When choosing tools for your boat, you’re better off choosing the best you can get, and a boat ladder is no different. Having the best boat ladder is of paramount importance as it relates to your safety.
We’re going to look at the different characteristics of the best ones to determine what should matter to us depending on our needs. We’ll take an even closer look at a few important points to consider, namely durability, dimensions, and utility.
- Durability: Boat ladders need to have a durable construction. First, they have to withstand marine conditions, and having suitable material should address this point. 316 stainless steel is the obvious choice, though other materials could also work, such as anodized aluminum or 304 stainless steel.
316 stainless steel refers to marine-grade, while 304 stainless steel is the standard that is commonly used.
- Dimensions: The right length and width are essential for a ladder. A longer ladder is helpful for use as a boat swim ladder and water activities such as scuba diving, but a long ladder is not always the best choice. You also have to consider the weight of a ladder since longer means heavier.
A 3 rung ladder may be too short as pontoon ladders, but it might just be the right length for fishing boat ladders. On the other hand, a 5 rung ladder might be good for a swim platform but might be too long as a ladder for boarding. Getting the right number of steps is also important.
- Utility: Different ladders have different uses. However, some ladders have multiple functions, as boarding ladders or as dock ladders. OThers are usable for a small variety of boats and are then limited in the scope of their use.
Below we’ll take a look at some of the widely used boat ladders available today. We’ll discuss their strengths and the type of situation where they would be useful. We’ll also cover important information in our “Buying Guide” for choosing the suitable product.
- Durable heavy-duty aluminum
- Square tubing frame
- 17 inches wide
- Handle 900lbs of weight
- Anti-slip vinyl tread
- Telescopic design
- 12-inch wide construction
- Offers 900 lbs weight capacity
- Has a very sturdy and secure frame
Table of Contents
- Best Boat Ladder Reviews
- 1. Extreme Max 3005.3380 Pontoon Ladder
- 2. Hoffen Telescopic Stainless Steel Ladder
- 3. Amarine Made Stainless Steel Boat Ladder
- 4. RecPro Removable Boarding Boat Ladder
- 5. Rage Powersports Harbor Mate Boat Ladders
- 6. DasMarine Ladder Telescoping Ladder
- 7. Marinebaby 4 Steps Pontoon Boat Ladder
- 8. SeaSense Rope Ladder
- 9. Pactrade Marine 4 Steps Hook Ladder
- 10. Hoffen Telescopic Marine Drop Boat Ladder
- 11. YOUNG MARINE Folding Boat Ladder
- 12. RecPro Marine Pontoon Boarding Ladder
- What To Know Before Buying Boat Ladders
- How Do You Measure A Boat Ladder
- How Do You Mount A Ladder On A Bass Boat
- Is There a Ladder To Extend Your Boat’s Ladder
- Do Boat Ladders Float
- How Much Weight Will A Boat Ladder Hold
Best Boat Ladder Reviews
1. Extreme Max 3005.3380 Pontoon Ladder
The Extreme Max Pontoon/Dock Ladder is an overall efficient ladder to have on hand. It is made of heavy-duty square-tube aluminum that gives it a solid and sturdy make. It is effortless to grip, and the steps are deep and wide enough for boarding easier. It also has a helpful yet unique mounting system.
Installing mounting clips for this ladder is very easy and straightforward. When they said it takes five minutes to install, I was skeptical. However, it is that simple. Maybe not five minutes, but not much longer than that. It also takes up limited mounting space.
Unfortunately, not all installation hardware is included though the mounting clips are. Since it uses clips, it serves as quick-release mounting brackets. At 8 lbs for the 4-step ladder, it weighs less than most removable ladders for boat.
2. Hoffen Telescopic Stainless Steel Ladder
Next on our list is a platform telescopic ladder of stainless steel made by Hoffen. This one is a 4-step mounted ladder that boasts several features in addition to a set of standard qualities for the best boat ladders.
Made of marine-grade stainless steel entirely, this telescopic ladder can hold 900lbs of weight and feels every bit capable of doing so, though I would not recommend testing it. It is 45 inches long and 10 inches wide; I’d say it has a good balance between space-saving and ease of use.
The steps on this ladder are deeper than the usual that I see on most ladders making it more comfortable to climb. At 10 inches, it’s narrow enough to keep the platform clear when folded but spacious enough for two hands. Each step is also padded with anti-slip vinyl tread as a safety measure.
3. Amarine Made Stainless Steel Boat Ladder
This 4-step boat ladder from Amarine Made is a good-looking boat ladder that boasts a premium finish and a solid and sturdy frame made of stainless steel. Itsdurable construction feels every bit effective as its nice look.
