Pontoon Underway

Best Pontoon Boat Trailer Guides

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You’ve picked out the perfect pontoon boat, and you’ve got a trailer that’s the right size to move it around. Perfect. Now it’s time to ensure that the ‘toon doesn’t get damaged while putting it on and taking it off the trailer. 

Apart from selecting the correct size for your trailer, you’ll also need to select a pair of trailer guides (or “guide-ons,” depending on your lingo). These vertical bars stick up perpendicularly to your trailer’s support beams. They guide your boat on and off of the trailer by preventing lateral motion. While your ‘toon is secured on your trailer, these guides also help to limit the motion and disturbance caused by bumps in the road and/or heavy winds. 

Your trailer may already have a couple of guides installed. But these often tend to be less than adequate and are often made of cheap PVC plastic that’s easily broken and really doesn’t do all that much. 

This is why many people just install their own aftermarket trailer guide-ons. In general, they tend to be affordable, easy to install, and there are tons of options available depending on the size and type of your boat. 

In today’s article, we’re going to be examining some of the top-rated pontoon trailer guides on the market. We’ll start with the Best Pontoon Boat Trailer Guides, the CE Smith Roller Guide-On.

Let’s take a look.


Best Pontoon Boat Trailer Guides

Preview
Top Choice!
CE Smith Roller Guide-ON Pontoon, Beige
Runner-Up
CE Smith Trailer Pontoon Bunk Board Guide-On- Replacement Parts and Accessories for your Ski Boat, Fishing Boat or Sailboat Trailer
Budget Pick
C.E. Smith Pontoon Post Guide-On
Name
CE Smith Roller Guide-Ons
CE Smith Bunk Board Guides
CE Smith Post Guides
Price on Amazon
$123.86
$109.95
$97.51
Top Choice!
Preview
CE Smith Roller Guide-ON Pontoon, Beige
Name
CE Smith Roller Guide-Ons
Price on Amazon
$123.86
View on Amazon
Runner-Up
Preview
CE Smith Trailer Pontoon Bunk Board Guide-On- Replacement Parts and Accessories for your Ski Boat, Fishing Boat or Sailboat Trailer
Name
CE Smith Bunk Board Guides
Price on Amazon
$109.95
View on Amazon
Budget Pick
Preview
C.E. Smith Pontoon Post Guide-On
Name
CE Smith Post Guides
Price on Amazon
$97.51
View on Amazon

Our Top Pick: CE Smith Roller Guide-ON

CE Smith Roller Guide-ON

Key Points at a Glance

  • Inner guide design
  • Zinc-plated installation hardware prevents rust.
  • Easy-to-install U-bolts.
  • Guideposts made from high-quality galvanized steel.
  • Features smooth-rolling roller bars for quick and easy loading.
  • 29-inches tall.
  • Weighs 10 pounds.

The Details

CE Smith Roller Guide-ON

If you’re looking for the best pontoon trailer guides on the market, then these are it. They feature a unique roller design that’s designed to make the process of loading your boat a lot faster than normal.

As you pull your boat onto the trailer, the pontoon tubes will smoothly roll along the soft plastic roller tubes. These will not scratch or damage your tubes and will reduce loading friction. These are significantly better-performing than standard guideposts because of this.

They’re made from 100% galvanized steel so you’ll never have to worry about rust- even if you use your pontoon in saltwater. They even include zinc-plated installation hardware that’s corrosion-resistant.

The attention to detail that CE Smith put into designing these guides is second to none, and you’ll find several of this company’s products listed throughout this guide.

These roller guides are commonly used in tandem with straight posts as well to provide a tighter, more secure fit.

The CE Smith Roller Guide-ONs are the Best Pontoon Boat Trailer Guides available.

