Inflatable Pontoon Boat Review

By | April 15, 2016
Inflatable Pontoon Boat Review
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Inflatable Pontoon Boat Review

What is a pontoon boat?pontoon bridge

Pontoons are flotation devices that are buoyant enough to support themselves as well as heavy loads. Pontoons are used on planes, houseboats, docks, rafts, and much more.

Pontoons can be made from a variety of materials, ranging from sealed metal, plastic, or even concrete cylinders. A platform is often placed on top of the pontoons, creating rafts, bridges, and so forth.

But today we’re going to look at pontoon boats used to support BassHoles, and offer an inflatable pontoon boat review.

Hard pontoon boat: My Hobie Float Cat 75

DSC02857

My Hobie Float Cat 75

My own pontoon boat is NOT an inflatable. The Hobie Float Cat 75 has hard pontoons constructed of polyethylene. The nice thing is they are unlikely to puncture, and certainly won’t leak (unless you manage to poke a hole in one!). It’s a great pontoon boat, but is no longer made.

I believe there was an addition for this model to allow the addition of a tolling motor. And I’ve seen complex instructions on how to make a DIY addition for a trolling motor. And I would love to have a trolling motor, as it would greatly increase my range. As you will see, many of the models reviewed below include parts for mounting a trolling motor.

My boat does not deflate, and therefore must be stored in it’s full size. I have mine hung on the outside wall of my garage.

What are inflatable pontoons made of?

Inflatable pontoons for small fishing boats are typically made of abrasion resistant PVC and nylon. The frames, offering structure and the supporting platform, are constructed of aluminum, steel, or plastic, or a combination of some of the above.

Why choose an inflatable pontoon boat?fisherman inflatable pontoon boat

A small pontoon boat is a step up from the float tubes I described earlier.

You sit up higher in the water (in some models you are completely out of the water), you have oars to get you places, and it will support more weight.

Compared to float tube

An inflatable pontoon boat has several advantages over a float tube:

  • They will carry heavier loads, so your can take more gear!
  • You sit up higher, and have less of your body in the water. In a float tube, your butt is pretty much just under water; with an inflatable pontoon boat, only the bottoms of your legs (and feet) are in the water. You’re dryer and warmer.
  • You can usually attach a small motor, either an electric trolling motor or a small gasoline motor.
  • Some models are capable of handling river rapids.

==> Click here to read my float tube review <==

Compared to power boatzoom boat

An inflatable pontoon boat has advantages over a boat, too! (Well, sort of.)

  • Much less of an investment (meaning they are cheaper to buy!).
  • Very low operating costs (non if you use oars and flippers).
  • Great maneuverability when on the water.
  • Easy to store, packs into a compact space.
  • No need for a trailer, you can carry it (deflated) in a normal passenger car.
  • You won’t need to finance the purchase over years (I realize that’s the same as the first bullet in this list, but I think it bears repeating).

What about stability?

Inflatable pontoon boats – or any pontoon boat – are known for being very stable and seldom tip over. This can be done (I’ve done it myself!), but it is typically during very windy conditions with choppy waves and erratic movement by the BassHole (as I say, I speak from experience!).

5 Inflatable Pontoon Boats

So here is my review of 5 Inflatable Pontoon Boats.

1. Sea Eagle 285 Inflatable Frameless Fishing  Pontoon Boat – Pro Package

Type: Inflatable Pontoon Boatsea eagle 285 inflatable frameless
Weight capacity: 450 lbs.
Dimensions: Exterior: 9′ x 4′ / Interior: 6′ 2″ x 1′ 4″ / Deflated: 24″ x 14″ x 12″
Weight: 30 lbs. (hull); 42 lbs. w/ floorboard & motor mount
Covering: 1000 Denier Reinforced / Quadruple Overlapping Superior Glued Seams
Equipment pockets: 2 good sized
Rod holder: Customizable Universal Scotty Mounts
Transport: 4 carry handles
List Price: $1,270.00 Buy for $899.00 (FREE Shipping)
Recommendation: 9 out of 10 Excellent package!

