The Best Boat T-top Cover: 6 Tough “Over-Top” Fit Picks

white colored boat on a trailer parked in parking lot with full cover attached

For boat owners with a center console, the easiest way to provide shade is via a t-top. But how do you protect your vessel during storage, since classic boat covers won’t fit? To protect gear, gauges, upholstery below, you have to buy the best boat t-top cover.

Over-The-Top Semi-Custom Covers

Next, you should determine where you will store your prized investment. Do you park your boat long term in a driveway, or anywhere not in water that’s under/near foliage? Then consider choosing an over-the-top cover to keep your entire boat clean from the top down.

For options, you have two basic choices; either a full custom version or an aftermarket cover. To keep costs reasonable this article is about aftermarket-fit options.

Likewise, to buy the best boat t-top covering for you, try to think about the climate where you live. For example, in the South, recognize that breathability and fade reduction is vital. In contrast, up North there’s more natural shade available, so fading isn’t as big of an issue. Therefore, moisture-resistance is the most important factor.

Pay attention to how you plan to install it as well. Over-the-top models are more cumbersome and likely require two people to attach them. Maybe try attaching a weighted ball (ex. tennis balls) to one side to aid in launching the cover over the boat.

To begin this article, you’ll see a comparison table, next are the in-depth reviews. To finish up, for newcomers I give a brief explanation of each type of material choice. If you want to skip to a particular section, click the navigable table of contents.

Learn More: T-top Boat Cover Guide: How to Select, Install & Clean

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Table of Contents

Comparison Chart

The Absolute Best Boat T-top Cover

Purple label with gold anchor stating Editor's choice
Budge Sportsman 1200 B-1221-X7
  • Model Fitment: Boats 22 To 24-Feet In Length; Max Beam Width 106-Inches
  • Available Colors: Gray Or Blue
  • Cover Material: Machine Woven Polyester
  • Thickness: 1200 Denier
  • Hem: Elastic Shock Cord
  • Attachment System: Sewn-In Straps & Plastic Quick Release Buckles
  • Series Size Range: 6 Models; Ranging From 16 to 28-Feet
  • Designed For Trailering: Yes
  • Special Features: Reinforced Seams, Inner Soft Liner, Built-In Vents, Strap Pockets, UV & Fade Protection, Near Waterproof
  • Included Accessories: None - Cover Only
  • Warranty (Years): 5
Pro's & Con's

Budge Sportsman 1200 B-1201-X7 Review

Taking top spot is the Budge 1200, specifically the B-1201-X7 model. For this review, this model is compatible with vessels between 22 to 24-feet (6.7 to 7.3-meter) in length. As well, up to 106-inches (269 centimeters) beam width.

Although in general, Budge provides six different sizes to match watercraft from 16 to 28-feet in length. As well as, blue and gray models available.

Why Is It The Best Boat T-top Cover?

The main reason it’s a superior cover for boats with t-tops is the material and its thickness. For aftermarket merchandise, getting 1200 denier polyester is excellent at this price. Size wise, this fits perfect on a center console and covers both the t-top and the motor.

If you install it right, expect defense against fading, tree sap or leaves, and weather. Likewise, the special designed flap/pockets to prevent scratching the hull is a nice touch. Add to this beefed-up seams in the right places, and venting to reduce mold issues.

Don’t worry about searching for the attachment ties at the end of the day either. This is because Budge built them in to the fabric. But note: pulling on them too hard can snap them, so don’t make Herculean efforts.

Next, on the bottom edge of the fabric is a super-duty shock cord to ensure a snug but non-air tight fit. I appreciate the Budge even provides a swatch of fabric for future repairs. As well, the brand gives you a long warranty period of 5-years for peace of mind.

Does The Budge Sportsman 1200 Leak?

Light rain beads up well on the fabric, but heavy downpours over many days will leak a couple drops through the seams. If this is a concern, try using a tub of Damp Rid inside the boat to take care of it or any moisture worries. In deep winter with snow the t-top boat cover handles this just fine.

Pulling with a trailer might be possible, on the other hand I prefer to wait to attach at the place I’m storing it. During install, if you create proper slope from t-top to bow and to stern the Sportsman 1200 is an excellent performer.

Verdict:

Why trust Budge marine covers? Because from a cost to performance ratio the Sportsman 1200 is the absolute first choice on the market. Utilizing superior fabric with innovative characteristics, it ensures confidence for protected vessel storage.

