3 Best Portable Boat Ladders

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Hey there and welcome to my post where we will check out my 3 best portable boat ladders to get us on board with this year.  We would all agree that getting yourself into the water is pretty easy however the challenge comes when you have decided to go back to your boat. For this particular situation, portable boat ladders are designed.

And of course there are a number of options to choose from depending on your needs and the vessel you are planning to use it on.  So to help you out, I have done the legwork for you and come up with three good options below.  

Let’s check them out..

My three recommended portable boat ladders

I will review these in more detail below, but if you just want to get moving without all the carry-on, my recommended products are listed here for your convenience: 

 Portable Boat LaddersPriceGet it
best portable boat ladders - SeaSense Rope LadderSeaSense Rope Ladder$CURRENT PRICE
best portable boat ladders - DotLine 3 Step Gunwale Hook Aluminum Boat LadderDotLine 3 Step Gunwale Hook Aluminum Boat Ladder$$CURRENT PRICE
best portable boat ladders - RecPro Marine Pontoon Boat 4 Step Folding Boarding LadderRecPro Marine 4 Step Folding Boarding Ladder$$$CURRENT PRICE

What are portable boat ladders?

As implied by the name, a portable boat ladder describes equipment you can use to climb and descend your boat safely. Typically, they are lightweight and compact so that you can remove them to save space or keep them out of the water when moving and then install them again when needed.

best portable boat ladders - boat ladder

What should you be looking for?

The following factors should be considered as you look for a good portable boat ladder suitable for your needs.

  1. Type
  2. Weight capacity
  3. Length and number of steps
  4. Durability
  5. Additions


There are a few different portable boat ladder options available.  These include:

  1. Rope ladder: This type of ladder has a simple design, consisting of a rope and a few step platforms. Typically, the steps are made of wood or plastic and attached to a rail or boat cleats by tying the top rope. Rope ladders are lightweight and easy to store. They are also excellent for storage as backup ladders.
  2. Hook ladder: Also known as gunwale ladders, these boat ladders are the easiest to use and do not require any installation. They are equipped with a pair of hooks at the top of the ladder that is placed over the gunwale. It has a top portion that fits over the hull and secures it in place for use.
  3. Removable ladder: Ladders of this type requires installation, but it applies only to the mounting base. The ladder clips onto the base and is easily removed for storage. It is possible to use it in various locations by installing different mounting bases.

Weight and capacity

This factor describes how much the product weighs and how much it can withstand. What you are looking for is a lightweight boat ladder that you can move from one place to another with ease. On the other hand, this same product should be able to carry the persons who will use it aboard your boat.

The lowest weight capacity I know of would be 250 pounds, which is still a substantial amount of weight. If you plan on having anyone heavier than that on the boat, there are options up to 400lbs so it might pay to keep this in mind before purchasing.

best portable boat ladders - boat ladder beside boat

Length and number of steps

This feature is essential because the length of the portable ladder you would buy should correspond to your boat’s height. If you own a large vessel, the ladder must be long enough for it to be easily accessible. 

The portable boat ladder’s lengths may be adjusted depending on its design – such as telescopic and foldable ladders. The former describes a ladder that you can retract to reduce its size, while the other is something that you can fold when the ladder is not in use.

Even the number of steps must be considered. Good boat ladders have adequately spaced steps so that people can get into the boat with less difficulty. A three-rung ladder may be too short for pontoons, but it should be suitable for fishing boats. A 5 rung ladder, on the other hand, may be adequate for a swim platform but probably too long for boats.


Boat ladders must be made of solid materials to withstand marine conditions and support persons stepping on them. Stainless steel is the obvious choice or other materials such as anodized aluminum or polyurethane plastic are good here too


Other potential additions include:

  1. Nonskid plastic treads: This feature applies to the steps of the ladder. The non-skid treads help your foot have a firm grip so that you will not slide as you use the boat ladder.
  2. Integrated platform: This addition gives you a solid base to stand on as you reach the last step of the boat ladder

My three recommendations broken down

So based on the information above and my own experience, I recommend the following options:

1. SeaSense Rope Ladder

The first recommended boat ladder is made from a lightweight rope and durable enough that it can endure saltwater conditions and the rigors of a boat.  It is also able to carry boarding individuals up 200 pounds in weight.  See its specifications below:

  • Brand: SeaSense
  • Type: Rope ladder
  • Construction: Synthetic plastic and rope
  • Dimensions: 3 x 9 x 13.75 inches
  • Weight: 3.4 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 200 pounds

Other inclusions it has:

  • 5-step design
  • Ease of use
  • Ease of storage

Why have I chosen it?

The rope ladder takes up very little storage space and is easy to use. It also floats on the water, making it invaluable in a boat emergency  and installed  by tying it to a rail or cleats. This is a great option for smaller vessels or pontoons or as a backup for larger deep sea fishing boats.

2. DotLine 3 Step Gunwale Hook Aluminum Boat Ladder

This second option is an aluminum gunwale boat ladder with as uncomplicated design for ease of use. The properly spaced steps give you enough room to board your fishing boat safely without the need for lengthy installation. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: DotLine
  • Type: Hook ladder
  • Construction: Aluminum
  • Dimensions: 35 x 16 x 13 inches
  • Weight: 3.4 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 250 pounds

Other inclusions:

  • Easy storage
  • Coated hooks
  • Foldable design

Why have I chosen it?

The HDPE injection molded steps of this product guarantee strength and durability with a polyethylene coating on its hooks to avoid damaging your boat’s surface. UV inhibitors are also mixed into the resin used in the step to help protect against harmful effects of the sun, resulting in a longer step life.  Use this one in boats of all types.

3. RecPro Marine 4 Step Folding Boarding Ladder

This last item is an excellent product in terms of functionality, safety, and durability. It is straightforward to use, and installing it onto your boat does not require any guesswork. The steps are sturdy and non-slipping and the construction material is of premium quality as well.  See its specifications below:

  • Brand: RecPro
  • Type: Removable ladder
  • Construction: Anodized aluminum
  • Dimensions: 32 x 17 x 5 inches
  • Weight: 8 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 300 pounds

Other inclusions:

  • Plastic steps
  • 4-step design
  • Ease of installation

Why have I chosen it?

This ladder’s frame is designed from anodized stainless tubes, ensuring its ability to withstand marine environments. While the steps are made of plastic, they are thick and sturdy and able to support a weight capacity of 300 lbs. For added safety, the steps are anti-slip. The design of this boat ladder is foldable, which is another excellent feature too.


There you have it, my three best portable boat ladders for ease of boarding your fishing boats. I would be pleased to know how this article helped you, and as usual,  let me know of your experiences with them.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections, or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time.

Have fun


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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.