Types Of Small Boats: Exploring Different Types for Your Next Adventure

Many boaters claim that small boats are the best, and they have valid reasons to support their claim. Firstly, small boats offer the best value for money, allowing you to enjoy the natural world of water at a minimal cost. Secondly, they require the least amount of time for maintenance compared to the time spent boating, making them very efficient. Additionally, small boats are naturally lightweight, portable, and easy to maneuver, making them convenient to store and transport. Lastly, they are excellent for learning boathandling skills, applicable to handling larger boats regardless of age.

The best thing about small boats is the variety available, catering to different water activities. Even those who own large boats often find small boats useful for specific activities and when dealing with the hassle of preparing the large boat seems unnecessary.

Wondering which type of small boat suits you best? The following guide is organized into a dozen categories, covering everything from rowing dinghies and sailing boats to kayaks and small powerboats.

Types of Small Watercraft

When it comes to small watercraft, there is no official size definition but generally, they are considered to be less than 30 feet long. The type of small watercraft that will suit you best depends on the activities you want to engage in and the location where you plan to launch your boat. Here are the main types of small watercraft you can explore during your search.

Jon Boats

Jon boats typically feature an aluminum hull with a flat bottom and a squared-off bow, an outboard engine, and bench seats. These boats are lightweight and have a simple construction, making them easy to handle and requiring minimal maintenance. Depending on the engine price, they are also among the most budget-friendly options available when purchasing a boat with an engine.


If you're in search of a straightforward boat at a reasonable price, a skiff might be the ideal choice for you. Skiffs are generally defined as boats with a simple hull, an outboard engine, and seating. They are relatively easy to maneuver and maintain, and their small size allows for easy transportation and launching in various settings.


Dinghies encompass a wide range of boats, including sailboat racing classes. They typically reach a maximum length of about 10 feet, but those equipped with sails may extend to 15 feet or more. Dinghies can be powered by sails, a motor, oars, or paddles, and they are used for independent boating or as tenders for larger vessels to access shallow waters and the shore.

Inflatable Boats

Inflatable boats come in two basic types. The first type is completely inflatable and collapsible, designed for easy storage on larger vessels. The second type features a rigid hull surrounded by an inflatable ring. Inflatable boats range from 6 to 22 feet in length, with some models extending to over 40 feet to serve as tenders to large vessels such as sailboat racing yachts.

Aluminum Fishing Boats

Lightweight and easy to maintain, aluminum fishing boats are a practical choice for small watercraft. They are also cost-effective and fuel-efficient, making them an attractive option for fishing enthusiasts. These boats typically range from 8 to 24 feet in length.

Pontoon Boats

Available in various sizes and configurations, pontoon boats offer ample open space for multiple passengers. Ranging from mini fishing pontoons to performance pontoon boats, they are generally between 15 and 30 feet long and are known for their affordability, ease of trailering, and simple launching.


Canoes are a popular choice due to their ease of use, maintenance, and transportation. They are powered by paddles and can navigate through shallow waters. Canoes come in different shapes, each designed to cater to specific activities such as speed, coasting, or fishing.


Kayaks are favored for their maneuverability and typically accommodate one or two passengers. Propelled by a double-bladed paddle, kayaks offer a range of designs, including sit-on models and foot pedal-powered variations.

Jet Boats

For those seeking speed and excitement, jet boats are an ideal option. Ranging from 14 to 24 feet long, these boats are built for maneuverability and thrilling rides, powered by jet engines that create high-pressure water thrust.

Personal Watercraft

Personal watercraft, also known as Jet Skis, are compact and fast, designed to accommodate one or two individuals. They are available in sit-down and stand-up versions, offering a thrilling experience on the water.

Deck Boats

Deck boats, with their open deck space, provide ample room for passengers and equipment. Ranging up to 26 feet in length, these boats are equipped with high-powered engines and are well-suited for accommodating large groups of family and friends.

Bowrider Boats

Bowrider boats, while at the larger end of the small-boat category, offer versatility and maneuverability. With their V-shaped hulls, they can navigate various water conditions and are suitable for a wide range of water activities.

Exploring Different Types of Small Motorboats

When it comes to small motorboats, there are various types that fall under the umbrella terms of cruisers and runabouts. These terms encompass a wide range of boats that are categorized as relatively small powerboats, equipped with either inboard or outboard motors. Within the category of cruisers and runabouts, you'll find bowriders, deck boats, jet boats, and a host of other small boats that are powered by motors.

One of the most popular types of small motorboats is the bowrider, which is known for its open bow area and seating in the front. Then, there are deck boats that offer a spacious deck area for relaxation and entertaining. Additionally, jet boats are gaining popularity due to their unique propulsion system and maneuverability. These are just a few examples of the diverse range of small motorboats available in the market, each catering to different preferences and needs.

Exploring Different Types of Small Sailing Boats

Small sailing boats come in various types, each with its unique features and characteristics. From sailing dinghies to daysailers, small sloops, and multihulls, there is a wide range of options for sailing enthusiasts to choose from. Whether it's the traditional design of a small sloop or the stability offered by multihulls, each type of small sailing boat has something different to offer.

When it comes to small sailing boats, one thing that sailors should be prepared for is the potential for a wet ride, especially when the wind picks up. The compact size and design of these boats often mean that the crew may experience splashes of water as they navigate through the waves. It's all part of the exhilarating experience of sailing in a smaller vessel.

Choosing the Right Small Fishing Boat

When it comes to choosing the right small fishing boat, anglers have a variety of options to consider. While almost any small boat can be used for fishing, some types are better suited for this purpose than others. Among the most popular choices are aluminum fishing boats and jon boats, known for their versatility in different types of water, such as narrow inlets, bays, flats, and shallow shorelines. These boats come in various forms, from kayaks to skiffs, and can be equipped with features specifically designed for fishermen.

Considerations for Anglers

Anglers should consider the specific features and capabilities of each type of small fishing boat before making a decision. For example, kayaks are known for their maneuverability and portability, making them ideal for reaching remote fishing spots. On the other hand, jon boats and skiffs offer more stability and storage space, making them suitable for longer fishing trips. Additionally, anglers may want to look for boats with built-in rod holders, live wells, and other fishing-specific amenities to enhance their fishing experience.

Choosing the Right Small Boat for Your Lake Adventures

When it comes to navigating the tranquil waters of a lake, the choice of boat is crucial. For smaller lakes, where maneuverability is key, a manually powered boat such as a canoe or kayak is an excellent option. These lightweight and agile crafts allow you to explore every nook and cranny of the lake with ease. On the other hand, if you're dealing with larger lakes and potentially choppier waters, a more substantial powerboat like a deck boat might be the better choice. These sturdy vessels are built to handle larger waves and provide a smoother ride in open waters. However, if you want the flexibility to navigate both small and large lakes, a mid-range small boat could be the perfect compromise, ensuring you feel comfortable and confident no matter the size of the lake.

Considering the size of the waves and the type of lake you'll be exploring is essential in making the right choice. Whether it's a serene small lake or a vast expanse of water, having the right small boat will enhance your overall experience and allow you to make the most of your lake adventures.

Types Of Small Boats

Exploring Small River Boats

When navigating a river, it's essential to keep in mind that the current will consistently push you downstream. If you plan to travel both upstream and downstream, a motorized boat is necessary. Luckily, there are several types of small river boats that can be equipped with a motor for this purpose. Some of the most popular options for small river boats are jon boats, pontoon boats, deck boats, and jet boats.

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