Polar Kraft is a manufacturer of aluminum boats emphasizing fishing and utility.
They have a long history and have maintained a good reputation for quality construction.
Is this good reputation deserved? Let’s take a closer look.
Here’s how Good Polar Kraft Boats are:
Polar Kraft is a long-established aluminum boat of quality construction and practical layouts. Their customer service has a strong reputation, and their pricing is competitive. They are recognized as being of very good value. Online commentary from owners is predominately positive.
A Brief History of Polar Kraft Boats:
While Polar Kraft has a 70-year history, information is difficult to track down much of that time.
The company was founded as an aluminum boat manufacturer in 1951 in Memphis, Tennessee. Its first boat was a 14-foot Jon boat.
All of the early models were welded. This was common to aluminum boat companies starting up after World War 2, as many skilled craftsmen were employed elsewhere who had been welding tanks and aircraft during the war.
In 1956, they offered 13 models from 12 to 16 feet in length. By 1958, they offered 20 models and advertised ski boats, which were suddenly popular in America. Even these days, the ads focus on the quality of the construction.
From the 1960s to the early 1980s, Polar Kraft was a steady seller across the country. At some point during that time, they began manufacturing riveted boats and welded. Production was moved at some point to Syracuse, Indiana.
In 1983 the company was purchased by Godfrey Marine. The variety of boats offered by the company was expanded and included bass boats, deep-V fishing boats, and pontoon boats in addition to their Jon boats and pleasure craft.
In 2006 the Nautic Global Group bought Godfrey Marine and their brands, including Polar Kraft.
In 2015, the Nautic Global Group and Godfrey Marine and its associated brands were bought by Bennington Marine. Bennington announced that they were going to slim down their brands by selling several of them off, including Polar Kraft.
In 2016 Polar Kraft was sold from Godfrey Marine to two private investors, Andy Cripe and Scott Tuttle, veterans of the RV industry. They took over the leadership of the brand. Godfrey Marine kept Godfrey Pontoon Boats and Hurricane deck boats.
In 2019 Polar Kraft was again sold to Apex Marine, a manufacturer of pontoon boats based in Saint Louis, Michigan.
The company has floated the possibility of moving the manufacturing of Polar Kraft to their Saint Louis plant, but for now, it remains in the Syracuse, Indiana plant.
How Durable Are Polar Boats?
A computer-driven plasma torch cuts the aluminum pieces that make up a Polar Kraft boat. This ensures that there is precise consistency in the manufacturing process.
These pieces are either welded or riveted together, depending on the model of the boat.
Most of the polar Kraft models have 6 I-beams running the boat’s length, giving it superior strength against both collisions and the pounding of running at high speed and in chop.
They also have extra supporting beams in the bow for more durability and fill all gaps with closed-cell foam, not just for buoyancy but for a smoother ride.
All of this adds up to a very durable boat and is the major reason why they can offer a lifetime warranty on their hulls.
As the brand has been around for a long time, owners have no shortage of testimonials to be found. Most of this is online or in magazines about particularly older titles. Most of the feedback is positive, though some negative comments can easily be found online.
Most owners report being satisfied by the quality of the construction and their model’s layout. Most also stress the longevity they have experienced with polar Kraft.
A typical comment from an owner, this from 2019:
“I fish out of the 18-foot version cc with a 115 Evinrude E-tec, and absolutely love it. It’s one hell of a fishing boat…I love all the extra storage. The boat is straightforward and well-built. Very seaworthy and balanced and it planes out quickly and is solid in the water in heavier seas…”
[Source: Michigan Sportsman]
Potential Problems with Polar Kraft Boats:
There is a negative rumor that went around online in 2009 concerning Polar Kraft, and there may be some merit to it.
Supposedly some models of Polar Kraft were having problems structurally and with gel coats in the mid-2000s, and they were then re-branded as “Atlantic Boats” and sold as a separate line.
The hulls and gel coats were fixed, and Polar Kraft avoided bad publicity by selling them as Atlantic Boats. Given that there were some documented problems with Polar Kraft from around this time until 2011, this may be true.
Godfrey Marine owned Polar Kraft at that time, and they started the Atlantic brand in 2009. A few dealers chimed in online to confirm this rumor, though it is not proven and might be an internet rumor.
One of the threads that highlighted this rumor featured this comment from an owner:
“Our 04 was replaced for structural flaws and gel coat issues. The 2008 model is a 1000 times a better boat. Godfrey Marine stepped up and did the right thing after a surveyor gave us 50 hrs until we sank. There were bulges in two places near the transom and cracks, I mean CRACKS running up to the keel and across to each side.”
[Source: The Hull Truth]
The owner went on to praise Polar Kraft for their service. Indeed, most negative comments concerning Polar are from this time frame.
