If you are looking for a cost-effective boat that can punch well above its weight, a Jon boat ticks all the boxes. I’ll presume you already know that you want a Jon boat but may be unsure of which size boat best fits your needs. Truth be told, knowing which size of boat you need is just as important as knowing which type of boat you need. So let’s cover the different sizes of Jon boat available and what uses they are best suited for.
A word about Jon boat types
Before we venture into the different sizes of Jon boat available you should be aware that these versatile vessels come in two basic types. It is important you know which type of Jon boat you need before you look at what size of Jon you need.
These 2 types are:
- Standard flat-bottom Jon boat.
- Semi-v (also known as a mod-v Jon boat).
These two boat types are very similar and can be used in similar environments. They key difference between a standard Jon boat and a semi-v Jon boat lies in how they are used and the environments in which they are used. If you need to know more about these 2 different types read our article on that.
Both standard Jon boats and semi-v Jon boats come in the same size ranges though there are much more buying options, in each size class, for standard Jon boats.
Why size matters
The size of Jon boat is an important consideration when planning your new boat acquisition for several reasons.
Apart from the obvious extra space that will be available on the deck of a larger Jon boat, the weight capacity (also known as the load capacity) will also be increased, meaning you can stow more, and heavier, gear onboard.
To determine which size of boat you need you will therefore need to know what you will use the boat for; day-tripping requires a boat with less deck and storage space than a hunting or fishing boat for example. Both hunting and fishing require space for gear and catch and likewise, if you plan to go boat camping on longer excursions you will need enough storage room for camping equipment, food and water etc.
You will also need to know how many people will be on the boat at any one time for obvious reasons. The need for a larger boat will be compounded if you intend to engage in activities that require good deck/storage space and multiple passengers.
Your choice of Jon boat will need to take into account:
- The number of passengers the boat will carry.
- The activity the boat will be used for.
- The amount of seating required vs the amount of storage needed.
- The amount and weight of the equipment/gear carried.
- If the boat needs extra storage and additional fittings for things like livewells.
- If solo launching will be needed. We have a guide to launching a boat by yourself but be aware that the bigger the boat the more difficult this will be.
- Trailer and towing. You need to ensure your trailer can handle the weight of the boat and that your towing vehicle is capable of pulling the load (see our guide to boat towing).
Getting the size of boat wrong can be expensive, either in the cost of replacing your boat if you need a larger vessel or in the costs associated with running, towing and even storing an overly large Jon boat that you don’t need.
The size of Jon boat can also greatly limit the scope of what you can do with your vessel. For example, some very large Jon boats will be difficult to maneuver in small creeks with very tight bends while smaller Jon boats will not be able to handle the rougher waters, in say an open lake, that larger Jons can.
To help you in making the right selection, we have produced a handy guide that outlines the capacity and capabilities of the major sizes of Jon boat, from a 10 foot, 2-person, Jon boat through to a large 20 footer.
10 foot Jon boat
Widths available: 48 inches
Seating: 2 bench seats
- Solo angler with light gear.
- Two adults with no gear (be careful not to go over the boat’s weight capacity).
- An adult and a child.
Maximum load: 320 pounds.
Engine capacity: 3 – 5 HP.
Use: Solo fishing, recreation and single-use utility work.
Price range: $800 to $2,500.
12 foot Jon boat
Widths available: Between 48 and 60 inches.
Seating: 2 bench seats.
- 2 adults with gear.
- An adult and two children with gear.
Maximum load: 450 pounds
Engine capacity: 10 HP.
Use: Angling, hunting. recreation and utility work.
Price range: $800 – $4,00.
14 foot Jon boat
Widths available: 48 – 60 inches
Seating: 2 bench seats and bow decked area.
- 2 adults with gear.
- 3 adults with light gear.
- 4 adults with no gear.
- 2 adults and 1 child with gear
- 2 adults and 2 children with light gear.
Maximum load 610 pounds
Engine capacity: 15 HP – 20 HP.
Use: Fishing, hunting, recreational, boat camping and utility work.
Price range: $900 – $4,000.
16 foot Jon boat
Widths available: Up to 78 inches.
Seating: Bench seating for 4 – 5 persons.
4 adults with gear.
5 adults with light gear.
2 adults and 4 children with gear.
Maximum load: 960 pounds.
Engine capacity: Up to 35 HP.
Use: Fishing, hunting, watersports, long distance boat camping and utility work.
Price range: $3000+
18 foot Jon boat
Widths: available 60 to 80 Inches width
Seating: bench or modified seating depending on the boat design
6 adults with gear.
8 adults with light gear.
2 adults + 5 children with gear.
Maximum load: 1,400 pounds.
Engine capacity: 60 HP.
Use: ideal for group trips and excursions. Fishing, hunting, boat camping and more.
