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Choosing the Best Boat Fender

Easily find the fender that best fits your boat.

June 29, 2021
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Boat fender collection
Fenders vary in size and shape. Courtesy Taylor Made and Sentry Boat Gear

If you dock your boat in a slip, visit waterfront restaurants, or just hit the local marina for gas, you’re going to need to invest in some quality fenders to protect your boat from damage. Here are three types of fenders—ball, cylinder and sentry—to see which might be the best fit for your boat.

Ball Fender

The Buffer: Ball fenders, such as the Taylor Made Tuff End, are great for use on bigger boats, especially in slips that endure a lot of wakes from passing boat traffic or in busy marinas. They will keep your hull sides well away from pilings and dock walls, and they’re stout, round shape prevents them from getting caught up on the dock or other obstructions. They also double as buoy floats.

The Squeeze: Their size makes storage difficult (though they can be deflated), and if you just need fenders for the fuel dock or the occasional restaurant, they can be overkill.

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Price: $59.99 for a 12-inch diameter

Buy: Taylor Made Tuff End ball fender; see more at westmarine.com

Cylinder Fender

The Buffer: The most popular type of fender, such as the Taylor Made Storm Guard, these are better for small-boat applications because they can be stowed in the in-sole locker, under seat benches or, on some boats, in dedicated fender holders. These will do the job if properly placed and, with an attached length of line, are easy to deploy as you pull into a dock or slip. They can be hung horizontally or vertically, giving them some flexibility in application.

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The Squeeze: Make sure you get the right size for your boat; too small and they won’t provide enough protection. Some cheaper versions tend to squeeze.

Price: $79.99 for a two-pack

Buy: Taylor Made Storm Guard fender; see more at westmarine.com

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Sentry Fender

The Buffer: These fenders, made by Mission Boat Gear, are constructed from closed-cell foam rather than inflated PVC or other plastic. Designed by watersports enthusiasts, they’re meant to work best on sleek tow-sports boats with lower profiles, but they work well on any smaller boats. They’re contoured to offer protection both above and below the rub rail. Because of their flatter shape, they are easier to stow away in small compartments.

The Squeeze: The company says they’re designed for day use only and not intended to offer overnight protection or for use under extreme conditions in a slip.

Price: $68

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Buy: Mission Boat Gear Sentry fender; see more at missionboatgear.com


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