How to Choose a Boat Cover? (Select the Best Cover)

Choosing a boat cover can seem daunting, but understanding the key factors to consider will make it much easier for you. The right boat cover offers protection from harsh weather, UV rays, and water damage, ensuring the longevity of your vessel. In this article, we’ll delve into these factors and guide you through selecting the perfect cover for your boat.

First and foremost, consider the material of the cover. The high-quality fabric should provide a combination of breathability and water repellency to keep your boat safe from water damage while allowing trapped moisture to escape. UV and mildew resistance are also essential, especially in sunny or damp environments.

Another crucial aspect is the size and fit of the cover. A well-fitting cover will securely protect your boat from various elements, so aim for a snug fit tailored to your vessel’s size and shape. Moreover, consider the specific conditions and climate of the area where you store your boat to find the ideal cover to protect against local weather patterns and potential hazards.

How to Choose a Boat Cover?

When selecting a boat cover, first consider the climate and conditions your boat will be exposed to. This helps ensure your boat cover provides adequate protection. Some factors to keep in mind include UV rays, water, and temperature fluctuations.

Start by researching different materials for boat covers. Coated synthetic fabrics are highly recommended as they offer an excellent strength-to-weight ratio, breathability, water resistance, and UV-ray resistance.

For example, pigment-dyed polyester is a durable and cost-effective option.

Take accurate measurements of your boat to find the perfect-fit cover. Measure the centerline length in a flat, straight line from the bow tip to the farthest point aft, without going up and over any windshields or other structures on your boat.

Add length for options such as bow pulpits, trolling motors, and swim platforms.

Boat cover features:

  • UV ray protection: The sun can break down vinyl and other materials. Make sure your boat cover provides adequate protection against harmful ultraviolet rays.
  • Water resistance: A good boat cover should protect your boat from water damage and prevent the growth of mildew and mold.
  • Breathability: A breathable cover allows air to circulate, reducing the risk of mold and mildew growth.

Ensure the boat cover you choose has a proper support system to help prevent sagging and water pooling. Investing in a quality boat cover will increase the lifespan of your boat and maintain its resale value.

How to Buy a Boat Cover?

When buying a boat cover, start by identifying the kind of boat you have. Check if it’s a fishing boat, a pontoon, or a ski boat, as this will determine which cover is best for your needs.

Next, measure your boat’s beam width and the centerline length. Use a tape measure to find the widest distance across your boat in a flat line and the straight measurement from the bow to the transom.

Accurate measurements will ensure you get a well-fitting cover.

With the boat’s dimensions in mind, you can choose between custom-fit, semi-custom, and universal boat covers.

  • Custom-fit covers are tailored specifically for your boat’s make and model, providing the best protection.
  • Semi-custom covers are designed for boats of similar dimensions and offer a more affordable option.
  • Universal boat covers are generic, one-size-fits-all, and usually the most affordable.

Finally, consider the material of the boat cover. You’ll want a durable cover that is resistant to UV rays, water, and mildew.

Popular choices include polyester and acrylic. Polyester is known for its strength and water resistance, while acrylic tends to be more UV-resistant and breathable.

Considering these factors will help you purchase a boat cover that best meets your needs and protects your investment.

Importance of Boat Cover Fit

Measuring Your Boat

A properly fitted boat cover is essential to protect your boat from the elements and preserve its value. To ensure the right fit, you need to take accurate measurements of your boat.

Start by determining the widest point of your boat, which is usually the transom. Then, measure the beam width (the widest distance across the boat) and the centerline length (from the tip of the bow to the farthest point at the stern).

These measurements will help you find a boat cover with the correct dimensions for your vessel.

Custom Fit Versus Universal Fit

Boat covers are available in custom fit, universal fit, or semi-custom options. A custom-fit boat cover is designed specifically for your boat’s make, model, and year, accounting for its unique lines and curves.

On the other hand, a universal fit cover is a more affordable option, designed to fit a range of boat sizes and styles. However, universal fit covers may not provide as snug a fit as custom or semi-custom covers.

Semi-Custom Covers

Semi-custom boat covers are another option that combines the best of both worlds. They are designed to fit a specific boat style, such as center console or pontoon boats, within a range of sizes and dimensions.

This means they are more affordable than custom-fit covers but still provide a better fit than universal-fit options.

Ensuring Proper Fit

Your chosen boat cover should fit snugly enough to avoid unnecessary folds or excess material. It is essential to consider additional factors such as straps, buckles, and drawstrings to help ensure your cover is secured tightly across your boat.

Your boat cover cannot provide optimal protection for your vessel without a proper fit.

Considerations for Choosing Boat Covers

Quality versus Cost

When selecting a boat cover, consider the balance between quality and cost. You may find cheaper options, but investing in a higher-quality cover could provide better overall value.

A high-quality cover typically offers more durability and protection for your boat, ensuring a longer lifespan.


A durable boat cover protects your vessel from harsh weather conditions, debris, and UV rays. Look for covers made from heavy-duty materials designed to withstand wear and tear, as they will provide extended protection.


The fabric you choose plays a crucial role in your boat cover’s performance. Some common materials include polyester and acrylic.

Polyester is lightweight and water-resistant, whereas acrylic offers excellent UV resistance and breathability. Consider your climate and the specific needs of your boat when choosing a fabric.

