Pathfinder Boats is a brand of coastal fishing boats. Their primary design is the bay boat and variations.
With so many competitors for fishing boats on the market, it is fair to wonder how Pathfinder stacks up:
Here’s how good Pathfinder Boats are:
Pathfinder Boats is a mid-to upper-tier brand of bay boats with a fishing and family focus. They have a strong reputation for their performance and quality of construction. Pathfinder Boats have mass-style construction and customization options. They are very popular, particularly around Florida.
A Brief History of Pathfinder Boats:
The history of Pathfinder Boats technically stretches back to 1985 (one source says 1984), when Scott Deal began selling the Maverick 18, and Maverick Boats was founded. In 1989, the company acquired Hewes Boats.
The deal created a concept brand to deal with crossing large expanses of open water in heavy wind conditions, based on his experiences fishing in Texas.
The basic concept was a cross between a center console and a flatboat, allowing more crew, stowage, and horsepower. There was to be no compromise between fishability and family focus.
This concept became Pathfinder Boats, launched by the Maverick Boat Group in 1998.
Since then, they have redefined the bay boat concept, with which they have become synonymous, several times. This has always been based on feedback from customers and professional anglers.
In 2005, the Maverick Boat Group acquired the Cobia brand. In January of 2021, they announced that Malibu Boats acquired the four brands under the Maverick Boat Group, including Pathfinder, for $150 million.
How Reliable Are Pathfinder Boats?
In judging the reliability of Pathfinder Boats, owners must consider their purpose of fishing large expanses of open water at high speed.
Fortunately, there is plenty of online commentary from owners and observers to form an educated opinion.
In general, Pathfinder Boats gets high marks for its performance. Any forum that has a quantity of feedback on Pathfinder features owners commenting favorably on the boat’s speed and the layout’s comfort and functionality.
In particular, the HPS (High-Performance Step) has gotten good feedback. The stepped hull is designed to be stable at high speeds.
They are also known to be dry boats, despite the high speeds they can achieve.
Many Pathfinder Boats are being made every year, and they are very common on the East Coast, particularly the waters around Florida. Here, they are often cited as the most widely-owned brand of the boat.
It is not just private owners that drive their popularity, however. Many guided fishing and rental companies use Pathfinder Boats. Their simple and functional layout makes them among the most reliable choices for this business on the market.
In addition, the company’s customer service gets very high reviews, which is not just about taking care of problems but also about answering owner inquiries to the factory.
How Durable Are Pathfinder Boats?
Pathfinder Boats are made in a large factory with several other brands. In general, this kind of mass production leads to some bad boats being occasionally turned out.
But despite this, Pathfinder Boats (and the Maverick Boat Group as a whole) has a very strong reputation for building solid boats. They are not known as a particularly expensive brand, and the semi-mass-produced nature of the brand allows them to maintain affordability.
Looking across the major forums, there is very little complaining about the quality of the construction of Pathfinder Boats. Both the quality of the materials and the workmanship get high reviews from most owners and other commenters.
That is not to say the praise is universal or unqualified. There are some reports of occasional lamination or structural issues. Some commenters insist that the brand is good when considering the price and better options available.
But overall, it is safe to say that Pathfinder Boats are as durable as any other mass-produced brand on the water.
What About Older Pathfinder Boats?
Since its founding, Scott Deal has been overseeing Pathfinder Boats and has maintained the quality throughout its run. When they sold the company in 2021, he continued his oversight of the entire Maverick Boat Group.
Looking at forum posts from any point in the brand’s existence turns up the same general praise, both for the quality of the build and the boat’s performance in fishing and handling.
A typical comment from an owner made on a forum in 2014 went:
“I’ve got a 06 22′ that I bought a couple of years ago and love it. I fish anywhere from backwater to 30 miles offshore on good days and have been amazed how well it handles the ocean.”
[Source: The Hull Truth]
There are lengthier and more detailed quotes to be found, but this one briefly touches upon the range and performance of the boats from Pathfinder from earlier in their history, in the light of more modern boating.
Do They Still Make Parts For Older Models?
The website for Pathfinder Boats is easy to navigate, but it does not have much information on obtaining replacement parts.
