Boat Buying | Aluminum Vs. Fiberglass

Shopping for a boat is an exciting time whether it is your first or tenth boat. Choosing the perfect boat for your needs is a big decision and it can become even more complicated when you have to decide between excellent aluminum and fiberglass options.

Marine Unlimited in Petaluma, Calif. carries Ranger boats of both types and owner Brant Behler offered some things to consider to help you decide if glass or metal is a better choice for you.

Boat Size and Speed

With fiberglass boats, the sky is the limit for options, gel coat colors, motor size and much more. On the other hand, a decked out 20 or 21-foot fiberglass boat simply costs more than a decked out 18 or 19-foot aluminum. It really comes down to an individual’s budget and what they are looking for from a boat.

“One example of where someone may prefer a bigger boat is if they want their big 12-inch electronics flush mounted into the console. You are somewhat limited on rigging options with aluminum and it is harder to do simply due to having enough room, but the graph can be mounted on a Bass Boat Technologies mount or to the side on a RAM,” Behler says.

There is also the option to have much bigger engines on fiberglass boat and that equates to more speed and distance.

“On the other hand, aluminum boats are better on gas and they can sometimes get into shallow backwaters easier, because they are more nimble,” he adds.

As an example, Ranger’s biggest aluminum version is the RT198P that measures in at 19’ 4” in. It has a maximum horsepower of 150, which will definitely get the aluminum boat going but pales in comparison to the maximum horsepower ratings on larger fiberglass boats.

Boat Options and Towing

Another key difference to consider when deciding between the two types of boats is available options.

Ranger’s aluminum boats come equipped with many of the features bass boat anglers have come to expect from a fiberglass boat.

Trolling motor size is one thing that can be limited for the aluminum models. “All of the Ranger Aluminum boats offer 24V systems for trolling motors,” he says.

This may limit the pound thrust of a trolling motor you can buy, but since aluminum boats are much lighter the difference is not as much as one would imagine.

Since the boats have a large weight difference, what you plan to tow the boat with could also play into your decision.

“It is important to think about towing capacity, but more important to consider that it is the stopping distance that is more important,” he shares. With that in mind, just because a vehicle can pull a boat it may not be the best option. For those with smaller or less powerful tow vehicles, aluminum may be the way to go.

Improved Aluminum Boats

Not long ago aluminum boats might have been seen as inferior to some bass anglers but that has changed with many improvements being made to aluminum boats, especially with those from Ranger.

“They took their 50 years of experience building glass boats and used that when they started making aluminum boats,” he says. “They are all aluminum, there is no wood in the transom or inside of the decks.”

Additional features include:

  • Recessed trolling motor
  • Full instrument panels on the console
  • Large rod lockers capable of holding eight-foot rods
  • Ranger custom fit trailer with Road Armor

Marine Unlimited

This dealership offers Ranger Boats but also services Mercury, Yamaha and Evinrude outboards. Service is one of their specialties and is really where the dealership began as Brant himself has a service background in marine mechanics. The crew can make sure you can get back on the water as quickly as possible if you have an issue.

Evinrude Platinum Certified

Another distinction for Marine Unlimited is the Platinum Certification from Evinrude. This is more than just a banner on their website, it is the result of countless hours or training and certification for their technicians as wells requirements from Evinrude on parts on hand and more. It is safe to say that if you have an Evinrude and are in northern California, this is the place to take it if you ever have an issue.

Deciding between an aluminum and fiberglass boat has become even more difficult over the past few years. With aluminum boats stepping up the quality and features, they have become an attractive option for those who are looking for new boats. If you are looking for a new Ranger, whether glass or aluminum, Brant and his staff at Marine Unlimited would be happy to give you the information needed so you can make the call and decide which type of boat is best for you.