Getting in and out of your boat at the dock can be awkward, especially if you have family and friends wanting to join you in the water.
The best way to ensure that everyone can board your boat safely is with a strong and sturdy dock ladder. Of course, there are a ton of these on the market right now and it can be difficult to know which one to buy.
Here’s where our dock ladder review round-up can help. We have done the research for you, bringing together 5 top-rated ladders covering a range of budgets, lengths, and functionality.
For our findings at a glance, just head to the table below. For a comprehensive review of each of our picks, keep on reading.
Top 5 Best Dock Ladders for 2020
Step interval: 11.5”
Step width: 5”
Capacity: 300 lbs
Step Gap: 10″
Step Width: 2”
4 Step Ladder
Dock Ladder Reviews
The following reviews are meant to give you all the information you need so that choosing a dock ladder doesn’t become a headache.
Below you’ll find our top pick overall, a number one budget option and some model ladders that can also be fitted to the back of a boat or pontoon should you need.
How’s that for flexibility. So if you are ready, let’s jump to it.
1. TOP PICK: Extreme Max 3005.3380 4-Step Pontoon/Dock Ladder
Extreme Max is a popular brand for the manufacturing of boating accessories. And it is clear they have come up trumps with this high-quality dock ladder.
This is also a flexible option that can be used for swimming pools too. Whether you want to board a dock, floating raft or a pontoon, you can do so without any hassle with the help of this heavy-duty aluminum dock ladder.
For safe use, it features an angled design that lets it anchor securely even in deep water and makes boarding easier. The steps are wide too, even heavy-footed uncle John will be able to board comfortably with this ladder.
As you would expect, this ladder from Extreme Max feels robust as you stand on it, yet the light-weight aluminum design makes it easy for you to store or relocate.
Another great benefit of the ladder is that it is designed so you can mount to docks or floating rafts within minutes.
The kit comes with stainless steel mounting hardware that will help you to set it up easily. If you need to relocate at any point, you can buy the Footman Relocation Kit to help you move the ladder easily.
The Max is also hard wearing, providing the longevity you need from a ladder that could well end up being in harsh sunshine, yet wet conditions for many months of the year.
This dock ladder from Extreme Max ticks all the right boxes. Strong, affordable and easy to set up. It is our number one choice for good reason.
No matter what the weather is like, you will be able to board and dock comfortably and safely with mimumum fuss. And that’s exactly what you should be looking for at the end of the day.
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2. 4 Step Heavy Duty Anodized Aluminum Swimming Pool Dock Ladder FLIP UP
Here we have another great dock ladder that doubles up as an option for an outdoor pool too.
This is a 4-step ladder, constructed with extra heavy-duty anodized aluminum which is resistant to corrosion and abrasion. It provides a great grip and so there is no chance of slipping and causing an accident.
There is no rough edge so you won’t get hurt while climbing down or up. The steps are constructed in such a way to avoid slippage.
Mounting hardware is available and you will be able to set it up with the detailed instruction given with the product.
It easily flips up 180 degrees from the deck and stows out of the water. When not in use it pulls out of the water and stands up.
The benefit of this of course is that the boat can safely use the side of the dock when the ladder is lifted up and not in use.
This ladder will give you a safer dock environment. It is well constructed to last a long time without having any corrosion.
As it doesn’t rust it is also great for use in a saltwater swimming pool. In short, it offers great value for money as a solution for getting in and out of your kayak or boat.
You will be able to mount it easily on any surface and use it without worrying about your safety.
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3. BEST PREMIUM OPTION: Amarine Made 4 Steps Removable / Folding Ladder
Amarine Made is another brand producing high quality products built to last. This is the most premium designed product in our top 5 and the results speak for themselves.
This 4-step model has a universal self-supporting design that can be used for multiple applications. It requires no support to stand.
Steps of a ladder are the main concern when it comes to safety, here the manufacturers have opted for an extra-wide design so you will feel comfortable using it.
This ladder is also tall, making it appropriate for use in deep water or high docking arrangements.
It features handrails that make it easy for boarding and ensure safety when you go down into the water.
The Amarine ladder is constructed using 15” diameter 316 stainless steel tubing.
The ladder flips up when not in use and so you can easily store it as it will take very little space. Furthermoree, it won’t get affected by saltwater as it is corrosion resistant.
Everything about this ladder from Amarine exudes quality. Sure it is quite expensive, but then you are purchasing something that will stand the test of time.
Unlike some of the other dock ladders in the market, it flips up easily when not in use and so you will be able to store it easily.
