The 6 Best Pontoon Boat Ladders in 2022 -A Buyer’s Guide

By July 02, 2022
In this guide, we will explore the best models of pontoon boat ladders to fit your pontoon boat and provide you with a level of safety. We also explain why we think all of these boats need a ladder.

A pontoon boat is a fantastic way of taking people out on the water, and they are useful for fishing, short trips and tours, and certain types of watersports. Pontoon boat ladders can help you to get in and out of the boat. Even if you think you don’t need one, pontoon boat ladders are an excellent safety precaution, making it easier for any guests to get in and out of the water.

What is a Pontoon Boat Ladder?

Best Pontoon Boat Ladders

You may have seen ladders off the side of boats before. They are great for getting in and out of the boat and going into the water. If you don’t have a ladder, it can take an incredible amount of upper body strength to drag yourself back up onto the boat.

It can also be a safety feature. If you should lose anyone overboard, a ladder is a much easier way to get back onto the pontoon boat. Elderly people, children, or anyone else who might struggle can usually latch onto the ladders, rather than having to get rescued or dragged onto the boat.

Freshwater Vs. Saltwater Boat Ladders

Before we dive into specific pontoon boat ladder reviews, it is really important to underline the differences between freshwater and saltwater boat ladders. You don’t want to buy the wrong type and find that the ladder degrades in quality or even breaks.

Freshwater pontoon ladders can be made of boat-grade aluminum and they are resistant enough to any corrosion from the water. Do not try using these on saltwater, though. Often, it is a good idea to just buy the most durable ladder you can to ensure it can handle any conditions. Galvanized steel is the best solution for durability.

Saltwater ladders have to be resistant to, you’ve guessed it…salt. This can corrode certain materials, so you really need to go for stainless steel if you are going to be using it in saltwater. If you want to take your pontoon boat out on a combination of both types of water, you’ll need a stainless steel ladder.

Best Pontoon Boat Ladders

On to the reviews. We explore six great models for your pontoon boat. Be sure to match up the perfect ladder to your own unique needs, as what works for one person (on freshwater) won’t work for another.

Best Freshwater Pontoon Ladder

1. Extreme Max 3005.3380 Pontoon Ladder

This excellent aluminum ladder is lightweight but still have a great support.

1. Extreme Max 3005.3380 Pontoon Ladder

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What we like

  • Excellent strength.
  • Easy to install.
  • Generous warranty.

What we don’t like

  • Can’t be used for saltwater.

This excellent aluminum ladder is great for those who only want to take their pontoon boat out on freshwater. It’s made out of aluminum, which isn’t as sturdy as some other materials, but this helps to keep the price down.

It’s an angled ladder, designed to be mounted on your pontoon or even on a dock. The fact that it is made out of 1” aluminum tubing also means that it is lightweight, but still has a 300lb capacity so can support most people climbing up onto the boat.

The strength is really impressive for such a simple aluminum design, and because it isn’t made out of the most expensive materials, this means that it is relatively cheap, too. No need to break the bank. There’s a two-year warranty, so the brand will replace it if there are manufacturer errors, but this is voided if you use it in saltwater.

What we like

  • Excellent strength when you consider the weight. 
  • 5-minute install whether on the dock or on your pontoon boat. 
  • Generous warranty.

What could be better

  • No option to take it onto saltwater.
  • No folding or telescoping option.

As an aside, it is worth mentioning that this comes in three-step and five-step models as well as four, so you can choose the perfect model for your boat.

Best Stainless Steel Telescoping Ladder for Saltwater

2. Amarine Made 4 Step Pontoon Boat Ladder

This is a boat ladder that can last a very long time if treated right.

2. Amarine Made 4 Step Pontoon Boat Ladder

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What we like

  • Incredibly durable.
  • Telescoping design.
  • Anti-slip steps.

What we don’t like

  • No mounting hardware included.
  • Not suitable for side docking.

If you need an ultra-durable telescoping ladder then it is hard to argue with the Amarine Made 4 step ladder. It has a clever “self-supporting” design and it is incredibly resistant to the sort of corrosion you may get on saltwater trips. This is a boat ladder that can last a very long time if treated right. (It has a 316 grade stainless steel design). 