This boat retails at $64900, without all the elements of the Pro package. Those extras are certainly worth the extra cash.

What makes this package “Pro”?Sea Eagle 285 IP 3 way

  • Super comfortable 360 degree swivel seat with 7 inch quick release pedestal
  • Floorboard
  • Motor mount
  • Stripping apron (for fly fishing)
  • Clip on stow pouch & side / stern bag
  • 2 Scotty Rod Holders
  • AB285 orars
  • Quick release seatmount
  • A41 foot pump
  • Boat carry bag
  • Repair kit
  • 3 year Manufacture’s Warranty.

Sea Eagle IP Carry Bag

Features

  • Because this inflatable pontoon boat is frameless, it packs up into a small carrying bag.
  • And it can be stowed away into a a very small storage space.
  • No trailer required, and you can carry it to your favorite fishing spot: the entire boat with floorboard and motor mount weighs only 42 pounds – which is almost exactly the same weight as my Hobie Float Cat 75.
  • You can attach a motor to the boat, either:
    • 3 hp (45 lbs. max)
    • 55 lb thruster (minimum 30″ shaft)
  • The assembly and inflation time for this Inflatable Pontoon Boat is quoted as 5 minutes!
  • Large 9 foot air chambers draft as little as 4 inches of water.
  • The floorboard allows you to stand up in the boat.
  • You can row forwards or backwards. I always prefer to row my Hobie “backwards,” meaning I row towards the way I’m looking. Hey, it’s easier to see where your going, but less powerful and you can’t use your flippers as additional thrust.

Cons

Not many cons, really, but I’ll mention these:

  • Not exactly cheap, but still a great value.
  • Seats one only.

The Sea Eagle 285 Pro Package is my top inflatable pontoon boat recommendation for the solo angler.

2. Colorado XT Inflatable Pontoon Boat colorado xt inflatable pontoon boat

Type: Inflatable Pontoon Boat
Weight capacity: 400 lbs.
Dimensions: 1o8 (l) x 56 (w) x 26 (h) inches
Weight: 68 lbs.
Pontoons: 9 foot cold and heat resistant HD vinyl bladders
Covering: Abrasion resistant PVC bottoms and tough nylon tops;
Gear Bags: Removable, with 20 pockets and 2 insulated drink holders
Safety: ABYC standards
Rod holder: Multi position
Oars: 7 foot two-piece (2 oars)
Seat: Fully adjustable cushioned seat
Transport: Carry handle
List Price: $699.99 Buy for $499.95
Rating: 7 out of 10 Solid choice of inflatable pontoon boat!

This is a very nice offering from Classic Accessories. Some great features include a built in transport wheel, allowing your to easily transport the boat to your favorite fishing spot. The Colorado XT comes in orange and sage green.

 

colorado with wheel wheeling colorado pb

 

 

 

 

 

 

I do wish all pontoon boats had a built in wheel to help transport them! Very nice. Though of course not practical for those that can be hauled with a back pack.

The Colorado XT is a nice choice for under $500. (At the time of this writing.)

3. Classic Accessories Bozeman Inflatable Pontoon Boat With Backpack

Classic Accessories Bozeman Inflatable Pontoon BoatType: Inflatable Pontoon Boat
Weight capacity: 350 lbs.
Dimensions: 96 x 55 x 29 inches
Weight: 43 lbs. (45 lbs. w/ backpack)
Construction: Heavy duty pontoons with abrasion resistant bottoms & tough nylon tops; powder coated steel tube frame
D-Rings: Multiple attached to cover
Equipment pockets: 2 good sized
Apron: Nylon coated mesh with printed ruler to measure fish
Rod holder: Front
River Rating: Class I river rafting
Safety: Labeling as per ABYC standards
Transport: Backpack (included)
List Price: $499.99 Buy for $359.83
Rating: 6.5 out of 10 Good buy!