As it can withstand a lot of loads, the ladder is sturdy and durable. In terms of safety and durability you can’t really go wrong. Our top premium option for good reason.
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4. Stainless Steel In-board Swim Fiberglass Platform 4-steps Ladder Reinforce Folding Docking Ladder
As we have covered in each of our reviews above, your chosen docking ladder needs to be strong as it has to withstand the water condition and other adverse factors as well.
This stainless steel ladder fits that bill and then some. It is stable and won’t deform due to extreme weather conditions. You can also easily fold the ladder when not in use and store it in a corner.
It is a great docking ladder for swimming pool or dock boarding when you spend time on your kayak or wooden raft in the water.
The ladder has four steps which are wide and comfortable. The surface is smooth so you won’t get injured even if your skin comes in contact with it.
Overall, this is meant to be your one stop dock ladder solution and you will not be replacing it any time soon.
This ladder has been constructed with the highest quality in mind. You will be able to move it around comfortably without worrying that it might fall apart.
The steps are wide and very comfortable to step onto. You will be able to use the ladder without slipping or getting hurt in any other way.
You can use the ladder for multiple applications as well.
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5. BEST BUDGET OPTION: Hoffen Telescopic, 4 Step, Stainless Steel Dock Ladder
This ladder from Hoffen makes our top 5 because it perfectly balances functionality with price point. Not only that but it is super sturdy with the capacity to hold 600 pounds, as far as weight capacity it beats many other brands on the market.
With the extra tall handrails, you will find it easy to board your vessel. It easily mounts on the deck and your family and friends will be able to use it safely.
Furthermore, the design of the ladder is such that you can use it on the back of your pontoon boat or yacht. It is also suitable to use in the swimming pool or as a dock ladder. How’s that for multi-function hey?
The installation process is very easy; all you need to do is bolt the ladder to a horizontal platform and you can start using it right away.
The ladder is slightly angled to make it easy to board and it will prevent you from falling as well.
As Marine Grade product is used in the construction of this ladder, it will be able to withstand harsh marine conditions. A compact, well designed and functional ladder at this price point is hard to ignore.
Highly recommended as a result.
What to look for when buying a dock ladder?
Summer will be here before you know it and those of us that have access to the water will be jumping in and out with abundance.
And maybe that’s one of the reasons you’ve found this guide. A dock ladder will certainly help facilitate the warm weather fun.
Providing easy access to family and friends (and yourself of course) to the water makes a day by the lake, river or ocean that much more enjoyable.
However, you will definitely want to make the correct choice when buying the dock ladder. While our reviews above should help narrow things down, you may well want to do your own research too.
If that’s the case, the following guidelines will help you in your decision on which is the best dock ladder to buy for your needs.
Where will the dock ladder be used?
Fresh Water Use
One important issue to consider is the material the dock ladder is made out of. This is closely related to the environment it will be used in.
For regular use in freshwater (lake or river basically), a standard marine-grade aluminum dock ladder is will offer the corrosive resistance you need.
This is also the case with a galvanized steel dock ladder. As selected ladders above demonstrated, most available dock ladders fall into that category and will hold up for many years in freshwater environments.
Ladders used in saltwater need to have a higher level of resistance to corrosion. While aluminum or galvanized steel ladder will work in the shorter term, they will not have the same longevity as a higher-end stainless steel dock ladder.
Yes, a stainless steel option will cost more, (see our top premium pick above); however, you do save money in the long term by the fact you will not need to replace it so soon.
Length of the dock ladder
Another important factor to consider when buying a dock ladder is the length. For safety and ease of use, you should aim 2 steps reaching into the water.
This will ensure that people will be able to get in and out comfortably.
You should check this by measuring the distance from your dock to the waterline, at low tide (if applicable) and then add an extra 2 feet on to that length.
If younger children will be using the ladder the initial climb out can be made safer by adding 3 feet to the overall distance.
There are foldable dock ladders available. These are especially convenient where space might be an issue.
You can also find units that can be easily detached from a mount built into the dock. This type of ladder can then be used to get in and out of the boat while you are anchored someplace else.
These are also useful in areas where security might be an issue. At the end of your day at the water, the ladder can be detached and housed safely elsewhere.
Cost is always a factor when buying anything. We all have our varying budgets. As mentioned above, more affordable aluminum dock ladders are widely available. These are great for freshwater use, but will not last so well in saltwater environments.
Consider both what you need and your available budget, and in general, opt for the highest quality ladder you can afford.