Marina boat parking can get pretty tight. And when those rushing waves and strong winds start tossing around your boat and the others around it, havoc will almost definitely ensue. For as much as you might want to, there’s really no way you can control the elements. But fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent the damages they can cause.
Pontoon fenders and bumpers are simple yet intuitive accessories that can save your boat and the others around from certain damage. Designed to eliminate the risk of scuffs, dents, and scratches, the best pontoon fenders and bumpers cushion each push and bump to protect your pontoon and its neighbors.
THE 4 BEST PONTOON bumpers AND fenders
Made from premium marine-grade, UV-resistant vinyl, these pontoon boat fenders from Taylor Made tout intuitive molding to make mounting much easier. The fenders themselves come with molded in-ridge hooks hug against the underside of your deck to ensure a secure mount.
The fenders also showcase a number of optional securing points that work to provide you key points for rope attachment. This allows the fenders to fit all sorts of boat models and designs. Around the back, the fender boasts rounded edges that make sure they lay flat against your pontoon for maximum protection.
Coming in a set of four, the Extreme Max BoatTector Fender comes equipped with a needle valve for easy air adjustment. The set also comes complete with four lines, giving you everything you need to set up your fenders and keep them in place without any added accessories.
Made from UV-stabilized, chemically resistant material, these long lasting fenders come with a two-year limited warranty to give you that added bit of confidence. They’re also available in a wide assortment of colors to match your pontoon and make it easier to spot your boat in various situations.
This unique pick from Hull Hugr features a design that’s exactly as its name implies. Kind of like padding for your pontoon, this fender touts two padded sections that rest against your pontoon to provide secure cushioning and protection. What sets them apart is the fact that they don’t roll up and they stay in place no matter how strong the currents might get.
Constructed from marine-grade tri-laminate, these fenders use closed-cell foam that offer rugged protection that doesn’t thin out over time. And because of their unique design, these fenders easily stow away under your seats or in storage when you don’t need them.
These cost-effective fenders were designed for strength and durability, featuring ribs that reinforce the structure and keep the fenders’ shape even after a heavy battering. They also come with reinforced ropeholds that boast excellent resilience, so you can be sure they’ll stay secure even after years of use.
Available in a range of muted and vibrant colors, these fenders come pre-inflated for easy mounting. And since they also have a Polyform inflation valve, you can easily adapt their firmness to match your specific needs and preferences.
Different Types of Fenders and Bumpers
Fenders and bumpers aren’t a one-size-fits-all. And that’s mainly because boats come in a variety of different designs and styles. So to make sure every boat owner has a viable option, fender manufacturers have come up with an equally diverse range of fenders and bumpers to choose from, including:
As the name implies, side fenders hang from the railing of your pontoon and protect your boat from all sides. Some designs, like the previously mentioned Taylor Made Pontoon Boat Fender, showcase molded silhouettes that snugly fit underneath your deck.
Typically longer than an average side fender, the fence-saver fenders can hook over your fence railings to provide added support and protection that extends upwards of your toons.
Also called ‘corner bumpers’, these fit over the corners of your deck and protect them from damage typically caused by hitting into the dock. They’re mounted in place with screws and use heavy-duty rubber or PVC for lasting performance.
With eyelets on either end, these fenders secure to your boat by way of lines. They hold air to give a little bounce and cushioning if and when your boat is pushed into its neighbor. Some cylindrical fenders have a hole straight through its center so you can string them on a line and place several together for bigger applications.
Sometimes called ‘round cylinders’, these fenders attach to a single line and just dangle from your boat’s sides. They’re ideal for much smaller vessels.
These large fenders grip against your transom and make a great choice if you’re parking somewhere especially crowded. Various designs are available to fit different areas of the boat, like the stern and bow.
Called such because of their flat design, these padded fenders don’t roll around the sides of your boat and provide much better stability. Some designs feature a segmented structure that lets them fit more snugly around your boat’s contours.
Dock Edge Fenders
Designed specifically to protect your boat against docks, these mount against your dock and prevent damage when your boat pushes into it. They’re made from durable, waterproof material and work to give your boat a cushioned nudge in case it’s pushed too hard into the dock. So instead of having front bumpers and side fenders on your boat, these are mounted directly onto the dock.
Corner Dock Wheels
Like dock fenders, these attach to your dock and make a great choice if you’re not too skilled at parking into a slip just yet. The design works just like a wheel, rolling against your pontoon to help you adjust your alignment and move into the slip without hitting your boat into the dock.
Which Fenders are Best for Pontoons?
To some extent, you might be able to use all of these different fenders and bumpers for your boat, but there are some that are much better at providing a pontoon protection than others.
In general, side fenders, transom fenders, corner fenders, and fence-savers are most ideal for pontoons especially since they’re specifically designed for pontoon boat use. These specific fenders showcase the right shape and countours to fit over the edges of your pontoon.
