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It pays to get the best boat trailer tires you can because otherwise, you might never get to the water at all. Whether you run a shiny bass boat, a grimy swamp-running duck boat, or something salty, most anglers and boaters are in their comfort zone once they’ve launched. Still, the backroads and highways are littered with all sorts of debris and hazard which can upend your journey to the water or your trip home after an otherwise successful day.
Unfortunately, boat trailer tires are an afterthought for most of us. We accept whatever comes in the “package” or from the prior owner, and we tend to run them longer than we should. The rubber literally hits the road when you skid out or fishtail in a short stop, or cannot get up a steep boat ramp with your watercraft in tow. Blowouts can be dangerous—particularly on single axle trailers—and in this period of increased gas prices, failure to run the proper “shoes” can be costly on a day-to-day basis as well.
Besides, there’s never a tire shop open at 5 a.m. when you’re headed to the launch or at 8 p.m. when you’re headed home, so if you don’t invest properly on the front end, you may end up spending on a hotel or a flatbed on the back end. No, tires aren’t sexy, but they’re a critical link between you and your destination.
Over 30 years of boating I’ve seen or experienced every tire failure possible, from simple flats to fires. I’ve seen boats headed up the road with one of two axles chained into place after a catastrophic failure, and I’ve seen expensive pieces of fiberglass in a ditch—occasionally off the trailer—after an incident. To tell you the truth they’ve all scared the heck out of me, and made me much more concerned with making sure that my boats get the best possible chance of remaining upright and rolling. There are lots of quality tires out there. Here are some of the best boat trailer tires to consider.
- Best Overall: Goodyear Endurance
- Best Sleeper: General Tire Altimax Rt43
- Best for Getting Through the Muck: Carlisle Extra Grip Tires
- Best Budget: Free Country Radial Tires
- Best Mid-Price: Trailer King RST Radial Tire
Best Overall: Goodyear Endurance
- Black sidewall
- Diameter: 30 inches
- Radial Tire
Why It Made the Cut
A reasonably priced and reliable trailer tire.
- Heavy max load
- Not an aggressive tread
The Goodyear Endurance is a popular tire at a reasonable price—and allows you to tow with confidence thanks to Durawall technology featuring reinforcement through steel belts. They resist scuffs and punctures, they track remarkably true and can be found just about anywhere tires are sold thanks to wide distribution. They come in seven different styles with D and E ratings and max loads ranging from 2040 pounds up to twice that amount. It’s not a particularly aggressive tread, so you’ll maintain maximum gas mileage on long hauls, and when inflated from 65 to 80 psi (depending on the model), they operate at remarkably low temperatures.
Best Sleeper: General Tire Altimax Rt43
- Load Capacity: 2000 Pounds
- Rim Size: 17 Inches
- Size: 225/55R17
Why It Made the Cut
You might not have heard of this tire, but it’s a great option for anglers that put miles on their trailer.
- Ideal for road use
- 75,000 mile warranty
- Not ideal for dirt roads
When I picked up my new Bass Cat Puma STS this year, I was surprised to see it sitting atop four automotive tires. Company president Rick Pierce believes that these Road Tires (hence the “Rt” nomenclature) provide greater overall performance and reliability than ST versions. They handle well, provide great traction, and so far I’ve been amazed at how quiet they are. They have a limited warranty up to 75,000 miles and seem to stop easily. They come in an exceptionally wide range of sizes, and it doesn’t hurt my feelings that General Tire has been a strong supporter of professional fishing.
Best for Getting Through the Muck: Carlisle Extra Grip Tires
- Size: 5.70-8
- Load Capacity: 1000 Pounds
- Tire Diameter: 19 inches
Why It Made the Cut
These extra grippy treads will get you out of even the worst silted ramps.
- Aggressive tread
- Low load capacity
If you are doing any four-wheeling on your way to the lake or trying to retrieve your pride and joy via an unimproved ramp, these aggressively-styled bias-ply tires may save you a lot of headings. The deep channels help you in nasty conditions, but while they look and act tough, they might not be your best choice if you put on thousands of highway miles. Their made-in-the-U.S.A. construction is a huge plus, but the limited size range (just a single model) means that not everyone can use them.
Best Budget: Free Country Radial Tires
- Size: 205/75R15 8PR
- Load Capacity: 2,149 pounds
- Rim Size: 15 inches
Why It Made the Cut
These affordable tires will get the job done if you don’t put a lot of miles on your trailer.
