Perhaps the most important accessory you will purchase for your jet ski is the trailer you use to haul it to the water. And make no mistake, except under rare circumstances, you will need to purchase a trailer for your jet ski.
However, the finer details of purchasing a jet ski trailer are something that many buyers overlook. In their excitement over researching and purchasing their new jet ski, they may neglect to research trailers too. When they realize they also need to purchase a trailer, they may even rush the purchase, falsely assuming all jet ski trailers are the same.
The truth is, as simple as they seem, jet ski trailers are NOT all the same. There are several jet ski trailer variations to consider before making a purchase, including material, towing capacity, size, number of axles, suspension systems, and whether or not it has brakes. It’s important to do some research before you purchase a jet ski trailer so you can buy the best trailer to meet your towing needs.
Jet Ski Trailer Variations
Jet ski trailers have several variations to consider before making a purchase. In much the same way that there is not a “best” jet ski, but better options for different types of riders, there is not a “best” combination of trailer features. Which options you choose will depend on things like what kind of water you’ll be launching into, how many jet skis you plan to tow, how much you’re willing to spend, how much weight your car can tow, and how big your garage is. Below are some of the variations you should consider.
Material: Steel vs. Aluminum
Most jet ski trailers are made with either steel or aluminum, and both have pros and cons. Steel is cheaper but more susceptible to rusting. If you purchase a steel trailer and plan to use it in saltwater frequently, you should try to purchase galvanized steel.
Aluminum is more expensive, but it’s likely the best choice. Aluminum trailers are lighter, easier to maneuver, more durable, and more resistant to rusting. All of these features make them more user-friendly and likely to last.
Jet ski trailers vary by both the number of jet skis they can carry and the weight they can carry. You can purchase trailers that will fit anywhere from 1-4 jet skis and that can carry between 750-4,200 lbs. Most people will only need a single or a double jet ski trailer. Singles can tow up to about 2,000 lbs. and doubles can tow up to about 4,000.
You may wonder whether or not you should purchase a double trailer if you currently only own one jet ski. You certainly can, but you will need to consider the balance of the jet ski’s weight while driving and possibly add additional weights to the other side to keep the trailer balanced at higher speeds. You should also rotate which side of the trailer you use to hold the jet ski to prevent the tread on your tires from becoming unevenly worn.
Like jet skis, many jet ski trailer brands sell different classes with varying features. It’s important to look for a trailer that will be the best for your type of jet ski, as some are designed for more narrow, lightweight skis while others are designed for wider, heavier skis.
For example, the popular trailer brand Triton has four classes of trailers—the Wave Series, LT Series, Elite Series, and WC2-2 Series—each designed to fit different kinds of jet skis. Their brochure explains which types of trailers are ideal for which types of skis and gives additional specs info.
Other brands, such as Karavan are more streamlined in their options, but still have several varieties based on material and carrying capacity. At a bare minimum, most trailer retailers will have varying classes based on material (steel/aluminum), number of skis, and carrying capacity.
Single vs. Tandem Axles
The number of axles the trailer has is another point of variance between different trailers. Most trailers either have one or two axles. Tandem axle systems often have a heavier carrying capacity and can be safer when hauling heavy loads, but single axle systems are easier to maneuver and are usually fine for either a single jet ski or two lighter skis.
Suspension Systems: Leaf Spring vs. Torsion
One of the lesser commonly considered variations between jet ski trailers is the suspension systems they have in place. Leaf spring systems are the most common and they are the less expensive of the two options.
Torsion spring systems are a newer design, but they have some beneficial features like their ability to keep the PWC lower to the ground, which makes it easier to launch. Although torsion spring suspensions can be better for heavier jet skis, in most cases, either suspension type will do. Which option you choose might depend on budget and availability.
Brakes vs. No Brakes
Most jet ski trailers don’t come with brakes, though some larger models do. They’re a great feature if you can find them though because they can help you maintain control while driving at higher speeds or on hills. Be aware that some states may require you to have trailer brakes depending on carrying weight or number of axles, so be sure to check your state’s laws to make sure you are following the latest regulations. If you need to add brakes to your trailer, here is a helpful resource.
Jet Ski Trailer Buying Guide
How to Pick a Jet Ski Trailer
Now that you know some of the variations that can exist between different trailer models, let’s talk about the steps you should take when picking a jet ski trailer.
- Check the curb weight of your jet ski. Before you do anything, you should check how heavy your jet ski is, so you know what carrying capacity you need. If you plan on hauling more than one jet ski or any additional accessories/fuel, you should account for that weight as well.
- Check the towing capacity of your car. If you have an SUV or a truck, you probably don’t have to worry about towing capacity unless you’re considering trying to haul 3-4 skis. However, it’s a good idea to have a concrete number you know you can’t go over when the weight of the jet ski, trailer, and additional accessories are all added together. This is especially important if you are towing using a sedan, which you can do, but you will have to pay close attention to weight limits.
- Decide on a material. Decide whether you want to purchase a steel or aluminum trailer. Both have their pros and cons, but aluminum is usually the best choice if you don’t mind spending a little more for the added benefits of lighter weight and better rust resistance.
- Choose a size. First, choose how many skis you want to be able to haul, then think about where you will be storing the skis and/or the trailer. If you intend to store the trailer in your garage or backyard, make sure you check the dimensions of your garage door or back gate to ensure the trailer will fit through any doors or gates you need to pass.
