Tips for Choosing the Right Boat Cover or Top
Boat covers and tops serve the same purpose: to protect your boat. A cover protects your boat from the elements when it’s not in use, while the top protects the boat, you and your passengers out on the water as well as when it’s moored.
There are countless top and cover styles, colors and sizes out there for all kinds of boats. And you need to consider the climate and conditions where you use your boat, as well as how and where you transport and store it. When choosing a boat cover or Bimini top, there are certain things you should look for in both.
All boat covers and tops should:
- Protect your boat from debris
- Withstand UV cracking and fading
- Be breathable and repel moisture and water
Here’s a simple guide on what to look for when buying a boat cover and/or top.
Do Your Research
With so many manufacturers claiming their product is the best, customer reviews and word-of-mouth will help you narrow down your choices. It’s worth spending the time researching which manufacturers make what products; what customers say about their products; and what warranties come with the purchase.
Find the Right Fit
What good is a boat cover or top if it doesn’t fit your boat properly? While a “one-size-fits-all” cover might seem appealing for its lower price, an original manufacturer or custom-made cover or top tailored for your boat’s make, model and size is worth the extra money it costs to get the right fit.
Know Your Boat’s Measurements
Measure your boat to get the best fit from a cover or top. Determine which area you want it to cover, then measure the length, height and width for that area. For a boat top, the height and length measurements alone should give you a solid idea about how much shade the top will provide.
Measure across the width, height and length to determine the mounting points, and picture half-and-half length coverage from either side of the central point. For height measurements, stand in your boat and measure from the mounting points up to the desired overhead position of the top. Measure the maximum standing height under the frame from the mounting location, not from the floor of your boat. If you drive standing up, choose a top with a taller height, but keep in mind that the higher the top, the less shade it provides.
Choose Quality Material
Nothing rings truer than “you get what you paid for” when it comes to the materials boat covers and tops are made from. And while pricing is important, it should never come at the expense of quality.
Cheaper material will not be as durable or as breathable as higher grade material. Avoid fabrics that aren’t resistant to sunlight and to mold and mildew. Stick with marine grade polyester and acrylic fabrics that won’t stretch, shrink or break. They’re more expensive but are also more breathable, UV- and temperature-resistant, and capable of handling higher wind speeds. Choose a boat cover that fits tightly to your boat, and keeps water and moisture out when it’s moored, stored and transported.
Choose the Right Dye
While the color of Bimini top fabric should match or complement the colors of your boat for aesthetic purposes, on a boat cover the color itself doesn’t matter that much. However, if you’re ordering a custom-made cover, make sure the fabric and the dye are compatible.
Solution-dyed fabric covers might stain or damage upholstery and gelcoat. Make sure the dye used for the cover you choose won’t bleed all over your boat. And while dark colors typically last longer and have greater UV resistance than lighter colors, they absorb more heat, so keep that in mind when choosing a color.
Stick With the Tried & True
If your boat has a top or cover you’re looking to replace that you’ve been happy with, choose the same manufacturer. Find out if the manufacturer can reproduce the specs for your current top or cover, or explore some of their other options for your boat’s dimensions. Either way, if you had a good experience with the quality of the existing top or cover, why gamble with a brand switch?
Additional Tips for Choosing a Boat Cover or Top
- Find out if a boat cover comes with extras like a storage bag, ties, belts and other accessories.
- Make sure any boat cover or top you buy comes with a solid warranty, and read the fine print on what it covers.
- Choose a cover or top that’s easy to use, clean and maintain.
- Check the speed rating on boat tops and covers to see if they can withstand both boat and (for trailering) highway speeds.
Fitting a high quality cover and/or top on your boat helps extend your boat’s lifespan, not to mention improve its resale value. Take the time to do your research before buying anything for your boat.