Getting outside on the lake or river on your pontoon boat is an excellent way to enjoy a fun experience with the entire family or catch up with a few friends you haven’t seen in forever.
Since pontoon boats are generally larger than your average fishing boat and completely outdoors, they’re the perfect watercraft for small groups of people to socialize without having to be in a confined environment and breath the same air!
‘Toon sales are higher than they’ve ever been as more and more people around the country are either purchasing new boats or finding cheap used pontoons and fixer-uppers off of social media.
The thing that many first-time pontoon owners often forget about, though, is all of the accessories that you’ll need to purchase in order to get the most out of your pontoon. While some opt for a more spartan rig with minimal accessories, the more you can add to your rig, the more fun you’ll have.
Today, we’re going to be reviewing some of the top-selling ladders for pontoon boats on the market! This is definitely one of those staple items that all pontoon owners should invest in, especially considering how high some toons sit above the waterline.
Let’s climb on in and take a look! We’ll start with the Best Pontoon Ladder, the XGEAR 4 Step.
Best Pontoon Ladder
Our Top Pick: XGEAR 4 Step Pontoon Boat Ladder
Key Points at a Glance
- 400-pound maximum weight capacity.
- Stainless steel ladder.
- Slip-proof ladder grips.
- Folds and telescopes for compact storage.
- Compatible with most pontoon boats.
- Standard 4-step design.
- Extra-wide ladder crossbeams.
- Easy to install.
If you’re looking for one of the best pontoon boat ladders on the market, then XGEAR’s 4-step stainless steel ladder is a perfect choice. While it is a bit more expensive than some of the other options that we’ve reviewed in this guide, it is by no means the most expensive.
And the XGEAR is guaranteed to be a better deal than you’d find at your local expensive boating shop.
The reason this particular ladder made our top choice is because of how sturdy it’s built and how user-friendly it is. For one, it’s made out of super-high-quality stainless steel that’s expertly welded (unlike a lot of the cheap Chinese knock-offs you’ll find).
The large grips, steps, and quality welds give XGEAR’s pontoon boat ladder a maximum holding capacity of 400-pounds! This is perfect for divers and fishing enthusiasts who are often carrying a hundred pounds of tanks, gear, an underwater scooter, etc.
Another thing that we really liked about this ladder is how big the footsteps are. They’re 2.4-inches wide and feature a plastic-threaded anti-slip foot grip to prevent slipping. You’ll also have 14-inches of space between the two bars, so larger swimmers or people wearing big flippers can easily climb in and out of the boat.
It’s also incredibly easy to store! Like many of the other ladders you’ll see in this guide, the XGEAR 4-step pontoon ladder features a telescoping bottom rung that can easily be folded back into the boat and secured in seconds.
This is the Best Pontoon Ladder available.
- HEAVY DUTY WELDED MATERIAL: Well-welded stainless...
- NON-SKID STEP THREADS: The design of extra wide...
- EASY DROP & STORAGE: The telescopic steps drops...
- DIMENSIONS: Diameter of Tube: 1.6"; Length Folded...
- PACKAGE LIST: L-Shaped Plate; The Steps; Handrail...
Our Runner Up: Marinebaby 4 Steps Pontoon Boat Ladder
Key Points at a Glance
- 600-pound weight capacity.
- Durable 316 stainless steel construction.
- Multiple size options available.
- Long-lasting fiberglass stepping platform.
- Telescopes and folds for easy storage.
- Extra-tall handrails.
- Includes bungee cord for securing ladder in storage.
We have to admit, Marinebaby’s 4-step pontoon ladder was a close competitor for our XGEAR top-pick. On the surface, both of these two ladders look almost exactly the same and feature almost identical design traits.
However, there are some differences.
The first difference you’ll notice is the total width and thickness of the ladder rungs are a bit smaller than the XGEAR. While this gives this unit a slightly smaller profile, it does make getting on and off the boat slightly less comfortable, especially if you’ve got larger feet or you’re wearing flippers and scuba gear.
