Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Tri-toon vs. Pontoon: The differences in Pontoon Boats


Water Sports


When shopping for a pontoon boat, one of the biggest and most important decisions you will make is whether to go with a tri-toon or two-toon model. While both boats safely offer a lot of fun on the water, they have some key differences that are important to understand before making your purchase.

In the last 10-15 years the popularity of pontoon boats has grown exponentially. With more interior space than a traditionally hulled boat, along with advancements in performance and technology, pontoon boats offer a diverse range of options to satisfy the needs for most types of marine recreation.

What is a pontoon boat?
Traditionally, pontoon boats are built with two toons or tubes running the full length on each side of the boat. Using pontoons instead of a traditional hull offers better stability and a smoother ride. Due to Coast Guard regulations regarding maximum horsepower ratings, two-toon pontoon boats are best suited for calm waters and slower cruising.

What is a tri-toon?
A tri-toon pontoon boat has a third pontoon mounted along the center of the boat. The increase in buoyancy results in better performance, options for watersport activities, more weight capacity, and a higher maximum horsepower rating. Another advantage is the option in most tri toons for a large storage area within the pontoon itself to keep bigger items such as water skis, spare life jackets, boat covers or any other items that can get in the way while boating.

Comparing performance of two-toon vs tri-toon

At Tobler Marina, we can expect a 22’ Bennington two-toon boat with the maximum 115 horsepower outboard motor to have a top speed between 25 and 29 miles per hour. The same size Bennington with a tri-toon and a 200+ horsepower motor will achieve between 38 and 42 miles per hour.

While the advantages of the tri-toon seem to far outweigh a pontoon boat, a buyer can expect to pay between 20 and 30% more for a boat with a center pontoon. To the boater who values a higher top-speed, tighter turning radius, waterskiing, tubing, wakeboarding, or operates on larger, choppier bodies of water, the tri-toon is the boat that makes the most sense. For the more relaxed user, who enjoys cruising at a slower speed on smaller lakes or bodies of water, a boat with two pontoons will suit them just fine at a more affordable price.


10 Essential Items to Keep on Your Boat at All Times


How to Back Up Your Boat Trailer Like a Pro


How to be a Respectful/Courtesy Boater


How to clean and maintain your boats bilge