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The Best Boat Brands by Category

From fishing boats to yachts and everything in between, the boating world is one of the largest recreational markets on the planet. There are quite literally hundreds of boat brands manufacturing exemplary boats in all corners of the world, and with so many brands, styles, and models to choose from, searching for a new or used boat can seem like a dizzying task. Here at Rightboat we use the word “best” cautiously when describing boat brands, because ultimately the best boat is the one that’s best for you and your own personal needs. Having said that there are brands out there that have proved time and again that their prowess in building boats sets them apart. Here we have listed some of our favorite brands, but keep in mind that they are just the tip of the iceberg. 

 

Best Pontoon Boats

Once slow and unsightly, today pontoon boats are impressively fast, sleek, and offer a huge variety of recreational opportunities for lots of passengers, from fishing and watersports, to swimming and lounging. You’ll find all manner of features, including waterslides, stand-up bars, sun pads, watersports towers, and grills, making them the ultimate family fun boat. Pontoon boats for sale

 

Best Pontoon Boat Brands

  1. Premier: With a range of luxurious models all the way up to over 33 feet and maximum power ratings to 1,000 horsepower, Premier builds some of the largest, most powerful pontoons around. They even offer some double-decker models with second-story water slides. Premier boats for Sale
  2. SunChaser: Offering excellent family pontoons, SunChaser put an emphasis on watersports as well as big swim platforms, powerful outboards, and lots of choices of layouts, while delivering a great bang for the buck. SunChaser boats for sale
  3. Bennington: The luxurious models being produced by Bennington epitomize the new era of the pontoon boat, with the latest in electronics, Simtex premium vinyl seats, and extreme styling. Bennington boats for sale

 

Discover more of the best pontoon boat brands

 

Bennington Q Series

Bennington Q Series. Bennington photo. 

 

Best Bass Boats

There are few boats built for such a specific use as the bass boat, which is aimed at serving the exact needs of largemouth bass anglers. These fiberglass or aluminum boats are well-loved for their performance, sturdiness, and fishability. Their stability allows them to be used on calm inland waterways, they come equipped with a whole suite of gear, and they are usually powered with potent engines to get you to the fishing grounds in no time. Bass boats for sale

 

Best Bass Boat Brands

  1. Lowe: Most of Lowe’s aluminum fishing boat models are scaled to recreational angling as opposed to tournament-level competition, but their bass boats come with all the equipment you could ever need to reel in your catch, while maintaining a comparatively low cost. Lowe boats for sale
  2. Bass Cat: With almost 50 years of expertise under their belts, Bass Cat produces some of the best competition-level bass boats on the market. They’re a small volume builder and all of their boats come with a lifetime, transferable structural warranty. Bass Cat boats for sale
  3. Ranger: One of the most experienced builders around and one of the original builders of bass boats, Ranger offers some high-end, tournament-capable fiberglass fishing machines which have a reputation for reliability, longevity, and excellent performance. They also have a lineup of lower cost aluminum models. Ranger boats for sale

 

Discover more of the best bass boat brands

 

Ranger Z520R comanche

Ranger Z520R comanche. Ranger photo.

 

Best Fishing Boats

Fishing is one of the most popular uses of recreational boats in the world, and there are many styles and types to choose from including bass boats, Jon boats, midsize center consoles, luxury center consoles, deck boats, skiffs, offshore sportfishing boats, and even fishing kayaks. From meaty saltwater boats to lightweight, trailerable lake boats, the options are endless. Fishing boats for sale

 

Best Fishing Boat Brands

 

  1. Boston Whaler: Boston Whaler’s reputation is outstanding, and they’re one of the top manufacturers of fishing boats and in particular center consoles. Their unsinkable fiberglass-and-foam boats range from 13 feet to 42 feet, and the company brings years of expertise to every model. Boston Whaler boats for sale
  2. Grady-White: Grady-White is one of the most popular and well-respected boat builders around, and their lineup of saltwater offshore and inshore fishing vessels is considered top-shelf. Models on offer include dual console, center console, express, hybrid bay, and walkaround designs. Grady-White boats for sale
  3. Contender Boats: A top brand for offshore fishing, Contender builds semi-custom sportfishing boats that are in a league of their own. Based in Florida, Contender boats boast gobs of power and deep-V hull forms ensuring you get to the fishing grounds in record speed. Contender boats for sale

 

Discover more of the best fishing boat brands and small fishing boat brands

 

Boston Whaler 320 Outrage

Boston Whaler 320 Outrage. Boston Whaler 320 photo.

