It’s no secret pontoon boats have quite a large, bulky frame. Sometimes you wished you could have a smaller, more streamlined vessel, but that would mean making the move from pontoon boats to something else, wouldn’t it? Not with a mini pontoon boat. Wait, that exists? What’s a mini pontoon boat?
Mini pontoon boats have a slimmer, narrower frame than traditional pontoons. They still include all the same features you’ve come to expect, such as pontoon tubes, metal railings, and even an awning roof. By owning one of these boats, you cut down on some significant width.
Now that you’ve become acquainted with the wonderful mini ‘toon, you’re probably eager to learn more about these boats. If so, then look no further. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about mini pontoon boats. Let’s get started.
What’s the Average Size of a Mini Pontoon Boat?
On average, a basic pontoon boat has a length of about 22 feet. Some are smaller, like 20 feet, and others 25 feet or more.
Mini pontoons don’t have nearly as much heft or width, as we talked about in the intro. They’re about 10 feet wide and five feet long, making them quite tiny. As an equivalent, that’s about 50 square feet of space. In a room in your home, that’s roughly the size of a closet.
You’d be surprised how much manufacturers can fit into such a small space. These mini ‘toons have seating, sometimes for up to four passengers. Others have couch-style booth seating that can fit maybe six people. With some mini ‘toons, you also have side tables, cupholders, and fishing amenities. That means you’re not giving up nearly as many features as you probably thought.
What Are the Best Brands?
If you’re looking for a narrower pontoon boat, you don’t have to stray far from brands you already know. For instance, the Eagle Cruiser from Avalon has a slimmer shape than most pontoons on the market. You can say the same about the S16 Narrow Beam from Bennington, a gem in the pontooning world. This skinny boat has all the posh amenities you love from Bennington but with much less heft.
What if you want your very own mini ‘toon? There are many brands that produce these types of tiny boats. Let’s look at them in more depth now.
Pond King, Inc.
Since 1995, Pond King, Inc. has dealt in fish stock and pond management. You might wonder, how does that work include pontoon boats? Well, the company also makes fishery, lake, and pond products, boats among them.
They have two mini ‘toons you might like: the Pond King Patriot and the Pond King Rebel Modular Pontoon. If neither of those quite float your boat, so to speak, you can even get a DIY kit for assembling your own tiny pontoon. Just think of how cool it’d be to ride a customized pontoon and make everyone jealous.
Kennedy Pontoons Incorporated
With decades upon decades of service (they were founded in 1964), Kennedy Pontoons Incorporated produces a slew of vehicles. These include water bikes, electric pontoons, small and mini pontoons, pedal boats, and paddle boats.
Their mini ‘toons include the 1700 Sundeck and 1700 Super Sport. They even make electric mini pontoons.
Tahoe Pontoon Boats
Based in Alma, Michigan, Tahoe Pontoon Boats calls themselves a “vertically integrated builder.” They assemble the furniture, framing, and pontoon boats themselves for each vessel they make. Tahoe even took home a National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) award for their work.
Their mini pontoons include the GT Fish, GT Cruise, Sport Fish, and Sport CRB/QL.
Pro Strike Boats
You can shop for canoes, jon boats, and pontoons at Pro Strike Boats. This manufacturer likes to keep its ‘toons small, including the Pro Strike 126 EXR Mini.
Examples of Mini Pontoon Boats
Okay, now that we’ve talked a bit about manufacturers of small, even narrow pontoon boats, it’s time to get into some real examples. The following boats are from some of the brands we just covered. Any of them would make a great choice for you if you’re considering a mini ‘toon.
Patriot Mini Two-Man Fishing Pontoon Boat
This Pond King boat is about as American as it gets. The Patriot Mini, which recently partook in a 25th anniversary blowout bash for the brand, arrives in 2020. The boat of course has pontoon tubes, both 14 inches and made of a welded aluminum. You also get an aluminum kick rail that’s six inches, mounted dual seats in patriotic white and blue, a marine-grade carpet, and marine-grade plywood flooring. An aluminum frame surrounds the slim but sizeable deck.
You do need to put the deck onto the boat yourself via bolting with sockets and a ratchet. As you remember from the last section, Pond King does have a DIY pontoon, so this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
For $436 extra, you can get a Minn Kota tiller trolling motor added on that weighs 45 pounds. It includes a wired plug, a battery box, and its own circuit breaker. You can also pay $189 for an aluminum welded rail that stands 16 inches tall.
Pro Strike 126 EXR Mini Pontoon Boat
The namesake of Pro Strike Boats, the Pro Strike 126 EXR Mini will win you over in many ways. It has an eight-inch draft at 800 pounds and weighs 439 pounds on its own. It can hold 1,200 pounds of weight, or about five passengers. This mini ‘toon also includes 36-inch tall rails and a 6×11-foot deck. It has a width of six feet, six inches and a length of 12 feet, seven inches.
Pro Strike Boats made the entire pontoon from aluminum. It’s a self-bailing boat that doesn’t need trapped water or a bilge pump. The pontoon tubes have valves as well as multi-chambered seals. You can use the rear transom motor mounts for either electric or gas outboards, your pick.
All seats have stainless steel bolts so they stay secure. The deck includes a power-coated, diamond-plated aluminum surface that’s durable yet appealing. It also prevents skidding.
