If you're looking for a center console boat to take out on excursions, you've likely seen that you have a wealth of styles and models to choose from. A big difference between models lies in the amount of shelter you have on the boat, either in the form of a T-top, a canvas roof placed over the center console, or a cabin. Some boats also have no shelter and are completely open. Here's a look at which of these styles may be best for you.
Protection From the Elements
Obviously, an open boat is not going to offer you any shelter from the elements, be they harsh sun, water spray, rain, or wind. If you don't mind that, then an open boat would be fine for you. But if you want shade while piloting the boat, for example, you'll need at least a T-top. If you plan to bring friends with you when you go out on the boat, and those friends want shade as well, then a boat with both a T-top and a cabin at the front of the boat is essential. Otherwise your friends will have to deal with sun and water spray as you move through the water.
You'll also want a cabin if you plan to sleep on the boat in order to protect yourself from cold temperatures overnight. Note that the cabins on these boats are typically small, but they can fit a few people. Some also have padded bench-like berths that you can use for sleeping.
Maintenance and Repair
The more you have on the boat, the more maintenance you'll need to perform. Both cabins and T-tops need periodic inspections and maintenance, and they can both be damaged by long-term exposure to harsh weather or by other factors like storms or vandalism. In short, if you have T-tops or cabins, you'll have more materials to take care of. Do remember, though, that open boats are still going to require maintenance as well -- they'll just have less mass that you need to look after. So if you'd prefer a minimum of maintenance, you may want to look at open boats, but keep that caveat in mind.
Effect on Transportation Over Land
T-tops tend to be rather tall. If you have to transport the boat over land (for example, bringing it back home from a lake to store in your garage in winter), you'll need to take the extra height into account. Cabins can also raise the vertical profile of the boat when compared to open boats, though the cabins aren't always as tall as T-tops. If you know you'll have to travel under bridges and through areas with lots of overhanging branches, for example, a T-top could present a problem, unless you can find a model of boat with a removable T-top.
To get a better idea of dimensions and materials, talk to a boat dealer about center console boats and possible coverings. Go see the boats in person and ensure that the materials you see are ones you want to have.