Sometimes the most important things come in small packages or are least expensive. One of those things is pontoon bumpers.
Pontoon bumpers protect your boat from damage. They absorb the shock of bumping into docks or other vessels. Having pontoon bumpers adds extra insurance and security to our boat.
But, bumpers can be overlooked in terms of the correct shape and size that our type of craft requires.
You should never overlook buying the best pontoon bumper.
Chances are, you paid thousands of dollars for your boat. No matter how good a boater you are, others may not be, and avoiding accidents may not depend on your skills.
Types of Pontoon Bumpers
What kind of pontoon fender do you need? If you don’t know the answer, familiarize yourself with all the available options.
Below we are going to break down all the fender options you could use on your boat.
Standard Boat Fenders – Not Made for Pontoon Boats
C-shaped fenders fit most swim platforms (up to 4 inches thick) or sailboat transom corners. C-shaped fender design protects the transom of the boat and is not made to fit onto rails.
- Uniquely shaped to fit the stern of a sailboat or the edge of most swim platforms up to 4” thick
- An integral 3/4” diameter tube allows a securing line to pass from end to end while a contoured shape helps ‘grip’ the fendering location
- Made from soft, flexible vinyl
3/4″ diameter tube allows a securing line to pass through the side to side. Its contoured shape helps grip the fendering location. It is made from soft, flexible vinyl. The rubber football inflation valve adjusts the level of firmness.
A common complaint that I hear is that they are weird shaped, are too large, or can be a challenge to store.
Another criticism is that C-shaped fenders are not durable and, in some cases, break within weeks’ use. Not something you should expect from the bumper that is supposed to protect your boat.
Rectangular and designed so they don’t roll around the side of the boat. They are modular, so you can buy several to fasten together and make an even larger fender.
- Generous 16 x 16 x 2 inch size - tie multiple ones together for extra coverage
- Square flat shape won't roll away
- Easy to store and takes up less space than traditional round bumpers
Because of their flat shape, they are easy to store or use for other purposes, like extra guest seating. They are great for sailboats and runabouts or rafting two boats together.
Flat Fenders are about 3″ thick. They will not puncture or absorb water, and their flat shape prevents them from rolling or riding up.
These bumpers are very cheap and look apart, and are not as robust as other fenders. If you are concerned with the price rather than esthetics, this is your best bet.
There are 3 types of cylindric fenders:
- Cylindrical double-eye – Fender generally made for smaller boats. Its design allows the bumper to hang horizontally by two lines. Most are molded with ribbed reinforcement. This provides extra stability and keeps the fender in a preferred position.
- Cylindrical center hole – Versatile fender that allows end-to-end line passage. You can use them horizontally and vertically. Like flat fenders, bumpers can be stacked together for a more prolonged application.
- Hybrid cylindrical round – these are similar to the double-eye fender. But they do not have ribbed reinforcement. I would say they are a softer version of the before-mentioned fender.
You are most likely familiar with the look of these fenders. Large boats, powerboats, and commercial fishing vessels use rounded cylinder fenders. They are usually bright orange and easy to spot in the water. They support one-line attachments and are made of plastic vinyl with a hollow interior.
Bumpers Made for Pontoon Boats
They are made of a durable material designed to fit between the pontoon boat and the dock. They are made from marine grade and UV resistant vinyl.
- Molded in ridge hooks underneath pontoon deck to help secure fender in place
- Optional securing points to accommodate most styles of pontoon boats
- Contoured shape helps to hug the rounded shape of the pontoons
Taylor Made Pontoon Fenders are the perfect choice for your pontoon boat. An attachment strap and rubber football needle valve are there for easy re-inflation.
The strap and the pontoon fender’s design allow for a very tight fit that will stay in place no matter what.
One complaint that I hear is that if your pontoon boat is full of friends, the fender might ride in the water. When it does, it can splash water around, causing your deck to get wet. So if you decide to get one of these, make sure you pick the right boating shoes.
Fence Fender Saver
As the name says, these pontoon fenders protect your delicate aluminum fencing. They are very snuggly and fit almost perfectly to your pontoon railing. Attachment straps that come with them offer extra security.
Taylor Made Pontoon Boat Fence Fender Saver (9″ x 36″) is the perfect solution if you plan to go with this option. But you really can’t go wrong with either pontoon boat-specific fender listed so far.
