Tritoon vs. Pontoon – What’s the Difference Between a Pontoon and a Tritoon?

Over the last few years, pontoons have evolved to fit a ton of different lifestyles on the water and have become a great option for people who are in the market for a versatile boat. Brands like Sylvan Marine offer a plethora of options aimed at matching the needs of any recreational boater. Besides the size of the boat itself, one of the biggest differences in pontoon boats is the number of tubes that compose the boat’s hull. So which is best – pontoons or tritoons?

What is a Tritoon Boat?

A tritoon is a triple-hull pontoon boat. Instead of having two large aluminum tubes beneath the deck, tritoons have a third tube in the center that helps distribute weight even more evenly over the water. Additionally, because the boat is more stable, a tritoon boat can handle more horsepower than a typical double-hull pontoon boat. When a center tube is added to the design, it may be mounted a little lower than the outboard tubes or may be slightly larger in diameter.

Pontoon Boats (Two-Tubes)

When pontoons first became popular, they floated on a pair of tubes (first made of steel and later aluminum) that supported a wide, flat deck intended for low-speed cruising on flat water. Brands like Sylvan have been building pontoons since the company was founded in 1948. While Sylvan’s designs have changed over the years, what has remained constant is the painstaking care and meticulous attention to detail that goes into crafting every single one of their boats. 

In the 1980s, builders began experimenting with designs that added a third, center tube. Today many brands, including Sylvan, offer models with a choice of double- or triple-pontoon designs. There’s nothing wrong with a twin-tube pontoon, but the design has some limitations. As mentioned above, a third tube adds more stability so twin-tube pontoons do perfectly well while cruising at low speeds but aren’t as adept at faster speeds. Additionally, you may see twin-tube pontoons leaning to the side during a turn. For these reasons, twin-tube pontoons will have lower horsepower engines.

Tritoon Boats (Three-Tubes)

Tritoons offer a variety of benefits for those looking into a new pontoon boat. The center tube improves comfort and handling, and when the boat enters a turn it may stay flat or lean into the turn. A pontoon with triple tubes will have a higher horsepower rating than a model with two tubes, and thus is capable of higher speed and is better suited for use as a water sport tow boat. 

Another benefit of tritoons is the ability to be rigged with two or three outboard motors. The center tube also increases the boat’s capacity so the boat can be physically larger, have more amenities and more passengers, and also more fuel. The third tube also makes the boat more comfortable and capable in rougher water. 


Advantage of Tritoons vs Pontoons

When deciding between double- or triple-tube design, the choice comes down to two key factors:

  • The size of the boat: As the boat gets bigger, the benefits of the tritoon pontoon design become more important because the boat simply weighs more so you’ll want a larger engine to get the best performance.
  • Your intended use: If your vision of pontooning is a slow evening cruise on a calm lake there’s nothing wrong at all with a twin-tube model. If you’d like to see a top speed over 40 MPH, or you’d like to have enough power for a ski tow and wake sports, a tritoon is probably the better choice. Keep in mind: if you boat on a bigger lake or want to be able to handle rougher waters, the triple-tube model will also be an advantage. Of course adding a center tube will increase the cost of the boat, as does a higher-horsepower engine.

Tritoon Boats For Sale

For more information on pontoons or tritoons or to schedule a personal consultation to see our boats for sale, visit your local Skier’s Marine dealership. If you are looking for more boat buying guidance, you can check out or our Youtube channel for more A-Z boat buying guide articles and videos.

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