What To Look For When Buying Boat Fenders

Get the best protection for your boat

Boat fenders may seem like a no-brainer, a simple “bumper” to keep your boat from damage at the dock. Fenders, however, require a little additional thought to make sure they’re up to the job. Here’s what to look for when buying your next boat fenders.

Fender Size

BoatTector Fender Value 4-Pack
Fenders can often be inflated or deflated to change their firmness. Look for a basketball-style needle valve to change pressure.Courtesy Amazon

Fenders should be sized to the boat they’re protecting. As a rule of thumb, plan on 1” of diameter for every 4’ - 5’ of boat length when using common, cylindrical fenders, 2” of diameter if choosing round ball-type fenders. Conditions, however, should always dictate the final decision. A rough, open body of water will require you give your hull more protection to prevent damage.

Shape…And Where You Plan To Dock

Hull Hugr PWC Fender
Personal watercraft pose a particular challenge, as their shape and low profile often proves difficult to protect. Hinged, "hull-hugging" fenders often provide the best solution.Courtesy Amazon

Cylindrical fenders typically feature molded-in eyelets at each end. Tie off to one eyelet and the fender hangs vertically, tie off to both to hang horizontally. Round fenders are often used for large boats and commercial vessels. Choose the shape that works best not only for the dock in question…but also convenient storage in your boat.

Innovative Solutions

Mission Boat Gear Sentry Boat Dock Fender
Search Amazon listings; chances are there is a fender that works for virtually any boat extremity or docking situation.Courtesy Amazon

Docking at pilings is a challenge, as their round shape tends to roll or push fenders out of the way. A fender “board” is one solution. Make one from a pressure-treated length of lumber, hung outside two fenders and against the piling. Or, look at innovative new fender styles in specific shapes that match your hull contours or attack directly to dock or pilings.