The best that an owner in search of a particular part can do there is to contact a dealer to see if it is available. There is no indication of how far back in model years for which parts are still available.
There are several options online for tracking down replacement parts if the dealer cannot locate them. Boatoutfitters.com has a varying selection of parts, as does fpmarine.com, which has a section on all brands from the Maverick Boat Group.
The best place to track down difficult replacement parts is probably the forums of the Maverick Boat Group at mgbforum.com. They have dedicated forums to all of their brands, including Pathfinder.
These forums are very active, and there are several threads concerning searches for replacement or other OEM parts.
What Are Typical Problems With Pathfinder Boats?
One of the most common complaints about Pathfinder Boats concerns occasional cracks and the hardware used.
Several owners have reported stress cracks at various spots on their boats. While these are rare, they seem to concern boats made before 2010.
However, there does not seem to be a consistent pattern to where on the hull they show up, so it isn’t easy to categorize it as typical.
There are scattered reports of gel coat spider cracks, usually around stanchions or other hardware. Again, these are not consistent.
Also, and more common, the hatch lids tend to crack around the hinges, mostly on models before 2010; since that time, they seem to have fixed the design issue.
Some of the hardware used, such as hinges, have also been criticized. Much of this hardware seems to have been of cheaper metal and bends or breaks after repeated usage.
How Long Do Pathfinder Boats Last Compared To Similar Brands?
Pathfinder Boats has a good reputation for durability, particularly for a mass-produced brand.
The brands under the Maverick Boat Group generally are compared head-to-head to brands under the Malibu Boats banner, as these are the two largest manufacturers of pleasure boats in the world.
Online feedback is generally positive concerning the relative durability of Pathfinder to Malibu and similar brands.
There are few complaints concerning Pathfinder Boats’ longevity, particularly compared to other brands. While there are certainly some complaints to be found, Pathfinder seems to stack up well against the upper-tier boats from Malibu.
It is safe to say that Pathfinder is every bit as durable as its competition.
As always, though, owners must properly maintain a boat. Even the best quality craft will deteriorate if neglected and left exposed to the elements, and unwinterized.
Do Pathfinder Boats Hold Their Value?
Getting accurate information on the resale value of boats can be difficult.
The NADA guide is based on feedback from dealers, so it does not reflect the value of boats sold in private transactions. According to the NADA, Pathfinder Boats only lose a few percentage points off their value after five years.
A few sights try to maintain better information, but they are not free. SoldBoatPrice.com is free but has little data.
Going back to the forums can often generate the best information if owners are willing to discuss what they paid new for a boat and what they sold it for. A search of the forums on this issue reveals that while many owners speak highly of how their Pathfinder retains value, there are no hard numbers to be found.
So the best option here is to compare what used models are offered on websites such as boattrader.com compared to their original price.
If we look at the 2015 2300 HPS, it sold for $68,841 new that year. Several boats of that year and model are currently available on Boat Trader, ranging from $75,000 to $80,000.
Whether they sell for that price or a bit lower, that is still a good indication of how the Pathfinder brand retains its value. A similar check of other Pathfinder models produces similar results.
Given what we have to work with, it does seem that Pathfinder boats hold their value comparatively well.
Are Pathfinder Boats Still Being Made?
Pathfinder Boats are still manufactured in the Maverick Boat Group factory in Fort Pierce, Florida.
They have four lines of craft:
The TRS (Third Row Seating) line has large seating arrangements in the stern and optional bow cushions for maximum passenger capacity in a bay boat.
The four models in this line range from the 2005 (at 20’5″), starting at $36,378, to the 2600 (26’2″), starting at $85,895.
The HPS (High-Performance Step) line is focused on fast and light-stepped hulls, with the maximized fishing layout of the deck.
There are two models: the 2300 (at 23’6″) starts at $51,885 and the 2600 (at 26’2″), which starts at $74,721.
The Hybrid line combines the bay boat with inshore fishing capabilities, having a wide stern for fishing from it and sporting a trolling motor.
Currently, there is only one model, the 2500 at 24’9″, and it starts at $78,385.
The Open Line is a bigger boat with taller sides, designed for near-shore anglers who want a larger casting platform from the bow.
Currently, the sole model in this line is the 2700, at 27’00” and starting at $90,587.