Back to the Basics: Types of Boat Lifts: Bottom Standing, Floating, and Suspended

May 2021 Multimedia

Boats, jet skis, pontoons, and all other watercraft need to be kept out of the water in the off-season and when not in use. While you could drive your boat down to a launch whenever you want to use it, that’s not incredibly convenient. Keeping your boat on a boat lift means not having to haul it to and from a ramp, saving time, gas, and money. It will also protect your boat from algae and other marine growth and getting knocked around by the wind and waves.

There are many boat lift options depending on your unique needs, and options like electric motors are available for some boat lift options. You’re going to want to consider other factors like your water depth and conditions, any local rules and regulations you need to follow, how much traffic your shoreline gets, the size of boat you’re storing, and other information to help make the right boat lift decision. To begin, we can break boat lifts down into three basic types: bottom standing, floating, and suspended.

Bottom Standing

Also called freestanding lifts, bottom standing lifts are mounted on the bottom of a lake or harbor. They’re great for many situations, including people who don’t want to or can’t permanently mount a boat to a dock or pilings. You’ll also want a freestanding lift if you’re working with a silty or powdery bottom. However, they’re not great for areas with deep water—they’re best for shallow shorelines between 3 and 10 feet deep. If this is the lift you’ll think will work best for your waterfront, check out ShoreMaster’s Vertical Boat Lifts. 


Like bottom standing lifts, floating lifts are great for places where you can’t have a permanently mounted boat lift because they float on the water and are moored to docks or pilings. Floating docks can also keep the structure of your dock from getting damaged because the weight of the boat won’t be pressing down on it when the water level changes. If they aren’t moored, they can be easily removed, making them great for areas that experience a lot of flooding or inclement weather. They’re great for many boat types and water depths, including fluctuating and deep water, making them incredibly versatile. If this is the lift you’ll think will work best for your waterfront, check out HydroHoists UltraLifts.


Hanging cradle or suspended boat lifts are great when a permanent, covered structure is available. There are also cradle kits for building onto an existing structure or installing a new one. This is a heavy-duty, low-maintenance option that can fit many different types of boats. Suspended boat lifts are suitable for moderately deep water and a good fit for larger boats (but always confirm with your dealer!). If this is the lift you’ll think will work best for your waterfront, check out Neptune Boat Lifts.

These basics should help you get started looking for the ideal lift for your boat. You want to make sure that you get your money’s worth in joy, convenience, and upkeep: do your research, comparison shop, and make sure you buy from a trusted dealer that can help you find your perfect boat lift. 

For more information:

1025 International Drive
Fergus Falls, MN 56537

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