This inflatable pontoon boat is like a SUPER float tube! The design includes lots of storage bags and pockets. And it floats high for enhanced visibility, while you sit comfortably in the padded seat that conforms to your body. And it all packs up into a small backpack.Bozeman IP Backpack

Features

  • 8 foot fishing pontoon boat
  • Steel clamp oarlocks
  • 3-piece 6 foot aluminum oars
  • Tow rings on front and back of pontoons
  • Backpack with ergonomic padded shoulder pads, adjustable load lifters, and adjustable serum strap
  • Lightweight foot pump
  • Armrests include 2 large zippered pockets and mesh stuff pockets
  • Comfortable padded seat with adjustable stadium style seat back
  • Non-slip adjustable footrests

This boat gets solid reviews, but I recommend paying a bit more for one of the more expensive models. At 8 feet, it’s one of the shorter boats with a lower weight capacity. “You get what you pay for.”

4. Classic XL 8′ Pontoon Boat (Creek Company)

Classic XL 8 foot pontoon boatType: Inflatable Pontoon Boat
Weight capacity: 375 lbs.
Dimensions: 96 x 54 x 24 inches
Weight: 48 lbs.
Covering: Heavy duty 840 denier nylon outer with PVC skid resistant bottom
D-Rings: On cargo deck
Equipment pockets: Multiple compartment storage pockets & insulated drink holders
Apron: Nylon coated mesh with printed ruler to measure fish
Rod holder: Front
Entry: Remove stabilizer bar, sit, reattach bar
Safety: Fluorescent safety accents
Transport: Carry handle
List Price: $499.99 Buy for $325.00 + $30.50 shipping
Recommendation: 4 out of 10 Adequate

Creek Company’s best selling 8 foot inflatable pontoon boat.

Features

  • Pin together steel frame: no tools required
  • Push button Pro Series valves
  • Cargo deck
  • 6 foot oars & oarlocks
  • Plastic folding seat
  • Foot bars adjust to 6 different positions

Very reasonable price (available for $325 + shipping at this writing), but not my top choice. Still, it’s very popular and offers plenty of support for even we BIG BassHoles.

5. Sea Eagle 12-Foot 4-Inch FoldCat Inflatable Boat with Pro-Angler Package

Sea Eagle 12 foot 4 inch FoldCat IBType: Inflatable Pontoon Boat
Weight capacity: 650 lbs.
Dimensions: 148 (W) x 54 (L) inches
Weight: 75 lbs.
Material: 1100 Decitex reinforced with quadruple overlap seams; aluminum slat roll up floor
Equipment pockets: 2 good sized
Rod holder: 2 to 4 universal Scotty Mount System (you can use the system to attach other Scotty accessories)
Transport: 2 carry bags
List Price: $1,784.00 Buy for $1,599.00
Recommendation: 9 out of 10 Double fun!

And now for something completely different. This is designed for 2 BassHoles. So if you have a fishing buddy, this is a great choice!

It would certainly be awesome for a single fisherman, except for the weight (75 pounds). That could make it a bit tough to carry it to the stream. Though a small dolly would probably take care of that issue.

Features

  • Unique folding support system, inflated and assembled in 5 minutes by 1 person!
  • Seats and floatation for 2 BassHoles!
  • 12 foot 3 inch pontoons
  • Motor mount for 3 hp gasoline engine or small electric trolling motor
  • 2 seats that swivel 360 degrees
  • Very stable with two 16 foot pontoons spaced 4 feet 6 inches apart.
  • Casting bar included in Pro package
  • Very stable, allowing a BassHole to stand up and cast
  • Aluminum slat roll up cover over full fabric floor
  • Super strong oars & oarlocks
  • Inflates in 5 to 10 minutes
  • 2 storage bags
  • 3 year warranty

Cons

  • Heavy, so though one BassHole can operate the boat, it might be hard to transport alone without some type of dolly (if only it had the Colorado XT’s built in wheel!)
  • Pricey, but you get a lot for the money.

The Sea Eagle FoldCat has a folding frame, saving a lot of time during setup and allowing it to be packed and stored easily. Pus it has a full floor, allowing for easy standing. And if you should drop something, it doesn’t splash right into the drink!

The pontoons provide more stability than any other boats reviewed above.