Marinebaby’s ladder makes up for this with a taller handrail that allows for easier mounting and dismounting.
Another key difference is the weight limit. Marinebaby’s 4-step toon ladder has a 600-pound maximum weight capacity, which is 200-pounds more than XGEAR’s. That being said, this model is a good bit more expensive.
Aside from these key features, however, the two ladders are almost identical in design. They both feature the same telescoping and folding pattern for easy storage while cruising and can both be fully folded out and extended in less than 10-seconds.
Ultimately, it really comes down to your personal preference.
We prefer the XGEAR thanks to its larger rungs that make for easier climbing. The lower price point is also an attractive feature. Marinebaby’s ladder has a higher weight capacity, though, which is a very important feature for many swimmers and professional divers.
Both of these ladders are engineered to the highest quality standards and are both excellent choices. The Marinebaby may be the Best Pontoon Boat Ladder for those who need a high weight limit.
- Heavy duty all welded 316 stainless steel pontoon...
- Stainless Steel 316 tubing * Telescopes and flips...
- Extra wide telescoping steps for more comfort when...
- More choices: 2 Steps...
- More choices: 2 Steps ladder with Fiberglass...
Best Budget: Extreme Max 3005.4086 Folding 4-Step Pontoon Ladder
Key Points at a Glance
- Weighs only 7.5 pounds.
- Aluminum frame.
- Plastic ladder rungs.
- 300-pound maximum weight capacity.
- Can be easily removed from pontoon mounts.
- Folds in on itself for compact storage.
If you’re not looking to spend a bunch of money on one of the fancier telescoping stainless steel ladders, then Extreme Max’s 4-step folding pontoon ladder is a fair choice. While it doesn’t come with the sleek, polished design or smooth, telescoping rungs, it gets the job done.
As long as you’re not looking for a particularly aesthetic model, then this is really all you need.
The biggest difference between this model and our two top-picks is the materials used. Our top-picks feature high-quality 316 stainless steel, but this model features a lightweight aluminum frame with heavy-duty plastic rungs. Despite the lower-quality materials, however, the ladder is still able to support 300 pounds.
Pretty impressive! And at almost half the cost of other popular models on the market, it’s hard to argue with the price point.
One of the features that we really like about the Extreme Max 3005.4086 model is how easy it is to install and remove. Unlike most of the other models in this guide that need to be screwed into the deck of the pontoon, the ladders mounts on this unit can be easily placed into your pontoon’s holding cups.
They can also be rotated to expand or contract so that they can fit into any pontoon- no matter the distance between cup widths. When you’re done for the day, you can lift it out of the holes and throw it in your garage for safe storage!
The one disadvantage of this design is that since it isn’t firmly secured to your pontoon with screws, choppy water and heavy winds can easily dislodge the ladder and cause it to sink.
Apart from this one design flaw, however, Extreme Max features above-average performance for a reasonable price.
- Quickly connects or disconnects from the mounting...
- Extends 37” down from the pontoon deck when in...
- Folds to 29” x 15. 5” x 3. 5” for easy...
- 300 lbs. capacity
- All mounting hardware included
Best Undermount Ladder: Extreme Max 3005.3434 Undermount Pontoon Ladder – 4-Step
Key Points at a Glance
- Weighs only 15-pounds.
- Features heavy-duty welded aluminum construction.
- Comes with a 2-year warranty.
- 1-foot rung spacing for easy climbing.
- 4-foot total length when extended.
- Designed to be mounted to pontoon’s underside.
So far, all of the other ladders we’ve reviewed are designed to be mounted to the side or rear of your pontoon where the mounting platform and holding cups are located. This pontoon ladder, however, is designed to be mounted to the underside of your pontoon between your tubes on the bow.
It does require some extra screws since it’s designed to support more weight, but the low-profile design is definitely worth the extra installation time.
