Outdoors - 13 min read

Tritoon Vs. Pontoon: What Is The Difference?

Town and Tourist

Town and Tourist, Updated October 22, 2022

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Buying a new boat is a daunting task because of how many options there are and how different each vessel is. Tritoons and pontoons are among the most common and widely available boats that you can find today. So, what is the difference between tritoons and pontoons and how do they compare?

Pontoons feature 2 tubes known as toons and tritoons have 3 of them. Tritoons are more stable than pontoons because of the third tube and they can withstand waves and choppy water better. You also have more space for cargo and passengers on a tritoon than on a pontoon because they are often 30 feet long or larger.

Pontoons and tritoons are largely the same when it comes to comfort. However, you will be more comfortable on a tritoon if you need to haul lots of cargo and passengers as the capacity can reach up to 21 people. Follow along as we compare tritoons and pontoons and see what makes each boat unique.

What Are The Differences Between A Pontoon And A Tritoon?

While these two unique boats are similar, they definitely have their fair bit of differences. Below, we discuss each factor as it pertains to the boat type.

Speed

One of the main appeals of tritoons is that they are faster than pontoons. Tritoons feature 3 tubes and pontoons have 2 which makes them slightly slower. Pontoons are more suitable for cruising or fishing whereas tritoons are popular among fans of watersports and even racing.

Tritoons also feature more powerful engines and motors than pontoons. This is necessary because tritoons are much larger than pontoons, so they require more engine power. That’s not to say that all pontoons are slow, but they rarely exceed 17-25 miles per hour unless you get a high-end luxury model.

Conversely, a tritoon can reach speeds up to 50 miles per hour making them more suitable for water skiing and tubing. On the low end, the average tritoon can at least reach 40 miles per hour. Tritoons beat pontoons in the speed category, but that’s not an important factor for every boater.

Comfort

There aren’t many differences between pontoons and tritoons when it comes to comfort. You typically have the same options when it comes to upholstery and seating between the two. This is especially true if you’re able to customize the floor plan or upholstery when you order from a manufacturer.

You can find pontoons and tritoons that feature cabins which greatly increase the comfort of a vessel. The cabin on a tritoon will generally be more comfortable than on a pontoon because of the extra space, however. Otherwise, you won’t find many differences in comfort between pontoons and tritoons unless you need extra space.

Size

Tritoons are typically larger than pontoons which is a big part of their selling point. However, that means that you will also have to spend more money to dock your tritoon at a marina. It’s harder to store a tritoon than a pontoon even if you don’t dock at a marina because they take up so much space.

The average pontoon rarely exceeds 25 feet long, and that is quite large for a pontoon. They typically measure 15-18 feet and weigh 2,000 pounds. Tritoons are larger and generally measure 22-30 feet long and can weigh as much as 5,000 pounds.

You can’t typically use the same trailer for a pontoon that you would for a tritoon because of the size difference. For example, you risk flat tires if you put a tritoon on a pontoon trailer because of the excessive weight. The larger size is desirable for many who want to fit as many people and as much cargo on the vessel as possible.

Capacity

The capacity for a pontoon is typically between 10 and 16 people. It depends on the floor plan, the size of the boat, and whether or not there is a cabin. You can fit up to 21 people or more on a tritoon in many cases because they’re generally bigger.

Small pontoons may not be able to fit more than 8 people in some cases. The weight of each passenger and the weight of the cargo that’s on the vessel are important factors in the maximum capacity. Most manufacturers say a specific capacity, but that is based on average weight and doesn’t always factor in the cargo.

With that said, you never want to exceed the recommended capacity whether you have a pontoon or tritoon. The maximum weight a boat can handle refers to the cargo and the people on board. You would need to limit how many people are on your pontoon or tritoon if you are hauling lots of cargo.

Stability

Tritoons are much smoother and more stable than pontoons. That is because tritoons feature 3 tubes whereas pontoons only have 2 of them. This extra support lets the vessel easily navigate rough waters without shaking and rocking violently.