 

Best Boats for Lakes

Lakes make up some of the most popular boating waters in the United States, and there are many brands building boats designed for them. Styles of boats vary hugely, from pontoon and deck boats to watersports boats, cabin cruisers, Jon boats, houseboats, and small fishing boats. Many top brands of each style are listed in other categories in this list, too. 

 

Best Brands of Boats for Lakes

  1. Ranger: Ranger has 50 years of expertise, making them one of the most popular builders of aluminum and fiberglass bass fishing boats, bay boats, fish-and-skis, and pontoons around. Their rugged and functional design has earned them many loyal followers, and they are sought after on the used market. Ranger boats for sale
  2. Scout Boats: Scout has fine-tuned their range of boats to offer a luxury collection of family-friendly dual consoles, shallow draft bay boats, and center console fishing boats. While several models are well-equipped for the sea, they are hugely popular action-packed lake boats as well. Scout boats for sale
  3. Harris Boats: Among the most popular high-end pontoon boat builders, Harris Boats builds luxury pontoon and tritoon boats that are ideal for lazy days at the lake, watersports, and all around fun. Harris boats for sale

 

Ranger 621FS Pro

Ranger 621FS Pro. Ranger Boats photo.

 

Best Center Console Boats

With the helm in the center of the boat, the center console is one of the most popular types on the water today. Often used for general recreation as well as fishing, they are wonderfully versatile and offer 360 degree fishability around the boat. With such popularity it’s unsurprising that there are many excellent brands building center consoles today. Center console boats for sale

 

Best Center Console Brands

  1. Bayliner: Bayliner specializes in smaller, relatively inexpensive boats, including center consoles, which means these are great beginner boats and are more affordable than their larger counterparts. You get an amazing selection of features you’d usually find with more luxurious brands for an all around great value for money. Bayliner boats for sale
  2. Everglades Boats: With an emphasis on sportfishing center consoles, Everglades Boats are some of the most high-end on the market. Ranging from 28 to 45 feet, they’re tournament-level boats equipped with the latest technology and huge Yamaha engines. Everglades boats for sale
  3. Boston Whaler: Boston Whaler makes our list for the second time with their impressive lineup of center console boats. With the choice to customize many aspects of a new model, these are high-end, versatile boats with good resale value and a reputation for longevity. Boston Whaler boats for sale

 

Discover more of the best center console brands

 

Everglades 365cc

Everglades 365cc. Everglades photo.

 

Best Speed Boats

The term “speed boat” covers a broad spectrum of vessels, and you’ll see many top brands listed under more specific categories on this list. With a vast size range, speeds, designs, functions, and layouts, speedboats rule the roost when it comes to taking thrill rides on lakes, bays, rivers, and the ocean. 

 

Best Speed Boat Brands

  1. Nor-Tech: With a mixed lineup of high-power center consoles and traditional enclosed-bow performance boats, Nor-Tech is known for high-tech construction and an amazing fit and finish. In 2008, they built the fastest boat in Norway at that time, which hit a top speed of 202 mph. Nor-Tech boats for sale
  2. Cigarette Boats: Cigarette is one of the original American speed boat manufacturers and the company has many speed records under its belt. Their racing boats are some of the fastest on the planet, and they continuously push the boundaries of innovation in construction. Cigarette boats for sale
  3. Outerlimits Powerboats: Outerlimits in Bristol, Rhode Island, builds some seriously fast mono- and multihull powerboats that are world class. Their record-breaking boats, which range from 29 to 52 feet, have reached staggering speeds of 134 mph. Outerlimits boats for sale

 

Discover more small motorboat brands

 

Cigarette Auroris

Cigarette 42 Auroris. Cigarette photo.

