As a boat owner, you know that damage and subsequent repairs can be pretty costly. Sometimes the vessel can be hard to fully control when mooring, especially in difficult conditions. Your boat can come in contact with the dock, pilings, or even other boats and sustain damage or induce damage to other watercraft.

Boat fenders are an excellent solution to this problem. They serve as a barrier between your vessel and the surroundings, and prevent potential damage. Fenders are available in different sizes and types. We have selected fantastic bumpers for you to choose from and created a buying guide with important features to help you find the best boat fender for your vessel.

How To Choose A Boat Fender – Buying Guide

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Type

There are several different designs of fenders for boats, and each is great for a certain purpose. Most common one is the cylindrical fenders, which has been featured in our boat fender reviews quite a lot. It’s shaped as a cylinder, with rope holes on both ends and can be hang vertically or positioned horizontally. Vertical fender types work best when mooring against flat structures, like docks.

Alternatively, the line hole can be positioned in the center to allow the fender to be placed horizontally, which is excellent protection against pilings where vertically positioned fenders could easily move out of the way. The alignment of center hole fender can also be changed. Sometimes boat buoys (like Polyform A series) are used as round fenders. In general, center hole cylindrical fenders, round fenders and hybrids are better for large and heavy boats.

Some inflatable boat bumpers are hybrids between round and cylindrical type and there are also specially designed flat fenders. Their specialty fenders design allows you to mount them on a particular part of the boat (transom fenders for example), and in whichever position you like, or on certain vessels (PWCs or low freeboard boats). 

Size

What size fenders boat you should buy depends on three things – boat weight, it’s length and finally, mooring conditions. Mooring your boat in calm or choppy water can be different experiences. If you’re wondering what size boat fenders do I need if conditions are harsher, you should buy larger fenders than the boat length and weight indicate.

A common rule most people follow when deciding what size fender for boat to choose is: for every 5ft of boat length you should have at least 1” in fender diameter for cylindrical fenders, or 2” for round ones. This is simply a guideline, and you can go a bit larger. If you buy a fender boating which is too small, it won’t be very effective. A boating fender way too big for your boat can be annoying to mount and to stow on-board.

Cleaning

Since they are outdoors and in contact with various dock surfaces, fenders can get pretty dirty. When you decide it’s time to clean, you should use water with regular soap (or a mild detergent).

Please avoid aggressive cleaning substances however tempted you are to use them for removing stains. They can damage the material and make the fender more likely to deflate or rupture. Since you probably own a boat cover, you should know there are also special fender covers available.  

Storage

Your boat bumpers go with you when you head out to sea and the stowage strategy is also an important consideration. There are several places where you can put them depending on their size and size of your boat.

Some can be placed in a storage bin, or tucked away under the seat. You can also tie the fenders to inner railing. There are special fender racks available too. They can be differently sized, and can be permanent or foldable/inflatable racks to put away when not in use.

Accessories

Boats fenders come with different accessories which can make using them easier and more convenient. We already mentioned the cover and the storage racks. All products in our list are inflatable and often require a pump. Usually regular hand pumps can suffice, because the fenders often have simple valves. Some manufacturers will provide the pump.

Other products (like Polyform) have different valves, and require a special pump adapter. The height of your fender is pretty important. Height fender adjusters allow you to easily adjust the fender vertically. Some sailboat fenders will come with lines for hanging. 

Color

What are fenders to look like isn’t very significant when it comes to practicality but it can still be very appealing visually. Most fenders boats come in many fantastic colors, so you can easily find a color scheme to compliment your boat.

FAQs

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Q: How Do Boat Fenders Work?

A: 

A boat fender is going to serve as a cushion between your boat and the dock, pier or other boats. Its purpose is to absorb the shock created by the impact, and prevent it from transferring to the hull of your boat, or any other part of it.

Q: Why Do I Need Boat Fenders?

A: 

You should buy boat fenders because repairing damage to the boat can be pretty expensive, many times more compared to your investment in fenders. Also, you can damage someone else’s boat, and end up paying for other boat owners repair expenses.

Q: How Many Boat Fenders Do I Need?

A: 

General recommendation is that one fender goes per every 10ft of boat length, with a minimum of three fenders. However, many bumpers come in pairs and people use the two, placing them on the side at equal length from the middle. Again, this depends on size, weight and conditions. It’s not a bad idea to add a couple more, but they can take more space on-board.

Q: Where Should I Place My Boat Fenders?

A: 

If you follow the rule and put 3 fenders on the side, then the first should be located at maximum beam width. The other two should be placed at equal distances toward bow and stern. If your boat is very long, use the same principle to add more fenders to it. For a 40ft vessel, you would need 4 fenders mounted.

Lower the fender until it touches the water surface, then pull it up a couple of inches and tie in that position. This makes it harder to displace fenders. Line should be tied to the boat as close as possible to reduce swinging. You should tie your fenders to something firm and solid like deck cleat or stanchion base.

Globo Surf Overview

Boat fenders are fantastic gear that keeps your boat free from damage. As you’ve seen in our best boat fenders product reviews, there are different types for different boats and surroundings. We hope that you can now confidently pick out the best marine fender to serve you great for a long time. Have fun and be safe while sailing, and keep your boat protected when you return!

More Boat Reviews:

Have you tried a boat fender that made it onto our list? Was it effective and easy to install? Did it prove to be durable? Please share your experience with us in the comment section below.

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!