Multi-Layer Covers

Opting for a multi-layer cover can increase the durability and protection of your boat.

A multi-layer design typically features a water-resistant outer layer, a breathable middle layer, and a soft inner layer to prevent scratches and damage to your boat’s surface.

Color Options and Fading

Boat covers come in various colors, but remember that some colors may be more prone to fading due to sun exposure. Lighter colors retain their appearance longer, while darker colors can show signs of fading more quickly.

Customer Reviews

Reading customer reviews can provide valuable insights into the performance and quality of a boat cover. Look for feedback from other boat owners with similar vessels to ensure you’re making an informed decision.

Product Warranties

Before purchasing a boat cover, check for product warranties. A warranty can offer peace of mind and assurance that the manufacturer stands behind its product. Look for warranties that cover defects and damage due to normal use.

Additional Accessories and Features

Some boat covers come with extra features and accessories, such as straps, vents, and storage bags. These can enhance the functionality and convenience of your cover.

Consider your specific needs and preferences when selecting a boat cover with additional features.

Weather Protection

Protection from Sun and UV Rays

A boat cover should protect your boat from the sun’s damaging rays. A fabric with built-in UV protection will help shield your boat’s upholstery from fading, cracking, and other sun-induced damage.

Look for a boat cover that offers a high level of sun protection, such as those made with heavy-duty materials like 600D polyester.

Rain and Moisture Protection

Protecting your boat from rain and moisture is crucial. A high-quality waterproof boat cover will keep your boat dry and prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

Make sure the cover is made from a water-resistant material and has reinforced seams to prevent water from seeping in.

Additionally, consider a cover with ventilation to allow air circulation and reduce condensation buildup.

Resistance against Wind

Wind can also cause damage to your boat, particularly if the cover is not secure. A cover with strong tie-downs and adjustable straps will help keep it in place during windy days.

Ensure the cover has a snug fit to minimize the risk of being blown away or torn by strong winds.

Additional Protection Features

While sun, rain, and wind are the primary elements your boat needs protection from, there may be other factors to consider.

For instance, you may want a cover with padding in high-wear areas to prevent chafing and damage to your boat’s finish. Additionally, look for a cover that is easy to clean and maintain to ensure it lasts for many years.

What Kind of Boat Cover is Best?

When choosing a boat cover, consider what suits your needs. There are three main types of boat covers: universal, semi-custom, and custom boat covers. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, so let’s discuss them briefly.

Universal boat covers are the most affordable option and are designed to fit a range of boat sizes and styles.

While they can provide basic protection, they might not fit as securely as other options. These covers are not recommended for trailering, but this might be a good choice if the budget is your primary concern.

Semi-custom boat covers are designed to fit a specific style of the boat, such as bass boats or ski boats. They offer a more snug and secure fit than universal covers while still being reasonably priced.

These covers can also accommodate size variations, making them a popular choice for boat owners.

Custom boat covers are made precisely for your boat’s make, model, and year. They provide the best fit and protection, as well as higher durability.

Custom covers are typically more expensive than other options, but they are ideal for those who want the best protection for their boat during storage or transportation.

Remember, the material of your boat cover is also essential. Marine-grade Polyester fabrics tend to wear better, be less prone to mildew, and last longer than natural fabrics like cotton or cotton blends.

What Color Boat Cover is Best?

When it comes to choosing a boat cover, the color may not seem like an important factor at first glance. However, there are a few aspects to consider when deciding on the best color for your boat cover.

First, think about how the color will affect the appearance of your boat. You may want to choose a color that matches or complements your boat’s existing color scheme.

This can help maintain a consistent and attractive look for your vessel. Remember, though, the color itself doesn’t matter significantly when it comes to boat cover aesthetics.

Heat absorption is another factor to consider when selecting a boat cover color. Darker colors tend to absorb more heat, which can potentially make the covered areas of your boat hotter.

If you live in a hot climate or store your boat in direct sunlight, opting for a lighter-colored boat cover can help keep your boat cooler.

Moreover, be mindful of the fabric and dye compatibility, especially when you’re ordering a custom-made cover. In some cases, solution-dyed fabric covers might stain or damage upholstery and gelcoat.

So, ensure the fabric and dye are compatible, and do your research to ensure your boat stays in pristine condition.

Choose a color that suits your needs and keeps your boat looking great and well-protected.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find the right boat cover for my specific boat model?

First, you need to measure your boat’s dimensions. Determine the widest point, usually the transom, and measure from outside edge to outside edge in a straight line for the beam width.

For the centerline length, measure from the tip of the bow to the end of the transom, excluding the motor. Then, search for a boat cover designed for your specific boat model.

What are the differences between mooring and storage boat covers?

Mooring boat covers are designed to protect your boat when it is moored or at anchor, while storage boat covers are intended to protect your boat when it is not in use, primarily in storage or during transportation.

Should I choose a waterproof or water-resistant boat cover?

It’s best to choose a water-resistant boat cover, as it provides a balance between repelling rainwater and allowing trapped water vapor to escape.

Completely waterproof covers may trap moisture inside, leading to mildew or mold growth, which can damage your boat. Instead, opt for a breathable and water-repellent fabric, which will effectively protect your boat while allowing for ventilation.


Featured image credit: TaylorMadeProducts