Bowrider vs Deck Boat: What Are the Differences?

Bowrider vs Deck Boat: What Are the Differences?

by Bryn Fest

If you’re in the market for a family boat, you’ll likely come across a lot of references to the great bowrider vs. deck boat debate. Not to mention, a lot of questions about the exact differences between the two!

At first glance, bowriders and deck boats have a lot in common. They’re both perfect for enjoying all kinds of fun water activities for a start.

But, there are still discernible differences between these two types of boats. And, while both models are good choices, these differences can often determine which one is right for you.

Keep reading to learn more about deck boats and bowriders – and how they differ!

Design & Capacity

As any bowrider guide will mention, these nippy little vessels are sometimes called “runabouts”. This affectionate name refers to the crisp handling and lively performance that you can expect from a bowrider. But what is a bowrider like by design?

They often feature a more typical pointed bow design that carries up from the water line to the deck. This makes them more aerodynamic but also leaves less room on deck.

Deck boats, in contrast, have a wide bow, providing more deck space – hence the name. Various tricks in hull design can make this wide bow a reality, with custom catamaran hull designs being one of the more popular but also one of the more expensive options. While a custom deck boat is a sound investment for a water-loving family, you’ll also need to consider other costs such as maintenance and mooring, as explains.

Storage & Functionality

Bowriders have to be longer to provide the same capacity as a deck boat, but often still lack the storage space that deck boats offer. With more stowage underneath, families have plenty of space for fishing gear, food supplies, and anything else they want to take out on the water with them.

What’s more, since deck boats are designed with families in mind, even some basic models will include a head compartment or a small sink on deck for extra convenience. In comparison, you’ll only see these kinds of features on larger bowriders.


Bowriders might fall short elsewhere, but they do have an advantage over deck boats when it comes to performance.

With greater sportiness and handling, a bowrider is a good choice for those who want to zip through the water and can make do with less seating and storage. Smaller families, for example, wouldn’t have as much need for the extra deck space and functionality, making bowriders an excellent choice.

If, though, capacity and functionality are your top priorities, you’ll either have to compromise a little on performance or go for a custom-made catamaran-based deck boat.

Bowrider vs. Deck Boat: Choosing the Right Family Boat for You

Now you know more about both types of models, where do you stand on the bowrider vs. deck boat debate?

While bowriders are ideal “runabouts” for some, families who want to make the most of the opportunity to get out on the water will no doubt appreciate the extra capacity, storage, and functionality of a deck boat.

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