The endless adventure and flexibility delivered by a trailerable boat are awesome. You can fish or cruise virtually any waters within driving distance, just as long as the weather and the bite are right. But boat trailers also come with a number of headaches ranging from burned-out lightbulbs (learn to change one here) to difficulties mastering your trailer-backing skills (here’s some helpful advice on that subject). There are a number of trailer upgrades, however, that you can do to make your boat-trailering life better.
Most of these are simple enough for DIY-savvy people to handle on their own, and all will make a substantial difference every time you use your boat.
- Add guides for easier loading – There are countless options for bolt-on guides you can add to the back of your trailer, which will help the boat self-center as you drive it on. These make it much easier to load up at the end of the day.
- Change incandescent lights to LEDs – Incandescent trailer bulbs burn out with frustrating regularity, and sometimes pop when a hot bulb abruptly meets cool water during the launching process. Upgrading to LEDs eliminates this issue. To get the best of two upgrades at once, opt for trailer guides that have built-in elevated lights. It takes a bit more effort and some wiring work to mount them, but by doing so, you’ll not only enjoy the self-centering benefit of the guides, but those lights will never get dunked again. Whether they’re LEDs or incandescent bulbs, this can drastically increase their service life.
- Put “bunk slicks” on the bunks – These plastic pads allow your boat to slide over the bunks more easily.
- Mount an elevated trailer step – If your rig is too large to easily step aboard while the boat is on the trailer, a bolt-on step (or ladder) will make land-based access hassle-free.
- Install retractable straps – You’re sick and tired of hunting around for those safety straps every time you get ready to hit the road, right? Having the retractable variety mounted on the back of the trailer will solve this problem permanently.
- Add a stowage box to the trailer tongue – Having a hard-mounted stowage box means you can keep tools and extra gear handy whenever you tow. It’s also convenient for stowing a spare trailer hub and roadside emergency kit.
- Trade in the hand winch for an electric winch – With small boats, cranking them on the trailer is usually easy. But for larger, heavier boats, being able to press a button to crank it up will turn a chore into a joy.
- Switch drum brakes to disc brakes – Drum brakes are cheaper than disc brakes, but the drums can collect water and are more subject to corrosion — especially when used in saltwater. Upgrade to disc brakes for extra peace of mind. Bonus upgrade: If you have hydraulic surge brakes, get electric brakes instead. Installing these systems should be left to a pro, but they give you the ability to control the trailer brakes from the driver’s seat of your vehicle as opposed to depending on the trailer’s own momentum. This can be particularly useful if you do a lot of towing in mountainous areas where the hydraulics don’t always kick in as soon as you’d like while going down an incline.
- Add a swing-away tongue – This upgrade will be best for boaters with limited storage space or a trailer a hair too long to park in their garage. The tongue folds back and reduces storage length by several feet.
- Upgrade to radial tires – Radials are more expensive than bias ply tires, but they run cooler, last longer and are less prone to developing flat spots than bias ply tires.
Owning a trailerable boat vastly increases your options and opens up worlds of opportunities. Make the trailer upgrades that are right for your uses and needs, and those opportunities will soon be even easier to enjoy.