One of the joys of owning a boat is using it to get into the water! But what happens when you’ve finished your refreshing swim and need to get back on board?! You’ll be pretty stuck if you don’t have a boat ladder!
Fortunately, there are lots of different models to choose from. And to help you in your search, we’re going to look at eight of the best boat ladders out there. We’ll share their pros and cons, so you can find the perfect option for your boat.
This attractive 4-step ladder from Marine MFRS is made of shining 316 stainless steel. It looks great, and it will cope with freshwater, saltwater and rain without rusting. You won’t need to do any time-consuming maintenance either.
It has a telescopic design, sliding easily down to the water and back up again. The steps are 2 inches wide, so they’re safe and comfortable to use. And at the top, the handrails form a tall loop to support you as you dismount.
It will carry a weight of up to 400 pounds. The clever design is self-supporting, so you won’t need a tube or other stand. It’s pretty easy to install too.
There’s very little not to like about this ladder. We’ve heard of one case – on a pontoon – where it proved difficult to install it level. And another where the holes did not align correctly for mounting.
But these issues seem to be few and far between. If you’re looking for a rear-entry ladder, this one delivers good looks and practicality at a very reasonable price.
Quality construction, made from 316 stainless steel
Telescopic design slides easily up and down
The 2-inch wide steps are safe and comfortable to use
We’ve heard of one case where it was difficult to get the ladder to sit level …
… and another where the screw holes weren’t perfectly aligned.
Amarine’s ladder is another 4-step model designed for rear entry into the water. It’s a similar price point to the ladder from Marine MFRS, and it shares several similar features.
It too is constructed from 1.5-inch diameter 316 stainless steel, with a smart mirror finish. It has a telescopic design, so it’s easy to slide the steps down when they’re needed.
The steps here are 2 inches across, with 10 inches between each step. And they have a rubber insert to ensure wet feet won’t slip on the treads. The looped handrails stand about 16 inches above the ground. That will allow you to get a good grip as you get off the ladder.
It comes with a bungee cord to secure the ladder in place when it’s stowed. It’s safe for use by people weighing up to 400 pounds.
It features quick release mounting brackets, and it’s easy to install. But note that you’ll need to provide your own mounting hardware.
We’ve heard of a couple of cases where the ladder didn’t assemble completely square. If you choose this one, check the pieces before you put it together.
Made from solid 316 stainless steel
Comfortable steps with rubber inserts for a non-slip surface
Telescopic design with quick release mounting brackets
You’ll need to supply your own mounting hardware
We’ve heard of a couple of cases where it hasn’t been completely square – check the pieces before assembly.
If you’re looking for a short ladder, this one from Marinebaby is well worth considering. It has only three steps and a telescopic design. When folded, it’s 14.5 inches long, extending to 34 inches. It has a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds.
It’s made from marine grade stainless steel, so it will cope with water and harsh environments without rusting. And the mirror finish looks good too.
Each of the steps has a sleeve of black threaded plastic, which provides a non-slip surface for safety. Each tread is 7.5 inches from side to side, and 1.6 inches from front to back. There’s 11 inches between each step.
A strap and buckle is included to keep the ladder secure when it’s in the raised position. It simply loops around the three steps to hold them together.
It’s easy to install – just bolt it to a horizontal platform. And it comes with its own long stainless steel mounting screws. You will, though, need to provide your own fasteners. Exactly what type you’ll need will depend on the nature of your installation.
You might also want to provide some extra brackets or washers under the swim deck for a more secure mounting.
Perfect for boats where a shorter ladder is needed
Made from marine grade stainless steel, so it won’t rust
Easy to install, and comes with its own mounting screws
You’ll still need to provide your own fasteners
You may want to add extra support under the swim deck to get the most secure fit.
Dotline’s 3-step ladder is designed to hook over the gunwale of your boat. This one uses 11-inch wide gunwale hooks, which will fit the vast majority of boats. DotLine also make another version with 7-inch wide hooks.
They’re constructed from anodized aluminum tubing, so they’re lightweight yet strong. The three steps are made of injection molded HDPE plastic, finished in white for a clean look. And they have a dimpled surface to allow water to drain through and to prevent slips.
The support legs and boat hooks are coated in polyethylene, so there’s no risk of them scratching your boat.
The maximum capacity here is 250 pounds, so this isn’t quite as sturdy as stainless steel versions. And the plastic steps will flex, even with lower weights, so it doesn’t feel particularly secure. But it’s easy to move, and folds completely flat for storage.
Installation is relatively straightforward, and it can be mounted to the side, stern or bow.
Can be mounted at the stern, bow or side
HDPE steps allow water to drain easily for a non-slip surface
Polyethylene coated legs and boat hooks won’t scratch your boat
This ladder from Extreme Max is another that’s designed to hook over the gunwale of your boat. In this case, there are four steps, and it will fold down 37 inches from the deck.
It’s a telescopic design, with the lower two steps sliding up to cover the upper two. When folded, it’s 29 inches long.
It’s constructed from 1-inch diameter aluminum tubing, and the steps are thick black plastic. The textured surface helps prevent water from collecting and provides a more secure grip. The ladder has a maximum capacity of 300 pounds.
It’s easy to install and comes with all the required mounting hardware. Two mounting cups are designed to sit flush with your deck, so you won’t have to worry about stubbed toes. You’ll also get six mounting screws, and a bungee cord and buckle to secure the ladder in its folded position.
It’s lightweight, at 7.5 pounds. Note that, as with most ladders, it’s not designed to be used when your boat is in motion. And depending on your boat’s shape, it may need modification to get the side feet to sit securely against the hull.
Lightweight and easy to move
Telescopic design extends from 29 to 37 inches
Comes with all the necessary mounting hardware
Not designed for use when your boat is in motion
May need modification if you want the side feet to fit securely against your hull.
If you’re looking for a ladder that can handle heavier weights, this one from Hoffen should make your shortlist. The maximum capacity here is an impressive 900 pounds. And it can either be bolted to the deck or the side railings.
It’s made from marine grade 316 stainless steel, with a mirror finish that looks very smart. Each tread is 7.5 inches wide and 1.6 inches deep. The distance between each step is 11 inches. The treads are covered in molded black vinyl, to help users’ feet get a secure purchase.
It’s telescopic, and extends from 15.75 to 42.5 inches. The two sections slide smoothly over each other, thanks to the use of nylon brushing between them. A Velcro strap holds the lower section in place when it’s stowed.
There’s a hinged bracket, allowing the ladder to fold neatly over your swim platform. And it’s designed to have a slight angle, making it easier to climb up and down.
But take care! Depending on the design of your boat, that angle can put a lot of pressure on the edge of your swim platform. That’s especially the case when someone is on the lower rungs, where it’s effectively creating a lever.
And note that while it comes with mounting hardware, the screws won’t be suitable for all installations. If you’re using this with an aluminum boat, you’ll be better off using nuts and bolts.
The heavy-duty construction will handle a maximum capacity of 900 pounds
Made from smart and corrosion-resistant 316 stainless steel
Nylon brushing between the ladder sections ensures they slide smoothly
The angle at which the ladder hangs can put a lot of pressure on the edge of swim platforms
Although mounting hardware is included, it won’t be suitable for all installations.