Boats come in all shapes and sizes but sometimes, bigger isn’t necessarily better. If you’re a beginner boater, you might want to start with a smaller boat.
Or, perhaps, you have a lightweight truck or SUV. This is also a great option if you just want something that will cruise or zoom around the lake.
Here are 13 great boats that weigh less than 3500 pounds.
Boats that are under 3500 lbs. are generally considered to be “small outboard boats”.
A few of your options are:
1) The Scout 195 Sportfish
The 195 Sportfish cost $33,195.
It’s a 19-footer that allows for a lot of space for you to move freely onboard. At a dry weight of 2150 lbs. (sans engine), they are small but punchy.
The 195 Sportfish has a capacity for seven people and a fuel capacity of 43 gallons for a nice day trip with the family or with your friends.
Scout offers an aluminum Bimini Top protects passengers from the elements with fittings made of stainless steel. They also offer an optional powder coated ski tow, and a center stern seat with backrest for ultimate comfort.
If you’re going to be out on the water for a while, they also offer console amenities for some added convenience.
Their standard equipment includes:
- Under gunnel rod storage for your fishing gear
- Swim platform with ladder
- 6 cup holders
- Dual battery select switch
- Cooler with cushions for seating
- S. rub rail
- Stern jump seats for added seating
- Bay Star hydraulic steering
- LED under gunnel lights
- A center console with a grab rail and footrest
- 12V plug and two USB outlets to help charge your devices
- Four console rod holders
The optional features include:
- Two LED Lumishore underwater lights
- Fusion Bluetooth stereo with four 6” speakers
- JL Audio speaker upgrade, also with four 6.5” speakers
2) Robalo R160
The Robalo R160 cost $22,695
It is action-packed and sized for both first-time boaters and skilled fishermen (professional or hobbyists).
Like all Robalo boats, the R160 is made with durable Kevlar along with the center consoles, stainless steel hardware, top tier vinyl interior with full and rich foam padding to aid in comfort.
Just because it’s small, doesn’t mean it’s not up for the challenge.
The R160 is 16 feet long fishing mini yacht boasts low-speed stability (for a smooth ride while you’re trolling for fish), efficient fuel economy, a “feather soft ride”, precise agility for sharp cornering, and dry riding freeboard.
Their standard equipment includes:
- Grab rails
- Casting deck
- Fish box (for your convenience)
- Easy access gas stank
- Aft storage and seats
- Submersible LED lights
- Spare tire kit
You can even get a package which comes complete with the boat, motor (which you normally have to buy separately), and a trailer.
3) Boston Whaler 170 Montauk
The Boston Whaler is a classic deck boat. They’ve upped their game with their 2019 Boston Whaler 170 Montauk.
It cost around $45,000, which is one of the first ever center-console skiffs.
It is the 2018 winner of the Best of Boats International Award.
It is 1,700 pounds without an engine and 2,254 pounds with an engine.
It’s small but mighty and can still fit onto a single-axle trailer. This baby has a bigger fuel tank than its predecessors and comes with a variety of different seating options for your added comfort.
The standard features include:
- Three stainless steel cleats at 8” each
- 19’ interior freeboard
- Midship, molded-in (port and starboard) boarding steps
- Bow locker with fiberglass cover and an overboard drain
- Four-rod holders for fishing
- Swim platform with a grab rail and a fiberglass, telescoping, stainless steel swim ladder
- Reversible pilot seat with storage and a locking backrest
- Hydraulic steering
- 90 EXLPT EFI Black command Thrust FourStroke Mercury engine
If you’re tired of looking at fishing boats, fear not.
There are quite a few deck boats you can choose from as well.
4) Bayliner Element E21
The Bayliner Element E21 is starting at $29,711.
It is both affordable and easy to maintain.
However, the dry weight (with a standard engine) is approximately 2,645 lbs. with a fuel capacity of 44 gallons.
The super low price point (comes with a warranty) is a beautiful aspect of this beginner boat. It also has a full transom platform with boarding wings.
The M-Hull is incredibly stable and can deliver fast-planing economy. There is also plenty of room for you and your family and friends to the lounge for a chill and fun day trip. After all, the max capacity is a whopping 10 people.
5) Stingray 212SC
The Stingray 212SC cost around $47,000. It comes in at around 3,100 lbs. (dry, including the engine).
