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

By: Luke Simonds on July 17, 2018
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how to back a boat down a ramp

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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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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bobLuke SimondsMarkRoy ZengerleStephen Cowart Recent comment authors
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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.


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

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

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

Very informative. Thankyou!

Ernest Blum


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

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 Hussing

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

Thomas W German

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.

Tim Gibson

I think that the smaller trailers can be sometimes be surprisingly challenging because they turn so sharply when you adjust the steering wheel. The smaller your trailer, the finer your steering movements need to be.

Kevin Steinke

I find backing an empty trailer to be the most challenging. One trick that helped me is to open your tailgate and bed cover if you have one, so you can see your trailer as you look directly out your back window with your right hand on the seat back while steering with your left hand on the top of the wheel. Very easy! Know your trailer depth relative to water coverage on your rails. Requires no mirrors and with the right vehicle it works every time.


You should have shown the entire thing from the drone.

Ramon Ayala

One thing you missed is having your boat ready to launch have your plug in and remove any straps holding down the back of the boat. Your partner should be ready to pull the safety chain at the waters edge and grab the dock line. It would be nice to see a tutorial on how to recover your boat on a steep ramp during low tide as we all know it can be your biggest challenge.

Neisha Brown

Great advice. I am going to try that steering from the bottom of the wheel. It seems like it would make it a lot easier. Many people do get nervous and worried at the ramp when everybody is watching to see if you make a fool of yourself.


Excellent Presentation. Ready to launch. Thanks Much.

Joseph Sherer

I personally learned how to back up my boat with my hand on top. I think the absolute most important piece of advice here is to PRACTICE! I have some friends that I fish with all the time and they still don’t get it. Having been a guide for 24 years I have had lots of practice, and living on a very busy street I have to get it right the 1st time when backing into my driveway. If you really want/need to learn then please do yourself and everyone else a favor and practice in a large parking lot or somewhere with lots of room.

I love it when we pull up to the ramp and the person ahead of us is one of the local guides. We know they’ll be in & out & gone before we can blink.

Roy Noblin

good tips. may i add if trailer is not as wide as your truck then those post installed properly will work the same as looking at the tires. also if you dip into the ramp a little then out as far as you can helps when you need the right or left turn ones. turning at the bottom works good but being old i still think backwars and steer from the top. hey i’m going backwards so i just think backwards 🙂

Steven Jachec

What’s the protocol on a busy day (July 4) when some boats are being launched and some are being landed? How do people in their trucks launching communicate with people in their boats. It went smoothly this last 4th, but as my son said….”Wow, I heard a lot of [grumpy] ‘language.'” (I’m guessing alcohol doesn’t help the matter)

David LaPointe

Generally in my experience it is first come first served. Once you have a place to dock and get your truck you would join the line if there is one with the others either launching or loading. If no line then its your turn. If you have someone coming with the trailer to pick you up PLEASE have them wait in the prep area until you are actually at the dock. I have come in to trucks and trailers backed into the pick up position with no activity what so ever. When I question them they tell me their Husband or friend is on the way in. Taking a glance down the canal you see a boat just making the corner.
In essence don’t back your trailer down the ramp until you are ready to launch or recover.

Roy Noblin

What’s the protocol–first come first serve. that means do all your staging in the staging area. in and out. line up as you need put in or pull out but don’t fool around at the ramp. “Git-R-Done!” and get out of the way

Joseph Sherer

My personal experience is to just talk to someone at the ramp about who’s next. Make sure you are 100% ready to launch and get out of the way. Don’t be the one who backs partway down and then gets everything out of your car and into the boat while sitting on the ramp . You will always run into a few people who you can never satisfy, but my experience is that this is the exception and not the majority. If you’re ready and quick when it’s your turn then most people will be thankful and understanding.

Pablo Diaz

Thanks for the tips always a learning experience