That’s not to say that pontoons can’t handle rough water, but the third tube on a tritoon makes it much more stable. Pontoons are safe, but you should consider a tritoon instead if you will primarily travel through rough and wavey water. The third tube, or toon, on a tritoon makes them more buoyant which is useful whether you are riding or idling.

Fishing

Pontoons and tritoons are both ideal for fishing, and the right option for you comes down to budget and preference. Tritoons are better for fishing if you plan to head out onto the water and fish with a large group of people. A pontoon is suitable if you only need to fish with 8-10 people or less, and that’s more than enough for many people.

You can find pontoons and tritoons that are specifically designed for fishing. This is ideal if you are going to use your boat primarily for fishing. Fishing pontoons often feature built-in rod hooks and large catch coolers that you won’t find on a standard vessel.

Watersports

Many people buy pontoons and tritoons for the prospect of watersports. However, pontoons aren’t quite ideal for watersports because of their slow speed and limited stability. Watersports such as waterskiing and tubing require a boat that can reach high speeds, and that’s where tritoons come into play.

With that said, watersports are still possible with pontoons, but the reduced speed makes it undesirable. Many manufacturers produce tritoons and pontoons with layouts that are specifically designed for watersports. However, it is worth spending the extra money for a tritoon if watersports are important to you because pontoons aren’t ideal for them.

Docking

It typically costs more to dock a tritoon than a pontoon. That is because marinas charge you per foot per month or year to dock a boat. They may charge you anywhere between $10 and $50 per foot depending on your location and how much space the marina has.

It can cost less if the marina isn’t in an area with premium land values but docking a pontoon or tritoon isn’t cheap. The larger size of a tritoon compared to a pontoon means that you’ll always have to spend more money. You can expect to spend up to $7,000 per year to dock a tritoon at a premium marina if it measures 30 feet or longer.

Generally, it costs at least $1,000-$2,000 less per year to dock a pontoon at a marina. The smaller length and width of a pontoon means that you will pay less upfront docking costs. 

Safety

Tritoons are safer than pontoons if you are taking your boat out far or into rough water. The average pontoon sits too low to the water that waves can easily crash into the vessel and land on the deck. This can weigh down the boat in extreme cases causing serious damage and even potentially sinking it.

Tritoons are often taller than pontoons and are less likely to rock in rough water and heavy waves. It’s not unheard of for pontoons to capsize in rough waters which is dangerous and not worth risking. Granted, you should never take your pontoon or tritoon out in rough waters as a rule of thumb, especially if it’s storming.

You get more protection from a tritoon than a pontoon but both vessels are safe. However, it is unsafe to take a pontoon more than 1-2 miles from shore, especially if you’re in the ocean.

Price

The difference in cost between pontoons and tritoons can be difficult to grasp. Typically, tritoons cost more than pontoons, but it becomes complicated when you get into luxury features. A standard pontoon generally costs $15,00-$18,000 or more.

Tritoons often start at $30,000 or more, but you can find bargains for around $25,000. With that said, some pontoons can cost over $100,000 even if they’re smaller than a tritoon. It all comes down to luxury features that add significant value to a boat of any kind.

For example, a pontoon with a cabin and a bathroom could easily cost $5,000-$10,000 more than a tritoon of the same size without luxury features.

Storage

Understandably, many pontoon and tritoon owners want to save money and store their boats at home. This can save thousands of dollars each year compared to docking your boat at a marina, especially if you live in Florida or California. It is much easier to store a pontoon at home than a tritoon because of the smaller size.

You can also connect a pontoon to a trailer more easily than a tritoon. Sometimes, you need to get a custom trailer for a tritoon to even be able to bring it to your home. A tritoon trailer can cost anywhere between $2,800 and $9,000 or more.

The cost is similar for a pontoon trailer, but it’s important to get the right size or you risk serious damage. Luckily, the process for storing a tritoon is the same as a pontoon. The only difference is that you will need much more space to store a tritoon than a pontoon, and that’s not doable for everyone.

Pontoon Pros and Cons

Pontoons are among the most popular types of boats. There are dozens of prominent pontoon boat manufacturers, and they’re among the most widely available vessels. With that said, there are several pros and cons of pontoon boats.

