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Deck Boat Vs Bowrider: Which One Is for You?

Fact checked by William Hart


Deck boat vs bowrider, what is the main difference? You can think of a deck boat as a minivan and a bowrider like a sports car. While a deck boat is heavier and more spacious, a bowrider is more sleek and sporty.

But what characteristics are more valuable, space or speed? What other features should you consider before purchasing? Continue reading for advice from our experts.

Table of Contents

Bowrider vs. Deck Boat: 5 Facts


What is a deck boat? What does a deck boat look like? It is a pontoon but with a V-shaped bow. It has seats on the front deck, thus the name. You can ride it in bays, oceans, and lakes, but not to tackle rough water bodies. They range from 18 to 35 feet and have a maximum passenger load of 12 people.

What is a bowrider? Bowriders range from 16 to 35 feet and can accommodate five to seven people. The model is perfect for water sports and day cruising as it can tackle rough sea waves and shallow saltwater bays.

Now that you know the bowrider and deck boat definitions, let’s dig in for their pros and cons.

1. Bow designs

A deck boat’s bow is wider than a bowrider’s bow. It also flares out at the bottom. Thus, it offers extra room and is heavier.

The narrower bows of bowriders make them more sleek and sporty. This feature also helps reduce the overall weight. You will find it easier to tow a bowrider behind your car.

2. Interior layouts


Even though both are spacious, deck boats often provide more room and comfort for your passengers.

A pontoon deck boat has one captain seat, one bench on the side, one bench at the back, and two benches at the front. You will get a small windshield at the console. The boat feels open, almost like a pontoon.

A bowrider always comes with a full windshield. You will have two captain chairs (one for the driver, one for the passenger) and one bench across the back. This limits its capacity and openness. To compensate for that, manufacturers often add a sun pad or sunshade lounge at the stern.

3. Ride and performances

Both models have V-shaped hulls, so you will feel little difference when riding on a calm lake. But when the water gets tough, bowriders are the winner.

A V-hull deck boat has a lower deadrise angle, which makes the ride smoother. Its heaviness also helps you handle the vessel more easily at a low speed. But in a rough chop, you will feel bumpier.

A bowrider is light, fast, and nimble. Since it rides higher on the bow, it can maneuver on rough sea waves with ease. At a high speed, bowriders outperform deck boats.

4. Fuel efficiency

Brands design deck boats with fuel efficiency in mind. They are for cruising all day long with your families. Conversely, bowriders require more fuel to perform at their best. The higher the engine power, the more fuel it will consume.

But remember that fuel consumption also depends largely on the boat’s weight and the load it carries.

5. Price and resale value

In terms of price, deck boats are more expensive than bowriders. Deck boats are comfortable, roomy, aesthetic, and convenient. You will find enough room for all the guests, gear, snacks, drinks, and iceboxes. If you need more amenities, go for catamaran deck boats.

Bowriders are less costly to purchase and maintain. They have lower insurance and maintenance costs. Plus, they hold their better resale value, particularly in the 18- to 23-foot range.

If you intend to buy a used boat, check Reddit for the model information and advice before making the final decision.

Which Model Is for Fishing?

Bowrider vs deck boat, which one is better for a fishing trip? The open and spacious layout makes deck boats more suitable for fishing. But if you enjoy going fast on the water to reach your fishing spot, bowriders can meet your needs.

Which type of water do you often go fishing on? A deck boat is more efficient for a calm lake while a bowrider is more suitable for deep-sea fishing. You can opt for Ski and Fish bowriders, which are specifically designed for fishing.

A bowrider fishing boat is often equipped with swivel chairs, rod holders, trolling motor, fishfinder, and livewell. Before picking a model, ask yourself two questions: Do I have enough room for the gear? Do I have a livewell for the live catch?

Which Model Is for Family Adventures?


Deck boats have the perfect width and stability for family adventures, especially if you have young children. They offer more legroom for everyone and space to store snacks and drinks. Many deck boats can accommodate up to ten people.

In addition, it is safer for the passengers to get on and off a deck boat due to its width. For people who do not travel by boat frequently, this feature can be a lifesaver.

Which Model Is for Water Sports and Entertainment?

Bowriders can go faster than deck boats, thus they are preferable when it comes to extreme sports. Bowriders also have superior towing abilities. Whatever watersports you enjoy — water-skiing, tubing, or wakeboarding — they will never let you down.

Most bowriders have a swim deck at the back, where you can store the wakeboards. They also have grab rails, which come in handy for the guests when you cruise at a high speed, maneuver, or brake unexpectedly.

Brands usually offer a sports package when you purchase a bowrider. It enables add-ons that will elevate your experience, such as additional cup holders, swim seats, wraparound lounges, swim platforms, and LED lighting.

This video will show you how a Formula 310 bowrider performs:

If you want a hybrid of family and sport boats, opt for a sport deck boat. It combines the comfort and seating capacity with a fiberglass V-shaped hull. A sport deck boat can pull skiers, tubers, and wakeboarders with ease. The design will bring you the best wake surf experience.

When looking for the best boats for watersports, ask these three questions:

  • Can the boat cruise at high speed with a full tank? Or do I need to pay to upgrade its engine?
  • Does the boat allow me to connect the tow rope when skiing or tubing conveniently?
  • Does it have a place for the wakeboards and skis?

If a boat offers all of these in its standard package, it’s a keeper.


We hope our article covered all you need to know about deck boat vs bowrider. If not, don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comment section below. We are more than glad to share our experience with fellow boaters.

Both models offer awesome time on the water with your family and friends. So, there’s no wrong answer. Our last advice is to always go for a lake test before purchasing. On the water, you’ll know which one is just right.

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