How to Choose a Roller Trailer

Ten things to look for when considering a roller trailer.

Roller trailers are best for launching a boat without submerging the trailer. They make launching easier than a bunk trailer does, but require more maintenance. Here’s what you need to look for in a roller trailer.

1. The More, The Better
When comparing trailers, more rollers for a given weight capacity will provide better support for your boat.

2. One or Two Axles?
If you have a choice, even though it costs more, go with a tandem-axle trailer if you plan to tow frequently. The second set of axles will better carry your boat and will make the trailer less likely to fishtail when on the road.


3. Don’t Lie about Your Weight
A trailer with the proper capacity rating for your boat can handle the weight of the boat plus full fuel, water and waste tanks and another 500 pounds for miscellaneous gear.

4. Tongue in Cheek
A tongue jack is essential to raise and lower the trailer onto the hitch. Its capacity should exceed the anticipated tongue weight (nominally 10 percent of the loaded boat weight). A wheel on the tongue jack lets you jostle the coupler into place when hitching up.

5. Roll Away
Polyurethane rollers are more expensive than rubber rollers but won’t mark the hull and don’t compress and flatten with time and use.


6. Protect Your Frame
If you boat in salt or even brackish water, use an aluminum or galvanized steel trailer because these materials resist corrosion better than painted steel frames do, and will hold up better over time.

7. See the Light
Sealed light housings and connections will last longer and better resist corrosion than the alternatives. LED lights are more robust, but more expensive, than incandescent.

8. Strap It Down
A trailer should have connection points for tie-down straps at the rear. Using straps ensures that your boat won’t bounce around on the trailer.


9. No Brake Dancing
Trailers with a gross vehicle weight of 3,000 pounds or more are required to have brakes on all wheels in many states; in some states the requirement is as low as 1,500 pounds gross weight.

10. Roller Shafts
Stainless-steel roller shafts are a plus in salt water, but pricey.