Least Expensive (24 to 26-Feet) Marine Cover

Triton 600
  • Model Fitment: Boats 24 To 26-Feet In Length; Max Beam Width 106-Inches
  • Available Colors: Blue
  • Cover Material: Marine-Grade Polyester
  • Thickness: 600 Denier
  • Hem: Heavy-Duty Shock Cord
  • Attachment System: Webbing Straps & Quick Release Buckles
  • Series Size Range: 1 Model; Ranging From 24 to 26-Feet
  • Designed For Trailering: Yes
  • Special Features: Heavy-Duty Seams, UV & Fade Protection, Quality Tested By Third Party
  • Included Accessories: Storage Bag
  • Warranty (Years): 4
Pro's & Con's

Triton 600 Denier Marine Cover Review

Boaters who live in Southern climates and don’t want to break the bank should check out the Triton 600 model. Its made by Empire Covers, a company making protective covers since 2004.

This particular model fits center console or walkaround boats, with a hard top or t-top. Ranging in length from 24 to 26-feet (7.3 – 7.9 m) and beam width up to 106-inches (269 cm). The only option is bright-blue with black straps.

Mid-Range Materials

The number in the name tells you what the fabric quality of this Triton model is. Made of 600 Denier marine-grade polyester, the brand doesn’t specify the method of dying. Although I suspect it’s coated after weaving, based on the price point. Which is common for mid-range products but don’t worry, its still has a decent level of moisture and UV resistance.

At a 600 Denier thickness and weight, the cloth has better airflow than the 1200 series. Air movement is imperative to keep mold and mildew out of the equipment and seating in the boat.

Next, Triton gives you flaps that wrap around each of the tie-downs to prevent hull scratches. Moreover, similar to most of the others, the brand does reinforce the seams. Plus, you’ll appreciate that the attachment system are quick release buckles. 

Likewise, there’s a heavy-duty shock cord hem at the bottom to give you a snug on the hull. Initial install with two people should take around 10-15 minutes. Triton also gives you a 600 Denier storage bag and a 4-year warranty.

Downsides Of The Triton 600 Marine Cover?

First, I worry about the blue coloration of this product for fading, as deeper shades tend to do so. But I’d rather the cover fade than the upholstery underneath.

Performance wise, a 600 denier fabric will have a harder time keeping out dust, wet snow or pounding rain. Also, it doesn’t have dedicated vents or a support pole accessory for the bow section of the vessel.

Last, there are also complaints that the section where the tie-downs get sewn into the cloth is a tad weak. 

Verdict:

Buy this t-top boat cover if you are a boat owner on a budget and live in Southern locales. For this low price you actually get mid-range performance for your 24 to 26-feet boat.

Feature Packed Option For Big Boats

blue and gold colored label showing check mark and top marks text
Eliteshield Heavy Duty T-top Cover
  • Model Fitment: Boats 30 To 32-Feet In Length; Max Beam Width 120-Inches
  • Available Colors: Dark Gray
  • Cover Material: Solution Dyed Polyester
  • Thickness: 600 Denier
  • Hem: Elastic Shock Cord
  • Attachment System: Webbing Straps & Quick Release Buckles
  • Series Size Range: 15 Models; Ranging From 16 to 34-Feet
  • Designed For Trailering: Yes And In Moorage Slip Too!
  • Special Features: Tear Resistant, Zipper Access, Adjustable Hem With Winch, Straps Loop, Top Velcro Opening
  • Included Accessories: Support Pole, Straps Kit, Rope Ratchet, Large Color Match Reinforcement Patch And Storage Bag
  • Warranty (Years): 2
Pro's & Con's

Eliteshield’s Heavy-Duty T-top Cover Review:

This is my runner-up pick for boats over 22-feet in length. The Eliteshield protective cover, which fits center console boats from 16 to 34-feet in length. In fact you have 15 models to choose from.

For this review I’m discussing the model that’s compatible for vessels from 30 to 32-feet (9.1 to 9.7-meter) in length. As well, up to a 120-inches (305 centimeters) of beam width.

Why is it the runner-up for best boat t-top cover? It uses 600 denier instead of the 1200 denier of my first choice. But don’t let that sour you on this boat cover. Made from solution dyed polyester, its half the weight of the editor’s choice pick. A big bonus of using solution dying over coated fabric is it has better fade resistance. Due to dying the raw yarns, before its weaved in cloth.

