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Drift Boat Vs. Jon Boat (With Pros & Cons)

Drift boats and Jon boats are among the most popular of all inland water vessels. Both of these boats are widely used for fishing, hunting, utility work, and even transport. These are both versatile vessels, but which is better for you? If you are considering getting a Jon boat or a Drift boat, there are some important considerations to make to determine which is the better boat for you. 

The Drift boat and the Jon boat are shallow water vessels with flat bottoms. Both vessels are versatile and practical for all inland shallow water uses. Drift boats are better in rough water, comfortable and maneuverable. Jon boats can move in shallower water, are more durable, and less expensive.

There are some significant differences between Jon boats and Drift boats, but there are some important similarities as well. Let’s explore both of these vessels to understand them better and help you determine which boat is better suited for you based on your requirements and preferences. 

Drift boat Vs. Jon Boat

The Drift Boat

Drift boats are very popular inland water vessels. These boats are designed to be versatile and ideal for fishing and hunting, as well as traversing very rough waters, including waters are rough as Class V rapids. 

These boats are built with a shallow draft and flat bottom, which makes them ideal for use in shallow waters. For this reason, Drift boats are often the first choice for many hunters, fishermen, and those who live near shallow waterways. 

Drift boats are equipped with a pointed stern and flat bow, as well as a constant Rocker, which makes them supremely versatile compared to other flat-bottomed shallow water vessels

These characteristics make Drift boats able to traverse very intense waters, as well as very shallow waters, making them some of the most versatile vessels on the water. 

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These vessels feature raised seats which make them ideal for fishing, and these, combined with a large capacity, excellent maneuverability, and the ability to traverse shallow waters with ease, make them some of the best inland water vessels of all. 

The hull design of the Drift boat makes the vessel extremely responsive to oar inputs. This means that the drift can be operated in very tight waters and is easily maneuverable even in very rough waters. 

One of the major drawbacks of Drift boats is that these vessels can be somewhat unstable, especially when moving around on the boat and standing on the boat, but this is easily controllable with practice. 

Drift boats are designed to be used with oars and poles, and their design makes them ideal for this function, but they do not handle motorization well. The transom design of Drift boats means that if a powerful outboard motor is fitted to the vessel, it forces the stern of the boat underwater and makes it completely uncontrollable. 

Drift boats can only handle outboard motors of up to 10HP, so long as the vessel is particularly large. Smaller Drift boats cannot handle motors more powerful than 6HP, and these motors do not provide more speed than manual rowing does. 

This type of shallow-water vessel is well-equipped for rough waters due to its hull design, but it is not very durable. The design and materials that Drift boats are usually made from are not very tough and are easily damaged. 

The Drift boat is among the most versatile and high-performing shallow inland water vessels available and is an ideal boat for almost all inland water uses. 

drift boat

Drift Boat Pros And Cons

The Drift boat is among the best inland water vessel designs, but these boats are not without their drawbacks. However, they have some significant advantages as well. Let’s examine some of the major pros and cons of Drift boats. 

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The pros of Drift boats include:

  • Drift boats have a flat bottom and are excellent in shallow water.
  • Drift boats are highly maneuverable. 
  • Drift boats are capable of very rough water.
  • Drift boats are very versatile.
  • Drift boats make traveling long distances easy. 
  • Drift boats are ideal for fishing, hunting, travel, and transport. 

The cons of Drift boats include:

  • Drift boats are very expensive to buy, with the cheapest models costing more than $3000.
  • Drift boats are not very durable. 
  • Drift boats cannot be equipped with high-powered motors. 
  • Drift boats can be very slow.
  • Drift boats can be challenging to control.
  • Drift boats can be unstable.
  • Drift boats are difficult to store and tarnish easily.
  • Drift boats require high levels of maintenance.

The Jon boat

The Jon boat is another immensely popular inland water vessel and is used for many of the same purposes as the drift boat, but the Jon boat has some very key differences when compared with the drift boat, especially when considering the uses of the vessel and the water that they are designed to traverse. 

