Every boat owner will want to invest in some good bumpers, and there are several on the market that stand out above the rest.
Your boat is an investment, just like any vehicle you own. Taking care of it will require some work on your part, but having a good set of bumpers will make that job easier. Knowing which ones to buy, though, can sometimes be tricky, since there are many different styles and models to choose from.
The boat 8 best boat bumpers are:
- Vingli Ribbed Boat Fender
- X-Haibei Boat Bumpers
- Mad Dog Boat Docking Bumpers
- Extreme Max 3006 Boating Fenders
- Swell Wakesurf Boating Fenders
- Kemimoto Docking Fenders
- Kemimoto PWC Adjustable Boating Fenders
- Hull Hugr Contour Boat Fenders
Being out in the middle of the water is every boat owner’s dream. But there are always going to be those times you need to come to shore, whether it’s to dock your boat after a long day or pull up alongside a ramp for a quick bite to eat or to gas up. Having quality bumpers on board that will protect your vessel from scratches and dents is a necessary accessory. And, you want them to look good, too! Let’s look at which bumpers are available and decide which ones are going to best fit your needs, your boat’s style, and your budget.
I have been an avid boater my whole life and love nothing more than being on the river with a group of family and friends for an afternoon. I learned early on that taking care of my boat means that she will take care of me, so I’ve never shied away from investing in solid accessories – like bumpers – to ensure my boat stays attractive and keeps everyone on board safe in the process. I recently bought a new set of bumpers for my boat, and I’m happy to share with you what I learned from the process.
What Are the Best Boat Bumpers?
Having quality bumpers on your boat is going to go a long way in keeping your boat undamaged and not causing damage to someone else’s boat or a dock you pull up alongside another vessel or into a slip.
Good boat bumpers will also keep the people on your vessel safe when you are trying to navigate your vessel into a tight spot or up alongside another boat. They will also allow for additional options if you were to encounter an issue and need more accessories that provide buoyancy and would serve as a flotation device, if necessary.
But there are a variety of bumpers to choose from and they come in different styles, depending on what style you like, what size boat you have, and what sort of budget you have in mind. Let’s look at the two most common types of bumpers first.
Ball bumpers are precisely what their name implies. Most of them are made from a high-grade PVC plastic and are attached to the sides of your boat. Ball bumpers work especially well for larger boats, which may get more movement in larger marinas or in areas of busy boat traffic. Because of their shape, ball bumpers rest high on the side of your vessel, but are great at keeping the hull sides from smacking against docks or other boats.
Cylinder bumpers are long and rectangular, looking a bit like a hot dog. These are ideal for smaller boats that don’t see quite as much movement as a larger one, and can be easily stored, much more so than some of the large, ball bumpers. Cylinder bumpers can be mounted vertically or horizontally, which makes them more versatile than ball bumpers.
Now that you know a bit more about the two main types of boat bumpers, let’s find out which brand and model is going to be your best option for your boating needs.
1. The Vingli Ribbed Boat Fender
Made of the highest quality PVC available, the Vingli Ribbed Boat Fender is a perfect option for a bumper for those boat enthusiasts who want excellent craftsmanship and a great look when docking their boat.
The Vingli Ribbed Boat Fender is as durable as it is attractive. The package contains four different bumpers, all of the same size. You can also purchase these bumpers in three different colors: creamy white, royal blue, or flat black.
One of the reasons I think these are some of the best bumpers out there is that they are made of one constant piece of PVC plastic. Because of this superior design, you will not have to deal with rips, tears, or other types of damage that most boat owners complain of when dealing with fenders of a lower quality.
The other great thing about the Vingli bumpers is that they come with everything you need to install, use and care for your bumpers, all in the same package. Not only will you receive the four inflatable fenders, but also the four attaching ropes, four inflating needles, and an inflator that stores easily under the seat of any sized boat.
The Vingli Ribbed Boat Fender is going to work best on vessels that are medium-sized – preferably between 20 feet and 30 feet in length.
The Vingli brand is well-respected in the boating industry and these fenders come with a lifetime, money-back guarantee, as long as the customer uses the fenders in the manner suggested in the manual. This set of four sells for between $65 and $110 at many boating supply stores as well as online.
2. X-Haibei Boat Bumpers
For those who want a different look for their boat, or have a different sort of need than a rectangular bumper, like the Vingli model above, another favorite of mine is the X-Haibei Boat Bumpers.
The X-Haibei Boat Bumpers are ball-shaped, which is a great alternative to rectangular bumpers for those who want a different type of look, or need a different type of protective fender than the more traditional kind.
As I touched on earlier, round boat bumpers can be great for larger boats that need more height than length when it comes to the surface area.
