Towing Pontoon – Cover ON or OFF [Pros & Cons]

I’m of the firm belief that every boat should have a cover, sometimes I go as far as getting a cover for my cover.

Covers are a must for any boat, especially a pontoon boat, but it does confuse people about having a cover on their pontoon while they trailer it.

Will the wind, road debris, and other road hazards damage your boat cover? What is the best way to go about this, and what should you be doing when trailering your pontoon?

Towing With Cover ON

Generally, it’s fine to tow your pontoon boat with the cover on, and often the best thing to do.

I say generally because there are situations where trailering your pontoon with the cover on is a bad idea.

Let’s cover the PROS and CONS of trailering your pontoon with the cover on.

Cover ON PROS:

  • The cover protects the pontoon from rocks and other road debris that may hit it.
  • If the cover goes over the whole pontoon, it acts as a barrier to keep objects like tubes in the boat.
  • Keeps the rain off it, though it’s fine for the boat to get rained on, the rain often makes the boat dirty.
  • Make the pontoon more aerodynamic, and let’s be honest, pontoons need all the help they can get with their square shape. This will help you get better gas mileage.
  • Once you get to where you’re going, there is no need to put the cover on it, which is a pain to do.

Cover ON CONS:

  • The cover can damage or scuff parts of the pontoon boat as it rubs on it.
  • The cover can rip while being blown around on trailer.
  • Some manufacturers don’t warranty mooring covers that are trailered.
  • Something else to take off when you get the boat launch.
  • The covers get stretched out and tend to pool water, which makes it even worse.
  • The cover can fly off and land on another car.
  • A cover can block some views for some towing vehicles while looking back.
  • Can catch and act like a parachute and slow you down.

Best To Use A Trailerable Cover

It’s best you get a trailerable pontoon cover* and don’t use the mooring, or snap on cover that came with your boat.

You could put the trailerable cover over the mooring cover to protect it, which is what I do for long-term storage anyway. For best results for towing, take the mooring cover off and put the trailerable cover on for trips that are NOT “around the corner”.

Mooring covers are made to be static and not hold up to the wind. Keep in mind, you may reach speeds faster than your pontoon can go on water while it’s on the trailer, so it may hold up when on the water but not so much on the road.

Also, trailerable covers tend to have a rope or ratchet system to attach it firmly to the trailer to keep it from blowing off. This type of cover is what you want, and what I use for long-term storage for my boat, it’s my cover for my cover!

Wind Can Stretch Your Cover

One of the reasons they say not to tow your pontoon boat with the mooring cover on is that it can stretch it out.

It is true, the cover will stretch out from the wind, but that is not the only thing that stretches out a cover.

The sun will also stretch it out along with the rain, which can puddle overtime and worsen it.

The fact of the matter, boat covers don’t last forever, and you should expect to replace it every 3 to 5 years. Trust me, the cost to replace the cover will be cheaper than the damage being done without having a cover on your pontoon.

Keeping Pontoon Covered All The Time

I’m guilty of it myself, the summer hits and I leave my cover off for a few days.

A few days won’t hurt, but it’s a bad habit to not cover your boat after you’re done with it for the day.

You may think you’ll go again first thing in the morning and putting the cover on will be pointless, but sometimes life happens, and you can’t go boating that morning or for the next week and now the boat is uncovered for that long.

The biggest purpose of the boat cover is to keep the sun off it, especially the inside. The sun fades, stretches, and damages parts of your pontoon. Not only that, but bird poop and other nasties find their way in and make your boat dirty.

The best thing you can do is to cover your boat some way. It can be with a mooring cover, a roof at your dock, a pole barn or whatever, find a way to cover it when you can.

How Long Do Pontoon Covers Last?

A pontoon cover can last 10 years if taken care of properly and never sees the sun much.

The reality is that you should replace your pontoon cover every 3 to 5 years.

Not everyone has the luxury of keeping their covered pontoon in a garage or covered dock. For most, the cover is in direct sun and weather, which means it gets eaten up after 5 years. Even if it looks fine, it’s stretched out and ready to give up the ghost at any day.

You want the cover to look bad because that means you’re using it and what is covered underneath is looking better. A cover will always be cheaper and easier to replace then the damage that is being done without having the cover to your boat.