It is both comfortable (for up to six people) and is fuel efficient.
If you’re looking for a boat that is a decent price for the amount of speed it can pull off (with 5 adults, it tested at a top speed of 37.5 mph), the Stingray 212SC might be the boat you’re looking for.
It comes with a number of standard features including backlit instruments, bow storage, cabin windows with an SS frame, cool touch vinyl which is also nano-block stain resistant, cooler with an overboard drain, stainless steel multi-step aft ladder, and oversized cup holders.
8 Other popular boats to check out (under 3,500 pounds)
Here are some other models to check out if you want more options:
6) Avalon Catalina DRL 24′ – 2,050 pound pontoon boat
7) 2017 Malibu Wakesetter LSV23 – 3,400 lbs ski boat
8) 2017 Tige RZR 20 – 3,100 lbs ski boat
9) Kencraft 21 – 2,675 lbs fishing boat
10) Kencraft 25 – (same as above but 3,900 pounds)
11) Sea Hunt Triton 212 – 2,150-pound fishing boat
12) Chaparral 19 H2O SPORT – 2,540-pound sport motorboat
13) G3 Suncatcher series – 2,500-pound pontoon boat
How big are 3500-pound boats?
On average a boat that is around 3,500 lbs. is around 18 ft long. Of course, the height and length of the boat depending on the type of boat as well.
Some boats may not be 18 ft in length but can be over 3,500 because of the engines, and various options onboard.
The longest boats you find at this weight limit are typically boats without a roof and with a sleek body. The more stripped-down the design is, the lighter the boat will be. So don’t expect your boat to have a lot of features if you want a 3,500-pound boat that is longer than 20 feet.
How big a budget do I need for a 3500 lb boat?
For a 3,500 pound boat, you could be spending anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000.
Runabouts and fishing boats are hearty and efficient.
The most affordable boats (classified as runabouts or fishing boats) can run you an average of $25,000.
You can also get a good deal on a pontoon boat. They are cheaper to build and they are fun to sail. They are typically around $20,000 for a 2,000-2,800 pound boat.
How big a vehicle do I need to tow these boats?
For a 3,500 lb. boat (or less) you’ll need a class II hitch and a midsize SUV at the minimum.
Some examples of these types of vehicles include:
- 2019 Mercedes GLC
- Ford Escape
- 2019 Chrysler Pacifica
- Chevrolet Equinox
These will do the job and you will have more wiggle room if you choose a small truck instead of an SUV. But you won’t need that to tow a boat that is around 3,500 pounds.
Which boat trailer do I need for a 3500-pound boat?
Towing your boat with an SUV or truck is mostly a combination of capacity and personal preference. However, when it comes to a trailer, you have to follow certain guidelines in order to ensure that your boat is safe for you, drivers around you, and the property in the area too.
The last thing you want is for your trailer to come unhitched and your boat to go careening into a nearby building.
The trailer hitch is just as important as the trailer because this is how it is connected to your truck. Trailer hitches come in four classes, depending on the weight that needs to be pulled.
A class II trailer hitch can tow a max weight of 3,500 lbs.
Depending on your trailer and wet weight, you may need a class III (with a max capacity of 5,000 lbs.).
To get the best trailer for your boat, you will have to consider a few options:
- Single or tandem-axle trailer.
Most boat owners who have the more expensive tandem-axle trailer report that they feel safer and that the trailer has less of a tendency to fishtail while they drive down the road. Of course, a single-axle trailer will be easier on your pocketbook.
- The size of the tires.
The larger, the better. Larger tires mean a smoother ride. Not to mention, it is easier to find replacements for larger tires.
- Submersible (otherwise known as “float-on”), or roll-off trailer.
Submersible trailers allow the boat to float when the trailer itself is submerged. These are the easiest to use of the three. However, they require a little more attention to upkeep.
Roll-off trailers are easier to maintain but are more expensive and can be more difficult to use.
- Galvanized or paint.
Painted trailers work fine for freshwater launches. They are also more aesthetically pleasing because they can be painted to match your boat. Or they can be painted with bright colors to help you see it from a distance. Galvanized trailers are more expensive but require less maintenance. Not to mention, they do well when around saltwater.
- The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.
The total weight of the boat should be no more than 85% of the GVWR of your trailer.
How is the weight of a boat calculated?