 

Best Ski Boats

Waterskiing remains a popular pastime and the emergence of purpose-built ski boats has taken the sport to new heights. While any powerboat can be used for waterskiing, the development of boats with small wakes ideal for the sport, specific storage areas for equipment, large swim platforms, and good visibility of the skier from the helm, make these popular for keen waterskiing enthusiasts. Ski boats for sale

 

Best Ski Boat Brands

  1. Malibu: Malibu has managed to create a lineup of watersports boats including the Response ski boats, which are perfect for both beginners and competition-level skiers. They’re one of the biggest names in this sector, and you can be sure you’re getting years of innovation and excellent customer service. Malibu boats for sale
  2. Nautique: Nautique produces competition-level ski boats in their Ski Nautique range, which are ideal for serious and intermediate level skiers. Construction is cutting edge, including the use of blended fiberglass and carbon fiber. Nautique boats for sale
  3. Nitro: While Nitro has long been recognized for their excellent fishing boats, they also tap into the mixed-use fish-and-ski boat sector. This more versatile style of boat is really making waves (excuse the pun) with recreational boaters who want their boat to do multiple activities. Nitro boats for sale

 

Discover more of the best fish and ski boats

 

Malibu Response TXi MO

Malibu Response TXi MO. Malibu boats photo. 

 

Best Wakeboard Boats

The hugely niche wakeboard boat has soared in popularity in recent years, and there is plenty of competition within the market. These carefully crafted performance boats are designed specifically for boarding watersports, and often come with hefty price tags. While you can essentially wakeboard with any powerboat, what sets these apart is the size and shape of the wake that’s created and the ability to customize it to different riders. This comes from precision engineering, finely tuned hull designs, and dedicated wave-making tabs and plates. Wakeboard boats for sale

 

Best Wakeboard Boat Brands

  1. Malibu: Malibu’s excellent range of wakeboard boats are some of the most luxurious, technologically advanced, and comfortable on the market. While they don’t come cheap, you’re getting precision engineering and world-class customer service for your money. Malibu boats for sale
  2. Mastercraft: Mastercraft’s excellent and long-standing reputation means that the resale value of their top-of-the-range wakeboard boats is one of the highest in the industry. These are luxury boats, packed with features and hair-raising horsepower. Mastercraft boats for sale
  3. Chaparral: Chaparral builds a range of family-friendly boats, from runabouts and cruisers to their lineup of wakeboard boats. Indeed, they offer some of the largest wakeboard boats out there, perfect for bringing lots of friends and family along for the ride. Chaparral boats for sale

 

Discover more of the best wakeboard boat brands

 

MasterCraft NXT Series

MasterCraft NXT Series. Mastercraft photo.

 

Best Aluminum Boats

Aluminum boats are known for their low cost, durability, and lightweight properties. In fact, aluminum has many positive attributes when it comes to boat-building versus fiberglass and other materials. It’s similar in durability and strength to steel, is lightweight and therefore faster on water, it’s often less expensive than fiberglass for building small models, and it’s corrosion-resistant. Many small fishing boats in particular are made from aluminum, allowing for easy trailering and launching, and they are popular freshwater boats, too. Aluminum boats for sale

 

Best Aluminum Boat Brands

  1. Alumacraft: Alumacraft has been making high-quality aluminum fishing boats for over 75 years and has a huge variety of both new models and used ones to choose from. The one-piece aluminum hull bottoms are double-plated for additional strength, and they have a big range of features. Alumacraft boats for sale
  2. Crestliner: Crestliner’s reputation for building strong, lightweight aluminum boats is based on 70 years in the industry. Specializing in fishing boats, one of their key characteristics is that the seams are welded rather than riveted, providing additional strength. Crestliner boats for sale
  3. Lund: Lund makes our list as builders of some of the best aluminum boats on the market thanks to their extensive range of fishing boats. It includes bass, utility, and sport models that can be affordable beginner boats to top-tier models. Lund boats for sale

 

Alumacraft Voyager Series

Alumacraft Voyager Series. Alumacraft photo.

