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Reviewed by our Gear Geeks:

THE BEST BOAT FENDERS IN 2021

Z

Our experts at work

We gave our Gear lovers one job:

Find 26 reliable Boat Fenders and write reviews of the best.

The result is 10 of the best Boat Fenders on the market today.

joao paulo carvalho

Joao Paulo Carvalho

Journalist
A journalist with a passion for gear, photography, traveling and writing.

Bradley Axmith boating & sailing editor

Bradley Axmith

Editor at DIVEIN.com
Vikingship building gear enthusiast and waterworld fanatic.

Boat fenders are the best and easiest way to protect your boat. They will save you money and give your neighbors peace of mind.

Also known as boat bumpers, fenders work as cushions. They absorb the impact of bumps against docks, pilings, and other vessels, thus avoiding damages to your watercraft and making sure that your boat’s hull and gelcoat stay in good shape.

So in this guide, we’re going to take a closer look at the best boat fenders on the market right now.

We’ve reviewed all sorts of models—from the traditional cylindrical fenders to the ones that protect both the hull and rub rails to the more innovative designs available at the moment.

Top 10 Best Boat Fenders In 2021

See our quick top 10, or go further down and read our in-depth reviews.

At the bottom of this post, you’ll also find detailed information about what things you should know before buying your set of boat fenders, such as shape, size, and how many fenders your boat needs.

With that said, let’s dive into our top picks:

Specially designed for recreational trailered boats in protected moorings, the Polyform G Series are cylindrical bumpers with molded ribs that come in six different sizes and a vast array of bright, stylish, and long-lasting colors, so you can create the look you desire for your boat.

Polyform has been producing buoys for over 50 years, so in that time, they certainly have learned a thing or two about them. The G Series fenders are true proof of that! They boast great quality and are made of abrasion- and puncture-resistant material to ensure they can take a real beating.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Polyform G Series Boat Fenders:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Vinyl
  • G-1: 3.5” x 12.8”
  • G-2: 4.5” x 15.5”
  • G-3: 5.5” x 19”
  • G-4: 6.5” x 22”
  • G-5: 8.8” x 26.8”
  • G-6: 11” x 30”
What we like:
  • Tough construction
  • Color does not fade over time
  • Many color options
  • It already comes pre-inflated
  • American made
What we don’t like:
  • Unpleasant chemical smell out of the box

The included ribs provide extra strength while the reinforced rope holds ensure long-term durability. Also, unlike other brands which have needle valves that are more prone to leaking, Polyform features a flat head screw seal, which is leak-proof.

The Polyform G Series Boat Fenders are shipped pre-inflated and without an inflation valve.

The Big B boat fender from Taylor Made is versatile and functional without comprising its aesthetics. It features a seamless construction with molded ribs that minimizes rolling, tough marine-grade vinyl with a high-gloss finish for both durability and beauty, as well as a center rope tube that allows end-to-end line passage, so it can be hung either vertically or horizontally with a single line.

This one is suitable for boats between 25 – 35 feet, but they’re also available in three other sizes to suit boats up to 60 ft.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Taylor Made Products 71026:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Vinyl
  • Measurements: 8” x 20”
What we like:
  • Great quality
  • Beautiful high-gloss finish
  • Nice protection
  • Center rope tube for both vertical and horizontal side tying
  • Nice warranty coverage
What we don’t like:
  • Pricey

This kit from Norestar comes with 4 inflatable fenders as well as 4 black 5’ x 3/8” fender lines. For smaller craft, 20 feet and under, this will be all you need for docking.

Depending on your necessities, the Norestar bumpers can be hung either vertically or horizontally as they feature a double-eye design. They also come with non-abrasive vertical ribs for both strength and protection as well as a tough marine-grade vinyl construction, which means they can withstand the salt, sun, and attrition.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Norestar 4-Pack Ribbed Fenders:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Vinyl
  • 5.5” x 20”
  • 6.5” x 23”
  • 8.5” x 27”
What we like:
  • Fenders feel nice and durable
  • And so do the included ropes
  • Great price
  • Gelcoat-friendly
What we don’t like:
  • They don’t ship inflated (pumps up like a basketball)

The 5-½” x 20″ fender protects boats up to 20 feet, the 6-½” x 23″ protects boats up to 25 feet, while the 8-½” x 27” protects boats up to 30 feet.

Available in black and blue.

Say goodbye to lines, knots, and all the hassle that usually comes with docking with the next boat fenders.

