Can Jeeps Tow Boats? (Let’s Find Out)

Everyone loves a nice day on the lake, but getting the boat to the lake can be a hassle. With Jeep being such a popular brand among outdoor enthusiasts, the boat towing capabilities of Jeep models can be just as important as the off-roading that they are known for.

Any Jeep model can tow at least a small fishing boat. Various Jeep models have higher towing capacities, enabling them to be able to tow much larger boats as well. A boat’s weight, combined with the weight of the boat trailer, will dictate the type of boat that the Jeep can tow.

There are 12 different models of Jeeps that range from 2,000 to 10,000 in their towing capacity. Depending on what type of boat you want to tow, the importance of the differences between models goes way beyond just looks and price.

General Guidelines

When figuring out if a car can tow a boat there are a few specific numbers you need to consider. First, the towing capacity of the vehicle. This specification is often only advertised on the biggest and strongest vehicles, but that doesn’t mean a smaller SUV can’t tow. If you do not know the towing capacity for your vehicle, try checking the owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website. Most times there is a sticker on the inside of your driver’s door jam with this information. Make sure you are checking for your exact make, model, year, and engine as these factors can all alter the towing power of a vehicle.

Of course, you will also need to know how much your boat weighs. There are general weight ranges for each type and size of boat, but if you are nearing the threshold of towing capacity you should use a more specific number. If you can’t remember how much your boat weighs, it’s worth a call or some research to figure out exactly what you’re up against.

Remember, you cannot simply compare boat weight to towing capacity. Boats have to be put on some sort of trailer before you can tow them. Trailers can actually add significant weight to the overall load. Figure out how much your trailer weighs, add that to the weight of the boat, and then make sure that the total is below the maximum towing load of your vehicle.

Towing a load that is heavier than the maximum load can damage your vehicle in a number of different ways. Not to mention it is illegal and extremely dangerous. The extra strain will cause the brakes and tires to wear out faster and can even warp the chassis of the car itself. Taking the engine and transmission past their limits will void any warranty, they will lose efficiency, and will have to be replaced much sooner. With all of these factors combined, the vehicle quickly becomes too dangerous to drive.

Jeep Models and their Capabilities

There are 12 model categories to consider when you are talking about a Jeep. The towing capacity for each model remains the same between different packages. Based on the most recent year for each model, these are the towing capacities for each Jeep model.

Jeep ModelMaximum Towing Capacity (Lbs)80% Capacity (Lbs)
Wrangler 4xe3,5002,800
Grand Cherokee3,5002,800
All-New Grand Cherokee 4XE6,0004,800
Grand Cherokee L6,2004,960
All-New Grand Cherokee7,2005,760
Grand Wagoneer9,8507,880
(Jeep: All Vehicles)

Understanding the capacity of your Jeep will make for a much better towing experience. The total weight of what you are towing, including the trailer, should fall well underneath the car’s limit. A good rule of thumb is to never exceed 80% of the maximum towing capacity for any type or brand of vehicle.

It may seem frustrating to give up 20% of what the manufacturer says is safe, but there are a few reasons why this is a good idea. During testing to find the max tow, the vehicle is driven unloaded, and in ideal conditions.

The manufacturer’s limit is not accounting for extra people or gear in the vehicle. Part of the 20% is allotting for the extra weight that most people will have in their car. This can also cover any extra weight in the boat that isn’t accounted for in the boat’s official weight.

All the boating gear you need to store in your boat will slowly add up, especially combined with all the things and people inside the car. With so many small factors adding up, it becomes nearly impossible to know how much weight the vehicle is actually dealing with.

Additionally, no one gets to drive with zero wind, zero grade, and a smooth road all the time. While driving your boat to the lake, you will undoubtedly encounter some natural variance in driving conditions that are not accounted for during vehicle testing.

The more weight your vehicle is handling, the slower the response time is. Maneuverability is adjusted and you’ll need more time to brake. Staying under 80% ensures that you can drive safely, even on rougher terrain with crosswinds.

Boat trailers

Boat trailer weight can vary greatly, depending on what type of boat it is designed to pull. Here is a look at some averages to help you get an idea of what you can expect from a trailer.

Trailer TypeWeight Range (Lbs)Average Weight (Lbs)Average Load Capacity (Lbs)Total Average Weight (Lbs)
Canoe/Kayak Trailer100-400200200400
Fishing Boat Trailer200-1,1006002,7003,300
Large Boat Trailer1,100-4,4002,20011,40013,600
(Curt Trailer Manufacturers)

These numbers are the mean of what you might expect, but trailer size has a large gradient, especially between small (fishing) boat trailers and large boat trailers. You can find a trailer to suit your needs all throughout the range of trailer weight. With the variance in trailer weight, you will see a corresponding variance in the load capacity.

A large fishing boat trailer can carry just as much weight as a large boat trailer that is on the smaller end of the spectrum. It is simplest if you just purchase the boat and the trailer at the same time from the same place to make sure that it will be a good fit.

Canoes and Kayaks

Any Jeep will be able to tow nonmotorized watercraft. Even the largest kayak trailers holding up to eight boats at a time fall way under the maximum towing capacity of any Jeep model. In the most extreme situation, the trailer would weigh 400 pounds and could carry 800 pounds of watercraft. This only totals to a maximum of 1,200 pounds of trailering weight.

Wrangler, Cherokee, Compass, and Renegade have relatively low towing capacities compared to the more heavy-duty Jeep models, but 1,600 pounds will be plenty for a canoe trip.