 

Best Jon Boats

There’s something delightfully simple about a Jon boat that makes them hugely popular year after year. Lightweight, with flat bottoms and few frills, you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy a day on the water fishing or hunting. Used on calm inland waterways, they are perfect for accessing shallow waters and are easy to trailer or even put in the back of a pickup truck. Jon boats for sale

 

Best Jon Boat Brands

  1. G3: Ranging from 10 to 20 feet in length, the lineup of aluminum G3 Jon boats is long. Whether you choose the bare-bones option or a model with all the extras, you’re getting excellent craftsmanship and one of the best warranties around. G3 boats for sale
  2. Excel: Excel’s impressive and popular range of Jon boats are designed specifically for waterfowl hunting or mixed fishing/hunting use, and can be powered by air-cooled surface-drive motors as well as outboards. Excel boats for sale
  3. Tracker Boats: Tracker’s extensive range of all-welded Jon boats are ruggedly built and designed for hunting and fishing. They’re stable and durable, making them ideal for everything from bowfishing to duck hunting. Tracker boats for sale

 

Discover more of the best Jon boat brands

 

G3 Gator Tough Series

G3 Gator Tough Series. G3 Boats photo.

 

Best Bowrider Boats

Fun and fast, bowriders do exactly as their name suggests and provide a seating area in the bow, which allows for extra passengers in a compact boat, and plenty of space for watersports. The term bowrider can cover a many types of boats of different sizes and styles, so long as they have that one major characteristic. From smaller and more affordable models to larger high-end luxury boats, the spectrum of bowriders is simply huge. Bowrider boats for sale

 

Best Bowrider Boat Brands

  1. Chris-Craft: One of the stalwarts of the boating industry, Chris-Craft has been around for over 100 years. Today they build arguably the most luxurious bowriders out there, ranging from 24 to 32 feet. Chris-Craft boats for sale
  2. Sea Ray: Sea Ray has long built one of the most popular brands of bowriders and have put their decades of experience into producing some of the industry’s most luxurious boats of the genre. Ranging from 19 to 40 feet in length, some of the larger models blur the line between bowrider and cabin cruiser. Sea Ray boats for sale
  3. Stingray: Well known for their ranges of affordable bowriders and deck boats, Stingray offers excellent value for the money and boats packed with features you’d usually find on much more expensive brands. Stingray boats for sale

 

Discover more of the best bowrider boat brands

 

Chris Craft Launch 27

Chris-Craft Launch 27. Chris Craft photo.

 

Best Catamarans

Catamarans have always been around, but their star is clearly rising, and now our oceans are teeming with all manner of multihulls, from day cats and motor cats to long range blue water cruising catamarans. With significantly more space for the length as compared to a monohull, as well as an unmatched stability and lack of heeling under sail, it’s easy to see why they’re so popular.  Catamarans for sale

 

Best Catamaran Brands

  1. Fountaine Pajot: One of the top names in the catamaran world, this company has been category leaders for more than 40 years. With a lineup of sailing, cruising, and power catamarans, they have an impressive number of awards as testament to their innovation. Fountaine Pajot boats for sale
  2. Lagoon Catamarans: Lagoon is perhaps the biggest producer of cruising catamarans in the industry, and their sail and powercats are popular choices for charter companies thanks to their spacious designs, communal areas, multiple cabins, and attractive décor. Lagoon boats for sale
  3. Leopard Cats: Building both sailing and now cruising powercats, Leopard pushes the boundaries of innovation, style, and clever use of space in the cruising catamaran sector. Leopard boats for sale

 

 

Leopard 42

Leopard 42. Leopard Catamarans photo.

 

Best Deck Boats

Deck boats are excellent all-around boats, offering great fun, performance, and adventure for an affordable price. The extra interior space they provide by carrying their beam all the way forward to the bow makes the deck boat design valued by many families. Deck boats for sale

 

Best Deck Boat Brands

  1. Starcraft: Starcraft is one of the top manufacturers of deck boats in the United States and are excellent all-rounders that are popular with families. The brand knows what boating families want and offers equipment for watersports, fishing, and more. Starcraft boats for sale
  2. Tahoe: Tahoe’s deck boats fall somewhere in between fishing boats and sports boats, and their package of features is impressively long allowing you to choose the model that suits your interests the best. Tahoe boats for sale
  3. Sea Ray: Sea Ray is a well-respected brand building cabin cruisers, sport boats, and deck boats. Their deck boats begin at 25 feet in length and are popular with watersports enthusiasts thanks to their folding watersports towers, impressive horsepower, and lots of storage. Sea Ray boats for sale

 

 

Tahoe 2150

Tahoe 2150. Tahoe photo. 

