Bowrider vs. Deck Boat

So you are keen on purchasing a boat or maybe you already bought one. With some many models on the market, there are several things need to be considered first.

For example, you may have come across terms such as bowrider or deck boat; with both being quite distinctive in their own unique ways, how do you decide which one is the best for you?

Here we’ll take a side-by-side look based on four key considerations.

Bowrider vs Deck Boat Design

The name ‘bowrider‘ can be taken literally; they’re called that way because they allow you to sit in the front (bow) of the boat.

Bowriders have deep V-shaped hulls and bows that narrow, enabling them to move fast and easily maneuver rough waters. With great speed and handling capabilities, which also allow for taking sharp turns on the water, this comes at the cost of available deck space.

On the other hand, deck boats are typically designed with a low-rise bow that widens out instead of narrowing to a point and flat hulls. Its open floor plan allows more room for its passengers and arrange seats with space in between.

But, just as a bowrider’s design has pros and cons, a deck boat’s extra width reduces its suitability in rough waters and for speeding.

Bowriders can also be designed with a separate seating area ahead of their helm, at their bow. The area would typically be protected with railings and even seat belts to ensure passenger safety.

Depending on the size of the bowrider, this seating area can be small for only a few passengers or large enough for passengers to lay down.

In contrast, deck boats can be designed to have features such as a food preparation area or furniture arranged for decorative purposes or occasions, owing to their wide deck and lack of separation between their bow and stern.

Furthermore, the seats on deck boats tend to face forward, which may be unlike certain models of bowriders or even other boats.

Lastly, bowrider boats are usually made of fiberglass, whereas deck boats are usually made of aluminum. Both boats can be painted any color, with some manufacturers offering custom colors with custom designs. The imagination can be the limit here.

The design of bowrider boats tends to be sleek and sporty, while deck boats tend to be more rounded and elegant.

Bowrider vs Deck Boat Seating Capacity

Bowriders are popular powerboats among families. This is due to their length, which ranges from 16 to 35 feet, and their capacity of 10-15 people. It’s more common for these boats to be smaller than deck boats.

Deck boats are typically larger than bowriders due to their wide bow and open floor plan. Consequently, they’re commonly made to be 25 to 35 feet long. However, smaller models are also available, which start from 18 feet.

Bowrider vs Deck Boat Functions

Since bowriders are suited for speeding across the water, they are commonly used for water sports and day cruising. They are equally at home in lakes or the ocean.

Another leisure activity that people often use bowrider boats for is fishing. Some models come with removable seats that can function as fishing chairs, rod holders, trolling motors, and other equipment suited for a fishing enthusiast.

Bowriders with a lower cabin have a staircase leading to the area passengers can relax or sleep. There is also the possibility of heating, air conditioning, and other amenities, such as a television.

Deck boats provide similar purposes and functionalities as bowrider boats, albeit they have more storage. Considering that they have a greater people capacity, this means more space to store personal items, and water equipment is necessary.

Deck boats accommodate more people with features such as sun cushions, retractable chairs, or even a lounge area.

Both types of boats are equipped with a tow eye in the back, which is necessary for watersports activities like wakeboarding and waterskiing. The only difference is that a bowrider will likely be more able to cut through the water at higher speeds.

Depending on the model, both may have in-floor storage, which means storage capacity beneath the boat’s seats.

Bowrider boats are generally cheaper than deck boats, but not by much. Prices range from $10,000 to $50,000, depending on the model.

Affordable bowrider boats — in which ‘affordable’ is deemed around or under the $30,000 mark — include the Bayliner VR4 (starting around $25,000), the Galstron GTD 180 (starting from $27,500), and the Four Winns Horizon 190 (from $37,000).

On the other hand, deck boat prices vary from $20,000 to $100,000. For example, a 18′-26′ SunDeck OB model starts from $40,150.

Bowrider vs Deck Boat Performance

As mentioned, bowriders have greater maneuverability than deck boats, which are enabled by powerful stern-drive motors. Bowriders are known to reach speeds up to 40 miles per hour; however, this depends on the model.

However, deck boats tend to have two kinds of engines. Outbound and I/O or inboard/outboard. Outboard motors are mounted on the transom of a deck boat and are generally slower but easier to handle. These engines are usually found in larger deck boats, which can reach speeds up to 40 miles per hour.

Since deck boats have flatter hulls, they can be more stable at slow speeds or when stationary. This makes them the ideal choice for fishing, as passengers can feel comfortable sitting or standing and have enough space for when they reel in a catch.

Deck boats are also more suitable for clear weather, whereas a bowrider could allow you to avoid getting caught in a storm with its speed.


To summarize, bowriders are fast boats, great for speed due to their narrow bow, making them ideal for doing water activities in choppy waters. In contrast, deck boats are great for slower-paced travels, socializing with larger groups of people, and fishing. We believe that keeping an eye out for a boat’s design, capacity, function, and performance will help you decide which boat fits your needs. Make the right choice, and you and your friends and family will be enjoying the water for years to come!