Many pontoon boat owners often misunderstand trailer lengths, and honestly, I understand their confusion.
I mean, you expect a 22-foot pontoon boat to fit in a 22-foot trailer.
If you just bought a 20-foot pontoon boat for the first time, you can easily assume you will need a 20-foot trailer.
While it’s kind of logical to assume this, it’s not always the case.
In many cases, pontoon trailers need to be at least three feet longer than the boat’s total length.
Now, you might be wondering what’s the essence of the extra length. Doesn’t it mean that you’ll need more money and larger storage space?
Which other factors should you consider when buying a pontoon boat trailer? And how do you select the best trailer for your pontoon boat?
I often hear many pontoon boat owners looking to buy a trailer for the first time asking these questions, and you might be wondering the same too.
But there is no need to worry as this article will show you everything you need to know about pontoon trailer lengths as well as how to buy the right one for you.
How Long is a Pontoon Boat Trailer?
Pontoon boat trailers generally have to be at least three feet longer than the boat to be hauled and stored.
Here are some real-life examples that will help you comprehend better how long a pontoon trailer need to be:
- A 20-foot pontoon boat will need a 23-foot trailer
- A 22-foot pontoon boat will need a 25-foot trailer
- A 24-foot pontoon boat will need a 27-foot trailer
- A 26-foot pontoon boat will need a 29-foot trailer
So, why is the extra length so important in pontoon boat trailers?
The extra length is crucial in pontoon boat trailers for swing radius and turning. Imagine being in a tight area and trying to swing the trailer.
Would it be so easy without the additional length? We both know it wouldn’t.
In fact, you might end up hitting your towing vehicle’s rear when turning sharply with a small trailer. Trust me, you don’t want to ruin your car just because you need to tow your pontoon boat to the storage space.
But what if the trailer you want to buy doesn’t indicate its length?
In such cases, I think the best thing to do is to check the model name, as it should help you know the exact length of your trailer.
Most trailer manufacturers often name pontoon trailers to categorize the right boat size they can haul.
Do Pontoon Boat Trailers Have Adjustable Length?
Not all trailers have an adjustable length. However, there are some manufacturers who produce trailers with adjustable lengths.
With such a boat trailer, you can increase or reduce the length to get or reduce about 2 feet or more in the overall length.
When working with adjustable trailers, it’s easy to fall into the temptation of using any length without having to calculate what’s right for your pontoon boat.
But it’s important to use the appropriate trailer length for your pontoon boat during transportation or storage.
Remember, trailers are particularly designed to haul or store what only they can hold. The carpeted bunks are also a bit shorter than the pontoon tubes that slant up at the nose cone.
If the trailer’s bunks were longer, it would be hard to support the pontoons at the slanted position. At least not without ruining the toons.
I’d also suggest that you always double-check your boat’s setting on the trailer to ensure that it’s placed correctly.
The pontoon boat’s rear is usually heavier than the bow, and any inappropriate setting could be very risky during transportation. It could cause a terrible accident and destroy your towing vehicle.
The imbalance is not only dangerous to the pontoon boat but also to your vehicle, or even worse, your life as the driver.
What Pontoon Trailer is the Right for Your Boat?
Are you planning to buy a pontoon boat trailer and are now wondering which is the right one for you.
Well, there are several things to consider when buying a pontoon trailer, from type and price to the size of your boat.
Here, I’ll show you the essential things to look for when buying the right pontoon boat trailer for you.
The Type of Trailer
Pontoon trailers come in two different types, and the best one for you will depend on the type of pontoon you own.
These trailers include a scissor trailer and a bunk trailer. Let’s have an in-depth dive at each type.
Scissor pontoon trailers feature a middle lift mechanism sitting between the boat’s pontoons. The lift is mounted to a winch that brings down and lifts the whole pontoon boat.
This trailer style is best explained by how a seesaw works, in that the tubes hang with no support and can hover sideways, backward, and forward.
You need to be extra careful when towing your pontoon boat with a scissor trailer as its design is not great for long-distance hauling.
The boat might even roll off and hit the pavement when making a tight turn.