It’s got a large capacity of up to 400lbs, and the thread of the step is also made using a slip-proof rubber. Even if you’re climbing in after a swim or a dive, you’ll be able to stay sturdy on this ladder and get yourself up to the top. Handrails help this, too.

The telescoping design is the other huge benefit. It is easy to save space by stowing it away, and a bungee cord helps you to keep it perfectly safe and in space. Unfortunately, the mounting hardware isn’t included.

What we like

  • Incredibly durable even in water that would corrode other ladders.
  • Telescoping design.
  • Anti-slip steps to help people mounting their pontoon boat.

What could be better

  • No mounting hardware included.
  • Not suitable for side docking due to the angle.

Best Affordable Boat Ladder for Freshwater

3. Amarine Made 4 Step Stainless Steel Telescoping Boat Ladder With Swim Step

Very affordable for those who are just using their pontoon boat on freshwater.

3. Amarine Made 4 Step Stainless Steel Telescoping Boat Ladder With Swim Step

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What we like

  • Good safety features.
  • Very durable.

What we don’t like

  • No mounting hardware included.
  • Can’t be used for saltwater.

Another affordable model from the Amarine brand, and a model that is very affordable for those who are just using their pontoon boat on freshwater.

It’s durable by most standards. In fact, the 304 Stainless Steel design is fine for some contact with saltwater, but it is not designed to be submerged.

This is very convenient to use, as it has a molded vinyl tread on the steps. This helps you to get your footing and step up onto the boat, reducing the chances of having any sort of slip or fall. It’s also easy to store with a compact telescopic design, and hinges to fit it easily over the side of the platform.

What we like

  • Good safety features to keep the steps secure. 
  • Very durable in general, will survive bumps, for instance.

What could be better

  • No mounting hardware included.
  • Can’t be used for saltwater.
  • The vinyl tread may degrade quicker than the steel.

Best Folding Aluminum Pontoon Ladder

4. RecPro Marine Pontoon Boat

It’s quick and easy to install and then to fold away when you want to.

4. RecPro Marine Pontoon Boat

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What we like

  • Clever folding design.
  • Very reasonable price.
  • Quick and easy to install

What we don’t like

  • Not many safety features.
  • Less sturdy than other alternatives.

Rather than featuring a telescoping design, the RecPro Marine pontoon boat model has a folding design. When you want to use it, you fold it out at the side or rear of your pontoon boat. When you are done, or you want to transport the ladder, you can fold it back up again.

This ladder extends quite far below the deck (37 inches to be precise) and the 12” wide steps, made out of fluted square tubing with a satin finish give a fair amount of durability. 

It’s quick and easy to install and then fold away when you want to. Unlike some other models, it also has all of the mounting equipment you need. If you don’t want the telescoping design, this is the best folding aluminum pontoon ladder as an alternative, and still offers a way to save space and stow away.

What we like

  • Clever folding design to save space.
  • Comes with all the mounting equipment needed.
  • Very reasonable price.

What could be better

  • Not as durable as some other options.
  • Not as many safety features to keep the steps slip-free.

Best Low-Cost Pontoon Boat Ladder

5. DasMarine 3 Step Ladder

DasMarine is a great budget option that is still made of quality materials.

5. DasMarine 3 Step Ladder

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What we like

  • Excellent price.
  • Comes with the mounting hardware.

What we don’t like

  • May not sit flat on the boat.
  • Too small for some pontoon boats.

Are three steps enough? If you have a small pontoon boat then it may well be enough, and why spend more than you need to? The DasMarine is a great budget option that is still made of quality materials with a high capacity.

It’s made of 316-grade steel and there is slip-proof plastic on each of the steps. The load is tested up to 900lbs, so it is fine for heavier people to use, too.

It’s been made so that it bolts nicely to a horizontal platform, and this means that you can put it on the floor or side railings of the boat, all of the screws and hardware to mount, plus a strap for storage, are included.

