10 Best Boat Brands
Stow your sails for a moment. Today we’ll be looking at the best boat brands on the market. I’ll examine their highlights, what separates them from the pack, their specialties, and more. You’re going to want to put on your sailor suit for this article.
1. Boston Whaler
You don’t have to be a whale watcher to see the appeal of Boston Whaler. Heck, you don’t even have to be from Boston (let’s hope you’re not because I’m a Lakers diehard).
Boston Whaler has been considered one of the best boat brands since their inception in 1958.
They craft boats of all sizes and purposes. You can find boats as small as the Boston Whaler 130 Super Sport 13’ and models as large as the Boston Whaler 420 Outrage 42’. This also reveals their wide catalog of boats for cruising, fishing, and more.
What’ll attract certain people to Boston Whaler is the company’s phenomenal resale value. Some of their products are decades past their prime yet retain close to retail prices.
So, if you’re looking for a boat that doubles as a long-term investment then I recommend looking into Boston Whaler.
- Their boats have a tremendous return value on the resale market
- Joining the Boston Whalers Club comes with potential savings
- They’ve won seven National Marine Manufacturers Association awards for innovation
Yachts might be scorned for their association with privileged yuppies, but that’s because most people haven’t experienced riding a yacht from Bertram.
This Florida-based company has a smaller catalog than some of the other best boat brands. They only have a few yachts for sale in a small size range.
However, they’re a force to reckoned with in the yachting world. Bertram’s yachts are definitely why yachts are seen as so luxurious.
They typically come with more features than many other yachts. You can go on a virtual tour of some of their available models to get an insider’s view.
Bertram’s discontinued models still sell well on the resale market. The company produces spare parts so that collectors can keep these vintage ships afloat. With all that in mind, Bertram is the brand for you if you want to cruise with class.
- Offer virtual tours of their boats
- Their classic models are frequently sought after on the second-hand market
- Small but opulent product lineup
Chapparal offers a more personal touch among the best boat brands. They’ve stuck to that vision since 1965. Their Nashville location uses their large workforce and resources to finish every boat by hand, giving them a humanist finish that other companies lack.
Additionally, Chaparral boats are spacious enough for you, your friends, and your activities. The majority of their models can hold up to 12 passengers at once with plenty of extra space for equipment necessary for watersports or a day spent out at sea.
Their line-up includes wake surf, surfboats, bowriders, and watersport boats all ranging from 19’ to 33’. They have a wide selection in each category, meaning you should be able to find a Chaparral model that’s perfect for you.
- Craftsmen finish each boat by hand
- Their boats have plenty of space onboard
- They’ve given their workers’ families over half a million dollars in scholarships over the past 20 years
If there’s a company that does customer service well, it’s Grady-White. They’re one of the best boat brands when it comes to responding to consumer feedback.
They often integrate customer reports into their new designs, using buyers’ insights to brainstorm ways to improve their projects. Grady-White is also one of the most sought-after fishing boat companies.
The Greenville, North Carolina company makes fantastic boats like the Grady-White Fisherman 216. This staple product includes ample space for fishing rods, dockside boarding platforms, a center console, and a 200 Yamaha Four-Stroke motor.
One last thing about Grady-White. They’re another company that performs well on the second-hand market. You’ll often find their boats yielding great returns years later when their owners decide to sell them.
- Use customer reviews to improve their products
- One of the best boat brands for fishermen
- Great resale value
Lund is a company that has made their name with expert engineering. Their aluminum boats have captured fans’ attention since 1948 and continue to do so today. In fact, Lund won the NMMA Innovation Award in 2020.
I mention their aluminum line of boats because those products distinguish them from the other best boat brands. Aluminum boats require less upkeep, are much less expensive, easier to maneuver and transport, and weigh less than fiberglass boats.
Lund uses high-density performance (HDP) materials for their boats, making them weatherproof. The combination of their lightweight properties, lifetime warranties, easy transportation, and lower price tags make Lund boats another sublime choice in the fishing realm.
