How much does a boat trailer weigh? 2024

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a boat on a boat trailer

Picking out a proper boat trailer can be a delicate process. Boat trailers are not a one-size-fits-all piece of equipment. You need to know what type of boat you will be hauling, including its weight plus the weight of any gear you might keep in it. You should also know what kind of vehicle you’ll need to tow a boat trailer. If you purchase a boat trailer that is too heavy for your towing vehicle, you’ll force a decision between obtaining a different towing vehicle or finding a less heavy boat trailer to use.

Key insights

A boat’s dry weight often determines the minimum weight required for a compatible boat trailer.

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While hauling a traditional trailer with a ball-mounted hitch, do not exceed 10% to 15% of the gross vehicle weight rating.

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Single-axle boat trailers work best for smaller boats up to 22 feet long and 3,300 pounds.

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The largest, heaviest boats — cabin cruisers — weigh 12,000 to 16,000 pounds. A trailer for such a boat needs to have an extremely high weight capacity.

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Boat trailer statistics

Boat trailers are a necessary part of owning a boat. Whether you have a large or small boat, a boat trailer allows you to travel with it wherever you may need to take it.

Boat trailers vary in type, with several important features to remember. Tire size and quality need to be assessed. The most common tire sizes for boat trailers are 15- and 16-inch wheels, made specifically for trailers.

Types of boat trailers

Four main types of boat trailers are available. Different boats equate to different trailer requirements, which will influence the right type for your needs.

  • Bunk trailers: A bunk trailer, or small boat trailer, is designed to haul boats under 20 feet long. Bunk trailers are simple by design and easy to maintain.
  • Roller trailers: A roller trailer uses several cylindrical rollers to bear the weight of a boat. This design lets someone launch a boat at shallow or otherwise tricky boat ramps. However, the many moving parts of a roller trailer require more maintenance.
  • Float-on trailers: A float-on trailer makes launching large boats easier. People who own pontoons, saltwater boats and other large boats typically use float-on trailers to load and drop their large vessels.
  • Keel rollers: Keel rollers are not a type of boat trailer, but a tool for loading boats onto more traditional trailers. They help reduce the risk of damage to the trailer and the boat.
types of boat trailers infographic

Types of boat trailer weight

Boat trailer weight at a glance


Typically, boat trailer manufacturers refer to different weights when sharing information about trailers for sale. When making a purchase, knowing your boat's dry, wet and tongue weights, along with the GVWR, will help you find the right trailer.

Dry weight is the total weight of a boat without the engine or added liquids (e.g., fuel). A boat manual typically documents this weight. The minimum weight required for a compatible boat trailer is often determined by a boat’s dry weight.

Wet weight is calculated by adding a standard-size engine and fuel to a boat's dry weight. Keep in mind that wet weight should include extra gear stored or carried on a boat trailer, along with the boat, engine and fuel.

GVWR, or package weight, is the maximum load a trailer can carry. A GVWR will include the empty weight of a trailer as well as the weight of the boat, engine, fluids and gear. The GVWR for a boat trailer is on the VIN sticker located somewhere on the trailer frame. You can sometimes find the MAX GVCC on the VIN sticker, too. Subtract the MAX GVCC from the GVWR to find the empty trailer weight.

Tongue weight refers to the force the trailer tongue exerts on the hitch attached to your vehicle. This is how much weight is put on the front of a trailer where it is connected to the hitch. Do not exceed 10% to 15% of the GVWR while hauling a traditional trailer with a ball-mounted hitch. A tongue weight that is too low will cause the trailer to sway. Too much weight can overload your vehicle's back tires.

Boat trailer weight by size

The longer and broader a boat trailer, the more it will weigh. Larger boat trailers also have a higher weight capacity and can easily haul more sizable boats.

Estimating boat trailer weight


Aluminum and fiberglass boat trailers also differ in estimated weight. Aluminum boat trailers range in length from 12 to 20 feet. Trailers between 12 and 15 feet long typically weigh about 200 pounds. Any aluminum trailer between 16 and 20 feet is expected to weigh around 300 pounds. Fiberglass boat trailers have similar weights. Trailers up to 17 feet in length weigh roughly 200 pounds, and trailers between 18 and 20 feet long weigh about 300 pounds. However, fiberglass trailers often have higher weight capacity options, with trailers 21 to 22 feet in length weighing 570 pounds.

Single-axle boat trailers work best for smaller boats up to 22 feet long and 3,300 pounds. Although they cost less than trailers with two or more axles, single-axle trailers cannot handle larger boats. Tandem-axle trailers are recommended for boats weighing more than 3,300 pounds.

Boat trailer weight by boat type

The type of trailer required for different boats depends on the boat's type and weight. It is crucial to find the right trailer weight to safely haul your boat. If you do not know the combined weight of your boat and trailer, when towing it on the road you may find yourself in trouble.

Boat trailer weight by boat type


The heavier a boat’s dry weight, the higher the weight capacity a boat trailer needs for safe towing. Small boats meant to carry one or two people, like johnboats, canoes and kayaks, do not weigh nearly as much as large boats for fishing, skiing and other activities. When picking out a boat trailer you must also consider the extra weight of gear stored on vessels.


How much does a boat weigh?

Boat weight varies depending on a boat’s size, materials and purpose. Skiffs, typically under 20 feet long and designed for shallow water, weigh anywhere from 300 to 1,000 pounds. Fiberglass boats will usually weigh more than aluminum boats. The largest, heaviest boats —cabin cruisers — weigh 12,000 to 16,000 pounds. Variation in boat weight means that boat trailer weights and capacities also vary to account for different boat requirements.

Where can I find information about a boat trailer’s weight and weight capacity?

Most boat trailers prominently display this type of information on a VIN plate. This plate should share the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and information about the VIN, model and tires. If not found elsewhere, the GVWR can be used to determine the total weight of a trailer. If you subtract the trailer’s weight from the GVWR, you can find the trailer’s maximum capacity.

How do you determine a boat trailer’s weight without VIN plate information?

Weigh stations, like those found at truck stops and junkyards, are handy options for weighing large equipment like a boat trailer. Before doing so, check if the trailer weight is recorded in a manual. A weigh station will help you properly understand the trailer’s weight so you can safely tow your boat.


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