How much does a boat weigh? 2024

Author pictureAuthor picture
Author picture
Author picture
Edited by:
a sailboat tied at a dock

Recreational boating is a commonly enjoyed leisure activity in the U.S. But prospective boat owners need to do some calculations before buying a boat and getting it on the water.

Among the considerations boaters should keep in mind are the size and weight of the boat they’d like to use, which will impact how the boat can be transported and stored. Smaller boats can typically be towed with a car and a boat trailer. Larger boats require heavier-duty equipment.

Key insights

In 2022, there were just under 12 million recreational boats registered in the U.S. Nearly two-thirds of registered boats are classified as open power boats.

Jump to insight

Over 50% of households with a registered recreational boat are made up of two or more adults and no children.

Jump to insight

Cabin cruisers are among the heaviest types of recreational boats, generally weighing between 9,000 and 16,000 pounds. Towing a cabin cruiser requires a large truck or SUV.

Jump to insight

Aluminum fishing boats, day sailboats and skiffs are the lightest types of recreational boats. On the smaller end, these boats can weigh under 500 pounds.

Jump to insight

General boat statistics

There were less than 12 million recreational boats registered in the U.S. in 2022. This number represents a decrease from the nearly 13 million recreational boats that were registered in 2005.

According to the 2020 National Recreational Boating Safety Survey, just under 12% of U.S. households own some type of recreational boat. Open power boats — which include motorized boats without a cabin, such as fishing boats and bowrider boats — are the most commonly registered type of boat. Nearly two-thirds of registered boats in the U.S. (65.6%) are open power boats.

Nearly 83% of households that own a boat are made up exclusively of white people, and just over 50% are households with two or more adults and no children. In 2018, just under 42% of households with boats had a household income of under $75,000.

Weight designations for boats

Most boat owners will need to tow or otherwise transport their boats at some point, which makes knowing their boat’s weight critically important. Understanding how much a boat weighs is a crucial part of figuring out what type of vehicle and boat trailer you’ll need to move it.

Boat manufacturers generally provide consumers with weights and other specifications for their watercraft. But, as with other vehicles, fuel and accessories can add quite a bit to a boat’s overall weight, so boats have multiple weight designations.

 A boat’s dry weight generally refers to the weight of the boat without any fuel or other added equipment. The dry weight may or may not include the weight of a boat’s motor. When a manufacturer lists a boat’s weight, it’s typically referring to the boat’s dry weight, unless otherwise specified.

A boat’s wet weight refers to how much it weighs when it is fully gassed. Since a gallon of gas weighs six pounds and a standard recreational boat’s gas tank can hold 50 gallons or more, a full tank can add 300 pounds or more to a boat’s overall weight. The package weight of a boat includes the boat itself, its fuel and the weight of the boat’s trailer.

Boat weights by type

Popular boat types include skiffs, fishing boats, sailboats, bowriders, pontoons and cabin cruisers. These boat types have a variety of primary uses and size ranges.

Heaviest types of boats

Generally speaking, large boats are heavy boats. Cabin cruisers, for instance, typically include a galley, sleeping berths for multiple people and enough storage space to hold supplies for extended trips. A cabin cruiser designed to transport 20 people will weigh far more than a skiff that can only handle two or three passengers, and towing even the smallest cabin cruiser requires access to a heavy-duty truck. Similarly, larger varieties of sailboats often have accommodations like sleeping cabins and galleys. A sailboat between 20 and 32 feet in length can weigh between 4,000 and 8,000 pounds, depending on its features.

However, there are other factors that contribute to a boat’s weight as well, including the material the boat is made from and the size of its engine. Speedboats, which are specifically designed to move at high speeds, are not typically large in size. But they usually have powerful, heavy engines. An average speedboat weighs around 8,000 pounds.

Lightest types of boats

Boats designed for day trips are usually the lightest, as they don’t include sleeping quarters or galleys. These types of boats also tend to have relatively small motors and fuel tanks, and they are often made of lightweight materials.

Aluminum fishing boats are significantly lighter than their fiberglass counterparts, and they usually have relatively small motors and a straightforward design. Aluminum fishing boats with outboard motors might weigh less than 500 pounds.

The lack of an engine or fuel tank makes certain types of small sailboats among the lightest boats on the water. Typically designed for the calmer waters of lakes and bays, day sailboats are often little more than a mast and a hull. They tend to weigh less than 1,000 pounds.

Skiffs are generally less than 20 feet long and are designed for shallow waters. Some have motors, while others can be moved with oars or poles. A skiff can weigh as little as 300 pounds or as much as 1,000 pounds, depending on the materials it’s made of and whether or not it’s motorized.


How much does a boat trailer weigh?

The weight of a boat trailer depends on the type of boat it’s meant to transport. A boat trailer weighing about 305 pounds should be able to transport a 1,500-pound boat. But in order to transport a boat that weighs 7,000 pounds, you will need a trailer that is closer to 1,500 pounds.

How much does a 20-foot boat weigh?

A 20-foot boat’s weight can vary significantly depending on its material and engine size. A 20-foot aluminum fishing boat with an outboard motor might weigh only 500 pounds. A 20-foot bowrider boat designed for a lake cruise might weigh between 3,000 and 3,500 pounds.

What is the most common type of recreational boat?

The vast majority of boats in the U.S. are mechanically propelled. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, open power boats, such as bass fishing boats and bowrider boats, are the most commonly registered type of boat.


  1. Boatdriving.Org. “How Much Do Boats Weigh? (Weight Chart).” Boatdriving.Org. Evaluated April 24, 2024.Link Here
  2. Boatdriving.Org. “What Size Trailer I Need For A Pontoon Boat? (Chart).” Boatdriving.Org. Evaluated April 24, 2024.Link Here
  3. J.D. Power. “How Much Does A Boat Weigh?” J.D. Power. Evaluated April 24, 2024.Link Here
  4. J.D. Power. “Boat vs. Yacht: How Do You Tell the Difference?” J.D. Power. Evaluated April 24, 2024.Link Here
  5. Statista. “Number of registered recreational boats in the United States from 1980 to 2022.” Statista. Evaluated April 24, 2024.Link Here
  6. Duffy T, Kilpatrick G, Krotki K, et al. “National Recreational Boating Safety Survey.” U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division. Evaluated April 24, 2024.Link Here
  7. Boatdriving.Org. “How Much Does A Boat Trailer Weigh? (Chart).” Boatdriving.Org. Evaluated April 24, 2024.Link Here
  8. Statista. “Number of registered recreational boats in the United States from 2011 to 2022, by means of propulsion.” Statista. Evaluated April 24, 2024.Link Here


Back to ConsumerAffairs

Journal of Consumer Research