- Most of their boats are made with aluminum
- Won the NMMA innovation Award in 2020
- Use materials that other companies do not
I can’t write about fishing boats without mentioning this Missouri company. Tracker is actually a subsidiary of Bass Pro Shops so you shouldn’t be surprised that their boats are usually favored by ardent fishermen.
Much like the previous entry in my list of the best boat brands, Tracker excel when it comes to aluminum boats. These boats come with a 5-year warranty, and you’d be a fool not to push them to their limits if you’re serious about fishing.
Their boats are heavier than the ones produced by other companies and often at cheaper prices.
This explains why they’re one of the most popular brands today. Their boats cost a fraction of their competition’s and all have a warranty that covers most damages (and extends into the resale market).
- Owned by Bass Pro Shops
- One of the best manufacturers of aluminum boats
- 5-year warranty
7. Viking Yachts
Okay, that’s enough about fishing. Let’s inject some class into this article by looking at Viking Yachts (admittedly, Vikings were never classy, but these yachts sure are).
Their classiness comes with a heftier price tag than most boats, but these boats will reward your investment.
You’ll find motor yachts, sport yachts, enclosed bridge boats, open-sea boats, billfish boats, and open bridge boats in Viking Yacht’s catalog. Each of these is available in a variety of sizes. The lion’s share of them (90%!) are produced in the brand’s own factories.
That dedication to producing as much as they can themselves is called the Viking Difference. It’s the mentality that elevates their semi-fiberglass boats above other options.
That difference also ramps up their resale price, which isn’t exactly surprising when you consider how expensive these boats are in their own right.
- Products are available around the world
- Manufacture almost all of their boats in-house
- Boats combine bespoke technology with opulent comfort
Yamaha is the first boating brand that springs into my mind when I think about sports boats. The brand’s boating division has been in operation since 1980 under the guidance of Genichi Kawakami.
The reason Yamaha is so intertwined with sport boating culture is because of their jet-powered vessels. Jet-power is a rarity among the best boat brands but it’s not the only innovation that sets Yamaha apart.
They’ve also implemented the DRiVE system to improve mobility at lower speeds which is an attribute that many boats lack.
They have boats that range from 19’ long to 27’. These include sport boats like the Yamaha 210 FSH Sport, which one the Boat of the Year award from Boating Magazine.
- More affordable than other boating brands
- One of the best producers of jet-powered boats
- Unique technology like the DRiVE system reduces the barriers to entry
9. Sea Ray
Sea Ray boats are popular among sites like Ranker and boats.com, and for good reason. They’re self-proclaimed obsessive over their products. They test everything like it’s going to be sent to Mars and only use the highest caliber materials.
They’re equally as proud of their customer service. Sea Ray can distribute their boats to more than 80 countries.
In the event that something bad happens to one of their boats, Sea Ray is both preventative and reactive; they have one of the most forgiving warranties of any boating company as well as 24/7 customer service phone lines.
Sea Ray has over 40 models in various sizes, from 16’ to 65’. This massive roster is why they’re so sought after, they try to make a boat for everyone!
- Dealers are in over 80 countries
- One of the largest product catalogs in the industry
- Extremely popular on boat listing sites
The final entry in my list of the best boat brands is Mastercraft. They are the company to purchase from if you want to go waterskiing or wakeboarding. Furthermore, they’ve won more awards than any other towboat manufacturer in the world.
They have over 15 boats that are all covered by their 5-year Mastercare warranty. This warranty protects every part of the boat as if it was a sarcophagus and the boat was a proverbial mummy. The warranty extends onto the resale market too.
Finally, Mastercraft works with Ilmor to improve their engines’ carbon footprints. Their engines use less material, have a 7-year warranty, met EPA environmental standards, and have outrageous horsepower.
- Their boats are perfect for water sports
- Mastercare warranty covers boats for five years
- Powerful yet environmentally-friendly boats
How to Shop for the Best Boat
Now that you know the best boat brands and have a good idea about what makes each of them unique, you’re ready to pick the right boat for the job. I’ve drafted a checklist of considerations that can help you narrow down the wide market of available boats.
