Pontoon Boat vs. a Tri-toon Boat: What’s the Difference?

Throughout the years, design and technological advancements have led to the evolution of pontoon boats. Thanks to their updated features, pontoon boats now offer improved versatility, reliability, and ease of use. You may even have noticed a new type of boat in the pontoon family — the tritoon. A tritoon is simply a pontoon boat that comes equipped with a third tube or pontoon in the boat’s center. This extra pontoon gives it greater lifting power and stability than a conventional pontoon boat.

So, is a pontoon better than a tritoon? This is a common question that our customers often ask us as a boat dealer in Montana and Idaho. When deciding between a pontoon boat or a tritoon boat, it really comes down to your intended use. Are you looking to go skiing, tubing, cruising, or fishing? Or are you looking for something capable of navigating the Great Lakes? Depending on your needs, one type of boat may be more beneficial to you than the other, so understanding your needs and usage is key.

To help you make an informed decision, our sales team has put together this informative guide comparing pontoon and tritoon boats. We’ll cover the differences between the two and explain which type of boat may be more beneficial for you under certain circumstances. Read on to find out more.

What Is a Pontoon Boat?

A pontoon is a type of floating vessel, usually in the shape of a tube. The tubes are hollow and airtight, which means they’re water-resistant and almost impossible to sink. Pontoon boats are generally between 16 and 27 feet long, consisting of a flat, spacious deck with two or more pontoons attached to the bottom. This makes them incredibly buoyant and comfortable.

Tritoon Boats Explained

A tritoon boat is a type of pontoon boat with an extra tube in the middle of the two original pontoons. This extra pontoon, or “third tube,” is typically larger than the two outside tubes and mounted lower to the waterline. The added tube increases the boat’s stability and improves its performance, allowing it to reach higher speeds and have a higher horsepower rating. Tritoons usually come in sizes between 22 and 30 feet long and tend to hold more people than a typical pontoon, making them great for larger groups and outings. 

Pontoon vs. Tritoon: How Do They Compare?

Now that you know the differences between a pontoon and a tritoon boat, let’s look at how they compare. Here’s a breakdown of the major differences between the two that are worth noting when you’re considering which type of boat to purchase:


It may be difficult to tell the difference between pontoon and tritoon boats from a distance. Both are known for their spacious decks and ample seating options compared to other types of boats. However, as we discussed above, the main difference is the number of tubes. To recap, a pontoon boat typically has two tubes, while a tritoon has three.


One of the main differences between tritoons and pontoons is how they hit your wallet. On average, a new tritoon boat can cost between $35,000 and $50,000, while the average cost for a pontoon is roughly around $20,000 to $30,000. This means you can purchase a new pontoon for much less than a tritoon. Of course, the cost of both boats can vary greatly depending on the size you need and the features you’d like to add.


Pontoon boats may have a lower price tag, but the tritoon will likely offer you more performance on the water. Pontoon boats, particularly older models, have low horsepower motors, which were not built for speed or power. On average, you’ll likely find a pontoon with an engine of around 50 horsepower or slightly more. 

In contrast, tritoons have much more powerful motors to support their larger size and a capacity for a dozen or more people. On average, a tritoon should have an engine with at least 150 to 250 horsepower and can move much faster than a pontoon.

Stability and Handling

Tritoons are very stable on the water due to the additional tube. This makes them an excellent choice for water-skiing, tubing, and other activities requiring more water speed. Additionally, tritoons are known for being quite difficult to sink, making them the safer choice for families and groups of people. However, because tritoons are so large and stable, they can be more challenging to maneuver in tight spaces, such as a dock or around other boats.

Pontoon boats are also very stable on the water, making them an ideal choice for calm lake waters. They don’t handle rough seas very well, so they’re not typically recommended for the ocean. With the right horsepower, you can even enjoy activities such as water-skiing and tubing with a pontoon boat, but it won’t be as fast or as stable as a tritoon.


Maintenance for both tritoons and pontoons is relatively similar. However, the addition of a third tube does make a slight difference. It takes longer to maintain a tritoon than a pontoon due to the extra time and effort required for the additional tube. This translates to higher repair and maintenance costs overall. Regardless, all boats must be maintained regularly. Frequently clean the tubes of any algae or barnacles that may build up, as this could significantly affect the speed of your pontoon.

Which Boat Is Better for You?

This depends on your personal preference, and neither is more popular than the other. Ultimately, the decision should be based on your lifestyle and needs. What type of activities do you plan to engage in? Do you want an easy, relaxed cruise, or are you looking for something that will allow you to water-ski with friends? Or maybe comfortable fishing is more your thing. All these factors and more will help you determine which boat is best for you.

Buy a Pontoon or Tritoon Today

No matter what type of boat you decide is best for you and your family, you can shop confidently here at Bretz RV & Marine. We’re proud to offer a wide selection of pontoons and tritoons from some of the top brands in the industry. Our knowledgeable sales staff can help you determine which boat is best for your lifestyle, so don’t hesitate to contact us today to learn more about your options. We look forward to helping you find the perfect boat for your needs.

DSCN1701 by ttarasiuk is licensed with CC BY 2.0

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