Next, the cover gets connected with double stitched interlock seams with rot-proof thread. Delivering durable protection against sun, moisture, dirt and pollution.

Trailer & Slip Storage Options

Another massive bonus for the Eliteshield is the flexibility of installation. In fact, you get a unique two-way tie down system for both trailer and slip storage.

Either choose to put on the straps and buckles to cover boat on trailer on land. The buckles are quick-release but a drawback is they are tad flimsy for my liking.

Or use straw string rope and ratchet to tie down the cover while the boat on water. How long will the ropes last when submerged in water? That’s anyone’s guess, but having the option is always a plus.

Other Features

Moving on, up top it has a Velcro opening to accommodate equipment. Such as VHF antennas, outrigger mounts, GPS and rod holders. It can even fit over radar domes up to 2-feet tall.

Have a boat with bow rails? The Eliteshield will span over them no problem. Plus you get double-zippered entries at both port and starboard side. This is great for easy access to and from your boats pulpit for covering or venting.

Unlike most of the others, you get a ton of accessory goodies too. Such as tie down straps kit, a rope ratchet, a large reinforcement patch and a mesh storage bag included.

Does It Keep Moisture Out?

Like my first choice, the seams are a problem in heavy rain. Yet this appears to be a weak area for every universal cover, so expect a couple drops if you live in wet climates. Otherwise, in central to Southern environments this model is a good mid-range option.

Verdict:

Pick this best boat t-top cover if you want ultimate versatility with many features. It’s easy to install on your fishing boat but keep in mind the buckles require beefing-up.

Most Affordable Boat Cover (18 to 20-feet)

green and white colored budget friendly label
Budge Sportsman B-621-X5
  • Model Fitment: Boats 18 To 20-Feet In Length; Max Beam Width 106-Inches
  • Available Colors: Light Gray
  • Cover Material: Marine-Grade Polyester
  • Thickness: 600 Denier
  • Hem: Heavy Shock Cord
  • Attachment System: Sewn-In Straps & Quick Release Buckles
  • Series Size Range: 6 Models; Ranging From 16 to 28-Feet
  • Designed For Trailering: Yes
  • Special Features: Reinforced Seams, Built-In Vents, Strap Pockets, UV Protection, Near Waterproof
  • Included Accessories: Storage Bag
  • Warranty (Years): 4
Pro's & Con's

Budge B-621-X5 Review

This is the lighter-weight 600 denier model from Budge, which is compatible with vessels between 18 to 20-feet (5.5 to 6.1-meter) in length. Furthermore, it fits boats with a beam up to 106-inches (269 centimeters) wide.

In total, the 600 series comes in six different sizes to match boats from 16 to 28-feet in length. You can choose from either a blueish or gray fabric.

Reliable Performance

Why is the Budge boat cover so popular? Because the manufacturer found the sweet spot for cost compared to performance. Like I mentioned in the editor’s choice review, Budge delivers marine-grade material. The 600 denier fabric does include UV treatment for superior sun and heat protection. Thus preserving your boat’s upholstery and paint.

You will also notice that the size estimations are right on the money. For example, say you own a Scout 195 (19-feet) sport fishing boat, it actually fits over the outboard cowling. It even covers the sides of the hull about halfway down. At the bottom there’s a strong but flexible shock cord to make sure it’s snug no matter what weather the cover sees.

No worries about scratching the hull either, due to the special design of fabric pockets for the straps. Add to this, reinforced seams and vents to allow air to escape and reduce moisture build-up too.

Any Concerns?

Like its big brother, the Budge 600 will keep out a normal rainy day. But during downpours over many hours it does leak a few drops through the seams. For a fix, you can add a tub of desiccant to help dry out the inside of the boat.

Another issue is where the tie-downs attach to the cover. They can be weak, especially if you don’t pay attention to installation. Pay close attention not to wrench them down too hard, as some have snapped on people. I leave them a tiny bit loose, for airspace to help keep condensation at bay.

Last, is trying to pull with a trailer with the cover attached. I find that the ties flap in the wind and increase the chance of damaging the hull. So, I refrain from doing it.

