Boat Cover Buyer's Guide

Once you’ve decided to purchase a boat cover to protect your investment, the next challenge is finding one that fits properly and meets your requirements. This guide is intended to help you through the selection process.

Boat covers encompass a wide price range from the economy models all the way up to $600 custom covers that fit like a glove. A boat cover serves several purposes, beyond the obvious one of keeping rain, leaves and dirt out of your boat. Protection from the ravages of boat-killing UV rays is an important fringe benefit, but have you considered that a boat cover can reduce drag, in turn enhancing pulling performance and minimizing gas consumption when trailering long distances?

It is true, that a well-fitted boat cover can reduce the drag of a boat, not to mention keeping your cooler lid from becoming part of the roadside landscaping. With the cost of gas today, that savings could add up fast, mitigating the initial cost of a cover in no time. The amount of savings experienced will vary with the design of your boat, its size, weight and the height of the its wind-catching transom.

A boat cover that doesn't fit right can do more damage than not having one. It's the flapping that causes the damage, when the cover rubs constantly against the surface of the boat. To avoid causing damage instead of preventing it, start off by measuring your boat properly.

A snug fit is important, so first measure your boat from the tip of the bow to the stern, without including the windshield. Measuring up and over the windshield will result in a measurement that is too long for your boat and ultimately in a bad fit. Next, measure the width of the beam, which is the widest point of your boat. Finally, measure the width of transom. The length measurement doesn't account for bow-mounted trolling motors. If your boat has a bow-mount trolling motor, add an additional foot to your measurement to compensate for the additional length.

Once you've got a set of accurate measurements, it's a simple process of going through Cabela's extensive selection of boat covers and picking the style that matches your boat's hull design.

Another important issue in the boat cover selection process is fabric. The choice of fabric will have an impact on the expected lifespan as well as performance during its lifetime. If you live in a climate that is damp, breathability is an important issue, but a more salient issue is where will the boat be stored? If you live very close to water and store your boat inside, then you are mainly looking for a dust cover and thickness isn't a major factor. However, if you store your boat outside, or have a long haul to your favorite lake, then consider a heavyweight fabric. Keep in mind that no matter how thick the fabric, or how well it's treated, if you let leaves, snow, water and dirt accumulate on the cover and weigh it down, it will not last.

For long trips, the weight or thickness of the fabric should be a minimum of 300 denier, and 600 denier or 12-oz. would be much better. Denier is a term that quantifies the thickness of a fiber, and the measurement in diameter of the fiber; the higher the denier, the stronger the fiber. Fabric can be either a cotton/polyester blend or straight polyester. There are a lot of different brand names for polyester, but their qualities don't vary. Polyester is a durable fabric that doesn't breathe very well. The main difference between the poly/cotton blends and 100% polyester is the price. It costs less to make a cover with the blend because cotton fiber costs less. Another issue with the two fibers is versatility. Cotton fibers are more difficult to dye and are more subject to fading. That's why you'll find poly/cotton blend tops.

You'll find that the better tops have a felt lining on the rubrail and on surfaces that come in contact with the windshield. Also look for reinforcements at stress areas such as the windshield, at the bow and the corners of the stern. Double needle stitching is also a sign of quality.

All of Cabela's boat covers are UV treated, and waterproof for many years of rugged service. With the proper measurements, and right style selection, you'll feel much more comfortable about storing and trailering your boat. It's the right thing to do.