Drift Boat Weight/Vehicle Considerations

My fishing buddy and I are about to buy an aluminum drift boat of 15’ or 16’. He has a diesel truck that can no doubt trailer this thing. However, at some point I want my own rig to trailer it especially since my car seems to be on its last legs. My question is: for the North sound rivers, and considering how much a trailer and drift boat of this size will weigh, what towing capacity do I need? Do I really need a huge truck? I would prefer not, I like cars such as Subaru wagons and Volvo wagons and those are what I am looking into, but I think it smarter to get a vehicle that will do what I need. I want something that gets better mileage than a huge truck that is for sure, at least when I am not towing the boat. Anyway, what would those of you with local boating experience recommend as the minimum to pull a drift boat out of the rivers around here? I know all launches aren’t created equal. I hope this isn’t too complicated! Thanks! :thumb:

shawn k

Active Member
drift boats are very light. you could to it with the vehicles in question. The problem you would run into is ground clearance. A lot of ramps you need a 4 wheel drive vehicle.
Or any full size car or light truck for that matter. Its just a bit easier to pull a trailer with a big rig. Heck, we used to tow my 17' sailboat (probably heavier than a drift boat) around with my buddy's honda prelude.
shawn k said:
The problem you would run into is ground clearance.
Thanks everybody: so my next consideration is clearance. Are the Subaru Outback or Forester the only car-like cars with lots of clearance? Any other brands to look into with lots of clearance?


Well-Known Member
I tow my boat (16' Lund with jet) with my Outback just fine, but a driftboat bow sticks up higher than the Outback's roofline. You get some drag and side to side wind buffeting as a result. A small pickup with a canopy would tow the boat and keep the driftboat bow in its "wind shadow."
Ford Escape gets great mileage and has good ground clearence or you said you like Volvo. Fords Freestyle Awd Crossover wagon
is on a volvo platform for about half the money.


...has several mistresses.
Towed a alum from Sun Valley ID to Salt Lake in a 1987 Camaro IROC with T-Tops, it was dope.

Hyde Pro Staff
I have towed my 16' lavro with a chevy diesel p/up, a small s10 chevy p/up, my '02 1/2 ton silverado and my '03 6 cyl grand cherokee. all were more than enough vehicle. i have driven a 4 cylinder outback and don't think i'd want to tow my d-boat with it, but i suppose you could. that thing wouldn't get out of it's own way. the grand cherokee and the s10 definitely had side wind issues, and the disel truck i would forget it was even there. if you only plan to stay local with it the wind wouldn't be a huge worry to me. i'm a big fan of overkill and i would lean more towards a small s.u.v. at least and away from a car, at least not a 4 cylinder car.


Active Member
if the vehicle of choice has a towing hitch, there will be some specification regarding GVWR. figure the boat 'dry' is 300#, depending on what the trailer is fabricated from, guess 500-700#. now chuck in whatever you are taking along, including another dude, and you should have a pretty good estimate of the overall weight involved. if that fits within your vehicles specifications, you are good to go.

however, keep in mind that a small 4 or 6 cyl engine, pulling, is going to be working pretty hard, read that you ain't goin' anywhere at speed. your fuel consumption will also skyrocket when you tow even with a small economy vehicle. i would be considering just how much towing you are going to be doin vs driving around without the boat and trailer.


Piscatorial Engineer
I pulled my 16' alumaweld with a Peugeot 504 4 cyl. With a couple hundred feet of line, you can either lower it down a cliff, or pull it up a bank/slope with the car. Been there done that.

As I said before, get the boat, use the hell out of it, don't look back. It will work out and all be good.

PS You can buy a lot of gas for the price of a bigger rig. I pulled mine all over 3 states with the Peugeot. Optimum?...not. Did it work? ... you bet your a$$.
One of the problems with a db is being able to see over it when backing down a ramp. Another problem is pulling a boat full of water up a slippery ramp.

Street type cars do not do these things well. For years I drove road rockets. (I wanted a VW Passat wagon V6 5 speed manual for a tow car) They look cool, get better gas milage than a truck/suv, and handle a whole lot better. But sticky performance tires are not going to cut it on a boat ramp. Neither will front wheel (only) drive.

Since you will need to replace your current worn out car eventually, a small suv would be a better alternative. Jeep Liberty, or similar, comes to mind. A Forester or an Outback may also work. Look at it this way. Rather than trying to make a good gas milage car do the job, ask yourself how many miles you going to drive not towing, and how much extra will that cost you with a small suv that will get the job done?

Also, if you're like me, you'll find places to fish even without the boat, that you wouldn't dream of taking a road rocket. Tearing out the under carriage, getting stuck, things like that. So 4 wheel drive becomes more than just a yahoo look at me badge on the side of your vehicle. Ditto full size spare tire. A do-nut spare don't get it. And if your reg tire is some odd ball size???? you could be stuck in po-dunk for days waitiing on a replacement tire to be shipped in from L.A.

Sit down and think about what features are important to you. Make a list. Do the research on the web. You can dig around and find out what is what. You already have some good ideas/suggestions. Go for it.
Another scenario, happened last weekend. I'm backing the boat down the ramp. "The boat" is a 15' glass over wood. Not a real heavy rig. "The ramp" is a grooved concrete job loaded with wet leaves. Jeep Grand Cherokee with automatic 4 wheel drive iand ABS is locking the front wheels and I'm sliding down the ramp wondering if I can stop before everything ends up in the river.
Maybe I need new tires. More grip. Maybe next time I'll put it in drive and feather the gas as I come down the ramp. I can see it all now. Smokin' tires, out of control. slippin' sideways down into the cold black abiss. I have never been a follower of the "have enough truck" phylosophy. But I'm beginning to change my mind.

Latest posts