Pros

Pontoon boats are the perfect vessels for cruising and fishing. They are low-maintenance compared to tritoons and are relatively inexpensive to dock. You can also save money if you buy a pontoon instead of a tritoon, and that is a major selling point for many boaters.

Another selling point is that you can easily trailer and tow a pontoon without special equipment. This comes in handy whether you’re bringing your pontoon to a marina or storing it at your home for the season.

  • Perfect for fishing
  • Low-maintenance
  • Affordable
  • Easy to transport

Cons

The main downside of pontoons is that they move so slowly. Not everyone needs to reach high speeds, especially if you don’t plan to go out too far. However, many pontoons don’t even go faster than 20 miles per hour and that is too slow for many boaters.

Pontoons also have a limited capacity for passengers and cargo. Large pontoons can reach up to 25 feet and can hold up to 16 people, but that is rare and they generally hold 10 people or less. You can only really use pontoons for fishing and cruising, so racing and watersports are out of the question.

  • Slow speed
  • Limited capacity
  • Bad for watersports

Tritoon Pros and Cons

Sun Tracker

Much like pontoons, tritoons come with their fair share of benefits and downsides. While they are quite similar, the key differences between pontoons and tritoons are evident in their pros and cons.

Pros

Tritoons blow pontoons out of the water in terms of size and capacity. The massive size of a tritoon compared to a pontoon also means that you will get more storage. You aren’t limited when it comes to speed as you would be with a pontoon.

Tritoons offer more value because they are great for fishing, cruising, leisure, and watersports. This opens the door to more opportunities than you would get with a pontoon.

  • High capacity
  • Plenty of storage
  • Can reach high speeds
  • Great for watersports

Cons

Most of the downsides of tritoons are related to their large size. The tradeoff with the extra space is that it will be much more expensive to dock a tritoon than a pontoon. Marinas charge you based on the length and often the width of the boat.

You need to buy an expensive trailer to even be able to haul a tritoon. This can cost up to $8,000 or more if you need to have it customized. The base price of a tritoon is also much more than a pontoon in most cases, especially if you get one with luxury features. This makes it difficult for many people to justify buying a tritoon which is exclusive and explains why many people choose pontoons instead.

  • More expensive to dock than pontoons
  • Requires an expensive trailer
  • Difficult to transport

Can a Tritoon Boat Flip?

A tritoon boat technically can flip but it is incredibly rare and it would take a lot for that to happen. Tritoons sit on 3 tubes filled with air that keep them afloat supporting the cargo and passengers. A pontoon with 2 tubes is more likely to flip than a tritoon, but even that is unlikely.

Sure, pontoons and tritoons have flipped, but their design makes it much harder than a standard fishing boat. Both pontoons and tritoons feature flat decks which help give the boat stability making it difficult to flip. You are safer in a tritoon because the extra tube makes it easier to handle excessive rocking, but even a standard pontoon is unlikely to flip.

Is a Tritoon Better Than a Pontoon?

A tritoon is better than a pontoon if you need more space for cargo and passengers. Tritoons are also better than pontoons if you want to reach speeds higher than 25 miles per hour. Pontoons are primarily ideal for short trips under 2 miles away from the shore, and they’re popular for fishing.

Tritoons are great for fishing as well, but they offer much more variety than a standard pontoon. You have access to a stronger engine, more space, and better handling when in rough waters. Consider a tritoon if it fits your budget and you want a boat that can be used for everything from cruising and fishing to watersports and racing.

So, What Is The Difference Between Tritoons and Pontoons?

The main difference between tritoons and pontoons is size. Tritoons often measure up to 30 feet long or larger whereas pontoons generally stay within the 15-18-foot range. Pontoons rarely exceed 2,000 pounds but tritoons often weigh 5,000 pounds or more.

Tritoons are better suited for rough and wavy waters than pontoons are. Pontoons are at great risk in choppy waters, but that isn’t a concern with tritoons. It is much more expensive to dock tritoons than pontoons because marinas charge you based on the length and width of your vessel. Both pontoons and tritoons are great, but tritoons are better if you like watersports and need more space.

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