6 Best Boat Fenders: Reviews and Buying Guide for 2020

Boats are not easy to maneuver, especially when you are attempting to moor them. If conditions are not ideal, you could damage your boat by bumping into a dock or pilings. Like any vehicle, repairs are expensive. 

The best way to keep your boat in top condition is to invest the best boat fenders. They provide a cushion that protects your boat from hitting docks or other vessels. The best boat fenders come in varying sizes and shapes, just like the boats they protect. 

What to Know About the Best Boat Fenders?

Before you buy a boat fender, it is important to know how they differ from each other. To protect your boat’s hull, you need fenders that fit. You also need to know how many to buy, where to put them, and how to take care of them. Choosing the right fender will protect your boat for years while selecting the wrong can be costly. 

All boat fenders have similar features. They have at least one eye for a rope, and most are either cylindrical or round. Boat fenders inflate to provide a bumper between the boat and dock. 

Types of Boat Fenders

So, how do you know what type of fender to buy? It depends on the size of your boat and where you moor. 

The most commonly used fenders are cylinders with double eyes. These have rope eyes at both ends of the fender, so they can be used vertically and horizontally depending on where you are mooring. Using them in a vertical style is best for mooring at docks. Horizontal fenders work well against pilings. 

Some fenders are available as round cylinders, like a hybrid fender. These usually have rope holes in the center and tend to be used on large boats. Other fenders fit in a particular spot on the boat, like an L-shaped choice that fits on boat rails. Some have moveable joints so you can adjust it fit on a rail or the bow. 

Fenders also come in a round buoy shape. These look more like big beach balls with a rope eye on top. The round shape provides extra protection for boats, as they tend to stay put. 

Sizes of the Best Boat Fenders

When you buy a boat fender, you need to factor in the weight and length of your boat. You also need to consider where you moor it, as choppy or windy conditions plague some mooring spots. If your mooring spot is calm, you can get away with minimal fenders. But, if the conditions change and are often choppy, then you need large fenders and several of them. 

Boat people have a set rule for fenders. They buy at least one inch of cylindrical diameter or two inches for round diameters for every five feet of boat length. So, if you own a 30-foot boat, your cylindrical fenders should be at least six inches in diameter, and the round fenders should be twelve inches in diameter. 

Boats can crush fenders that are too small. If you have a fender that is too big, it might not fit into the mooring site, and it could be cumbersome to manage on your boat. 

Storing Your Boat Fenders

When you are asea, your fenders come with you. While they are inflatable, you probably do not want to deflate and inflate them every time you sail. Since they stay inflated while you are on the water, you need a place to tuck them away. Some people tie them to the railings, while others stow them in a bin or under a seat. 

Before you buy your fenders, consider where you plan to store them and what shape will be easiest to store. Round fenders do take up significant space, especially when compared to cylindrical models. 

Choose the Color Wisely

Because the best boat fenders will be outside most of the time, they get dirty. Yes, you can wash them with a mild detergent or soap. But, if you choose your color wisely, then the dirt doesn’t show as rapidly. They come in a variety of colors so that you can coordinate your boat fenders with your boat, too. 

Necessary Accessories

Boat fenders are useless without the right accessories. Since most are inflatable, you need a pump before you attach them to your boat. You also need to tie them to your boat, so lines are necessary. Storage racks and covers aren’t necessities, but they can extend the life of your fenders. 

The Best Boat Fenders Under $50

Boat fenders are necessary for anyone who plans to dock their boat against a wood dock or pylon. These are some of the best boat fenders priced under $50. 

Polyform G Series Boat Fenders

These fenders come pre-inflated and do not need to be inflated. The fender and eye are one piece. They are available in several colors so that you can coordinate them with your boat. They are available in several sizes, from the smallest boats under 10 feet long to boats up to 40 feet in length. 

They last a long time and tolerate rough boat docks with ragged wood and metal. The Polyform material is UV resistant and designed to stay bold and bright. They do have an inflation valve if you need to adjust the pressure. You can use them in saltwater and freshwater. 

Pros:

  • No inflation needed
  • One-piece construction
  • UV-resistant
  • Several color choices
  • Durable

Cons:

  • No pump included
  • No rope included
  • Have an unpleasant odor
  • Occasional quality-control issues
  • Difficult to repair

BABz Boat Fender Bumper Version 2

The buoy-style fender's thick soft plastic does not scratch boat finishes. The handle has reinforced thick plastic. You can use a standard 12v pump or blow up the fenders with your lungs. The plug is reinforced. 