At 45 inches, the ladder is long enough to reach into the water, making it much easier to board. Its 12-inch width is accommodating enough for most people to use it with ease as this provides enough room for both hands.
The black vinyl tread makes each step feel secure and prevents slippage. Overall, it feels very stable and safe to use. This ladder has a 900 lbs weight capacity, though I doubt most people would need such a high weight limit; it’s good to know that it has a large buffer.
While installation is necessary, it is easy and simple enough that even someone without much assembly experience should install in less than an hour. The biggest problem you might run into would be that bolts are required for installing but are not included.
4. RecPro Removable Boarding Boat Ladder
The 5-step removable boat ladder from RecPro looks and feels like a real heavy-duty ladder. It is wide, with deep steps, and works very well as a boat ladder for safe boarding and as a dock ladder. Also, its slight angle allows it to work well with pontoons.
Made entirely of anodized aluminum, this ladder feels secure. The 5-inch deep step this ladder has is the most comfortable step to a ladder I’ve come across in a long time. The secure frame holds very well, and I’m guessing the 300 lbs limit is due to it being a removable ladder.
As with most removable ladders, you can install additional mounting hardware to multiple points of your boat, and you can use it with any of those points. And, installing the mounting unit is easy, especially since everything we need for the installation comes included with the ladder.
5. Rage Powersports Harbor Mate Boat Ladders
The Rage Powersports boat ladder offers a multitude of convenience features. As a gunwale hook ladder, no installation is required to use it, and its folding design allows it to be stowed much more quickly compared to removable boat ladders.
It is made up of aluminum tubes and polyethylene steps, both resistant to rust and wear by water or moisture. Polyethylene, while a plastic, is a resin that can provide a lot of strength depending on how it is produced, and these flat poly treads easily handle loads of up to 300 lbs.
These steps also have a honeycomb design giving it a high traction grip that provides extra stability that exceeds that of steel tube steps. The honeycomb polyethylene steps are also UV resistant, so they pretty much covered any weakness usually associated with plastic material.
Due to the combination of materials for this ladder, it’s very light. Weighing a mere 3 lbs, it can be handled with absolute ease. The folding hooks allow for easy storage as well. I must admit I was surprised by how well this ladder turned out.
6. DasMarine Ladder Telescoping Ladder
This 3 step telescoping boat ladder by DasMarine is a practical boat ladder with platform that works in a wide variety of uses. It is also recommended for use on docks, swimming pools, or RVs; in addition to boats, including pontoons.
Since the mounting bracket is compatible with most horizontal installation bases, it would not be easy to list everything you can attach to. Installation is simple and does not require much work. It can be used as a ski boat ladder or a sailboat swim ladder.
As a 3-step ladder, this is good for use with smaller boats as using it on bigger ones may make it challenging to board from the water. Of course, it shouldn’t be a problem if we have the upper body strength for it.
The ladder is made entirely from marine-grade stainless steel, which lends durability and sturdiness that does not lose out to other boat ladders. Its almost 11-inch width is pretty good in reconciling space with convenience, and the 1.5-inch deep steps are enough for a solid footing that is so important when climbing with wet feet.
7. Marinebaby 4 Steps Pontoon Boat Ladder
The following product is a platform telescoping boat ladder by Marinebaby, a 4 Step Pontoon Boat Ladder recommended as a swim ladder for boats. It is made entirely from marine-grade stainless steel that is all welded together, giving it an incredibly sturdy body.
It has a very nice-looking polished finish and a sleek-looking design. My favorite feature of this ladder is its tall handrails, something I do not see over-platform mounted ladders have. Its telescopic design is paired with the stability and convenience that mounted ladders have, which I always wanted to see in a boat ladder.
Installing this ladder involves more work than usual as it has more mounting points to cover, but the extra stability is evident. It can hold up to 600 lbs of weight and should have no trouble holding anyone, one at a time.
Being 16 inches wide with 2 inches deep steps makes it an easy climb boat ladder. The handrails offer such nice support that I shudder at the thought of having to go back to using boat ladders without it. Steps are also flat with a non slip tread made of rubber for safety.
8. SeaSense Rope Ladder
This boat rope ladder by SeaSense is the only such type on our list. This product is a very lightweight rope ladder. As it is made of only rope and synthetic plastic, it barely weighs 3 lbs.
Furthermore, the rope ladder requires very little space for compact storage and is very easy to handle. One recommended use for this type of ladder is as a backup, especially for bigger boats.