CE Smith Roller Guide-ON Pontoon, Beige
  • precision metal stampings, fabrications and...
  • Zinc plated hardware
  • U-bolt mounting brackets
  • Galvanized steel construction


Our Runner Up: CE Smith Trailer Pontoon Bunk Board Guide-On

CE Smith Trailer Pontoon Bunk Board Guide-On

Key Points at a Glance

  • Engineered with galvanized steel.
  • Zinc-plated installation hardware.
  • Can fit most trailer frames up to 3 inches wide and 4.25 inches high.
  • Durable rubber cushions to prevent damage
  • Inner guide design.

The Details

CE Smith Trailer Pontoon Bunk Board Guide-On

If CE Smith’s roller trailer guides don’t quite fit your taste, then these are probably the second-best option. They’re built almost exactly the same and use the same-sized galvanized steel frame, high-quality zinc-plated hardware, and are designed to fit most trailer frames with easy-to-install U-bolts.

The only difference is that instead of featuring plastic rolling tubes, these feature long rubber pads. These are perfect if you have a smaller boat that doesn’t need the extra rolling feature or you’re looking for something with a slightly more snug fit.

The price point is almost exactly the same as well. With the same high-quality build and design, it really just comes down to your personal preference!

CE Smith Trailer Pontoon Bunk Board Guide-On- Replacement Parts and Accessories for your Ski Boat, Fishing Boat or Sailboat Trailer
  • Fits frames up to 3" wide x 4-1/4" tall
  • U-bolt mounting brackets
  • Includes two rubber roller bunks
  • Galvanized steel construction
  • Zinc plated hardware


Best Budget: CE Smith Pontoon Post Guide-On

CE Smith Pontoon Post Guide-On

Key Points at a Glance

  • Made with galvanized steel.
  • PVC covers to prevent boat scratches on your pontoon tubes.
  • Low-profile 22-inch-tall design that works with any size of a pontoon.
  • Can be mounted on trailers 3-inches wide by 4.5-inches tall.
  • Inner guide design.

The Details

CE Smith Pontoon Post Guide-On

If you’re just looking for something cheap, simple, and versatile, then these will do the job! They’re made with high-quality galvanized steel and feature PVC covering tubes so that you won’t have to worry about any metal-on-metal scraping. Should the PVC ever crack or break, it can be replaced for less than $5 by purchasing a new PVC tube at your local hardware store.

Their low-profile design means that they’ll work with almost any pontoon- even the smaller ones.

The one complaint that we found about this particular pair of pontoon trailer guides is that for some, they’re too low. If it’s high tide and you have to back your trailer deeper into the water, then the guides can often become submerged underwater making them hard to see during the day and near impossible to see in the dark.

C.E. Smith Pontoon Post Guide-On
  • Guide posts go inside pontoons to center boat on...
  • Metal arm extends fully into PVC tube for...
  • Made of 1.5" square 16 Ga. steel tubing covered by...
  • Comes complete with hardware for trailer frames up...
  • For all your Trailer Parts and Boat Accessories...


Best for Rough Landings: Tie Down Engineering 86467 High-Impact Pontoon Trailer Guide-On

Tie Down Engineering 86467 High-Impact Pontoon Trailer Guide-On

Key Points at a Glance

  • Unique hot-dip galvanization method for a longer lifespan.
  • Features non-marking molded PVC covers.
  • Feature an inner mount design, but can be used with an outer mount setup as well.
  • Fits trailer beams up to 2-inches wide and 3-inches tall
  • 2.5-inch wide tubes

The Details

Tie Down Engineering 86467 High-Impact Pontoon Trailer Guide-On

If you’re one of those boaters who like to “park fast” then these are the best pontoon trailer guide-ons that you can buy. While they are a bit more expensive than some of the other options that we’ve reviewed, in our opinion- it’s worth it.

Unlike the other, more curved trailer guides that we’ve looked at these posts stand straight up and are designed to provide a more snug fit while your ‘toon is on the trailer. What really made this model stick out to us is the special non-marking PVC material that covers the body and tip of the posts.

