2024 Boat Buyers Guide

Welcome to the 2024 Boat Buyers Guide by Boating! Each year, our team curates this guide to assist you in your quest for your next (or inaugural) boat purchase. Understanding a boat’s performance is crucial, instilling confidence in buyers whether they’re at a boat show or exploring options at a dealer’s showroom.

Explore our editorial experts’ reviews as they delve into boats, showcasing their most significant and impressive features. Additionally, gain a quick insight into each boat’s performance data.

This year, we present our most extensive Boat Buyer’s Guide yet, featuring over 70 boats that stand as the ultimate choices. Don’t miss out—dive in and discover!

Boating editors rate as a top source for this information. Our tech team of professionals boasts a combined two centuries of assessing boats and creating reports about them for a living. We eat, sleep and drink boats. We also run more boats—and a wider variety of boats—than anyone else.

So, what does this experience and dedication do for you?

  • One, it provides you with performance tests you can trust.
  • Second, you get insightful commentary that can only come from professionals who can view a given boat through three lenses: what it is in itself, how it compares to other similar boats, and where it fits in the universe of all boats.
  • Third, with the compilation of this annual Boat Buyers Guide, our team of staffers and contributors gives you a means to compare a number of boats of the same type.

Featured Video & Articles

Boat buyers have been relying on Boating’s boat tests since 1956. Crafted by a team of editors, themselves boat owners, each with decades of experience on the water testing boats, Boating boat tests and video walkthrough reviews provide the best and most trusted information available.

Runabout Boats

Runabouts prove excellent boats aboard which to set out for a few hours on the water watching the sunset, joining the Friday lake parade, pulling a tube, or hitting a waterside restaurant. While other boat types afford much of those same opportunities, a runabout will carry you on such adventures with an emphasis on style and luxury. For all that, a few makers offer small, basic runabouts for boaters on a budget. Larger sizes, say over about 30 feet LOA, are often called “dayboats” nowadays.

Watersports Boats

Watersports boats create wakes and waves so that you and your crew can enjoy, wakeboarding, wakesurfing and foiling.The boats best at this currently feature single V-drive inboard power. That said, boats that utilize forward facing sterndrives now deliver quite a good wakesurfing experience for boaters seeking to wakesurf in addition to other activities. Watersports boats come with special features, like towers, ballast systems and wave-shaping foils and tabs.

Pontoon Boats

Seeking a boat with the ability to carry the most people, in the most comfort, for any given length? Buy a pontoon boat. Fitted with two or three, “logs,” or, “toons,” as the pontoons on which they ride are often called, these boats deliver high carrying capacity. The rectangular layout affords room for couches and lounges and just plain room to move around, that other boat types cannot offer at the same length. Most pontoon boats boast outboard power, with some multi-engine models capable of high speeds. Still, simple, modestly powered (and priced) pontoons are available from just about every builder. Still, again, many pontoons now come fitted-out with luxury, rivaling some runabouts in this regard.

Fishing Boats

Boating provides boat buyers with tests and walkthrough videos of all kinds of fishing boats. Whether shopping for a boat to catch bigmouths among the lily pads, or to chase offshore gamefish, or for any fishing-specific reason in between. Fishing boats may be made from fiberglass or aluminum, and most are outboard powered (larger, inboard-powered sportfisherman excepted). Renown for rugged construction and seaworthiness, many fishing boats now combine luxury with angling features. These allow boat buyers to use them as runabouts or dayboats one day, and fishing vessels the next.

More Boat Buying Resources

A boat purchase goes beyond just numbers on a performance chart. While you certainly want to pick the right boat for your boating style and location, consideration of dealer networks, financing options, the associated gear and electronics, and how to operate it safely also plays a part. Combine these resources with our tests to maximize your boat buying knowledge.

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