This ladder is something we can bring along in an emergency, on a life raft, or as a small boat ladder. It also floats on the water, making it indispensable in a boat emergency as most boat ladders would sink.
With a rope ladder like this, no installation is required. Instead, it is used by tying it to a rail or cleats. It is very easy to place and remove, so it is good to have around for emergencies.
9. Pactrade Marine 4 Steps Hook Ladder
The 4 Step Hook Ladder by Pactrade Marine is a gunwale ladder that also works as a transom boat ladder. It is made of aluminum tube frames and polyethylene steps. At 46 inches long and 15 inches wide, it is rather easy and comfortable to use.
As a hook ladder, installation is not required, and the folding hooks allow for flat storage. This ladder also has support extensions to help secure it on the hull of the boat, and because they’re removable, it’s not a problem.
The polyethylene steps are durable enough, and while plastic is never as sturdy as steel, it does hold up to 300lbs without a hitch. The honeycomb design of the steps gives it extra grip to prevent slipping, which is better than the plastic padding that is usually quite uncomfortable.
10. Hoffen Telescopic Marine Drop Boat Ladder
This 3 Step Telescopic Drop Boat Ladder is in many ways similar to the 4-step Hoffen boat ladder earlier in this guide. They share many strengths and benefits, though their use varies somewhat as this 3-step ladder is recommended for smaller boats.
Installation is pretty much identical, and conditions for mounting are the same. However, as this is recommended for smaller boats, there are some subtle differences. This ladder is advisable for installation on most flat surfaces, not just platforms, and clearance is less of an issue.
It is also made entirely of marine-grade stainless steel. One key difference between this ladder and the 4-step one is the measurement. Being 3 and 4 steps, the length is expected to be different. But their widths also differ, with this 3-step ladder being 8.75 inches wide as opposed to the 4-step at 10 inches.
11. YOUNG MARINE Folding Boat Ladder
The 2 Steps Stainless Steel Drop Down Telescopic and Folding Boat Ladder from Young Marine is another small boat offering. The shortest boat ladder on our list by no means lacks in quality and features.
Its telescopic and folding design allows it to quickly flip onto the boat deck or platform. While it is recommended for smaller boats, there is no reason not to consider it for bigger boats should the need arise.
Installation is straightforward, and it works well on most horizontal platforms and even as an under platform swim ladder. It also works for non-boating use as long as the installation deck is appropriate. The package also comes with a fastening rope for keeping the folded ladder secure. It’s regrettable though, that certain installation hardware was not included.
The ladder is almost 24 inches long when deployed, and around 13 inches once folded. Its 11-inch width is much more comfortable for use compared to most other small-boat ladders I’ve seen, with a narrower width at a mere 8 inches wide.
12. RecPro Marine Pontoon Boarding Ladder
This is a pretty unique boat ladder by RecPro as it is both a removable and a folding ladder. It provides an excellent solution to having a problem with onboard storage concerning removable ladders and does it well.
The frame of this ladder is made up of anodized stainless tubes, which ensures its ability to withstand marine environments. While the steps are plastic, they are thick and sturdy, allowing a maximum weight capacity of 300 lbs, which is standard for removable ladders. The steps are also anti-slip for safety.
The ladder also features a sliding design for stowing. To be honest, it doesn’t look pretty, but since it’s removable, you won’t have to worry about looking at it for too long. It gets the job done, and that’s all anyone looks for in the best boat ladder.
It uses a flushing mount that is easy to install, and simple enough to use. Just make sure you slide it through the gap since some people tend to think they clip on and off instead, resulting in damage to the ladder.
What To Know Before Buying Boat Ladders
Types of Ladders
1. Mounted Ladder
These ladders are mounted to the swimming platform. Installation is usually easy but still more troublesome compared to other types due to the extra work.
These platforms are usually folding types or ones with a telescopic design. Since it is dangerous for a boat to run with a ladder creating drag in the water, folding the ladder to enable placement on the boat’s platform is the solution.
- Most stable type of ladder due to having a fixed base
- Has the highest weight capacity among different ladder types
- Does not take up extra storage space on the boat
- Less versatility due to being fixed to a specific location
- An obstruction on the swimming platform when folded
2. Gunwale Ladder or Hook Ladder
Gunwale ladders are those that need no installation and are the easiest to use. These have a pair of hooks at the top of the ladder placed over the gunwale. It has the top portion over the hull, which secures it in place for use.
This is a good choice for a ladder if you are looking for something to address multiple boat ladder needs, as ideal on any side of the boat provided that the design of your ladder matches your boat.