This ensures that non only will the inside of your tubes not be damaged by metal-on-metal contact, but they also won’t get those ugly black streaks that you can get with many of the other trailer guideposts.

The sturdy design of these posts is meant to withstand the heavier impacts that often come with parking larger pontoons are parking at higher speeds.

Tie Down Engineering 86467 High-Impact Pontoon Trailer Guide-On, 30" H
  • Helps guide your pontoon boat safely onto the...
  • Hot dip galvanized steel square-tube posts are...
  • Designed to be mounted to the trailer frame...
  • Mounts to trailer cross members 2 in. wide by 2-3...
  • All mounting hardware included


Best for Low Visibility: Tie Down 86465 Pontoon Trailer Guide-On’s

Tie Down 86465 Pontoon Trailer Guide-On's

Key Points at a Glance

  • Easy-to-see bright orange caps on the PVC tubes.
  • Inner guide design.
  • 1.5-inch square tubes.
  • Engineered with high-quality 16-gauge galvanized steel.
  • Mounts to trailer beams that are up to 2-inches wide and 4-inches high.
  • 13-inch-tall guides that stick up out of the water.

The Details

Tie Down 86465 Pontoon Trailer Guide-On's

If you’re looking for pontoon trailer guides that are easy to see so you don’t run into them, then these are an excellent option. While they aren’t as thick as some of the more high-impact posts that we’ve looked at, you won’t have to worry about crashing into these half as often.

For one, they’re 13-inches tall so they’ll stick up out of the water high enough for you to see them while you’re trailering your pontoon. For two, the PVC tips feature bright orange caps so that you’ll be able to see them- even in the dark!

They’re also great for those with lights on the outer hull of their pontoons.

While the posts may be a bit “skinny” for some peoples’ preference, they are made with the same high-quality galvanized steel that most of the other top-quality models that we’ve looked at in this article.

Tie Down Engineering 86465 Guide On Marine Pontoon Trailer
  • Bright orange end caps
  • Posts are designed to be mounted between the...
  • Made of 1-1/2" square, 16-gauge steel galvanized...
  • Mounts to trailer cross members up to 2" wide and...
  • All mounting hardware is included


Pontoon Boat Trailer Guide-Ons Buyer’s Tips

Once you’ve got your ‘toon boat, you want to keep it looking and functioning nicely. Like pontoon boat covers, pontoon trailer guides are not a flashy item, but they really help keep it in good shape. Trailer guide-ons help you guide your boat safely onto your trailer keep it secure as you travel down the highway. 

Even though trailers do have a crank winch that secures the bow of the boat, this does nothing to prevent lateral (sideways) motion. All it takes is a strong gust of wind or going over a big bump too fast to easily shift the weight of your boat.

This, in turn, can then cause the entire trailer to become off-balanced or even tip over in more extreme cases. The best-case scenario is that one side of your trailer’s wheels and tires experience extra wear and tear and need to be replaced quicker. 

Now, do you need expensive trailer guides or will you be fine with the factory guides that are already on your trailer?

The answer really depends on how big your boat is, how secure it is, and ultimately- how you feel about it. 

In general, most of the aftermarket trailer guides that we’ve reviewed here are far better quality (and safer) than the average stock trailer guides that come with your setup. Given that most of these pontoon guides are less than $100 for a pair, they’re also a relatively affordable investment, so there’s really no reason why not to upgrade them. 

Important Features to Consider 

Now that you’ve had a chance to look at some of your trailer guide-on options, let’s take a few minutes to go over some of the key features that you should be aware of while shopping for your next pair. 

Inner vs. Outer Guides

You’ve probably noticed that there are two main styles of pontoon guides mentioned in this article. 

First, there are your standard outer guides. These will rest on the outer sides of your pontoon’s tubes and are the most common to find in boating stores and offered by trailer companies. They’re also a little bit easier to keep an eye on while you’re parking your boat on the trailer. 