How Long Do Polar Boats Typically Last?
Aluminum boats are tough, period. The material can take a pounding and will not deteriorate, absent other factors such as electrolysis.
But Polar Kraft boats, in particular, have strong longevity, primarily due to the materials and quality of the construction work.
This is a typical comment on the longevity of a Polar Kraft boat:
“I have a 30+ year old 1648 that I bought used from a boat rental company…I bought the boat about 8 years ago (very cheap) when it was in desperate need of a paint job. I cleaned it up some and it has been an extremely solid boat for me…I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another, although I probably won’t have to in my lifetime as I can’t see this one giving out.”
[Source: Duck Hunters Refuge forums]
That comment was from 2006, and it features more comments in that thread from owners who have had their Polar Kraft for 30 years or more.
Has Polar Made Any Recalls?
In their history of over 70 years, there have been three recalls of Polar Kraft boats, according to the United States Coast Guard database on recalls.
The first involved fuel fills fitting cracks and affected 47 boats across 4 models from their 1995 model year. This case was closed in 1998.
The second was concerning inaccurate information on the safe load of passengers’ weight. This affected 59 MV1648 Jon boats from the 1997 model year. It was closed in 1999.
The final recall involved only a single boat, an MX 1860 from the 1999 model year. It involved the level flotation and was resolved in 2004.
What Are the Most Popular Polar Boats?
There have been many Polar Kraft models that have been very successful for the company.
A few of these models are still in production after decades, with minor tweaks.
One such model is the 1648 Jon boat.
The first boats of this model were introduced in 1957, and it is still in production today.
It is a simple and cleanly-designed 16-foot Jon with a square bow.
Of all of their Utility models, this has been the backbone of the company’s reputation over the years, as it is one of the toughest Jon boats ever built. Various forums are filled with positive testimonials on the unmatched durability of this model.
Considering its heritage stretching back to 1957, it may be one of the most popular boats ever made in America.
The Outlander 165, made in two different configurations, is a very popular model.
It is a 16.5-foot V-hull model with a spacious fishing layout and abundant storage for its size.
There have been many reviews of this model online over the years.
The Bay 210 has been a successful model in recent years.
It is a modified center console bay boat with an open layout and storage for open and unencumbered fishing.
The Bass TX line of Modified-V boats has been increasingly popular with anglers.
There are many videos on youtube of fishermen putting the boats through their paces, emphasizing performance and layout.
Where Are Polar Boats Manufactured?
Polar Kraft boats are currently made in Syracuse, Indiana, in their 385,000 square foot manufacturing facility, spread out over 18 acres.
As of 2019, when Apex Marine purchased them, they had approximately 30 employees and produced about 600 boats a year. Each of these employees has an average of 20 years of boat-building experience.
Polar Kraft builds boats in 3 lines: V-Hull, Modified-V, and Utility. Each is further broken down into specialty lines for about 50 different models. The company’s website does not advertise pricing, and options for customization are minimal.
Polar Kraft boats were originally manufactured in Memphis, Tennessee, and had an auxiliary plant in Olive Branch, Mississippi.
It has been mentioned in several articles after the purchase by Apex Marine that the manufacturing of Polar Kraft may be moved to their Saint Louis, Michigan plant. Still, so far, this has not materialized.
How Is the Warranty On Polar Boats?
There is no doubt that Polar Kraft has one of the very best warranties in the entire marine industry.
The warranty on the hull is for the lifetime of the boat. This is for both riveted and welded models. It cannot be any better than that for a warranty.
The company can offer this warranty because of the quality of the materials and construction of the hull.
Which Brands Produce Boats Similar to Polar Boats?
There are quite a few brands of aluminum boats, and most of them are considered competition for Polar Kraft in one form or another. Most aluminum boat brands produce Jon boats and sports fishing boats, as Polar Kraft is.
Alumacraft, Lund, and Tracker are often viewed as primary competition for Polar Kraft. While the prices of these brands vary, they are all going for a similar niche that Polar Kraft has. This competition is mainly in the angling market.
The Jon boat market is very tough, and some of Polar Kraft’s competitors in this market are G3, Lowe, and Tracker.
These companies have more Jon boats to choose from and are fairly comparable in pricing. However, most of them do not offer Polar Kraft’s lifetime hull warranty.
Correct Craft and Crestliner are also seen as competition for Polar Kraft, having similar models of boats.
Few companies can match the 70-year history of Polar Kraft.
They have mostly positive reviews online, in forums, and on platforms like youtube.com.
Their future seems secure, and they continue to introduce new models, such as the Kodiak line of rugged V-Hull fishing boats designed to thrive in adverse conditions.
When it comes to the value and strength of customer service, not many companies shine like Polar Kraft.