There are three weights that you’ll need to consider before you can (1) buy a boat, and (2) buy the right truck (if necessary). What is the:
- the dry weight of the boat:
The weight of the boat only, without water and without the trailer)
- the wet weight of the boat:
The weight of the boat plus the water it will be carrying when you pull it out of the water
- weight of the trailer:
This is only the weight of your trailer
When you are towing a boat, you will need to consider all three of these weights. Know that the total weight your vehicle will have to tow will be a combination of the trailer plus the wet or dry boat.
In addition, remember that a majority of boats are weighed before the engine is put in. Make sure that you calculate or consider the weight of the engine as well.
How much does an average boat weight?
A boat can weigh anywhere from 120 lb. sailboat to 12,126 GT superyacht. That is a whopping 29,424,640 lbs.!
The weight of your boat depends on what type of boat it is.
Pontoon boats weigh (on average) about 2,200 lbs. The average sailboat weights around 8,800 lbs. The average ski boat weights approximately 3,500 lbs. The average speed boat weights about 8,000 lbs. Fishing boats weight about 1,700 lbs. on average. Deck boats weigh about 3,100 lbs. on average.
The average cabin cruiser weighs about 8,700 lbs.
How much does the average boat and trailer weight?
The average boat trailer can weigh anywhere from 300 to 1,512 lbs. A tandem-axle trailer can weight around 1,000 to 1,600 lbs.
If you want to get an average weight of your boat and trailer, remember that there are other items you have to consider as well. Your total weight will be a calculation of these numbers:
- Your dry boat
- Your trailer
- Your stereo equipment (this can add up very quickly)
- Your tower (which can be somewhere between 70 to 300 lbs.)
- Your gear (this will vary but can range from 100 to 600 lbs.)
- Your fuel (this will be about six times the amount of your boat’s fuel capacity)
- Your boat’s extra options (ballast tanks, heaters, plumbing, etc. can be anywhere from 50 to 400 lbs.)
What if I want a vehicle that can tow more than 3,500 lbs.?
Depending on the engine you choose and the trailer you choose, you may need to look at vehicles that can tow a little more than 3,500 lbs.
For class III weights (around 6,000 lbs. or less), you will need to consider a pick-up or larger SUV like the 2019 Subaru Ascent
For a class III weight (less than 10,000 lbs.) you’re going to need a bigger truck such as a:
- Chevrolet Tahoe
- Chevrolet Colorado
- Ford Expedition
- GMC Canyon
- Nissan Armada
If you feel like you might go over the weight limit and need a Class IV (which is still around 10,000 lbs).
Consider upping your truck game by getting a full-sized truck.
Some examples would be the:
- Ford F-150
- Dodge Ram 1500
- Chevrolet Silverado 1500
- Nissan Titan
- Toyota Tundra
- GMC Sierra 1500
As a general rule:
- Mid-sized trucks and SUVs can tow ski boats, small fishing boats, and pontoon or deck boats that have a dry weight of 3,500 lbs. or less.
- Large trucks can tow speedboats, sailboats, and cabin cruisers with a dry weight of 8,700 lbs. or less.
- Full-sized trucks can pull large yachts that weigh around 10,000 lbs.
- Cars can tow PWC’s with an average dry weight of 850 lbs.
How many people (and stuff) can a 3,500-pound boat carry?
When it comes to the weight capacity of a boat, the calculations involve the length and width of a vessel.
The general rule of thumb is that the number of people (which will, on average, weight 150 lbs.) is determined by the length and width of the boat divided by 15.
For example, let’s say you have a boat that is 18 feet long by 6 feet wide.
The calculations will look like this:
18 x 6 = 108
108/15= 7.2 (so 7 people)
7 people x 150 (their average weight) = 1050 lbs.
A boat that is 18 feet long and 6 feet wide has a weight capacity of 1050 lbs.
If you don’t want to do the calculations, rest easy. Most boats must have a weight capacity plaque.
Buying a boat is no easy task when you consider the logistics of boat ownership. There are many variables at play. Calculating weight can be tricky at first but it is easy to figure out once you can see everything in front of you.
Remember that all of these numbers are a rough estimate.
Since boats are so customizable and there are so many options to consider when you calculate the weight of the entire boat, you won’t be able to see how much it weighs until you talk with a dealership.
These numbers should be able to give you a good estimate so you can start your boat search with a little bit of background knowledge.
Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.