The Sentry boat bumpers from MISSION feature a modern and cutting-edge design that is both protective and time-saving. They boast a cross-linked closed-cell foam construction—a material that doesn’t absorb water and resists fading from the sun’s damaging UV rays—along with an innovative hanging system, which together with their shape and length protect both the lower and upper parts of the rub rails.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the MISSION Boat Gear Sentry :
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • EVA Foam
  • Measurements: 22” tall x 9” wide x 5.5” thick
What we like:
  • Maximum protection by following contours of boat
  • Aesthetically-pleasing design
  • Quick and easy installation
  • An innovative knot-free strap system
  • Protects boats even with rising and falling of tide water
What we don’t like:
  • Nothing!

But it doesn’t stop there!

They also align beautifully with the contour of your vessel’s hull, thus preventing them from getting caught on top of the dock or pushed out of position. Plus, their integrated strap system easily attaches to the boat’s cleats and docks for quick and easy setup.

Available in a variety of high-visibility colors and eight different sizes, the Polyform A Series Buoy is a versatile alternative from the conventional cylindrical fenders.

The A Series buoy features Polyform’s iconic blue tops and rope eye and it’s made as a single piece of heavy-duty and flexible vinyl for maximum strength and durability.

This buoy has proven itself in the most adverse weather conditions, and besides functioning as a boat fender, it may also be used as a marker buoy, mooring buoy, anchor buoy, and even as a punching bag.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Polyform A Series Buoy:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Vinyl
  • A-0: 8” x 11.5”
  • A-1: 11” x 15”
  • A-2: 14.5” x 19.5”
  • A-3: 17” x 23”
  • A-4: 20.5” x 27”
  • A-5: 27” x 36”
What we like:
  • Useful when slacking mooring lines to adjust to tidal swings
  • It serves many purposes
  • Sturdy body
  • Durable in harsh weather
  • High buoyancy
What we don’t like:
  • Unpleasant chemical smell out of the box

Also, the three largest sizes, the A-5, A-6, and A-7, now come with the Dual Valve system for quick deflation and storage.

To inflate your buoy, you can use either a hand pump or an air compressor. First, unscrew the cap from the air valve with a flathead screwdriver. If using a hand pump, simply insert the nozzle into the air valve and pump until it’s full. In case you use an air compressor, set the compressor to 30 psi or less and inflate the buoy up to a maximum of 2 psi. Once you’re done inflating, use the screwdriver to tighten the cap back into the valve.

Suitable for boats, yachts, sailboats, rowboats, and docks, this fender kit from VIVOHOME comes with four boat fenders—available in the 6.5 x 24 in., and 8.5 x 27 in. sizes—four 5.2’ ropes, four inflating needles, as well as a hand pump to inflate your bumpers.

This set of fenders boasts an oval design, a heavy-duty marine-grade UV-resistant PVC construction, reinforced eyelets on both ends—so you can safely hang them either vertically or horizontally—as well as vertical ribs for added strength.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the VIVOHOME Vinyl Boat Fender:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Vinyl
  • 6.5” x 24”
  • 8.5” x 27”
What we like:
  • Great value for money
  • Solid construction-PVC is more durable than vinyl
  • Easy to inflate
  • Easy to store
  • Buffer protection
What we don’t like:
  • Couldn’t find anything!

They also feature a great buffer effect, which will protect your vessel from damage caused by heavy collisions between hard surfaces.

As previously mentioned, this kit comes with everything you need to easily inflate and install them. And even after a couple of weeks, there have been no issues with deflation whatsoever. They’re also very compact for convenient storage.

The VIVOHOME Vinyl Ribbed Marine Boat Fenders are available in four colors—blue, white, red, and black—and they fit boats from 19 to 29ft.

The BoatTector Contour Fenders from Extreme Max features a wraparound design that protects against hitting the underside of a dock in low tide. It conforms to your boat’s body and protects both the gunwale and hull, along with a closed-cell foam construction so you don’t have to worry about inflating them.

Designed to withstand the wear and tear of the marine environment, they also boast a marine-grade tri-laminate cover, double thermal-bonded seams, and corrosion-proof polycarbonate grommets

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Extreme Max 3006.7228 BoatTector:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • EVA foam in thermal sealed laminate
  • Measurements: 24” x 6. 5” x 2. 5”
What we like:
  • UV and tear-resistant construction
  • Affordable
  • Easy to store
  • No rolling
  • Great coverage of both gunwale and hull
What we don’t like:
  • Only suitable for small vessels
  • I wish they were thicker for improved protection

Due to their unconventional square design, they fold quite easily for convenient storage. But be aware that because they’re so lightweight, if they’re not securely stowed, they will fly away.