Skiffs and Fishing Boats

Boat on a Trailer Descending into the Water

Skiffs and fishing boats will fall all over the range of fishing boat trailers, depending on their size and material. A skiff will likely use the smallest of fishing boat trailers since they don’t typically weigh over 1,000 pounds. They can also weigh as little as 300 pounds if it is a rowboat made of aluminum.

A motorized fiberglass skiff will begin to reach close to 1,000 pounds. A 200-pound trailer will be able to carry a 900-pound skiff, putting you at a total of 1,100 pounds to take out a small shallow water fishing boat. If you like a quiet and simple fishing experience, simply choose whatever model of Jeep you like the best as towing won’t need to factor into your decision.

A motorized aluminum fishing boat will likely weigh between 700 and 900 pounds. This means that you would likely still use a very small fishing boat trailer that will weigh around 200 pounds. Just like a skiff, any model of Jeep will be able to tow an aluminum fishing boat. The total weight will fall below the 80% cut-off for any model including the Wrangler, Cherokee, Compass, and Renegade.

Fiberglass fishing boats weigh significantly more than aluminum ones. Many people prefer fiberglass for better durability, handling, and hydrodynamics. Fiberglass fishing boats will likely provide a smoother more reliable trip, but the material change will also add at least 1,000 pounds of weight.

With the boat alone weighing between 1,700 and 3,000 pounds, some Jeep models are immediately out of the question. The trailer will weigh 600+ pounds depending on the length of the boat. On the conservative side, a 600-pound trailer and a 2,000-pound boat still give you plenty of Jeep options.

Any Grand Cherokee or Wagoneer model, as well as the Gladiator and Wrangler 4xe, can handle a small fiberglass fishing boat.

On the larger size of fiberglass fishing boats, the trailer and boat combination could easily reach 4,000 pounds in total weight. If you have a long fiberglass fishing boat with a large motor, your Jeep model options become slightly more limited. You could use an All-New Grand Cherokee (4xe), Grand Cherokee L, or either model of Wagoneer.

There are plenty of great Jeep options for towing a fiberglass fishing boat, but pay careful attention to your specific boat and trailer weight since the range is so large. However, a grand Wagoneer or Wagoneer both have max tow capacities that are so large that you could confidently tow any fishing boat without worry.


Small White Boat Sailing on the Lake on a Beautiful Sunny Day

Sailboats obviously have a huge range of sizes, but let’s break it down into day sailboats and mid-size sailboats. Any large sailboat, or yacht, is going to stay in the water permanently removing any need for towing consideration.

Day sailboats are pretty simple and small weighing between 400 and 800 pounds. Not having a motor or fuel tank removes a lot of weight and sailboats this small typically don’t include any water tanks, galleys, or berths.

The trailer for this type of sailboat doesn’t need to be very heavy-duty and shouldn’t put you over the 1,600 pound limit for the smaller Jeep models unless you are way overshooting your needs.

A 20-foot day-trip sailboat with a reasonable trailer can be towed by any Jeep model. However, a large day sailboat with an overqualified trailer will put you close enough to the limit that you may want to upgrade. Eliminating the Wrangler, Cherokee, Compass, and Renegade models may make for a more carefree ride.

A mid-size sailboat will weigh more from the extra length, but also from the addition of Water tanks, galleys, and berths. Mid-size sailboats can weigh 4,000 to 8,000 pounds and require a much larger boat trailer.

On the smaller side, this will total up to around 7,000 pounds of trailering weight but can easily surpass 1,200 pounds on the larger side. A Grand Wagoneer or Wagoneer might be able to tow a mid-size sailboat if it is on the lower side of the range. If you are going to use a Jeep Wagoneer model, make sure you have double-checked that the weight of your sailboat and trailer is under the 80% limit.

Wake Boats

Wake boats are very popular with water sport enthusiasts as they make for a very fun summer day out on the water. These boats will weigh somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds and need a middle-range trailer. A 6,000-pound trailering load would be pretty typical for a wake boat, making the Grand Wagoneer or Wagoneer both great options. The high max capacity of these models will likely be able to accommodate even the most decked-out wake boats.

Bowrider Boats

Bowrider boats are very popular as lake cruisers. Different seating, length, and power accommodations create a range of possible weight, but an average bowrider will be about 3,000 to 3,500 pounds. Adding in the weight of a typical trailer, you can expect to tow 4,000+ pounds when driving the bowrider to the water.

The All-New Grand Cherokee, All-New Grand Cherokee 4xe, and Grand Cherokee L can all handle bowrider boats on the smaller end of the spectrum. If you are taking out a large bowrider, or just want a little extra wiggle room, one of the Wagoneer models will be the best choice from the Jeep lineup.

Pontoon Boats

Pontoon Boats at Lake Irving in Bemidji Minnesota

Pontoon boats can see an average weight somewhere around 5,000 pounds, but they become more problematic when considering the width that comes with these boats.

The extra width makes pontoons the perfect party boat, but also makes it more difficult to drive with one in tow. Adding in the weight of a trailer and considering the 80% limit, the All-New Grand Cherokee can tow a small to a mid-sized pontoon boat, but a large party boat will be best towed by a Wagoneer model.

Wrap Up

If you’re a Jeep/Off-Road enthusiast, chances are you’re simply an adventure and outdoors enthusiast. That means sometimes you get off the dirt and hit the water. Knowing with confidence that your rig can carry all your stuff plus the extra watercraft is crucial to keeping the adventure going. Whether it’s the dirt, mud, sky, or water just remember to keep…The Wilderness on YOUR Side.

Recent Posts