Where there’s a boat, there’s a trailer. Or at least, there should be. Heck even a 10-foot jon boat that weighs just around 100lbs (minus the motor and gear) can be a chore to lug around. No, really, have you ever tried hauling a jon boat out of your car’s trunk and into the river bank? Dang near impossible with all that gear in tow.
It really doesn’t matter if you shelled out cash for the coolest jon boat mods on the market if you always end up damaging your boat during transport. And because you’re here, we’re assuming you’re on the prowl for the best jon boat trailer. Well, lucky you, because that’s exactly what we’re talking about in this comprehensive guide.
Best Trailers for Jon Boats
There are loads of options on the market if you’re looking to get your hands on a reasonable trailer. Keep in mind though that size does matter, especially since jon boats come in such a wide range. So to make the hunt a little easier for you, we’re serving up the best trailers for jon boats based on their size.
Jon Boats Under 12-Feet:
The tricky part about buying a trailer for a jon boat that’s under 12-feet is that they’re not really that popular. The reason for that is because jon boats in this size range are small enough to load into the cargo bed of a pick up truck, or on the roof of a car.
That said, you probably won’t find one that you can buy pre-assembled. On the upside, there are a few boat trailers for general use that you might be able to use for your small jon boat.
This is a general purpose folding boat trailer kit that comes disassembled out of the box. When put together, the thing measures 48” x 96”, giving you enough room for your mini jon boat to sit.
Other features include a tilting bed that lets you easily slide the boat onto the trailer. It also conveniently folds into a 2’ x 5’ x 3’ package so it doesn’t take up a lot of floor space when you don’t need it. But despite its size, the Haul-Master touts a load capacity of 1195lbs which is more than enough for a small jon boat, its motor, and other gear on board.
This trailer is even smaller at 40.25” x 77.25”. All together, it measures in at 126.75” and weighs just 216lbs.
The Irontron Trailer can carry up to 600lbs of weight, which is six times the average weight of a 10-foot jon boat. It comes with a set of lights and 12-inch wheels, giving you a basic trailer that just gets the job done.
12-Foot Jon Boats:
If you’ve got a 12-foot jon boat in your possession, then you might want to consider this trailer. This pick measures in at 140” x 54” and clocks in a weight of just 200lbs. It can comfortably carry up to 800lbs of load, so your 12-footer should be in good hands.
Made from galvanized steel, the frame can hold up against harsh marine conditions. It also comes with DOT-approved lights, a pair of adjustable 5-foot carpeted bunk boards to protect your boat’s underside in transit, a winch, a winch stand, and a hook and strap for easy loading and unloading. It’s pretty much a complete package.
14-Foot Jon Boats:
Moving on into larger jon boat territory, we’ve got this one from McClain. This trailer features a combination of aluminum and galvanized aluminum so it’s lightweight despite its size. The material also helps protect the design from corrosion and other forms of degradation and damage caused by marine environments.
The trailer itself weighs just 160lbs, making it exceptionally light for its size thanks to its all aluminum construction. In terms of weight capacity, the trailer can carry up to 640lbs without a hitch. Complete with lights, safety chains, and fenders, this jon boat trailer arrives assembled, so you can hitch it to your car and toss on your boat as soon as it arrives at your doorstep.
16-Foot Jon Boats:
This bunk trailer from Karavan is a perfect match for 16-foot jon boats, with a maximum boat length capacity of 199”. The trailer itself weighs in at 250lbs, making it one of the heavier trailers on our list. That’s mainly due to the fact that it’s made of steel to make the design more durable.
It features a QuietTow feature that lets you haul the trailer to your car and drive along without making so much as a single sound. The SwayControl feature also allows better maneuverability, ensuring that your trailer stays aligned with your vehicle for easy and safe towing.
18-Foot Jon Boats:
A sizeable 18-foot jon boat needs a trailer with proportionate power and durability. That’s why the the trailer from Road King has become quite popular for boat owners who need a trailer that can support a bigger boat. This pick weighs in at 600lbs and features a carrying capacity of 2900lbs -- more than enough to support an 18 footer.
It comes with a spring-axle suspension to cushion your boat as you drive over bumpy roads, and thus prevent damage to the hull. It features adjustable black poly fenders, a submersible light system, and a tongue jack and wheel, all fitted onto the trailers fully galvanized steel frame.
How to Choose the Best Jon Boat Trailer
No doubt, the sheer number of choices on the market can make it tough to settle on just one trailer. After all - don’t they all do the same thing? Well, while that might be true, there are differences between jon boat trailer models that might affect the satisfaction you get.
