If you own a pontoon boat, you will need a suitable trailer for it, whether you plan to use it for transportation or store it in a garage. Either way, a perfectly sized trailer will keep the boat safe and stable on all occasions.
You will probably ask yourself what size trailer I need for a pontoon boat before purchasing one. The answer to that question depends on several factors. Let’s see.
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Trailer Size by Pontoon Length
As you know, pontoon boats don’t come in universal dimensions, but their sizes range from 15 to 30 feet (4.6 – 9.1 m). The trailer size depends on your pontoon dimensions.
The rule of thumb is that you need a trailer at least 3 feet (0.9 m) longer than your pontoon’s length. The suitable model will keep your boat stable and well-balanced when you make a tight turn on the road. Otherwise, it can hit the vehicle that carries it.
Some experts even recommend that the difference between pontoon and trailer sizes is 4 feet (1.2 m) in ideal conditions. In other words, the ideal trailer size for a pontoon boat should be:
- From 20 to 22 feet (6.1 – 6.7 m) for 18 feet (5.5 m) long pontoon
- From 23 to 25 feet (7 – 7.6 m) for 21 feet (6.4 m) long pontoon
- At least 27 feet (8.2 m) for 23 feet (7 m) long pontoon
Keep in mind that some pontoon boats overlap in the perfect trailer size. For instance, you can set 18 feet (5.5 m) and 20 feet (6.1 m) long vessels on the same 23 feet (7 m) long trailer.
It is convenient since you can use the extra space to place additional gear. The vital factor is that your pontoon boat doesn’t rock or move while driving. In most cases, you won’t go wrong if you choose a 1 foot (0.3 m) longer trailer than recommended.
Trailer Size by Pontoon Weight
Another thing to consider before buying a pontoon trailer is the boat weight. Most pontoon sales brochures state the boat weight but often exclude the engine from the calculation.
In that case, a dealer can only make a rough estimation about the best trailer that will safely support the boat you have.
Average boat trailer
|Pontoon trailer size||18 feet (5.5 m)||22 feet (6.7 m)||24 feet (7.3 m)|
|Trailer capacity||3,100 pounds
|Trailer weight||630 pounds
Many local laws require that the VIN tag have info on the gross vehicle weight rating, representing the combined weight of your pontoon and trailer. So, this number will affect the trailer size and type you need.
Typically, an 18 feet (5.5 m) pontoon weighs 1,800 to 2,000 pounds (816.5 – 907.2 kg), but its engine can add up to 500 pounds (226.8 kg). Therefore, you need a trailer that supports at least 2,500 pounds (1,134 kg).
If you use your trailer as a storage capacity, this precise weight won’t matter much. On the other hand, you should never travel with a maximally loaded trailer and put yourself and other traffic participants at risk.
Pontoon Trailer Types
As I have already mentioned, the GVWR affects the trailer type you should choose.
Single axle trailer
A single axle trailer has enough capacity for a light, 14 to 20 feet (4.3 – 6.1 m) long pontoon weighing 2,250 pounds (1,021 kg). It is lightweight and easy to maintain, plus you can move it around in your garage when needed.
Tandem axle trailer
If you have 25 feet (7.6 m) long pontoon boat, you need a double axle or tandem trailer with increased capacity.
This trailer type comes with two tire sets and can carry a boat weighing up to 4,800 pounds (2,177 kg). In addition to the GVWR, this choice gives you a more stable ride, smooth turns on a rode, and extra space for your equipment.
The triple and multi-axle trailers are ideal for large, heavy pontoons. If your boat is over 28 feet (8.5 m) long, you need this trailer type to travel safely. Its minimum capacity is around 4,800 pounds (2,177 kg), but heavy, strong models can carry boats heavier than 6,000 pounds (2,721 kg).
Boat Trailer Style
Once you decide on the trailer size for your pontoon boat, the next decision is picking out the trailer style. You can find two on the current market.
The scissor-style (up and down) trailers fit between tubes on your pontoon. It is usually small and lightweight, and you can quickly load a boat on it.
However, many experts warn about safety issues with this trailer style. First of all, fitting a pontoon can sometimes be challenging, and you can expect it to rock while traveling on local roads.
Generally, a scissor trailer is perfect for those living next to a coast. The trailer’s sliding mechanism will allow you to take a pontoon in and out of the water quickly. Plus, you can use it in your garage to protect a boat during the winter months.
A bunk-style trailer provides your pontoon with full support and more safety compared to a scissor-trailed. In this case, the boat tubes lie directly above the wheels and axles of the trailer.
On the other hand, you can find it quite challenging to align the pontoon on the trailer perfectly. Most experts recommend bunk-style trailers for large boats long over 25 feet (7.6 m) since they offer full weight support and keep the vessel immobile during towing.
Knowing the pontoon dimensions and weight is not always enough to choose the right trailer size. Therefore, it is advisable to consider several other factors before selecting the model you want.
The terrain you will drive the trailer on is the first thing you should consider. If you plan to travel long and on various road types, you should think about large and bunk-style pontoon trailers. That way, you will avoid damaging both your boat and vehicle on rocky and pebbly paths.
The area you live in is vital when deciding on the trailer material. You can choose between aluminum and galvanized steel models, but be aware that both options have advantages and downsides.
The aluminum trailer will rust less than a galvanized one if you use your boat exclusively in saltwater. On the other hand, a galvanized trailer is more cost-friendly, and regular rinsing with fresh water after use will protect the zinc coating.
Trailer tires matter since pontoon boats are heavy, and long travels increase pressure on the trailer’s axle. Therefore, tires with a wider diameter will provide more balance and stability on the road.
Most boat owners recommend radial or ply tires as the perfect choice for pontoon trailers.
One more thing you need to decide about is carpeted or plastic-wrapped bunkers for your trailer. The plastic-wrapped type is more expensive but better protects your pontoon from scratches.
There is an ongoing debate among pontoon trailer owners about torsion vs. spring suspensions. The torsion suspensions are hidden in the galvanized axle’s tubes, and their role is to compress while the wheels move. That way, they dampen vibrations on the road and reduce flex.
On the other hand, spring suspensions are more affordable. However, they can cause a bumpy ride if you drive with an unloaded trailer.
Trailer Gear and Equipment
As I have already mentioned, you need around 3 feet (0.9 m) longer trailer than your pontoon boat. In addition to perfect boat fitting, extra space will allow you to bring some additional gear you may find valuable. However, there are several add-ons you should also consider:
Brakes – Unless you are sure your vehicle can control and stop a 2,000 pounds (907 kg) pontoon boat when necessary, you will need brakes. That means investing another $500, but that is a way to lower the risk from an accident.
Blinkers – Most local US laws demand suitable lighting for your pontoon trailer. That includes reflectors, stop lights, and tail lights. You also need working blinkers on each side. Make sure you check all the lighting before hitting the road.
Extensions – A stern extension provides additional support for your pontoon boat. To be precise, it keeps the engine and fuel tank in place, preventing damage from vibration and bouncing on rough paths.
There is also a 10 feet (3 m) wide extension kit for trailers carrying more sizable pontoon models. Keep in mind that you can only order this kit along with the trailer. There is no possibility for a later add-on since the manufacturer fixes it to the trailer frame on the spot.
Choosing the right pontoon trailer is not difficult once you know it needs to be bigger than your boat. A 3 feet (0.9 m) difference between pontoon and trailer provides you with safety and balance. However, you should also consider several other factors, including pontoon weight, the terrain you drive on, and additional equipment.