Secondly, there are inner guide-ons. These are designed to rest in between your pontoon’s tubes. In our opinion, these provide a little bit more stability and are a little stronger than outer guides. That being said, they are harder to see. Until you become fully proficient in parking your new boat on the trailer, you may need a spotter upfront on the bow to help keep your boat on-track so that you don’t accidentally run into your guides. 

Materials

Depending on the price and quality of the pontoon boat trailer guides that you’re looking at you’ll typically find the following materials:

  • Stainless Steel- Highest Quality
  • Anodized Aluminum- Good Quality
  • PVC- Lower Quality

When you’re dealing with a heavy pontoon boat, it’s usually best to get the higher-quality metal guides as you won’t have to worry about cracking or bending them if you accidentally bang into them a little too hard. 

Stainless steel contains corrosion-resistant materials that prevent it from rusting, and PVC is plastic so rust is never an issue. Untreated aluminum, on the other hand, is very susceptible to rust. If you’re looking at a pair of aluminum pontoon trailer guides, then make sure that they’re anodized. Anodizing is a process where the aluminum is coated with an anti-corrosion material that prevents it from rusting when exposed to brackish (salty) water. 

It’s also important that the installation hardware is corrosion-resistant! This is one of those small, often-overlooked features. Many manufacturers will make a high-quality guide, but then send you cheap screws and bolts that start rusting a month after you get them. 

If you notice this happening, then it’s best to take them off as soon as possible and replace them with some stainless steel hardware from your local hardware store. This will prevent you from having to saw them off in the future if you ever decide to move them or replace them. 

Visibility

Pontoon boats are pretty high above the water level when compared to your average skiff or sport boat (which maintains a lower profile for speed), especially if you’re using something like a pontoon jack plate. When it comes to smaller boats, you can usually get away with a short trailer guide as you’ll be able to see it perfectly while you’re pulling onto the trailer. 

However, with a taller pontoon boat, you’ll want to purchase higher, easier-to-see guides if possible. This will not only prevent you from accidentally running into them, but it will make the process of loading your pontoon a lot faster. 

Height

There are a lot of different sizes of pontoons and some of them sit lower or higher than others. It’s important that you take the time to measure the distance from the bottom of your pontoon’s deck to the ground so that you don’t accidentally get a pair of guides that are too tall! 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Guides Come With My Purchase?

If you check these guides out on Amazon, one of the most common questions you’ll see is, “How many come in the pack?”

Trailer guides are almost always sold How Many Trailer Guides Do I Need?. The only exception to this is that sometimes manufacturers will sell a single “replacement” guide in the event that you just need to purchase one that you broke.

How Many Trailer Guides Do I Need?

Most boat owners are content with one pair of trailer guides, but for those with larger boats, it can be helpful to install a couple of pairs for a total of 4 guideposts. This is especially true when it comes to those large 25-foot and 30-foot pontoon boats. You should never need more than 4 posts, though, unless you’re towing an incredibly large yacht, but that’s a different subject. 

If you do opt for a dual-pair setup, then it’s best to install a pair towards the rear crossbeam of your trailer and the other pair towards one of the central or front crossbeams to provide complete support. 

Can I Install Trailer Guides On Any Trailer?

Yes, all of the pontoon trailer guides featured in this article are compatible with standard boat trailers. They feature universal installation hardware. 

Are Trailer Guide-Ons Easy To Install?

Trailer guides are incredibly easy to install. They’re a simple bolt-on installation. As long as you can twist a bolt and a couple of screws, you’re good. All you should need is a couple of wrenches and a pair of pliers. You shouldn’t even have to drill into the frame of your trailer either. 

The hardest part of the installation is going to be spacing the guideposts out correctly. If possible, it’s best to mark out where you want them with a Sharpie while the boat is on the trailer. If your boat is big enough, you may even be able to install them from underneath the trailer even while your boat is still mounted.