Verdict:

Pick the Budge 600 if you want the most popular and reliable aftermarket boat cover on the market. It’s not as tough as its big brother but more than capable for an area such as Florida’s panhandle. Plus you get a 4-year warranty too!

Basic Cover For (17.7 to 34.6-feet) Center Console Boats

Ocean South T-Top Boat Cover
  • Model Fitment: Boats 20.7 To 21.6-Feet In Length; Max Beam Width 102-Inches
  • Available Colors: Light Gray
  • Cover Material: Polyurethane Coated Canvas
  • Thickness: 9.14oz/yd² Or 235.22 Denier
  • Hem: 1.25-Inches Braided Rope With Ratchet Closure
  • Attachment System: Straps & Sewn In Webbing Loops
  • Series Size Range: 17 Models; Ranging From 17.7 To 34.6-Feet
  • Designed For Trailering: Unknown
  • Special Features: Flat Double Lock Seam Stitching, UV Protection Agent Applied To Threads, Tie-Down Loops Sewn Into Hem
  • Included Accessories: Storage Bag
  • Warranty (Years): None
Pro's & Con's

Ocean South T-top Boat Cover Review:

This is the best boat t-top cover for people on a fixed budget with a 21-foot skiff. Or any other deep V center console boats with a T-top. Its even suitable for watercraft with low bow rails (6-inches) or without.

Ocean South has seventeen different size models in this series! Ranging from 17.7 up to 34.6-feet (5.4 – 10.6 meter). In today’s review is the 20.7 to 21.6-feet (6.3 – 6.6 meter) version. For beam width you have up to 102-inches or 259 centimeters for the international folks.

If you’re a boater who appreciates an easy install, this model accommodates all your accessories too. Including outriggers, VHF and GPS Antennas, as well as rod holders.

Now for a head-scratcher, this brand doesn’t give a formal warranty. Other than some claim of a UV protection agent delivering 7-years of performance. You do get to cancel and return your order within 30 days, for any reason though.

Basic Fabric & Ties

No denier level for Ocean South, similar to trident. Unlike the latter, you get Atlas Marines’ 9-ounce polyurethane coated canvas. Next, there are flat double lock seam stitching and the “highest quality” UV threads.

As I mentioned, there are bold claims to the anti-fading and durability of this fabric. But, in the real world, customers say expect 2-years before heavy fading appears. Even less time if left in direct sunlight.

I do like that Ocean South adds a double layer to the bow area to increase strength.

Moving on to the closures, encased in the hem is a braided rope with ratchet. Then for vertical attachment, you get tie-down ropes that feed through simple cleats. If you want a long-term secure cover, I worry about this type of system. Since wet or frozen ropes wear down faster than shock cord.

Disadvantages Of Ocean South Covers

First, other than the cover and a storage bag, you don’t get an accessory support pole with the Ocean South. So you might need to open the wallet after the fact.

Second, it won’t last more that a couple years. Under foliage its decent for keeping out leaves, dust and bird droppings.

Third, it has no actual vents to let moist air out so condensation in hot climates. which is an issue. Yes, it has openings to accommodate ship antennas or outriggers. Yet no other means throughout the cover for dedicated venting.

Last, is my biggest issue, there is no guarantee in sight. That’s a negative, as this is a typical indication of a brands belief in their merchandise.

Verdict:

Looking to upgrade from a tarp slung over top a boat? Then this might be the best boat t-top cover for you. Its about as basic as it gets but it does a good job of keeping out leaves and dust.

Lightweight Cover For Fishing Boats With T-tops

blue and gold colored label showing check mark and top marks text
Trident Series T-top Boat Cover
  • Model Fitment: Boats 17.6 to 18.5-Feet In Length; Max Beam Width 102-inches
  • Available Colors: Light Gray
  • Cover Material: Marine-Grade Polyester With "Poly-Guard"
  • Thickness: 8oz/yd² Or 212.74 Denier
  • Hem: Elastic Shock Cord
  • Attachment System: Ropes And Ratchet Cleats
  • Series Size Range: 1 Model; Ranging From 17.6 to 18.5-Feet
  • Designed For Trailering: Not Reccomended
  • Special Features: UV Inhibators, Anti-Wick Threads, Upper Antenna Hook And Loop Sleeve, Side Zipper Access, Do Not Trailer With This Cover
  • Included Accessories: Support Poles (2), Repair Kit & Rope Ratchet, XT Pro Marine Straps (12), Mesh Storage Bag
  • Warranty (Years): 5
Pro's & Con's

Trident Series T-top Boat Cover Review:

If you’re looking for a lightweight, ultra snug fitting boat cover then take a peek at the Trident Series. This specific one is gray and compatible with center console vessels from 17.6 to 18.5-feet (5.4 to 5.6-meters) in length. Furthermore it fits boats with a beam width up to 102-inches (259 centimeters).

