What to Look For When Buying a Boat Cover
One important factor to consider when choosing a boat cover is whether it’ll be used on a stationary or on a trailered boat.
For a trailered boat, the cover should fit snug and be strong enough to withstand the wind forces from highway speeds. Any wind that gets under the cover will cause it to billow, which can easily damage the cover. If you trailer your boat, make sure the cover has plenty of tie-down straps; is made of tear-resistant material; and has reinforced corners and seams.
For a boat stored at a marina or a dock, the cover should be strong enough to withstand extreme weather such as gales, rain and snow. However, it doesn’t necessarily need to be as robust or tight-fitting as the cover for a trailered boat.
Boat Cover Types
Customized Boat Covers
These covers are made-to-order by custom canvas shops. With a fully customized cover, you can accommodate any additions made to your boat, such as a flybridge.
However, custom boat covers don’t come cheap! Choosing your own fabric, colors and custom fit costs extra, but the perfect look and fit for your boat is worth the investment.
Semi-Custom Boat Covers
These covers are manufactured for a specific make, model and year, so they provide a great fit and protection. Semi-custom covers are very popular among boat owners, and about half the price of a customized cover. The downside to these covers is they may not fit over any additions made to the boat. It’s also harder to find covers for older boat models or those produced in limited numbers.
Universal Boat Covers
These boat covers are one-size-fits-all, aimed at a particular type of boat, such as a deck boat or bowrider instead of a single make and model. Universal boat covers are the most affordable, but can provide good protection for stationary storage if installed properly. However, they provide the least secure fit and the lowest level of protection. They’re also not suitable for trailering, and come in a limited choice of colors and materials.
Boat Cover Materials
Choose a material that provides excellent protection against the elements, lasts a long time, and looks good even after years of use.
There’s no single “wonder material” that all boat covers should be made from, so consider the following factors when choosing a fabric:
Water/moisture resistance: Has the ability to prevent rain, snow and moisture from intruding the boat. The material should be breathable to prevent moisture damage. However, the more waterproof a material is, the less breathable it is, so keep that in mind.
Mold/mildew resistance: Is made of synthetic fabrics such as polyester that are more resistant to mold and mildew than natural fabrics like cotton or linen. A mold/mildew resistant cover also requires less cleaning and maintenance.
UV/fade resistance: Keeps the cover looking good while protecting it from damage from constant exposure to sunlight.
Durability/ease of handling: Resists abrasion from constant handling, and is lightweight enough to not be a burden every time you remove or reinstall it. Opt for the strongest material possible that’s easy to handle.
Boat Cover Size and Fit
If you’re buying a semi-customized or universal boat cover, you’ll need to know your boat’s size to ensure a good fit.
You’ll need to measure:
- The centerline, or length, from the tip of the bow to the center of the transom (including objects protruding from beyond the transom, such as a swim platform).
- The beam, or width. Measure from one side of the boat to the other at the widest point (usually at the windshield or the transom).
PRO TIP: Always measure in a flat line to avoid measuring up over objects such as windshields, seats or rails. If your boat is out of the water, mark the ground below the boat’s extremities and simply measure between these marks.
The boat cover should have plenty of tie-down straps to ensure the cover remains snugly fitted over the boat. These straps should be strong enough to keep the cover in place in high winds or when heavy snow weighs down on it.
Get a quality boat cover with reinforced points that would otherwise be prone to chafing and wear, including all corners, seams and joints. Finally, buy a cover with a long warranty, which demonstrates the manufacturer’s confidence in the durability of its product.