Most gunwale ladders can also be used as a sailboat transom ladder provided that it is not obstructed by an outboard boat engine or a trolling motor.
- Easiest to use and minimal space needed
- Able to be used only when needed and does not obstruct any area of the boat
- Also commonly used for docks or as a portable boat ladder
- Less stable and secure compared to mounted type
- Compatibility with a boat is difficult to confirm
3. Removable Ladder
Removable ladders also require installation, but it is only the mounting base that needs to be installed. The ladder clips onto the base if it is needed and is easily removed for easy storage. Installing different mounting bases makes it possible to use in numerous locations.
These ladders usually offer the largest width and the deeper steps, both details that make it much easier to use. They’re also commonly used as a rear entry ladder. Although it’s usually just larger boats such as yachts or pontoons with enough space for them, they’re commonly used as a sailboat ladder.
- Able to be used in many areas with the use of additional mounting hardware
- Can be wider as it does not obstruct the boat area
- Very durable and stable
- Not good boat ladders for elderly people and those without much strength
- These tend to be the bulkiest among types of ladders and are difficult to stow
4. Rope Ladder
These ladders are of a simple design, made of rope and a few step platforms. The steps are usually made of wood or plastic. These are used by tying the top rope to a rail or to boat cleats.
- Light and easy to store as it requires minimal space
- Floats on water, usually
- Very good as a backup ladder
- Least durable among types of ladders
- Difficult to use due to its very limited stability
It can be overwhelming to choose the perfect boat ladder for your needs. There are a lot of different boat ladders with many excellent features. So how do you narrow down the list to choose the right ladder?
Step 1: Identify the most important function of your ladder
First, you need to determine which type of ladder you need, and knowing what you’ll mainly be using it for will considerably narrow down the list.
Step 2: Set necessary features for the ladder
Next, identify key features you want for your ladder.
Of course, a ladder of durable construction is ideal, but you should also consider things like the space on your boat. As for the material itself, marine-grade 316 stainless steel is best, although 304 stainless steel or anodized aluminum also works well.
Another vital point to consider is the weight capacity of ladders. Most ladders would have a maximum limit of 300 lbs, but you should always be mindful of this figure. Though rare, some can have limits as low as 200.
Step 3: Check the ladder’s compatibility with your boat
If you have a small boat, such as a bass boat, there is not much point in considering a bulky aluminum boat ladder, especially since those usually work only for bigger boats or used as a pontoon boat step ladder.
Small sailboats have different considerations from larger ones. The length of a ladder would be different since these sailboats would have different heights.
You should also consider the ladder’s placement on a boat. Most ladders only need to be placed on a horizontal platform, but you should be mindful of obstructions as well.
How Do You Measure A Boat Ladder
The dimensions of a boat ladder that matter most are its length and its width. The length determines how deep into the water you can go or helps with easy boarding. More width makes it easier to climb since you’ll have enough space for your hands.
Step depth is also important since it can help with safe boarding.
How Do You Mount A Ladder On A Bass Boat
Mounting a boat ladder on a bass boat is not very different from mounting on other boats. However, it is recommended to mount the ladder on the transom to keep the bass boat’s balance.
The ladder can be placed atop the transom or at the backside of the transom itself. It is recommended to install a piece of wood as an install base for the ladder. After installing the wooden install base, proceed to install the ladder as directed by the manufacturer.
Is There a Ladder To Extend Your Boat’s Ladder
Yes, there are boat ladder extensions, but using them can be risky. The capacity and durability of a ladder factor in its length and the use of extensions make it difficult to trust the figures that come with your ladder.
Do Boat Ladders Float
Rope ladders usually float, but most other ladders do not due to heavy weight. Hence, a rope ladder is ideal for emmergencies.
How Much Weight Will A Boat Ladder Hold
Weight capacity for ladders differs, although ladders of the same type usually have the same weight limit. Removable boat ladders usually have the lowest weight limit, around 300 lbs. Folding ladders, on the other hand, will usually have around 600 to 900 lbs for their limit.
There are many good boat ladders available today, but choosing the best boat ladder will make it easy for you to deal with your situation in a more effective way. Besides boat ladder, you also can refer to other cabin products like boat flag or boat gifts by searching on above.
Hopefully, this guide addressed your concerns in choosing the right boat ladder for you and was able to allow you to make a well-informed decision. Now, you can spend more time enjoying the summer season out on your boat.
“I am James Harvey – founder of Boating Basics Online. It is established with the drive to help out first-time boaters, which are those desiring to explore their way through the water. So if you are new to boating, start from here with me. “