That said, one trailer might be a better match for your preferences than many of the others you’ll find. So how can you be sure you’re buying something that really hits all the right notes? Here are some important factors you should consider before buying a jon boat trailer.
Assembled vs Kits
When you buy a jon boat trailer, you’ll notice it’s labeled either ‘assembled’ or as a ‘kit.’ This basically means that some jon boats will arrive at your doorstep full assembled and ready to go, while others come as parts in a box, requiring assembly and set-up before you can take it on the road.
There are some benefits to getting one assembled. The first is the obvious reduced effort. Since it’s going to arrive in one piece, you won’t have to worry about going through the motions of figuring out which part goes where. It’s also easier to spot any issues right off the bat, so you can call up the manufacturer and get a replacement much faster.
The downside with an assembled kit though is that the shipping fees will be more expensive. On average, larger boat trailers are shipped assembled since bigger frames tend to be harder to piece together DIY style.
On the other hand, there are the kits. If you’re handy with tools, a kit can be loads of fun. They’re also usually cheaper to have shipped to your house since they come collapsed in a nifty little box.
The problem with kits though is that you may have to put the whole thing together before you can spot any problems with the kit that you received. Another issue is the time and the effort it could take to put it together before you can hit the road with your jon boat.
Number of Axels
This one is something you decide on based on the size of your boat. The single axel design is intended for smaller boats, typically capable of carrying a smaller payload. They’re also lighter themselves, with some designs weighing under 200lbs. That means that you can tow them around with a smaller vehicle.
A double axel trailer on the other hand can carry much bigger boats. These are also the kinds of trailers that can come with a suspension system since they’re designed to carry heavier loads. It also goes without saying then that double axel trailers tend to weigh more than their single axel counterparts.
Most often, you can’t tow a double axel with a passenger car. So if you’re getting one of these bad boys, you best have an SUV or a pickup at your disposal. Another thing to remember is that double axel trailers might need to go through annual inspections depending on the regulations in your state. That also means they’re more expensive to maintain down the line.
The wheels on your trailer will have a lot to do with the kind of experience you have with it on the road. Solid wheels or flat-free wheels are essentially rubber wheels that are solid through and through. That means they don’t and can’t ever be flat because they’re not filled with air in the first place. They’re exceptionally durable, but because they can’t cushion your ride, they’re better reserved for lightweight boats.
If you’ve got a heavy boat, then you can try a trailer with pneumatic or air-filled wheels. While they might be punctured and lose their air if you’re driving over rocky terrain, they offer much better support for heavier boats since they cushion and bounce over uneven roads.
Electric vs Hydraulic Braking Systems
Before anything else, it’s important to keep in mind that the necessity for a braking system will be determined by the laws in your state. Some states won’t require braking systems for trailers that don’t reach a specific weight limit. So make sure you check with your local guidelines to find out whether you need a braking system all together.
In case you do need one, you can choose between two options: the electric or the hydraulic. The benefit of the electric system is that they’re easier to operate, they can break before your vehicle does, and they’re cheaper to acquire.
The drawback of having an electric braking system though is that they can be susceptible to damage, especially in saltwater conditions. So they may be a chore to maintain, and may cost more to keep operational especially if you enjoy the beach more than the lake.
The hydraulic braking system tends to be more expensive than electric. However they do offer better braking power. So if you’ve got a large jon boat that’s heavy, the hydraulic system makes it possible to tow your vessel safely.
With a hydraulic system though, your ultimate problem would be the difficulty of getting the hang of operating one. Not to mention the steep acquisition cost that makes them inaccessible to boat owners who might be working with a tight budget.
The type of material used for the trailer frame will have a lot to do with its weight and its cost. Presently, you’ll find three different types of materials used for the construction of trailers for jon boats. These include painted steel, galvanized steel, and aluminum.
This is a low cost choice that can last pretty long with the right care. As it ages though, the paint will chip, and corrosion will take place in nooks and crannies where the protective layer of paint has been removed by wear and tear. For that reason, painted steel trailers are best for lightweight boats and freshwater environments.
This is what you should get if you’re looking for something to haul a heavy jon boat. The galvanized coating is made of zinc, providing the frame a better chance at fighting off corrosion. That doesn’t mean though that they’re not going to rust over time. But with proper care and handling, a trailer made from galvanized steel should be able to survive harsh freshwater and saltwater conditions.