The price point is almost identical to our top-pick, so your decision really just depends on your personal design preference and what you feel would be a better match for your pontoon. The one disadvantage of these undermount pontoon ladders is that since they’re mounted on the underside of your boat, they are more susceptible to damage should they come loose and get dragged under the boat.
Apart from this one downside, though, the design is solid. In storage mode, the ladder slides into its slot on the underbelly of your pontoon the same way that the ramp does on a typical U-Haul moving truck. It’s held in place with a small plastic locking pin (which you may want to install a string on so it doesn’t get lost).
The other nice thing about this ladder is that it only weighs 15-pounds, so it’s considerably lighter weight than the heavier stainless steel models we looked at earlier.
If you have a smaller pontoon or low-powered motors, then minimizing additional weight is usually an important concern; one that this ladder definitely adheres to.
- Welded aluminum construction
- Convenient undermount design
- Four steps for comfortable boarding
- Mounting hardware included
- Two-year limited warranty
Best Multi-Use: RecPro 5 Step Removable Boarding Boat Ladder
Key Points at a Glance
- Large 5.5-inch-thick rungs for big feet.
- 14-inch-wide rungs for wide steppers.
- Can be used on pontoons or docks.
- Made with durable, lightweight aluminum.
- Non-telescoping or folding.
- Quick-release hardware for fast repositioning.
If you don’t mind using a larger, non-compact, ladder then RecPro’s 5-step removable pontoon ladder is a high-quality traditional option. One of the cool things about this particular ladder is that it can be used on both boats and on your dock.
This really comes in handy if you don’t have a floating dock and you happen to pull up at low-tide when the dock seems higher than when you first pulled off earlier in the day.
Another key advantage of this ladder is that it’s a lot more sturdy and durable than most of the collapsible models on the market. Since each piece of the frame is welded from one piece of aluminum, you’ll never have to worry about bending, broken, or stuck rungs. It also includes some quick-release hardware so that you can easily unmount the ladder from your boat and mount it to your dock and vice-versa.
The biggest drawback of this pontoon ladder is how much space it takes up.
Since it is a large, non-telescoping ladder, you won’t be able to drive the boat with it in-place. Between stops, you’ll need to fully remove the ladder and find a place to store it on your deck.
As a large 6.5-foot-long ladder it can take up a considerable amount of space on your boat.
If you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-remove, and multi-use ladder, though, this is a good option.
- Great for docks and pontoons
- Angled with tall handrails for easy boarding
- Wide, comfortable boarding steps. (5-1/2" depth x...
- Includes all mounting hardware (LHW-LAK ladder...
Pontoon Boat Ladder Buyer’s Guide
If you own a pontoon, then you should have a pontoon ladder (and don’t forget your pontoon boat cover!). Pontoons are some of the highest-standing cruising boats and they’re not exactly easy to climb on (especially if you happen to use a pontoon boat jack plate).
Since you’ll likely be spending a lot of time stopping at sandbars, docking on beaches, and other fun river activities, a good ladder is essential– especially if you’re riding with small kids or older folks who can’t jump on and off of the boat easily.
Important Features to Consider
Let’s take a quick look at the most important features that you should keep an eye out for when shopping for pontoon ladders.
Typically, you’ll be able to choose between stainless steel and aluminum. Stainless steel is generally more heavy-duty but comes with added weight. Aluminum doesn’t usually have as high of a weight capacity, but it’s super-lightweight.
Width of Steps
If you have a wide gait or shoulders, then you’ll probably want to go with a ladder that has a wider distance from side-to-side. This will make climbing a lot easier.
Number of Steps
More steps typically correlate with a longer ladder. The higher your pontoon is elevated from the water’s surface, the more steps you’ll need for your ladder.
Weight capacity is important for heavier individuals or those who haul a lot of gear with them. More weight capacity is always better and usually correlates with stronger materials.