The Sport Fish from Tahoe Pontoons has several floorplans. These include the 20-foot Fish N Cruise, the Cruise Bow Fish in 18 or 20 feet, the Rear Fish in 16 to 20 feet, the Bow Fish in 14 to 18 feet, and the Quad fish in 16 or 18 feet.
This mini ‘toon has amenities like aluminum deck corner protection, an expanded rear deck, double full risers, and pontoon tubes with a diameter of 23 inches each. Outside of the boat, you’ll love sitting in a cadet fixed driver’s chair. You also get plenty of navigation lights, an aluminum ladder at the rear, and transport position brackets. The Bimini top has mounts, a quick release feature, and an aluminum frame with anodizing. There’s also flat graphic logos and single panel walls on the boat’s exterior.
Inside the Sport Fish, there’s many other wonders to behold. These include frame cladding in pewter or bronze, deco carpet or vinyl flooring, and aluminum seats with their own ventilation system. These seats come with all the perks: lounge arms, Matrix 50 vinyl, and rotating, adjusting features. You even get a thermoform table.
The LS in the Qwest LS stands for Luxury Series. That means you’re truly getting something good. For instance, the new LS has its own Splash Pad, either the 822 or the 844 (22 and 24 feet respectively). These Splash Pads have rear loungers with two backrests. You can adjust the loungers in several positions so they’re the most comfortable for you.
If you want an even better boat, you can upgrade the LS to a mini tritoon! It includes an eight-foot deck, a motor trim gauge, an aluminum ski tow bar, and U-Flex hydraulic steering. You also get a tunnel hull aluminum underskin made to ride better on the water without as much drag. With tritoon lifting strakes, you’ll have more control of your boat in all sorts of conditions.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Mini Pontoon
Has one or more of the above mini pontoon boats intrigued you? Great! Before you make a commitment, though, you’ll want to read through this pros and cons list. This way, you get a full, balanced picture of what it’s truly like to own a mini pontoon boat.
- No need to stress about storage: Like RV owners, those with pontoon boats have to retire their vessel once the weather gets cold. Instead of shelling out lots of cash for a facility or storage space, you can just stash your mini ‘toon in your garage. It should fit, especially if you already keep a car in there.
- Maneuvering made easy: If there’s one thing pontoon boats don’t excel at, that’s maneuvering. That all changes with a slimmer mini ‘toon. Suddenly, you’ll find it easier to turn, park, stop, and do all sorts of other things.
- They’re still stable: You might worry that cutting down on the size of your pontoon boat will make it less stable on the water. That’s not true. Narrower, mini ‘toons come with flat hulls like any other pontoon does. They’re much less likely to capsize, then, even if it can still happen.
- Fewer passengers: One of the coolest parts of owning a full-sized pontoon boat? You could bring all your friends and family onboard. Some of the biggest boats can even fit more than 20 people. You won’t find that with most narrow, mini pontoon boats. You’re lucky if you can bring four or five passengers.
- Lower speed: Pontoon boats don’t really go fast, as you’re already aware of. You might think that by shedding some of their bulk, that could change. Slimmer, narrower pontoons often do have speed advantages over their full-sized counterparts, that’s true. They’re not speedboats, though. You still won’t zip and zag through the water like lightning. Sorry.
- They’re still pontoon boats at the end of the day: If you’re looking for a narrow or mini pontoon boat because you think these will erase all the standard pontoon’s shortcomings, keep looking. They’re still pontoon boats, but they’re just slimmer and skinnier. They turn better and maybe go a bit faster. All the issues you’d have with a full-sized pontoon boat will likely still be present.
Safety Tips for Smart Sailing on a Small Pontoon
Just because you own a smaller pontoon boat than what you’re used to doesn’t mean you should ignore traditional safety rules. You still want to make sure you either have life vests or floatation devices on your boat. Your passengers should wear their life vests when they’re onboard the boat and it’s moving.
No one should make sudden movements while the boat’s in motion, such as standing up. It’s better if everyone stays seated until/unless you stop the boat. You also want to have a first-aid kit, an oar in case your motor dies, a fully-charged battery, and flashlights. We just talked about these safety tips in our last guide.
What about tips specific to small pontoons? Well, while you can drive somewhat faster and maneuver better in a mini ‘toon than a traditional pontoon, don’t abuse the privilege. Remember, these boats can capsize. Trying to do too much too fast will spell disaster.
Also, follow the rules of the water you’d abide in a regular-sized pontoon. Don’t ride in choppy conditions like the ocean at high tide. Mini pontoons can generally handle shallower bodies of water pretty well, but don’t linger at low tide for too long.
Also, if you do go riding in shallow water, such as in a pond, make sure you don’t hit any debris like rocks or dirt piles. If you don’t, your mini ‘toon should handle these waters just fine due to their hull shape.
Smaller, narrower pontoons shed the heft of a full-sized boat. With their sleeker, trimmer profiles, these boats can turn and maneuver with ease. They may ride on the water somewhat faster than regular pontoons, but this won’t be by leaps and bounds. Also, mini ‘toons are much more portable, enough so that you can stash them in your garage over the winter. You can’t do that with a traditional pontoon boat unless you have a very large garage.
Many brands make mini ‘toons at different price points. If you’re seriously shopping for your own small boat, we recommend you start by looking at the pontoons we covered in this article. You can surely find a small boat you’ll love!