- Marine-grade material
- UV resistant
- 9 “ wide x 36” long
Pontoons already come with these fenders. But it doesn’t hurt to have extra protection or replace them down the line if they get old and fall off.
There are two different types of corner pontoon fenders:
- Square corner pontoon fenders
- Round corner pontoon fenders
So if you are buying one for your pontoon boat, make sure you pick the right one.
Universal bumpers are a bit different and can be used by any vessel.
They are not attached to the boat but are instead attached to the dock or boathouse. If you are lucky enough to own your dock, universal fenders are a no-brainer, a simple must-have accessory.
Dock Edge Boat Saver Bumper
These bumpers are mounted either horizontally or vertically on docks, pilings, or boathouses. What is good about these bumpers is that you can set them and forget them. They will always be there to protect your boat when you are docking.
- Resists damage from mildew and saltwater
- 100% virgin vinyl with a high-gloss finish
- UV inhibitors and fungicides
Dock Edge + Inc. ProDock Commercial Grade Heavy Slant P Dock Bumper is perfect for adding to your dock. It is durable, thanks to being reinforced by two internal supports.
The marine-grade flexible PVC does not chip or crack under normal usage. UV inhibitors and fungicides prevent yellowing, fading, and deterioration from sunlight.
Corner Dock Wheels Bumper
These are great if you still learn how to dock a boat or come in a little too fast. They roll you off and push you away from the dock. It’s a great way to protect your boat from direct impact and possible damage.
- Brand new Inflatable Corner Mount Dock Wheel boat fender.
- Rolls with impact to fend off boat;Wheel Material: Use soft vinyl.
- Extra heavy galvanized Bracket with predrilled holes
These dock wheels are designed to be mounted on the corner of your dock. They can be adjusted for the level of firmness.
Corner dock wheels are great if you are lucky enough to own your dock.
If you are looking for a recommendation, KUFA Sports 12″ Boat dock wheel & Cornnor Mount Bracket are a safe bet.
The installation should take you only a few minutes. Pre-drilled holes on a heavy galvanized bracket that comes with it make that easy.
Pontoon Fender Size Matters
Choosing the wrong size fender can “break or break” your pontoon boat. There is a good chance that picking the wrong size and shape will end up with the damage to your pontoon boat.
The good thing is that it is not very hard to figure out what you need. In short, For every five feet of the length of your pontoon boat, you need about an inch of fender diameter.
Size Matters: 5 feet of length per 1 inch in diameter
In other words, a 25-foot-long boat should have at least 5-inch fenders. You could go a little thicker, but there is no need to go overboard on that.
Number of Pontoon Fenders Needed
You will need one fender per every 10 feet of waterline. So if we follow the same example of a 25-foot boat, you should have two bumpers on each side, and one each in the front and back.
Numbers Game: 1 pontoon fender per 10 feet of waterline
Boat Fender Accessories
Rail Hangers and Adjusters
If you are looking to quickly deploy a fender, rail hangers are the way to go. They are very easy to work with and repositioning them around the railing is a breeze.
- The original pontoon rail fender clip
- Designed to fit both 1.25" and 1” square tube rails on pontoon boats
- Clamps securely to square tubing yet can be repositioned quickly and easily
Some people like to keep their boats clean, and fenders are a part of the boat. So if you are one of those people, you can get a few fender covers to keep the fenders clean when you are not using your boat. This especially applies to when you winterize your pontoon.
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What good is a fender cover if you do not have a rack to put them in. Windline FND-2 Double Fender Holder seems like a solid investment for or 7″ – 9″ Fenders. SeaLux Marine Solid Stainless Steel Double Fender Holder offers racks for longer fenders, 9″-11″ in diameter.
- Double basket fender holder FND-2: for fenders 7" to 9" diameter
- Fold down quickly and effectively
- Constructed of solid stainless steel rods
Hand-Operated Fender Pumps
From time to time, you will have to inflate your fenders, so the fender pump comes in handy.
As I said at the beginning, pontoon bumpers are one of the essential accessories you can have on your boat. They are there to protect your expensive investment.
No matter how careful you are when docking your boat, other people might not be. One small mistake can cost you thousands of dollars.
What should convince you to buy a few pontoon bumpers is the fact that they are cheap and effortless to install. Anyone can do it in a few minutes or less. So you have no excuse for why you should not get a few.