Jumping from your pontoon boat and into the ocean or lake to go for a dive is easy and exciting. But getting back on board? Well, not so much. In fact, boarding your boat can be twice as hard if you’d gone for a swim because you’ll be too tired. That is why having one of the best pontoon ladders is so important.
Considerations when Choosing Pontoon Ladders
Before we delve into the reviews, here are a couple of features you should look for to ensure you get a ladder that works for you.
Where will the Pontoon Ladder Be Used?
Think about where the ladder will be used most. Is it in freshwater or saltwater lake? The reason for this is that it will determine the ideal material for your ladder.
In a Hurry? Browse the Best Pontoon Ladders Here
Freshwater Pontoon Ladders
If you’re planning to explore a freshwater body, the typical marine-grade aluminum is a great choice of material for your ladder. It provides the corrosive resistance that is needed and also keeps the pricing low.
But if you want more longevity, choose one made of galvanized steel as it’s superior to aluminum in terms of construction and durability. On the flip side, it’s pricier than its aluminum counterpart.
Saltwater Pontoon Ladders
This is a completely different animal. The problem with saltwater bodies is that they pose a higher risk of corrosion because of the presence of salt. To combat this, ladders meant for saltwater use are equipped with systems or materials that deal with corrosion better.
We’re talking about stainless steel pontoon ladders. Yes, this will cost you a considerable sum of money. But, they will also offer more durability than galvanized steel or aluminum models. In a way, you’ll still save money in the long-term considering that you won’t have to replace the ladder every so often.
Permanent or Detachable Pontoon Ladder?
Apart from the area of application, the type of mount is another aspect you should take into consideration. There are two kinds to choose from: permanent and removable ladders. Ideally, neither is superior to the other. It all boils down to your preferences and needs.
For instance, if you want a ladder that’s going to be positioned at one specific location, the permanent version is an excellent choice. The good thing about such a ladder is that it’s readily available and accessible, which is important in case of an emergency. It also occupies very little space under your seats.
Despite these perks, my favorite type of ladder is the detachable one. This is because it offers so much convenience and freedom because it can be installed anywhere on my pontoon. Also, the majority of detachable ladders are lightweight and can be folded to save on storage space.
Besides, these detachable models tend to last longer than their permanent counterparts. The ability to remove them from water and store on-board means less contact with corrosive elements; hence greater durability.
Reviews of the Best Pontoon Ladders
Designed specifically for pontoon boats, the best pontoon ladders help you get in and out of the water safely. Even better, they can be used in the retrieval of the buddy who falls overboard. Here are some of our favorite pontoon ladders.
Extreme Max 4-Step Pontoon Ladder
- 100% aluminum 4-step pontoon ladder
- Heavy-duty square tubing construction
- Step Interval: 11.5" / Step Width: 15.75" / Total Width: 17.75"
The Extreme Max 3005 is designed for freshwater pontoon boat owners who need a detachable and temporary ladder. In other words, this ladder is not mounted permanently and will clasp to hooks on the boat. This can also be used on a dock.
Also worth pointing out is that the ladder has ultra-wide steps. These are spaced at 11.5 inches so as to provide a stable footing.
Furthermore, the ladder is built using 1-inch aluminum tubing. Though not as sturdy as stainless steel, this material provides unparalleled strength and extra-lightweight.
What we like:
- The steps are extremely wide to provide safety and stability
- Features an aluminum construction that is robust but also lightweight
- Supports a significant amount of weight; up to 300 lbs.
- Has 3, 4 and 5 step options
What we don’t like:
- For deep water only
- Storing the ladder is not easy since it has to be kept straight
- Does not telescope
- Mostly used on docks
Amarine Made 3 Step Telescoping Pontoon Ladder
- 100% Brand New Marine-Grade product amarine-made brand
- Durable construction - 304 Stainless Steel
- Compact and efficient - Telescopic Design
Looking for a sturdy ladder for your pontoon? The Amarine Made Telescoping Ladder that’s constructed from high-quality stainless steel makes a strong case.
To add to this strength, this ladder is mounted on the platform with the help of some heavy-duty brackets. Like the ladder, these brackets are quite formidable; hence preventing it from wobbling during use.
Installing the Amarine ladder is a breeze, thanks to the horizontal mount bracket. This bracket makes it possible to fold the ladder over the platform for a seamless fitting.
What we like:
- Easy to mount
- Sturdy construction consisting of 304-grade stainless steel
- Steps come with molded vinyl tread to reduce the likelihood of slippage
What we don’t like:
- Lacks mounting hardware and instructions
Spareflying 4 Step Pontoon Boat Ladder
- Heavy duty all welded 316 stainless steel pontoon ladder
- Unique universal self supporting design that requires no tube support/stand offs
- 4 extra wide steps that telescope for a nice clean look.3 year Limited Warranty.
One aspect that individuals worry about is whether these ladders can support heavier people. The Spareflying Pontoon Ladder was designed with this particular feature in mind. Built using heavy-duty 316 stainless steel, the ladder boasts a maximum weight capacity of 400 lbs.
And as its name would lead you to believe, this ladder had four extra-wide steps for optimal stability. Also contributing to its ease of use are the handrails incorporated on the Spareflying model.
What we like:
- Equipped with handrails for easy boarding
- Stainless steel construction guarantees longevity
- Largest weight capacity making it ideal for heavier people
- Backed by a 3-year limited warranty
What we don’t like:
- Does not include the screws and bolts needed for installation
- More expensive than other pontoon ladders
Wrap Up of the Best Pontoon Ladders
Pontoon ladders are an important addition to your arsenal of boating equipment. Most of these ladders come fitted with massive handrails for support and ultra-wide steps for stability. Some also have their steps reinforced with rubber to prevent slippage.
That said, there are a couple of things you should account for when choosing a ladder for your pontoon. For instance, check whether it’s permanent or detachable. Permanent ladders are perfect for owners who want round-the-clock accessibility. Removable pontoon ladders are also beneficial in that they provide greater flexibility and have lightweight designs.