If there aren’t too many options at your local boating goods store, then cylindrical fenders and flat fenders might also do the job. Just make sure you choose the right size, since these designs tend to come in graduated sizes to fit different kinds of boats.
As much as possible, you’re going to want to steer clear of round fenders since they’re much too small to protect a pontoon. And because they only have one eyelet to pass a line through, they can be particularly hazardous since they’re not quite as secure in harsh waters.
Fender Accessories for Pontoons
Although some pontoon boat fenders might come with a modest set of accessories for a safe mount, they won’t always give you the whole nine yards. So to make sure your pontoon boat fenders fit just right and provide maximum protection, you might want to consider buying a few extra accessories like:
Rail Hangers and Adjusters
While you might be able to tether a fender straight to your railing, there’s no reason to take risks with unstable knots and moving lines. Rail hangers and adjusters provide a designated place for your fender line, keeping it in place even as your boat ebbs to and fro. They also make it especially easy to adjust the length of the line so you can move your fenders up or down depending on your needs. Check out this one from Taylor Made.
Your pontoon fenders won’t always have to be deployed. For instance, if and when you take your boat out of the water, it might be a hazard to tow it along with fenders fluttering in the open air. Unfortunately however, some fender designs are harder to store than others, which is why you might want to consider buying a set of racks like these.
Designed to hold your fenders when not in use, racks can mount to your rails to provide a designated storage area for your fenders. If you’re not keen on getting racks, you might be interested in flat fenders that store much more easily than other types.
Remember that every part of your boat -- whether built-in or a mere accessory -- should be kept clean and free from contamination. Mold and mildew can easily creep around and cling to various areas of your boat, so it’s important to eliminate them whenever and wherever they appear.
Routine fender cleaning should be part of your maintenance efforts if you want to keep your boat in tip top shape. A mold and mildew cleaner should help keep the contamination at bay and prevent it from spreading to other parts of your boat. We recommend Star Brite Mold & Mildew stain remover.
Your pontoon fenders protect your boat, but what protects your fenders? Exactly. While it’s all good and well to have a boat that’s free from scratches, scuffs, and dents, a beat up fender can take away from your boat’s look just as well.
Most of the time, companies that manufacture the fenders also sell the covers to go with them. If you’re not interested in shelling out extra cash for a cover however (despite them being pretty cheap), then you should at least cop a fender in a darker, neutral color to minimize the appearance of damage. Check out this Taylor Made fender cover for a great example.
What to Consider When Buying Pontoon Fenders
Still not quite sure which pontoon fenders to choose? The sheer number of options can make it tough to reach a sound decision. Nonetheless, there are a few major considerations you can look into to make sure you’re buying the right fender for your boat.
There are specific guidelines when it comes to choosing a fender based on the size of your boat. As you might expect, the bigger your boat, the bigger and longer your fenders have to be. This just helps ensure that the fender is tough enough to handle the brunt of your boat’s large mass and heavy weight pressing into it and against another boat or the dock.
Fortunately, manufacturers provide sufficient information on proper fender sizing depending on the length of your boat. For instance, the Polyform G-Series Boat Fenders are sold in varying sizes, with the G4 size being ideal for pontoons 22ft to 30ft in length.
Where do you usually dock your boat? This should give you a better idea of the kind of fender ideal for your specific parking conditions. Cylinders and side fenders are often the ideal choice for boat owners who often find themselves docking at the marina.
But if you like tighter situations like party island and you feel like there won’t be enough room to accommodate the bulky girth of a side fender, then a flat fender might be a better choice.
Your pontoon boat fenders don’t always need to be in place. That’s why it’s important that you consider how to properly store them. If you’ve got spacious underseat compartments, then you should be able to fit a flat fender without a fuss. Then again, bulkier choices like side and cylinder fenders might need their own rack entirely.
Make and Material
Constant exposure to sun and moisture can cause damage to your fenders over time. On the upside, most of them are made with UV-resistant material that can last for years under the sweltering heat of sun exposure. But that doesn’t mean you have to keep them constantly under the glare.
Covers should help extend the life of your pontoon fenders by deflecting some of that heat damage. Constant cleaning should also lengthen their life generously. Just remember though that some pontoon fenders with lots of nooks and crannies might be harder to clean.
Defend Your Boat with a Bunch of Fenders
Scuffing, scratches, and dents? No thanks. A humble fender should provide ample protection from these common cosmetic damages. But for as simple as they might be, there’s a lot to consider when making that purchase.
From different styles, to sizes, and even maintenance and storage concerns, choosing the best pontoon fenders might require that you toss on your thinking cap. So before you make that choice, consider these tips and information to make sure you’re getting a fender that can truly keep your boat in top shape.