Best boat fenders

Boating & Sailing

Clean your boat fenders with warm soapy water. On stubborn areas, use a multipurpose cream cleaner or mineral spirits. Avoid paint thinners unless specified by the maker. They can attack vinyl and other plastics.

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WHICH BOAT FENDERS ARE BEST?

Boat fenders offer invaluable defense against bumps from docks and other vessels. They help keep your hull free from chips and scratches that would spoil the appearance and be very expensive to repair.

But if you’ve never bought boat fenders before, even a quick look will show you that there are lots of different shapes and sizes. How do you know what’s right for your vessel?

To make sure you have all the information you need, we’ve recently updated our review. It gives you a quick but comprehensive guide to the things you need to look for, plus our short list of top boat fenders for your consideration.

Best boat fenders

1. Polyform G-4 Boat Fender: Great general-purpose model that arrives pre-inflated. Just add line, and sail away!

2. Extreme Max BoatTector Fender Pack: A pair of 22-inch fenders, with line included, providing excellent value for your money.

3. Taylor Made Super Gard Boat Fender: Wide choice of sizes and colors with quality that’s backed by a lifetime guarantee.

For full reviews of these products, scroll to the bottom.

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU BUY BOAT FENDERS

Size

The most important factor in choosing a boat fender is size. Too big a fender just looks ungainly, but too small will offer insufficient protection. As a general rule, you want one inch of diameter for every five feet of boat, with a minimum diameter of four inches. While most boat fenders are cylindrical, not all are. If you’re considering an alternative shape you’ll want to look up the manufacturer’s size charts online. Fender length is secondary, though as diameter increases they usually get longer.

Shape

The most popular shape is cylindrical, usually with eyelets at either end. That’s simply for convenience, you only need to use one. Round boat fenders tend to be used on larger vessels (over 60 feet) and those that have big overhangs. Diameter should generally be twice that of the equivalent cylindrical model. Other custom shapes are available and flat fenders are popular on small boats because they’re easier to store.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN QUALITY BOAT FENDERS

Material

Most boat fenders are made of tough, marine-grade vinyl, which is durable in fresh and saltwater. The flat models we’ve just mentioned are foam-filled, but most are inflatable (many arrive pre-inflated). Pressure should be just enough to offer a little give on contact. If pressure is too great, you get bounce that makes mooring more difficult. It also increases the chances of them splitting under repeated impact. Most have a basic needle valve (like a football) so adjustment is simple. Ribs offer a little more protection, and also resist rolling along the boat’s side, which can result in twisted lines.

Line

Line may or may not be provided (type of line came up in a frequently asked question, which we’ve answered below). A needle for the valve may be included, but you rarely get a pump. Any sports ball/bicycle pump should do. You can often save money by buying boat fenders in packs (either two or four). You can get them for as little as $15 each, though $25 to $40 is the usual range.

Color

White is far and away the most common color, but many other choices are available if you want something to match your boat.

BOAT FENDERS FAQ

Q. How many boat fenders should I use?

A. Experts recommend one fender for every 10 feet of boat, with a minimum of three per side. One should be at maximum beam (where the boat is widest), one aft, the others equally spaced.

Q. Is the type of line I use to tie on the boat fenders important?

A. You can use any natural fiber or synthetic rope, as long as it’s been designed for sailing use. Check that the diameter will fit the fender hole size. Don’t try to cut corners by buying cheap polyester rope that can break down in sunlight. If you don’t know them, learn the proper knots, too; it will make attaching and removing fenders much easier.

WHAT’S THE BEST BOAT FENDER TO BUY?

Top boat fenders

Polyform G-4 Boat Fender

Polyform G-4 Boat Fender

What we like: American-made, specifically designed for popular recreational boats from 20 feet to 30 feet long. Durable one-piece construction. Simple pressure-adjustment valve. Other sizes and colors available. Competitively priced.

What we dislike: Nothing really, although one or two have arrived with defects.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Top boat fenders for the money

Extreme Max BoatTector Fender Pack

Extreme Max BoatTector Fender Pack

What we like: Basic but effective, made from UV-stabilized vinyl with molded, reinforced eyelet for durability. Tough braided polypropylene line. Needle valve for easy pressure adjustment. Multiple colors and sizes.

What we dislike: Not much. A small percentage have leaked or split.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Worth checking out

Taylor Made Super Gard Boat Fender

Taylor Made Super Gard Boat Fender

What we like: Very well-made ribbed vinyl fender available in four sizes and seven colors. Easy to inflate. Seamless construction with reinforced ends, will not split or burst.

What we dislike: Nothing — although they carry a premium price.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

 

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Bob Beacham writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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