The 4 Best Inflatable Boat Trailers: How To Choose And Customize One?

Trailers are awesome.

With one, transporting your inflatable boat has never been easier.

Plus, when you get to your destination, you won’t have to waste a good 20 minutes setting up any more.

But here’s the problem:

You won’t find ANY trailers built specifically for inflatable boats.

And when you put your inflatable on a regular trailer, countless problems arise.

Problems like:

  • Your boat bouncing all over the place
  • Your tubes getting chaffed
  • Your motor board falling apart

And more.

How do you deal with these?

Are there any trailers that don’t have these problems?

How can you customize your trailer to make it perfect for inflatables?

Today, we’re answering all of these questions and more.

This is the complete guide to inflatable boat trailers, so let’s get started!

How to Choose a Trailer for Inflatable Boats

While you can’t buy a trailer made specifically for inflatable boats (or they’re very rare at least), you can buy one that has the right features.

What I mean is yes, you will have to customize your trailer.

But some trailers are easier to customize than others.

So what should you look for?

5 things:

1. The Basics

Length, capacity, material, and brake lights. Those are the four basics you should look for in every boat trailer.

You’ll want a trailer that can support the full length of your boat.

Avoid letting any part of your inflatable stick out. Especially the transom.

If the transom isn’t supported (and you have a motor attached), it’s going to rattle around and will fall apart before long.

That’s why getting a good-sized trailer is a must.

Of course, you need to check the capacity of the trailer.

This shouldn’t be a problem. Trailers are built to carry hard boats and RIBS – inflatables are far lighter than those.

But to be safe, check it out anyway.

Also, pay attention to the material of your trailer.

Trailers come in steel, aluminum, or galvanized steel.

Steel is the cheapest but is the least corrosion-resistant.

Aluminum is the middle-ground material.

Galvanized steel is the priciest but has unmatched resistance to corrosion.

All three work well. But be careful with steel trailers. They’ll rust up fast if you don’t take care of them.

If you want to launch your boat from your trailer, you’ll need at least aluminum (though galvanized steel is the best choice).

Finally, you’ll need brake lights.

This is super important if you’re going to drive your trailer on the road.

In some states, driving a trailer without brake lights is illegal.

So get a trailer with these lights and connect them to your car’s brake lights.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a mechanic to do this.

Attaching these lights to your car isn’t as difficult as you might guess.

Yes, it takes some work.

But with these in place, you won’t cause any accidents when you’re on the road.

2. Support Bunks

Secondly, you’ll want a trailer that has bunks.

Bunks are long pads built into the trailer to support your boat. They are shaped in a way that allows boats to sit snugly on top of them.

These bunks are made from plywood and wrapped with marine carpet – making them strong enough to carry your boat, but also soft so they won’t scratch it.

But here’s the catch.

Most bunks are made for hard boats, not inflatables.

Their shape and angle don’t hold inflatables up very well.

That’s why you’ll have to do some adjusting to make them perfect for you.

boat trailer with bunks
Notice how the bunks hold this hard boat perfectly. Unfortunately, inflatables have a different hull shape, so there’s some work to do.

We’ll have a look at exactly how to do in just a bit, so stay with me.

What about flat decks?

Yes, you can get a flat deck trailer. But this will require a little more customizing than a trailer with bunks built-in.

3. Bow Support

Aside from bunks, trailers with bow support will be a huge plus.

Bow supports are simple pieces usually made of rubber that hold your bow in place.

This is a feature that is missing in a lot of boat trailers.

But don’t fret.

This is super easy to add in yourself.

So it’s not vital to choose a trailer with one of these (although it’ll make your life easier).

4. Shock Absorbers

You want the bounciest bad boy you can get.

Why?

Because vibrations can seriously damage inflatable boat tubes.

The LAST thing you want is your boat to be shaking up and down, side to side, as you transport it.

As the steel of your trailer rubs against your inflatable over and over again, it won’t be long before its tubes get chaffed.

By the time you get to the lake, you’ll find your inflatable tearing up.

You’ll also find the transom board in bad shape.

If there’s a motor connected there, the weight plus the vibrations will loosen the board. It may even fall apart if you’re driving on rough road.

That’s why when choosing a trailer, get one that has great shock absorbers.

This way, your trailer will take all the shaking up, not your boat.

5. Easily Customizable

Your trailer should be easily customizable.

At the end of the day, that is probably the most important thing to look for.

Look for a trailer that makes it easy to attach and detach parts. Look for one with many holes, so you can add nuts and bolts without drilling. Look for one where adjusting the bunks won’t be too difficult.

