Jon Boat Weight Capacity Guide. All Sizes.


Jon boat weight capacity

If you intend to buy a new or second-hand Jon boat, the boat’s weight capacity is a consideration that can be easily overlooked as you rush to get the deal done so you can just get out on the water. However the weight capacity of your jon boat, however basic or intricate its design, is critical to the handling and performance of your vessel and its safe use on the water.

Why do you need to know the weight capacity of your jon boat?

Knowing the weight capacity of your jon boat is not only important so you avoid overloading the vessel but it is also critical for being compliant with state and Federal law. You should therefore know the maximum load weight and maximum number of people that can be safely handled by your boat to prevent a risk of harm to yourself and your passengers and so you remain compliment with US law.

In boating, capacity weight is the amount of weight (in lbs or kgs) that a boat can safely hold in good conditions.

Be aware that is it more important to know a boat’s capacity weight than to know the number of people your boat can hold.

You should never exceed the weight capacity of any boat. Exceeding the weight capacity of a jon boat will lead to the following problems:

  • Poor handling – the boat will be slower or sluggish, compared with a lighter loaded boat.
  • Excessive rolling – running the risk of taking on water. Excess rolling may be an indicator of an overloaded vessel.
  • Lowering of the freeboard – this is the distance measured from the waterline to the upper deck level. Although Jon boats sit low in the water there is a limit to how low the boat should sit. The risk of taking on water and swamping is increased when the upper deck is dangerously close to the waterline. If scuppers are present they also can become problematic. If excessive rolling occurs the boat will almost certainly take on water and most likely sink.
  • Reduced stability – excessive passenger numbers or a load that exceeds the weight limits of your boat will cause the boat to become unstable, especially when the load is not distributed evenly or conditions are poor.
  • Risk of capsizing – overloading your jon boat increases the risk of capsizing even in optimal weather conditions and when taking even moderate turns. Capsizing is one of the leading causes of boat related deaths.

Where can I find the capacity of my jon boat?

Unlike larger vessels smaller flat-bottomed boats such as jon boats do not routinely carry a capacity plate. This leaves owners with the task of hunting down whatever information they can or just relying on their common sense to determine their boat’s maximum weight capacity (which is only a viable option if you make an informed or educated guess).

Acquiring maximum weight capacity information for older boat models can sometimes be problematic, though with the continued growth of boat forums on the internet the answer is usually just a quick online question away. For newer models, dealers will be the ideal source of information.

If you have considering acquiring or already own a used jon boat but you don’t know its weight capacity, try the manufacturer’s website for detailed specifications of your boat. Failing that an experienced local boat retailer may be able to assist you in assessing the capacity of your vessel.

It is important to know that weight capacity limits are given as guidance only and any numbers given should be treated conservatively.

Don’t rely on them.

Always keep in mind that manufacturer weight capacity guidelines are just that, guidelines, it is always better to not push the limit and if in doubt lighten the load.

Jon boat weight capacities based on size

One of the quickest and easiest ways to determine the weight capacity of your boat is to use the boat’s size as a guide.

For example:

  • A smaller vessel of 10 foot or under is unable to carry much more than 300-350 lbs of people and gear. That’s really only enough for the two people and perhaps some tackle and a cool box.
  • As boat length increases the weight capacity similarly increase, so with a 12 foot boat approximately 400 lbs can be safely contained and at 14 foot 400+ lbs.
  • At 16 foot in length a Jon boat can usually hold about 1,000 lbs.
  • An 18 foot Jon boat will  hold, on average, about 1,500 lbs.
  • At 20+ feet in length a jon boat is able to hold up to 1,900 lbs of people and equipment.

10 foot Jon weight capacities

BoatCapacityDry weight
Lowe L1032275 lb80 lb
Alumacraft 10325 lb95 lb
Waco 1432235 lb78 lb
Tracker Topper 1036380 lb112 lb
Smoker Craft 1032290 lb100 lb

12 foot Jon weight capacities

BoatCapacityDry weight
Lowe L1232389 lb90 lb
Alumacraft 12455 lb105 lb
Waco 1432385 lb88 lb
Tracker Topper 1236480 lb126 lb
Smoker Craft 1232390 lb120 lb
G3 Boats 1236470 lb144 lb
Pelican Intruder420 lb127 lb
Lost Creek389 lb 90 lb

