A boat trailer is a major purchase. Intended to keep your boat safe during storage and transport, a boat trailer is essentially going to serve the purpose of your boat’s home on the road and its bed in your garage. But before you decide on a trailer, there are a few considerations to make.
The most important would have to be the right weight. Boat trailer weights vary widely depending on its size. But there’s a lot that rides on your trailer’s weight, so it’s really not a matter of preference. Here’s what you need to know to get the right trailer size and weight.
Average Boat Trailer Weights Based on Size
Before anything else, it’s worth mentioning that the weights listed below aren’t set in stone. Different manufacturers, models, and materials will affect the final weight of the trailer, so you’re still going to have to check the manual to find out how much the entire thing weighs.
But just to give you an idea of the weights you can expect, you can refer to this estimation chart of how much does a boat trailer weigh:
Average Empty Weight
Boat Trailer Weight Capacity
# of Axles
12 to 14 feet
15 to 19 feet
20 to 22 feet
Single or Tandem
24 to 26 feet
Up to 8,000 lbs
Tandem or Triple
27 feet and over
Up to 2,000 lbs
Over 9,000 lbs
Tandem or Triple
Remember that these are some very rough estimates. Weights can change drastically depending on what specific trailer you’re getting, and that also means that you should expect different capacities between models. Two different 22-foot trailers probably won’t offer the same payload.
The Most Popular Trailer Models and What They Can Tow
To give you a better idea of what you can expect, it might help to look at a few popular boat trailers to see what they can carry. These are five of the most prominent boat trailers on the market, all of which come in different sizes:
McClain 14’ to 17’ Single Axle Aluminum Jon Boat Trailer
Lightweight and simple, this jon boat trailer from McClain is made from aluminum giving it superior strength despite its low empty weight. The trailer clocks in at a measly 160lbs, but carries up to 640lbs of cargo.
Since it’s pretty small, it doesn’t need a set of brakes. But then again, the manufacturer does toss in a set of safety chains and DOT approved lights. And despite being pretty small, it comes pre-assembled unlike other small trailers that usually require assembly.
Stable with its single axle design, the McClain also comes with a winch stand and a 20’ strap to make it easier for you to load your boat on the bunks. The whole thing comes with a 1 year warranty to protect your purchase from defects.
Venture Galvanized Single Axle Pontoon Trailer
The Venture VP-18-20 accommodates boats between 16’ to 18’, and itself measures 23’3”. With a load capacity of 2,000 lbs, this pontoon trailer might require a set of brakes that you can purchase separately from the manufacturer or from any after-sales boat trailer brand.
Durable and stable, the design is made from galvanized steel which adds to its overall empty weight. Nonetheless, the material guarantees a long service life that should let you enjoy the trailer for close to a decade (or more) with proper care.
The specific design comes in several other sizes, accommodating boats up to 25’. Nevertheless, all of the sizes feature a single axle structure that’s fairly stable despite its significant weight capacity.
EZ-Loader Tandem Axle V-Hull
Designed for boats with a deep V-shaped hull, the EZ-Loader Tandem Axle V-Hull trailer features either a bunk or a roller assembly that makes it ideal for boat owners who might usually launch in shallow water. The design comes in sizes that accommodate boats between 17’ to 30’.
For boat owners who might want a little extra stability on the road, the EZ Loader features a tandem axle construction that makes it especially comfortable to tow even with significant weight loaded on the bunks.
And speaking of payload, this trailer from EZ-Loader touts a maximum weight capacity of up to 8,500lbs for their longest trailer. So to support that significant weight, the trailer touts a spring or torsion suspension that cushions the weight of your boat and trailer for better support on bumpy terrain.
Loadrite 5 STARR Galvanized Tandem Axle Bunk
This tandem roller features an ultra durable galvanized steel frame that makes it especially capable of sustaining significant weight. The longest option, measuring it at 30’, can carry boats up to 8,000 lbs. The all galvanized steel construction comes with its own suspension system to protect the payload from damage when traversing uneven roads.
Complete with a roller bed, the Loadrite 5 STARR trailer lets you easily launch your large boat into shallow water without the danger of damaging or scuffing the underside of your hull. Other than that, it comes with a set of LED lights, a tongue jack, and Bias-Ply tires.
Since it’s going to be a pretty big purchase, this trailer touts a 2+3 year warranty coverage from the manufacturer. It’s also automatically enrolled in the LoadStar Tire Roadside Assistance Program so you can get prompt support whenever you might need it.
ALS Triple Axle Aluminum Trailer
Since they’re made from aluminum, the ALS Triple Axle Aluminum Trailer is relatively lightweight compared to its tri-axle peers. Nonetheless, the largest option - measuring a whopping 42’ - can sustain boats up to 38’ in length and 17,000lbs in weight.
Nonetheless, it’s lightweight aluminum construction means that the trailer itself probably won’t weigh your vehicle down too much. That means you can tow the trailer and boat together without having to worry about overworking your SUV.
Complete with carpeted bunks, galvanized axles and wheels, a heavy duty winch and strap, and submsersible LED lights, this monster of a boat trailer gives you everything you need in one package.
How to Choose a Boat Trailer
Needless to say, choosing a boat trailer requires quite a bit of due diligence. There’s a lot to consider other than the weight of the boat itself. But with the right guidance, you should be able to zero in on the right pick.
Not quite sure what you should be looking for? Here are some of the most important considerations you should make when choosing a boat trailer:
Weight and Size Capacity
For obvious reasons. Always choose a boat trailer that’s designed to carry your boat’s length and weight. Ratings are always indicated by the manufacturer, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding one for your boat.
Towing too much weight could damage your vehicle. If you’re wondering how to weigh a boat trailer, you could always just check with the manufacturer. Or you could visit your local marina and ask to use their industrial scale.
As a general rule, galvanized steel will always be the strongest in terms of the ability to withstand mechanical damage. But if we’re talking corrosion, aluminum proves to have much better resistance.
Number of Axles
Single axle trailers are usually smaller and might not need a break system of its own. But then again, they can only carry a limited weight. Tandem and tri-axle boat trailers are significantly more capable, but they can be more difficult to tow.
Quality submersible LED lights, a jack tongue, winch and straps, and other necessities for easy operation should be on your list of necessities. Without these accessories included in the bundle, you’re looking at several hundred extra dollars of after-sales expenses.
Assembled or Kits
While assembled trailers are definitely more convenient in that you can use them the moment they arrive at your doorstep, there’s the issue of shipping fees. Kits tend to cost less to deliver since they arrive in a smaller box.
Bunk or Roller
This depends mainly on where you like to launch your boat from. If your local launch ramp descends into a shallow water, a set of rollers might be better so you can just push your boat off into the deeper water without having to back your car up too far over the ramp.
The Bottom Line
Boat trailer weights and weight capacities are different from model to model, which means you should be able to find a trailer that’s the perfect fit for your boat. But aside from the weight and weight capacity, there are tons of other considerations you should factor into your decision. Perform your fair share of due diligence to make sure you’re getting the right trailer for the money and so you can avoid that expensive and tedious process of returns.