On this blog, we’ve written almost exclusively about pontoon boats thus far. However, there exists a variation on the pontoon that we’ve mentioned a few times as well. It’s called a tritoon. What’s the difference between these two boats?
The key difference between a pontoon and a tritoon is the addition of a third pontoon tube on tritoon boats. This gives tritoons enviable speed. These boats often have a bigger frame than pontoons and can thus fit more people onboard.
In this article, we’ll talk about even more differences between pontoons and tritoons. Whether you already own a pontoon and you’re thinking of upgrading or you want to just skip all that and buy a tritoon right out of the gate, you’ll have all the info you need.
What’s a Pontoon Boat?
Obviously, you’re quite familiar with pontoon boats, being a reader of this blog and all. You might even own one of these vessels yourself. For the sake of this article, we need to talk about all the features of pontoon boats so we can then contrast them with tritoons.
Let’s begin with the construction of a pontoon boat then, shall we? Pontoon boats have two pontoon tubes on either side of the vessel. Sometimes these inflate, but not across all models. Other manufacturers will make the pontoon tubes from nylon or PVC that resists scratches and abrasions. These pontoon tubes might have frames made of plastic, steel, or aluminum for more durability and support.
Inside a pontoon tube, you’ll often find several chambers, all airtight. There are multiple chambers so if one happens to get damaged, the entire pontoon tube won’t go down and risk sinking the boat. After all, pontoon boats have a history of not capsizing often.
Sometimes manufacturers make pontoon tubes with a single chamber. These baffled round tubes displace water exceptionally well. Unfortunately, they’re more likely to sink in an accident since there’s only one chamber per tube.
Foam-filled pontoon tubes are your third option. You’ll often find these U-shaped additions on cheaper pontoon boats.
Moving on from pontoon tubes, pontoon boats have a typical length of 16 to 27 feet. As our frequent blog readers know, these boats are not very fast, with an average speed of about 25 miles per hour. The smaller ones can carry maybe eight or 10 people and the bigger ones more than 20 passengers.
What’s a Tritoon Boat?
Then there’s the mighty tritoon. The key difference, as we mentioned in the intro, is that tritoons have three pontoon tubes instead of two. The third one goes down the center of the boat. Then there’s one tube on each side.
Not only does this extra tube make a tritoon safer and less likely to capsize than even a pontoon, but it also increases speed. Engines come equipped with capabilities of 250 to 350 horsepower. Their average speed starts at about 30 MPH, already outpacing a standard pontoon boat.
With a bigger engine and more pontoon tubes, a tritoon must have a larger frame compared to pontoons. Their length starts at 22 feet and can go all the way to 30 feet. Since they have more deck space, you can fit more passengers. Smaller tritoons have a baseline passenger count of 14, but some larger ones allow for more than 30 people.
You probably won’t find any tritoons with foam pontoon tubes, but it could happen. They’re more likely to have several airtight chambers in the nylon or PVC tubes to keep the tritoon afloat as it traverses the seas.
The Pros and Cons of Tritoon Ownership
We’ve already covered the pros and cons of owning a pontoon boat on this blog. If you missed that post, we recommend you go back and read it. Then you can compare it to this section on the pros and cons of tritoons.
Let’s start with the good stuff! Here’s some tritoon boat pros.
- As mentioned, tritoon boats have a speed advantage over pontoons.
- They also boast more stability due to that additional pontoon tube.
- If you like riding in deeper waters, such as big lakes, then get a tritoon. That extra stability will really come in handy here.
- You can enjoy more watersports and other activities on the water with a tritoon compared to a pontoon. For instance, if you wanted to pull water skiers, tubers, wakeboarders, and others, you can with ease. The speed and size of tritoons make them perfect for these activities. You already know that’s not the case with pontoon boats.
- If you wish to ride in the ocean at low tide, you safely can in a tritoon. While we still don’t recommend you go out during high tide, tritoons will pass through choppy conditions without difficulty. If you ever get caught in a storm, you’ll feel safer.
- Tritoon boats can also ride in lakes, ponds, and streams, but make sure they’re bigger bodies.
As cool as tritoons are, they’re not perfect. Here’s some cons to take into consideration.
- When it comes to fishing, many boaters prefer pontoons over tritoons. Why? We’re already talking about quite a hefty, unwieldy boat in the pontoon. When you make it even bigger with a tritoon, you can’t really ride in most small lakes and ponds. You won’t really fit. Getting into corners or nooks? Forget about it!
- If you currently store your pontoon boat in your garage or backyard for the winter (and you could do so legally), then you don’t have to pay to keep it in a storage facility. Sadly, you can’t really get away with doing the same thing with a tritoon. That means you have to shell out money for storage.
- Launching your tritoon into the water poses a bigger challenge than a pontoon. We mean that both literally and figuratively.
- The trailer you have for a pontoon boat won’t suffice for a tritoon. For one, the trailer will be too small. Besides that, you’ll also need a braking system installed in the trailer so your tritoon doesn’t fly off while you drive. That’s not a feature common with pontoon trailers.
