Runabout Boats


A runabout boat can be defined as any small powerboat designed for activities such as fishing, tubing and other recreational pastimes. Runabout boats manufacturers produce a few different types of runabouts, as this is such a popular design. Several popular styles of boats are technically classified as runabouts. These boats are relatively affordable, but prices vary, based on the boat length, hull material and special features.

Runabout boats are great choices for anglers and families who want functional, all-purpose boats for daytrips. Even the best runabout boats are not suited to long cruises, due to the lack of cabin space. Although they do not have sleeping quarters, these vessels can be the best option for boaters who need versatility. Most of these boats have enough seating for a family, while also having storage for basic fishing gear. When a boat does not include standard fishing equipment, it can be modified to include rod holders and other storage. For those still asking, “What is considered a runabout boat?” review the below sections.

What are the characteristics of a runabout boat?

Runabout boat manufacturers make a wide variety of boats that can be categorized as runabouts. While various runabout boat styles may have different features from one another, most vessels of this type will have similar defining features. These boats will typically have:

  • A short to medium length. Most runabouts are 14 to 25 feet in length.
  • An open bow. There is usually comfortable seating in the bow of these boats.
  • A swim platform. Most runabouts will have a platform at the back that allows swimmers to sit or climb into the boat freely.
  • Forward controls. These boats are usually operated with steering wheels.
  • A V-shaped hull. Runabouts almost always have V-hulls.

What type of engine does a runabout boat have?

Runabout boats usually have single outboard motors or stern-drive engines. Certain runabout boat brands may also use jet engines in some of their models. Outboard motors are easier to repair and maintain, but they take up space on the swim platform. Some boaters prefer jet or stern-drive motors for this reason. Regardless of the engine type, most runabouts have 90 to 200 horsepower engines, on average.

What are the types of runabout boats?

Many fishermen ask, “What is considered a runabout boat?” when they are trying to figure out which type of boat is best for them. Technically, the term “runabout boat” applies to many different, popular boat models. These include:

  • Bowriders
  • Fish and ski boats
  • Jet boats
  • Deck boats

Runabout boats are usually made from fiberglass or aluminum. However, wooden runabout boats are popular in some areas, as well. These boats are harder to find, and oftentimes, need to be assembled from a kit.

What kind of fishing can I do on a runabout boat?

A runabout boat is well-suited for inshore saltwater fishing, as well as fishing in freshwater lakes and rivers. Runabout boats are great general-purpose fishing boats that can navigate into many different environments.

How do I use a runabout boat?

Using a runabout fishing boat is relatively easy to do, regardless of your boating experience. To operate a runabout boat, you will need to be comfortable using an outboard, a jet or an inboard motor. These boats are often small enough that you can operate one alone, or with the help of one mate.

Where can I use a runabout boat?

Runabout boats can be operated in freshwater or saltwater. In freshwater, you can use a runabout fishing boat in nearly any type of water that can accommodate small- to medium-size boats. When using a runabout in the ocean, you should not venture too far from the shore. This type of boat is not well-suited to offshore fishing, due to the fuel capacity and the lack of on-board facilities.

What are the advantages of using a runabout boat?

Runabout boats have many advantages that appeal to fishers and families. First, a runabout boat usually offers ample seating. These boats can often accommodate a surprising number of passengers. Some 23-foot models can seat as many as 13 people. Second, this type of boat is highly versatile. Serious fishermen can take runabout boats into numerous types of water to take advantage of many different fishing opportunities. Families also like these boats because they are well-suited to watersports such as jetskiing or tubing.

What are the cons of using a runabout boat?

Most runabout fishing boats do not have cabin space, which sets them apart from many other fishing boats of similar sizes. A runabout boat is not a good choice for a fisherman who wants to take an overnight fishing trip or a cruise.

Who should consider using runabout boats?

A runabout boat is a good entry-level vessel for families and anglers. Runabout fishing boats are relatively easy to operate and put onto a trailer. For that reason, runabouts are not intimidating for new boaters and first-time boat owners. Download our guide on how to buy a boat for more information on the best types of fishing boats for sportsmen of varying levels of expertise.

How much does a runabout boat cost?

Runabout boats are usually affordable when compared to other powerboats. When buying a new runabout boat, you will usually spend between $15,000 and $80,000 for a basic model. Note that adding a larger engine or other special features can increase the base price – considerably.

What are the best runabout boat manufacturers?

Runabout boats are made by numerous companies. Most runabout boat brands produce several varieties of boats that all technically count as runabouts. When shopping around, check out these popular manufacturers for a better idea of the features you can get:

  • Bayliner
  • Scout
  • Starcraft
  • Larson
  • Rinker
  • Glaston
  • Crownline
  • Sea Ray

Where can I find a runabout boat?

Because there are so many runabout boat brands, one of the best ways to see a variety of vessels is to attend a boat show. You can also shop for runabout boats online at,, eBay and via other marketplaces. If you do not want a boat made from aluminum, fiberglass or other standard materials, you may need to contact companies that build custom boats. The Wooden Runabout Boat Company is well-known for making wooden boats. For boats with classic hulls, consider comparing these models:

  • Bayliner 160 Bowrider
  • Four Winns Freedom 190
  • Starcraft Limited Runabout 172 OB Ski Fish
  • Larson LXH 190 OB


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