Available in three colors—white, black, and blue—the pack comes with a pair of fenders (24” x 6. 5” x 2. 5”) as well as two fender lines (⅜” x 6’), and for your peace of mind, the brand also offers you a two-year replacement.

Overall, good quality bumpers at a great price. However, they’re best suited for small boats—16 feet or less—and calm waters as opposed to ocean use.

Made of heavy-duty marine-grade vinyl and boasting an L-shaped form, our next model from Taylor Made was specifically designed to meet the demands of small vessels such as bass boats, bay boats, and other low freeboard boats.

Due to its unconventional design, the Low Freeboard Boat Fender provides excellent protection for both the gunwales and rub rails. Also, because they conform to the boat’s body, they will stay securely in place and won’t shift around, unlike traditional cylindrical bumpers.45

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Taylor Made Products 31006:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Vinyl
  • 5” x 14”
  • 7” x 23”
What we like:
  • Its design protects both the gunwales and rub rails
  • Stays in place
  • Great quality
  • Beautiful color options
What we don’t like:
  • Nothing!

They can be tied over the cleats to position them higher on the boat and can be easily inflated through a rubber football needle valve.

Available in two sizes and four metallic colors—except for the white one—the Low Freeboard Boat Fender is both beautiful and robust while also offering excellent protection against the docks.

Extreme Max makes another bumper value pack featuring four 6. 5” x 22” boat fenders and four 3/8” x 5’ fender lines.

These bumpers from Extreme Max boast a sturdy PVC construction along with thick walls and reinforced ribs for improved protection, as well as a needle valve so you can adjust each fender to your desired pressure.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Extreme Max 3006.7384:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • PVC
  • Fender: 6. 5” x 22”
  • Rope: 3/8” x 5’
What we like:
  • Great quality fenders in the more robust PVC
  • Affordable
  • Many color choices
  • Adjustment of the internal pressure
  • Two-year warranty
What we don’t like:
  • Ropes could be sturdier
  • The color fades fast

In addition, reinforced molded eyelets at each end of the fender for added strength and durability, 12 bright colors for you to choose from, and a two-year warranty.

All in all, these are great quality utility fenders at an amazing price. However, the included ropes are not as sturdy as the ones from other brands, and even though they say the fenders are UV-stabilized and chemically-resistant, their vibrant colors haven’t held for long.

The Attwood boat fenders only come in one size, one color, and absolutely no inflation is needed. And although they are simple as they come, they do exactly what you expect them to: offer great protection for your boat with the added bonus of being budget-friendly.

Made from tough and lightweight polymeric material, these fenders feature a seamless one-piece construction, an oval shape together with ribbed sides to prevent them from rolling against the hull, as well as double-molded eye ends for extra strength.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Attwood Boat Fender:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Soft Polymeric
  • Measurements: 5”
What we like:
  • No inflating is needed
  • Budget-friendly
  • Great protection
  • Simple boat fenders with lifetime guarantee against defects
What we don’t like:
  • No ropes included

The pack comes with 3 already inflated fenders but sadly, no liners.

Ideal for pontoon boats, these bumpers do a great job at protecting your vessel and they also seem to be quite durable—only time will tell.

Boat Fenders | Buyer’s Guide

As you’ve just seen from our list above, boat fenders come in all shapes and sizes. And in order for them to correctly shield your vessel from possible damages, they should be the right size, shape, and amount.

That’s why we’ve prepared this buyer’s guide to help you decide which type of boat fenders are better suited to your boat.

So here are the main things to consider before buying boat fenders:

Types of Boat Fenders

There is a great variety of boat fenders on the market right now. Although most of them only have one function in mind, which is to protect your vessel, others will also serve different purposes as well as different boat sizes.

These are the differences between the main types of boat fenders:

Cylindrical double-hole

  • Most popular option
  • It comes with rope eyes at both ends
  • It can be hung either vertically with one line or horizontally with two lines
  • Great for short and lightweight vessels

Cylindrical center-hole

  • Also known as hole-through-middle (HTM) fenders
  • It can be hung either vertically or horizontally using only one line
  • It provides more cushioning than the double-hole model, which makes it ideal for large boats

Cylindrical single-hole

  • It is the most basic type of fenders
  • It can only be hung vertically

Round

  • Ideal for rafting two boats together
  • Mostly used by large powerboats and commercial vessels
  • Commonly used as mooring and fishing line buoys
  • More difficult to store

Other types 

  • Low freeboard fenders: This type of fender sits high on the hull and hangs inward over the gunwale, which makes it ideal for smaller vessels such as bass boats.
  • Transom mounted fenders: As the name implies, this type of fender protects your boat’s transom or swim step when you dock from the stern.

