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How to choose the right boat trailer?

Updated: Dec 23, 2023

Keeping your boat on a trailer is a very popular option and provides a lot of benefits. Trailering your boat opens a whole new world of boating expeditions and allows to explore many different boating locations such as lakes, rivers, oceans, etc... Having a trailer for your boat is also very convenient: it makes maintenance and repairs very easy whether you do it yourself at home or bring your boat to a marine service shop. Another perk is that it will probably save you a lot of money on storage, whether you use a dry storage or a marina slip, especially if you have room to store your boat in your garage or yard. Finally, keeping your boat out of the elements will have a tremendous impact on its condition and longevity. You'd be amazed by the damages a humid and salty environment can do to a boat over time! So, you've decided keeping your boat on a trailer is the right move? Now, let's look at a few things to consider before buying your trailer.

Boat specifications

The first thing you need to look at is your boat length, specifically the distance from the bow eye (where you hook your trailer winch strap) to the transom (at the back of the boat where the motor is). Each adjustable trailer model has a "bow eye to transom" it can accommodate. If you have an outboard motor sitting on an offshore bracket, you should measure from the end of the bracket where is outboard motor is mounted.

Next, you'll need to work out the "fully loaded" weight of your boat. This is the total weight of your boat when it will be loaded on your trailer. Boat manufacturers will usually provide the dry weight of your boat, to which you'll have to add the weight of the engine, fuel tank, fresh water tank, holding tank and any equipment you plan to have onboard. You can use Venture trailer's weight calculator to have an estimate of your fully loaded weight.

The fully loaded weight of your boat should be under the trailer's weight capacity.

If you have a standard boat with an inboard-outboard (I/O) sterndrive engine or an outboard motor, this should be all the information you need.

If you have an inboard engine with a direct drive or a stepped-hull, you'll want to reach out to your boat trailer dealer to work out the specific setup you need for your boat trailer.

Trailer Materials

The trailer frame is usually made of painted steel, galvanized steel or aluminum. Painted steel is the cheapest but has the least corrosion resistance and is not recommended for saltwater use (even once!). Galvanized steel frames offer more corrosion resistance. Aluminum frames are usually more expensive and provide the highest quality. Aluminum is much lighter than steel and does not rust. Bare aluminum oxidizes when in contact with air and develops a coat which will protect the metal, making aluminum the perfect choice for saltwater boating.

Axles, winch stands and tongues are usually made of galvanized steel. Trailer wheels can be galvanized steel or aluminum.

The mounting hardware (U-bolts, washers and nuts) can be either galvanized or stainless steel. While it is more expensive, stainless steel hardware will not rust and be much more durable.

Leaf-spring or Torsion Axles

The axles are the connection between the road and the trailer frame. There are 2 types of boat trailer axles: leaf-spring axles and torsion axles.

Leaf-spring axles are cheaper and easy to replace.

Torsion axles have less moving parts and provide better durability and protection against corrosion.

Bunks or Rollers

Boat trailers have 2 main setups to support your boat: bunks and rollers.

Rollers can be a good option if you plan to launch your boat on a beach or at a very shallow ramp. They allow the boat to roll up on the trailer using the winch. However, they do not offer the best support for the boat as it is resting only on the rollers and they tend to require more maintenance over time.

Bunks are made of wood which is covered in carpet to protect the hull of the boat. They are simple, durable, easy to replace, and offer the best support the your boat. Plastic (poly) bunk covers can be added to the bunks to make loading easier. Bunk covers help the boat slide up and down the trailer.

The Bottom Line

Choosing the right trailer for your boat can seem like a daunting task at first, but it's really not! Boaters tend to focus more attention on the boat than on the trailer, but it is a very important part of boating and should not be forgotten. Picking the perfect boat trailer model, knowing how to use and maintain it will go a long way and will allow you to spend more time on the water having a good time.

Word Boats Trailer Sales is a reputable dealer that specializes in aluminum boat trailers. Having sold hundreds of trailers since 2008, we are the best resource in Washington to guide your through your boat trailer purchase. We carry many trailer models in stock and have the best prices in the Pacific Northwest!

Give us a call on (425) 499-6883 or visit for more information!

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