- Consider extra features. Lastly, think about what additional features might be important to you, such as brakes, torsion spring suspensions, LED brake lights, etc. Not every feature may be available on the brands your local dealership carries, but going in ahead of time with an idea of what you must have or definitely don’t want will prevent you from buying something that doesn’t ultimately meet your needs.
- Find a trailer within your budget. Once you’ve identified your needs, priorities, and limitations, it’s time to start looking for a jet ski trailer that matches what you are looking for at a price you are comfortable with. To get a better idea of where to look and what you should expect to pay, see our brand and pricing info below.
Popular Jet Ski Trailer Brands
There are dozens of jet ski trailer brands, however, not all of them are available everywhere. Which brand you decide to go with may depend on which brands are available at a dealer near you.
My favorite trailers are Triton and Karavan, because they have good reputations, a variety of models to suit any jet ski, and are widely available. Some other popular brands are Aluma, Shadow, ComFab, Haul Rite, Load Rite, and TideWater.
Recently, it has become popular for jet ski manufacturers to partner with a particular trailer brand. For example, on their website, Sea-Doo advertises MOVE trailers, which they claim have a model to match any Sea-Doo. This may be true, but it’s also true of most brands.
If you can get a better deal by purchasing a jet ski and trailer package through your dealer, go for it, but don’t feel pressured to purchase a trailer just because the manufacturer or dealer is pushing that brand. Be sure to check the specs against what you know you’re looking for in a trailer.
How much do jet ski trailers cost?
Like jet skis, jet ski trailers vary widely in price. New trailers range from around $700-9,000 depending on the size and model. You should anticipate spending between $700-1,500 for a single jet ski trailer, $2,000-3,000 for a double, and $5,000-9,000 for a 3-4 ski model.
You can also buy used jet ski trailers. As a good rule of thumb, expect to pay about half of what you would for a new trailer. For example, if a new single trailer costs $700-1,500, expect a used trailer to cost about $350-750. If you buy a used trailer, make sure it’s in good condition. Some specific things to look for are good tire tread, tires that are no older than ten years, no rust/corrosion, and if the bunks are carpeted, that the carpet isn’t too worn out.
FAQ’s and Other Considerations
If you follow the above guidelines, you’ll easily be able to pick out a jet ski trailer that will be perfect for what you need and that will fit within your budget. However, there are a few other things to take into consideration and questions you might have, which I have tried to address below.
You Might Be Wondering:
Do I really need a jet ski trailer?
For the most part, yes. If you store your jet ski in a floating dock or a jet ski lift, you might not need one, but if you have to haul your jet ski regularly, you definitely need a trailer. If you’ll only rarely need to tow it, you can look into renting one instead. Check your local PWC stores for more info to see whether or not they have trailers available for rent and how much they charge.
Can you put your jet ski in the bed of your truck?
It is NOT recommended to haul a jet ski in the bed of your truck. If you’re going to spend several thousand dollars to purchase a jet ski, it’s worth it to spend the extra money on a trailer to make sure you don’t damage the jet ski in transit. Truck beds are not a safe place to haul your jet ski. Some standups may fit, but they will be heavy to load and unload.
Do jet skis come with trailers?
Jet skis do not come with trailers. When you purchase a jet ski, the price does not include the cost of a trailer. You will have to purchase a trailer in addition to the jet ski, so be sure to factor that cost into your jet ski budget before you settle on a particular jet ski model.
My jet ski dealer is recommending a package set, do I have to buy it?
No, you do not have to buy a jet ski and trailer as a package set. Though this can be a great way to get a deal, don’t feel pressured into buying a trailer you don’t want. If you’re spending $10,000 on a new jet ski, make sure you are also getting a trailer you like and feel comfortable with.
Easy to change lights—If your trailer has taillights (which it should), you might want to ask about the process involved in changing them. They’re bound to go out eventually and having an easier to change bulb might be beneficial. Some trailers have lights that cannot be replaced leaving you to rewire new lights when one goes out.
Low launch height—The suspension and bunks on a trailer affect how high the jet ski sits off the road and out of the water when launching. Ideally, you want a trailer that will allow your jet ski to sit as low as possible because it will make it easier to launch when you get to the boat ramp.
Ball hitch size—You will need to make sure you have the right ball hitch to attach your new trailer. Luckily, almost all jet ski trailers are designed for 2” ball hitches, so they’re pretty standard regardless of which trailer brand or size you get.
Trailer maintenance—Like your jet ski, your jet ski trailer will require some periodic maintenance. Make sure you wash off saltwater to prevent corrosion, rotate the tires every 5,000-7,000 miles, maintain the recommended tire pressure and tread depth, and grease the bearings regularly.
Hopefully, this guide has shown you that not all jet ski trailers are the same. There are quite a few variations to consider when purchasing a jet ski trailer. That being said, most of the variations come down to personal preference and budget.
The most important considerations to think about when purchasing a jet ski trailer are whether you want steel or aluminum, how many jet skis you want to be able to tow, the carrying capacity of the trailer, and how much you are willing to spend.
Beyond that, you can choose different trailers based on brand, number of axles, suspension systems, and brake systems, based on what you’d prefer and how much you’re willing to spend.