti Kraft is made by Godfrey and so on.
Manufacturers of Luxury Pontoon Boats
Most companies that make pontoon boats have divided their product lines up to family-focused pontoons, fishing pontoon boats, and luxury pontoons. There are a small handful of companies that focus exclusively on luxury pontoons however, and if that’s what you’re looking for, companies like Bennington, Manitou and Barletta make some of the highest end available.
What is the Best Pontoon Boat Brand
Most people looking for a new pontoon are looking to ask this question. What are the best pontoon boat brands? I feel like the ones I have listed all have some really solid options and some great product lines that are worth checking out. It’s too difficult to offer a single answer to that question because it’s so subjective. Just think of what kind of answers you’d get if you asked who is the best car maker out there. Some people will pick Ford no matter what, some might choose an obscure luxury brand like Koenigsegg and some might go for the new kid on the block with Tesla.
Because your criteria can be so different from someone else’s, there can’t be a right answer. Pontoons are great for fishing, as we know, but they can be party boats, relaxing family boats, water sport boats and really comfortable and well-appointed luxury boats. Some people want to push the limits and get the fastest pontoon boat they can find. Because of all of that I’d be hesitant to say which brand I think is the single best.
That all being said, brands like Godfrey, Bennington, Harris, Manitou and others have been in business long enough to develop a solid reputation and a legacy that says many boaters agree these are great brands and even if they’re not the ones you choose, you should definitely look into what they have to offer when you’re in the market for a new boat.
The Bottom Line
There are dozens of manufacturers of pontoon boats and inflatable pontoon boats in America and around the world. Most of the older companies began by manufacturing traditional boats and some newer ones have focused exclusively on pontoons. Some manufacturers have diversified their line by releasing boats under a variety of labels making it difficult to tell that they all come from the same company, similar to how automakers like Toyota also produce the Lexus line of automobiles. Most manufacturers produce lines that can cover any boaters needs ranging from family-style boats, party boats, fishing boats and luxury boats.
Categories: Pontoon Boats