I highly recommend working alongside a boat dealer, especially if it’s your first time purchasing a boat.
Though I’ve explained why certain companies are among the best boat brands, a dealer can provide you with more information about each company and their products.
They’ll work with you to find the model that best fits your budget and purposes. They can be a useful resource for more than just information.
Many can you help devise a financing plan if you don’t want to purchase a boat outright. Or, they can connect you with manufacturers to help you with warranty policies.
Boat dealers are your best friends when it comes to selecting the right boat brand.
Different boat types serve different purposes, and knowing the difference between a cruiser and a yacht will save you time, money, and headaches down the line.
You wouldn’t host a boat party on an aluminum fishing vessel much like how wouldn’t plan for a guy’s fishing weekend on your yacht.
Knowing what you intend to do with your boat can help steer your mind closer to the right boat for you.
Some boats perform better in colder seasons because they have cabins, decks, and other ways to provide shelter.
This shouldn’t be a problem if you’ll only be using your boat in the summer, but it’s worth considering nonetheless.
Building off of what we mentioned when it comes to the type of boat and the intended activities, how well a boat meets both of those criteria determines its functionality.
You might want to go waterskiing, but if a boat isn’t built for that then you’re going to have to settle for a different model.
You can’t boat all the time (unless you live on one), so you’ll eventually have to start thinking about what to do with your craft after you’re done with it. It’d be awfully nice if you got a good deal of money back on the resale market.
Thus, it’s worth looking at whether some boats perform well with second-hand shoppers.
Think of a bot’s price as a representation of the previous factors included in this section. More expensive boats usually come from better brands with higher functionality, a more attractive resale value, versatility, and more power.
You don’t have to worry if those boats are outside of your budget. You should be able to find one that fits within your parameters.
The worst-case scenario is that you can work with a boat dealer to draft a financing plan if your desired boat is just outside of your budget.
What is the best month to buy a boat?
You might guess that the best month to buy a boat is a spring or summer month, but those are the best months if you want to pay an arm and a leg.
In reality, it’s best to wait until the fall to buy a boat. Boating season will have largely wrapped up by then so companies will begin offloading their products at a discount. You can save a ton of money by waiting until September or October.
I know that it kind of sucks to buy a boat and then wait nine months to use it, but you’ll be grateful for the money you save. Remember, good things come to those who wait.
What items are needed on a boat?
There are a few essential items that are needed on a boat to ensure your safety. Many of these items are required by law and you can get in big trouble with the feds if you don’t have them out with you.
These are the items that experts say you need to keep on your boat at all times:
- Life jackets (one for every passenger)
- Throwable life preservers
- A first aid kit
- A fire extinguisher
- A bottle of sunscreen
- A bottle of bug spray
- Spare rope
Those are the essential items, but there are others with more niche uses. These include flares, sharp knives, and water bottles.
Is it expensive to live on a boat?
You’d be surprised how many people live on a boat full-time. It comes with its own hurdles in terms of logistics and access to amenities but provides an unparalleled level of freedom.
Some people, like this couple featured in a Business Insider article, lived in a boat for two full years. Their monthly expenses were around $2,000. However, that price included parking for their car, hydro bills, mail fees, and laundry services.
You’ll still have to pay for boat insurance and the price to park your boat in a marina. These fees can add up. However, depending on how that compares to your current monthly budget, living on a boat might be less expensive than renting an apartment.
Can you anchor a boat anywhere?
This is a legal area that changes depending on where you are. For example, you can drop anchor in more places in Canada because vehicles have that right through the common law of navigation.
They cannot anchor in one spot forever though. That’s a rule that most countries adhere to.
You also can’t anchor your boat too close to mooring stations. There are certain parts of the world that don’t allow anchoring such as shores close to the Mediterranean sea and Australia’s Gold Coast.
The best boat brands overlap in certain areas and greatly differ in others. After reading through my list, I’m certain that you’ll walk away equipped with the knowledge of which brand you should inspect more.
Check out some of our recently published articles: