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As summer draws near, friends and family gather at the lake to enjoy water-related activities. While the thought of spending extended days by the lake brings to mind scenes of swimsuits and sunscreen, lake boating on a wonderful day can be more fun if you spend the time in the water.

Here are some of the best lake boats you can buy on a low budget:

8 Best Lake Boats on a Budget

Lakes boats are of many types including deck boats, pontoon boats, etc. Let’s explore the budget ones for each category.

Deck Boats

Deck boats are recognized for their ability to optimize the interior space they offer. However, a less obvious aspect is that they also provide excellent value for your boating investment.

1. Bayliner Element M15


 Courtesy: Bayliner 

Starting at $17,475.00

With a motor of 40 HP Mercury FourStroke and trailer, this stands as one of the best small lake boats.

Despite its compact size—measuring just 15’2” in length and 6’7” in width—it's designed as a deck boat, providing comfortable seating for up to five individuals.

Moreover, the M15 is constructed using Bayliner's M-hull design, which prioritizes stability. This aspect is crucial for ensuring the comfort and safety of you, your family, and your guests. Additionally, the overall package length is 17’5”, allowing the M15 to fit into virtually any garage across America.

2. Stingray 172SC Deck Boat


 Courtesy: Stingray 

Starts from $34,747

The Stingray 172SC Deck Boat stands out as one of the most budget-friendly options available. However, don't be misled by the modest price or the boat's relatively compact size – it comes equipped with impressive features.

The base model comes with Stingray's Convenience Package, which includes a 25-quart removable cooler, an Italian steering wheel, a tinted windscreen, and a Fusion RA-55 stereo system. Other features comprise vinyl seat cushions with Nano-Block stain resistance, dual USB ports, a 12-V outlet, illuminated helm instruments, and a telescopic ladder on the swim platform.

Pontoon Boats

Pontoon boats have gained immense popularity for lake boating, providing a diverse selection in terms of speed, dimensions, and features.

While they were previously utilized mainly for leisurely rides, modern pontoons can be equipped with substantial horsepower, enabling them to tow tubes, and skiers, and reach speeds of 40 MPH or even higher.

Let’s explore the best lake boats in the pontoon category:

3. Lowe Ultra 180 Cruise

Courtesy: Loweboats

Price Starts at $19,445

You could save a few thousand dollars by choosing the smaller Lowe 160 Cruise model, but considering that the listed MSRP falls just below the very budget-friendly $20,000 mark, why not consider upgrading to the Ultra 180?

The base package is powered by a 9.9 hp outboard motor. If you're aiming for higher speeds, an upgrade is necessary. However, opting for a 60-hp engine would increase the cost by around $4,500. Aside from that, this boat is ready for enjoyable experiences at the lake straight out of the package.

In addition to the aft L-shaped seat and the two-couch forward arrangement, the Lowe Ultra 180 Cruise offers some advantages not commonly found on inexpensive pontoon boats. These include a sleek, well-finished gel-coated console.

The boat also comes with a robust nine-foot Bimini top and boot, a tinted windshield, and a full set of standard gauges for speed, tachometer, and trim.

4. Sea Doo Switch

Courtesy: Sea Doo

Starting at $21,799

The Sea Doo Switch stands out as a distinctive pontoon boat, crafted from Sea Doo's Polytec material instead of the typical aluminum. It is among the best lake boats for families.

What sets it apart is its deck, composed of modular tiles. These tiles allow for easy addition, removal, and rearrangement of items like furniture or storage compartments. This means you can partially customize the layout, and even make adjustments later on if you wish.

Remarkably, the Switch comes with an affordable price tag, starting in the low- to mid-$20,000 range, and it includes a trailer. This translates to a monthly payment of less than $200.

What further distinguishes the Switch is its power system. It's equipped with a Rotax 1630 ACE engine combined with a waterjet drive. The boat also features Sea Doo's iBR intelligent brake and reverse system. The helm is designed with motorcycle-like handlebars instead of a traditional steering wheel, contributing to its exceptionally impressive handling.

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Fish-and-Ski Boats

The cost of fishing boats varies widely, and if you explore our Boat Finder tool, you'll come across fishing boats that are priced similarly to mopeds, as well as others that exceed the cost of a house.

Here, we’ll explore the best lake fishing boats.

5. Tracker Super Guide V-16 SC

Courtesy: Tracker Boats

Starting at $18,895

No matter where you stand on the socio-economic spectrum, chances are you'll find the Tracker Super Guide V-16 SC to be exceptionally affordable, boasting a price tag of $18,895.

Despite being relatively compact, this boat offers enough space to accommodate up to four individuals for fishing adventures on a wide range of water bodies.

The package includes a standard 40-horsepower Mercury outboard engine and a custom-matched galvanized trailer, along with some pleasantly surprising high-value inclusions such as a bow-mounted electric trolling motor, a fish finder, and the versatility of five distinct seat pedestal positions along with two movable swiveling fishing seats.


Courtesy: Mako Boats

Starting at $26,995

What sets this boat apart from its competitors is Mako's "Advanced Inverted V" hull design. This distinctive shape, resembling an upside-down V when viewed from the bow, enables the boat to create an air cushion beneath the hull, somewhat similar to what a power catamaran does. This cushion helps dampen the impact of waves as the boat moves.

Moreover, this design enhances stability and extends the full width of the boat all the way to the front. This results in a notably larger bow casting platform compared to many bay and flats boats that are longer.

The affordability factor is noteworthy as well since Mako supports this boat with an impressive five-year comprehensive warranty and a lifetime limited structural hull warranty.

Cabin Cruisers

Wanting a lavish way to sail the open waters? Take a look at our lineup of eight cabin cruisers that offer both luxury and affordability. These boats provide the comforts and opulence of bigger vessels, all while being available at a much lower price.

Here are best lake boats that are great for cruising:

7. Crestliner 1700 Ridge

Courtesy: Crestliner

Starting at $16454

With its extremely sturdy all-welded aluminum hull and spacious seating, this aluminum panfish boat is designed for long-lasting performance and comes at an affordable price.

Whether you're fishing for bluegill or setting up for crappie, the 1700 Storm is the perfect choice for anglers seeking an uncomplicated and comfortable fishing adventure.

8. Pro-Line 20 Express

Courtesy: Pro-Line

Starting at $38,000

Since 1968, Pro-Line has been crafting family fishing boats that have earned awards. The legacy continues with the new 20 Express in the Pro-Line Express series. The Pro-Line 20 Express is a remarkable offering in a compact package.

Whether your interest lies in fishing, cruising, diving, overnight stays on board, or all of these activities combined, the 20 Express provides all the conveniences to ensure that you and your family have a great time on the water.

Although it’s a bit expensive, it is among the best lake sailboats that are worth every penny.

The 20 Express is large enough to make your weekend enjoyable on the water yet compact enough to be towed across the country. It's the preferred choice for families seeking a truly versatile boat.

Packed with all the signature features that Pro-Line is known for, this family fishing boat will meet the expectations of both you and every member of your family. It is well-built and sturdy; when coupled with a boat app, the Crestliner 1700 Ridge can last for your lifetime.

But, They All Need Good Maintenance

Be it a inexpensive one or something that costs a fortune, every lake boat needs regular maintenance. Of course, you know this already.

The point we’re making here is that keeping track of your boat maintenance schedule is something that can’t be relied upon the human brain. We tend to forget/miss things and this is where boating apps can help.

Having a boat maintenance app can kick out the limitations of our memory and help boaters stay on the right track.

Tags: best lake boats for families, best small lake boats, best lake fishing boats, best small boats for lakes, best lake sailboats

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