Circular bumpers tend to be better at protecting the hull of larger vessels, since they take up more square footage and can move easily with a larger boat. And, when your boat is docked in a busy marina or in high tides, circular bumpers may serve you better than rectangular ones.
The X-Haibei Boat Bumpers are shipped in a set of two, and come in a variety of colors, like red, orange, blue, green, white, and yellow, making it easy to match them with your boat’s decor.
The outside material of the X-Haibei Boat Bumpers is a strong, PVC plastic. And, since these bumpers are UV protected, they are virtually fade-resistant, meaning their physical integrity will stay intact as long as their functional one.
Though the X-Haibei Boat Bumpers are shipped deflated, they also come with inflating tools that will allow you to get them ready for the water as soon as they are delivered.
The X-Haibei sells for between $50 and $75 for the set, and comes with a one-year warranty, meaning that the company will replace the whole bumper if they fade or become unusable at any point during those first 12 months of use.
3. Mad Dog Boat Docking Bumpers
Mad Dog bumpers set a high industry standard for many of their fender accessories, and this model does not disappoint.
The Mad Dog Boat Docking Bumpers come in a set of two and only come in a dark red, so if having a bunch of color options is important to you, these may not be your bumpers of choice.
But, if the dark red color of these bumpers works well for you, then I can assure you the bumpers will, too.
Made of a durable vinyl exterior, these bumpers are going to be ideal for someone with a slightly larger boat, or who wants to guarantee safety and protection. The overall width of these bumpers is slightly thicker than some of the other models on my list, and the length is as well, coming in at just over 23 inches.
These bumpers are made to last, and have a softness and strength that will impress even the most avid boater. The fade-resistant material will also ensure they continue to look as good as the day you pulled them out of their packaging.
One downside to these bumpers (other than the lack of color choices) is the fact that there are only two per package. So, if you want more (and most boat owners like to have at least four) you’ll have to order more than one set.
The Mad Dog Boat Docking bumpers retail for around $50 per set, so it’s not too hard on a boater’s budget to purchase two sets of these, especially when the boat owners know the importance of safety while on and off your boat.
4. Extreme Max 3006 Boating Fenders
A big favorite amongst boating enthusiasts is the Extreme Max line, particularly the Extreme Max 3006 Boating Fenders model of boating bumpers.
Extreme Max has been in the game of boating for a while now, and the quality of their products, as well as their excellent customer service shows that.
These bumpers are rectangular in shape and have two different diameters to choose from: 4 ½ inches or 6 ½ inches. They also come in two different lengths: 16 inches and 22 inches.
Another great feature that continues to make these bumpers a great option if you want great flexibility is the amount of different colors they come in, such as red, dark red, forest green, teal, blue, cobalt blue, and many others.
And not only is the Extreme Max 3006 a bumper that offers lots of options and choices to choose from, but it also boasts some of the best quality materials that are on the market. From a durable exterior PVC shell, to reinforced eyelets to which you can attach the (included) line ropes, no feature on this fender has been overlooked.
Since the Extreme Max 3006 boat bumpers are deflatable, these will be easy to store in the off-season. And, inflating them is as easy as using the inflate pump and included valves to fill the bumpers and securing them to the sides of your vessel with the line ropes, which are also included.
The Extreme Max 3006 Boating Fenders sell for just over $80, and include four bumpers, four line ropes, four inflate valves, and an inflate pump. There is also a three-year warranty on any and all of the included accessories.
5. Swell Wakesurf Boating Fenders
Another fantastic option for those who may prefer to have the circular bumpers instead of the round ones is the Swell Wakesurf brand.
The Swell Wakesurf boating bumpers are a rugged option for boat owners who either have larger vessels and/or spend time in waters that may be rougher than average.
Measuring at just over 25 inches in diameter, these fenders are bigger than average and can be used for sailboats, cabin cruisers, and large fishing vessels.
They are also often purchased to use on docks or rafts, to protect these structures from boats coming in, especially if the boats are too large, or don’t have adequate fenders of their own.
Made from a polycarbonate material, the outside of the fenders is rough, giving them more of a texturized feel than most. They are also coated in a scratch-free material that will guarantee to not damage your boat when it comes in contact with another boat, dock, or other solid structure.
The other nice thing about these fenders is they are actually much more versatile than some.
Many customers have bought the Swell Wakesurf Boating Fenders to use as a marker for things such as regatta races, temporary tie-up spots or to mark water causeway changes for boat traffic.
Their large size and easy inflatability make them easy to use for things other than just on your boat or dock.
The Swell Wakesurf comes in a bunch of different colors: dark gray, royal blue, deep red, and a bright white.
Retailing for around $45, the Swell Wakesurf Boating Fenders come as a single unit, which makes choosing different colors easy. You can find these at many online stores and boating supply shops.
