Pontoon boats pose unique challenges for even the most experienced boaters when it comes to docking your boat on a dock, in a slip, or near other watercraft.
Because many pontoon boats are on the larger size, they can take up a lot of space in a boat slip, and will edge a regular boat dock with more of the boat’s exterior finish than a smaller watercraft.
If you've decided that a pontoon boat is right for you, then you'll want to protect your investment by making sure it gets in and out of docks and slips scratch and dent free.
That is where dock bumpers and fenders come in. Dock bumpers and fenders are external devices you can attach or rig to your pontoon boat to prevent direct contact between the boat, other watercraft, or wooden or metal parts of a boat dock or boat slip.
There are many kinds of pontoon boat dock bumpers and fenders on the market. In this article, we will compare several different types—from inflatable bumpers to slide-over attachable guards—and explore some of the pros and cons of each.
Top 5 Model Comparison Table
Bumpers / Fenders
Best Pontoon Boat Dock Bumpers and Fenders Reviewed
Extreme Max 3006.7384 BoatTector Fender Value 4-Pack - 6.5" x 22”, Black
The Extreme Max BoatTechtor Fender is one of several solutions available for pontoon boat owners in need of a fender or dock bumper.
This item comes in a value four-pack, complete with the nylon ropes you will need to attach the bumpers to each other and to your boat.
These particular bumpers are inflatable and deflatable depending on how much pressure you need in the bumpers. For a tighter fit, you can deflate the bumpers some.
The kit comes with the correct sized needle needed to inflate or deflate the bumpers, but not a pump.
They are made of molded, durable vinyl, and come in black. Made by Extreme Max, the shipping weight is a mere ten pounds.
The bumpers are UV stabilized and chemical resistant, meaning the color won't fade with prolonged exposure to sunlight or water.
- UV/Chemical resistant
- Comes with inflation needle
- Comes with rope
- Only one color available
- Requires rope
- Does not include pump
Constructed from high-quality and marine-grade PVC that is UV resistant, these bumpers by VIVOHOME are guaranteed by the manufacturer to last for at least three years.
This kit comes with absolutely everything you need to be ready to dock your boat in a slip or at a dock. This product includes not only the four bumpers, but nylon rope to attach them, as well as a pump and appropriately sized needle to inflate or deflate the bumpers.
The fact that these bumpers are inflatable and deflatable is an advantage, because you can increase or decrease their size depending on how much protection your boat needs in a dock or slip. Docking somewhere new won't be as much of a challenge with deflatable or inflatable bumpers.
The eyelets for holding the nylon ropes are reinforced, meaning they will last longer and wear better after multiple uses over many years.
These bumpers are designed to protect your pontoon boat both in calm waters and in a storm while docked.
These VIVOHOME bumpers come in multiple colors to match any pontoon boat.
- Three colors available
- Comes with pump and ropes
- Expensive when not on sale
- Requires rope
Made from UV Resistant Vinyl, the Taylor Made Products Pontoon Boat Fender is specifically designed for use on pontoon boats.
It requires inflation, but not the difficult installation of some bumper systems requiring you to string multiple bumpers with rope.
Simply slip this over the side of the boat and properly fasten it, and you are ready to dock.
Though economically priced at $43, you may need more than one if you are using a slip instead of a traditional boat dock.
- Economically priced
- UV Resistant vinyl
- No rope to tangle
- May need more than one
- No color choices
#4. MISSION Sentry
The MISSION Sentry Fender Bumper provides maximum protection with no need for special inflation or deflation.
Because it has no ropes, it will not become tangled in a boat dock or boat slip.
It hugs the contours of your boat to provide maximum protection for the body against the edge of the dock or another watercraft.
An opening on the front allows easy pass-through access for you to tie your boat to the dock as needed.
However, due to the length and size of the attachment mechanisms, the fender may not be right for all boat bodies. Make sure before purchasing that the connection apparatus will work for your boat.
- Designed to hug contours
- Requires no inflation/deflation
- No ropes needed
- Will not work with all boat bodies
Manufactured with non-abrasive PVC, the GOPLUS Ribbed Marine Fender is specifically crafted to eliminate friction between the bumpers and the boat.
Although the four bumpers must be connected by nylon rope (which is not included), the commercial-strength, marine-grade vinyl construction is designed to be stain and mold resistant.
Reinforced eyeholes provide for added durability.
These bumpers are available in three colors and multiple sizes. They require absolutely no inflation for installation, meaning you can tie them up, and be ready to go. This anchor comes in multiple sizes. It is designed specifically for use in sandy bottoms.
What size you will need depends on the size of your boat. It does work in multiple water conditions. Multiple sizes are available.
For more turbulent water conditions, however, you may have to modify the anchor itself to hold a chain. It is designed to be used with a rope or line in less turbulent waters.
If you are familiar with the Belgian-made Bruce claw anchors, this is designed in a very similar fashion, but for a reduced price.
- Multiple sizes available
- Multiple colors available
- No inflation required
- Requires rope (not included)
Dock Bumpers and Fenders for Pontoon Boats Buying Considerations
When considering which dock bumpers and fenders are best for your pontoon boat, there are several important things to remember.
First, you will want to make sure that the fender, if not traditional rope-tied bumpers, will actually be able to fit and attach to the frame or body of your boat. Depending on the size of the body of your boat, some may not work well for you.
Inflatable and Deflatable
When considering inflatable and deflatable bumpers, remember that you will need a pump if the set you are thinking of purchasing does not come with one.
You will also want to examine the durability of the product. Several of the products mentioned above have guaranteed time periods where the product will remain durable and not fade or corrode.
You may also want to want to consider whether or not the surface of the bumper or fender is mold resistant, so you aren’t constantly cleaning mold from your bumpers or fender.
Additionally, if you find yourself frequently getting rope lines caught in docks or around poles at your boat slip, you may want to consider whether or not you want a single, attachable fender, or a more traditional set of rope-tied bumpers.
UV and Corrosion Resistance
Check the material that the bumpers or fenders are made out of. Are they advertised as both UV and corrosion-resistant?
If you the water you are frequently using your pontoon boat in is more alkaline, for example, you will want to look seriously for the more corrosion resistant PVC materials. UV resistance is important for all bumpers and fenders exposed to prolonged sunlight. Bumpers and fenders can be a costly investment, and you will not want yours looking faded or worn out after a single season due to sun exposure.
Make sure when making your purchase, you know the dimensions and size of your pontoon boat and its body so you will purchase a bumper system or fender that will properly fit your boat.
With bumpers and fenders available in many styles, colors, and made with many materials, you are sure to find one that works well for your boat.