Can Pontoon Trailer Guides Damage My Boat?

Trailer guides can damage your boat if you run into them at high speeds. This is why it’s always a better idea to go slow and steady while loading your boat onto the trailer instead of charging in like a jock. This is especially true with pontoon tubes. If you run into the post hard enough, they can puncture the tube and let water in. As you can imagine, this is not good. 

If you’re unsure of your abilities, then it may be best to start off using some simple PVC trailer guides as these have less risk associated with them. 


Other Products We Looked At:

Extreme Max 3005.3783 Heavy-Duty Pontoon Trailer Guide-Ons

Extreme Max 3005.3783 Heavy-Duty Pontoon Trailer Guide-Ons
At first glance, these look almost exactly like the pontoon trailer guides designed by Tie Down Engineering that made our top-pick for “Rough Landings.” While the design is similar, it’s important to note that these guideposts are not meant for saltwater applications.

Although the post and hardware are zinc-plated to provide corrosion resistance, they aren’t designed to withstand constant exposure to saltwater.

That being said, however, these are a great option if you just plan on using your pontoon and trailer in lakes or freshwater. The steel posts are 2.5-inches wide which means that they can stand up to rough landings and they stand 30-inches tall out of the water for better visibility.

Key Points at a Glance

  • Zinc-coated steel for a rust-resistant finish.
  • 30-inches tall
  • Features a non-marking PVC coating on the body and tip of the steel.
Extreme Max 3005.3783 Heavy-Duty Pontoon Trailer Guide-Ons
Extreme Max 3005.3783 Heavy-Duty Pontoon Trailer Guide-Ons
Set of two heavy-duty pontoon guide-ons for improved overall loading and stability; 2.5" industrial-grade steel frame with non-marking PVC coating; 30" overall height
$104.99

CE Smith Guide-ON Post For Pontoons (Older Model)

CE Smith Guide-ON Post For Pontoons (Older Model)

These are probably one of the most commonly seen pontoon trailer guides. They’re identical to the CE Smith Guide-ons that we reviewed as our “Budget Pick.” However, these are the older model. While the design is almost identical, the newer model is slightly larger and gets better reviews.

However, if you’re unable to find CE Smith’s newer model guide-ons, then these are a great second choice.

They feature the same galvanized steel bars and easy-to-install design with their simple U-bolts. The posts are tall and capped with a PVC tube that won’t mark the inside of your tubes and even provides a bit of light rolling action to facilitate an easier boat mounting experience.

Key Points at a Glance

  • Galvanized steel bars.
  • PVC tube won’t scratch your tubes.
  • Easy-to-install U-bolts.
Guide-ON Post Pontoon
Guide-ON Post Pontoon
Package length: 53.34 cm; Package width: 44.196 cm; Package height: 8.89 cm; Product Type: FISHING EQUIPMENT
$87.05

Conclusion

Pontoon boats are an excellent way to enjoy the great outdoors while social distancing from the general public. Having a solid, reliable, and safe pair of trailer guide-ons designed for pontoon boats is an important feature that will not only prevent damage from the underside of your boat, but will also prevent unwanted weight shifting during towing, and make it easier to pull your ‘toon onto your trailer! 

CE Smith Roller Guide-ON Pontoon, Beige
CE Smith Roller Guide-ON Pontoon, Beige
precision metal stampings, fabrications and assemblies; Zinc plated hardware; U-bolt mounting brackets
$123.86
CE Smith Trailer Pontoon Bunk Board Guide-On- Replacement Parts and Accessories for your Ski Boat, Fishing Boat or Sailboat Trailer
CE Smith Trailer Pontoon Bunk Board Guide-On- Replacement Parts and Accessories for your Ski Boat, Fishing Boat or Sailboat Trailer
Fits frames up to 3" wide x 4-1/4" tall; U-bolt mounting brackets; Includes two rubber roller bunks
$109.95