6. Kemimoto Docking Fenders
A newer style of bumpers has recently been introduced to the boating accessory world, and the Kemimoto Docking Fenders are a solid example of this.
Unlike large round bumpers, which may be too cumbersome for smaller boats, or the standard rectangular ones, that may stick out from the dock so far that it makes embarking and disembarking more challenging, the Kemimoto Docking Fenders offer a new design that takes care of all of these issues.
The Kemimoto is still designed with a rectangular shape, but these are thinner than the traditional rectangles ones. Instead of being long and cylindrical, they are boxier and have a narrower shape to them.
This is ideal for bringing boats close to the dock or another vessel without causing damage, but allowing for closer accessibility. They also slip and slide less easily than other, traditionally shaped fenders can often do, especially when swells are high or the marina is exceptionally busy with boat traffic.
Coming in six different colors – gray, light blue, dark blue, orange, red, and black – the Kemimoto bumpers are made of a durable foam that doesn’t require inflating or deflating. They are also coated in a strong UV-resistant material that makes fading almost nonexistent and keeps the bumpers looking as good as the day you took them out of the package.
These bumpers come in sets of two, and can usually be ordered quite easily online. The Kemimoto Docking Fender sells for just under $100 and includes two fenders in your chosen color, attachment straps, and stainless steel buckle closures that promise a snug fit and can be adjusted as needed.
Finally, Kemimoto stands solidly behind its product, giving customers a two-year, money-back guarantee, and offering free returns if the fenders don’t meet your full approval.
7. Kemimoto PWC Adjustable Boating Fenders
Sticking with the Kemimoto brand, another boating favorite that’s new to the market is the Kemimoto PWC Adjustable Boating Fenders. These are another innovative design that will leave you wondering why these haven’t been invented before now.
The Kemimoto PWC Adjustable Boating Fenders are similar to the above Kemimoto model, in that they are made of a durable foam that won’t leak, and doesn’t need to be blown up or deflated. There is also no need to keep track of and store an inflate pump, since there is nothing to inflate – you can just unpackage these and go!
What makes these different from the above Kemimoto style, however, is that these bumpers come in two separate pieces that are attached, but allow for flexibility in how they are used. The moldability of these bumpers means they will hug the sides of your boat’s hull and provide a much closer fit, almost like a glove.
Not only do these adjustable bumpers provide additional protection to your vessel over some of the more traditional types, but they also look attractive as well.
Many boating experts would also claim that – because of their close-fitting design – the Kemimoto PWC Adjustable Boating Fenders will allow for more speed from your vessel, as they are more wind-resistant and will increase your boat’s performance compared to other bumpers if left in place.
The Kemimoto PWC Adjustable Boating Fenders come in six colors: dark gray, black, white, baby blue, royal blue, and cream. They also come in two different lengths: 13 ½ ” and 18”, making them ideal for smaller and larger boats.
These bumpers retail for around $45, depending on the size, and are best to buy online, as the Kemimoto brand is still relatively new and may be hard to find in brick-and-mortar stores.
And, as with any Kemimoto brand, they have a generous two-year, money-back guarantee and offer free returns if something is not satisfactory.
8. Hull Hugr Contour Boat Fenders
When something exciting and innovative hits the market, it’s no surprise that several manufacturers begin emulating it. Such is the case with the Hull Hugr Contour Boat Fenders.
As with the Kemimoto brand, the Hull Hugr brand clearly sees a new need in the world of boat bumpers. Similar to the Kemimoto models, these bumpers are made of a solid material, meaning that inflating and deflating is no longer necessary, and the concern over springing a leak or puncturing one of your bumpers is now in the past.
The Hull Hugr Contour Boat Fenders are also an improvement over large bumpers that take up much-needed space in the interior of your vessel. Because of their unique, folding design, these bumpers can easily be stored under a seat or in a storage bin.
And, because of their unique contour design, the Hull Hugr Contour Boat Fenders will mold themselves around the sides of your hull, making for a better contact-on-contact fit and offer increased protection from other boats, docks, and solid objects in your path.
Hull Hugr has yet to offer the range of colors that Kemimoto has with their contour-shaped fenders, and they only are available in one size currently (24 inches long), which makes them ideal for larger boats, but may seem too cumbersome for smaller vessels.
But, they are also less expensive than the Kemimoto fenders, so they may be a good option if you want to try a set of contour fenders and see if you like them as much as the more traditional type.
The Hull Hugr Contour Boat Fenders sell for around $25 a piece – not a bad investment for your other one – your much-loved boat.
About THE AUTHOR
I have a deep love of houseboating and the life-changing experiences houseboating has brought into my life. I’ve been going to Lake Powell on our family’s houseboat for over 30 years and have made many great memories, first as a child and now as a parent. My family has a passion for helping others have similar fun, safe experiences on their houseboat.Read More About Brian Samson