Boats are expensive, often very expensive, and that’s why so many people decide to rent a boat instead of buying one. But after years of renting you may decide you want a boat of your own.
If you have a limited budget this can range from difficult to impossible, but there are some boats out there that cost under $20,000 and might prove ideal for you and your family. What are the 10 best boats under $20,000? Here are our top picks:
- AlumaCraft Escape 165 CS
- Bayliner Element M15
- Hobie Mirage Passport 12.0 R
- Lowe Roughneck RX1860
- Lund 1648
- Mako Pro Skiff 13 CC
- Princecraft Jazz 140
- Sea Doo Spark
- Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 XL Select
- Tracker Bass Tracker Classic XL
1. AlumaCraft Escape 165 CS
AlumaCraft Escape 165 CS – Around $17,500 with a 20-hp Mercury outboard motor and a ShoreLand’r trailer, the AlumaCraft Escape 165 CS gets you out on the water in an aluminum V-hull boat featuring AlumaCraft’s 2XB hardened-aluminum keel and twin-plated bow. Either tiller or side console versions are available, and both come with a whopping-big 20-gallon livewell and a pair of seats.
- Estimated MSRP range: $9,914
Visit Alumacraft to learn more.
2. Bayliner Element M15
Bayliner Element M15 – The Bayliner Element M15 represents one of the best buys around in the fiberglass boat market, delivering a 15’2” deckboat packing 40 Mercury horses and a single-axel painted trailer with a swing-away tongue at an MSRP of right around $17,000. With a side console, a large L-lounger, swim platforms on either side of the outboard, and Bayliner’s M-hull, the M15 is ready for everything from watersports to day-cruising right out of the box.
- Estimated MSRP range: $16,980
Visit Bayliner to learn more.
3. Hobie Mirage Passport 12.0 R
They’re small and limited to one person, but kayaks are some of the most popular boats around. And with an MSRP of $1,999 you could get an entire fleet of Hobie Mirage Passport pedal-drive kayaks. Stack ‘em up in the back of a pickup or get a roof rack and you can transport multiples without a trailer, you’ll never have to worry about buying fuel, and your carbon footprint won’t grow by one inch.
- Estimated MSRP range: $2,000
Visit Hobie to learn more.
4. Lowe Roughneck RX1860
Those in search of a boat that can be used for everything from fishing to waterfowl hunting will want to take a peek at the Lowe Roughneck RX1860, a tiller-steered utility boat that comes in camo and sports a stock 20-hp Mercury outboard for under $12,000. That means you have plenty of room in the budget for goodies like a trailer or a larger motor. Yes, this is a fairly bare-bones Jon boat, but that also means maintenance is minimal and it cleans up easily.
- Estimated MSRP range: $21,385
Visit Lowe Boats to learn more.
5. Lund 1648
If a Jon boat is what you’re looking for the Lund 1648 is bound to be in the running. The bare hull costs just under $4,000, which leaves plenty of cash left for an outboard and trailer. That means you can easily build a total package in the $15,000 range, or even less if you don’t need gobs of power. This is a standard-issue Jon so it comes with just two bench seats and a capped foredeck, but with all the money left in the budget you can rig it out as simply or as extensively as you’d like.
- Estimated MSRP range: $3,698
Visit Lund Boats for more information.
6. Mako Pro Skiff 13 CC
Another fiberglass boat-motor-trailer package that comes in under our price ceiling is the Mako Pro Skiff 13 CC, a mini fishing skiff that MSRPs just under $18,000 with a 25-hp outboard. It’s also the one fiberglass center console that makes this lineup, and it features a mere eight inches of draft for getting to those fish in skinny water. Plus, despite its diminutive nature the Pro Skiff 13 CC is rated for up to four people, has an integrated aft bench seat in the stern, and a forward casting deck in the bow. Note that if you want more power and speed you can upgrade to a 40-hp outboard and still make it in just under the $20,000 cap.
- Estimated MSRP range:17,995
Visit Mako Boats for more information.
7. Princecraft Jazz 140
If pontoon boats are your thing and you want one under the $20,000 mark you’ll have a handful to choose from, and a standout is the Princecraft Jazz 140. Starting for a little over $16,000 the Jazz 140 comes with a 9.9-hp Mercury outboard engine, helm and passenger’s seats, two small couches in the bow, and can even be rigged out with a livewell and fishing station for you anglers. Plus, construction is high-quality with 5052 H36 marine grade aluminum, extruded pontoon keels, and 2.5” extruded cross channels.
- Estimated MSRP range:$15,000
Visit Princecraft to learn more.
8. Sea Doo Spark
Yes, the Sea Doo Spark is a PWC, but that’s still a boat — and a rather thrilling one at that. With an MSRP right around $6,000, you can get three while staying within the budget, each with the capacity for two people, and take the entire family out for a day of wake-jumping, watersports, or exploring. Talk about fun!
- Estimated MSRP range:$5,999
Visit Sea Doo to learn more.
9. Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 XL Select
Barely squeaking in under the wire with an MSRP of $19,995, anglers who want to hit the lakes in a pontoon fishing machine will love the Sun Tracker Bass Buggy 16 XL Select. The package includes a 50-hp Mercury FourStroke outboard and all the fishing features you need to battle those basses, like rod holders, a livewell, two fishing seats (in addition to the aft L-lounger, helm chair, and console seat), and a Bimini top.
- Estimated MSRP range:$19,995
Visit Sun Tracker to learn more.
10. Tracker Bass Tracker Classic XL
Bass boats can easily break the bank, but not the Bass Tracker Classic XL. Rigged with a 50-hp Mercury outboard, a trailer, and plenty of big-ticket items (a livewell, a 12-volt bow-mount electric trolling motor, and a Lowrance Hook2 4X color fishfinder), the MSRP hovers just below $17,000. Added bonus: that package gets you some eye-opening performance for boats under $20,000, with top-end speeds of over 30 mph.
- Estimated MSRP range:$16,995
Visit Tracker Boats to learn more.
So: did you find your eminently affordable dream boat on this list? We certainly hope so. But if not, remember, renting a boat for the day is always an option.
Boatsetter is a unique boat-sharing platform that gives everyone — whether you own a boat or you’re just renting — the chance to experience life on the water. You can list a boat, book a boat, or make money as a captain
Editors Note: This article was originally posted 7/21/2021, and updated on 12/28/2022