Recreational boat owners and those that love to fish will know how your boat will need routine maintenance and even some repairs from time to time. You never truly know what the water will bring, so it pays to be prepared at all times.
By having the right equipment in your boat tool kit, it will mean you can make the simplest of repairs without hopefully having to employ the services of a professional.
Many of these tools you will already have at home, and you could simply pack them up into a box and take them on board each time.
But where’s the logic in that? It makes much more sense to have a small boat tool kit on your boat that stays there and is ready for you need it. Plus, it also pays to have a them in a waterproof box to protect from corrosion.
Handy Hint: Talking of corrosion, try to look for boat tools that are buoyant, so they float when dropped, bright colors, and corrosion resistant construction – I don’t need to tell you why!
Best Boat Tools List for Boat Owners
Before I get into the list of boat tools one by one, you can purchase off the shelf marine tool kit boxes that will contain some of my recommendations below.
The only one that I found so far that contains enough tools to get you by at a bare minimum with most smaller boat repairs on a smaller scale would be the Greatneck Mariner’s Tool Set on Amazon. You can see that in the photo here, it’s the yellow marine tool box.
But in all honesty, the best boat tool box will be one that you have assembled yourself based on your own requirements – with a little guidance that you can start to build that up using some of the best suggestions shown below.
An absolute must have will be screwdrivers, and if possible a cordless one with flat head and Phillips attachments.
Failing that just pack a few different types in the sizes and lengths you will most likely need.
I would imagine that you will already have screwdrivers at home so I don’t have any particular brand or model recommendation here – just make sure you pack them up before your trip!
If only all tools were made to float, it would make our lives so much easier. I’m the type of person who drops his tools, which isn’t usually a problem… until you’re on the water.
With a bright colored handle so you can see it once you drop it, this knife is perfect (view on Amazon) for all occasions including cutting through webbing, fishing line, and more.
It’s an essential addition boat tool that you should always carry in your box.
If you’re electrics go down, you’re trying to fix something at night, or are leaning over your boat to check for damage, you’re going to need a flashlight.
Dorcy do a cheap and waterproof floating product (see Amazon prices) that offers 55 lumens worth of brightness which should be ample enough for most boaters.
Gerber River Shorty Knife
Another knife I really like is the River Shorty from Gerber.
Made from corrosion resistant 420HC steel it will stand up very well when at sea or on the lakes and has blunt tip to help you apply pressure when cutting.
This specialist marine multitool and knife is a great solution for boaters. It combines a stainless-steel design and aluminum oxidation handle for rust resistance, and 4 essential functions.
If you’re not happy with your purchase, they will send you out a refund or replacement within 12 months. That’s great peace of mind to have and should give you confidence in this tool.
Emergency Survival Kit
Of course, you could buy a survival kit which will combine many of the items you might need on your boat.
This survival kit on Amazon comes with 15 pieces including an emergency blanket, wire saw, knife, emergency whistle, rope, and tactical flashlight.
It could be just the thing to get you buy before help arrives.
Battery Terminal Puller
At some point during your boating life, you will encounter a battery problem. Guaranteed.
You can use a battery terminal puller to get it right off.
Pinless Moisture Meter
Water leaks are always going to present a problem, and it’s not always that easy to see where they are coming from and where the path of water flows.
You lay the moisture meter flat on the surface and it will detect moisture in seconds. It’s ideal for detecting moisture under all types of finished surface and can detect leaks up to 20 millimetres deep.
You can pick one up for under $40 dollars on most websites, with some of the best deals and prices on Amazon as per usual.
Spark Plugs & Fuses
They will blow or need replacing from time to time, so it’s a worthwhile investment to carry some spares in your marine tool kit.
It’s a low-cost accessory rather than a tool but means you won’t have to worry about a replacement fuse or spark plug should the worst happen.
You can never have enough cable ties, and preferable ones at various different lengths as well.
Cheap, and easy to get hold of, one common use will be with an anchor with a breakaway feature and as an anchor saver.
There’s glue, and then there’s Gorilla Glue.
It can stick and repair anything known to man, and it’s waterproof too, making it the ideal boat repair accessory, particularly for a quick patch up.
If your boat needs some wiring, you will be glad you packed the electrical tape.
Another winning tool you should also have in your kit is Gorilla Tape. Just like Gorilla Glue this stuff is amazing and is the king of duct tapes.
I would recommend investing in a collection of different sizes and types to suit everything you might need to do.
This could include filter wrenches, a prop wrench, a vice grip and spark plug wrench in large and small sizes.
Scissors & Cutters
Another item you are bound to already have at home will be some cutters. There will be times when you need to cut through cable ties, wires, fishing line (which tend to get tangled!) and other aspects.
The one I love is the Klein Crimper which you can use with any electrical repair job.
Hose, PVC, & Tube Cutter
This cheap tool can come in very handy to help with those hard to get to repairs when you need to remove a hose.
Safer than using a blade, easier than using a saw, you can pick one up relatively cheaply on Amazon again with the prices tending to come in under 60 dollars.
My recommendation here would be the Rigid Cutter. Go take a look at the latest prices.
Accidents can and will happen, no matter how safe you think you are.
You can pick up a cheap pair of plastic safety glasses for under ten dollars on Amazon, and no boat tool kit is complete without a pair.
Ratchet & Wrench Set
Ideally you should try to keep your tool box as slim line as possible. Whilst it might be tempting to load yourself up with various wrenches and sockets, look for something that’s includes them in an all in one kit.
This 20 piece set on Amazon is comprised of heat-treated chrome and steel pieces that should last you for many years to come.
A no-brainer really, but whatever you do, make sure you have needle-nose pliers as well for those more fiddly jobs and tasks.
Spare Screws, Nuts, Bolts and Snaps
Look to carry spares to fit any repair needed on your own boat. I’ve got mine stored in small plastic containers that fit into my tool kit.
Stainless steel screws are a must, plus additional snaps for your boat’s cover.
Hose Clamps & Wire
Wire will complement your cable ties very well, and as for hose clamps?
Well, you just need to hear stories where marine insurance claims have been raised due to problems with failed hose clamps.
Make sure you don’t take them for granted.
Best Tools for Pontoon Boat Owners
In addition to the suggestions above, which are very generic for all boat types on the water, I also wanted to talk about pontoon boats.
On my pontoon boat I carry not just boat tools, many of which you can see listed above, but also some additional items.
Here’s my pontoon boat tools list which I also recommend that you check against.
- Simple mechanical set
- Couple of screwdrivers
- Spark plug socket
- Extra fuses
- Prop wrench
I also pack an extra prop. If you have one please do the same, but I hope you would never have to use it.
Other essentials include a fire extinguisher and marine radio if you’re on a large lake or river. I’ve put together a list of essential safety items elsewhere on Pontoonopedia.
That includes things like a small first aid kit, small tool box, bumpers for the sides, ropes, anchors, 303 spray to protect seats from the sun and water.
I also have a weather tight storage tote that I leave on the boat under one of the seats. I keep sunscreen, hand sanitizer, plates, forks, paper towels and so on in there for eating on the boat.
Conclusion on this List
As a boater, you need to be prepared.
If something can go wrong, it will go wrong.
And unlike being on dry land, once you throw in the complications of being on the water, any repair or fix takes on an entirely new dynamic.
What better way to be prepared than having the right marine and boat tools to handle anything that will get thrown at you.
I appreciate that this boat tools list isn’t completely comprehensive, as your particular boat might need some other items.
But as a starting point, this list of tools should at least give you a start for getting your own kit together this year.