- Good price
- Good load capacity
- Rims not included
At less than $300 for most sets of four, you can outfit your entire dual axle trailer for the price of some single tires. They’re not the most durable, but they’re surprisingly scuff-resistant and damage-resistant, with a nylon cap ply overlay across the entire trad area. The rims aren’t included, but after saving money in this space, you can afford to bling it out if you want—or just keep the budget theme going. Get them mounted at your local tire shop, and you’ll still have cash to spare.
Best Mid-Price: Trailer King RST Radial Tire
- Size: ST205/75R14
- Rim Size: 14 Inches
- Load Capacity: 2,040 pounds
Why It Made the Cut
These affordable tires come in 16 sizes so there’s a good chance they’ll fit your trailer.
- Wide range of sizes
- Not the most rugged
These budget radial tires come in 16 different sizes, and while the price is low, little else about them is budget-like. They have a mid-range tread that provides grip and durability, high-grade load ratings, and a nylon overlay construction for durability. Whether you’re just starting out or refitting an older trailer under the confines of a tight budget, these will serve you well in a variety of circumstances. They may not be the most ruggedly built or have the most aggressive tread, but they cover many bases and have a five-year limited warranty.
What to Look for in a Boat Trailer Tire
Maximum Load and Load Rating
How much does your boat and motor weigh? How much does it weigh once full of gas, livewell water, the best boat cooler, and all of the gear you’re likely to take for a day on the water? I wouldn’t recommend skimping on any of these criteria, but this one least of all. Better safe than sorry. Load range is usually graded from B to E (with E handling the most weight), but specific amounts vary by tire.
Type of Tire
Most major tire manufacturers make Special Trailer tires with an “ST” prefix in their model number. These are made specifically to meld the best combination of strength, size and gas mileage for trailers, and as such should not be used on vehicles. On the other hand, as noted above, some boat manufacturers prefer true automotive tires. Consult the trailer manufacturer when in doubt.
Just like the best inshore spinning reels come in different sizes, tires will have a size—usually a few inches wider than the fender wheel well—as well as a numerical indicator of other measurements—the first one refers to the tire width (mm), the second the height-to-width ratio, the third refers to the type of tire, and then the diameter of the tire. This should be consistent across all brands.
Do you intend to drive exclusively on highways and paved, easy ramps. Or will you be headed down dirt roads that turn to muck, and launching at unimproved gaps in the bank? Your decision may mean sacrificing gas mileage for safety, but the latter should always win out (and you may avoid a hefty towing bill).
Radial vs. Bias Ply
On radial tires, the internal cords run across the tire, while bias-ply tires have crisscrossed cords which make the tires strong and rigid, but provide less traction and worse tread wear. Radial tires cost more, but they also tend to last longer.
Mileage You Expect to Put On
While investing in the best tires possible is always a good bet, if you’re just driving down the street to your community boat ramp, and doing nothing else, the extra money might be better spent elsewhere. If you’ll be making cross-country hauls, however, bet on the best rubber you can find.
Where to Shop
These days there are all sorts of tire services and dealers available, from big box stores, to your local expert, to marine dealers to services that will drop ship the tires of your choice. Just make sure that everything is done professionally and by the book when it comes to balancing and mounting them. Done improperly, even the best boat trailer tires cannot do their job.
Additional Notes and Gear
Once you buy the appropriate tires, your job doesn’t stop there. Carry with you at all times something to inflate a leaking or flat tire (ideally something which plugs into the cigarette lighter of your vehicle, as well as something more powerful for home use) as well as a patch kit for that inevitable nail or screw.
Make sure that you also have the proper jack to get under your trailer, along with a board for when you have to prop the trailer up on soft or shifting ground. Furthermore, ensure that you know the best pivot point to lift your rig, so you don’t damage it or end up with it falling and crushing you. While a star wrench will get the job done, an extendable breaker bar is even better, and an impact wrench is perhaps best of all.
When you’re spending an afternoon applying the best boat wax, take a few minutes to inspect your tires’ health. If the trailer is stored outside, cover the tires and/or treat them with a UV-inhibiting protectant. Make sure that they are inflated to manufacturer-recommended levels, and feel the tires and heat when you stop for gas. If they’re too hot, something is wrong and may be about to get worse.
Finally, don’t neglect your spare tire (you have one, right?)
Q: How do I choose a boat trailer tire?
Start by considering the weight of your boat and the size of your tire.
Q: What speed are boat trailer tires rated for?
Most trailer tires are rated for highway speeds.
Q: What is the best boat trailer tire?
The Goodyear Endurance is the best boat trailer tire.
A blown tire can be the end of your day, and nobody likes burning out on a slippery ramp. Invest in the best boat trailer tires to increase reliability and better boat hauling.