Pontoon Boat Trailers
Pontoon Trailers: Bunk-type vs. Scissor-type
Bunk-type trailers, sometimes referred to as “Drive-on” or “Float on”, feature a wide base with two raised bunks that support the pontoons along either side of the boat. These trailers resemble the standard boat trailer you’ve probably seen before.
Scissor-type trailers, sometimes called “Fold-down”, feature a narrow frame that fits between the pontoons and lifts the boat by the deck in the center. Because of its design, this type of trailer cannot haul triple pontoon models.
You should choose a trailer based on your location and usage. We’ll go into the pro’s and con’s of each type below, so you can decide which is a better fit for you.
Bunk-type trailers, because they are flat and wide, are more stable when towing. Scissor-type trailers, on the other hand, are more prone to tipping during turns because of their narrow build.
With this in mind, consider your typical commute when transporting your boat to and from the water. If you have a rough drive from your home to your favorite boating location, you may want a bunk-type trailer for safety.
Launching and Loading
If it’s practical for your commute, choosing a scissor-type trailer will add convenience to your trips when launching and loading your pontoon. Scissor-type trailers can launch in much more shallow waters because they hold the boat from the deck rather than the pontoons. The base can be raised and lowered mechanically, allowing you to lower your boat directly onto the ground then push it into water of any depth. This can also come in handy if you plan to store your boat in a garage or shed and you need to clear the opening. The top of the boat is much lower on this model than it is on a bunk-type.
With a bunk-type, you must load and launch your boat using the trailer as a ramp. This means the trailer must be submerged in the water enough to drive your boat on and off, which isn’t always practical in shallow tides. If your usual location has a long, shallow wake, you’ll probably want to choose a scissor-type trailer for ease of access.
Which trailer is for me?
Choosing a trailer may be a tough call. When making your decision, you should consider you launch site before anything else. If the water is too shallow, you won’t be able to launch your boat with a bunk-type trailer, making a scissor-type necessary. If you have a steep enough shoreline to launch with a bunk-type trailer, choose this style to make your commute less stressful.
Towing complications can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to your boat, so you want to be absolutely sure that you can tow safely. If you do begin looking into a scissor-type trailer, make sure you’re getting as much stability as possible. A single axle trailer is asking for trouble, two wheels are the bare minimum, and a tandem axle model with 4 wheels or more will have the best balance. When shopping, give the trailer a “tip test” to see how much you can move it with your bare hands. If you can lift it or tip it yourself, it’s probably not stable enough.