Price range: $4000+
20 + foot Jon boat
Widths available: 70+ inches
Seating: At this size, seating is customized according to use.
7 adults with gear.
8 adults with light gear.
4 adults + 4 children with gear.
Maximum load: 1,600 pounds.
Engine capacity: 70+ HP.
Use: Fishing, bow fishing, hunting, large group boat camping and utility work.
Price range: $10,000+
If you would like a more detailed list of the main pros and cons associated with different Jon boat sizes you should read this.
Jon boat size guide chart
Below is a rough guide to the appropriate outboard motors for different sized Jon boats.
Ideal outboard motor size will be given in the detailed specs of your particular Jon boat.
|Boat Size||Maximum users||Average weight capacity||Outboard (HP)||Cost|
|10 '||1 - 2 adults||320 lb||3 - 5||$800 - $2,500|
|12 '||2 adults with light gear|
Or, 1 adult + 1 child + gear
|450 lb||8 - 15||$800 - $4,000|
|14 '||3 adults + gear|
Or, 4 adults with light gear
Or, 2 adults + 2 children + gear
|610 lb||15 - 20||$900 - $4,000|
|16 '||3 adults with gear|
Or, 4 adults with light gear
|960 lb||20 - 35||$3000 +|
|18 '||5 adults with gear|
Or, 6-7 adults with light gear
|1,400 lb||35 - 70||$4000 +|
|20 '||7 adults with gear|
Or, 8 adults with light gear.
|1,600 lb||70 - 100||$10,000 +|
Jon boat size guide FAQs
What size of Jon boat do I need?
Although there are other considerations, for example the size of your boat may be impacted by the environment you use it in as we mentioned above, the perfect size of Jon boat for you will depend on 2 main considerations.
The boat size you choose will be based on the information you gain from asking yourself the following 2 questions:
- How much space do you need for passengers and gear?
- How much weight capacity does the boat need to safely carry your passengers and load?
Determine exactly what you want to use your Jon boat for and how many people will be in it at any one time. By knowing this information you can work out how much deck space and storage space you need and, more importantly, how much weight you will be placing in the boat.
When you understand how much onboard space you need and how much weight your boat will be carrying you can simply review the information given in this article (and the handy chart above) to see which boat size is the best choice for you.
If you do not know how much weight you will be carrying follow the guidelines set out here for working that number out. You can also get more information in the article how much weight can a flat bottom boat hold to see if your projected weight load matches the boat size you want to buy.
What size motor do I need for my size of Jon boat?
You should always stick to an outboard motor that is recommended for your size of Jon boat. Putting a larger engine than recommended on a Jon boat will not give you any extra speed.
Overpowering your Jon boat is not recommended as it rarely produces the desired result and can put you and your passengers at risk. Attaching a more powerful outboard than the boat is rated for can:
- Cause damage to the transom and hull.
- Unbalance the boat.
- Throw pilot and passengers overboard.
- Cause swamping and capsizing.
Always follow the manufacturer recommendations and the information given on the Boat Capacity Plate so you stay within safe limits. Only attach an outboard motor that is within a HP range that is designed for the size of your boat.
How do I know if I have the wrong motor for my size of Jon boat ?
You will know you have the wrong motor for your size of Jon boat if the boat is either overpowered or underpowered.
An overpowered boat will be difficult to control and will probably take on water.
An underpowered boat will feel sluggish, slow to get underway and slow to get on plane. Although this can be remedied, to some degree, by having less load onboard it is better to get a more powerful outboard motor.
To avoid both underpowering and overpowering follow the guidelines for your size of Jon boat; only use an outboard motor that has a HP that lies within the range for your size of boat.
What is a Boat Capacity Plate and how does it relate to Jon boat size?
A Boat Capacity Plate is a Federally mandated label that should be carried on all powered boats under 20 feet in length. It is permanently attached to a boat, often near the helm.
The boat capacity plate specifies:
- Maximum gross load of the boat.
- Maximum engine horsepower for the vessel.
- Maximum number of adult persons that the boat can carry.
The weight capacity of a boat is just as important, and sometimes more important, than the boat size.
However, in most cases the weight capacity of a boat will increase with the boat size.
If you want to determine your needed boat capacity read our Jon boat weight capacity guide and follow the simple formula outlined. This will help you pick the correct size Jon boat and the correct outboard motor for powering it.
Is the price of a Jon boat based on its size?
Although prices of Jon boats can vary greatly, even for boats that are the same size, for the most part the bigger the Jon boat the more expensive it will be.
Other cost considerations will be the construction material used (though most modern Jon boats are made from aluminum) and whether the boat is riveted or welded. The cost will also be affected by any add-ons that come as standard with the boat (such as an outboard motor, livewells, rod holders etc.).