Materials

All inflatable boat fenders will either come in vinyl or PVC. Vinyl is the cheaper material, but that does not mean vinyl fenders will be low quality. As long as they are cared for, they will last many years. Rinse them every once in a while to prevent algae from growing too thickly.

PVC is the same material used for inflatable paddle boards. It’s a more durable material that can withstand more exposure and resists puncturing a little more than vinyl.

Sizes

To decide which size of boat fenders suit your vessel best, you need to consider 3 things: your boat’s length, weight, and where you moor. This last one is very important because choppy and windy mooring conditions will require more fenders as well as bigger ones.

A good rule of thumb is that cylindrical fenders should have 1 inch of diameter for every 5 feet of boat length, while round fenders should have 2 inches per 5 feet of boat length.

So, if you own a 20’ – 25’ boat, you should invest in 6”- 6.5” cylindrical fenders or 15” round fenders.

 

Number of Fenders

Having the proper number of fenders is as important as having the correct shape and size.

A general rule of thumb for the number of fenders you should bring aboard is 1 fender per 10 feet of waterline, with a minimum of three overall.

So, for example, if you own a 20-foot boat, you should carry 3 fenders (6”- 6.5” cylindrical fenders or 15” round ones).

Keep in mind that the more, the better—less chance of hull damage—but also remember that you’re going to need enough room to store them—which brings us to our next topic.

 

Storage

When buying boat fenders, you should also think about where you plan to keep them while you’re on the water.

Although most boat fenders are inflatable, having to constantly inflate and deflate them is a rather inconvenient task. So make sure you have a designated spot in your vessel to tuck them away while you’re sailing.

On top of that, remember that their shapes will also matter, as cylindrical fenders will be easier to store as opposed to round ones.

You can also invest in fender racks. They will keep your fenders securely out of the way when you’re on the water, while also conveniently at hand when you need them.

Now we turn to you!

What’s your favorite set of boat fenders? 

Share with us your experience as well as questions you might have in the comment section below!

 

FAQ – Frequently asked questions about boat fenders

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    What are the best boat fenders?

    The answer to this question will depend on the size of your boat, mooring conditions, and of course, your budget. It’s not easy to pick one specific best boat fender and that is why we’ve created this extensive guide on the best boat fenders.

    However, at this very moment, these are our own favorites:

    (read full reviews of each on DIVEIN.com – click the links above)

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    ???? What are boat fenders?

    Also known as boat bumpers, boat fenders are cushions that prevent your watercraft from bumping against other vessels, dock, or pier, so as to avoid scratches and damages. 

    Check out our complete guide on the top best bowrider boats

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    Where do you hang boat fenders?

    Fenders must be placed at the correct height, otherwise, they won’t offer your boat proper protection. Hang the fenders just above the waterline so that their bottoms just skim the water’s surface. This will limit the swing arc, thus preventing the dock from pushing the fender up and out of position.

    Enjoy fishing and hunting? So check out our complete guide on the top 13 best Lowe boats.

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    What size of boat fenders do I need?

    A good rule of thumb for boat fender size is that cylindrical fenders should have 1 inch of diameter for every 5 feet of boat length, while round fenders should have 2 inches per 5 feet of boat length.

    Check out our extensive guide on the top 10 best Lund boats at the moment.

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    How do you tie a fender to your boat?

    To tie fenders to your boat, first, remember to hang them above the waterline so that their bottoms just skim the water’s surface, and also, make sure to tie them to a solid anchor point, such as a station or a cleat. Do not tie boat fenders on lifelines as they are not made to withstand the stress.

    Next, take your line and go over the railing, then behind it, then over the railing again, and then back up. This is what’s known as a clove hitch knot.

    For better illustration, here’s a short video with two easy ways to tie a clove hitch knot:

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    How do you clean boat fenders?

    You can wash your boat fenders with either a mild detergent or soap—mineral spirits such as paint thinner works too. Just remember not to use harsh cleaning agents such as acetone and lacquer thinner as they will damage your bumpers.

    You can also use a stiff brush for scrubbing.

    To make cleaning your fenders a less demanding task, give them a thorough clean after each use, or better yet, invest in washable fender covers for easy cleaning

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    How do you use boat fenders?

    Boat fenders should be used both at the port and starboard sides of your boat, for cushioning all the points of impact. Extra fenders are also useful when docking to manually slide between two points of contact when needed.

    Discover our top 14 best cabin cruiser boats at the moment

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