It doesn’t have clearance for the bolt heads when it has been installed and folded to its compact design so it may not lay perfectly flat, so this can be a bit frustrating, but it is a minor detail.

What we like

  • Excellent price tag for quality.
  • Comes with mounting hardware.

What could be better

  • May not sit flat on the boat.
  • Too small for some pontoon boats, with not enough clearance to reach the water.
  1. VEVOR Removable Dock Ladder with Rubber Mat – Best Five-Step Pontoon Boat Ladder

Best Five-Step Pontoon Boat Ladder

6. VEVOR Removable Dock Ladder with Rubber Mat

This five-step design ladder allows you reaches a long way down into the water.

6. VEVOR Removable Dock Ladder with Rubber Mat

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What we like

  • Excellent clearance.
  • Can be used for docks, too.
  • Slip-free and reinforced pedal.

What we don’t like

  • May rust or corrode in seawater.
  • No folding capabilities.

Looking for a ladder that reaches a long way down into the water? You may need a five-step design in order to use the ladder off the side of a larger pontoon boat, and get the clearance you need. This VEVOR model is very well-made and robust, even though it doesn’t have any folding or telescopic capabilities.

It has a 350 lbs weight capacity and the pedals have a rubber design which helps to avoid them getting slippery with water. 

Though the ladder doesn’t fold or telescope up to a compact size, it does have a clever installation design so you can just pull it away when it is not in use and store it somewhere on the boat. In fact, there are two different ways to mount the ladder, so you can choose which best suits your pontoon boat.

It’s often used for docks due to the fact that it has a large clearance, but it is absolutely fine for installing on your pontoon boat, too.

What we like

  • Excellent clearance, suitable for tall boats with a 24-inch height.
  • Can be used for docks, too.
  • Slip-free and reinforced pedal design for the ladder.

What could be better

  • May rust or corrode in seawater.
  • No folding capabilities.

Buying Guide

Having explored the six best options on the market, it is possible that you’ve still got a few questions about what kind of pontoon boat ladders are best for your own specific needs, and to suit your boat.

Size

Always pay attention to the size of the boat ladder. Will it fit on the side or the back of your pontoon boat, and give you enough clearance to get back down into the water, or grab the bottom rung of the ladder from the water?

If your pontoon boat doesn’t sit far off the water then a smaller model may be an option. Telescoping designs are also good for this, as some of them can adjust to your needs.

Safety

What safety features are in place? This is something that you really cannot compromise on. You might be wondering if your pontoon ladder is suitable for elderly people. Would you trust it to support someone who is elderly and prevent them from slipping, as they could do themselves damage?

Safety features can relate to the grip, and introducing handrails onto the boat ladders as an extra level of protection and a way for people to keep themselves supported as they walk up to the top. Slips and falls are the most common types of injuries when at sea or out on the water.

Capacity

The capacities of the ladders are often actually understated, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Some might say they have a rated capacity of 900 lbs, meaning they have been tested to carry this much weight. 

It is far better to be safe and stay a long way below the maximum. Many of the pontoon boat ladders on the market have capacities of around 300, 350, or 400 pounds.

Material

The material of the ladder makes a huge difference to both the sturdiness and where it can be used. Simple aluminum designs may be cheaper, but better-quality steel is needed if you are going to take it on saltwater. SAE 316 stainless steel has much higher specs than 304 and is more resistant to corrosion, which could even be a safety hazard.

Number of Steps

This ties closely to the size of the boarding ladder. How many steps down do you need in order to ensure that you can get down into the water? Smaller models with three steps may be sufficient if your boat doesn’t sit too high above the water, but for larger boats, a five-step design may be required.

Folding and Storage

A telescoping design or a folding design means that the ladder can compact down to a much smaller size, making it simple to store. It may increase the number of hinges that can corrode, but on a well-made ladder, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

The Final Verdict

While the Extreme Max 3005.3380 Pontoon Ladder is a great solution for freshwater, the Amarine Made 4 Step Pontoon Boat Ladder or a similar level of quality steel design is needed for saltwater. There are numerous designs out there, but the important thing is to match your ladder to the boat you will be using, and the conditions you will be using it in.

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