There’s a reason why some boats’ hulls are made from this material. Aluminum is widely known for its ability to withstand corrosion. The durable material is lightweight yet lasting, able to survive decades of use with minimal signs of wear and damage.
Aluminum boat trailers are ideal for lightweight boats since they’re pretty light as well. On the upside, that means that you can tow them around with something as basic as a passenger car since they won’t weigh a lot even with your jon boat strapped on. Trailers made from aluminum are also ideal for both saltwater and freshwater conditions thanks to its ability to withstand corrosion.
Do note however that the hardware on your jon boat trailer will always be steel. The reason for this is because aluminum can’t be used for applications where it’s going to be regularly subject to pressure and tension since it’s a pretty malleable metal.
It’s standard these days for boat trailers to come out of the box with a set of lights, and that can be especially enticing if you’re looking to buy something that doesn’t require any added accessory purchases. But not all lighting systems are going to work in your favor.
The first thing you should look for to make sure you’re getting quality lights is DOT approval. This basically means that the Department of Transportation has approved the lights for use on public roadways. This makes sure that the lights perform their purpose without putting other people on the road in harm’s way.
Another thing you should consider is whether or not the lights you’re getting are submersible. When launching a boat, it’s possible that you might have to back your trailer up into the water. If the lights that come with the package aren’t submersible, they could short circuit and break when they come into contact with water.
Bunkers vs Rollers
In essence, bunkers are boat trailers with a flat bed bunk for your boat to rest on. Some of them use a sort of soft carpeted material so as to protect the underside of your hull. Rollers on the other hand have rollers on the bed, letting you slide your boat on and off for a less taxing launch and retrieval.
Choosing between bunkers or rollers depends mostly on where you usually launch your boat. For the most part, bunkers should work just find if the local waterways you enjoy visiting have well-maintained ramps that descend into substantial water depth.
But if you usually visit lakes or beaches that have shallow water surrounding the launch ramp, then rollers might be one of the best jon boat upgrades you can get. This prevents you from having to back your trailer and your vehicle to far into the water. All you need to do is back up and roll your boat off the rest of the distance so it can launch into deep enough water.
You probably didn’t think you even needed a winch for a boat that weighs just a couple hundred pounds. But even a jon boat that weighs no more than 100lbs can become a major chore to load on to a trailer without a winch.
The upside though is that you will rarely ever need an electric winch for a jon boat, unless you’re uniquely abled, elderly, or otherwise just looking for an easy way out. Just make sure that when you’re choosing a manual winch, you select a model with a capacity that’s slightly higher than the weight of your boat and any gear it might have attached to it. This just makes sure you’ll never have to worry about your winch being underpowered for the task.
If you’re lucky, your trailer might also come with the necessary tethers for the winch. As a general rule, heavier boats are best pulled on the trailer’s bed with cables. These are ultra durable but they can be expensive and difficult to replace. If you’ve got a lightweight boat, ropes are cheap but are also prone to wear and tear.
To get the best of both worlds, you can purchase web-strapping that’s both cost effective and durable. However it’s not too common to find boat trailers that offer web-strapping with their products out of the box.
The purpose of the jackstand is to let you lift and hook the trailer to the hitch when it’s fully loaded. Most boat owners prefer jackstands that have a wheel at the base instead of just a stationary plate. This just makes it easier to make minor adjustments while you position your trailer for hitching.
For the most part, manufacturers sell jackstands separately. But more expensive boat trailer models can come with their own out of the box. On the upside, these are pretty inexpensive and they’re easy to replace so you won’t have to worry too much about finding and fitting a replacement.
The tongue of your jon boat trailer will rely heavily on the size of your trailer. But if there’s any feature that you should be on the lookout for, it’s whether or not the tongue can swing out of the way. The swing feature basically lets you store the trailer in a smaller, shorter space when it isn’t in use.
You also have the option to change the tongue all together. Most boat owners prefer the coupler ball because it’s easy to install. You can also get one in a variety of sizes so you can match whatever heavy duty trailer hitch you might already have installed on your vehicle. This can be particularly helpful if you’ve purchased a smaller boat trailer with a small coupler ball hitch.
A Trailer for Every Season
Sure, jon boat trailers might be a lot smaller than many others on the market. But they’re an investment nonetheless. With the best jon boat trailer and mods, you can be sure to protect your vessel on the road and streamline the whole process of transporting your boat. So make sure you look into the specifics are really consider your options before you shell out your hard-earned cash for that brand new trailer.