Scissor trailers are perfect for shallow water bodies since the lift drops down and lets the boat glide off.
You are likely to see these types of trailers in boatyards where dealers have to regularly move a number of boats.
What’s impressive about these trailers is that they work perfectly for various pontoon models and sizes. I highly recommend it to any boater looking to tow their boat for short distances.
Bunk Style Trailers
Bunk trailers come with bunks that hold the tubes in place during boat transportation and storage.
The pontoons rest down into the bunks, keeping them safe and preventing unnecessary movements while you tow the boat down the road.
Unlike scissor trailers, bunk trailers are safer and more secure when it comes to towing a pontoon boat for long distances swiftly.
A bunk-style trailer is a perfect option for pontoon enthusiasts who would love to travel with their boat for more than 10 miles for an enjoyable cruising experience.
If you have a heavier boat with a large engine, a bunk trailer is a perfect way to haul it.
Bunk trailers come in different sizes, with some built for two pontoon tubes and others designed for three toons.
They can be used for a variety of pontoon boats as long as they meet the required length, width, and the number of bunks.
Deciding on the right size when buying a trailer can be pretty puzzling as there are several things you need to put into consideration.
These factors include your boat’s length, number of toons, and the trailer’s carrying capacity.
As mentioned above, the best trailer size for pontoons needs to be a few feet longer than the boat. This should be about three or four extra feet.
To avoid a wrong fit, you need to calculate your pontoon boat’s length correctly. Improper boat fitting on the trailer and imbalances will lead to instability while on the road and, in turn, cause an accident.
Trailers come in different designs, and each construction suits a particular size range.
For instance, light-duty trailers work fine when towing smaller pontoon boats of about 16 to 18 feet. But they are not great for heavy-duty pontoons featuring heavier engines.
You’ll also find regular duty trailers in the market, and they are best suited for pontoons that are not more than 22 feet long.
Heavy-duty tandem axle trailers are excellent for towing and storing large, heavy boats. They are also designed to support long-distance hauling.
You won’t have imbalances on the road, provided you nail the dimensions of your boat when buying the trailer.
The trailer’s maximum weight capacity has to exceed your pontoon boat’s weight. And to calculate the overall weight of your pontoon, you need to sum up dry weight, engine weight, and a full tank of gas.
Most manufacturers often indicate the weight of their products, and you can easily find it on the VIN tag.
For the pontoons, different trailers are built to accommodate boats with a different number of toons. This brings us to the next factor to consider when buying a trailer for your pontoon boat!
Single, Tandem, or Triple Axle Pontoon Trailers
When buying a pontoon trailer, you also need to determine whether you need to get a single axle trailer, tandem axle trailer, or triple axle trailer.
A single axle trailer (2 wheels) is suited for pontoon boats within 16-foot to 22-foot long. They have the standard features you expect to find in a trailer, from tube frames to radial tires.
Tandem axle trailers (4 wheels) are great for longer boats of about 20-foot to 26-foot pontoons. They are the most popular trailers among pontoon boat owners.
Triple axle trailers (6 wheels) are built for about 28ft to 34ft long pontoons. These trailers have a high carrying capacity that is ideal for huge heavy houseboats.
They also come with 14 in radial tires, unlike the first and second options, which feature 13 in radial tires.
The cost of pontoon boats varies widely, depending on the type, model, size, how much weight they can carry, and the construction.
While all the trailers have at least one axle, single axle trailers are way cheaper and offer easier maneuverability.
Multi-axle pontoon trailers are a bit expensive with less flexibility, but they are the best for towing on the road. They are also more secure in case some tires blow out.
Speaking of the cost, there are many accessories you can add to your pontoon trailer, and they come at a different price range.
So, customizing your pontoon trailer will also affect how much you’ll pay.
Other considerations for buying a pontoon trailer include your engine size, towing distance, and how often you’ll be hauling the boat.
If your boat will be on the tow vehicle more than a few times a week, then I suggest that you look for a heavy-duty tandem or triple axle pontoon trailer for extended durability.
Best Pontoon Boat Trailer Accessories
While adding more features to your pontoon trailer means increased price, these accessories are significant upgrades that are worth having:
If you want to buy a bunk-style trailer, load guides will be excellent add ons. They come in handy for the pontoon boat to slide straight, which makes loading much easier.