Undermount vs. Deckmount Pontoon Ladders
There are two main design types for pontoon ladders. Undermount ladders are designed to be mounted parallel underneath your deck and slide out and fold down like U-Haul truck ramps. Deckmount pontoon ladders are either free-standing or feature a folding design and are typically mounted to the rear of your pontoon.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some simple answers to some of the most frequently asked questions by shoppers.
Are Pontoon Ladders Universal?
Most pontoon ladders are designed to be universal. Some are easier to install than others, but almost all of them can be installed with the proper hardware and tools.
Will My Pontoon Ladder Rust?
Pontoon ladders are made with galvanized stainless steel or anodized aluminum which are designed to be corrosion-resistant. It’s still a good idea to hose down your ladder with some freshwater after a saltwater trip, though, to keep all parts in working order.
Do I Need To Raise My Pontoon Ladder While Driving?
Yes, you should raise your pontoon ladder while driving! Not only can cruising around with your ladder down damage the ladder, but it can also cause your boat to run aground, damage wildlife, or steer your off-course.
Other Products We Looked At:
This model is very similar to the XGEAR and Marinebaby foldable pontoon ladders that we reviewed at the beginning of the article. It’s made from high-quality 316 stainless steel and is designed to hold up to 400 pounds of weight at a time- good enough for most everyday boating applications!
The rungs themselves aren’t all that thick and seem a bit uncomfortable to climb when compared to the larger rungs on the XGEAR model. This is one of the main reasons why this DasMarine model didn’t make our top-pick.
Apart from this one flaw, however, the ladder comes highly-reviewed and is engineered to the same standard of quality that you can expect from other, more expensive models.
Key Points at a Glance
- 400-pound weight capacity.
- 316 Stainless steel, rear-mount pontoon ladder.
- Folding and telescoping rungs for compact storage.
This 4-step stainless steel ladder features the same design and storage as the Extreme Max undermount ladder that we reviewed earlier in the article. To be completely honest, it was a close call between the two and both are engineered with exceptional quality.
The primary difference between this Amarine model and the Extreme Max undermount ladder is the ladder itself. Although the mounting/storage mechanism is the same, this amarine features telescoping rungs.
While this makes for a bit more compact storage, it also means that the ladder is a bit more susceptible to damage and can’t quite hold as much weight as the Extreme Max model.
The other difference is that this Amarine ladder is made with stainless steel instead of Extreme Max’s aluminum construction. Although stainless steel is a higher-quality, better-looking material, it’s a good bit heavier and adds more weight to the boat to support. Also, since it is a UK product, it may take longer than expected to ship to the United States.
Key Points at a Glance
- Undermount design.
- Telescoping rungs.
- Built with marine-grade stainless steel.
The first difference you’ll notice is that this only has 4-steps instead of RecPro’s 5-step model, making it about a foot shorter.
Although both are made with similar-quality aluminum, the main reason why RecPro won out over this Extreme Max model is that this ladder does not have non-slip foot grips. When you’re looking at any type of marine ladder, this is a very important consideration. Slipping off of the ladder can be both painful and dangerous.
While this model is a good bit cheaper than the RecPro model, we think that you’re probably better off spending the extra money to get a safer, more reliable product. However, if you’re in a pinch for money and looking to save money, then this will do the job. Just make sure to install some after-market marine grip tape to the rungs before you start using it!
Key Points at a Glance
- 4-step aluminum pontoon ladder.
- 2-year warranty.
- 300-pound weight limit.
The ladder that you choose to use with your pontoon will depend heavily on how big your boat is and your personal aesthetic preferences. You can usually choose between aluminum (lighter weight) and stainless steel (heavier), although both metals are durable and corrosion-resistant. The other key differences to keep in mind are the installation time, size of the ladder, and its maximum weight capacity.
Your pontoon’s ladder is likely going to be one of the most-used accessories on your boat, so make sure that you take the time out of your day to do your research and pick the option that you and your family will like the best.