Metal nuts and bolts
Get a customizable trailer so all you need are a few nuts and bolts!

Remember, trailers built specifically for inflatable boats are incredibly rare.

The best thing you can do is to get one that makes it easy for you to work on.

The Best Trailers for Inflatable Boats

With those 5 things, you should get a great trailer for your inflatable boat.

Need more help?

Here are 3 of the best trailers for inflatable boats you can buy online:

Ironton Boat Trailer Kit

Size: 10’6″ x 4’4″
Capacity: 610 lbs.
Material: Steel
Brake Lights: Yes
Bunks: Yes
Bow Support: Yes

Looking for a good, reasonably-priced trailer for your inflatable?

You’ll have a hard time finding anything better than Ironton’s Boat Trailer Kit.

This trailer has everything you want for inflatables.

Its size is perfect, and its maximum capacity is overkill.

It has brake lights, bunks, and even bow support. What more could you ask for?

A glance at this trailer’s frame will show you how easy it is to customize.

There are holes all over the place where you can easily attach bunks, transom support, and anything else you need.

Yes, this trailer is made from steel. So it isn’t very good with corrosion.

However, it comes with a white powder coat finish.

This adds a layer of durability you don’t get with standard steel trailers.

No, it’s still not wise to launch your boat with Ironton’s trailer (you’ll need transom wheels for that). But you don’t have to meticulously maintain it to prevent rusting anymore.

What we like:

  • Has everything you need for inflatables
  • Easy to customize
  • White powder coat finish
  • Good price

What we don’t like:

  • Not corrosion resistant

CE Smith Sport Trailer

Size: 11’8″ x 4’6″
Capacity: 800 lbs.
Material: Galvanized steel
Brake Lights: Yes
Bunks: Yes
Bow Support: Yes

While Ironton’s trailer has everything you need, it doesn’t have a lot of special features.

CE Smith’s sport trailer, on the other hand, has a bunch of these. 

It’s bigger, it can load more, and it is made from galvanized steel.

Rust and corrosion are the last things you have to worry about.

You can use this trailer to launch your boat with no worries – even in saltwater!

It has brake lights, bunks, and bow support.

And the best thing?

It is super easy to customize.

It doesn’t only have holes here and there, but its bunks are adjustable themselves.

CE Smith’s design allows you to tilt these bunks whichever way you want. It’s also super easy to adjust the bow support.

And if you need more parts, CE Smith has got them all in their amazon store. This ensures you’ll get the perfect fit every time.

Guide-ON BUNKBOARD 2'
CE Smith 29552 Y-Style Bow Stop, Black, 2-Inch- Replacement Parts and Accessories for your Ski Boat,...
CE Smith Trailer 10002G Swivel Bolster Bracket (Assembled), 12"- Replacement Parts and Accessories...
CE Smith Trailer 10603G40 Bunk Bracket, 7 1/2"- Replacement Parts and Accessories for Your Ski Boat,...
Side Bunks
Bow Support
Swivel Bracket
Bunk Bracket
Guide-ON BUNKBOARD 2'
Side Bunks
CE Smith 29552 Y-Style Bow Stop, Black, 2-Inch- Replacement Parts and Accessories for your Ski Boat,...
Bow Support
CE Smith Trailer 10002G Swivel Bolster Bracket (Assembled), 12"- Replacement Parts and Accessories...
Swivel Bracket
CE Smith Trailer 10603G40 Bunk Bracket, 7 1/2"- Replacement Parts and Accessories for Your Ski Boat,...
Bunk Bracket

Finally, this trailer is highway-rated.

Strap your boat down securely on it, and you can take it to the fast lane!

The only problem you’ll have with this boat is its price.

But hey, you can’t get the best if you aren’t willing to spend on it.

What we like:

  • Can fit most inflatable boats
  • Great corrosion resistance
  • Can launch in saltwater
  • Has everything you need for inflatables
  • Super easy to customize
  • Easy to buy extra parts
  • Highway rated

What we don’t like:

  • Expensive

Right On Multi-Sport Trailer

Size: 11’5″ x 5’
Capacity: 600 lbs.
Material: Steel
Brake Lights: Yes
Bunks: No
Bow Support: No

At first glance, this trailer might not seem like a good option for inflatables.

Right On’s multi-sport trailer doesn’t have bunks or bow support.

But when you take a closer look, you’ll realize that it makes up for this.

Firstly, it has amazing shock absorbers.

With it, the trailer will take every shock and vibration. No bump or pothole can damage your boat anymore thanks to these.

What’s more, it has a tongue stand.

