The Best Boat Trailer Guides (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Get your boat perfectly aligned on your trailer every time with guides
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
BY Andra DelMonico / LAST UPDATED ON January 26, 2021
Launching and loading your boat might not be the most enjoyable aspects of owning a watercraft, but they’re essential activities. It can be tough, though, to perfectly guide your boat on and off its trailer, taking up a lot of time and effort each time you want to hit the water or head home. Why not enlist the help of a set of boat trailer guides?
Boat trailer guides, or guide-ons, attach to your trailer and help you easily, safely, and accurately load or unload your boat. They’re simple tools, but they can help you avoid accidents and damage to your boat. Available in many different styles and sizes, boat trailer guides offer you a lot of options. You can discover some of the best boat trailer guide options right here.
These 40-inch tall posts are made from durable PVC. The kit comes with all of the necessary mounting hardware.
- High visibility red caps
- Locknuts aren’t durable
- Instructions incorrect
Guide your boat smoothly with these two-foot boards that measure 2 x 4 x 24 inches. Adjust the board's width from 13 to 21 inches.
- Precision fabrication
- Marine carpet
- Zinc-plated, not galvanized
- Can bend
This heavy-duty roller guide system has a zinc-coated frame. The rollers measure 13 inches in length. It fits trailer frames that are up to five inches tall.
- Custom-formed 97-degree arms
- Includes all mounting hardware
- Not meant for use in brackish or saltwater
- Zinc-plated, not galvanized
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Boat Trailer Guides
- Prevent damage. You could easily cause damage to the hull of your boat if you run it into the roller bracket, frame, or fenders. Having guides keeps your boat in great condition.
- Safer hauling. You need to have your boat centered on the trailer. This keeps the weight balanced and makes it safer to drive down the road. A balanced boat remains stable when taking off, stopping, and going around turns.
- Faster loading. With trailer guides, you can quickly and easily load your boat onto the trailer. The guides direct the boat where it needs to go so that it’s centered without the need for adjustment.
Types of Boat Trailer Guides
This style of guide has adjustable metal brackets that clamp onto your boat trailer. Then there are PVC posts that stick upward vertically. The goal is for the posts to be visible above the water when you back your trailer down a ramp.
This makes it easy to have a vertical pinpoint of where the trailer is located in the water. These work best for smaller boats, as larger ones can be too heavy and cause the PVC posts to bend and snap. If you do use them with a larger boat, only do it manually instead of driving.
This style of guide similarly attaches to your trailer as the posts with an adjustable bracket. Instead of a PVC post, the rollers are nine to 12 inches in size. They’re made of non-marking rubber to protect your boat. This style of guide works well with larger boats because they’re sturdy and durable. You’ll want to buy the correct size that matches the size of your boat. Their downside is that they’re harder to see than the other post styles.
This style of guide uses the standard adjustable bracket that hooks and locks down onto your trailer frame. Typically they’re made from planks of wood that are wrapped in carpet. You’ll then adjust their height to accommodate your boat’s size and the depth of your hull. The longer the guides are, the more support brackets you’ll need to support the weight of your larger boat.
Boat enthusiasts know the SeaSense name for its innovative products and affordable prices. It’s dedicated to improving the boating experience of its customers. The SeaSense Polyvinyl Bow Roller will guide your boat smoothly onto your trailer.
With headquarters located in Lino Lakes, Minn., the Extreme Max products are distributed throughout the United States. Its products are popular for being durable for all of your extreme outdoor activities. If you need to replace your guides, the Extreme Max Single Post Horizontal Bunk is just what you need.
Based in Taiwan and China, the team at CE Smith is dedicated to challenging themselves to produce high-quality metal products. The goal is to give its customers the best value in trailer parts and accessories. For a sleek look to your trailer guides, consider the black CE Smith Trailer PVC Boxed Post.
Boat Trailer Guides Pricing
- Under $100: These guides are the simplest and smallest. They may or may not come with installation hardware. If you have a smaller boat, then you should be able to find a guide kit that's in this price range.
- $100 to $150: You’ll find kits of varying size and quality in this price range. They’ll be made of durable materials and will effectively protect your boat.
- $150 and up: Guides that are in this price range are the largest. They are made of the most durable and strongest materials. This makes them ideal for large boats.
Look for a trailer guide style that works with your needs. Consider the size and shape of your trailer, the size and weight of your boat, and the type of ramp you use. If you need visibility, posts are going to help. If you have a large boat you need help guiding, then rollers are a smart choice. Bunks help hold your boat in place and keep it aligned.
The materials that your guide is made out of should be both gentle on your boat and durable. PVC is gentle on your boat because it will break before your boat will. Rollers should be made out of a non-marking rubber that has UV resistant qualities. Bunks should be made from treated wood and be wrapped in a marine-grade carpet. Aluminum is the best metal because it’s lightweight and corrosion-resistant. Steel should be galvanized.
Look for a set of adjustable guides. This lets you get a secure fit to your trailer’s unique size and shape. Guides are built to have universal compatibility, so you’ll want to confirm that it will work on yours. Look for adjustability in both the height and width. This lets you accommodate your boat’s size and shape and the amount of visibility you’ll have.
- Durability. The material your trailer guides are made out of will determine how durable they are. Posts are typically made of PVC. They’re corrosion-resistant but also lack strength. This can be a good thing because you’d rather the pole break than your boat. Rollers are made of tough rubber, but they can grow brittle from extended UV exposure. Bunks typically use wood and carpet, but the wood can rot, and the carpet can fray.
- Price. Your budget will influence the style and quality of guides that you buy. A basic and low budget kit may not come with everything or be lower quality. A more expensive kit may work for a larger boat, have higher quality materials, and come with the necessary installation hardware. Determine the budget necessary to get the equipment that you need.
- Boat Compatibility. The guides that you buy need to be compatible with your trailer and boat. If they don’t work with one, then you’ll be disappointed with their performance. Measure your trailer and ensure you’ll be able to install the guides on your trailer. Measure your boat and ensure it will support the size and weight of your boat.
Best Boat Trailer Guides Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Check your guides before each season. Check that the brackets are secured to your trailer. Look for cracks in your PVC poles. Check for corrosion on metal parts. Rewrap carpet on wood boards if needed.
- Consider installing more than one type of guide on your trailer. This will make loading your boat easier in any location or water condition.
- Check that your boat is aligned correctly after installation. There should be no less than a two-inch gap between the keel and the tongue plate cover.
Q: Do boat trailer guides really work?
Yes, guides work to prevent damage to your boat and makes loading your boat at the ramp significantly easier.
Q: What are boat trailer guides for?
Using boat trailer guides makes taking your boat on and off of the trailer much easier. You’ll know exactly where the trailer is for better aim. Then during loading, the boat will remain aligned better. This reduces the risk of damage to your hull.
Q: How far do you need to back a boat trailer into the water?
For most boats, this means about two-thirds of the trailer is in the water. Don’t put the trailer too deep into the water, or you risk the boat’s bow floating left or right over the bunks and going crooked.
Q: Are boat trailers hard to use?
No, but it does take practice to maneuver it right. Start slow and practice on a day where the ramp isn’t busy, and you aren’t in a rush. Pressure only makes learning harder. With practice, you’ll find maneuvering your trailer to get easier, like second nature.
You can’t go wrong with the SeaSense Trailer Post Guide because it’s a decent height, corrosion-resistant, and comes with everything you need to install it. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, the CE Smith Guide-On Bunkboard has precise fabrication and marine-grade carpet.