The Jon boat is a highly versatile vessel. In fact, the Jon boat is likely the most versatile shallow inland water vessel there is. There is almost nothing that this boat cannot do so long as the waters do not get too rough. 

This type of boat is exceedingly stable, and it can be used to transport very heavy loads. The Jon boat has a very low freeboard, which increases its shallow water abilities. 

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The flat bottom of the Jon boat, combined with its low freeboard, means that it can function well in only a few inches of water, which makes this vessel the perfect shallow water vessel for all inland water uses. 

The Jon boat is also very stable in smooth water, which means it can be equipped with a very powerful outboard motor and can remain stable and comfortable at very high speeds. 

This vessel is also easily customizable due to its basic shape and aluminum construction, which further adds to its versatility. 

Jon boats, however, are not stable in rough waters. The low freeboard of the vessel means that water can come over the side very easily, and this boat is likely to sink in rough water and rapids. 

With all of that in mind, the Jon boat is also far easier to use, much easier to maintain, and much cheaper to buy when compared to Drift boats, which is another reason why these vessels are so popular. 

The low cost of Jon boats combined with their high versatility, good stability, high-speed capabilities, toughness, and ability to move in exceedingly shallow water makes them the vessel of choice for most shallow water hunters, duck hunters, and those who need a shallow water utility boat. 

Jon boats are durable, hardy, and very easy to store as they do not even require a cover. However, these boats tarnish quickly in salt water and should only be used in freshwater. 

jon boat

Jon Boat Pros And Cons

Jon boats are excellent shallow water vessels, and they are highly versatile and very useful, but these boats do come with some downsides as well. 

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Let’s examine some of the significant pros and cons of Jon boats to understand them better and compare them fairly with Drift boats. 

The pros of Jon boats include:

  • Jon boats can traverse shallower water than most other vessels.
  • Jon boats are very tough and durable.
  • Jon boats are easily customizable.
  • Jon boats are exceedingly versatile.
  • Jon boats can be easily equipped with a powerful outboard motor. 
  • Jon boats are excellent utility vessels.
  • Jon boats are inexpensive to buy. 
  • Jon boats almost no maintenance. 
  • Jon boats are very easy to store. 
  • Jon boats are available in many different sizes.

The cons of Jon boats include:

  • Jon boats are not stable or safe in rough water.
  • Jon boats are not always very well made or luxurious.
  • Jon boats are not very maneuverable.
  • Jon boats can be difficult to control. 

Which boat Is Better For You?

Now that we understand more about these boats, it is important to determine which vessel is the better overall option for you based on your requirements and preferences. 

The main consideration to make when comparing Jon boats and Drift boats is the water that you will be using the boat on. 

This is important because Jon boats are not ideal for rough waters, but they can traverse shallower water than Drift boats can. Drift boats can move through rough water and rapids easily and safely, but they cannot move in water as shallow as Jon boats can, and they tend to be slower vessels as well. 

If you need a shallow water vessel that is highly versatile and able to handle any type of transport, utility, hunting, or fishing needs even in the shallowest of waters, or if you are on a tight budget, then the Jon boat is the better option for you. 

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If you need to get through some rough waters to reach your preferred fishing or hunting spots, if you are looking for a vessel that is more maneuverable in all types of water, or if you are simply looking for something more refined and more comfortable, then a Drift boat is better suited to your requirements. 

Both Drift boats and Jon boats are ideal inland shallow water vessels, but their specific limitations are what make each vessel better suited for certain situations than the other. 


At the end of it all, the Jon boat and the Drift boat are both ideal options for almost all forms of inland water travel and functions, and both vessels will be useful for every shallow water requirement. 

Jon boats are more practical and versatile, but Drift boats are more comfortable, more maneuverable, and better in rough waters. Base your final decision on these critical factors, and you are sure to get the ideal boat for your requirements!