Extra security and safety is provided by the casting bar, allowing for safer standing and boarding the FoldCat.

Conclusion

If you can’t afford a $20,000 to $50,000 bass boat, or simply want to reach areas those boats can’t, and want to be able to use a motor or engine, then an inflatable pontoon boat is a great option.

I’ve tried to offer some nice options with various prices, but my top choices are the 2 highest priced ones.

Check back later when I’ll review some hard hull small bass boats.

And should you have any questions or your own insights into inflatable pontoon boats (or anything else!), please leave a comment below!

Tight lines!

Roger, The Smiling BassHole

24 thoughts on “Inflatable Pontoon Boat Review

  1. Evelyn

    Your article is just so interesting! The content is very informational- it shows how passionate you are, and that’s a plus to us readers! Great stuff, keep it up- all the best! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Roger Ford Post author

      Thanks, Evelyn!

      Yes, I am certainly passionate about bass fishing. No idea why! Always been that way, though (at least about fishing, not just for bass).

      Glad you enjoyed the post!

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

      Reply
  2. Rita

    Hey, Roger!

    Well, first and foremost, are you fishing yet? How’s your recovery going? I mean that pontoon boat’s waiting for you hanging out on that garage wall. It’s calling your name. Oh, I suppose I didn’t need to remind you of that. You have been hearing it for a long time, I’m sure, but the time is close now. I do hope you are close to full recovery by now, as I know you are. And I wish you to be the luckiest BassHole in New Hampshire!

    I loved your article on pontoon boats. I enjoy your website because it brings to mind such fond memories of my husband’s and my fishing days! We didn’t do a lot of bass fishing as we fished the marshes and even into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico for salt water fish. I have bass fished also many years ago, and that is really my favorite fishing.

    Bet you never thought a cat woman was a fisherwoman too!!
    See you next time, Roger!

    Rita

    Reply
    1. Roger Ford Post author

      Rita,

      I’m not at ALL surprised that a cat woman would be a fisherwoman as well! Indeed, we liken fishing for bass with playing with cats. Their reactions can be quite similar! You know how it is, you throw the toy on a string, let it sit, then pull. And the cat snaps into action! Very much like a bass does. They both lie in wait to ambush prey, or chase it down and grab it.

      As for my boat, it’s now inside my garage, awaiting my next trip. I did go fishing on April 5th, the temperature got up to the mid-20’s! I wrote about that experience here.

      The water was still pretty cool, so I’m giving it a few weeks to warm up. 58 degrees is the magic number. Of course in Florida and other warmer climes, BassHoles are having a ball!

      Thanks for your response, Rita. And if you do go fishing (for bass or otherwise), be sure and share your adventures with your fellow BassHoles!

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

      Reply
  3. sundra

    Great post on pontoon boats. I love to fish, This is very informative, Great information. I will be sure I read more on this if I ever want a pontoon boat.

    Reply
    1. Roger Ford Post author

      Thanks, Sundra!

      Always good to meet another fisher person!

      Stay tuned for a future post, where I’ll talk about hard sided small bass boats. I have a friend who’s got one, so that was the start of my research. So check back in about a week!

      Meanwhile, Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

      Reply
  4. Nnanna

    Hi Roger, you’re certainly the boss.
    The first time I read your post on the float tube, I fell in love with you. You are so passionate about tubes and bass. Not only that, you have personal experiences with which you speak with authority.
    So a review from Roger on tubes is worth reading.
    I’ve never been on a boat. Nope! I’ve not had the opportunity of entering one. But your review is quite captivating and if I could I would readily go for the Bozeman boat with Backpack. It’s so sleek and enticing.
    Well, Roger, keep up the good work. You remain the one-stop site for tubes and bass. Well done sir.
    Cheers!
    Nnanna.

    Reply
    1. Roger Ford Post author

      Thanks, Nnanna!

      Never been on a boat!? What?

      I love boats! But alas, don’t have one.

      I’ve been on sail boats, speed boats, bass boats, jon boats, and dinghies (a rowboat for the sail boat). I’ve always loved boating!