This allows the trailer to stand without being attached to your car. But more than that, you can reverse this stand and use it as bow support instead.

It also comes with crossbars.

These aren’t quite as good as bunks, but with a few simple tweaks, you can make them perfect for your inflatable.

Pricewise, it’s the middle ground between Ironton and CE Smith.

So if you’re looking for a quality trailer, but can’t quite afford the CE Smith, go for Right On’s multi-sport trailer instead.

What we like:

  • Softened springs for extra shock absorption
  • Tongue stand
  • Easy to tweak
  • Comes with crossbars

What we don’t like:

  • No bunks
  • No bow support

How to Trailer Inflatable Boats Properly and Safely

So you’ve got the ideal trailer.

Great!

Now the question is:

“How do I make it perfect for my inflatable boats?”

You might think that this is a job only for handymen. It’s not.

All you have to make sure of are four things – all of which everybody can do!

1. Secure the Transom

Inflatable boats are light.

Too light.

Any bump on the road will send it jolting high into the air.

And that is a huge no-no.

Especially since the transom, with a motor attached, is the heaviest part of the boat.

If it rocks and rattles, there’s a BIG chance the weight of the motor will bend or snap the board.

Or, at the very least, it might detach your transom board from the rest of the boat.

How do you secure the transom?

There are two ingenious accessories you can get for this.

The first one is a transom tie-down.

Transom tie-downs secure your transom to the trailer so it doesn’t bounce around.

They’re super easy to install, and they stop the shaking completely.

Plus, they’re also super easy to detach. Once you’re ready to hit the water, all you have to do is unbuckle it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCRaf8OPvuM&ab_channel=etrailer.com

Getting one of these is a must for every inflatable boat trailer.

If you have a bigger motor, you’ll also need a transom saver.

Yes, transom tie-downs will hold the transom still, but it won’t stop bigger motors from jumping up and down and breaking your board.

But with a transom saver, you’ll never have to worry about this.

Transom savers act as a shock-absorber for your motor.

Connect them to your motor and the foot of your trailer, and it’ll soften every bump.

Another way to do things is to deflate your transom tubes.

If you’re using a flat-deck trailer, you could do this to have your motor rest on the trailer bed. This is better than letting it hang loose.

However, this isn’t the best idea. And flat-decks aren’t suitable for inflatables.

So find a way to secure your transom and motor in place.

Your boat will thank you for it.

2. Adjust the Bunks

Bunks are critical for inflatables.

Unfortunately, most bunks aren’t designed for them.

Trailers have bunks built for hard boats. They’re at the perfect angle for the boat to sit snugly on top.

hard vs inflatable trailer
Bunks come at the perfect angle for hard boats, but not inflatables. You’ll have to adjust these to fit your inflatable boat on one. 

As you can see though, the same can’t be said for inflatables.

But don’t fret!

With a little adjusting (and an extra set of bunks), you can create the perfect bunk support for your boat.

inflatable trailers
Adjust your bunks to hold the bottom and sides of your inflatable, or go for a round hold!

You can angle one set of bunks horizontal, while the other set vertical. Or, you can use both bunks to hold the tubes at the perfect round angle.

There are a lot of ways you can make it work. So play around and see what holds your inflatable tubes best.

One thing you have to take note of is the keel of your boat.

You don’t want the keel touching the trailer bed. Otherwise, the bunks will be useless.

If you have a deep keel, you can either deflate that or install another set of bunks down the middle.

3. Strap Down Your Boat

With your transom secured and your bunks at the perfect angle, you’re almost done.

There are only two more things you have to do.

One is to strap down your entire boat.

Yes, your transom is locked in.

And yes, your bunks hold the tubes tight.

But without strapping the whole boat down, it’s still going to bounce around when you get driving.

You can strap it down with any rope you have.

If you want the best way to do this though, you should get some ratchet straps.

These make the whole process of tightening and releasing far faster and completely hassle-free.

4. Get Bow Support

Last but not least, bow support.

If your trailer doesn’t have bow support, get one right away.

Remember, you don’t want any part of your boat hanging out. You want your entire boat to be solid and supported.

And that’s it!

With these four things, you can hit rough roads without any worries at all.

Conclusion

Towing your inflatable boat with a trailer is more than just getting the right trailer.

You have to know what to look for AND how to customize your trailer.

But with this guide, you can turn any trailer into the perfect one for your inflatable boat.

So grab one of these trailers, touch it up a bit, then take it out and enjoy the unparalleled convenience it’ll give you!

Have a question? Ask me in the comments down below!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.