How to choose the best boat trailer

Boat Trailer in water

Get the best trailer under your boat

The weather is going to start improving soon and that means getting out on the water again. But is your boat trailer up to another boating season? Maybe it’s time to upgrade?

Towing and trailer maintenance expert, Jaclyn Bold, sent us in these tips on choosing a boat trailer that you might want to read before handing over your cash…

Know Your Boats Weight – Fully Loaded

Your trailer must have the right GVM to carry your fully loaded boat.

This includes not only the weight of the boat but also the motor, full tank of fuel, water, food and toys e.g. fishing gear / water skis etc.

The GVM of your trailer must be more than the total weight of the trailer and a fully loaded boat combined.

Ideally you want to have 10%-20% ‘spare’ weight on your GVM so that you are covered if you want to add anything else to your boat in the future.

Steel Choices

You need to make sure you are comparing apples with apples.

Australian made trailers manufactured from Australian steel generally have a steel wall of 3mm – 4mm in thickness.

Many imported trailers only have a steel wall of 2mm. What does this really mean? It’s the difference between a trailer lasting 4-5 years or 8-12 years (depending on care and maintenance).

The thicker the steel the longer it will take for rust to eat through the metal.

Besides steel thickness; galvanising and steel quality are important factors.

Australian galvanising processes provide better rust protection than Chinese galvanising.

Also, if you require structural repairs to an imported trailer in the future it is not always possible to weld Chinese steel effectively.

Hate rust? Choosing a trailer made from ‘C’ Channel allows you to wash down all parts of the trailer frame which can prolong its lifespan.

Trying to keep the weight lower for your big boat? Alloy trailers provide a strong frame with reduced weight which can help you keep your boat and trailer within a GVM limit.

Painted Frames – Many Australian made painted frames have the paint applied over the top of the galvanising – giving you the sleek image of a painted trailer with the durability of a galvanised trailer.

While the painted frames are beautiful and available in almost any colour – They are not suitable to use when driving on unsealed roads as the paint may chip on occasion (just like a car).


13” or 14” tyres are the easiest and most cost-effective sizes to get hold of if you happen to get a flat tyre.

Tyres over 13” are also suitable for highway driving speeds.

Boat trailers should have light truck tyres fitted which provide better grip and driving stability.

Skids or Rollers?

Boats with Alloy hulls are generally put on skids to avoid the hull becoming indented by rollers.

Boats with fibreglass hulls are generally put on trailers with rollers to assist with the launching and retrieving of the heavier boats.


Australian legal braking requirements for boat trailers:

  • GVM less than 749kg – no brakes required
  • GVM 750kg – 1999kg – mechanical or hydraulic override brakes required
  • GVM 2000kg and over – breakaway brakes required i.e. hydraulic/electric

Ready Made or Custom Made?

Standard Range trailers are trailers that can be adjusted to fit many different boat brands and hull shapes whist a custom-made trailer is made specifically to suit the measurements of your boat – leaving nothing to chance.

Dunbier make a range of readymade boat trailers that can be adjusted to suit a range of boat hulls.

Easytow Trailers custom make each trailer to the measurements of each individual hull for a perfect fit.

Mackay Trailers make both readymade and custom trailers to suit various boat hulls.

Boat Fit Up

No matter your trailer choice you need to have your boat ‘fitted’ to the trailer. This is where the trailer is adjusted to cradle your boat making it easy to use.

This is also essential to successfully drive on and drive off your trailer.

The cost to fit up a boat to a readymade trailer can be more expensive than the cost to fit up a boat to a custom-made trailer.


There are many boat trailer accessories that can make using your boat trailer easier and hassle free.

Consider accessories such as walkways, stronger winches and jockey wheels, guide posts and launch and retrieval systems as an investment in hassle free and enjoyable time at the boat ramp.


Make sure you ask your trailer supplier about the origin and quality of the parts on the boat trailer.

Japanese bearings are far superior to Chinese bearings and the cost is worth it.

Some manufactures offer stainless steel parts and heavy-duty parts as standard and/or optional extras on their trailers.

Some manufactures have their own factories and a high level of quality control. Some suppliers do not.

Often the difference in price between trailers can come down to the quality of parts used.

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