For some, one of the most daunting tasks of owning a boat with a trailer is backing up while it is connected. In southern states like Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, the boating season doesn’t end, which requires frequent trips from your house or storage center to the boat ramp with a trailer in tow. What are the best methods for backing up a trailer not only at the ramp but in the driveway or other space?

Considerations when backing up a trailer

When backing up a trailer, consider that the area behind it will be blocked entirely from view. As a result, many dangers exist, such as hitting a stationary object or, even worse, a person. 

Those who are new to trailing a boat, know that backing down with a trailer in tow will be a completely foreign experience. When turning right, the trailer goes left, and when turning left, the trailer goes right. As a newbie, it is very confusing and can sometimes cause panic.

  • Be aware that you will not be able to see beyond the transom of the boat
  • When backing up, oversteering will cause the trailer to move quickly out of position
  • Never feel rushed. Be patient to avoid accidental mistakes

What are the most common places that a boat trailer will need to be backed for storage?

  • Driveways
  • Storage facilities
  • Boat ramps

While backing up a trailer is difficult, the burden will be lessened each time it is done by gaining confidence. Of course, the local boat ramp is one of the most frequent places that a trailer is required to back up. Boat launches tend to be extremely wide, offering the ability to maneuver without risk of collision. 

The more challenging places to back a boat and trailer into is both a storage space or driveway. Often boat storage facilities provide the renter with a narrow space sandwiched between two other boats. At home, navigating between parked cars and avoiding backing into the house can be just as challenging.

What to keep in mind when backing a boat into a driveway or storage space?

Many people will ask how to back a trailer into a driveway. The process of doing so requires practice by training your mind on which way to turn the wheel and how to use mirrors to your advantage.

Most important is what to look out for when accomplishing the task. Crowded areas and narrow spaces can quickly cause someone to become overwhelmed with the task at hand. Keep in mind that unlike utility trailers, boat trailers almost entirely block the view when in reverse. 

Before you even begin the process, know where each hazard lies, whether it be a parked vehicle, a section of the house, or another trailer adjacent to the parking spot. 

Bring along family members and friends. It is most helpful to have someone at both the front of the tow vehicle and another at the back of the trailer providing guidance. Danger can lurk on either end. While the trailer or back of the boat can bump into other things, the front of the tow vehicle can also hit objects when the driver is continuously looking in any of the mirrors and not paying attention to the swing of the front of the truck.

Tips for backing into confined spaces

  • Have a spotter both on the front and back end 
  • Take your time; it is not a race
  • When backing off of a busy road, have someone contain the passing traffic
  • Don’t be afraid to make small adjustments to avoid a jackknife trailer 


Backing a trailer down is an art; however, it is easy to become a master when it is done routinely. The old saying practice makes perfect is very close to the truth in this situation. Accidents can always happen when completing a task in haste. With repetition, the once challenging task will become second nature.