      So if you ever decide to start enjoying boating and want any advice, please don’t hesitate to ask! And be sure and come back and share your observations on your first boat trip. I certainly hope it’s a smooth ride!

      Thanks for your comment!

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

      Reply
  5. Damien

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge on fishing.

    I’ve been looking into fishing gear lately and honestly didn’t expect to be overwhelmed with it. The options locally are rare to none for fishing boats and what I could find was second hand and very expensive. I was about to buy a cheap Canadian Tire one but I came by your website first. Thank goodness!

    The Sea Eagle 285 Inflatable seems to be the best bargain I’ve seen yet. A little more than I was originally expected but the pro package is where the bargain is at. Yikes!

    That’s Fantastic, thanks!

    Reply
    1. Roger Ford Post author

      Thanks, Damien!

      There are some hard bodied boats that are also very nice. I’m writing a review of some of those boats that should be available in the next few weeks.

      I do like the Sea Eagle 285 as well! And it is a bit more money, but still a lot less than a big boat. Though of course if you CAN afford such a boat, well, that’s a great way to go!

      And there certainly is a lot of fishing gear out there. The key is to start with some piece, and dive in to learn about it. Check out my page of instructional videos on how to fish a plastic worm (or other baits). Click here for the videos.

      Be sure and let your fellow BassHoles know how your fishing adventures go!

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

      Reply
      1. Damien

        Sweet Roger!
        I’ll check out those videos right away and I’m looking forward to more boat reviews. I’m still learning so thanks for all of this because I’d be completely lost as to what would be the best fishing equipment to use. I guess you can call me (Drum roll please) “Fresh Bait”…

        Bahhh, yah? No? Okay, it was cheesy!

        Reply
        1. Roger Ford Post author

          Damien,

          Love it! But I do love cheese, too, so maybe that’s why?

          Funny you should mention more boat reviews, that’s exactly what I’m working on! Next up is kayaks, and then other types of small bass boats, and eventually working my way up to the $50,000 boats!

          So stay tuned! And thanks for the laughs!

          Tight lines!

          Roger, The Smiling BassHole

          Reply
  6. Craig

    Thanks your knowledge on fishing is excellent.

    I have just started fishing as a hobby and it is a minefield all the different pieces of equipment I need. There are not that many places where I live to get all the advice I need, so I’m pleased I found this brilliant passionate website. I think this website will stop me making any mistakes on what I buy. Thanks!

    I really like the look of the Sea Eagle 285 Inflatable Frameless Fishing Pontoon Boat. I think I will be saving up for one of those.

    Cheers, thanks

    Reply
    1. Roger Ford Post author

      Craig,

      There are a lot of details in fishing! Starting with, what kind of fish are you going after? People like to say, “Whatever I can catch,” but that’s not the right answer! Though you CAN use bass gear to catch trout, etc., as you can see in today’s post (even though I didn’t catch a trout!), it’s better to have a focus.

      There are lots of great videos on the internet to explain how to do various techniques. Here are some on how to fish plastic worms. So there’s a great place to get some education!

      And of course if you have any questions, please just let me know and I’ll do what I can to help you out.

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

      Reply
  7. Dan

    Roger
    I went for a day’s canoeing on the Thames once, the instructor told me it was impossible to capsize the boat as he pushed me off, approximately 3 seconds later I was in the drink. If anyone can capsize them it will be me.
    They look great though, I prefer the idea of the small pontoon to a larger rigid boat as you’re closer to the water. Would you call a boat essential for Bass fishing? Should I get one as a beginner or wait until I’ve got a bit of experience first?
    Cheers

    Reply
    1. Roger Ford Post author

      Thanks, Dan!

      Impossible to capsize a canoe? I’ve never heard that before!

      My brother briefly had a canoe. I’d taken one white water rafting class (but me and my friends weren’t allowed to go through the faster rapids, as our skills were lacking) while in college, so my brother asked me for advice. I explained about the “J-stroke,” sitting in the stern, etc. Conversationally I told him that the Native Americans were such proficient canoeists they would sit in the back and let the bow rise to work like a sail. My brother went out into the water, which was still clogged with ice. He tipped the bow up, and promptly fell into the icy water! I thought I would need to jump in to save him (even though he’s the OLDER brother), but he waded back. Seems he thought he’d try using the canoe as a sail!