 

Best Luxury Boats

When we think of luxury boats we tend to imagine the world’s largest superyachts gracing the oceans in all their glory. Yet boats don’t have to be gargantuan to be luxurious and there are countless brands out there making luxurious models of everything from center consoles and pontoon boats, to ocean-going trawlers and catamarans. Luxury yachts for sale

 

Best Luxury Boat Brands

  1. Azimut: Azimut has been building exquisite boats and superyachts since 1969 and is a highly respected luxury brand well known in Europe and the U.S. The Italian builder prides itself on quality and ensures it keeps a finger on the pulse of innovation and forward-thinking design. There are several other leading brands under the Azimut umbrella including luxury yacht builder Bennetti. Azimut boats for sale
  2. Lürssen: Lürssen is a family-owner German shipbuilder renowned for building some of the largest bespoke superyachts the world has ever seen. While their incredible yachts are beyond the financial scope of most, they play a huge role in leading the innovation and luxury levels of the yachting industry. Lürssen boats for sale
  3. Princess Yachts: British shipbuilder Princess Yachts has been wowing the world with its luxury motoryachts since 1965. They are highly sought after on the used boat market as well as new, with boats ranging from 40 feet up to superyacht status. Princess boats for sale

 

Discover some of the best small luxury boat brands

 

Princess Yachts Y85

Princess Yachts Y85. Princess photo.

 

Best Ocean Boats

The term ocean boat can cover all manner of vessels, from sailing boats to trawlers to catamaran fishing boats. What makes the best ocean boat depends on you and how you plan to use it, whether it’s offshore fishing, sailing around the world, long weekends at sea, coastal cruising, or extended voyages. While there are many types of ocean boats and even more brands building them, they all share certain characteristics including being large and seaworthy enough to withstand the seas and weather, usually having a deep V hull, having enough power and fuel capacity to cruise long range, and enough sleeping and storage capacity for long periods at sea. 

 

Best Ocean Boat Brands

  1. Amel: When it comes to ocean sailing yachts, the famous French firm started by Henri Amel in the 1960s, produced many famous bluewater sloops and ketches over the decades including the Super Maramu. Most of the ocean-going models have been in the 50- to 65-foot range and are designed around distinctive, secure center-cockpit pilothouse configurations. Amel boats for sale
  2. Nordhavn: Nordhavn builds beautiful ocean-going liveaboard trawler yachts which range in size from 41 feet all the way up to superyacht status. They offer home-way-from-home comfort and space, as well as long-range capabilities and a superior build quality. Nordhavn boats for sale
  3. Hallberg-Rassy: Ask any keen bluewater sailor what their dream sailboat would be and it’s likely Hallberg-Rassy will be very high on their list. The Swedish brand builds sailboats between 31 and 64 feet that will take you in style and comfort to the far corners of the earth. Hallberg-Rassy boats for sale

 

Nordhavn 52

Nordhavn 52. Nordhavn photo. 

 

As we said right up front, which of the best boat brands will be best for you, personally, depends on your own unique wants and needs. That said, it would be hard to find a boater who won’t see one or more potential top picks here in this roundup. Still, remember, the boat market is utterly huge—these picks do, in fact, represent the mere tip of the iceberg.

 

 

Written By: Samantha Wilson

Samantha Wilson has spent her entire life on and around boats, from tiny sailing dinghies all the way up to superyachts. She writes for many boating and yachting publications, top charter agencies, and some of the largest travel businesses in the industry, combining her knowledge and passion of boating, travel and writing to create topical, useful and engaging content.

Get in touch:Linkedin

More from: Samantha Wilson


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