It will be much easier for you to load and launch your pontoon with load guides, even in windy conditions.
This kit is essential for pontoon boats with three tubes as it helps support the middle tube. It features a winch stand designed to carry weightier loads.
When buying a tri-tube kit, you’ll want to tell your dealer about the middle tube’s length and shape.
Alternatively, you can tell them your boat’s model and the year it was made to let them gather the details about the tube.
Keep in mind that some pontoon boat models come with a longer center toon.
Spare tires boost your confidence when towing your pontoon boat, as you know that you have cover in case any of your tires puncture.
You can get a spare tire with a U-shaped bolt for fast mounting on the trailer, and you’ll be thankful when something goes wrong while on the road.
Plastic Wrapped Bunks
These are great as they make loading easy when you have to regularly move your boat in and out of the water.
I actually find them to be more durable and effective than carpeted bunks.
The price varies based on size, so you should expect to pay more for a longer trailer.
If you cruise mostly in salty water bodies, galvanization is vital.
It helps reduce the risk of rust and corrosion and lengthens the life of various parts of your pontoon trailer, like springs.
If you are an aesthetic person like me who loves keeping their things appealing all the time, you may want to have a dress-up kit for your trailer.
I had the aluminum-plated diamond tread installed on my trailer, and I always feel good when I see it stand out.
What’s more intriguing in this kit is that it prevents scratching while still making the trailer look exceptional.
The rear extension is also crucial, especially if you have a larger size pontoon boat. It works magic when it comes to supporting the engine pod.
Your weighed fuel tank will also thank you for the stern extension.
Adding brakes to your trailer can cost you about $500, but it’s definitely worth it as you don’t want to be caught violating your state’s brake laws.
Even if there were no brake laws in your state, it’s important to have brakes on your trailer to safeguard your tow vehicle, boat, and the trailer itself.
Brakes can also save your life, especially when working with a smaller tow vehicle.
Q: What Size Trailer Do I Need for a 20ft Pontoon Boat?
A: For a 20ft boat, you need at least a 23ft pontoon trailer. In general, a 23 or 24ft trailer is appropriate for effortless turning and swing radius.
It’s also the right length for your boat’s pontoons, as a longer trailer could result in the tubes’ damage or cause imbalance when towing the boat.
You’ll also want to consider your pontoon boat’s width since some are wider than others, despite having the same length.
A 24-foot tandem axle trailer is a perfect option for a 20-foot pontoon boat. A single axle trailer may also work just fine, provided it uses sturdy materials and is long enough for the boat.
Most importantly, the overall weight of your pontoon boat matters a lot when choosing the right trailer size. Keep in mind that more weight means more holding capacity of the trailer.
Q: How Are Pontoon Boat Length Measured?
A: The easiest way to get the length of a pontoon boat is to measure the distance from the pontoon tubes’ front to the rear.
Generally, the length of the pontoons determines the length of a pontoon boat, as the deck usually has a shorter length.
For instance, a 20-foot pontoon boat will have tubes measuring 20-foot, with an 18 to 19 feet deck length.
When buying a pontoon boat, the length can really confuse you as some people will use the deck length as the overall length of the boat while others will go with the tube’s length.
In cases where you hear of two different lengths referring to the same boat, the longer one usually refers to the tubes, and the shorter one is for the deck.
However, if you are not sure about a pontoon boat’s length, you can always ask for clarification from your dealer or marine industry professionals to ensure that you make the right choice.
The right trailer size for your pontoon boat can be a little confusing as it’s always easy to equate it to the boat’s length.
However, this is usually not the case. You can calculate the right trailer length for your pontoon boat by adding three or four feet to the overall boat’s length.
If you are looking forward to buying a trailer for your pontoon boat, you may want to consider the factors explained in this guide to make an informed decision.
To be safe, it’s always wise to check with the manufacturer or your dealer what you don’t understand well about the trailer.
All in all, be sure to get the right size and look for the appropriate accessories for your pontoon boat trailer that best suits your hauling needs.