      A boat is not essential for bass fishing. You will want to find waters where you are allowed to walk around on the shore. In California, the power company had dammed most rivers to create impoundments, but they had to allow access to the waters for fishermen, but we were not allowed to enter the water.

      But a boat or flotation device will greatly enhance your range and opportunities. And they are great fun. When you don’t capsize!

      Thanks for the question!

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

      Reply
  8. Nicole

    Awesome post! Very informative and you speak from personal experience which is great 🙂 Another great read!
    Nicole

    Reply
    1. Roger Ford Post author

      Thanks, Nicole!

      Some of my experience is “not catching fish,” but it’s still fun to try! Glad you enjoyed the post.

      Let me know if you ever have any questions.

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

      Reply
  9. James W D

    Roger I am interested in your take on these versus a kayak. How would you compare the two and which would you recommend between them? I am interested more in the how they are on the water versus transporting them and such. Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    1. Roger Ford Post author

      James,

      A kayak is certainly a great way to go. The absolute BEST fishing kayak is the Hobie MirageDrive. You pedal this kayak instead of paddle it (though you can do that too). That means your hands are free to fish.

      ==> Click here to see the Hobie MirageDrive < ==

      The ONLY reason I don’t have one is the cost. Maybe one day I’ll have the bucks to get them. They are simply awesome.

      Otherwise, to get back to your question, the main advantage is again, you can propel yourself WITHOUT the paddles by using your feet.

      Otherwise, as long as the kayak can be driven by an electric motor, then I don’t know of any advantage of the inflatables over the kayak as a fishing vessel. I would recommend the kayaks with the raised seat, but plenty of BassHoles use a regular kayak with great success (one of my friends goes out from the ocean beach!).

      So, kayak on!

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

      Reply
  10. Andy

    Wow! Pontoon boats are so cool! Must be nice relaxing in one while fishing in calm waters on a nice sunny day. I can imagine it now… AHHHHHH that’s life!
    The inflatable pontoon with backpack is amazing! So wonderful how technology and engineering can make a whole pontoon available in a backpack that you can carry around! You are right though, it does look a lot flimsier than the other higher end ones. Probably better to pay a bit more and go for better quality and less chance of breaking. Thanks for this post!

    Reply
    1. Roger Ford Post author

      Thanks, Andy!

      It IS great to be out on the water on a nice, warm, sunny day with calm waters and fish in peace. But of course I also fish in rain, wind, cold, and more! But I do prefer the pretty days! Especially if fish are caught!

      Yes, it is great to be able to pack your boat in. I did that with my float tube. First in a backpack, then I got straps that allowed me to carry the inflated tube on my back, loaded with gear. Saved some weight on the hike, and time when I got to the fishing spot, since it was already inflated.

      Let me know if you decide to “take the plunge,” and what you think of your purchase.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

      Reply
  11. Luke Yancey

    I’ve never heard of an inflatable pontoon boat before and especially didn’t know that it had a ton of benefits over a power boat. My family and I love to fish, do you think this would be a good idea for us to get? How long do they typically last? I think I liked the Sea Eagle 285 the most, if I ever get a pontoon maybe I’ll go with it!

    Reply
    1. Roger Ford Post author

      Thanks Luke!

      I have never had the privilege of owning any of the Sea Eagle products. But I have researched them, and find that their customers give their customer service and product durability extremely high marks. However, I don’t really know (yet!) how long they last. Certainly for years.

      I love the Sea Eagle 285. It’s light enough for one person to carry, but holds a load of 450 pounds. Plus you can attach a trolling motor to it.

      As far as your family goes, are you saying get each member their own Sea Eagle 285? You could outfit a family of 6 for less than most bass boats!

      Finally, I would LOVE a bass boat, but if budget is a concern, the Sea Eagle line has much to offer at very affordable prices.

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

      Reply

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