Ever since the Pandemic began in 2020, boat sales across the US have been through the roof. For example, in 2020, more than 300,000 new powerboats were sold, a level of sales that hadn’t been seen since before 2008. 

Many new people are discovering the joy of spending time on the water. But if you’re new to recreational boating, you might forget that you also need to buy a trailer if you ever want to actually use your new boat.

And there are a few different types of boat trailers to consider, depending on the type of boat you plan to buy. You just need to ensure you have your trailer in place, ready to go, at the time you buy your boat.

So what are boat trailers, and what are the main types you need to know about? Keep reading our boat trailer guide below to find out now. 

What Is a Boat Trailer?

Before getting into the specifics of boat trailers, it helps to know what they are and how they work.

Here are some boat trailer tips. On a very basic level, a boat trailer is a method you use to tow your boat from your storage area, such as your home, to the body of water you plan to use it. Boat trailers should be able to securely transport your boat on local roads as well as highways, depending on the size of your boat. 

When your boat is on the trailer, you are supposed to back the entire trailer into the water until the boat is able to float on its own. You can then navigate the boat away from the trailer, park your vehicle and boat trailer, and enjoy a day on the water.

They are unique trailers that are only designed for boats. A standard storage trailer is not going to carry a boat, nor will it do well if you fully submerge it in water.

The only time you might not need to own a boat trailer is if you store your boat at a marina, or at a boatyard with access to your favorite body of water. If you only plan to use it at that particular body of water, then a trailer would be unnecessary.

This is often the case for those who live near the ocean. Boatyards often have man-made waterways that lead from their property out into the main body of water.

Types of Boat Trailers

For everyone else who needs a boat trailer, however, such as us freshwater junkies who are always exploring new lakes, there are a few to choose from. 

1. Bunk Trailer

Bunk trailers are some of the simplest, most affordable, and smallest boat trailers on the market. Their small size and simple design make them best suited to smaller boats, such as those under 20 feet in length. 

The boats’ keel rests on board that runs the length of the trailer. These boards are covered in a soft fabric and are more commonly called bunks. The addition of the fabric helps the boat slide on and off the trailer with ease, without causing any damage to the boat or the trailer.  

There are virtually no moving parts, meaning that these trailers are cheap and require very little maintenance or cleaning. The only issue is that you need to fully submerge the trailer, which means you might get gunk in the wheels and axles and may need some cleaning to prevent unnecessary corrosion. 

2. Roller Trailer

Whereas a bunk trailer requires a boat to slide on or off the trailer in the water, a roller trailer allows the boat to roll off the trailer and into the water.

The boat rolls thanks to cylindrical pieces of plastic, making for a smoother experience. Thanks to this process, you don’t need to back the entire trailer into the water to release the boat. This means you can drop your boat off on shallower boat ramps with ease. 

Roller trailers offer more flexibility as to where you can unload your boat. But they are more expensive than your standard bunk trailer. And you need to keep your roller trailer clean and in good working condition to ensure proper rolling functionality over time. 

3. Float-On Trailer

If you have a larger boat, such as a pontoon, or a saltwater boat, there’s a good chance you’re going to need a float-on trailer. These are the trailers capable of handling larger loads. 

You’ll need to use these at deeper loading zones, however. To unload the boat, you need to back the trailer deep into the water for the boat to float away. To load it back up, you just navigate the boat, or guide it with a rope, until it’s floating just above the trailer. 

You can then slowly move the boat and the trailer away from the water, allowing it to gently rest on top of the trailer as you exit the water.

They offer simple operation and fewer moving parts like a bunk trailer, making maintenance easy, so long as you give them a regular washing after being submerged. 

4. Keel Trailer

If you already have a trailer used for other purposes and would like to also tow your boat using that trailer, you can add a keel trailer. These are designed to attach your boat to an existing trailer. So they’re an add-on piece of equipment. 

Keel trailers help to distribute weight throughout the trailer and absorb shock during transport. The main goal for the keel trailer is to protect the keel which is extremely sensitive during transportation. 

This can be the cheapest option for those who already have a trailer for work, or to tow other toys like dirt bikes or snowmobiles. 

Finding the Right Trailer

Choosing between the different types of boat trailers depends on what type of boat you have, how big it is, and what the water conditions are at the places you plan to load and unload your boat.

If you still aren’t which to get, talk to some friends who have boats and see which types of trailers they prefer based on their experience.

Looking for more boating tips and tricks? Head on over to our blog to find other helpful articles.