The BABz fender inflates between 22-inches and 24-inches in diameter. It comes with an extra plug and removal tool, too. Instead of an eye for a rope, this fender has a large handle that fits most ropes. 

Pros:

  • Large diameter
  • Large handle fits most ropes
  • Easy to inflate
  • Thick, durable plastic
  • Does not scratch boat finishes

Cons:

  • No pump included
  • No rope included
  • Only one handle for ropes
  • Look like children’s bouncy toys
  • Occasional quality-control issues

Extreme Max 3006.7225 BoatTector 24" Contour Fender Value Pack, Black

The BoatTector Contour Fender does not need to be inflated. These fenders have a tri-laminate cover and thermal-bonded seams with corrosion-proof polycarbonate grommets. They have foam in them to protect boats from docks. They are UV-resistant and tear-resistant. 

The fenders measure 24" x 6. 5" x 2. 5" and come with 6-foot lines. These are ideal for small boats, as they fold around the hull. They have grommets at opposite ends for horizontal or vertical placement. These are easy to stow, as they fold up. 

Pros:

  • No need to inflate
  • Can be used horizontally or vertically
  • UV-resistant
  • Tear-resistant
  • Bendable

Cons:

  • Only for small watercraft
  • Quality-control issues
  • Only available in one color
  • Only six inches of protection against docks
  • Small rope

The Best Boat Fenders Under $100

Larger boat fenders are a necessity for people with big boats. Fenders priced at a higher price point often come in a set or are made of high-quality materials. 

VIVOHOME Vinyl Ribbed Marine Boat Fender for Bumper Shield Protection Pack of 4

The VIVOHOME fenders' marine-grade PVC is UV-resistant. They inflate to a diameter of 6.5 inches. They are 24 inches long. They come with a four-pack of rope, four inflating needles, and a pump. 

They have a pair of reinforced eyelets at the long ends so you can use these vertically or horizontally. They come in three colors; black, white, and blue. Each fender inflates in about one minute. 

Pros:

  • Designed for boats between 19-29 feet
  • Reinforced eyelets
  • Come with necessary accessories
  • Inflate quickly
  • UV-resistant

Cons:

  • Occasional quality-control issues
  • Pump can break
  • Rope is only 5-feet long
  • Limited color choices
  • Need more than one kit for most boats

Best Boat Fenders in Class

These are the best fenders you can buy for your marine expeditions. They keep your boat finish looking its best by preventing your boat from scraping against a dock or pylon. 

Polyform A-Series Buoy

The A-series Polyform buoys come in several sizes. They have one rope eye for ropes up to ½-inch in diameter. The smallest buoys fit boats up to 20-feet in length. The largest buoys fit boats up to 70 feet in length. 

You will need to inflate these buoys. You can use a Polyform pump or a standard tire pump. Polyform manufactures these buoys in the USA. They are made of durable vinyl and will not scratch boat finishes. They work in saltwater and freshwater. They also come in several colors. The rope holds are reinforced for extra durability.

Pros:

  • Easy to inflate
  • Several color choice
  • Durable construction
  • Will not scratch boat finishes
  • Work in saltwater and freshwater

Cons:

  • Round shape is difficult to stow
  • Smells bad
  • Colors can fade
  • Occasional inflation issues
  • Occasional quality-control issues

Mophorn 4 Ribbed Boat Fenders 10 x 28 Inch White Center Hole Bumpers Mooring Protection

This set of four ribbed boat fenders have marine-grade UV-resistant vinyl so they last in the heat of the sun. They have a center-hole design for horizontal or vertical use. They measure 10” x 28” and come in white. 

The ribbed design increases their strength. They measure 31.4-inches in circumference for extra protection against rough docks. 

Pros:

  • Center-hole construction
  • Ribbed vinyl
  • UV-resistant
  • Set of four
  • Large circumference for added protection

Cons:

  • No ropes included
  • Eye is difficult to thread
  • Tough to inflate
  • Arrived deflated

Conclusion

When you are shopping for the best boat fenders, you have plenty of options available. The best choice is one that fits the length of your boat. The best deal is the VIVOHOME four-pack because it comes with four fenders, rope to hang them, and a pump to inflate them. However, these only work for boats up to 29 feet in length. 

If you have a larger boat, then the best choice for you is the Polyform G series. These cylindrical fenders come in several sizes. You do not need to inflate them, and they work horizontally and vertically.