14 foot Jon weight capacities

BoatCapacityDry weight
Lowe L1436675 lb90 lb
Alumacraft 1448885 lb105 lb
Waco Jon 1432 430 lb88 lb
Smoker Craft 1436720 lb182 lb
Tracker Topper 1436580 lb162 lb
Lost Creek 14 Foot5582 lb145 lb

16 foot Jon weight capacities

BoatCapacityDry weight
Lowe L16481,014 lb275 lb
Alumacraft 16ft1,010 lb320 lb
Tracker Grizzly 1648 1,055 lb638 lb
Smoker Craft 160 Freedom SC900 lb295 lb
XPress Boats 1650 VJ980 lb341 lb

18 foot Jon weight capacities

BoatCapacityDry weight
Lowe L1852MT AURA1375 lb416 lb
Tracker Grizzly 18601,550 lb794 lb
Gator Tough 18 CCT1,500 lb 870 lb
Smoker Craft 180 Freedom TL1840 lb1005 lb

20 foot Jon weight capacities

BoatCapacityDry weight
Lowe Roughneck 20701,900 lb710 lb
G3 Boats Gator Tough 20 CC1,550 lb1,015 lb
Crestliner 2070 Retriever1,900 lb710 lb
TRACKER GRIZZLY 2072 CC Sportsman 21 ft1800 lb1930 lb

How can I work out the weight capacity of my jon boat?

As jon boats are a smaller form of watercraft it is possible to undertake a simple calculation to establish the maximum gross load for your boat. Maximum gross load is the total combined weight your vessel can handle while in the water. This total weight includes:

  • Passengers
  • Gear and equipment
  • Motor
  • Fuel
  • Load carried in water tanks, your bait and the weight of your estimated catch (if fishing or hunting) should also be included in this number.

The maximum weight capacity of your jon boat will increase with the length and size of the boat. It is advised you don’t try to utilize the entire maximum weight – always be conservative.

The US Coast Guard offers handy calculations and advice for maximum occupancy for vessels including class A vessels which include pleasurecraft and utility craft such as jon boats.

The Boatbuilder’s Handbook deals comprehensively with all aspects pertaining to the safe loading of smaller boats and is valuable reading. The tables have been calculated on the basis of loading your mono-hulled boat for use in good conditions, where the water is smooth and the wave height is less than or equal to 0.5m.

How to determine weight capacity from boat weight

In the weight capacity examples provided in the tables above we have included the dry weight of each vessel. From this information you can also make an educated guess about your boat’s weight capacity as long as you know your own boat’s dry weight. Of course this calculation will be only an estimate.

However, once you have determined the weight of your jon boat you can make a comparison with some of the examples above. This will be a good starting point and give you a general idea of your boat’s weight capacity.

It should be reasonably easy to find out the weight of your boat or to make an informed and educated guess based on its size and construction material.

If you do not know the weight of your boat and can’t find the information online read this article which gives Jon boat weight examples based on size and shows you how to calculate the weight of your own boat correctly.

How many people can my jon boat hold?

For a boat under 20 feet in length, this simple calculation should provide an idea of how many people can safely fit on your boat:

Number of people = (boat length in feet x boat width in feet) / 15

The calculation is based on the premise that each person is an average weight of 150 lbs. Obviously some people weigh more than others and you should be aware of this when making your calculations.

Also be cautious about using the seating in your Jon boat to ‘guess-timate’ the passenger capacity of it. Just because there is enough seating for 4 people that doesn’t mean having 4 people onboard is safe! Always err on the side of caution especially if you have larger individuals onboard.

If you intend to navigate rough water or open sea it is advised that the maximum number of passengers should be reduced by a third.

It is also advisable to always keep reserve space capacity available for free movement of passengers. This means your boat will be able to handle any deterioration in conditions more readily. Excessive loading is dangerous at any time but is especially hazardous when you encounter emergencies as passengers may move suddenly and cause the boat to be destabilized.

Finally, it is also important to consider the distribution of your jon boat weight capacity.

Even when you have fully complied with the weight limits, loading your jon boat unevenly can be just as risky as overloading it. Stow your heaviest items centrally, and secure them so they cannot move freely and arrange passengers prudently, taking care that their weight is distributed evenly across the boat.

Of course there are some simple, but highly effective, measures you can take to stabilize your Jon boat as we demonstrated here.

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