How To Back A Boat Trailer Down The Ramp Like A BOSS [VIDEO]


How To Back Up A Boat Trailer

Ever had an issue launching your boat down the ramp?

For many anglers, the worst part of their fishing trip is backing up a boat trailer in and out of the water. This is particularly true for new boat owners who may not yet be comfortable driving with their boat trailer.

Backing up a boat trailer causes them stress and puts a damper on their day of fishing — which should never be the case. Fishing is all about having fun. Nobody’s day should be ruined by the thought of getting their boat into the water.

I wanted to offer my advice on how to back up a boat trailer to make it easier for you the next time you’re at the boat ramp.

This article will cover how to back up a boat trailer, how to adjust your mirrors to see properly when backing up a trailer and different backing up techniques for various kinds of boat ramps.

Essential Tips For Backing Up A Boat Trailer

When backing up a boat trailer at the ramp, there are a number of factors you need to consider.

Here are the top tips to consider while launching your boat:

1. Quickly Line Up Your Vehicle & Trailer With The Ramp

Backing up trailer at boat ramp

Having your trailer and vehicle lined up straight with the boat ramp will make getting your boat in and out of the water exponentially easier.

So it’s important to accomplish this as quickly as possible… ideally while you position yourself in front of the ramp before you even put your vehicle in reverse.

To do this, make an arch with your vehicle directly away from the boat ramp until your trailer is completely lined up straight behind it.

Then, back up your vehicle and trailer making small adjustments at the wheel to keep everything lined up straight down the ramp.

Note: This is clearly shown in the video below.

2. Get Comfortable Using Your Side Mirrors

Sideview mirrors backing up trailer

Your mirrors are just as important as your eyes when backing up a boat trailer.

It’s critical that you have your mirrors in the right position to make sure you can see everything you need to safely get your boat down the ramp.

You want your side view mirrors to be in a position so you can see:

  1. The side of your vehicle
  2. The wheels of your trailer
  3. The target launch spot (edge of the boat ramp dock on both sides of your boat.

Note: This is clearly shown in the video below.

3. Keep Steering Wheel Movements To A Minimum

backing up a trailer wheel position

Many boaters end up losing control of their trailer angle by making too large of a turn on their steering wheel.

It’s typically best to ONLY make slight turns on the wheel so that you don’t end up going down the ramp in an uncontrolled zig-zag pattern.

For those who get confused on which direction to turn the wheel, I recommend holding the bottom of the steering wheel so that you can keep your movements in sync…

Because when holding the bottom of the steering wheel, the trailer will move in the same direction as whichever way you turn the wheel. So if you turn the wheel to the left, the trailer will also go left.

Note: This is clearly shown in the video below.

How to Back Up a Boat Trailer (Video Tutorial)

In this video tutorial, you can see how to back up the trailer from both the driver’s point of view while also having a second camera capturing the wheel movements and their respective impact to the trailer.

See the tutorial here:

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Following the tips in this tutorial will make your boating experience more enjoyable and safer.

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F150 and Maverick on Trailer

Backing up a trailer for your boat can be a challenge at first, but once you learn the proper technique you’ll be an expert at it in no time.

Remember the tips above when backing up your trailer and you should be ok the next time you get out on the water.

If you really want to be an expert, try going to a public boat ramp that’s empty and giving it a few practice launches until you get a feel for your boat trailer.

If you have any questions or comments about this tutorial, let me know in the comments below.

Tight Lines!

Related Posts: 

1. Boat Ramp Mistakes: Top 5 Blunders That Cause Fights [VIDEO]

2. How To Dock Your Boat Like A Boss [Funny Video]

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Rebecca Gardner
3 years ago

Thanks for explaining that it’s best to make only slight adjustments to the wheel to avoid getting stuck in a zig-zag pattern of overcorrecting. My husband and I are looking for a dealer in our area because we like the idea of buying a boat we can use to have outdoor adventures with our two kids this summer. I’m glad I read your article so we can use your tips as we get used to backing the boat into the water!

4 years ago

I enjoyed your video. I tie the rope to my boat trailer instead of the truck when I brake the boat slides back close to the doc the guide polls on the back of trailer keep the boat straight. Then I get in start up untie rope from trailer back out tie up to dock. To load I drive the boat on trailer as far as it will go then use the launching rope to hook to boat trailer and the boat as tight as I can shut engine off drive the boat out a little ways hook up chain and strap. this boat is a 25 ft Northwest jet.

5 years ago

How often do you see trucks to in the water at the Ramps you visit? And what led engage is due to bad ramp maintenance ?

Roy Zengerle
5 years ago

I have a hard time getting my boat off of the trailer. Makes me nervous when I have to put my truck wheeled in the water.

Stephen Cowart
5 years ago

Also just another tid bit or added potential aggravating for a lot of new trailer backer uppers!!!
Lol. Remember your ride and also if not tide then you river current direction . Because we all know seasoned and unseasoned salt strong trailer backer uppers that the boat trailer can be straight as an arrow and if backed to far or boat driver doesn’t know ride/current direction then still makes it interesting to land the boat straight.


Don’t forget that aluminum trailers are light and will float if backed far enough in the water without the boat attached. Personal experience speaking.

Douglas Lund
5 years ago

Very informative. Thankyou!

Ernest Blum
5 years ago


Thanks for the tips you gave us. My question is…..When you have to essentially make a 90 degree turn…..say into the driveway of your home to get the boat off the street, I’m never quite sure when to stop the steering wheel turn so as to have the boat do a right angle turn and then continue straight UP the driveway, without having the boat itself CONTINUING TO TURN, essentially heading off the driveway.

The video showed you doing essentially that toward the ramp, and it was pretty darn smooth. At what point did you stop turning your steering wheel so the boat went toward the ramp and not into a U turn? Sorry….I hope I explained myself well enough.

James Gordon Stallings
5 years ago

I really appreciate the video and tips, as well as the comments from others. We all want a ‘home run’ launch and agree that practice is smart.

Brandon H
5 years ago

I am a new boat owner 65 years of age. I would like to know if you disconnect the boat on the front of the trailer before you go in the water or after? Since the trailer is already in the water, I would have to enter the water once the boat starts to float. Can you add this to your next video (the complete process) or help me on the proper sequence? Thanks

5 years ago
Reply to  Luke Simonds

I think a good point is to never unhook your boat from the trailer until you know your motor is running. It’s a boat…even a new boat and motor is finicky and unpredictable.

Thomas W German
5 years ago

I’ve been trailering boats off and on for close to sixty years with never a problem. Just grip the steering wheel at the bottom. If you want the trailer to go left, move your hand to the left and do the opposite to move right. most newer vehicles these days have backup cameras. They help.


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