The Right Trailer

Choosing the right trailer will make your boating more enjoyable. Consider the following factors when choosing a boat trailer.

The Right Style

Trailers are described as being “bunk” trailers or “roller” trailers. What is the best for you will depend on your boat and your projected use.


For example: it is generally accepted that a riveted aluminum boat is best supported on a bunk trailer, so as to avoid “point” loading on their thin hulls. Well constructed, deep-V, fibreglass and welded aluminum boats are happy on either bunk or roller trailers. Hybrid trailers are also available with a combination of both bunks and rollers for maximum ease of use.


Your launch conditions and frequency of use will also affect your choice. For instance, if your local launch ramp is shallow, you may find it difficult to launch and retrieve your boat, on a bunk style trailer, since the bunks pretty much need to be covered with water in order to launch or retrieve. With a roller trailer, if you can get your bow to the back of the trailer, you can generally load.

The Right Match

Another key to happy trailering is the proper matching of trailer to boat. What does your boat weigh? How much more weight will be added by fuel, water and personal items? These have to be taken into consideration when choosing the trailer. For example, too light a trailer for the load could result in dangerous overloading of components such as frame and tires.


The first thing to consult is your vehicle owner’s manual for details on towing with your specific vehicle and hitch setup. The second is your local laws in regards to towing trailers.


Every jurisdiction, whether state or province, has its own laws pertaining to trailer brake requirements. In British Columbia for instance, the following general laws pertain:


  1. We are allowed to tow up to 1/2 the net weight of the tow vehicle before brakes are required. So if the weight on your vehicle registration says 1791 kg (3940 lbs). Then your towed weight cannot exceed 895 kg (1970 lbs) without brakes.
  2. Once the total weight exceeds 1364 kg (3000 lbs) then brakes are required on the trailer no matter what the tow vehicle. Obviously not all same length boats will weigh the same , so trailer capacities go up roughly in step with boat length.
  3. Once the total towed weight exceeds 2800kg (6160 lbs) then “operator controlled” brakes are required. This eliminates “surge” brakes from the equation, since they do not comply with the wording. Brake options are described in another section. Remember, these are the regulations as they apply in British Columbia. Check your local regulations.

Weight Distribution

Proper hitch weight is essential for safe trailering. 8-12% of the total loaded weight should be on the hitch.


Too light of weight will likely result in “fish-tailing”. (swaying from side to side). Too much weight could exceed the trailer hitch manufacturer’s specifications and affect the handling of the tow vehicle.


If after weighing only a small amount of adjustment is needed, then it may be possible to shift some weight around in the boat. If this is not adequate, then the axle or axles can be moved backwards or forwards as required.