- Handling, driving, and steering with a tritoon will definitely require an adjustment period. It’s not quite the same as getting behind the wheel of a pontoon boat.
- Tritoons cost a lot more than pontoons. You might pay $18,000 to $60,000 for a pontoon boat. As for a tritoon? Prepare to shell out $35,000 to start with. Ouch.
Which Is Right for You, a Pontoon or a Tritoon?
As you decide between a pontoon or tritoon boat, keep the following factors in mind. They’ll guide you in your choice.
As we mentioned in the pros and cons section, pontoon boats start at $18,000 and tritoons $35,000. That’s a price difference of $17,000. That’s enough money to buy a whole second semi-cheap pontoon boat.
Can you afford to spend that much money on a boat? That’s something only you can answer. It does you no good to be dishonest in your assessment. If you don’t have that much money to set aside for a tritoon but you still want one, then save up. By budgeting and scrimping for a year, maybe longer, you should soon get enough cash to buy your very own tritoon.
If you’re interested in pontoons in the first place, then we can reasonably assume that you don’t care much about going super fast on the water. If you did, then you’d probably look at speedboats instead. That said, it’s not very fun to go out riding on a crowded lake and see everyone zipping around you while you’re stuck doing a little more over 20 MPH. That’s your reality with pontoon boat ownership.
Well, unless you decide to modify your boat. We’ve talked about this on the blog before, but there’s certain modifications you can do to your pontoon to make it go marginally faster. By combining several methods at once, you could see a negligible speed boost.
Great, then! What’s stopping you? Well, most modifications will void your warranty. If you trim the engine or reposition it, that’s okay. Booster balls also won’t put your manufacturer coverage at risk. However, if you get underskinning done or lifting strakes added, you’ll have a faster boat but a warranty that’s no good.
Some pontoon boats do come outfitted with engines capable of greater horsepower. These tend to sit in the same price range as tritoons, though, so you’re not benefitting financially.
Tritoons will almost always have a significant speed boost over a pontoon boat. This will matter more to some people than others. If you often tow watersports enthusiasts, then a pontoon boat simply won’t do. It can’t get the right speed to make these activities fun.
The size of your boat matters in many ways. For instance, earlier we talked about storing your boat. If it’s a pontoon, you can possibly keep in on your property. Obviously, this only applies for smaller boats. The large, rectangular shape of pontoons doesn’t exactly make them friendly in most home garages, after all.
That applies triply to a tritoon boat. Even the longest pontoon can’t measure up to a tritoon. With a longer boat comes more of a hassle when the wintertime arrives. You’ll have to figure out where to store your tritoon. More than likely, it’ll end up at a facility or in a storage box. Storage facilities charge by the month, and you pay more to keep your boat indoors than outdoors.
Even if you go the storage cube route, you’d need a big storage space to squeeze your tritoon in. The more space you require, the higher your monthly bill. You could park seaside, but you’d need a bigger dock to accommodate your bulkier tritoon. That again means spending more money.
We just wrote a great post about the many means of storing your pontoon or tritoon boat. We share the costs of renting or owning a dock as well as paying to keep your boat at a facility. This’ll give you a good idea of what your monthly and annual costs will be for storage.
On the note of size, you also have to consider how many passengers you want onboard at once. Do you often host pontoon block parties or wish you could? Then a large pontoon or tritoon works best for you. If you only ever bring maybe three or five people on your boat max, then there’s really no need to size up a to a tritoon. There’ll just be a lot of empty deck space.
Pontoons and tritoons alike offer a lot of versality in terms of the bodies of water you can ride. You do get more options with tritoons, though. They can withstand rough, choppy waters with less risk of capsizing due to their third pontoon tube. You can even take them out in the ocean, something you shouldn’t do if you have a pontoon boat.
If you’ve practiced driving your tritoon and it just doesn’t want to go in a small corner or tight space, it’s not your imagination. These boats don’t handle well in such close quarters. Pontoons can navigate turns and corners with more ease, and even they’re not particularly graceful about it.
You also have to think about maintenance. It’s true that tritoons and pontoons aren’t that different, but the former requires more maintenance. Why? These boats simply have more parts.
How easily can you get in and out of your boat? That depends on its size. A bigger boat means expending more effort going around the whole thing, cleaning it up and checking on parts and components. You can’t really skip maintenance either, at least not regularly. Doing so will cause damage to your boat, and you’ll only have to spend more money to get it fixed later. If you happened to void your warranty, then you’d have to pay entirely out of your own pocket.
Pontoons and tritoons have one pontoon tube between them. That’s how tritoons earned their name, for their three tubes. These boats have size, speed, stability, and passenger count over the average pontoon boat. It might seem like an easy choice in favor of the tritoon, then, but these vessels cost a lot more than a pontoon.
By reviewing the pros and cons and other factors we covered in this article, you shouldn’t find it too hard to decide between pontoon or tritoon boats. No matter which you pick, you’ll have a great, dependable boat. Good luck with your decision!