Trailer Bunk Slides vs Carpet – Jet Ski And Boat

Have you ever spotted those jet ski and boat trailers with plastic slides on top of the bunks?

It’s a pretty interesting, right? You might be wondering if these plastic and “Teflon” bunk slides are a step up from the traditional carpeted bunks. Are they worth the extra bucks? And, are there any drawbacks to using them?

Well, here’s the deal: while plastic bunk slides might seem like a fantastic innovation, they’re not as great as they appear.

In this post, I’m going to dive into why sticking with carpeted bunks might actually be the better move. Stay tuned, and I’ll break down the reasons for you!

Carpet Vs Plastic

Pointing out MOVE trailer bunks

The main reason why people put the plastic slides on their boat trailers is to make getting the boat on and off the trailer easier.

While the slides make it easier to get the trailer on and off the trailer, it also makes it too easy.

Carpeted bunks are less hassle and way better at keeping your jet ski or boat on the trailer.

Everyone should strap their boats down, but sometimes things happen and straps break, so having that little bit of friction has saved me a few times.

Slides Downsides

Left Or Right

If you don’t properly strap down your boat or PWC with these plastic slides, you run the risk of them sliding off the right or left side of your trailers if you take a turn too sharp.

Lunge Forward

Not only slide off, but you run the risk of them lunging forward too much.

If the bow strap breaks or the winch gives out, the PWC or boat could end up in the back of your truck if no other straps are on it. Or even worse.

Too Easy

Someone saying something is too easy is not always seen as a bad thing, but it can be with the bunk slides.

When you’re launching your boat, these slides are extra slippery in the water and if the watercraft or boat is not in the right position it could get away from you when you unlatch it.

These slides also make it harder to get the boat or watercraft on the trailer, as it will want to slide back off. So if you don’t have the trailer perfectly in the water, you’re going to be fighting it.

Carpeted bunks have just enough friction to catch the boat when coming onto the trailer and just enough to keep it from going away when unlatching it.

Scrape Hulls

RXT hoisted in the air with forklift showing underside

The producers of bunk slides make them to slide on fiberglass with ease, but over time they get worn down and start to create rough edges.

There is a good reason why most boat manufacturers only do carpeted bunks, as it’s softer on your boat’s hull.

I’ve seen these plastic bunk slides do more damage to the bottom of a hull than the carpeted bunks when they start to wear out. And when they do wear out, they’re more costly than new bunk carpet.

It’s just not worth it to get the plastic bunk slides.

Rollers Vs. Carpeted

I know some boats come with trailers that have roller bunks, wheels instead of a long board, but I consider that worse than the plastic slides especially for jet skis.

The roller bunks slide even more easily than the plastic slides and since the weight is not as distributed, they cause more hull damage.

Bunks disperse the weight more evenly, which is what you want when boarding the trailer or when hauling on roads. The roller wheels create pressure points that do damage over the long run, especially when you travel over roads with potholes and other uneven surfaces.

The wheels they use are often sharp hard edges which create more points of damage in the long run.

Especially if you have a jet ski, they’re not worth it.

The rollers are more likely to leave black marks on the bottom of your hull.

It’s not damage, similar to sneaker marks on a basketball court is not damage, just material left behind from the roller.

If the roller is leaving material behind, that means it’s wearing a spot out on the wheel and will lead to problems down the line.

Lube The carpet

Some people spray their bunks with WD-40 or some bunk lubricates to make it easier to get the PWC off the trailer.

I don’t recommend doing this to your trailer as it suffers the same problems as the bunk slides.

Another problem with the sprays is that they soak into the wood and weaken it, which causes the wood to crack and break away from where it connects to the trailer. A broken bunk is much worse than a slippery bunk when it comes to damaging your hull.

Good Quality

Not all bunk carpet for watercraft and boats is the same. It’s also not hard to replace, just need some basic sockets and a staple gun.

Get some good quality bunk carpet (Amazon Link Ad), don’t use anything but bunk carpet as it’s very different from the carpet in your home.

You also want to stick to the marine bunk carpet for your PWC, boat trailer or even boat lift.

PWC Is Hard To Get Off the Trailer

Many people think about getting plastic slides for their bunks when the jetski or boat won’t come off their trailer easily.

If your PWC doesn’t come off the trailer, then the PWC or boat is not far enough in the water. You either need to back in more, go to a new ramp, or use a different vehicle.

I see people all the time not back in far enough, some won’t even get the trailer tires wet. It’s okay to get the trailer wet!

75% Of Bunks In Water

You need the fenders (the plastic wheel guards) of the trailer almost all the way underwater, as seen in this photo below.

You can also see the bunks are about 75% underwater, which is another clue to use.

Sea-Doo Trailer backed into water hooked up to red truck.

Don’t Go too Deep!

Of course, you need to avoid going too deep, as your vehicle could end up in the water.

Sometimes your towing vehicle and the ramp are not a good match, so you must go somewhere else that is.

I have a ramp near me, I refuse to go to because it’s too steep, and if you’re near a body of water, there should be plenty of ramps to pick from.



I started working at a power sports dealership in 2007, I worked in parts, service counter, and as a technician before moving to sales in 2013. I created in 2014 to answer common watercraft questions I would get from people. Now managing the site full-time, I continue to provide advice and web tools for my readers about watercraft. I've owned several watercraft, with a Sea-Doo Spark as my current main PWC.


  1. Thanks, i have had trouble with our boat launching but wondered about the safety of the slicker material while towing. I would hate the idea of wearing a 30′ boat if i had to slam on the brakes!


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