So you’ve watched What to Look for in a Tow Vehicle, and you’re about to pull the trigger on a new truck and trailer-boat. You’ve perused our Trailering Safety Tips video, so you know you’ll make it to the boat ramp safely. The question is, once you get to that ramp, will you instinctively know how to back down and launch that new boat?

Unless you have a long history of trailering the answer is probably a resounding “no”. Backing a boat trailer requires know-how, practice, and most importantly, more practice.

If you’re new to trailer boating and you don‘t want to look like a buffoon at the boat ramp, check out this video on learning how to back a boat trailer like a pro. Click on the photo to watch:


As we pointed out in Tip #1, having a back-up camera certainly makes the job easier. But not all tow vehicles have one. Fortunately, you can get aftermarket back-up cameras that mount on your license-plate holder or tailgate. Especially if you’re new to trailer-boating, getting one is a good idea. Expect to spend a couple hundred dollars, and the waterproof or at least water-resistant cameras are highly recommended since you’ll be backing into a rather moist environment.

The extended side-view mirrors we talked about in Tip #2 are also well worth the expense (and can be had for about $50 each). Slide-on extensions and clip-ons that go right over your existing side-view mirrors are widely available.

The other backing tips we talked about in the video will help, for sure, but again: the most important thing is to get plenty of practice. And by that we don’t mean simply using your trailer boat more often, because a sunny Saturday at a busy boat ramp is not an ideal scenario to try practicing. Set aside an hour or two just to work on backing, when there’s no pressure to perform. And if you dedicate a quiet afternoon to practice-backing in a wide-open parking lot, you’ll get as much experience as you would in an entire summer of launching and retrieving your boat.

Even if you do this and apply all the tips we talk about in the video, are you still likely to become flummoxed now and again when backing up? Of course. I’ve personally owned trailer boats for over 30 years, and I can’t even begin to imagine how many times I’ve backed down a boat ramp. Yet there are still times when limited space, lots of ramp traffic, or other factors conspire and I miss it on my first try. And the second, and oops, maybe even on the third attempt. Hey—no one’s perfect. And you can’t expect to be, either. But this How to Back a Boat Trailer Like a Pro video will certainly help you get as close to perfect as possible. With plenty of practice, of course.

Trailer-boaters with specific needs might want to watch some of our other videos in the trailering series, sponsored by Ram. Hunters and other boaters who often find themselves launching or towing through unusual conditions or at sub-par ramps should check out Trailering, Launching, and Retrieving a Boat on Sand and Mud. And those of you who plan to tow your boats up and down mountains should first watch Towing in Mountainous Terrain – Hills Make it Harder.

Hopefully, the series will help make your life as a trailer-boater easier and more enjoyable—because that's what boating is all about in the first place.

Written by: Lenny Rudow
With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to publications including YachtWorld,, Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.