Note: the Trident boat cover isn’t recommended for trailering

For peace of mind, the manufacturer offers a 5-year warranty. As well as a bow support pole and anti-moisture mesh storage bag.

Unique Material Type

Forget about denier level with the Trident Series. Instead, it’s 100-percent 8-ounce marine grade polyester fabric with poly-guard. Engineered for extra durability and all-weather defense. This has the highest tear strength attainable, UV and mildew resistant too. It has excellent resistance to fading and moisture too. Yet still breathable to help exhaust hot wet air.

Not only do you get the exclusive cloth material, Trident added creative details too. Such as anti-wick threads on seams and side/rear zipper access. To ease installation you also get a convenient antenna hook and loop sleeve up top.

Installation System

Unlike common boat covers that require ties to attach the marine cover to the hull. The Trident utilizes a rope and ratchet system to connect it to either the hull or trailer. This is optimal to keep it in place even during the worst storms.

Be aware though, when you secure the ratchets pay close attention to not over tighten. As the fabric near the zipper has a tendency to tear if it’s too tight.

Disadvantages Of Trident Boat Covers?

As I mentioned, with this type of material you need to be extra cautious securing the cover. Yes, the main sections of this type of cloth are tear-resistant. Yet near the zippers they have teared in the past.

Another downfall is the price, expect to pay more for a material that has “poly-guard.” As well the ratchet system makes the install slower than a simple buckle.

Verdict:

This is the best boat t-top cover for owners looking for a super lightweight, secure boat cover. It uses interesting material with a ratcheting system. Which means you have to take extra care when installing. For people who store their precious boat outside in the North East this is a durable choice.

Typical Materials For T-top Marine Covers

The material you choose for a marine cover depends on many factors. Such as your locale, if you want to move it with the trailer, and how much you want to spend. Below are the most common types of seafaring textiles for t-top boat covers.

1. Acrylic Fabric – Common For Made-To-Order Covers.

This type is a top choice for boat covers. Due to its ability to last for a long time and won’t fade as fast. A popular brand of acrylic marine covering is Sunbrella.

  • Pro’s: Breathes, Ultra Violet and mildew resistant. Solution dyed equals reduced fading and cleaning is a breeze. Ton’s of colors available.
  • Con’s: Price, lower abrasion resistance, not waterproof.

* You can opt for a waterproof special version of Sunbrella that’s bonded with vinyl. This enhanced material becomes 100% waterproof.

2. Polyester (Coated): Most Common For Semi-Custom.

This is the most common fabric you’ll see for online universal covers for T-tops. For coating, most have polyurethane or PVC on one side to repel moisture and resist tearing.

The weight of coated polyester covers tend to range from about 420 – 1200 Denier. The word “denier” reflects the thickness and weight of the material. So higher the number the more water-resistant the fabric is but also more cumbersome.

To judge the longevity of universal options, pay attention to the guarantees. This is the greatest way to judge how much the brand stands behind their merchandise.

  • Pro’s: Great moisture resistance. Plus abrasion and UV resistance, as well some come with soft liners to protect hull surfaces. Simple-to-clean and somewhat mildew resistant.
  • Con’s: Doesn’t breathe as well, pigment transfer issues in cheap versions. Stiff in cold climates, fades over time.

3. Solution Dyed Polyesters – New Generation Option.

A new generation of polyester. Solution dying involves mixing color pigments in with raw yarn, before its weaved.

  • Pro’s: More weight and more abrasion resistant than Sunbrella. Ability to repair and patch on a home sewing machine.
  • Con’s: Not proven to outlast acrylic yet.

 

In Conclusion:

By now, you have everything you need to know for finding the best boat t-top cover. Pick the cloth that moisture and UV resistance to match your locale. Next, choose how you want to secure it to your boat or trailer. Lastly pay attention to how a brand insures their products performance, it means they believe in the quality.

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